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Old 07-29-2021, 06:43 AM   #1
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12/120v Refrigerator Tips-Feedback?

When I placed a factory order in last November, I had originally chosen the International series as the 2021 model year continued to carry the propane refrigerator series.

My order came off the factory floor last Thursday, and I am being made to understand they "upgraded" the refrigerator to the 12/120v model.

For those who have these units already, can you offer me a bit of peace-of-mind around how well they manage during extended BLM/dry camping experiences? I ordered factory solar as well; if that assists - but should I expect off of AGMs to now require the purchase of a genset to help manage an advanced battery load?

Feedback from current owners who also boondock, appreciated!

[EDIT] I just realized this is a compressor -- how noisy is this unit going to be; given the propane model is <silent>?

Ian
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Old 07-29-2021, 07:21 AM   #2
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2020 19' Caravel
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I have a 2020 with the electric only fridge and only camp in dispersed areas. Using the stock, flooded batteries and 180W of solar on the roof I could go multiple days without concern. On occasion, weather would interfere and my batteries would not fully charge during the day. A few days of that and I would need to run my genny.
This spring I added a 100W suitcase panel to my arsenal and do not anticipate needing the generator at all. Disclaimer, I generally camp in areas where tree cover is not a concern and try to avoid going when the forecast predicts extended foul weather.
It seems, though, that I am among the minority of folks who are okay with the electric only fridge. This may be because this is my first camp trailer so I have no experience with (or bias for) anything else...

Edit: The noise does not bother me but that is a subjective topic.
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Old 07-29-2021, 07:37 AM   #3
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Hi

There are some *long* threads about this that go into a lot of details. Quick summary:

1) Different trailers have different sized fridges. The bigger they are the more power they pull.

2) With any fridge, the hotter it is out, the more energy it will use. 95 degrees in the trailer is tough on *any* fridge. With an absorption unit, it struggles to stay cold. With a compressor unit, the compressor runs a lot.

3) Different trailers have different solar packages on them. Solar works great out in the full sun / no clouds mid summer. It's not so great in deep forest or heavy smoke / clouds. How much solar helps is highly variable.

4) Even with an absorption fridge, running for a week might be iffy. My absorption fridge runs 1 to 1.2 A off of 12V. That's a bit over 24 AH a day. In 4 cloudy days (with zero other power usage) the typical lead acid battery bank is down to the "don't use" point.

Simple answers are to carry a small generator to top off the batteries. Something like a Honda EU 1000i or 2200i would be more than adequate. Another answer is to add more solar and go to lithium batteries.

Fun !!!

Bob
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Old 07-29-2021, 08:00 AM   #4
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If you are getting the 8 cu ft Nova Kool fridge, it draws 4.4 amps while the compressor is running. The percentage of time that it runs depends on many variables, the primary one being ambient temperature. A good guess for summer camping would be 50% but it could be more if it does not cool off at night. So, 50 amp hours per day is likely.

The output of the factory solar package also depends on a number of variables, but the same 50 amp hours per day is likely. So, your trailer is set up to recharge the power used by your fridge under most conditions.

However, all other power used by the trailer will have to come from battery storage or additional charging. Lithium batteries will approximately double battery storage, giving you more of a cushion before additional charging is required. An additional 1-200 watts of solar likely will provide adequate additional charging, and a generator is an acceptable option for some.
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Old 07-30-2021, 07:57 AM   #5
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Hi

Missed the noise question ...

The absorption fridge is far from silent. I don't notice the "noise" from a compressor fridge any more than I notice the absorption thing firing up and doing it's stuff ....

Bob
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Old 07-30-2021, 08:30 AM   #6
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From what I understand, Airstream is upping the solar capacities and the batteries to battle borne lithium batteries on the Classic line for 2022. Hopefully that will help cushion their across the board change to 12v/120v fridges and that they also pass this onto the rest of the trailer lines.

If you are like me in terms of camping with an Airstream, then you should upgrade to lithium batteries for faster charging and capacity and if you'd like to carry a portable "suitcase" solar or a generator, that might be a good idea.

The compressor fridges do have a bit of a hum to them, and the absorption fridges, though you may have hear the igniter when in LP mode, the fact is, if installed properly, for the most part the absorption fridges are silent in comparison. The 12v compressor hum is lower frequency, but if it bothers, adding something like rockwool in the area might lower the meager sound that the compressor fridges produce.

Sound can be subjective, but I don't feel the compressor fridges are that intrusive in terms of sound, but then again, I have not slept in a limited space RV when things overall a lot more quiet.
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Old 07-30-2021, 08:43 AM   #7
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All electric fridge and noise. If you remember to turn the fridge to “night mode”, the compressor hardly runs at night. Actually I never hear it run at night. There is a very very low hum during the day but nothing that is bothersome. The igniter of a propane fridge or water heater makes more noise. Or that damn water pump noise!

I have a 2021 27’ GT with factory solar and AGMs and all electric fridge. Love that fridge. Cools super fast and stays cool. Ice cream stays frozen if it lasts that long in the freezer!
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Old 07-30-2021, 09:40 AM   #8
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With regard to noise I agree with the above posts that it is not much of an issue with either. The exception: the cheap fan Airstream supplies is definitely irritating, but cheap and easy to replace with a quiet computer fan.

A variable on both the noise and solar capacity issues is the length of the trailer. Longer trailers have the space to add lots of rooftop solar and to distance yourself from the fridge. A 16’ trailer is limited to 200w on the roof and no room to get away from the fridge.
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Old 07-30-2021, 05:10 PM   #9
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Hey - I want to thank the full crew who replied, and eased my worries. I'll look to post back here six months into ownership with a report how it's going...
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Old 07-30-2021, 06:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txforetravel View Post
all electric fridge and noise. If you remember to turn the fridge to “night mode”, the compressor hardly runs at night. Actually i never hear it run at night. There is a very very low hum during the day but nothing that is bothersome. The igniter of a propane fridge or water heater makes more noise. Or that damn water pump noise!

I have a 2021 27’ gt with factory solar and agms and all electric fridge. Love that fridge. Cools super fast and stays cool. Ice cream stays frozen if it lasts that long in the freezer!
^+1
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Old 08-03-2021, 05:48 AM   #11
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I have a 2020 19' Bambi with the Novakool 4.3 cf 12V fridge. With the standard factory solar package I am able to dry camp for 2 days and my AGM batteries are well below 50%. Since it is summer I also use the fans and maybe the TV for a couple of hours at night. My average draw about 30-50 amps per day depending on usage and temp.

I've found this completely unworkable and end up running the generator every day to charge the batteries. I've already taken my AGM batteries to almost zero multiple times.

I really don't understand how Airstream even sells this for $60,000. I guess they still live in the traditional RV world where everyone hooks up and are very slowly understanding modern campers. With a backlog of 3,000 or more orders they probably don't need to worry about it for the moment.

I just maxed out my roof with 280 watts of solar and am adding a Battleborn GC3 280ah battery and Victron 100/50 MPPT controller. Unbelievably the standard AC charge controller (WFCO 8955) doesn't support Lithium so I also am replacing that.

Unless you depend on a generator, you will have a tough time boondocking with this fridge.
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Old 08-03-2021, 08:25 AM   #12
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I would swap out my absorption fridge for a compressor in a heartbeat. Way better performance over a range of factors. Not worried about the power draw, and if you are you can add another panel up top to make sure you are well covered. (260w up top and a 140w portable for me, never worried about my ability to produce power)

Consider getting a dual fuel generator, and if you find yourself needing extra power while boondocking you can tap into the propane port at the front of the trailer for an hour to fully recharge.
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Old 08-03-2021, 10:16 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prettygood View Post
Consider getting a dual fuel generator, and if you find yourself needing extra power while boondocking you can tap into the propane port at the front of the trailer for an hour to fully recharge.
So you bring a generator that runs on propane to supply electric power to the fridge that used to run on propane but now only runs on electric?
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Old 08-03-2021, 10:29 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
So you bring a generator that runs on propane to supply electric power to the fridge that used to run on propane but now only runs on electric?


Not at all. I use 260-400 watts of solar to recharge my lithium batteries that run all sorts of things in the trailer. As a backup, I have a generator to supplement my solar if I ever need it, which has been zero times since going lithium with 260w up top.

Thanks for the snark though…
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Old 08-04-2021, 07:46 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richh View Post
I have a 2020 19' Bambi with the Novakool 4.3 cf 12V fridge. With the standard factory solar package I am able to dry camp for 2 days and my AGM batteries are well below 50%. Since it is summer I also use the fans and maybe the TV for a couple of hours at night. My average draw about 30-50 amps per day depending on usage and temp.

I've found this completely unworkable and end up running the generator every day to charge the batteries. I've already taken my AGM batteries to almost zero multiple times.

I really don't understand how Airstream even sells this for $60,000. I guess they still live in the traditional RV world where everyone hooks up and are very slowly understanding modern campers. With a backlog of 3,000 or more orders they probably don't need to worry about it for the moment.

I just maxed out my roof with 280 watts of solar and am adding a Battleborn GC3 280ah battery and Victron 100/50 MPPT controller. Unbelievably the standard AC charge controller (WFCO 8955) doesn't support Lithium so I also am replacing that.

Unless you depend on a generator, you will have a tough time boondocking with this fridge.
Hi

Sorry to say, but that same "about two days on batteries" has been common for a lot of AS products for a while. Yes, the exact conditions that put you there vary a bit. It is exactly what our Classic would do when new. It most certainly does not have a compressor fridge.

AS is now converting many products over to lithium. They also offer lithium upgrades on most products. Lithium has never been cheap / simple / easy to convert over to.

You will need things like a shunt based monitor if you are going to try to run for multiple days. You also need to take a look at the charge wire on your 7 pin. There are a *lot* of threads about all this here on the forum.

Bob
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Old 08-04-2021, 09:28 AM   #16
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Thanks for the snark though
It wasn't aimed at you, but at the concept. I had a chuckle.
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Old 08-26-2021, 02:42 PM   #17
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Well - interesting! Although the trailer was built into August, it came into the dealer with a note attached from my original order to use the absorption fridge (apparently the sales staff made note of the reason I didn't order a GT,) and I got an absorption fridge! As well as the full stack chimney, so no need for the fans mod either...

Apparently the fridge is also a newer variant; where in the exact same, sunny, trailer spot at the Virginia Highland Haven, my 2011 fridge could keep the freezer at 25F, this one can keep the Freezer at -5F. Nice!
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