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Old 02-01-2016, 08:42 AM   #15
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Food poisoning and spoiled food.
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Old 02-01-2016, 09:07 AM   #16
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Food poisoning and spoiled food.
Which is exactly why I described the "coin in the ice" trick for determining if thawing has occurred.
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Old 02-01-2016, 10:06 AM   #17
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I've heard the risks of traveling with the fridge on, but never any examples of actual disasters. Even the dealer recommended traveling with it on during my orientation, except for specific times you are required to turn off the propane, such as on ferries, etc. So I always travel with it on.
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Old 02-01-2016, 10:15 AM   #18
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I've heard the risks of traveling with the fridge on, but never any examples of actual disasters. Even the dealer recommended traveling with it on during my orientation, except for specific times you are required to turn off the propane, such as on ferries, etc. So I always travel with it on.
I've tried to find evidence of actual problems and came up empty.

The closest I came was a hydrogen fire from a defective fridge while someone was under way in a motorhome. While turning off the propane would have prevented a fire in that particular place and time, it likely would have just postponed it until parked somewhere -- not any safer. No one was hurt.

Even accidents while refuelling don't seem to occur. The all-causes fires at gasoline pumps are in the single digits to low teens nationwide each year, with static electricity being blamed for most of them and cigarette smoking for most of the rest.
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Old 02-01-2016, 10:35 AM   #19
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I've heard the risks of traveling with the fridge on, but never any examples of actual disasters.
Most of the cautionary tales of imminent disaster from using propane while in transit ignore simple physics and chemistry, namely that the concentration of flammable vapors in the air (from propane, fuel pumps, whatever) must be in between the upper and lower explosive limits for a fire to occur. Obtaining a concentration of vapors in that range is difficult even at a fuel pump, because they're outdoors and any breeze at all will dissipate the vapors. Tunnels are a problem because they're mostly enclosed, and tunnels under a waterway are especially problematic because they have low spots where vapors can collect. Which is why many tunnels require you to turn off your propane.

The rest of the time, the only real issue is whether the slipstream of your rolling down the road will blow out the flame. This problem is more of a problem if you have a pilot light, because once the pilot light blows out, the fridge will not relight by itself. With a spark ignition, if the flame does blow out, it can restart itself.
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Old 02-01-2016, 11:04 AM   #20
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Ditto on running the frig on propane when traveling.

I used to be afraid of the propane, too, but got over it and common sense has prevented there ever being an issue.

You don't need food spoiling, nor the aggravation of dealing with a cooler. It is perfectly safe.

Have a great time!


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Old 02-01-2016, 01:13 PM   #21
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We NEVER drive with the fridge turned on. We also turn it off a lot when we're boondocking to save on the battery (which propels the fan).

We NEVER have had a problem with spoiled food, let alone food poisoning.

I have a Canadian FoodSafe certification, BTW.

First off, a new AS has a really well insulated fridge. Before you start your trip, try to start with your food well-chilled or frozen. That way you're not trying to cool room-temperature food with the fridge before it's had a chance to run for a while. We either pack things in the fridge or in a separate picnic cooler with several of those blue freezer gel pacs.

Then we have a sort of perpetual rotating system with them. At night when the fridge is on, the gel pacs live in the freezer. When we drive or when we turn off the fridge at a multi-day boondocking site, one or more of them goes into the fridge compartment to keep cold food cold-- exactly like a picnic cooler except better insulated. Usually at the end of the day-- even for desert camping-- the cold pacs in the fridge compartment are still mostly frozen. We turn on the fridge. Then back they go into the freezer ready for the next day.

We were in a nasty accident with Bambi the First in 2014. In some ways it was a freak accident, but fundamentally it was not-- a driver ahead of us fell asleep at the wheel. The front right end of the AS was badly smashed. Thankfully the utility pole that she hit and that toppled into us missed the propane tanks, but the sudden impact was severe. I don't know what that kind of impact would do to a turned on propane system; but the point being, turning the propane off isn't for normal driving conditions-- it's in case (Heaven forbid) you get into an accident.

Oh, and did we tell you about the time we nearly hit a moose in Montana? Running into large wildlife is a fairly common type of accident in wooded areas.

To us, it's just not worth the risk.

Nor is the risk worth it to car ferries. Even if you park on the surface deck, you will be asked to shut off your propane. If it's a long journey, you'd want some alternate method of chilling your food, anyhow.
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Old 02-01-2016, 01:56 PM   #22
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So here's the main issue, which is not your beautifully maintained propane system and responsible driving habits, but what can happen when they leak:

http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=...e-b039479dfb6f

http://www.ktvz.com/news/bend-man-se...-fire/35220256

http://accesscamping.com/blog/2014/0...e-safety-tips/
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Old 02-01-2016, 04:58 PM   #23
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Ditto, who wants to deal with ice and ice chests. I would think that these refrigerators would not like to be switched on and off all the time. Enjoy your travels!!
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Old 02-01-2016, 06:55 PM   #24
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Assuming that you didn't want to be told "run the fridge on propane," there are a few other ways to deal with the situation.

1 - Don't even carry refrigerated/frozen foods in transit. Buy them at your destination. You can pick up regional specialties this way.

2 - Carry an ice chest and use either bagged ice or Blue Ice packs, or even dry ice for stuff that absolutely must stay frozen.

3 - Use a portable 12v fridge that plugs into a power outlet in the tow vehicle. Dometic makes several in different sizes (I have the smallest, to carry soft drinks within easy reach of the driver) but none as big as your trailer's fridge, of course.

One thing you probably won't be able to do is load up your fridge and then keep food cold in it without running the fridge. It's not insulated well enough for that.

You can use ice, or dry ice, in the fridge to maintain cold. Don't let it touch something directly, or it will freeze.

An alternate to dry ice, is to take a couple of tablespoons of salt, added to a half gallon plastic milk jug, fill with water leaving an inch of space. Cap, and freeze in your home freezer. You will need to shake it once an hour for two or three hours, but when it freezes, it will be colder than ice from fresh water. Salt lowers the freezing point of water, so this block will be colder than regular ice. Put in the fridge, and it should keep things chilled for hours.


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Old 02-01-2016, 11:48 PM   #25
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Ditto, who wants to deal with ice and ice chests. I would think that these refrigerators would not like to be switched on and off all the time. Enjoy your travels!!
One reason to deal with ice or freezer pacs might be how long it takes food placed in a warm fridge to chill to a safe temperature.

Bacteria that happen to be present in food multiply rapidly at temperatures between 140 degrees F (60C) and 40F (4 C). The upper one is a safe "hot holding" temperature, the lower one is like your fridge or freezer.

If your AS has been stored in hot summer weather, it takes your fridge a while to chill to 40F (or 32F, for your freezer.)

Basically the US and Canadian food handling standard is that you have 2 hours to chill food that should be chilled to 40F if its temperature is between 140F & 40F. After that, the FoodSafe standard is that it should be discarded.

So if you keep your fridge on while you drive, just make sure you turn it on well in advance of your departure on the trip, so that you get it to 40F before the food goes in, and then chill foods to 40F before you put them in the fridge. If your fridge will take a while to chill, it's a good idea to add some freezer pacs or ice in a leak-proof container.

Hopefully nobody's fresh food has bacteria in it to start with. But food poisoning is a risk with improperly raised or handled food. Just ask Chipotle.

The picnic cooler with freezer pacs also comes in handy for the extra beer.

Dunno if it bothers a fridge to be turned on and off a bunch. Ours doesn't seem to mind.
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Old 02-02-2016, 04:38 AM   #26
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Lots of common sense here. I run with mine on and turn it off while refueling... which at a diesel pump IS an abundance of caution.

Either way you go, one thing to consider is how hot your Airstream can get while you are towing. In Eastern Virginia - heat and humidity are a real issue in the summer and a trailer can easily be 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. Even if the fridge is running, it will probably struggle when the inside temp is over 100F. Under these conditions it's probably a good idea to to run the fridge AND have some of those blue cold packs or frozen water bottles in the fridge.

Also, you CAN run with your fantastic vents open unless some idiot installed the to open facing forward... duh. When I think about it ahead of time, I'll hand crank one or both up about an inch. It makes a BIG difference inside. Of course it's still great to see how fast you can cool a whole trailer down with the door open and one fan on high speed exhausting air.
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Old 02-02-2016, 05:32 AM   #27
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We have traveled in or towed an RV for over 40 years, my parents in a 30" AS for 20 years and 200,000 miles before my wife and I and all have run the refrigerator on Propane and when in campground with electric we let the unit switch over to electric. Every dealer I've dealt with has recommended same.
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Old 02-02-2016, 08:20 AM   #28
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Salt lowers the freezing point of water, so this block will be colder than regular ice.
Actually, that's a myth. Salt water DOES have a lower freezing point that fresh water, but everything in your freezer reaches the same temperature, based on the thermostat setting. If your freezer is set to 0F, then saltwater ice in the freezer reaches 0F, and freshwater ice in the freezer also reaches 0F. And so does your vodka, your frozen meats, etc.

The important thing to remember is, keep the freezer as full of something as you can, consistent with allowing air flow around everything. Six pounds of frozen anything takes longer to thaw than one pound of frozen anything. Anyone who has ever tried to thaw a frozen turkey at Thanksgiving knows that. So if you don't have enough frozen food to fill the freezer, then use blue ice packs, ice, saltwater ice, vodka, whatever, to make up the difference.
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