Fridges (again)

Submitted: Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 16:22
ThreadID: 69336 Views:3930 Replies:6 FollowUps:14
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I know there are some threads on fridges in abundance but its been a while.
My question is what do people think of absorbtion versus compressor fridges for a caravan. I have looked at both and the prices are about the same. Also what about the cooling (fan) requirements for the optimum operation and insulation and venting.
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 16:44

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 16:44
Compressor fridges are the most efficient type by far.

The only "problem" with this type is the need for a deep cycle battery system to run them and a means of recharging the battery or batteries if staying for any length of time away from 240 volt power.

Absorption fridges are OK in cooler climates and when it is running on gas or 240 volts AC, but when connected to 12 volts DC they struggle and really chew through the battery supply. The 12 volt connection is only to try and maintain a cool internal temperature between stops
They are all but useless in tropical climates.

If you intend spending the majority of time in caravan parks on powered sites the need for an auxiliary 12 volt supply may not be necessary.


Bill.

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Follow Up By: rayj - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 18:10

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 18:10
I'm looking at having 2x120amphour bats and a couple of 130w kyocera panels. Also have a eu2 honda for the occaisions it is needed.
Fridge will be around the 185 -190 lt
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Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 19:49

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 19:49
Hi

Sand Man (SA) replied:
absorption fridges are OK in cooler climates and when it is running on gas or 240 volts AC, but when connected to 12 volts DC they struggle and really chew through the battery supply. The 12 volt connection is only to try and maintain a cool internal temperature between stops
They are all but useless in tropical climates. "

Hi
Again we see this INCORRECT statement.!!!!
IF the fridge gets 12v @ its terminals,when operating [the voltage it is designed for] IT will usually perform just as well as on 240v .the heating elements are usually the same wattage,{except on the very large ones ,}this needs adequate wiring.
They also must be operated level when stationary.

Very few 3ways are correctly installed & because of this, this statement continues to be made by the ill informed
There overall poor performance is also usually due to NOT BEING INSTALLED & BAFFLED & VENTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH MANUFACTUERS INSTRUCTIONS.

Cable size,Insulation & correct ventilation is the key to good operation.
Tropic rated versions are now available , but many have PROVEN that the older ones can perform & freeze @40C by attending to the above & by fitting a
fan in the rear to force more cooling air over the condenser.

IF you are going more than a few days fixed camping then 3ways are the only way ,unless you spend lots of money on generator[ often not popular with others] solar panels & big battery bank. If you a caravan park camper using 240v then the compressor type would meet your needs provided you don't decide to change your mode of camping


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Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 19:58

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 19:58
Hi
I should add to my previous post you of coarse should only use them on 12v while travelling as they will quickly flatten your batterys . Fitting a fridge switch will prevent this problem.
When camped & no 240v avaiable use them on gas, that is the way they are intended to be used.
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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 20:39

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 20:39
OK smartypants,
Care to elaborate with some practical experience?

I used to run an absorption fridge in a campervan and it was a very ordinary performer. It simply gets down to current draw versus cooling quality and I am giving my personal experience to someone who has asked for specific advice.

I have been in a tropical environment in the van and the fridge was practically USELESS and that was running on gas, with the van levelled and with an external vent as fitted to all comercially designed campervans, etc.

It has got nothing to do with cable size, insulation & corrent ventilation and I think you don't have much real experience in which to criticise others who are only offering advice based on their own use of both types.

A former member of this forum went to the trouble of replacing his absorption type fridge with an upright compressor fridge for this very reason and it is not an uncommon practise amongst serious travellers to remote regions.

So YOU are the one giving incorrect advice.


Bill.
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Follow Up By: Best Off Road - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 20:51

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 20:51
I'll keep out of the argument,

BUT,

it comes down to the rating of the fridge.

A "T" rated 3 way is a far better option than a compressor fridge.

The problem with 3 ways is that Caravan builders generally fit "ST" rated fridges. They are useless in hot weather regardless of wiring, ventialtion etc.

Jim.

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Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 22:58

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 22:58
Sand Man (SA) posted:
OK smartypants,
Care to elaborate with some practical experience?

I used to run an absorption fridge in a campervan and it was a very ordinary performer. It simply gets down to current draw versus cooling quality and I am giving my personal experience to someone who has asked for specific advice.
I have been in a tropical environment in the van and the fridge was practically USELESS and that was running on gas, with the van levelled and with an external vent as fitted to all comercially designed campervans, etc.
It has got nothing to do with cable size, insulation & corrent ventilation and I think you don't have much real experience in which to criticise others who are only offering advice based on their own use of both types.
A former member of this forum went to the trouble of replacing his absorption type fridge with an upright compressor fridge for this very reason and it is not an uncommon practise amongst serious travellers to remote regions.
So YOU are the one giving incorrect advice. "

Hi
It seems to me your pratical experience may have been limited with one or more fridges as set up by the van manufacture ,DOES that realy amount to much.
AS I pointed out virtualy none are set up according to the fridge manufactuers instructions.
If you think that cable size , insulation & ventilation has got nothing to do with satisfactory operation, It shows you know nothing about Absorption fridge operation.i
I have 50yrs of experience with 3ways. & have travelled all over Oz including the tropics with them .& in every case found the van manufactuers installation did not meet the fridge manufactuers installation instuctions .
If you did some real research you will find many others who cared to investigate found that if they reinstalled the fridge to manuf instructions the fridges did freeze in temps up to 40c
MY post is based on practical experience coupled with the tech knowledge.
I have made the mods to my all vehicles & told other what to do & all have found a dramatic improvement.
A camper van is one of the situations I had many many yrs ago & it was hopeless AS sold.
Originaly I made the rear vent hinged so I could open it ,this showed such an improvement that that i changed the whole air flow system & installed a small fan , installed baffles to direct the airflow over the condenser etc & it was A differant fridge .

So again your statement is INCORRECT!!!
I do not consider so called practical experience of much value unless it over a number of situations & time.
I would suggest you need to do a little more research before you make such blanket statements based on your personel experience or that of some one else who also probably did not know any better.
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FollowupID: 635315

Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 10:12

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 10:12
Well I resolved my problem simply by investing in a compressor type fridge.
Had it for 8 years now and has performed faultlessly and without hassles.
It is also much more portable than your 3 way solution and can be easily transferred to another vehicle, or van. (unless it is built-in)

I have no vested interests in one type over another.

My view may well be different that yours buddy, but that doesn't make mine INCORRECT and yours RIGHT.

The original poster hopefully has enough information now to make their choice.

Bill.
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Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 11:15

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 11:15
Hi
Sand Man (SA) posted:
Well I resolved my problem simply by investing in a compressor type fridge.
Had it for 8 years now and has performed faultlessly and without hassles.
It is also much more portable than your 3 way solution and can be easily transferred to another vehicle, or van. (unless it is built-in)
my view may well be different that yours buddy, but that doesn't make mine INCORRECT and yours RIGHT. "

So it seems you are talking about the portable chest type fridges /freezers .
AS a bit of additional info I have also had Engels since 1968.
When we go long term fixed camping [not driving around] we use both.
My set up also includes 200w of solar panels & 200amphrs of aux batts.
ON many, many occasions I have been glad I had the 3way to fall back on, when bad weather set in & solar charge could not keep up with compressor fridge demand.
In any case my point is your statements:-

#1 3way fridges are only any good in cool climates , another poster on this thread has already disagreed with that .
#2 The one that shows you complete lack of knowledge,which is the heart of the matter is:-"The cabling , insulation , ventilation has nothing to do with it"
If you are saying it has nothing to do with performance then I am afraid your knowledge is ZERO.
By all means post you personal experience[ personal experience without knowledge can often lead to incorrect conclusions!!] you are intitled to do that , but your basic understanding of operation IS INCORRECT & it seems you are not prepared to accept the basic fact that the majority of 3ways in vans & motor homes ARE NOT INSTALLED TO THE FRIDGE MANUFACTUERS INSTRUCTIONS Those who have carried out the necessary change have found a dramatic improvement in performance on gas, 12v ,& 240v.
This, although a lesser problem ,also extends to compressor fridges whose overal efficiency depends on best possible cooling of the condensor

I would also suggest to those who are having performance problems[ before they race out to buy a compressor fridge], to ensure their 3way fridge is correctly installed, does get 12 v @fridge terminals when operating & is correctly baffled & vented & if by design it is difficult to get a flue effect, [ a definate problem in pop up camper vans.] aid the air flow with 12v fan.

Incidently do not confuse the fact that you have a full length ventilation grill @ the rear of the fridge as meaning you have good ventiation [cooling of the condensor.
Anyone with a basic understanding of thermal dynamics in air flow & flue effects will understand that this can be in fact not as efficient as a vent ,top & bottom & correct baffling to get max cooling where it is required, at the condensor!!
SO again to all viewing this thread,
" SORT THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF"
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Reply By: Member -Dodger - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 16:50

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 16:50
If you have the battery power then the Compressor type fridge is the go but if you only have a small battery capacity of say 100amp hrs then the three way absorption is the go.
We have a three way job and have added the cooling fan and extra insulation making this fridge good up to 40% cels. However after that it fails miserably.
We also have an Engel of 14years use , keep it in the back of the Nissan and it works good in all temps. We use both fridges as fridges using the inbuilt freezer in the absorption job for ice cream etc. All our meat and other goodies are vacuum packed and kept in Engel just to be sure.
I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

Cheers Dodg.

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Follow Up By: Tenpounder - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 18:09

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 18:09
Couldn't agree more with Dodger and Sandman (Bill). Our 3-way Electrolux/Dometic _Affordable_Storage_Drawers.aspx 12 to 15 amps constant current on 12v. Not nice!. It is useful to be able to run on gas. But any serious Oz summer weather and its woeful on 240v, 12v or gas. The theory is that you can buy a tropical 3-way that can maintain better than 10 degrees celcius at ambient 40 degrees. Trouble is, they are so expensive, no one wants to sell them, and no caravan manufacturer fits them (as far as I know).
So we compromise, with the 3-way in the van for convenience, and the Engel in the 4WD for serious food storage (then you face the solar vs genny debate for standing camps without power).
Join the club!!
Chris (SA)
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Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 20:25

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 20:25
My fridge in the Roadstar is a T version as standard




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Follow Up By: Best Off Road - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 07:53

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 07:53
My Ma and Pa bought a 2006 Jayco Sterling 21 footer with S&T and all the fancy gear. It was fitted with a large (about 150 litres) T rated fridge.

If Jayco can, anyone can.

Dometic also build a smaller T rated fridge that can be used instead of the useless RM 2350 (ST rated) that most van manufacturers use.

Jim.

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Reply By: Member - Myles F (QLD) - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 17:24

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 17:24
I know it’s not exactly what you asked but I have enjoyed self sufficient camping for over thirty years using various fridges. I currently have an Autofridge which is an Eutectic Refrigerator Freezer. It uses eutectic fluid as an ice bank and the manufacturer suggest the fridge only needs running for five hours per day to maintain the bank. My experience suggests five hours is too long and this is by far the most efficient fridge in terms of power usage I’ve used. They promote “The Autofridge is the highest quality low voltage refrigerator/freezer available.” You have all the advantages of a Danfoss compressor fridge with the lowest power consumption. Others of course will have their favorites but I’ve used a few, and recommend you consider this as an option.
Hope I’ve been of some help.
Myles.
AnswerID: 367635

Follow Up By: viz - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 18:22

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 18:22
I have one too, for 13 years. Two hours at breakfast and 2 hours at dinner, or 3 if the day was hot. If you are getting ice lumps in your milk tone it down a bit. Disadvantage is that it needs 3 cm space around the sides to cool, so it has to go in a boxed surround setup à la fridge slide and _Affordable_Storage_Drawers.aspx if you want to have it running when you have the car packed. I have gotten away without the box for the time I have had it, charging as above, when in camp.

It is not so hungry on batteries as any of the other fridges - a Thumper runs mine for 2- 3 days and I have just installed an aux AGM battery as well, so should have up to a week of power [not counting lighting requirements].

I am thinking of solar for long stays, as this would be an ideal fridge to run on sun power.

Solid reliable little unit - tried all the others, and while Engels is good - very good - it has to be run all the time.

viz
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Follow Up By: Member - Myles F (QLD) - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 21:48

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 21:48
Viz, I’ve only had mine for about six months and am so impressed I sold my two 3way fridges as I can’t see any use for them in the future. I did initially intend to keep them for longer camps as opposed to travelling holidays. I have a 130watt Kyocera solar panel which has proven to easily replenish my auxiliary battery. I reckon I should be able to run my fridge indefinitely. Even in slightly overcast conditions a reasonable charge is detected. 80watt is recommended by the manufacturer. I went for the 130watt so I can run a light or two if need be.
Myles.
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Reply By: Best Off Road - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 20:11

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 20:11
If you get a "T" rated 3 way fridge you will be very happy. They work well in any old temperature.

My oldies had a T rated fridge in their van that was holding 0 C on a day of 43 when our ST rated fridge was up to 10 C. Theirs was only on half thermostat setting whilst ours was cranked up to the max.

The problem is that Caravan manufacturers, for the most part, fit "ST" rated fridges which are useless when it gets to 35 C or above.

The dough you will spend (extra batteries plus sloar panels and/or a generator) will far exceed the amount you will spend to upgrade from ST to T.

Jim.

AnswerID: 367666

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 11:54

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 11:54
Hi
This thread on another forum may illustrat how wide spread the problem of incorrect installations is
http://caravanersforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3598
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FollowupID: 635369

Reply By: Member - Porl - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 21:06

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 21:06
After owning numerous compressor fridges I rented a 3 way fridge for a week long stay at Straddie, looking forward to the incredible economy of these thing on gas. It drove us nuts, it was relatively enclosed in a Coleman Lakeside tent and not fully exposed to the elements but when on medium it was freezing things near the plates but when on low the flame would be blown out (beach environment). And the design meant we had to take everything out to get it and it was very deep so super annoying.

I invested in a Fridgemate last week. 0.7amphours at notch 1 so i figure even if its 1 amphour I will take my chances with my 80w panels and a generator if needed. Nothing will freeze on setting one and the temperature will be predictable and even and nothing to blow out and with insulation made for Brisbane and north summers. Its got two optional baskets and an optional divider between fridge or freezer and fridge or coldest part of fridge. Wife loves it.

I cook, I take food very seriously, the 3 way just had too many variables for me to feel safe with it. Might suit others fine, but not my style of camping, and Brisbane and north most often sunlight is not an issue.
AnswerID: 367676

Reply By: Maîneÿ . . .- Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 09:36

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 09:36
rayj, you post: "I'm looking at having 2 x 120 ah batteries and a couple of 130 watt Kyocera panels.
Also have an eu2 Honda for the occasions it's needed.
Fridge will be around the 185 -190 lt"

Mate, I only use ~200 Watts (you 260 Watt) run a compressor fridge that _Affordable_Storage_Drawers.aspx a whopping ~10 Amps (average 6) and is connected 24/7 to 2 x 100 ah AGM's (you 240 ah) running with-out any battery or battery recharging problems at all.

Get a large compressor fridge, better still maybe get two fridge's, one as dedicated freezer and other as fridge, however ~180 Lt is a HUGE fridge/freezer capacity to be travelling with, look at some of the more 'normal' or 'usual' fridge sizes and maybe cut back the capacity to a more realistic "camping" capacity, I use 70 Lt F/F and that's large enough for us.

You can see by the posts above the 'nominated' problems and hassles associated with 3 way fridge's, YOU won't have any of those 'nominated' problems with a decent compressor fridge/freezer.
(I'm NOT suggesting the 3 way do have problems as I don't use one because the 'nominated' problems have been 'argued' about since day one with them)

Maîneÿ . . .
AnswerID: 367719

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