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Old 01-20-2014, 01:56 PM   #1
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1977 31' Sovereign
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New Fridge / Freezer for Airstream 1977 Sovereign 31'

We are just undergoing a large remodel on our airstream and completely replacing everything. The goal is to go as "green" or energy efficient as possible but also be practical in that we need enough space for long trips on the road. I saw there are a lot of different discussions on fridge/freezers but what is the best, most reliable, energy efficient fridge out there. Thank you for any feedback or expertise you can share. I am new to the RV world so I am not sure what I should consider or not consider.
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Old 01-20-2014, 04:30 PM   #2
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Not sure that "going green" and towing 6000 lbs of trailer so that you get 12 mpg down the road co-exist. Don't think I would get to hung up about that but if you really want to be green use an ice chest.

Now that we have that out of the way, it comes down to do you want the luxury of having a fridge in the event you are not in a place with electricity. If that's the case you will need one that runs off propane as well as electric and they are expensive and more expensive as the size goes up.

personally, I don't have a propane model but instead am living with an all electric dorm fridge that works fine for my needs. I wish it were larger at times but 95% of the time it works out fine.

When I do make a change I will probably stick with all electric because they are cheaper, less prone to issues, and as for the unlikelihood that I am boon docking, Ill just use an ice chest which in near 50 years of camping I have not had an issue with yet/

Main issue which ever way you go is one that's sized so you don't have to do major mods to install it and if its all electric you will need to strap it down etc. so it doesn't fly on the hiway..

For what it is worth, I travel with my job and am full timing in mine.

Have fun on the remod !
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Old 01-20-2014, 04:39 PM   #3
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1976 31' Sovereign
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Greenrvgirl,
I am in the process of a complete renovation on my '76 AS. I am going to use refrig/freezer in the 2 drawer model made by Vitrifrigo. Mine will be going under new cabinets. They are famous for their refrigerations in the marine industry. Everything is stainless steel with parts the can really be replaced instead of having to scrap a whole system if anything goes bad later, because you will not get the same model to fit your existing footprint. Just my idea, but I think, worth a look. Good Luck!
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Old 01-20-2014, 05:43 PM   #4
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Way to go! ALso take a look at the units from Indel Webasto Marine: Indel Webasto Marine - Isotherm by Indel Webasto Marine ?Marine Refrigeration and Boilers. I have installed several of these and they are very well made and offered in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
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Old 01-27-2014, 01:52 PM   #5
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price

Not that I am adding much to this but making a comment... the price on a propane / electric fridge is ridiculous! I am seeing Norcold ones for $1,200. That to me is just ridiculous. i found an older / used Norcold N641 for $750 which is good factoring a new one is about $1,000 and then once you add an aluminum front to it, your adding another $100 or so.

When I bought the trailer it had just an electric one but that just doesn't work for what I want to do with this thing.
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Old 01-27-2014, 02:38 PM   #6
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Lew,

I remember you saying you were going to install several Cruise CR 195 refrigerator/freezers that use two Danfoss BD35 compressors. How did the install go?

I was thinking at the time of a Nova Kool RFU6800 (single BD45 Danfoss) but you said to also look at the CR 195. The Nova Kool has a single thermostat but it seems to settle in at 6 degrees in the freezer when the refrigerator is around 36-38 degrees according to a RV user who just had one installed.

I would think that the dual thermostats on the CR 195 would allow for independent control of the freezer and refrigerator. Do you have any information on how well the CR 195 performs?

Barry
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Old 01-27-2014, 03:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenrvgirl View Post
We are just undergoing a large remodel on our airstream and completely replacing everything. The goal is to go as "green" or energy efficient as possible but also be practical in that we need enough space for long trips on the road. I saw there are a lot of different discussions on fridge/freezers but what is the best, most reliable, energy efficient fridge out there. Thank you for any feedback or expertise you can share. I am new to the RV world so I am not sure what I should consider or not consider.
What other green choices are you making with your Airstream? If you're going to have a decent-sized solar array and plenty of batteries, I think that the Danfoss-compressor fridges that have been mentioned in this thread are a very green choice. You're covered on travel days without the questions people raise about traveling with the propane on, and in terms of total energy required to keep the fridge cold, the Danfoss units are much more efficient than the ammonia absorption units.

If you're not going solar and will be away from hookups a lot, I think the absorption units are the way to go. I'm told that there are still a couple of new models that don't use the 12v control board, so you can keep the fridge cool as long as the propane holds out.

I'm voting for the Danfoss-type fridge with my wallet in my renovation of our 28' Argosy. Texas summers challenge the absorption fridges, and they're more fiddly to deal with. If you're buying new, the cost is competitive between the two for equivalent models.
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Old 01-27-2014, 03:57 PM   #8
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I use an Isotherm with Danfoss compressor and the thing is excellent, it cools fast, maintains temperature well, is all but silent and uses a mere sniff of 12V or 110V depending on what's available. Plus it's fine to run whilst moving too. On my next trailer I'm going to use the same type but bigger so I can graft a vintage Marvel fridge door skin onto it then it'll be perfect :-)
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Old 01-27-2014, 04:03 PM   #9
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My husband and I are the owners of the first 195 Lew installed. So far we love it. I'm so happy not to have to burn propane to cool a refrigerator. I feel much safer.

Lew also installed solar and 4 Lifeline batteries at the same time. We camped with it for 3 weeks after the installation. For 2 of the weeks, we has sites with electric -- so we didn't even think about the power to run it. For 6 nights it was parked at horse farm (we weren't staying the the trailer). We turned off the freezer but left everything else in the fridge. It was cloudy and rainy half of the time. But we had no problems with power. We checked on it 2 or 3 times and the batteries were never below 94%.

I didn't have any thermometers on this trip, so I can't give you temperatures. We had the fridge set on 5 (the mid-point) and the freezer on 3. The soda and water were ice cold in the fridge. At the lowest (warmest) setting on the freezer, water froze. We thought that we might have been able to use the bottom unit as a fridge when boondocking to save power. But I don't think that will work -- it's too cold. The top of the fridge is warmer than the bottom. So we put fruits and veggies on the top and meats in the bottom. The only slight problem that I've seen so far is that the freezer will need to be defrosted occasionally. But it's really easy. Just turn it off -- there's a tray in the bottom that catches all the water.

I just bought 2 fridge/freezer thermometers. I can post about the temperatures after our trip in March. Part of that trip will be doondocking -- so I can give you battery info also.

The 195 is slightly smaller than the original fridge. Lew built a frame for the installation. If you need more details on that, Lew will have to answer them.
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Old 01-27-2014, 08:01 PM   #10
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Bunni said it all!

It was a fairly simple install with the Isotherm a bit smaller than the OEM Dometic. I have installed a couple of others since, and my favorite so far (other than the dual compressor model's versatility) is the counter height Isotherm CR200 which is 35" tall and 29" wide with double side by side doors and 7 cu.ft.

It's far easier to add a slightly smaller unit to a big opening and frame it in, covering the new frame with the material of your choice. In Bunni's case, is was mat black ABS plastic sheeting with a nice wrinkle texture. Looks great against the stainless doors!
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Old 07-01-2014, 10:26 PM   #11
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Cost of Isotherm 195 vs benefits?

Hi Lew & Bunni-hope you are still out there!

We are doing a complete gut reno of a 72 Overlander. Basically we can install anything we want at this point. I'm very new to all of this and researching frig options. The Isotherm 195 seems awfully expensive-I found on one website for $2599. What makes it better than a $1500 Norcold or Dometic? Just the non-propane issue? And then I'd have to commit to solar to make sure it kept running, correct? We are planning to wire for solar for installation sooner or later.

Any input would be appreciated...My only request is a good sized freezer and plenty of room for gin LOL. We plan to boondock on occasion and the trailer will mostly be used by two adults with our two teenagers as periodic guests.

Thanks much!
Laurel
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:49 PM   #12
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Laurel,

You are comparing apples and oranges. IMHO, there isn't a propane gas-absorption fridge made that can compare with the performance of a quality marine unit with a Danfoss compressor.

Heating an ammonia refrigerant solution to create cold is a very inefficient process that has many pitfalls. Marine compressors are more efficient, work up to 30 degrees off level and draw as little as 3 amps DC.

Colder, better performance and more rigid construction. What else would one want?


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