fridge advice

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 18:34
ThreadID: 95146 Views:1926 Replies:3 FollowUps:3
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just bought a camper trailer and trying to decide which fridge to buy.
we can get a used but in as new condition Dometic RC1180 3 way fridge for around the $550
or are we better to go 12v and solar charging system something like a bushman?

any advice appreciated
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Reply By: The Bantam - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 21:11

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 21:11
The fact is that a 3 way fridge will never be as efficient or as effective as a compressor bassed fridge.

All 3 way fridges have issues with being level and being operated while mooving.

Remember a 3 way fridge running on gas has a flame.

The only reason you would buy a 3 way fridge these days is that you want to run on gas.
Running on gas WILL give you a very simple way of getting a long run time.

In this day and age, solar has come of age and the whole 12 volt thing is far more viable than it was in the past.

Just don't go overboard with the size of fridge and make sure you get a big enough battery and enough solar pannels.
AND the battery needs to be bigger and you need more solar pannels than you think.

Think in the region of 200Ah of battery and 250+ watts of pannels for a 40 litre fridge running as a fridge.


AnswerID: 484210

Follow Up By: petengail - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 15:16

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 15:16
We have a Chescold RC1180, couldn't be more pleased with it. If you turn it down enough it will freeze your beer in the fridge compartment. Freezer works excellently both on 12V, 240 and gas. I understand that they need heavy guage wiring on 12V. True it does have to be level but I have never had a problem with that. (Spirit level and a couple of chocks) If you are getting one "as new" for $550, about half price, you can buy a hell of a lot of gas for the amount you will spend on solar panels, second battery, and the wiring for that battery. If you decide you dont like it, sell it, you will get your 550 back. Our camping episodes tend to be to go somewhere for at least 6 days, minimum and anywhere up to 3 months maximum, so we dont do a hell of a lot of travel, stop travel. Cheers Pete
FollowupID: 759518

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 16:38

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 16:38
No doubt 3 way fridges are cheaper and they do work, but the efficiency and effectivness point remains.

AND they need to be stationary and level to achieve best efficiency.

They simply take far more energy to operate than a compressor bassed fridge, they take far longer to pull down to temperature and they take longer to recover.

The only time they have an advantage is running on gas, and that is because of the energy storage density of gas.

No doubt a 3 way fridge is a viable thing for extended fixed site stays away from mains power...and for larger fridges

But outside of that they have difficulty compeeting with the modern compressor bassed portable fridge.

Remember too there are the ventilation issues and the gas safety issues to be dealt with.

FollowupID: 759532

Reply By: Member - Tom C - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 17:08

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 17:08
Cheers Tim O,
In my opinion, it all depends on the ambient temperatures you'll be operating in. We ran a Chescold for about three years and it was fine in southern areas but when we got up north on 32+ days it basically collapsed, just couldn't handle the heat, so we went to compressor fridges and freezers. If you get into hot weather you need to be very careful of your fridge management, any advantage you can give it, such as shade, breeze and minimum access will make an appreciable difference.
AnswerID: 484290

Reply By: tim o - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 17:20

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 17:20
we live on the south coast of NSW and will mainly be staying around Yadboro/shallow crossing and Danjeera and not staying for more than a week at the most (unfortunatley due to work commitments).


AnswerID: 484292

Follow Up By: Roland Bow - Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 23:56

Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 at 23:56
We have one of both;

Get the 3 way / gas if your staying in one spot, and you just want to keep your food cool (not drinks) and if you chill your food down at home before you transfer it into the fridge. Adding one or two frozen ice blocks before you go also helps. Its much more convenient / efficient on a gas bottle. You should be able to get a cheaper fridge as well (maybe $500), and if your only using it for a week a year.... should work well.

If you fill you fridge up with beer and wine every afternoon, that will take a lot of energy for the fridge to chill down and its unlikely that the 3 way will cope. Least our little Mobi-cool 3 way doesn't. Works well only for storing the snags and milk, and very infrequent opening / closing of the lid. One must use it wisely and for a specific purpose for it to be any good. We use it mainly for the annual Barrington tops trip where we sit in camp spot for up to a week without moving. The ambient outside temperature is also quite cool : )

Consequently if your mobile, move campsites every few days, are in and out of the fridge every 5 minutes to grab beer, or your wife likes to chill her bottle of wine down in the afternoon, the compressor fridge wins hands down. Much colder and effective. Also if you go north into the tropics, well I couldn't imagine a three way working at all. It would be a hilarious disaster. More likely to act as some hideous sort of slow cooker !

With any fridge, like the other person replying to your thread said, no matter which one you get, be kind to the fridge, keep it in the shade, only open it when you have to, in 40 degree stinking hot days up north, put a damp cloth on it and do what every you need too, to help keep it cool. This is so important. If you don't the three way will simply fail to keep cold, and a compressor one will run constantly / hunt the thermostat, flattening your battery twice as quickly.

If I remember correctly we run our Bushman 35/40 SC off a 140amp deep cycle truck battery, slung under the tray of the Hilux. I normally expect to get about 2 days out of it before having to recharge - In Broome, I had to charge nearly once a day (It was Summer at the time and insanely hot). Down past Canberra, maybe once every three days.

I have a generator but these days don't bother taking it on short trips. I recharge by turning on the hilux for half hour or I schedule in a little sight seeing trip. Best diesel generator ever invented. If I went travelling for a year again, I'd get a second battery if the alternator would cope and maybe a panel. Having the fridge cut out from a dead battery is such a pain, particularly if your using it as a freezer and by the time you have noticed, things have started to defrost!

In summary. Compressor fridge wins hands down. I wouldn't trade my Bushman for the world. It is 11 years old this year and still works a charm. An Engel or Waeco would probably be as good but I got the bushman on sale at the time....

They work well as a beer fridge / extra freezer when you get home if you buy 240/12 transformer for about $20. A 3 way however, could be a budget conscious and convenient choice, for a once a year annual trip, to a specific place in the colder climes.

Btw, don't bother with one of those thermo cooler things that pretend to be a fridge (supposed to keep your food up to 20 degrees colder than ambient etc etc). Had one of those as well once, to use as a chiller to augment the Bushman. Absolutely useless. Chewed power and completely failed to keep anything remotely cool during the day. In my mind, quickest way to catch a dose of food poisoning.

Btw, have you thought about getting a monster sized, good quality fibre-glass esky? If you fill them up to the brim with ice, those things can last for days, and days, and days, with care. You might get one to last almost a week down south.

Hope rambling response helps
FollowupID: 759594

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