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Old 03-03-2018, 03:54 PM   #1
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Simple A/C only fridge: has anyone gone this route?

My old Dometic fridge in my '76 Sovereign still works on a/c, but does not work on propane. I don't really long for the dual fuel capability, and I consider it to be more trouble than it is worth.
Has anyone just bought a 24" wide apartment sized refrigerator, secured it in place, plugged it in, and just turn it off while on the move?
I'm just searching for options, and inexpensive options are my favorite.
So I'm doing research before my 42 year old fridge gives up the ghost.
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Old 03-04-2018, 08:28 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drmox View Post
My old Dometic fridge in my '76 Sovereign still works on a/c, but does not work on propane. I don't really long for the dual fuel capability, and I consider it to be more trouble than it is worth.
Has anyone just bought a 24" wide apartment sized refrigerator, secured it in place, plugged it in, and just turn it off while on the move?
I'm just searching for options, and inexpensive options are my favorite.
So I'm doing research before my 42 year old fridge gives up the ghost.
No reason I can think of that you can't do this. However, you mentioned the downside. You can't keep the refrigerator cool while traveling, but more importantly, you can't boondock. Boondocking is primarily what we do, so that would not work for us.
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Old 03-04-2018, 08:45 AM   #3
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I did it for 2 years while I looked for a used 2 way. I some ways it was better but I wanted the option of gas and better fit.
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Old 03-04-2018, 09:41 AM   #4
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I own a Honda eu2000i generator that powers everything except my a/c. I use that when tailgating or boondocking. When on the road, I have experienced success with freezing 3 or 4 two liter bottles of water and placing them in the fridge. The fridge acts like a cooler, and the bottles are like my ice. Hasn't failed me yet.
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Old 03-04-2018, 10:29 AM   #5
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I went with 4 Trojan T-105s, and an 1800w Xantrex inverter/charger. Gives me a few days on my apartment-style refrigerator. Lots more room in them than the propane/110V models, lots more cheaper! I put in some muffin fans blowing air up the back of the fridge, through the existing vent.

I've replaced the fridge once, about two years in. I had bought one of those extended warranties, so it was free. I would recommend being somewhat circumspect in saying exactly where the fridge goes; I told them that I was putting it in my "vacation home", so they didn't have to install it in my house.

Other threads will tell you that the preferred way to go would be a marine 12V fridge, huge battery bank, and big solar setup. We never boondock- this is Florida, where there are two seasons: summer, and January. We could have gone with less inverter and battery, as the trailer is basically either plugged in to AC, or plugged into the truck.
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Old 03-04-2018, 10:41 AM   #6
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I would go 2 way if you travel a lot .... 12volt isn't worth it when you can go gas/110v .... if you don't care about long road trips in hot weather you can get away with an electric only..... I like being able to pull over after 3-4 hours on a hot day and having a cold fridge to make some lunch etc.... I usually find our fridge is fairly full so travel ice packs are hard to find room for..
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Old 03-04-2018, 11:05 AM   #7
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See now that's just it...my current fridge, the ancient original Dometic fridge, sacrifices so much interior space to the components for dual fuel capability, that a regular refrigerator with the same exterior dimensions is much bigger on the inside. That extra interior room can just be used on frozen ice bottles.
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Old 03-04-2018, 11:07 AM   #8
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One big concern would be if a normal household refrigerator would tend to overheat itself being wedged into a confined space.
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Old 03-04-2018, 11:24 AM   #9
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Not to mention that your basic household refrigerator wasn't engineered to bounce down the road on a regular basis.
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Old 03-04-2018, 11:36 AM   #10
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It turns out that replacing the Dometic refrigerator in these model year ranges and certainly is not an easy task for our 1969 model. We are going through this now and, just like the original Armstrong air conditioner, there is no 1:1 replacement. For us we are doing the refrigerator replace during an overall update to the interior which includes new floor covering (Infinity Luxury woven vinyl), new formica, and installation of a bigger 2-way refrigerator in the existing cabinet. In order to accommodate the new unit we will need to do custom cabinet work to raise the existing opening by 1" and widen it by 1.6". It's a pain and will be expensive because of the labor involved - but - the new unit will have the ability to simply switch from 120V to LP with no pilot light process, no frost freezer - and I hope it will have a light that comes on when it is opened. I guess the bottom line is we had 3 options - I've seen pictures of small size household refrigerators in the existing cabinet with bracing to hold them in, rebuild the Dometic unit with new refrigeration hardware under and on the back of it, or do what we decided to do a new unit and re-size the cabinet (not trivial). Who votes for Dometic to make a 1:1 replacement with modern efficiencies!? Just watch - once we have done all this work Dometic will announce a retro Airstream model later this year ...
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Old 03-04-2018, 01:02 PM   #11
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We installed the marine Italian Vitrifrigo DP-2600 refrigerator (6.0 cu ft refrigerator and 2.1 cu ft freezer with separate door) in place of the stock Dometic in our 2014 31' Classic.

We installed the Vitrifrigo DP-150iL refrigerator (4.3Cu ft refrigerator and 1.0 cu ft freezer with separate door) in place of the stock Dometic in our 2015 23D International Serenity.

Each refrigerator has a 12Vdc Dan Foss freon based compressor and comes with it's own 120Vac to 12Vdc inverter. Power draw is about 65 watts or 5.38 amps at 12Vdc or 0.76 amps on 120vac. They do not run continuously and cool down quickly.

We have a 600 amp-hour lithium battery and 900 watts of solar panels in/on the Classic and a 300 amp-hour and five hundred watts of solar panels in/on the 23D.
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Old 03-04-2018, 02:08 PM   #12
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AC refrigerator while traveling

You didn't mention your tv, many alternators have enough output to power up a 12vdc to 110 vac invertor. We have a Dometic propane / 110 vac refer, my tv has a 130+ amp alternator, we have plenty of juice to power up our 175 watt refer When we are stopped and w/o shore power we go to propane.
I found the knob that switches from ac to gas had stripped out and was not turning the switch. Dometic gave a new one at no cost.
Before you give up on your refer pull the knob and check it out, needle nose pliers help.
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Old 03-04-2018, 03:11 PM   #13
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The fact that it runs on AC says the refrigeration system is intact. It would probably be a lot cheaper to fix the propane side than to buy a new house style reefer. I am fairly sure that Dinosaur still makes a board for it. The rest is simple plumbing and a gas solenoid...
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Old 03-04-2018, 05:12 PM   #14
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If the refer is original it won't have a circuit board.
Can you post a picture to show the control panel.
Are you sure you have propane to the refer?
Have you attempted to light the burner manually?
Post a pic of the back side of the refer with the outside panel removed.
Do you know the model number?
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Old 03-05-2018, 02:45 AM   #15
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Well... I went that way sometime back... and found that the household refrig just isn't as good as one thinks... While it look like a improvement it has its drawbacks...

First is the power... yep they ONLY draw 5-7 amps... but, someone has to provide the power... and now your getting into more equipment to run a inverter... so the 5-7 amps really gets pumped up to about 7-10 amps at 12 volts... that is equiv to run'n the heater blower motor contenious...

The next issue is vibration and heat... while the propane gas/elect is used in the orginal RV refrig... you must keep it level... anthing else and your going to degrade the performance... but, the RV refrig was designed to bounc down the roadway... while the Household one doesn't fair well... Locking the compressor down is not good either as it puts stress on the internal compressor and motor... so we found... and you haven't heard anyting yet... until you hear the thing run'n and run'n at night... that compressor will keep you awake and you think the univolt is nosiy... ouch...

My household refrig lasted only a year... and it gave out... I went back to the RV refrig... as it really is the best you can have for the RV... that is why they still use 'em...

My old dometic 1303 was history because the PO must have run it off level... and coked up the boiler tube area... resulting in low cooling ability... I looked at new sizes and went with the household one first... but... after a year went back to the old unit... which was still in pretty good shape inside... and got a cooling unit for about 1/3 of the cost of a new RV one.... I replaced the cooling unit myself.. and now the thing works great again.. just like new... I also put the fan kit in that dometic promotes for them hot climates... and have found that with the outside temp at 100+ the refrig will keep the insides at a nice 38 deg... not bad... but again these things need to be level.. and if your run'n down the road with 'em on... and stop for gas that has a uphill slope.. of head in for that dinner... you need to make sure the refrig is not ON... as it only takes about 30 min with them being off level to start to damage 'em...

Some put the kit on them that protects the RV refrig from off center and shuts it down if its over a few deg off level...and or over temping the biiler section of the refrig... something to look into...

If yours is working on 120 volts... then I would take a look at the propane side and find out what has gone wrong... lots of after market parts or mod parts that dometic sells for theirs...

refit'n a new RV refrig in place is a pain.. but then again last a lifetime of use if respected...

also to help make it more effecent I added the aditional insulation around the box... seemed to help
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Old 03-05-2018, 04:02 AM   #16
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This may sound simple minded and unnecessary but if you go for electric only, dont forget to cap off the propane line!
I had a uninformed friend who just put in a electric unit because the used RV he just bought did not have a fridge.
He plugged it in and was happy until he wanted to cook some breakfast on the stove and went out to turn on the propane.
Lets just say he survived, just barley, but his rig did not!
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Old 03-05-2018, 06:12 AM   #17
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120 fridge used for years. No problems with overheating or vibration. Used cooler with ice for years when necessary. Never had a factory fridge that i could rely on.
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Old 03-05-2018, 04:53 PM   #18
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A lot of good conversation about replacing the current refer.

Just curious about the current unit . . . Does the pilot light and otherwise work normally, but just not cool the fridge in gas mode?

If so, the jet probably needs cleaned. Easy enough job by removal of the jet and dunk in mineral spirits to clean off deposits which are restricting the gas flow. Point is, this might turn into a $5 or less fix and an easy DIY effort. IIRC, this is maybe a 10 minute job from experience from when I did it on another rig of mine.



Toward running a compressor style refer. Others mention the limitations. When I bought the current trailer, it had a compressor refer and it was the first thing that was removed. Installed a new absorbent refer with automatic controls. Hitting a single button to have the fridge do its job is much nicer than playing around with all the knobs The trailer was clearly a Campground Queen before I bought it and the compressor style fridge was one of the clues.
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Old 03-05-2018, 05:53 PM   #19
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I tried the 110V fridge and inverter route with our 1st Airstream. It only lasted a few thousand miles before the compressor went open circuit. If you do get a 110v fridge I'd avoid running while bouncing down the road.
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