Need refrigerator recommendations!

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villascorpio

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Sep 12, 2005
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Hi RVers!

I am not exactly an RVer myself but I think this is probably the right place to find experts on propane refrigerators.  My husband and I are moving into an off-the-grid cabin for about five months and we'll be using solar power and propane.  We think that a propane fridge is the way to go but we haven't been able to find any reviews of the available models and since they're quite expensive we'd like to hear some user reviews before we blindly pick one. 
Do any of you have favorite (or hated) models?  For those of you who are living in RVs full-time, how do you find the overall performance and efficiency of these fridges? 
Does anyone use dc fridges in their RV?  Any thoughts on these or on how they compare to propane?

Thanks in advance for your time!

 

Jim Dick

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Feb 11, 2005
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Titusville, FL
There are two major manufacturers of electric/propane refrigerators, Dometic and Norcold. Both seem to work equally well but individuals will have their preferences. Most of them work quite well but probably won't keep ice cream frozen for long periods of time. The amount of propane used isn't extreme but cooling of the unit is essential. Some models have built in fans around the coil to keep it cooler.

Don't even think about using DC for a refer! It takes way too much power to provide cooling. You would have to have more than solar panels to keep the batteries up.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Actually there are several other manufacturers of propane and/or DC power refrigerators. Dometic and Norcold dominate the RV industry, but there are many other choices for off-grid users. Most of the sites for solar power equipment will have at least one or two others.  Names include Sun Frost, Sun Danzer,  Servel and Nova Kool.  See http://www.affordable-solar.com/energy-efficient-appliances-refrigerators.html?source=google&keyword=solarrefrigerator for some examples.  These refrigerators have far better insulation than RV models and generally are more efficient.

DC power is an option for large solar powered systems, which often have large battery banks to store the sun's daily output. They may be operated by a DC motor/compressor rather than a 12V heating element as in 12V RV refers.

A web search on solar refrigerator or solar refrigeration will turn up lots of choices.
 

villascorpio

New member
Joined
Sep 12, 2005
Posts
2
Thanks for the responses.  I have found listings of those brands but as I haven't been able to find reviews from people who have actually used them I'm not sure which ones are reliable. well-built etc. and which ones are not. 

I'll keep surfing!  :)
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
72,123
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
Have you discovered the backwoodssolar.com web site yet?  They have been around quite a while and offer lots of advice for folks like you. Of course, they also sell stuff, so their opinions might be a bit biased.

They key in off-grid usage is efficiency - you can get by on miniscule amounts of power if the applainces are ultra efficient.  For fridges, that means insulation moreso than the cooling unit.  Ditto for water heaters - if you don't waste energy re-heating all the time, you can have plenty of hot water from solar sources.
 

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