Pulled the 3-way Fridge! Bought a Compressor-Fridge, and built a Utensil-Drawer.

Firehawk068

Active Member
Mar 22, 2016
302
The last couple camping seasons, I noticed a decline in the performance of the 3-way Fridge.
I tried everything, and cleaned everything really well. The burner, the flue, the propane orifice.
It used to work awesome on propane, but after much testing and even buying a new orifice-cup, it just will not maintain a safe food-storage temperature during the day.
12-volt and 120-volt both work about the same, and neither will keep the fridge cold when the daytime temps are in the 80's or above.
I finally got fed-up and yanked it out!

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I decided to just rip the band-aid off all at once and go for the best fridge that was within my price range.
They also were offering 10% off for Father's Day with a coupon-code, so I pulled the trigger!
I bought the Iceco VL90 Pro Dual-Zone Fridge/Freezer.

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It will run on either 120-volt A/C or 12/24-volts D/C, and uses a "Danfoss" compressor with a 5-year warranty.

I wanted one that would slide into the space where the old one was during travel, with the controls accessible from the outside vent-panel.
This one just happens to fit in there perfectly!
I used some screen material that I had in the garage, and made my own trim-rings from an old plastic waste-bin, to fabricate a couple of vents so that the airflow through the sides of the compressor-fridge wasn't blocked when slid into the opening.

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Firehawk068

Active Member
Mar 22, 2016
302
Since there is already a 120-volt outlet "right there" from the old fridge, I just had to move some wires around and install a 12-volt lighter-socket in there as well. I used the wires that powered the 12-volt heating element from the old fridge.
I also cleaned-up some of the other wiring that was back there, and capped-off the end of the propane-line and moved it into the utility/wiring space behind the cabinet wall.

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Testing it out.........I plugged the camper into shore-power, and the fridge will run off the converter power.
While boondocking I'll run it off the batteries. (I have four 6-volt golf-cart batteries, and 100-watt solar panel, so I should be fine)
I'll run it on 120-volts if I have shore-power at the campsite.

It took about an hour to get the internal temps from 80-degrees down to around 20-ish.
I can adjust all the controls from the outside with the camper all closed-up if I need to.
Either zone can be a fridge or a freezer, or both. You can adjust their temps individually from 0-degrees to 50-degrees, or you can shut either zone off and just use one zone to save power.
It was 96-degrees ambient here yesterday, and the fridge/freezer will get to 0-degrees with it all closed-up in the camper no problem!
I'm happy with the performance of the Iceco!


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I finished-off the install by disconnecting the fridge propane-line from the main propane feed pipe underneath the camper.
I capped off the main feed, and also capped-off that end of the now "dead" propane-line. I'll leave it in place for when the time comes to sell the camper, I'll put the old 3-way fridge back in there.
I turned the gas on and tested the cap and other junctions with some soapy water to test for leaks. I didn't find any.

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I added a waterproof marine 12-volt socket to the outside of the camper on the "curb-side", so that I can power the fridge off of batteries when boondocking if I have the fridge outside on a table under the awning.
There is already a 120-volt outlet on the outside wall on that side of the camper.
I contemplated mounting the 12-volt socket up on the wall next to the 120-volt outlet, but that would add an extra level of complication to running the 12-volt wires through the camper.
I decided to mount it on the frame underneath, near the back. This made an easy run for the wiring to the battery junction block at the back, underneath the camper.
I put a waterproof fuse-holder for the circuit at the junction-block so it is protected.
I also completely encased the back of the socket with silicone where the wires connect to seal out any moisture from getting in there during transit.

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Firehawk068

Active Member
Mar 22, 2016
302
Since there is now this big space where the old fridge used to be, I added something that I've wanted in this camper that it never had................a "Utensil-Drawer"
We've always just chucked all the cooking-utensils and silverware into bins underneath the sink.

I started by mounting some plywood that I had laying around the garage to the thin cabinet walls, to make a more solid place to mount the drawer-slides.

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Bought some nicely selected pine-boards from Home-Depot and some "soft-close" drawer-slides in 18" length.
I measured, cut, and then glued and pinned the drawer together using my air-nailer. Then screwed the front-face on from the inside.

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I took a piece of the cabinet to the store with me, and tried to find the closest match for a stain color.
Once applied it isn't really a close match, but it doesn't look bad.......................

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The next day I measured, marked, and installed the drawer-slides. Then mounted the drawer in place!
I used the knob off the door for the cassette toilet cabinet, and replaced that one with one that was close but not a match.

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Used a spare piece of tool-box liner to lay in the bottom, and now we have a useful space for all the cooking/eating utensils!

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Firehawk068

Active Member
Mar 22, 2016
302
There's plenty of leftover stain, and I had one cabinet door underneath one of the dinette benches where the vinyl-covering had shrunk and was peeling off and torn.
I took the door off, and peeled all the remaining vinyl "wood-look" covering off.
I used some "goof-off" to get all the adhesive residue off the door, and lightly sanded it before applying the stain.
It didn't turn out too bad, and looks way better than the torn and peeling vinyl material did.

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Next big job is to tackle the flooring in the off-season. (as you can see by my gorilla-tape holding it together)
 

Firehawk068

Active Member
Mar 22, 2016
302
will the inner lid open with that new drawer in lpace?
It will open "part way", but I'm not really planning to use the fridge in that position when set-up.
I'll move it to either on top of the shower cabinet, or outside on a table when parked.
The lids will open in either direction, or are removable entirely. I can always remove the lids to access the fridge when it's slid under the cabinet.
 

jonkquil

Super Active Member
Jul 20, 2009
891
That came out great, thanks for the tutorial. I'd love to add the 12v port to the outside of my p-up, that would be super handy!

Can you close your roof with your mattress topper on or do you have to stow it somewhere else?
 

Firehawk068

Active Member
Mar 22, 2016
302
That came out great, thanks for the tutorial. I'd love to add the 12v port to the outside of my p-up, that would be super handy!

Can you close your roof with your mattress topper on or do you have to stow it somewhere else?
The roof does close with the mattress-topper in place.
It is the absolute max thickness that will still allow the roof to close.
 

Oldspurs

Active Member
Jan 2, 2022
280
Central Texas
Thank you for sharing your mods. Very nice upgrade, coupled with well thought out, highly workable additional mods. We celebrate all those that take the initiative to create these well executed upgrades. Enjoy the camp. See you on the trail.
 

greelc

New Member
Jul 6, 2022
1
I don't even own a popup (yet), but this is EXACTLY what I want to do if I get one. I was even planning on that brand of fridge haha.
 

cam_1100

Member
May 10, 2018
84
Rochester, MN
Nice. We've been pretty lucky with the 3-way fridge so far and it's been able to keep things cool enough, but I'd really like something with a little more muscle to cool things down, a bit more space, and a freezer.
The drawer is a nice touch; there's never enough storage. We keep a 3-drawer Sterlite "cabinet" for utensils, plates, and random small items. It stays on the floor when the pup is down and sits on top of the fridge cabinet when setup. The PO left it when we bought the camper and it's been really handy. Similar to the one below without the wheels attached. Thinking of adding another to keep food in while camping vs the bins we use now to make it a little easier to find things and keep the bread and buns from getting squished so much.
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We also have a mattress topper like yours on one side (parent's side). It make a big difference in the comfort level. Need to get one for the kid's side...once I feel like they've suffered enough.
 




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