Running A Fridge

Submitted: Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 16:25
ThreadID: 134727 Views:3299 Replies:7 FollowUps:16
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I go camping occasionally, just myself & my dog (wife doesn't like camping), in the past I've always used an eskie with ice but now I'm considering buying a small car fridge (maybe 40-50 ltrs). I don't wish to install a second battery in my Pajero. My question is this: if I use the fridge on AC power when in the camp ground (powered site) & DC power whilst driving, because it is only drawing a couple of amps per hour the car battery won't run flat, will it? I can't remember what amps the alternator makes but from memory it was substantially more than a few amps per hour?

I'm looking at something like this: https://www.snowys.com.au/mr40f-eclipse-38l-fridge-freezer-cover
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Reply By: Member - mark D18 - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 16:41

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 16:41
Chris .

As long as your alternator is working correctly it will easily keep your battery charged while driving .

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Chris. - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 16:42

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 16:42
Cheers Mark.
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 18:09

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 18:09
But how do you intend to power the fridge when you camp away from a caravan park.
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Follow Up By: Chris. - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 18:14

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 18:14
Garry I won't have that option I guess?
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Follow Up By: rumpig - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 18:41

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 18:41
You can always buy something like a Thumper Battery pack for the odd occasion you camp away from power, run the fridge on the vehicles power as you drive to camp and home again, and on the Thumper at camp. My 70ah second battery in my vehicle runs my 40ltr Engel for atleast 2 days without starting the vehicle., so a similar size thumper will see you through a weekend away without power no worries at all. If you then want to buy an 80W solar panel in the future to charge it, you'd get even more time away again.
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Follow Up By: Chris. - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 18:45

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 18:45
cheers rumpig, never knew they existed, much appreciated. Available from camping stores I guess?
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Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 18:49

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 18:49
I used to travel in a ute without a second battery and a small fridge but would not dare leave the fridge running at night when bush camping for fear of flattening the start battery.

Limited the options with food a lot.

Had I not traded the ute for a Prado with dual battery already fitted I would have followed Rumpigs advice and gone for something like the Thumper.

Easter was my first trip of more than a week away with the new setup and I have to say it's a great way to travel but I can understand the OP's situation. A dual battery system is a fair outlay.

Good luck with it.
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Follow Up By: Triggy - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 20:55

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 20:55
I am in the same situation as you Chris, and I use the option that rumpig has suggested above, inc the solar panels, in follow up #880475
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 20:56

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 20:56
A genuine Thumper is an expensive way of getting a second battery - if you are happy with that style of thing just buy a battery box from BCF and buy a suitable deep cycle battery to go into it and wire it up to charge when your engine is running.
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Reply By: Member - Russler - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 18:47

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 18:47
I used to do something similar in my previous car before installing a dual battery system, ie. I ran the fridge off the single battery during the day, then in the evening (short evenings) I would turn off the fridge before going to bed. Whilst not ideal, I did several long trips like this without a problem. If I were travelling solo then I would also consider a Thumper as the others have suggested, just in case.
AnswerID: 610550

Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 18:58

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 18:58
Hi Chris, in regard to keeping the fridge going and the battery charged, I have a very power hungry 90 litre fridge and have two batteries in parallel. I have to drive every day to keep the battery charged and the fridge running. Because I use a roof top tent it makes it difficult to drive daily so i run the Patrol for 20 minutes just above idle speed in the afternoon and we take advantage of our onboard shower while the engine is hot. You should be ok with a small modern fridge and one battery, if needed you can take the vehicle for a short run in the afternoon or idle the engine as I do. Try to buy a fridge that is fitted with an adjustable low voltage cutout so you can't run the battery so flat that you can't start the vehicle. Regards, Michael.
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AnswerID: 610551

Reply By: Sigmund - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 04:59

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 04:59
Have a look at the Engel Smart Battery Box Series 2. Exxy but has some highly useful features like inbuilt charging (240 v AC & 12 v DC).
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 08:56

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 08:56
My expenience with smart battery boxes (Arkpak with smart charger inbuilt) the in car 12v charger failed me twice, once on a desert trip (!), and in the end I wired it up via a VSR and good HD cable from the main battery to charge via the car alternator.
The smart charger is now a good kg or two of dead weight that is bypassed.

Get a good battery box, something with min 2 ciggy plugs / hella connectors if you like, anderson plug input, maybe a decent voltage monitor gauge.

A 100 amp/hr or thereabouts AGM battery and you're set after a few hours self installing.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 10:27

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 10:27
Ark stuff in general is poor quality IME.

Engel I would expect to be better.

But there's a design issue that's more important. Alternators can't fully charge an aux battery on their own. With care you can operate the battery between 50% state of charge (the minimum for best life) and 70% or so (the max charge possible). That's not a lot of herbs and you have to work out an energy budget to see if it'll work.

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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 10:42

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 10:42
I agree, nothing on / in a vehicle can fully charge a battery to 100%, and keep it in good condition.
Mind you the Arkpak readouts still seem accurate, and show SOC 100% at 13.6v immediately after turning off vehicle, 12.8v some short while after, say about 1/2 an hour.

At home it is good practice to hook up a decent smart charger, preferably with desulphate initial stage, and give the main and aux a good belt every couple of months, and before a big trip.

My main is now calcium, so that needs a run on that charger mode where it gives it a boost over 15v to keep that in good nick.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 10:50

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 10:50
Yeah, calciums properly maintained are better value than AGMs I reckon.

As for SoC, best to disconnect the battery and let it sit for 3 hours for an accurate reading.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 18:06

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 18:06
I bought one of these battery boxes from Jaycar back in 2015, and it has lasted well. Only repair has been replacing the clear cover on the voltmeter. Also, to be truly versatile it needs an Anderson plug fitted to it, which I haven't done yet.

Has done 3 Simpson crossings so they are robust.



Bob

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Can't remember most of it.

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Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 07:28

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 07:28
Chris
If you are restricting the fridge from a main stream brand around 40-50L your battery will not go flat even running it on freezer provided you are driving. I've had NP, NS and NW Pajeros and a 50L Waeco fridge for 15 years. If you don't want to go down the 2nd battery/ Thumper/ Ark Box type of thing, just make sure you carry some decent Jumper leads.
If you plan on doing any type of camping away from mains power overnight in summer, you will need a 2nd battery/power supply and upgrade the wiring to the rear of the Pajero as the standard wiring is too thin. If you are restricting yourself to what you suggested, you will be fine.

Mark
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Follow Up By: Chris. - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 07:38

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 07:38
Much appreciated Mark, might have to invest in some form of battery box if I end up camping away from mains power.
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Follow Up By: BTLC - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 19:55

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 19:55
When camping away from power, could you use the fridge like an esky and add ice/ice pack?
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Reply By: cruza25 - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 10:17

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 10:17
Hi Chris
Reading your first post again you state that you will run the fridge off the alternator whilst driving and then plug into mains when you camp in powered sites.

This will be fine and is what a lot of people do. No need for 2nd batteries, thumpers or panels.

If you decide to cut loose from powered camps then you need to go down the avenue of extra capacity batteries and ways to charge them.
This can easily add up very quickly but needs to be done properly if you want to go this way.
A $700 fridge can soon become $1500 just depends on your needs.

Cheers
Mike

AnswerID: 610570

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 19:39

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 19:39
Your Pajero starting battery will run a 38L Engel ovrnight no worries. And you will still be able to crank it in the morning. Try it at home if you like.
Especially if you are in a cool climate - compressor fridges use very little power on cold nights.
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Follow Up By: Chris. - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 19:44

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 19:44
Cheers Phil, I will try it at home.
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