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Old 06-20-2024, 09:32 AM   #1
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Electric Refrigerator While Driving - Clarification

I would like to confirm whether I can run my fridge while on the road. Below was extracted from the Airstream support site but I am not sure how this may or may not pertain to my original electric/LP refrigerator (2018 FC RBT w/ 2 solar panels).

Thank you.

ps. I received 2 opposing answers (yes/no) from the Jackson Center so now confused.

------------------
Can I run my electric fridge while traveling? Yes! One of the most convenient functions of an electric refrigerator is that you can run them while in motion, as they don’t pose the same safety issues as propane refrigerators. Just be sure to monitor your battery power while traveling to ensure there is sufficient power for the fridge. Roof-mounted solar panels can help to keep batteries charged while driving in full sun even while the fridge is running.
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Old 06-20-2024, 09:43 AM   #2
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Absolutely there is no technical problem with running the fridge while on the road. It will cool fine and do its job exactly as designed. The fridge in my previous RV was on constantly when we were on the road.

But...

Depending on your setup with regard to your tow vehicle sending power to your trailer, you may or may not run your batteries down while doing this. If you have a shunt based monitor you can know what this will look like by watching the monitor while the fridge is running (the compress is running) while hooked up and holding the engine in the TV at highway RPM.

If the shunt based monitor shows power still going into the batteries vs. coming out, you're fine. If there is a drain, then you'll have to do the math and see if the rate of drain is low enough that it won't be a problem until you arrive at your destination.

Most TVs should be able to keep up with the fridge without a problem though, so I'm probably over thinking this.

Or, if you have solar on the roof which is on while driving, you should be absolutely fine as it will help keep your batteries topped off while driving.
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Old 06-20-2024, 09:47 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by picketoaks View Post
I would like to confirm whether I can run my fridge while on the road. Below was extracted from the Airstream support site but I am not sure how this may or may not pertain to my original electric/LP refrigerator (2018 FC RBT w/ 2 solar panels).

Thank you.

ps. I received 2 opposing answers (yes/no) from the Jackson Center so now confused.

------------------
Can I run my electric fridge while traveling? Yes! One of the most convenient functions of an electric refrigerator is that you can run them while in motion, as they don’t pose the same safety issues as propane refrigerators. Just be sure to monitor your battery power while traveling to ensure there is sufficient power for the fridge. Roof-mounted solar panels can help to keep batteries charged while driving in full sun even while the fridge is running.
If you have a 2-way (110V/propane) fridge, it’s not the kind of “electric” fridge they are referring to in the answer you quoted above. That answer applies to the new fridges they are now using which operate exclusively on 12V DC power.

But to answer your question, yes you can run your 2-way fridge (assuming that is what you have) while on the road. It will operate on propane. If you plug into shorepower at your destination, it should automatically switch over to operating on 110V AC power. Disconnect from shorepower, and it will switch back over to propane.
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Old 06-20-2024, 09:47 AM   #4
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I am not familiar with the newer electric fridges. We converted our 1956 Dometic to a compressor fridge that is 120vac/12vdc. If the fridge doesn’t detect 120 it will go to 12vdc. So, when we’re towing there is no 120vac available therefore, it pulls off the 12 volt trailer battery. The 7-pin supplied by the tow vehicle keeps the trailer battery charged. We’ve never had an issue, so far. Good luck
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Old 06-20-2024, 10:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by picketoaks View Post
I would like to confirm whether I can run my fridge while on the road. Below was extracted from the Airstream support site but I am not sure how this may or may not pertain to my original electric/LP refrigerator (2018 FC RBT w/ 2 solar panels).

Thank you.

ps. I received 2 opposing answers (yes/no) from the Jackson Center so now confused.

------------------
Can I run my electric fridge while traveling? Yes! One of the most convenient functions of an electric refrigerator is that you can run them while in motion, as they don’t pose the same safety issues as propane refrigerators. Just be sure to monitor your battery power while traveling to ensure there is sufficient power for the fridge. Roof-mounted solar panels can help to keep batteries charged while driving in full sun even while the fridge is running.
In their response, Jackson Center made the assumption that your "electric fridge" was capable of running on 12V power which, since your 2018 FC has the original absorption 110V/propane unit, is incorrect. In 2020 Airstream switched to a 3 way absorption refrigerator (12v/110v/propane) and later to a 2 way all electric compressor fridge (12V/110V). Both of those newer fridges can run on 12V battery power on the road.

Bottom line, you will have to run your fridge on propane while travelling, unless you have a very, very long extension cord.
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Old 06-20-2024, 11:33 AM   #6
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I have a 2017 28' FC and always run my fridge with propane without issue, while traveling or boondocking, without electric service. Propane fuel usege is minimal and it keeps everything real cold. Some folks caution doing this, because of the flame, but I have owned 4 different year AS's over 17 years now, without issue running the fridge. The flame is in a ventilated compartment and when filling at a service station, the AS is way back away from fuel anyway, so not an issue if your aware and careful.

As for the automatic feature of electric/propane switching, I have had this mis-function a couple times where the propane did not light, so I always check this to make sure it is lit. The propane pilot flame is very quiet in that compartment, so you have to check the switch light in the fridge to make sure it shows LP is selected when in Auto mode. I sometimes turn off and back on selecting propane manually to make sure it is on. That is about all the issues I have ever had to check. I have 2 close friends who have the new models without the propane option; all electric...and they complain about noise of that model when sleeping, plus the electric only issues...battery usage can be a real problem if boondocking.
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Old 06-20-2024, 05:00 PM   #7
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All,

Once again thanks for your insights. It very much helps when preparing for a trip and thinking about a multitude of things to check off.

Safe traveling.
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Old 06-20-2024, 08:34 PM   #8
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I missed the mention of your OEM propane/electric fridge in your original message.

We always travel with ours turned on running on propane. In this mode the fridge uses very little electric power and we've never had a problem with the propane system during travel. Arrive with a cold fridge and fresh food.
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Old 06-21-2024, 05:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richard5933 View Post
I missed the mention of your OEM propane/electric fridge in your original message.

We always travel with ours turned on running on propane. In this mode the fridge uses very little electric power and we've never had a problem with the propane system during travel. Arrive with a cold fridge and fresh food.
We have a DC-DC charger so we now tend to run with the fridge in the DC mode. But we have always traveled with propane on before we got the charger. No issues.
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Old 06-21-2024, 09:15 AM   #10
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Hi

Obviously this has wandered a bit ....

There are several types of fridge in various AS trailers:

1) The good old propane plus 110V units. You *could* run them with an inverter I suppose. They pull a *lot* of power that way ... not a good idea at all.

2) The propane plus 110V plus 12V units. These are a bit rare. When run on 12V, just like on 110V, they pull a lot of power. Depending on which one you have something in the ~20A range is not unusual. The stock trailer probably isn't going to be happy supplying that power rolling down the road.

3) The new compressor fridges. These chug along on 12V and cycle at some rate (as do the other versions). Peak demand could be anything from 4A to 10A "depending". Average demand will depend a lot on how hot it is. 2A to 5A average is a pretty good bet. A stock setup hopefully would keep up with this.

Like most folks, we run the trailer down the road on propane all the time. The van's compressor fridge seems to do OK running down the road or sitting out in the driveway plugged into shore power.

Bob
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Old 06-21-2024, 09:35 AM   #11
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When we were newbies, and after 10 years, we still are newbies, having the propane on while travelling was not recommended. It was supposedly illegal in some situations. This could be an old wives tale. We've done it when necessary and survived.

We have solar and, through most of our travels, could collect enough solar along the way to power the 325 watt frig. We've now added a DC-DC charger that covers the frig for sure.
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Old 06-21-2024, 12:01 PM   #12
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When we were newbies, and after 10 years, we still are newbies, having the propane on while travelling was not recommended. It was supposedly illegal in some situations. This could be an old wives tale. We've done it when necessary and survived.

We have solar and, through most of our travels, could collect enough solar along the way to power the 325 watt frig. We've now added a DC-DC charger that covers the frig for sure.
From all the state websites I've explored, and from all the different research I've done, it seems that pulling an RV with the propane on/running is only a problem on a few bridges and tunnels. Other than that, I've not encountered a situation where having the propane on/running was a problem or illegal. Likely there are similar rules for boarding a ferry, but I haven't looked into that.
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Old 06-21-2024, 12:37 PM   #13
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Hi

2) The propane plus 110V plus 12V units. These are a bit rare. When run on 12V, just like on 110V, they pull a lot of power. Depending on which one you have something in the ~20A range is not unusual. The stock trailer probably isn't going to be happy supplying that power rolling down the road.

Like most folks, we run the trailer down the road on propane all the time. The van's compressor fridge seems to do OK running down the road or sitting out in the driveway plugged into shore power.
We have one of the rare 3-way propane/110V/12V fridges in our 2020 GT. I think they were introduced for 2020-2021 and then were switched out for the all-electric compressor units. When run on 12V ours pulls about 14.5A/175W per the Victron app. I agree that a continuous load like that would be a strain with a stock trailer. Fortunately, our solar/lithium setup handles it easily with reasonable sun exposure.

With the 2-way absorption fridges in my earlier trailers I also used propane and never had an issue on the road. However, since I now have the ability to travel without an open flame being present or the propane tank valves being left open, I run on 12V when possible.
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Old 06-21-2024, 01:01 PM   #14
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I have a 120 V/Propane combo fridge in a 2017 Flying Cloud. It automatically switches to propane when there is no shore power. It runs on propane even when underway.

However, I upgraded 2 years ago with a Victron Multiplus II and a 30 amp Isolated DC-DC charger. The fridge pulls about 320 watts when on AC. I wired the Multiplus so the 110 V outlets stay hot all the time and the fridge runs on 110 all the time unless I manually change the setting in the fridge to LP instead of automatic. I only do this when boondocking. The 30 amp DC-DC charger keeps the batteries charged when underway.

I have read in the past that the propane fridge becomes spotty at high elevation, but have never experienced that. Perhaps a slight advantage to running electric most of the time.

One situation where the electric is a definite advantage is when on ferries that require the propane tanks to be turned off. Having enough spare battery to keep an electric fridge running during the voyage can save having to throw out food. A recent example was the 6 hour ferry ride from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland. The propane tanks were off and the fridge ran the whole time. I have two 270 Amp-hr Battleborn GC3. When we got off the ferry, the batteries were at 60%.
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Old 06-21-2024, 01:31 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by mikeinca View Post
....

Bottom line, you will have to run your fridge on propane while travelling, unless you have a very, very long extension cord.

Funny yes, but true in my case. I run an extension cord securely mounted to the side of the trailer on top of the side awnings to the front of the trailer and plug it into a Ecoflow Delta pros T-30 port in the back of my van. Solar panels on the van and a alternator driven Inverter supply plenty of power for the Delta pro. An hour or 2 before I reach camp, I even run the 15k roof ac to cool down the trailer.
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Old 06-21-2024, 07:10 PM   #16
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From all the state websites I've explored, and from all the different research I've done, it seems that pulling an RV with the propane on/running is only a problem on a few bridges and tunnels. Other than that, I've not encountered a situation where having the propane on/running was a problem or illegal. Likely there are similar rules for boarding a ferry, but I haven't looked into that.
Have you checked New Jersey?
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Old 06-22-2024, 03:48 AM   #17
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Have you checked New Jersey?
I have not specifically checked the state statutes in NJ in the past since I have not pulled our Airstream there. But in trying to do a quick search just now I found it difficult to locate any actual statute or regulation referring to a statewide prohibition on open propane tanks.

However, there are MANY restrictions on the roads under the auspices of the Port Authority, including all the bridges and tunnels between NY and NJ.

Do you have a citation for a state reg prohibiting open propane tanks on all highways in NJ?
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Old 06-22-2024, 05:56 AM   #18
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No open flames incl a pilot light at ANY gas station!
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Old 06-22-2024, 06:49 AM   #19
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No open flames incl a pilot light at ANY gas station!
Hi

Do you have a specific regulation stating that?

I'm not debating it being a good idea or not. The question is purely about a law making it illegal inside a towed RV (as opposed to out in the open).

Why does this stuff matter?

Anything over about 45 degrees in your fridge is getting into "food hazard" territory. Over 50 degrees is not good at all. Our trailer fridge struggles to maintain 45 while running in the heat.

Anything over about 20 degrees in the freezer is similarly in the hazard range. Over 32 is not good at all.

Shutting down the system for 8 hours at ... 97 out yesterday ... is going to result in a lot of potentially dangerous food in the fridge. Will it *be* dangerous? You'll know a couple hours after dinner ....

This is not just an issue with RV fridges. The ones in our garage are just as challenged in the same situation. All this based on IR thermometer checks (as opposed to a dial thermometer sitting "somewhere"). It's also based on melted stuff found in the freezers ....

With the typical RV fridge, you have a cooling source somewhere. In our propane fridge it's at the top of the fridge area and the bottom of the freezer. If you pack them both *full* of stuff (as one does heading out on a trip), the stuff further from that cold source struggles ....

Bob
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Old 06-22-2024, 07:07 AM   #20
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Hi

Do you have a specific regulation stating that?

I'm not debating it being a good idea or not. The question is purely about a law making it illegal inside a towed RV (as opposed to out in the open). ...

The open flame is typically just inside a vented door for both the fridge and the water heater (if so equipped).
On your next fuel up check the pumps for safety labels, then do a quick search for gas station fires caused by RV's
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