Residential vs RV Fridge

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brclark82

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Central IL
I am looking for pros and cons of each.  The new fifth wheel we are looking at has both options and they have a residential model on their lot so obviously they are telling me how amazing they are but I want to get some opinions. 

We do very little (if any) boondocking.

Residential-
I have been told that it cools down very quickly compared to RV fridge (like 1-2 hours vs 24hrs or more) is this true?
Obviously the size
Ice Maker

RV-
Runs on propane and doesn?t use much so more options to keep food cold
Doesn?t require an inverter (I guess thats a positive because of less stuff to maintain/replace?)
Cheaper to run

Looking for anything I may have missed ot just gotten wrong.

Thanks
 
As you've been told, the residential does cool down much more quickly, and it recovers much more quickly from the door(s) being open more than a couple of seconds. In other words, the behavior is just as the one in your house. Since there is no propane option, your rig will need more batteries with the residential.

With the RV-style fridge, you can get an icemaker if you wish, even with water and ice access in the door (may be optional), and you have the option of running off of propane when it makes sense. But, as noted, it takes a lot longer to cool down when it's turned on (often a full day), it takes longer to recover from doors being opened, generally has less interior space, and is sensitive to leveling. A very hot day may sometimes mean that the fridge warms up a bit, too.

An inverter is useful for much more than just a fridge, if you have sufficient batteries, since you can have most anything (except microwave and air conditioner) running any time you want, even when going down the road. And you can even run the microwave (with enough battery) for short periods, such as reheating a cup of coffee or similar tasks.
 
There is an enormous amount of power in a tank of propane.  To run a residential refrigerator, you need to replace that power with shore power, use a generator or use solar power.  In your case, the residential will be fine if you are sure that shore power will always be available.  I do wonder if the shift to residential refrigerators is well thought out by the end users.
 
If you don?t boondock I see no reason to waste a second on the discussion - get residential. Not as picky about being level, icemaker is lovely, it just works without having to be adjusted for the exterior temperature. And the inverter isn't an issue since they don?t fail often, and you need one for other things anyway. We struggled a bit because we DO boondock/ dry camp a lot, so we just bought our rig with extra batteries and added more solar.

Note the biggest issue I would have with any of the big refrigerators is for weekenders. I can?t imagine filling a refrigerator for 2 days then having to empty it. Ugh. I think the bigger the better for long term travel though.
 
Residential fridges use less electricity than a an RV fridge in electric mode, even i much larger.

Residential fridges cool faster and more evenly, keeping a more uniform temperature (becasue of forced air circulation inside)

Residential fridges are frost-free and the freezer does not require defrosting

Both types can have ice makers - many larger RV fridges have them.

RV fridges have propane (LP) mode as an alternative to electric; residential fridges do not. An advantage for RV if external power is limited or none.

Residential fridges provide more cubic ft of refrigerated space for a given physical size, e.g. a 15-19 cubic ft residential will fit where a 10-12 cubic ft RV fridge goes.

A residential fridge requires an inverter and more battery capacity (amp-hours) even if there are only relatively short periods without external (including generator) power. Not a huge battery bank, but more than might be needed otherwise.

If the fridge is to be located in a slideout, the residential fridge is better because it does not require external ventilation (which is very limited in slide installations).

Residential fridges are not hampered by off-level operation.


The bottom line is that the only advantage of the RV fridge is its ability to operate on LP and very little battery power.
 
Good info, I appreciate all the responses. 

From what I've noticed it seems that maybe the only outlet powered by the inverter would be the one the fridge is plugged into.  Does that seem correct? And if so, how do i use it to power other things? 

Also, is the inverter powered by the TV thru the wiring harness when I'm driving? If so do I need a higher amp alternator?

How long would a residential fridge run on battery (lets say 2 standard batteries) if nothing else was running?
 
We don't boondock often and run the generator when travelling so I'm not aware of ever having run the fridge on propane. We do have adequate room and an ice maker so the only real complaint is no auto defrost.

Ernie
 
From what I've noticed it seems that maybe the only outlet powered by the inverter would be the one the fridge is plugged into.  Does that seem correct? And if so, how do i use it to power other things? 
You need to discuss that with the RV maker - the outlets available via inverter is strictly up to them when they design the electrical system.  If the only outlet wired to the inverter is dedicated to the fridge, you would have to wire in additional outlets somehow & somewhere.  Or the inverter may have a power outlet right on its faceplate (depends on the inverter model).

Also, is the inverter powered by the TV thru the wiring harness when I'm driving? If so do I need a higher amp alternator?
The inverter is powered by the 12v battery bank in the RV.  The battery bank will receive charging from the tow vehicle assuming the 7-pin trailer connector is wired for full function (in the standard connection, one of the pins is +12v to the trailer battery).  Typically the TV can only supply 10-20 amps via that connection, so the standard engine alternator should be entirely adequate.

How long would a residential fridge run on battery (lets say 2 standard batteries) if nothing else was running?
Too many variables for a meaningful answer - anywhere from 8-24 hours.  Major variables include: size of each battery (amp hours), temperature inside the RV, how often and how long the fridge doors is open,  and make/model of fridge.
Modern fridges, even those not Energy Star rated, are very efficient and use maybe 200-300 watts while the compressor is running. Depending on your usage and the temperatures, the compressor may run only 40-60% of the time.  Boondocking RVers have measured usages as low as 140-180 watt-hours per hour for a large residential fridge. That's 12-15 amps from a 12v battery.  A smallish Group 24 battery stores about 80 amp hours, so it could run a fridge like that for about 6 hours. A Group 27 battery is about 30% large in capacity, so proportionately longer.
 
We occasionally boondock for a week at a time, and a two hour generator run daily keeps our two batteries topped up enough to run the residential fridge, our satellite TV system, lights, a couple of laptop PC's, our cell Internet hotspots and booster, and charge our phones. We typically schedule our generator run times for when we'll also want to run the microwave and/or coffeemaker.
 
One thing to keep in mind:

Some people try to travel long distances to reach a desired destination as quickly as possible.  They'll drive the interstates from dawn to dusk, and often they will overnight at truck stops or in Walmart parking lots instead of trying to find a campground.  Technically, this isn't "boondocking" since you aren't in the boondocks, this is called "dry camping" since there are no water or electric hook-ups.

If this is your travel style, and you have a residential fridge, then you will need either an inverter or a built in generator.  Fortunately, while most campgrounds won't allow you to run a generator at night, this isn't a problem at truck stops and Walmarts.  In fact, most of the trucks overnighting at truck stops will have generators running to power their air conditioners in hot weather.

Oh, and many of the larger inverters - in the 3,000 to 4,000 watt range - have built in transfer switches and power EVERY 120 volt outlet in the camper when they are turned on.
 
If you don't BD then resi all the way. If you BD little then you may want to increase your battery bank.  I'd guess that overnighting at Walmart or something you'd probably want two group batteries or a couple 6 volts.

If you want to B D for a few days you can run a small inverter generator and even use a couple hundred watts of portable panels.  Before BD and running a generator check out the Voltage output of your converter because it makes a huge difference in trying to put the generator gasoline into the battery if it's only putting out 13.6 volts and maybe 13.5 or 13.4 is reaching the battery. A converter upgrade is under $200 and some will do 14.8 volts. I wouldn't buy anything under 14.4 v and about 50 amps.

You also want LED bulbs when BD.
 
Con: At least with mine, the residential fridge is a little heavier. Mine is in a slide and I have to help the slide go in and out using bodily force (not much)  while my DW holds the button. Not a big deal for us.

Pros: The biggest one is mama is much much happier the the residential fridge.

When we're traveling, the fridge is on powered by the inverter. My truck keeps the RV battery charged. If we stop at a Walmart for the night, I usually shut off the inverter for the night just to make sure the RV battery is still good in the morning. I usually put my front jacks down just to make the RV a little more stable so I need the battery  to retract them. 
 
UTTransplant said:
Note the biggest issue I would have with any of the big refrigerators is for weekenders. I can?t imagine filling a refrigerator for 2 days then having to empty it. Ugh.

I can't imagine anyone just out for a weekend filling up the fridge all the way. We plan our meals usually and only take what we need. We're only talking about 5 meals.
 
Rene T said:
I can't imagine anyone just out for a weekend filling up the fridge all the way. We plan our meals usually and only take what we need. We're only talking about 5 meals.
Yes but five meals for some of us would take up two large refers ;D
 
At least with mine, the residential fridge is a little heavier.

When I was planning my residential conversion, I found that even larger fridges weighed less than my Norcold 1200, but that 1200 was a heavy beast (over 200 lbs).    The GE I installed was 25% larger in capacity but weighed 30 lbs less.
 
Gary RV_Wizard said:
When I was planning my residential conversion, I found that even larger fridges weighed less than my Norcold 1200, but that 1200 was a heavy beast (over 200 lbs).    The GE I installed was 25% larger in capacity but weighed 30 lbs less.

My swap to a residential was closer to even, with a 119 lb Haier 10.1 cu ft residential fridge replacing a 122 lb Norcold 8 cu ft fridge.
 

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