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Old 01-03-2015, 06:24 PM   #1
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Residential refrigerator?

On another thread I mentioned that we would probably replace the standard RV refrigerator with a residential unit when/if the RV one died. One person was horrified that I would even think of such a thing. Since that is quite common with other RV's, why wouldn't it be a good idea for an Airstream? I understand that going to a 120 V refrigerator means that on travel days it must either go without power OR run on an inverter since it can't run on propane.

We don't do much boondocking (in fact, we haven't done any yet). There are far too many stories of coaches being destroyed by fires that started in/near an RV refrigerator to make me feel comfortable. I understand that people have 20-year-old Dometic or Norcold units that still work just fine, but people with 2-year-old units have neither the refrigerator nor the coach it was in due to fires.

Is the issue a battery that can't run the refrigerator for a few hours? Can that be solved by a larger battery? Pure sine wave inverters aren't cheap, but are common, and they can be used to run a computer as well as a refrigerator.

FWIW, we replaced the old Dometic side-by-side in our Foretravel with a residential unit. We have at least as much refrigerator and freezer space as the old one had AND space for a broom closet too. The new sine wave inverter is mounted in the same place as the old square wave one was, and is about 1/3 the size and half the weight.

So, is replacing a dead RV refrigerator in an Airstream with a residential unit a bad idea?
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Old 01-03-2015, 07:02 PM   #2
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Personal opinion, yes it is a bad idea. Reason, AC only. Running a frig with an inverter will suck batteries quickly.
Sounds like you have already made up your mind. It is your trailer to do with as you please.
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Old 01-03-2015, 07:09 PM   #3
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No personal experience with a residential fridge/freezer in an RV, but it seems to me that "it depends". Depends on your situation. If it makes sense to you, do it..... it's your trailer. The only drawback I could see in your situation would be resale value or the potential buyer limits it would place on your trailer if/when you want to sell it.
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Old 01-03-2015, 07:15 PM   #4
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"Running a frig with an inverter will suck batteries quickly." "The only drawback I could see in your situation would be resale value or the potential buyer limits it would place on your trailer if/when you want to sell it."

Thanks for the answers. From the first answer I would infer that the batteries in an Airstream aren't very large. From the second answer I would infer that a residential refrigerator decreases the value, unlike other coaches. Since residential refrigerators are becoming standard in many new coaches I would have thought it would be considered an upgrade.
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Old 01-03-2015, 07:23 PM   #5
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Do the "new coaches" you reference have generators on board? I could see that working OK.
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Old 01-03-2015, 08:01 PM   #6
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The is no good reason to believe your refrigerator is unsafe. We would be miserable losing the versatility of our propane or electric fridge, and dealing with the constant substantial AC power a residential fridge requires.
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Old 01-03-2015, 08:08 PM   #7
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Residential refrigerator?

The small dorm or apartment 120 volt refers don't draw a lot of power. And they don't run continuously like the 3 way or even the 2 way units do. They are better insulated and do not require an intake or exhaust vent.
A number of motor homes have standard household refers. And they are BIG. But they also have huge battery banks.
The original refer in my '74 Argosy still works. If and when it does crap out. I will be looking at a 120 volt unit. With the idea of increasing my battery capacity. My coach currently has an 1,100 watt inverter. Which I install 4 years ago.
Some serious mods would have to be made for more battery capacity.


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Old 01-03-2015, 08:09 PM   #8
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Residential refrigerator?

I use a residential refrigerator, not because I am afraid of a gas refig, but because I wanted a nice big refrigerator and I didn't want to pay a fortune for it.

My 10 cuft. unit will run for AT LEAST two days on my two one hundred amp hour batteries via my inverter.

When the trailer is plugged into my truck while traveling, the alternator runs the fridge indefinitely, while charging my house batteries to a full charge, ready for another night.

Imo, backed by practical experience, a residential fridge can be a good way to go.


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Old 01-03-2015, 08:13 PM   #9
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Residential refrigerator?

Contrary to popular opinion, a modern residential refrigerator does not consume a lot of electricity.

They are very efficient, multiples more energy efficient than any like sized ammonia refrigerator, whether running AC, DC, or propane.


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Old 01-03-2015, 08:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Morgan View Post
Contrary to popular opinion, a modern residential refrigerator does not consume a lot of electricity.


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Hmmmm..... definitely an option to consider if/when the Norcold 3-way fridge in our Avion goes out. It's not the one that came with the Avion new. I'd have to look at the P.O.'s documentation to see when it was installed.
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Old 01-03-2015, 08:39 PM   #11
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I got my Haier off the floor at Lowe's for less than $400.

I can buy three of these for the price of one RV fridge. Of course an inverter is required, but I would have an inverter regardless.


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Old 01-03-2015, 08:54 PM   #12
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"Do the "new coaches" you reference have generators on board? I could see that working OK." The motor homes do, but the 5'ers don't.

"The is no good reason to believe your refrigerator is unsafe." You may well be right. Most RV's don't have fires. However, I've not read of any RV fires that started with the electric/propane hot water heater. I have read of many that started with the electric/propane refrigerator that was manufactured in the past five years or so.

The problem, it seems, is not the design of the refrigerator, which is ancient, but with the manufacturing. As material and labor costs increase, manufacturers try to cut corners by using thinner metal and rushing the work. The result, not surprisingly, is a product that may fail sooner. That translates into another sale. Yes, there are 20-year-old RV refrigerators that are still working perfectly, but somehow I doubt that there will be as many 2010 refrigerators working in 2030 as 1990 refrigerators were in 2010.

Anyway, my point is NOT to say RV refrigerators are unsafe, but to ask whether replacing a dead one in an Airstream with a residential refrigerator is reasonable and doable. Should we decide to switch from our Foretravel to an Airstream, we'll use the RV refrigerator in it as long as it works.
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Old 01-03-2015, 09:18 PM   #13
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Obviously, you can use a 120v reefer in an RV versus a three way or a solar compatible one.

Be sure to distinguish the experience of others in their recommendations as to whether a vacationer (maybe a few days or weeks) versus fulltime AND the conditions under which it is expected to operate.

A high heat summer will draw more electricity. And a ten hour day on the road in 100F heat may/may not keep items cold or frozen. I have found that it will not. Plan that it will not and proceed accordingly

Yes, it hurts resale. And reduces trailer capability.


There is at least one thread on Woodalls showing an installation and trim.

Good luck
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Old 01-03-2015, 09:36 PM   #14
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Residential refrigerator?

Quote:
Originally Posted by slowmover View Post

A high heat summer will draw more electricity. And a ten hour day on the road in 100F heat may/may not keep items cold or frozen. I have found that it will not. Plan that it will not and proceed accordingly

I have traveled when it has been VERY HOT, the refrigerator and freezer stay very cold.

The truck alternator EASILY keeps the fridge running, and easily recharges the battery at the same time. (June and July in the desert)

I write this out of experience, not projection or assumption.


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