Rv fridge vs residential

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Jey

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Can someone explain to me the benefit of having an RV specific refrigerator?

I know one reason is to have it run on propane, But is there any other benefit?

You can?t run it on propane while driving (or people say you shouldn?t?) so do people just leave their food in a cooler until they get to their campsite?

My thought was to eliminate propane to the fridge and get a residential one that actually has a ?freezer? section (my current fridge is a dometic one door with the little drawer thing on top for a freezer) and eventually have it run on solar

I just could see us using a freezer more than just the fridge and rv refrigerators are crazy expensive.

 

Larry N.

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The prime benefit to an absorption  fridge is that it runs on propane, making it do well for those who boondock a lot. And most people DO run it on propane while going down the road. A residential fridge not only cools better, but it uses less electricity than the RV type does when on electric. They generally are also more roomy for the space they take up.
 

Gizmo100

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I run my fridge on propane going down the road. The only thing I'm careful about is making sure I'm level if I'm going to be stopped for a long time.

If I was able to add enough solar I would want the residential.
 

Drewd

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Have run my fridge on propane while on the road for 10 years.  That is the main benefit.  Burning about 1 pound of propane a day is a great way to have a fridge while boondocking.  I will NEVER own an RV with a residential fridge. 

BTW, it took several modifications to my propane fridge to get it to perform as reliability as a compressor fridge.  First, snip the tip thermistor, recirculating fan insdie fridge, third cooling fans in fridge vent that ensures rock solid cooling in temps above 95 deg F.
 

Prior member

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This is our first trailer with a residential refrigerator and we love it.
If you don't boon dock a residential one is the way to go. Ours is bigger then the one in our home.
We can fit much more in both the main portion and the freezer. We keep six ice cube trays and it still as lots of room for frozen stuff.

With that said, if you travel a lot it would not be good, but if you are staying in one place it is much better than a RV one

Jack L
 

Corky

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Drewd said:
BTW, it took several modifications to my propane fridge to get it to perform as reliability as a compressor fridge.  First, snip the tip thermistor, recirculating fan insdie fridge, third cooling fans in fridge vent that ensures rock solid cooling in temps above 95 deg F.

I am on the fence as to buy a residential or replace with another RV unit.

If you could detail how you made your modifications I would probably keep the fridge I have and save some time and money.
Being a total noob with cooling units I have no idea of how they really work, but I'm learning.

Corky
 

ClassyC

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Western NY
After reading a number of posts on fire or near-fire blackened panels, I am leaning the residential way.  Either the compressor upgrade to the RV fridge or a residential unit replacement.  I spent a good deal of my working life assessing and eliminating unacceptable risks and this one is weighing on me....Yes, it means solar upgrade too but that has other benefits.
 

SpencerPJ

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I run mine down the road while on propane.  I question if it is a good idea if I ever get into an area with steep grades.  A friend in Arizona (who encounters steep grades) has a rule that if he sees a posted sign about a grade, it's probably a good idea to turn Fridge off for that trip.  It's fine for several hours, as long as you don't open it.  Any opinions on this are welcome....

As far as you Jey:  Does your current unit work?  What are your intentions? Weekend fun, or traveling a lot? 
 

Jey

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SpencerPJ said:
I run mine down the road while on propane.  I question if it is a good idea if I ever get into an area with steep grades.  A friend in Arizona (who encounters steep grades) has a rule that if he sees a posted sign about a grade, it's probably a good idea to turn Fridge off for that trip.  It's fine for several hours, as long as you don't open it.  Any opinions on this are welcome....

As far as you Jey:  Does your current unit work?  What are your intentions? Weekend fun, or traveling a lot?


I?ve only had one go with my refrigerator and I didn?t have it on long enough to tell how cold it got, Also the trailer was not level. My main concern is the lack of freezer space

We will boondock once or twice a year, Other than that we will be at campgrounds for generally 3-5 days.

We own yeti coolers that we typically take tent camping with us but of course now we will have a real stove and microwave so having a freezer sounds like a much better Idea.


I?m not sure I would ever feel comfortable enough to leave the propane on going down the road. I have zero experience with propane and frankly it scares me to use it at all. I know in time the fear will pass and it might be something I really enjoy having.

I?m assuming with a residential it won?t matter if the trailer isn?t level?
 

John From Detroit

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The primary benefit is to have it run on Propane... That means if you are overnighting somewhere where you do not have shore power or can not run your generator you do not need a big inverter and additional batteries.. Plus running an inverter when driving puts a major load on the inverter.  Not all Trailer battery charge systems (on trailers) are up to the load though most are.

They are near silent as well.. The cooling system was designed... Long long ago (my grandfather worked on Absorption cooling units.. Compressor units were .. Well he designed and built those as well,  he was a refrigeration engineer).

Basically I like that there is darn little to go wrong with 'em..

I also have a small compressor freezer.. It failed last week and now needs replacement.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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    First, snip the tip thermistor


What does this do or how does this help?
"Snip-the-tip" is a convenient repair part for the thermister (temp sensor) inside the fridge.  I don't know why you would want one if your existing thermister is working; it's not a superior part. Just easier to install than a factory replacement.

https://www.snip-the-tip.com/cgi-bin/articca.cgi
 

SpencerPJ

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If it were me, I first would rig it so you can just run it in the garage or back patio with regular 110vac extension cord.  Get your dad to help, you don't want to connect it wrong.  Let it run 6 plus hours, and feel inside the freezer, they take a while to cool down.  Now freezer space, what we find in our mostly weekend and 5 day camping, we don't have a ton of freezer items.  Ice for margaritas, ice cream, lol. We do have a decent size RV fridge (by rv standards).  This certainly needs to be a consideration while the interior is gutted,  ;).  Most people with a basic 17-25' pull behind travel trailer keep with a traditional unit, that operates off propane or electric.  And if you boondock, you will appreciate that convenience.  Just because the windows leaked and ruined the flooring and walls, should not be a concern that the fridge has issues as well.  If it were me, I'd try and minimize spending money unless I had to, and coolers is a great way to supplement size issues.   
 

FunSteak

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We boondock often, so RV fridge all the way.  We routinely run it in transit, and no issues so far.  I've always heard that while driving, there is plenty of movement to keep the refrigerant circulating, even on grades. 

There are two occasions I will turn it off (aside from when not in use, of course).  First is when fueling - sort of a no-brainer, IMO.  The other is when parked significantly out of level, like at a store or something with the parking lot on a hill.  Otherwise, we just let 'er run. 

Now, on some trips, we have a lot of beverages - too much to fit in the fridge all at once.  We use a mid-sized Coleman Xtreme cooler, that fits handily into a space in our rig, for cold drinks.  All the food stays in the fridge.  Added bonus - keeps us from being in and out of the fridge a lot, so it holds temps better and doesn't cycle too often.  When drink ice is needed (beyond one or two refills), I have another, smaller cooler just for ice that lives in the shower stall.

When getting around 1 hour from departing our S&B home, I place a few frozen water bottles in the fridge to "pre-cool" it for a bit.  Then immediately before we leave, we load the fridge with cold and frozen stuff and flip it on as we depart.  You can drink the water once it thaws.  Fridge is usually at temp within 30 minutes or so from departure, since it doesn't have to work very hard due to pre-cooling and loading with cold stuff. 

This has been working perfectly for us.  Of course, YMMV.  ;)
 

UTTransplant

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We had the standard propane/electric RV refrigerators for many, many years. In those days we took long weekends and two longer trips a year to remote spots. Almost all of it was dry camping. The refrigerators were efficient on propane, but we had to keep an eye on the adjustment switch, moving it up and down depending on the ambient temperature and whether the refrigerator vents were in the sun or not. A bit of a pain, but manageable most of the time. However we never were able to keep ice cream for more than a couple of days, and ice even less! We now have a residential refrigerator and boondock 60-90 days a year. I would never go back to the RV refrigerator! Do I need more batteries? Yup, and well worth it. We have six 6 volt batteries, 900 watts of solar, and a generator to back up the solar on short or overcast days. BTW, we seldom stay any place more than 4-5 days, the Forum rally in Quartzsite being the exception where we stay for 2-3 weeks. Lots of travel days, some parking lot camping, more FS and NPS dry camping and boondocking. All of it perfectly manageable with the residential refrigerator.
 

shorts

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We love our residential refrigerator and even before we added solar we were able to boondock. We did have to replace the single crappy 12v battery the dealership installed and went with four 6v golf cart batteries. That and the 1000 watt inverter kept everything cold while traveling and boondocking. Lots of freezer room and no worry about fire from propane fridge. Now with solar, lithium batteries and a larger inverter, we can boondock longer without running the generator.

Vicki
 

TonyL

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Our 2018 fifth wheel has a residential unit which has terrific space, but we were worried about boondocking. As yet we have not done much in really hot weather, but running the generator for 1/2 hour in the morning, also useful for your morning breakfast toast, 160 watt solar during the day and running the generator at night from around 18:30 until 21:00 and we has absolutely no problems. However, I just watched a video on you tube done by a guy at Haylett rv. They sell all types of units so I would guess their advice would be unbiased. They do not like the residential unit as they seem to think it is not designed to be bounced around in a travel trailer, or fifth wheel. Probably not a problem in the newer RV's with air suspension to cushion the movement. Unless of course, that the residential units are specifically designed for purpose.
Regards
TonyL
 

Larry N.

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I'm on my second rig with a residential fridge, and there have been some rather heavy jolts at times, and still no problems that can be attributed there. One of them did need a new compressor, but the folks who replaced that compressor said that that specific age and model had a reputation for that -- in houses, since they weren't RV repair people. I suspect they're pretty rugged, and they're certainly not as sensitive to leveling or to ambient temperature variations, plus they have lot more internal capacity than the absorption ones, plus they cool quicker and better.
 

docj

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I find these threads amusing because the RV "community" consists of people who use their RVs in very different ways.  Some are "traditional" RVers who view their RV's as a means of going "camping".  Others, such as us, don't have any interest in "camping" and view our RVs as "homes" that simply travel with us.  The first group sees residential fridges as "wrong" and inconsistent with their RV lifestyle.  The other group is more concerned with hard frozen ice cream and lots of storage space than we are with whether or not residential fridges are "consistent" with camping!  Neither group will ever agree with the other.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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It's true that residential fridges weren't designed for that. Neither are residential TVs or DVD players.  I've seen a lot of people try to make that into a problem, but so far there is no evidence of any problem. That is not to say that no residential fridge has ever failed, but nothing that can be linked to mobile use.

The biggest potential problem is that residential fridge makers may deny warranty IF the RV question comes up. There are two potential reasons for denial: (1) It's "built-in", and (2) it wasn't designed for mobile use.  Also, some fridge repair techs may refuse to work in an RV, or maybe require that the owner move the fridge out for full access.  I haven't actually seen a report of any of those (yet).
 
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