Downunder Fridge..Powered by Solar

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 10:49
ThreadID: 32442 Views:5088 Replies:11 FollowUps:28
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Hi all
Purchase a Downunder 70lt Fridge on Friday for hubby...so he goes off yesterday and buys some solar gear (80w solar panels, regulator and 12v 80Ah AGM deep cell battery). Meanwhile fridge ran overnight on mains power no problem at all. This morning we go to try out the solar set up and fridge goes on for a couple of secs then off. Not what I would think it should do. Can anyone help us out or does it sound like we have a lemon?
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Reply By: ACDC - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 11:31

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 11:31
These fridges are great! i would be checking your solar setup wiring etc! are you running the fridge direct to battery or through the regulator?
AnswerID: 164370

Follow Up By: Happy Little Camper - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:15

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:15
Hi ACDC, 80W solar panel connected to battery thruogh solar regularor. Fridge connected direct to Battery with supplied 2 meter power cable. Voltage when Fridge cycles off is 13.49, and when the fridge cycles on I see no noticable drop, fridge starts and runs for about 2 seconds then cuts off for 1 minute. If I leave it connected it keeps repeating this on/off cycle. I thought the compressor was a BD35F, but peeking in through the vents I see it is a D50F.

Cheers
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FollowupID: 419242

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:50

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:50
Measure the voltage DIRECTLY at the battery terminals.

The manual for the fridge should tell you at what voltage it will cut out.

If it cuts out with a higher voltage AT THE BATTERY then take measurements closer toward the fridge and see if there is a drop somewhere.

Keep in mind that maximum possible current you will EVER get out of an 80 wat panel is 4.6 amps. That means it will take TWENTY hours to charge the battery if it is flat.

If you bought the battery new it should have been close to full charge - they will lose little charge in a year. If it was flat when you bought it, it will be stuffed.

mike
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FollowupID: 419250

Follow Up By: Happy Little Camper - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 14:03

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 14:03
I am using the same cable that works on the car cigarette lighter. Without pulling the fridge to bits, there is no way to take a reading any closer.

I don't know enough about volts/amps etc, but at the battery terminals the voltage is nearly 2 volts above the safety cutout.

It must be something to do with amps. Maybe battery is simply not big enough ? could the battery be flat and maintain voltage but loose amps?

The Battery is a AGM deep cell battery rated to be able to supply 12V 4amps for 20 hours, 12V 7.44 amps for 10 hours, 12V 48amps for 1 hour etc. The exact model is Fullriver HGL80-12A

hubby
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FollowupID: 419257

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 14:55

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 14:55
If the battery is well above the cutout voltage then there is nothing wrong with the battery.

How are you connecting to the battery ?

Does the lead to the Fridge have Cigarette Lighter Plug on the end of it ?

Mike
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FollowupID: 419262

Follow Up By: Happy Little Camper - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 17:19

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 17:19
That was my initial thoughts but I dunno now.

I originally had the fridge connected directly to the battery using the Cigarette Lighter Socket and lead supplied with the fridge. I un-soldered the plug and clamped the leads directly to the terminals by-passing the cigarette socket completely but it made no difference.

The battery has been charging pretty much all day today from the 80W Solar Panel in full sunlight (Nice day today here in Brisbane), apart from about 1/2 hour when I had it charging from the Prado using jumper leads. So, in my opionion if it doesn't have enough charge to start the fridge then it must be stuffed.

Driv'n Ivan
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FollowupID: 419276

Reply By: Lone Wolf - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:01

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:01
All I know is, is that I am going to print this thread off, and hand it to Tracy, and say..."See, this lady loves her husband a lot, now, what are you going to get me?"

And, to add salt to the wound, after Tracy has bought me something, I have to be allowed to go out and buy OTHER toys!

Do you have a sister?

Wolfie
AnswerID: 164373

Follow Up By: Happy Little Camper - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:18

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:18
Oh no Wolfie....you have it all wrong there is always a trade off with women...he has to pay me back in sexual favours!...lol
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Follow Up By: Lone Wolf - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:28

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:28
Bugger............ all I wanted was the fridge....
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Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:29

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:29
Got any pics :)

Sorry couldn't help myself
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FollowupID: 419246

Follow Up By: Footloose - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:31

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:31
No wonder my wife doesn't get me anything !
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Follow Up By: Old Scalyback & denny - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:32

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:32
pictures of waht ray
the fridge surely you have seen 1 before ????????
steve
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FollowupID: 419248

Follow Up By: Member - Ross H (QLD) - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:43

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:43
Is that what they mean by user pays.
ross
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FollowupID: 419249

Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:53

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:53
Steve, who are you calling a fridge, camper or hubby ? careful
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FollowupID: 419251

Follow Up By: Old Scalyback & denny - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:54

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:54
at least we know why you are called happy little camper but what do we call hubby???????????
steve
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Follow Up By: Happy Little Camper - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 14:14

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 14:14
steve,

hubby here. I get called quite a few names, usually on the first day camping, but none I could repeat here. On a Fraser trip I did with some mates a few years ago I had the call sign of "Driv'n Ivan", but that was a refference to driving on the beach!
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FollowupID: 419258

Follow Up By: Member - David 0- Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 16:28

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 16:28
That's the funniest thread I've ever read on here
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FollowupID: 419269

Reply By: Old Scalyback & denny - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:30

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:30
cmon wolfie
we are all waiting
can you keep up
rotflmao

steve
AnswerID: 164377

Reply By: the real chopper - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:35

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 12:35
might be a silly question... but is the battery charged??

Have you tried running the fridge of a known reliable 12volt source (like your car)??

this would at least reduce the amount of speculation...
AnswerID: 164378

Follow Up By: Happy Little Camper - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 13:48

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 13:48
Hi,

I assummed the Fullriver battery was charged, it read 13.26V with nothing connected. I cannot test amps with my meter.

If I plug the Fridge into our 4WD which has a near new Century 58VT then it runs OK. Not sure of the specs on this battery but it fills the dimensions of the Prado battery tray.

I suspect the Fullriver AGM battery is either not fully charged, or not big enough to start the fridge. When the fridge starts the compressor and cooling fan both start up at the same time.

I eliminated the cigarette lighter socket as the problem by cutting and clamping direct to the battery terminals. The actual voltage drop is 0.02V at the battery when the fridge cycles on.

I have tried it with and without the solar panel connected.

I will phone Fridge&Solar, where I bought the gear, tomorrow when they open and see what they recond.

hubby
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FollowupID: 419256

Follow Up By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Monday, Apr 17, 2006 at 21:29

Monday, Apr 17, 2006 at 21:29
HLC, Val at Fridge and Solar will see you right. He knows his stuff and will make sure it works for you. I've had some great advice from him and have bought a fair bit of stuff from him as well.
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FollowupID: 422623

Reply By: Derek from Affordable Batteries & Radiators - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 14:49

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 14:49
If you have a multimeter with probes try to give us a voltage at the plug when the fridge is trying to run.

There is no reason it will work in your car and not on the AGM if it is at least 50% charged as you would expect a new battery to be at least 80% charged on the shelf.

Regards Derek.
AnswerID: 164389

Reply By: lifeisgood - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 14:51

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 14:51
since you have done a lot of homework already and established the fridge seems to work fine on both 240v and the vehicle 12v then the fridge appears to be fine .
The "lemon " appears to be in your other equipment - mainly the battery.
Voltage is often not a good indication with batteries but it would be interesting to try and pull 5 amps or more from it with some other device.
Have you got a tyre (or mattress) air compressor or spare headlamp that you could use to draw current over a decent period. I guess you would have also tried freshening up the battery terminal with emery paper?
Just some thoughts - electrics can be a pain at times. Good luck
AnswerID: 164390

Follow Up By: Happy Little Camper - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 17:10

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 17:10
I just got back from a 1/2 hr drive where I had the fullriver battery connected to our Prado Battery by jumper leads. It still wouldn't start the fridge when we got back.

I tried a mattress pump, left it run for about 10 minutes. The Voltage dropped to about 11.8 at the battery while it was running then climbed up to 13.08 when I turned it off.

The battery is brand new, so terminals are clean as a whistle. I am convinced now that the battery is faulty.

Driv'n Ivan
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FollowupID: 419273

Follow Up By: Happy Little Camper - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 17:22

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 17:22
Sorry that was 12.8, not 11.8

>>>>I tried a mattress pump, left it run for about 10 minutes. The Voltage dropped to about 11.8 at the battery while it was running then climbed up to 13.08 when I turned it off.
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Follow Up By: ACDC - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 17:43

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 17:43
Yes it does sound like the battery is faulty,very unusual but strange things do happen!
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FollowupID: 419280

Follow Up By: Gerhardp1 - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 19:09

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 19:09
I had a faulty Oddyssey battery a few =years ago, it showe the full 13.6 V on the meter.

took it back to the vendor who put the load tester on it and the battery was completely useless under load.

He grabbed another one off the shelf and I asked for it to be tested before I accepted it and it showed perfect on the load tester. The terminals got so hot they couldn't be touched afterwards.

You definately appear to have a dud battery.

Gerhard
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FollowupID: 419295

Follow Up By: Happy Little Camper - Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 19:18

Sunday, Apr 02, 2006 at 19:18
Found the problem, was not the battery. There is something faulty in the safety cutout switch in the fridge.

When I tested the fridge in the car the fan started and we thought it was going. In fact the fan was going but the compressor was not. We thought it was going because it was making a noise and it was still cold from the previous night when we left it going on 240V

When I tested it on the solar setup it did the 2 seconds on / 1 minute off cycle. This test involved only 2 metres of reletively heavy power lead from the battery to the fridge. When I did the same test using the Prado battery I used the cigarette lighter socket at the back of the vehicle. What this did was increase resistance because there is about 3 metres of much lighter cable from the battery to the socket. I tried extending the cable from the AGM battery to the Fridge and reproduced the same results as I got in the Prado. I then tried the heavy power lead directly on the Prado battery and it did the 2 seconds / 1 minute cycle.

So, the bottom line is it works well on 240V, but does not work at all on 12V. I will be returning it to repco tomorrow.

Thanks to all who offered help and ideas, what started off as a really bad day turned into quite a fun time..... I have at least one day of repreive before payback!

Drive'n Ivan
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FollowupID: 419297

Follow Up By: Happy Little Camper - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 12:20

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 12:20
I took the fridge back to repco and tested another one they had on the floor and it was faulty too, I tested a 50L they had there and it worked fine. The guy at repco said they will have to do a recall on the 70L but I could try my luck at a different store. I did this and found another one that didn't work and one that did work so all is good. There must be just a bad batch of 70L's.

So, anyone buying a Downunder 70L should test it on 12V before leaving the store.

Driv'n Ivan
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FollowupID: 419406

Reply By: Sam from Weipa Auto Electrics - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 17:17

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 17:17
hang on dont downunder fridge's use an external 240v to 12v supply that plugs in to the fridge so effectivly your'e using and inverter to do what a battery would or have they changed them recently? because if I'm correct then it has to be wiring still.
Dont quote me on this its just I bought one for someone for a present recently and that was how it operated??
AnswerID: 164586

Follow Up By: ACDC - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 19:24

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 19:24
The model downunder flogged to repco has 240v builtin, the model i sell still has a separate power adaptor which i prefer.

I have emailed the factory regarding happy campers post so will see what they have to say about this problem.
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Reply By: Dilligaf - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 21:46

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 21:46
do you realise 80w panel will not power enough a 70l Downunder fridge
you will need 80w x 2 solar panel
we have 110w x 2 solar panel
there are many crook solar dealer that tell false info
AnswerID: 164633

Follow Up By: Happy Little Camper - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 22:52

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 22:52
We're giving the fridge a good test now with the solar setup. I filled the freezer 2/3 with frozen food, and fridge 1/2 full. We had it on the coldest setting and found the cheese started to freeze so I turned it back to No 5 setting. The fridge is cutting in and out on the thermistat as you would expect. The battery voltage has dropped to 12.85 after nearly 5 hours no sunlight. I'll test it again in the morning to see if the low power cutout got activated.

The acid test will be tomorrow when the panel finds an empty battery and a fridge drawing amps. I know the 80W is borderline, but we can easily jumper the battery to the Prado to give it a quick top-up. Or, if it turns out way too underpowered, and the wife lets me!, I'll simply add another 80W panel to the equation.

Driv'n Ivan
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FollowupID: 419556

Follow Up By: Happy Little Camper - Saturday, Apr 08, 2006 at 08:27

Saturday, Apr 08, 2006 at 08:27
OK 80W panels and the 120Ah battery can maintain the fridge, but throw a couple of cloudy days, warm food, or a bunch of kids accessing it all day and it can't keep up.

I'll most likely get another 80W panel, but for this camp we'll just top the battery up when we have to.

Driv'n Ivan
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FollowupID: 420638

Reply By: Sam from Weipa Auto Electrics - Tuesday, Apr 04, 2006 at 07:15

Tuesday, Apr 04, 2006 at 07:15
You're voltage's dont sound acurate I think you're multimeter maybe a little out Do you know anyone that owns a fluke multimeter to see wether thats an accurate voltage it just seems high but I suppose you do have the solar panel running on it.
AnswerID: 164661

Reply By: Member - Barry C (NT) - Sunday, Apr 09, 2006 at 01:04

Sunday, Apr 09, 2006 at 01:04
Any news to report HLC??? Interested to see what eventuated, so keeping this thread alive.

Barry
AnswerID: 165890

Reply By: Happy Little Camper - Monday, Apr 17, 2006 at 19:15

Monday, Apr 17, 2006 at 19:15
Hi All,

The 70L Downunder fridge I found that did work on 12V in the store ended up failing 2 days into our Easter camp. It started doing exactly that same as the others, so we had to use 240V through an inverter for a while, which wasn't very efficient.

I phoned Downunder and Mark, their sales rep, promptly phoned back with an explanation and a solution. He said they had a bad batch of panel fans and agreed to ship a replacement fan to Repco Coopers Plains. I picked this up and had it installed and it has worked perfect ever since.

The 80W Solar Panel and 80Ah AGM was just enough power to keep cold food cold during sunny days. We used it in it's freezer/fridge mode. However, to cool food down, or to survive a couple of cloudy days, you would definitly need 2 x 80W minimum. I do not know if a second 80Ah would be needed, but I plan to do an extended and controlled test at home as soon as I can buy another 80w Panel. On a couple of occassions, I won't mention any names, milk was put in the freezer compartment (next to my Bundy) and froze, which put extra un-necessary drain on the solar system. So, my advice is to manage your fridge/freezer carefully so as not to waste power, i.e. if possible only put frozen food in the freezer and chilled food in the fridge.

In summary, and despite the initial fan problem, I highly recommend the Downunder 70L and I'm very impressed with their prompt and proficient level of service.

Driv'n Ivan
AnswerID: 167402

Follow Up By: fergus - Monday, Apr 17, 2006 at 19:38

Monday, Apr 17, 2006 at 19:38
Hi HLC.
How much was the setup complete?
Peter
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FollowupID: 422549

Follow Up By: Happy Little Camper - Monday, Apr 17, 2006 at 22:47

Monday, Apr 17, 2006 at 22:47
Hi Peter,

$220 for the 80Ah AGM Battery, and $895 for the Suntech Freedom 80W folding solar panel, which is actually two hinged 40W Panels. The solar gear I got from Fridge & Solar at Labrador.

Repco were giving the 70L fridge away for a special price of $999, which must be close to cost.

Regards
Driv'n Ivan
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FollowupID: 422649

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