Generator to run fridge

SaltyGopher

Member
May 25, 2021
31
Western Canada
I cannot for the life of me get my fridge running on propane reliably, and am thinking it might be a good idea to get a small generator for when we’re in the mountains for 7 nights this summer.

I know this has been addressed before but most people are wanting to run a/c - we won’t be using that but do need the fridge and possibly the heater (I think it must use a little electricity?) I don’t care about phones or electronics as there’s no service anyway, and we have lots of battery powered lights.

Pardon my ignorance, I’m new to being the responsible one with this trailer thing!
 

kennedyma

Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Oct 8, 2018
124
You wouldn't want to run your current fridge via Solar. You would spend way too much $$$ on it and the batteries required to run that type of fridge on DC electric.

One option though is to get a DC compressor style fridge. This is the one I have an have never looked back: https://www.mainlineoverland.com/pr...th-ice-maker-wifi-and-bluetooth-free-shipping

Depending on your current battery setup, you might also have to upgrade it as well. As you can see it gets costly.

Here is a handy calculator you can use to determine your power needs. It will let you know how long you can run stuff with different battery types.
https://nomaticsupply.com/pages/battery-calculator
 

Anthony Hitchings

Super Active Member
Silver Supporting Member
Mar 2, 2019
3,948
Oakland, California
The Dometic propane frig uses more electricity (in 12V mode) than a convenient battery can store for 7 nights. A compressor type of frig/cooler (Engel) is more efficient, and would likely run off a 100 AH Renogy Lithium battery /($$$) or a fully charged Group 27 Marine battery - both with no solar - for at least half a week.

IF you can get sunshine, then a solar system like a Jackery w/ PV panels running, an Engel will do the trick.

We have the 40 Qt Engel and use only solar. One fixed 100W panel, and we sometimes set out the portable 100W panel.

FWIW - IF I remember correctly, the Engel and the propane alarm, and the built-in smart battery's electronics (BMS), and minimal LED usage, and a very small amount of heater fan use, consumed b 10-15% of our 100AH storage overnight when boondocking. Which may have included charging a laptop via a small Inverter (I need to keep better records). My sense was that we could have done our recent 4 night trip with zero solar, and only a fully charged 100AH battery.

We bought our Renogy lithium battery on sale a Lowes. But it was another $60 on Amazon the (excellent) wired electronic monitor!
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
13,936
Albuquerque, NM
If you are thinking of running it on 110, using a generator, you would need to be running it 24/7. If you’re in a campground, that’s usually not allowed. Even if you are boon-docking or at-large camping, you need to think about how far the sound will carry, since others may be in the vicinity. Also, estimate how much fuel you would need to transport for the length of time you would be camping.
Solar is good in many places, but it charges the battery, running the fridge on 12v eats power quickly. Some of the big rigs use inverters to provide 110, but that requires a large battery bank and solar panel assembly larger than most popups would support.
The high efficiency fridges would be a possibility, if you can use solar to charge the battery, or generator for limited hours to do the same. (Before we bought our travel trailer with an LP/110 fridge and freezer, I really wanted an expedition style 12v fridge. Now, non-expedition 12v fridges are being used in some new campers, and unless/until those improve in efficiency, I would not accept one.)
 

generok

Super Active Member
Feb 7, 2013
3,457
Anchorage, AK
I'd agree, the best course of action is to get the LP working on the 3 way fridge. Check the many threads on places to clean and check the flame. Otherwise, you're in a whole new process of getting 24/7 110v to run.
 

Snow

Super Active Member
Jul 19, 2007
12,272
Ontario
I'm the camp of get the propane side of the fridge fixed.. if fridge works on A/C power, then the propane issue is fairly easy to fix..

If you really want to use a small generator,I suggest buying an Inverter style in the 1000-1500 watt range, this will run the fridge and electrical side of the furnace with no issues.. However like was mentioned above, you have to be aware of the noise and may not be able to run it 24/7..

Also look at the run time at half load listed for the generator.. this will give you and indication of how much fuel you'll need to carry..
 

Anthony Hitchings

Super Active Member
Silver Supporting Member
Mar 2, 2019
3,948
Oakland, California
If you get the propane operation of the frig "fixed", test it before your trip. Deliberately baffle-as-needed the rear cooling openings (in your camper wall) to simulate the outside temperature at your proposed campsite (bear in mind that some airflow must be maintained) - use a thermometer in the fins space to monitor the temperature. IF the frig does not work as needed, then remove baffles and aim a strong house fan at the rear fins - and see if the frig can hold 37 deg F inside.

There is nothing worse than having a frig that you have been told is OK - and it does not work in the heat of the field.
 

SaltyGopher

Member
May 25, 2021
31
Western Canada
I'm the camp of get the propane side of the fridge fixed.. if fridge works on A/C power, then the propane issue is fairly easy to fix..

If you really want to use a small generator,I suggest buying an Inverter style in the 1000-1500 watt range, this will run the fridge and electrical side of the furnace with no issues.. However like was mentioned above, you have to be aware of the noise and may not be able to run it 24/7..

Also look at the run time at half load listed for the generator.. this will give you and indication of how much fuel you'll need to carry..

I’ll be in a national and then a provincial park - 24/7 is a no no! So definitely sounding like not an option!
 

SaltyGopher

Member
May 25, 2021
31
Western Canada
If you get the propane operation of the frig "fixed", test it before your trip. Deliberately baffle-as-needed the rear cooling openings (in your camper wall) to simulate the outside temperature at your proposed campsite (bear in mind that some airflow must be maintained) - use a thermometer in the fins space to monitor the temperature. IF the frig does not work as needed, then remove baffles and aim a strong house fan at the rear fins - and see if the frig can hold 37 deg F inside.

There is nothing worse than having a frig that you have been told is OK - and it does not work in the heat of the field.
Thank you for that, I will!
 

Snow

Super Active Member
Jul 19, 2007
12,272
Ontario
I’ll be in a national and then a provincial park - 24/7 is a no no! So definitely sounding like not an option!

Now I've never done this, so I can't say for sure, but you could use the generator to run the fridge and top up the battery during the evening generator time tha most parks have, then turn off at designated quiet time, if the fridge gets cold enough, it should keep cold through the night and 8f needed the charged battery will operate the furnace.. then next day as soon as possible, run the generator and do the whole process again..
 

SaltyGopher

Member
May 25, 2021
31
Western Canada
Now I've never done this, so I can't say for sure, but you could use the generator to run the fridge and top up the battery during the evening generator time tha most parks have, then turn off at designated quiet time, if the fridge gets cold enough, it should keep cold through the night and 8f needed the charged battery will operate the furnace.. then next day as soon as possible, run the generator and do the whole process again..

I thought about this too. And it would be good to have a generator anyway so it wouldn’t be a complete waste.

I think for this trip though, if getting the fridge fixed is too pricey we can do the old school ice and coolers - we’ll be close enough to the Jasper townsite to run in and get ice and even daily meat if we need to!
 

Grandpa Don

Super Active Member
Sep 5, 2018
1,886
Southern California
I recently purchased a compressor type Fridge because I just didn't trust my Propane Fridge. It worked okay, but the temperature would fluctuate way too much for my liking. There are many compressor Fridges out there and many are reasonably priced. Many are made by the same company, but sold under different names. I got the Alpicool C40 for just over $300.00. I have a review on it somewhere on this forum, but I don't where that is at the moment.

Basically, I ran the C40 on one battery and one 100 watt Solar panel for 6 days and never drained the battery. The only problem I had was trying to keep the solar panel in the sunlight. Because of the warmer than normal summer temperatures in the High Sierra mountains, I parked my Viking under the shade trees. I did not have direct sunlight until late afternoon. If I would have had a 20 foot extension cord for my Solar panel, I could have been in the sun the whole time. I have since made one up. The C40 worked very well and maintained the internal temperature to within 3 or 4 degrees day and night. A lot of folks are now converting to the Compressor type Fridges. I really have not read any bad reports on any of the different brands out there. The specs say that the C40 uses 45 Watts and about 3.0 amps when running. That's not much.
 

nitrohorse

Active Member
May 27, 2015
215
NE Pennsylvania
I recently purchased a compressor type Fridge because I just didn't trust my Propane Fridge. It worked okay, but the temperature would fluctuate way too much for my liking. There are many compressor Fridges out there and many are reasonably priced. Many are made by the same company, but sold under different names. I got the Alpicool C40 for just over $300.00. I have a review on it somewhere on this forum, but I don't where that is at the moment.

Basically, I ran the C40 on one battery and one 100 watt Solar panel for 6 days and never drained the battery. The only problem I had was trying to keep the solar panel in the sunlight. Because of the warmer than normal summer temperatures in the High Sierra mountains, I parked my Viking under the shade trees. I did not have direct sunlight until late afternoon. If I would have had a 20 foot extension cord for my Solar panel, I could have been in the sun the whole time. I have since made one up. The C40 worked very well and maintained the internal temperature to within 3 or 4 degrees day and night. A lot of folks are now converting to the Compressor type Fridges. I really have not read any bad reports on any of the different brands out there. The specs say that the C40 uses 45 Watts and about 3.0 amps when running. That's not much.
I second the 12v compressor fridge. I have a 55 liter model and it also works well. I use a 200 watt Renegy folding suitcase solar panel to charge the battery during the day and it's handles the fridge with no problems,
 

1380ken

Super Active Member
Nov 7, 2013
2,988
Mass
Is it worth the trouble for the small refrigerator. I camp with electricity and still didn't use the refrigerator and replaced it with an A.C.
My wife didn't like having food in the camper even in the refrigerator. I use coolers that can be locked in the TV. You could get a generator and an ice maker.
 

theseus

Living the Darkside...
Silver Supporting Member
Feb 6, 2007
3,553
Centerville, OH
I love the compressor fridge in our TT, but for you fixing the LP will be the cheapest and when fixed will allow you to boondock as much as you want.
 




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