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Old 09-07-2013, 11:22 PM   #1
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TouringDan's Avatar
1966 24' Tradewind
1995 34' Excella
Lynchburg , Virginia
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,133
Fridge Energy Star Rating (How to determine it)

Any one who buys a fridge for their home, or any appliance, wants to make sure that they purchase one that has a good energy star rating. Now does this also apply to rv fridges? Not that I am aware of. Nobody is thinking about how energy efficient their rv fridge is; they just want to make sure that it keeps the beer and food cold (below 40 degrees). We all know that is a real challenge when it gets hot out.

I used to have this problem with my old fridge. When the weather got warm out, I would just leave the temperature setting on max and hope that it kept the fridge temperature below 40 degrees. I remember that I would check the temperature in the morning. It might be 32-34 degrees, and I would feel pretty good. Then as the day warmed up, I would again check it. It might be 40 degrees or even higher. Then I started to worry. Was my food going to go bad? How much longer until the outside temperature cools down and consequently the fridge temperature starts cooling down?

My fridge stopped working on gas, and we do mostly boondock camping, so I decided to buy an new fridge. I installed the fridge very carefully and made numerous modifications to help it perform more efficiently (see baffling and sealing thread). My fridge now operates on setting two and maintains an inside temperature between 34 and 38 degrees. I monitor this with a remote thermometer (see another thread). I know that my fridge is performing fine on setting two. I know that it is not running all the time. What I don't know is what percentage of the time it is running and how much power it is using to maintain an inside temperature of 34-38 degrees.

I used my kill-a-watt meter to determine what percentage of time my fridge was running and how much energy it was using. This is where the energy star rating comes in. It is not a real number. The more efficient that a fridge is operating the less energy it needs to operate. For my fridge, the power that it was using when I plugged in the meter was about 200 watts. Obviously the fridge has to be running on electricity to make this determination. 200 watts is the energy consumed by the heater element. I ran the test over a two day period. I used 5.86 kwhr of energy over a 49 hr period for an average power consumption of 120 watts. This means that the heater element is operating 60% of the time (120/200). I feel pretty good about this. It also means that my new fridge, operating on setting two, performs better than my old fridge did on the max setting and running all the time.

I think that the improvement in fridge performance (energy efficiency) is mostly due to the baffling I added when I installed the new fridge. It uses 40% less energy but also has the capacity to cool more if I need it to if the weather gets hotter or I have to cool down some warm food added to the fridge. I sure wish that I had some way of getting my other energy consuming stuff (heat pumps, cars, TV, water heaters, etc.) to operate on 40% less energy.

If you want to determine how much power it takes to operate your fridge, you can determine this with a kill-a-watt meter. I got mine from Amazon and the cost was less than $18. It is a good tool to have and very simple to use.
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