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Old 05-07-2011, 08:55 PM   #1
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1970 27' Overlander
Kingston , New York
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Skip the Fridge? (Overlander Newbie)

To Fridge or Not To Fridge?

Background: Our 1971 Overlander is still in our yard and we're getting ready to take it out for the first time ever in a few weeks (the first time my family and I will have been RV camping at all - just have done some tent camping in the distant past).

Our electric works but we bought the A/S knowing the water and propane didn't work. (To me, the electric alone was amazing--now I realize most people buy these things with everything working unless they are handy).

The POs had removed the entire refrigerator long ago (see big void in photo). I've been reading the forums on the Dometic and Norcold options, contemplating ahead to this $$$ item.

Question: For our purposes, I'm wondering if we should skip the fridge altogether.

Usage:
We'll only be using it for short trips (husband's bad back and chickens/pets await us at home). We'd likely go to camping grounds with electric, or use our backup generator. Probably 2 nights at a time max.

We clearly have to figure out the propane and water potential eventually, but I'm curious what you seasoned airstreamers feel about using an ice chest, especially the usage I've described.

Or how about the Danfoss compressor option which, from what I gather, is primarily a 12 V option?

If any of you airstream owners just use an ice chest, when do you wish you had a fridge?

And for those of you who replaced an A/S fridge, do you ever wish you stayed with an ice chest? Any advice? (See picture of void)

Thanks,
Pyrenees
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Old 05-07-2011, 09:11 PM   #2
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Pyrenees,

I have a DanFoss unit in my Liner and a normal elec/propane unit in my Safari (the original unit). I went for the DanFoss in the Liner for one reason, I did not want to cut any more holes in the skin. The DanFoss works great, we installed two solar panels to keep the batteries charged. However it is noiser than the elec/propane unit. The price is about the same as the elec/propane. There was a thread here recently about a dorm type unit which failed after a few years, probably due to on the road vibration. An ice chest is OK, but no frozen food, ie ice cream.

The DanFoss unit runs on 12V and automatically switches to 110V when available, but I believe converts the 110V to 12V for the compressor. The unit cools down very quickly.

Bill

Quote:
Originally Posted by pyrenees View Post
To Fridge or Not To Fridge?

Background: Our 1971 Overlander is still in our yard and we're getting ready to take it out for the first time ever in a few weeks (the first time my family and I will have been RV camping at all - just have done some tent camping in the distant past).

Our electric works but we bought the A/S knowing the water and propane didn't work. (To me, the electric alone was amazing--now I realize most people buy these things with everything working unless they are handy).

The POs had removed the entire refrigerator long ago (see big void in photo). I've been reading the forums on the Dometic and Norcold options, contemplating ahead to this $$$ item.

Question: For our purposes, I'm wondering if we should skip the fridge altogether.

Usage:
We'll only be using it for short trips (husband's bad back and chickens/pets await us at home). We'd likely go to camping grounds with electric, or use our backup generator. Probably 2 nights at a time max.

We clearly have to figure out the propane and water potential eventually, but I'm curious what you seasoned airstreamers feel about using an ice chest, especially the usage I've described.

Or how about the Danfoss compressor option which, from what I gather, is primarily a 12 V option?

If any of you airstream owners just use an ice chest, when do you wish you had a fridge?

And for those of you who replaced an A/S fridge, do you ever wish you stayed with an ice chest? Any advice? (See picture of void)

Thanks,
Pyrenees
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Old 05-07-2011, 09:32 PM   #3
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For two-night jogs, I think you could get along Just Fine with a good cooler. You can even get ones that run on the 12V that your trailer will supply you with, assuming the electric all works. Longer than that, you'll have to replace stuff like milk, to be on the safe side.

Like you say, it's already a big step up from tent camping! Get out there and enjoy the spring and summer, it's short enough as it is!

ps: I would check out the water before you leave, since if you have lots of leaks, it won't be simple to fix them while you're away, unless you have good knowledge, carry lots of tools, and like to do handyman stuff while camping...
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Old 05-07-2011, 10:54 PM   #4
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I personally would not to be without a working frig, but for short trips you could certainly get along with an ice chest, or maybe one of the 12v/120c ice chests (we have a Coleman model that we use occasionally when we are not going to be near a grocery store)... I'd make sure your water and electrical systems are functional before you take off ... but once you do, have a blast!
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Old 05-07-2011, 11:03 PM   #5
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We boated for years using only coolers, but know that a really good "5 day cooler" really only lasts 3 days. Our daughter put in a small dorm room type fridge in her trailer so she could just "go camping", and the new coolers that are 12v are worth a look.
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Old 05-07-2011, 11:33 PM   #6
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I need my fridge

IMO, I need my fridge and freezer! How else can I keep my ice cream frozen?

I suggest you try the trailer a few times to see if you are really going to enjoy it, using the ice chest. (of course you WILL enjoy) After a few trips you will understand what upgrades you need to make things more comfortable and fun. Then do whatever you want. Take your time and do it right.

If the ice chest works for you that's great! Try some dry ice if you go longer than a few days.
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Old 05-08-2011, 03:58 AM   #7
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I've had lots of luck with a 3.7 cf dorm-type refrigerator for less than $200 invested. It only draws about 12 amps DC when I'm using it on an inverter, which is only when I'm on-the road traveling between campgrounds, so the tow vehicle can easily handle that. When in the campground, it's on AC current so no problems. If it breaks some day, I'll buy another one.
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Old 05-08-2011, 02:56 PM   #8
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If you can wait a few months, Atwood has announced a new refrigerator, available this fall, that still uses ammonia, but using helium instead of hydrogen. They claim safer because helium is not flammable in case of a leak. It has a digital display which might mean a temperature readout. It also has LED lighting, a door-ajar alarm, and tells you with a panel light when it is not level enough to operate.
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Old 05-08-2011, 04:52 PM   #9
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We're in kinda the same boat- I chucked the fridge when we first bought the trailer and I had launched into the floor replacement. I had no idea at the time how expensive they were... we use a coleman electric cooler, which is plugged into the truck while driving, and then using a thing it came with to plug into the 120v outlet in the fridge hole. It works ok for keeping stuff cool when you have power. I'm looking at getting one of these
Engel Front-Open Fridge/Freezers
and having a small solar array. I've seen a lot of complaints about the gas fridges, and that they are very sensitive to ambient air temps. The Engel can deal with vibration whereas the dorm fridges can't. Myself, I don't want to buy something to chuck it in the landfill in a year.
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Old 05-08-2011, 07:47 PM   #10
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Personally, I'd get a proper fridge installed. My second choice would be a portable unit made by National Luna. National Luna makes a great fridge called the Weekender 52 and NL makes a small fridge/freezer combo called the Weekender Twin 50 ... both are champs and they would provide a seamless and highly portable 12v solution for you. JMHO! Anyway, here's a link to National Luna's site: http://www.nationalluna.com/

BTW, you can't go wrong with an Engel either (as said above), but National Luna, although harder to find and a bit more pricey, is regarded as the best of the best. NL, like Engel, has a variety of solar and other options as well.
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Old 05-08-2011, 08:07 PM   #11
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We used a small, cheap 110 volt dorm type refigerator for years. We put bags of blue ice in the freezer compartment. when we were plugged in it kept the blue ice bags frozen. when we unplugged the blue ice and the stuff in the refigerator kept everything cool until the next night. probably cheaper than a good cooler and ice. worked well for us. build a shelf that will hold it at t convient height and use the rest of the space for storage. do it so you can take it out and put in a real refrig later if you want to.
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Old 05-08-2011, 08:15 PM   #12
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Lets face it, when money is tight (and these days who has money to burn) its just silly to waste money on gadgets that you dont need and rarely use. Coolers are IMMEDIATELY cold - my reefer takes 12-16 hours to be as cold as a cooler. Coolers are easy to use and a good one will stay cold for 2-3+ days. You already stated thats all you need.

Buy yourself a nice $30-40 cooler at Costco that you can use for all your outdoor events (not just when you have your trailer) and spend money enjoying the trailer.

You will KNOW when its time to buy that refrigerator (when you are sick of buying ice and want to prep the reefer so its cold before you leave). My 2c but we all have very different priorities wants and needs. Keep in mind, I'm coming from 30 years of tent camping myself...
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Old 05-08-2011, 09:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoCalStreamr
Lets face it, when money is tight (and these days who has money to burn) its just silly to waste money on gadgets that you dont need and rarely use. Coolers are IMMEDIATELY cold - my reefer takes 12-16 hours to be as cold as a cooler. Coolers are easy to use and a good one will stay cold for 2-3+ days. You already stated thats all you need.

Buy yourself a nice $30-40 cooler at Costco that you can use for all your outdoor events (not just when you have your trailer) and spend money enjoying the trailer.

You will KNOW when its time to buy that refrigerator (when you are sick of buying ice and want to prep the reefer so its cold before you leave). My 2c but we all have very different priorities wants and needs. Keep in mind, I'm coming from 30 years of tent camping myself...
Hard to argue with this logic.
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Old 05-09-2011, 01:13 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoCalStreamr View Post
Lets face it, when money is tight...
Buy yourself a nice $30-40 cooler at Costco that you can use for all your outdoor events (not just when you have your trailer) and spend money enjoying the trailer.

You will KNOW when its time to buy that refrigerator (when you are sick of buying ice and want to prep the reefer so its cold before you leave). My 2c but we all have very different priorities wants and needs. Keep in mind, I'm coming from 30 years of tent camping myself...
Its true, and the simplest can be the most adequate. The part about being sick of ice.. I had that on our last trip, dribbling ice chest water on the floor, but still, saving 700 bucks is 700 bucks.
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