3 way fridge - can you run them while driving?

Submitted: Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:14
ThreadID: 58489 Views:3845 Replies:11 FollowUps:12
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Hi all,

I have an old 3-way fridge (lpg/240volt/12volt) that I normally just fill with cold food and run off gas once we get to where we're going, just a few hours away. But now I'm planning to head off across the Simpson, out to Ayers Rock, etc etc, and so will be doing a lot of quite long days. My question is - is it okay to us run one of these in the car off 12V while driving along? I know its fine for the compressor-type fridges, but these ones work off a heating element instead. So, are they safe?

Thanks,
Tim Z
98 GU 4500 Petrol/LPG
04 Trackabout Safari camper trailer
Weird old camping fridge made in Luxembourg, of all places
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Reply By: Richard Kovac - Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:32

Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:32
Tim

The answer is yes (just in case I do)

But I have found that they don't run very well on 12 Volts.

just make sure it is well ventilated around the condenser

Richard
AnswerID: 308437

Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:42

Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:42
Thanks for that Richard, nothing like getting some feedback from someone who's been there done that. I know what you mean about them not working that well on 12 volt - but I figure that it's better than nothing.

Tim
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Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:45

Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:45
Thanks for that Richard, nothing like getting some feedback from someone who's been there done that. I know what you mean about them not working that well on 12 volt - but I figure that it's better than nothing.

Tim
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FollowupID: 574355

Follow Up By: Richard Kovac - Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:45

Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:45
Tim

I used to have ice in the bottom of the chest fridge but now I have the blue freezer blocks to add some bulk and retain the cold.

Richard
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FollowupID: 574356

Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:48

Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:48
Tim,

Just don't leave it plugged in and running for any length of time without the engine running.

Bill.
Bill


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FollowupID: 574359

Reply By: nsngood - Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:45

Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:45
mmmmm......Had an old chescold fridge meself years ago (in fact i think its still in the shed somwhere).Whilst probably not exactly the same as what you have.This is what i found with mine.
1. As you said it works on heat exchange so the heat has to go somewhere.
2.be careful where you put it and what you put near it.
3.do not put anything likely to be damaged by heat or flammable anywhere near the vents/heat outlets of your unit.
4.the better the airflow (within reason)the better the unit will operate.
5.Obviously it goes without saying not to operate it on gas in any confined spaces!!!!!!!!!
6I would recomend switching it OFF when leaving the car for any reasonable period.On saying that i used to leave mine running all the time,but never used to close my vehicle up (the heats gotta go somewhere)
7 Do not restrict the air flow to/around near etc these units.
8.I am not an expert on these units but have used mine over a period of 10 years plus with no dramas.As with device a bit of commom sense will go a long way.ie remember it has a heat exchange/element so be careful.
9 all else fails ask the manufacturer/retailer.
Hope this helped B
AnswerID: 308439

Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:51

Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:51
Thanks for that nsngood,

I'm thinking I'll position it near the back door with the back of it (where the heat exchanger is) toward the side - the shape of the car panels means there'll be some space behind that, so hopefully that'll be enough ventilation to let it work a bit. I won't be running it when leaving the car, as I only have one battery!

Tim
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FollowupID: 574360

Follow Up By: nsngood - Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:52

Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:52
As an add on.....
My old unit worked quite well when driving .Mainly due to the fact that when travelling along you will have anything up to 14 volts instead of 12-13 volts when parked. May not sound like much but made a hell of a difference to mine.
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FollowupID: 574361

Reply By: Crackles - Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:49

Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:49
Yes Tim they are safe to use on 12 volt while travelling. They will normally stay cold long enough until you put it back on gas each night. As they pull around 9 amps continuous it's important to run large cable & use quality plugs to avoid burning out. You also need to give the fridge as smooth a ride as possible as they are not quite as rugged as the compressor models, the heat pods in the rear being known to fail from vibration.
Cheers Craig............
AnswerID: 308442

Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:54

Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:54
Thanks for that Craig,

I think the cable's large enough - was run by the previous owner of the car, so I'll check that.

Tim
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FollowupID: 574363

Reply By: Member - Roger B (VIC) - Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:56

Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 22:56
Hi Tim. If you can spare the room in the fridge., put a couple of cartons of frozen water in . It will help keep it cold , as it will only maintain coldness on 12 volt. We do this on all our trips, and always have cold food and drink when we get to our destination. Don't leave the fridge turned on without the car running either, as you'll very soon discover how even the best of batteries are easily and swiftly flattened !! Enjoy your trip. We leave home on the 25th. June for about 3 months North of Capricorn. Getting a bit toey now. Cheers.

Roger B.........
AnswerID: 308443

Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 23:47

Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 23:47
Thanks Roger,

It's a fairly small fridge so we tend to use frozen food for that purpose - seems to work reasonably well so far. You have a great trip too!

Tim
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FollowupID: 574377

Reply By: Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) - Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 23:25

Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 23:25
Will get flamed but i just used to run it on gas all the time
the 12 v worked and was run via a relay hooked up to the coil power so it couldnt flatten the battery when turned off.
AnswerID: 308447

Follow Up By: zigglemeister - Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 23:45

Saturday, Jun 07, 2008 at 23:45
Thanks Davoe,

I had a very bad experience with lpg once (I got flamed :-)), so I tend to be pretty respectful of it now.

Tim
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FollowupID: 574376

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 08:59

Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 08:59
>Will get flamed but i just used to run it on gas all the time

As long as you turned it off before you entered a petrol station? Failing to do so may well result in your popularity with other people refueling see something of a downturn.

Mike Harding
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FollowupID: 574413

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) - Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 10:19

Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 10:19
no I remebered t once and said to the owner I guess i should turn it off and he replied why? no one else does
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FollowupID: 574424

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) - Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 10:19

Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 10:19
no I remebered t once and said to the owner I guess i should turn it off and he replied why? no one else does
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FollowupID: 574425

Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 08:35

Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 08:35
G'day Tim, plenty of good advice already given. My 25 year old Finch has given great service. A bit steady on 12v now so have changed to 240v via an inverter, works brilliantly. The usual stuff
about flattening the battery applies when motor is not running.
....oldbaz.
AnswerID: 308469

Reply By: Mike Harding - Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 09:00

Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 09:00
Adding a 12V computer fan to pull/push more air over the heat exchanger makes a big difference on 12V.

Mike Harding
AnswerID: 308475

Reply By: Ray - Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 09:06

Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 09:06
I have a 3way Electrolux fridge in my caravan, maybe not quite what you are talking about and found that it did not work too well on the 12v system. On carrying out maintenance I found that I only had 11v at the fridge.
I have a 150amphr battery mounted on the draw bar of the caravan and have rewired the fridge to get its power from these batteries. I now have 13+ volts at the fridge
To stop it draining the batteries when stationary the are a couple of solenoid switches to isolate the system when the ignition is turned off and of cause fuses. I used 6 aswg wire for this modification and modified the baffles at the rear of the fridge and have air bag suspension on the car so as to make the caravan as level as possible and of course as soon as I am camped up I either run the fridge on gas or 240v.
The caravan batteries are either charged from the car via 4 aswg cable or off the mains via a smart charger.
As the car alternator produces more power than what the fridge uses, keeping the batteries charged is not a problem
AnswerID: 308477

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian (SA) - Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 09:19

Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 09:19
Yep - we ran ours on 240 at home to get the contents quite cold - 12V 'sort of' maintained that situation while mobile - straight onto gas when camped. Even though they must be quite level when static, the rocking and rolling across the Simpson won't bother it !
AnswerID: 308481

Reply By: oldtrack123 - Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 22:53

Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 22:53
HiTim
MY summing up
1: definatly run on 12v while travelling less chance of fire in case of accident or explosion @ gas station,& no chance of deadly gas buildup[co&co2] in car.These can be as deadly as car exhaust fumes.
2:keep it as well ventilated as possible .The pc fan will definatly help.
3:check & make sure you get at least 12v at fridge terminals wirh engine running,large dia wire & good high current plugs essential.
4: an isolating relay to ensure you do not forget to switch it off is good insurance[bad news flat battery in isolated area]this can be a simple 30 amp horn relay or similar with the coil fed from any fuse load side that is live only when ignition is in run position.[air con/heater,wipers are possiibilty]
5:Also suggest a voltmeter wired to read battery voltage to moniter battery state of charge, should be at 13.8v or better when driving if batt is fully charged
AnswerID: 308669

Reply By: zigglemeister - Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 22:58

Sunday, Jun 08, 2008 at 22:58
Thanks everyone who responded,

That's great info, especially the tip about the 12V fan - I'll have to look into that. Thanks again, everyone.

Tim
AnswerID: 308671

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