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Old 08-22-2012, 03:11 PM   #1
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Does the hottest weather overwhelm LP gas refers' ability to keep food frozen?

My DW and I are having a bit of a disagreement over how well the freezers in LP gas refers do when the weather gets really hot, as it was here in Ontario for much of this summer.

She tells me that several of her friends in the park where we camp have told her that their freezers couldn't keep frozen food frozen on the hottest days, something that never happens with the "home-type" refer we inherited in Henri, our Sovereign.

I ask you all then to give me a yes it can keep up, never had a problem, or no, I have had days when things thawed out, or anything else you feel like telling me and my wife.

Thanks in advance,


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Old 08-22-2012, 03:27 PM   #2
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The absorption type fridge/freezers don't do as well when the temperatures climb. They depend on the heat to "boil" the refrigerant then it cools to ambient to pull heat out of the case. When ambient temperatures are higher it loses efficiency. I have had issues with the RV style fridges here in the deep south not being able to fully keep up. I have had several household sized gas fridges and deep freezes that did just fine. I suspect it has to do with the overall size of the system. With the larger system being more efficient and able to overcome the higher ambient temperatures.

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Old 08-22-2012, 03:28 PM   #3
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Even while traveling 400 miles per day in full sun with the outside temperature over 100, we have not had any trouble keeping the food frozen in the freezer and the beer cold in the refrigerator.

The times we have had trouble is when the gas burner needed to be cleaned or the vent needed to be cleared and the time we ran out of propane. We have traveled 9000 miles this year without refrigerator issue other those listed above. The rv refrigerator is an impressive piece of equipment to me.
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:32 PM   #4
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I covered a new fridge install about four years ago here: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f425...aes-44474.html

As you can see in the last photo in the first post, the freezer stays about 14 Fahrenheit. Stuff stays frozen, but ice cream is somewhat on the soft side. Not melted, but not hard either.

I did install one of the Snyder kits and while it is still working, I think I am going to add some computer fans to the top vent as Lewster discussed recently here: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f37/...ml#post1177667

The last couple of summers it has gotten above 100 many days, resulting in high temps inside the Airstream even with the AC running. The fridge temps crept up into the 45 range. The freezer remained in the 14 though.

I'm still pleased with the fridge, but I've been asking an awful lot the last couple of years.
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:41 PM   #5
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Living in Texas, as with many locations in the US Southwest, we are all too familiar with days that visit 110F or more. I've never seen any published specs on absorption type RV refrigerators, but my personal observation is that they can maintain at least a 60F difference from ambient temperatures in the fridge section if properly installed and vented per manufacturer's directions. The freezer on our current fridge generally maintains -10F as measured by a thermometer clipped to the door shelf which is probably the warmest section of the freezer. The control is a simple choice of 1 - 5 ( warmer to cooler) and set on 4 my fridge section maintains about 35F until the ambient temperature exceeds 105 outside, it then gets harder to keep the fridge section below 40. A campsite with shade in these parts is highly desirable, but a rare find. If possible, I try to park with the fridge side away from the sun. As Lewster has mention in another thread, I've also had very good results adding a pair of 12v exhaust fans in the roof vent. They are powered by a 5w solar panel mounted on the A/C shroud.

All things being equal, I think a residential compressor type fridge can do better on hot days, but I personally want the option to be able to camp where electricity isn't an option.
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:30 PM   #6
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Aaron, Bud, Vaughan, Goose, thank you all for your experiences.

So far it looks like maybe age on the unit could be part of the challenge, but the sample size is still pretty small. Goose and Bud with the newer TTs, have good experiences, while Aaron and Vaughan, with somewhat older units, aren't as pleased.

However, there is perhaps hope in adding extra ventilation to improve the performance, so I think I am going to go out on a bluff with DW and see what we can see having a 1996 refer with extra ventilation using muffin fans and some electronic switching for the on-off based on ambient temp in the cavity behind the refer.

I know I'll hear about it if I'm wrong...
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:00 PM   #7
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I was just getting ready to call Dometic regarding a recent experience with our refer in our 2009 FC. It was about 100 degrees outside and about half the day with the refer side in the sun. Our refer could not get below 43 degrees when it normally easily maintains 35. By morning it was back to normal at 35. It was running on both a generator or propane and neither made any difference.
I also propped open the vent cover (mine does not have a top vent or fan) which did not seem to help. I suspected that the refer just doesn't have the ability to overcome that kind of heat so this discussion is very helpful and informative.
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:25 PM   #8
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I have an older AS with the top vent, and I purchased a new dometic 2 summers ago, and we have had great refer temps. No shade situations, with direct sun, temps close to 100. I don't have any fans or anything, but the coil is new (ish) and not covered in 40 years of dust and debris, and I think that helps a lot.
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Old 08-23-2012, 08:02 AM   #9
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105F in the sun doesn't seem to effect ours much. Living in the southwest we are very happy with ours.
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Old 08-23-2012, 08:35 AM   #10
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Our fridge couldn't keep up at the NewHampshire Nascar Race, I thought I was going to have to replace it but we've had no problems since and actually froze milk on the top shelf the following weekend in Ohio.

Our thermometer on the outside table showed 50C or 122F in direct sun and 38C/100F in the shade and the fridge would reach 50F during the afternoon. However, I beleive this is partially due to consistent opening of the fridge to retrieve/restock barley pops, and the trailer not being 100% level.
We also didn't have the AC running, which I think would have helped keep the Fidge cools since the interrior of the trailer wouldnt' have reached such high temps.
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Old 08-23-2012, 08:41 AM   #11
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Lots of 100+ days in our 2004 Safari. The only problem keeping food cool and frozen was when the refrigerator wore out and wouldn't cool at all.
New refrigerator functions as well as the old one did.
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:42 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by hhendrix
... Our refer could not get below 43 degrees when it normally easily maintains 35. By morning it was back to normal at 35. It was running on both a generator or propane and neither made any difference. ...
I've become very skeptical of the accuracy of the temperature displayed on the panel of our Dometic. It typically shows 35 or so, but right now it is displaying 42, yet 2 separate thermometers on different shelves in the middle of the fridge are both reading 35! The discrepancy is puzzling as most of the time the display matches the thermometer, but occasionally it inexplicable displays a higher value than actual. I think a few $ invested in a good thermometer is the best way to know if the fridge is keeping the food at a safe temperature.
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Old 08-24-2012, 07:12 AM   #13
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Ventilation is crucial, IMO. The Snyder Kit (or a copy) is the right step along with sealing interior gaps. See those threads.
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Old 08-24-2012, 07:32 AM   #14
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If I remember my college thermodynamics course, heat always moves from hotter areas to colder ones. Leaving out lengthy and boring "how stuff works" explanations about ammonia-cycle refrigerators, the refrigerator coils that transfer heat from the coolant have to be hotter than the air around them in order for the heat transfer to work. When the outside air temperature is the same temperature or hotter than the coils, the refrigerator can't cool any farther. Shade and forced ventilation can cool the air slightly, but won't make more than a few degrees of difference in the air temp, so they won't help a whole lot.

Still, if you only need a few more degrees of cold inside the box to keep food from spoiling, a few degrees of cooling the air around the coils might be worth it.

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