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Old 03-01-2020, 08:48 PM   #1
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Keep food cold on the road

How so you keep your food cold on the road, I do not want to run the refrigerator on LP going down the road. Will the refrigerator once cold keep food all day until next stop? Do you use an ice chest? We are planning a trip to Grand canyon in June from Texas and Wondering the best way, any help would be appreciated Mike
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Old 03-01-2020, 09:23 PM   #2
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We keep the LP on ourselves.

Some people say just turn on the fridge a day before your trip to let it get nice and cold. Move all your items in and shut it until you’re hooked up where you want to be and then some. Gotta let the fridge get colder before you let all the harm air in.

Being in food service industry my entire adult life, I can say that the real risk of letting your food not stay refrigerated only comes after about 6 hours of the food being above 41. You could probably just freeze your meets to help protect them on your drive too.
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Old 03-01-2020, 09:33 PM   #3
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We also travel with the fridge running on propane.

Traveling to the Grand Canyon you will be in fairly warm weather and need to be careful as you travel. You might want to try some freezable ice pack to put in the fridge while you travel and to freeze them again at night when you have services.
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Old 03-01-2020, 09:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by 5150mike View Post
How so you keep your food cold on the road, I do not want to run the refrigerator on LP going down the road. Will the refrigerator once cold keep food all day until next stop? Do you use an ice chest? We are planning a trip to Grand canyon in June from Texas and Wondering the best way, any help would be appreciated Mike


We have traveled with the Refrigertor running on propane always. Never had a problem. You ask How many years? Oh about 35 years, and four different trailers. Oh by the way we even refuel the truck with it on. Your cell phone is more dangerous while refueling.
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Old 03-01-2020, 10:00 PM   #5
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You can safely run the refrigerator on LP while on the road however I would advise shutting the gas off before entering a fuel station. My understanding is that in some states it is in fact illegal not to do so.

However, if you don’t want to take advantage of the propane system on the road, you can do a number of things unpowered.

Put as much Of the food that you were going to take with you in the deep freeze a few days before departure, Including a frozen gallon of water. A day or two before departure have your airstream refrigerator set to the coldest setting and let it reach that temperature for a day or two.

Right before departure transfer everything from your deep freeze into your chilled airstream refrigerator and close and lock it tight. Refrain from opening the refrigerator until you arrive at your final destination.

The food will slowly defrost over the course of your trip. Don’t be surprised to find some items still partially frozen by the time you arrive. This will work well for foods that need to be refrigerated, but will not work for foods that need to remain frozen.

Alternatively, you can use coolers. The yeti, which I think is overpriced, is allegedly able to keep food frozen for days at a time. There are less expensive competitor coolers on the market that make similar claims.

Finally, another strategy is to avoid bringing a lot of food with you from home and instead purchase what you need near your final destination.
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Old 03-01-2020, 10:14 PM   #6
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Hi, I run my refrigerator a few days before a trip and until I come back home and empty it. Items in my refrigerator were precooled or frozen in the house refrigerator before putting them in my trailer. Small water bottles [2 or 3] are in the freezer and can help keep things cold, can be used in lunch coolers on road trips, or swapped out in the refrigerator to keep it cool in really hot weather.
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Old 03-02-2020, 05:44 AM   #7
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We run on propane while traveling but consider adding one small simple piece of gear and it will help keep you advised of actual fridge temp.

A simple remote thermometer. Mine reads indoor and has a remote sensor transmitter. I place the remote in the fridge and place the receiver in house while prepping and then it goes into the truck cab for an occasional peek and monitor. Then the receiver goes in the AS for monitoring. I'm feeling pretty good about fridge food safety after adding this simple tool.

It can help answer the question, need to run it or not.

Gary
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Old 03-02-2020, 05:56 AM   #8
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Completely understand the desire not to burn LP while pulling the trailer. As noted, plenty of people do it, and plenty don't.

Another option is to get an 12v / 110v cooler, transfer refrigerated perishables to the cooler, and then power the cooler from inside the tow vehicle. Sure, this is one more power load for the TV's alternator, but the cooler should have a thermostat, so it not pulling its max current all of the time. For items remaining in the freezer, might consider vacuum seal freezer bags to help minimize the drying effect of freeze / partially thaw cycles.

Bonus to the powered cooler is that you really do not have to unpack it. I have used one on road trips without the RV and used it as a mini refer at the destination.

Another feature to the powered cooler I have is that it also will heat.
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Old 03-02-2020, 07:32 AM   #9
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One of the benefits of having a solar system with a sizable bank of lithium cells is that it permits you to run the refrigerator on electric. Prior to the installation of our 900w / 600Ah solar system, I used propane for the refrigerator while in transit but always knew there was a degree of risk I was not fully comfortable with. Be safe.
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Old 03-02-2020, 08:21 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by BigSxyWhtGuy View Post
Being in food service industry my entire adult life, I can say that the real risk of letting your food not stay refrigerated only comes after about 6 hours of the food being above 41. You could probably just freeze your meets to help protect them on your drive too.

This is a generally true statement (although I'm sure someone somewhere could cite a counterexample), so use it to your advantage. Before departure, ensure your refrigerated items are fully chilled (33º would be ideal) and your frozen items are deeply frozen (0º or lower). If you keep your fridge and freezer both fully stocked (i.e. minimum dead air space), the heat capacity of the food items will go along way to keeping your insulated icebox within the safe temperature zone until you can turn the refrigeration back on.

I have worked in the food safety industry and am acutely aware of the danger of foodborne pathogens. While these won't generally kill you, they can add quite some "adventure" to your vacation travels. Like you, we're planning on going from Texas to the Grand Canyon in June. As for me, I prefer to travel with the propane fridge on. I do turn it off when refueling--I currently work in retail fuel business, and I'd rather not have any ignition sources when volatile hydrocarbon vapors might be present.
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Old 03-02-2020, 08:30 AM   #11
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We also run the fridge on propane, from the moment we depart, to the moment we return home. The only time not is when plugged in and the fridge automatically switches to electric mode.

The fear of something bad happening with the fridge on propane while driving is irrational.
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Old 03-02-2020, 08:39 AM   #12
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We live in Arizona and travel during the summer in the West and Southwest. Our 2 way fridge has never really been up to the task of keeping food at safe temperatures. (We are unwilling to drive with the gas on, I don't like the odds.) We always keep our perishables in a Yeti.

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The fear of something bad happening with the fridge on propane while driving is irrational.
My concern is not with the fridge, it's with possible damage to the propane lines during transit.

- Austin
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Old 03-02-2020, 08:42 AM   #13
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We have always run the refer on propane while traveling.

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Old 03-02-2020, 08:55 AM   #14
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My concern is not with the fridge, it's with possible damage to the propane lines during transit.

- Austin
Are you aware that the propane tanks will automatically shut off if a line is compromised?
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Old 03-02-2020, 09:03 AM   #15
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Skyguyscott had the simplest, easiest, least expensive solution - buy your groceries when you are near or at your destination. Plan the menu and buy the meat, perishable veggies and breads you need and have really fresh food where you camp.

Walmart is not the only place that offers order and pickup service - and at many stores you can even check out the location of the pickup area. Locate a store within an hour of your destination and place your order. Have them slide everything into the Airstream, go to the far end of the parking lot and unpack and store your stuff then drive to the campground. Don't forget to order a bag of ice to start cooking the meat, etc.
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Old 03-02-2020, 09:28 AM   #16
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The biggest danger when running the refrigerator on propane while traveling is at the gas station. The spark created when the fridge attempts to light itself can ignite any fuel vapors that are present. I’ve seen some pretty awful pictures of the consequences.

Note that some states and provinces prohibit running LP appliances while driving through tunnels or onboard ferries. I’ve even had my tanks inspected prior to boarding a ferry to ensure they are completely shut off.

If you choose to run the fridge on propane while traveling, make sure you turn off the fridge completely before approaching fuel pumps, and turn it on again only after you pull the trailer well clear of the area. Simply shutting the tank valves is not sufficient; you need to enter the trailer and use the power switch.

The factory installed refrigerators are very efficient and well insulated. I have found putting ice packs or cubes in the freezer section is more than sufficient for keeping food in the fridge cold enough for an entire day’s drive, although frozen food might be affected. On hot days I will sometimes run the fridge on propane while driving. But turning it off before entering a gas station is a must.
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Old 03-02-2020, 09:31 AM   #17
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How so you keep your food cold on the road, I do not want to run the refrigerator on LP going down the road. Will the refrigerator once cold keep food all day until next stop? Do you use an ice chest? We are planning a trip to Grand canyon in June from Texas and Wondering the best way, any help would be appreciated Mike

We have always run on propane as well. In fact, several weeks after we purchased our new 2016 FC I recieved a call for AS headquarters about warranty info. The man calling was a former AS tech and had worked on the AS assembly line. He said there is nor real danger to driving with the propane on and even while filling your tv tank. Also, apparently our fridge model comes with a 10 minute automatic fridge propane cutoff switch that activates when you stop and turn there engine in your tv off. If you are stopped linger then ten minutes you will have to reset the fridge propane setting before taking off.
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Old 03-02-2020, 10:07 AM   #18
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I've been traveling with propane on for decades now. I have followed the practice however of shutting the fridge down before entering the pump bays at gas stations and turning it back on after I pull away from the bay.

While the aspect of DC voltage is attractive on the newer 3 way refrigerators, it requires some caution. I had a HiLo trailer with a 3 way refrigerator and learned quickly that if your connections between your trailer and the tow vehicle become dirty or corroded over time, you will not deliver enough voltage to keep the battery charged. I learned by the fact that I would arrive at a destination and find the battery dead and the HiLo whose battery supplied power to the lifting system, would not open. I finally found an electrical contact cleaner that I would spray on the plug and on the socket connectors to make sure contact is good. Also the more sobering fact is that a dead battery can be a safety issue if your breakaway cable is activated and there is no power present at the battery or from the tow vehicles.

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Old 03-02-2020, 10:22 AM   #19
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We have always had three way refrigerators, so battery, gas or electric...even in our old hybrid trailer. While that one wasn't automatic it was pretty simple.

Cool before you load, add chilled food (frozen works too!), keep it closed.
Use battery on the road (ours never caused any undo "battery not charging" type of issue as was reported), gas or electric when stationary. Food was always cold and ready to go. Might be worth the investment if you only have one power source.

We do keep drinks in an ice chest in the truck...by keeping those separate we avoid opening and closing the refrigerator constantly and we also can haul cold food for day trips.
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Old 03-02-2020, 10:26 AM   #20
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We have traveled with the Refrigertor running on propane always. Never had a problem. You ask How many years? Oh about 35 years, and four different trailers. Oh by the way we even refuel the truck with it on. Your cell phone is more dangerous while refueling.
I concur.

Just don't run it on an Ecplise.
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