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Old 08-08-2014, 11:23 AM   #29
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Our fridge is a 3 way. My procedure is to go out to the storage facility and turn on the fridge on shore power about two days before departure. At the same time, I turn the battery switch to "on" from the "store" position. At the time of departure, we get everything hooked up and loaded, and as our very last step, we switch the fridge to "battery", unhook & store the shore power cord, and leave. Our last long trip was over 7 hours, and we had no problems with a dead battery upon arrival. Fridge stayed cold as well.
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Old 08-08-2014, 01:26 PM   #30
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RV refrigerators use very little propane. I don't understand why recent posts seem to indicate a preference to running them on 12-volts. Could those who have 3-way refrigerators please explain? -- Thanks!
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Old 08-08-2014, 01:41 PM   #31
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Dear Cannonball, I have to go through a tunnel virtually every time I take the Airstream out of town (It's Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA - in case of nuclear attack - goodbye). And every time I go through one of the tunnels I have to turn off the propane. I have a 2012 Airstream with an automatic failover from electric to propane on the refrigerator. I always mean to turn the propane back on, but half the time I arrive at a stopping point five hours later and go to the fridge for a cold water and NO PROBLEM. It's still cold. It will stay quite cold for far longer, too. The more cold stuff in your refrigerator the longer it will stay cold.

I fulltime, so I don't usually load the fridge specially for a trip. The only purchase I do make is a bag of ice if the freezer is empty or nearly empty. That bag will help keep everything cold and it won't drip all over the inside either.

I also don't understand why people would prefer 12 volt over propane. The supposed fire hazard? Electricity causes fires too. Either way... the big truth is that our RV refrigerators are darn good travel coolers even with just a chunk of ice in them. Once again technology is providing us with a "solution" that doesn't actually have a real problem.

(The best "technology" to keep TP from coming off the roll while traveling - is to squash the roll flat and remount it.)

Happy Friday - Paula
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Old 08-08-2014, 04:48 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Ag&Au View Post
This is getting way more complicated than it needs to be. The answer is simple and has been pointed out at least a few times so far by Idroba and others. If you have a refrigerator that runs off of 12v DC (not including that small amount used for control), it can not be run it in that position for very long at all. A matter of hours in fact. It is a huge current draw. I had one in an older trailer several years ago and in warm weather the charging line from the tow vehicle could not keep up with it. If I tried to tow with the refer in the 12v position, the trailer battery would be dead when I reached the destination. I suggest that the batteries are now ruined and need to be replaced. After that do not run the Refer in 12v postion. Use in in the gas or 115v (on shore power) positions only. It it does have both those options then replace it with a more modern one.

My 2 cents worth,

Ken
Ken, I believe you summed up this entire thread perfectly with your post.I honestly did not know until know the issues that come up that running the fridge on 12V only.

I believe I am in the clear, so thanks everyone for your input I learned a lot through this ordeal.
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Old 08-08-2014, 09:24 PM   #33
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Dan: you most likely have a refrigerator with the older non electric propane control system. They have a two level flame, which goes from low to high when cooling is needed, then back to low flame. The flame never goes out, and there is not a pilot light, just hi and lo flame. Once ignited no power at all is needed to run those type of refrigerator. I have one, about 3 years old, in my Argosy so they are still available. On mine there is a 12 volt connection to operate the spark lighter only, but once it is lighted, no other power is consumed.

Most propane refrigerators built today use a system which lights the flame each time cooling is called for. This requires 12 volt power for the electronic thermostat, the circuit board to ignite and prove the flame, and the gas valve. My 2014 FC has that kind of refrigerator, and when the burner is on, it takes about 0.3 amps at 12 volts to keep it going. Less when the burner is off. I have measured others at 0.7 amps when running.

idroba

Thanks for the explanation for how my fridge works and why it does not consume any battery power once the pilot light is lit. I am glad that I have a new fridge, but with the old technology. This helps me boondock while using minimal battery power for lights, tv, water pump and a vent fan as needed. From your measurement of .3 amp I figure that I save 7 amp-hr each day of battery power. I suspect that this is less than I use each day for my other normal 12v loads. The tradeoff is that the pilot light is on and is using propane, but the extra heat must provide some fridge cooling as well.

Dan
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Old 08-08-2014, 11:45 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by TouringDan View Post
idroba

The tradeoff is that the pilot light is on and is using propane, but the extra heat must provide some fridge cooling as well.

Dan
Not much extra I would expect. The low flame keeps the refrigerator almost cooling, so it does not take as much time to bring it up to temp as if the flame was off.

I just returned from a boondock trip. I started with two full 30# tanks of propane. I lighted the refrigerator on gas to cool it down on a Wed. I left on Saturday and returned on Monday 2 weeks later. So, the refrig was on for 19 days. I also used propane heated hot water for the trip, showers each day, some dish washing. A little heat for a few cool nights. The first 30# tank is still providing service. So the propane refrigerator does not take a lot of gas, even running constantly. Solar provided the 12 volt power I needed, with the batteries fully charged each day.

I too like the old, non electric propane refrigerator system. But since I have solar on both my trailers, it is not as important for me to conserve every amp hour of power as it was in the past.
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Old 08-09-2014, 11:25 PM   #35
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There is really no "pilot" light in the refer. Only a burner controlled by the thermostat. When more cooling is required. The flame increases in size.
And visa versa.
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Old 08-11-2014, 06:47 AM   #36
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Dear Cannonball, I have to go through a tunnel virtually every time I take the Airstream out of town (It's Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA - in case of nuclear attack - goodbye). And every time I go through one of the tunnels I have to turn off the propane. I have a 2012 Airstream with an automatic failover from electric to propane on the refrigerator. I always mean to turn the propane back on, but half the time I arrive at a stopping point five hours later and go to the fridge for a cold water and NO PROBLEM. It's still cold. It will stay quite cold for far longer, too. The more cold stuff in your refrigerator the longer it will stay cold.
This has been our experience, too: The fridge stays cold, even when off, on all but the longest/hottest days. (From a fellow nuclear attack victim, living near DC.)
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Old 08-11-2014, 07:16 AM   #37
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When replacing my vintage (propane only) fridge I opted for a 110 volt only model which is much larger and has a separate freezer door. I leave it connected to shore power in my garage and fill it with food and drinks prior to camping. As long as it stays closed, we always arrive with cold stuff in the fridge and frozen stuff in the freezer, even in the Texas heat.
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Old 08-11-2014, 04:55 PM   #38
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Well! I just went in to clean it up for this weekends journey and the battery is completely dead again. Nothing was on and it was plugged in. Now What?! Is the converter killing my battery?

My patience is gone with this issue.
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Old 08-11-2014, 05:19 PM   #39
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Has to be the battery! Jim
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Old 08-11-2014, 05:38 PM   #40
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You are going to have to get competent professional help (not sure your current repair facility is in that category) or do it yourself.

IF you take it on yourself, you will need an ammeter that can read up to 30 amps or so.
0. Disconnect the battery from the trailer and charge it using a separate charger and then put it back in the trailer.
1. Unplug the trailer from the shore power and turn off the battery disconnect switch
2. Remove the positive cable from the battery.
3. Put the negative probe from the ammeter on the battery positive post
4. Set the ammeter on its highest scale
5. Put the positive probe from the ammeter on the positive battery cable
You will have to figure out a way to keep the probes connected using alligator clips or something. With this configuration, current going into the battery will read positive and current leaving the battery will read negative. Set the ammeter for negative current if it is not automatic.
6. Turn the battery disconnect switch on. If everything in the trailer is truly off, you should see no current indicated on the ammeter. If the ammeter is not automatic ranging, one step at a time, reduce the scale of the ammeter until you get to where it gives a reading or you get to the lowest scale. Record the reading.
7. If you have a reading that is not zero, find your propane detector and disconnect it. It is typically not run through the fuse panel, and maybe not even through the disconnect switch. The propane detector can draw up to 250 milliamps (1/4 Amp). At 250 milliamps, your battery will last somewhere in excess of 2 weeks without being charged.
8. If the current remains, go to the DC fuse panel and pull fuses one at a time until the reading changes. Any time it changes, something on that circuit is drawing current. When you find circuits that are drawing current, figure out what is on that circuit and check each device.
9. If you have pulled all the fuses and current is still indicated, there is some kind of a parasitic load connected at some point other than through the fuse panel. Look for additional inline fuses in your wiring and pull them one at a time.
10. When you are convinced that all the connected loads in the trailer are OK, turn your attention to the converter. Set the ammeter for positive current and plug in the shore power. You should see positive current indicating that the converter is charging the battery. If the battery is fully charged, this should be no more than 100 - 300 milliamps or so but may be more, depending on your converter. The Power Designs PD-9260 does not go into float for 32 hours, and so may be putting out an amp or more during that period.
11. Unplug from shore power. The current should return to whatever it was prior to plugging in. IF you are still seeing a significant amount of current drain (negative indication), the converter itself may be bad. Disconnect the negative cable from the converter and see if the current drops. If disconnecting the converter gets rid of your current drain the converter is bad or wired wrong.

This is easier to do than to explain. Once you understand the concept of current flow, that loads draw current and the converter should only source current, it should be possible to find the problem.

Good luck, whatever you try to do.

Al
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Old 08-11-2014, 06:42 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by Al and Missy View Post
You are going to have to get competent professional help (not sure your current repair facility is in that category) or do it yourself.

IF you take it on yourself, you will need an ammeter that can read up to 30 amps or so.
0. Disconnect the battery from the trailer and charge it using a separate charger and then put it back in the trailer.
1. Unplug the trailer from the shore power and turn off the battery disconnect switch
2. Remove the positive cable from the battery.
3. Put the negative probe from the ammeter on the battery positive post
4. Set the ammeter on its highest scale
5. Put the positive probe from the ammeter on the positive battery cable
You will have to figure out a way to keep the probes connected using alligator clips or something. With this configuration, current going into the battery will read positive and current leaving the battery will read negative. Set the ammeter for negative current if it is not automatic.
6. Turn the battery disconnect switch on. If everything in the trailer is truly off, you should see no current indicated on the ammeter. If the ammeter is not automatic ranging, one step at a time, reduce the scale of the ammeter until you get to where it gives a reading or you get to the lowest scale. Record the reading.
7. If you have a reading that is not zero, find your propane detector and disconnect it. It is typically not run through the fuse panel, and maybe not even through the disconnect switch. The propane detector can draw up to 250 milliamps (1/4 Amp). At 250 milliamps, your battery will last somewhere in excess of 2 weeks without being charged.
8. If the current remains, go to the DC fuse panel and pull fuses one at a time until the reading changes. Any time it changes, something on that circuit is drawing current. When you find circuits that are drawing current, figure out what is on that circuit and check each device.
9. If you have pulled all the fuses and current is still indicated, there is some kind of a parasitic load connected at some point other than through the fuse panel. Look for additional inline fuses in your wiring and pull them one at a time.
10. When you are convinced that all the connected loads in the trailer are OK, turn your attention to the converter. Set the ammeter for positive current and plug in the shore power. You should see positive current indicating that the converter is charging the battery. If the battery is fully charged, this should be no more than 100 - 300 milliamps or so but may be more, depending on your converter. The Power Designs PD-9260 does not go into float for 32 hours, and so may be putting out an amp or more during that period.
11. Unplug from shore power. The current should return to whatever it was prior to plugging in. IF you are still seeing a significant amount of current drain (negative indication), the converter itself may be bad. Disconnect the negative cable from the converter and see if the current drops. If disconnecting the converter gets rid of your current drain the converter is bad or wired wrong.

This is easier to do than to explain. Once you understand the concept of current flow, that loads draw current and the converter should only source current, it should be possible to find the problem.

Good luck, whatever you try to do.

Al
Thanks Al,

i will be finding someone else as center I used let year cost a ton and yet there are still issues. I guess we will scrape through this trip and then get the issue resolved.
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Old 08-15-2014, 09:09 PM   #42
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Quick update everyone,

Recharged the battery, hooked it back up and still nothing. I looked at the closet, perplexed and touched the 50amp fuse between the battery and the converter and lo and behold the lights flicked on. Although the fuse was not blown it was corroded. I turned everything off pulled off the fuse rubbed some sand paper on it and the connectors, squeezed the connectors a little so the fit is tighter pt it all back together and there you go. Everything is working bright and shiny. Converter is charging the battery, and when we did check for a parasitic drain the only thing that was pulling was the propane sniffer.

I replaced the fuse with a brand new on elater today.

Knock on wood, this is truly the end of this saga.
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