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Old 08-14-2009, 11:44 AM   #1
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pros/cons of refer continuous operation

It is quite easy for us to leave the reefer operating-at home, on the road, boondocking and in a park-any chime in on operating the reefer full time. Well, shoot writing this I realized there are folks who full-time the trailer, so I assume they full-time the reefer, too! (duh!) But, I'd still like to hear comments on this...thanks.
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:55 AM   #2
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

We use camp in Lucy quite a bit, 120+ nights a year. We run the refer at all times when Lucy is in use. When we get her home, we usually shut the refer down for a defrost and cleaning. After as long as nine weeks of consistent use, there is some frost build-up in the freezer section.

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Old 08-14-2009, 12:18 PM   #3
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My wife uses our Airstream "reefer" as an overflow from our "reefer" in the kitchen. After three + years of near continuous use, we haven't had a problem. It isn't opened often between trips, just when we need to get something out or to stock it for a trip.
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:29 PM   #4
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Like anything else it will be a wear and tear issue. Logic would say that something going 24x365 is going to wear out faster. Harmful no. Sometimes depending on the item, not using it causes more harm! A low mileage class A or class C unit might be less reliable due to the wear and tear caused by sitting. We know that tires need to roll and axles need to flex. Non use kills them.

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Old 08-14-2009, 02:50 PM   #5
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Right or wrong, aside from an occasional defrosting, ours has been running continuously for over 4 years. No problems yet.
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Old 08-14-2009, 04:17 PM   #6
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Another newbie question - how much propane does a frig typically use? Can they run a very long time on the two 20-lb bottles?

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Old 08-14-2009, 07:07 PM   #7
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Ran mine continuously for almost 2 weeks using what seemed less than half a 30 lb.us tank.
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Old 08-14-2009, 07:14 PM   #8
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Thumbs up

15 days in the Adirondack's, on lpg most of the time, stays on while traveling. Did work well.
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:47 PM   #9
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New Cooling Unit __ Poor reg Frig temps 39-40 deg

As Jack pointed out. Non use has disadvantages.

Just found that out yesterday coming back from Myrtle Bch, and had the curb tire loose the tread after some rough roads. Tires were 7 years old and I was hoping for few more months of use. Bought a tire (luckily a small town had one) and was a wake up call for the 6 year life.

On that note I do believe that I could get more life had I just used it more frequently during the last 3 years. Note that my car tires got constant use and no problems with 8 years and 80,000 miles.

***On the Dometic 2603, I replaced the back cooling unit following the instructions exactly 2 years ago. Freezer gets to 16 deg. but frig only gets to 39-40 lowest either on gas or electric.

I too was wondering if the extra costs of running it (electric) would prevent the clogging of the ammonia gas in the coils, which I believe is what is happening.

Keep the posts coming.....

Steve
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:11 PM   #10
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I never thought about turning it off. My frige is only two years old, it must be frost free. Not any moving parts,whats to wear?

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Old 08-14-2009, 10:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bibbs View Post
I never thought about turning it off. My frige is only two years old, it must be frost free. Not any moving parts,whats to wear?

Bibbs
The electric heater element has a fixed life. It's nothing more than a metal coil. Electronics in the "brains" constantly running. If you are constantly under gas operation, the gas valve will eventually die, the thermocouple that senses the flame will die. I don't know the effect of the boiler being continually under pressure, so that's pretty much an unknown. So for all intents it doesn't have to move, or move much to have a fixed life. What none of us know is the what the toll of constant operation is.

My fridge in my Hi-Lo failed after 14 years of use. If you added up all the hours that it ran over the course of 14 years, it probably doesn't even come close to my much more mechanical refrigerator in my house. Consider the climate the trailer fridge has to run in plus the shaking it gets during towing, I would be surprised that a home unit wouldn't have a shortened life.

So in retrospect maybe the biggest item that affects the life of an RV refrigerator is how much it gets towed and the roads you travel on. The wear and tear caused by operation might be a minor to what is inflicted when you are on the road.

Jack
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:16 PM   #12
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Ammonia only moving "part" _ does clog though

And that is the reason for asking if others had negative results from just running the frig a few times a year to camp vs. running all the time and it's expense on electricity.

Remember that is a heating coil to boil the ammonia in the back and resistance heat is not cheap - nor is replacement of a frig. I guess it would use more electricity than a full size frig because it is using a small compressor and fans.

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Old 08-14-2009, 10:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sav'h Steve View Post
And that is the reason for asking if others had negative results from just running the frig a few times a year to camp vs. running all the time and it's expense on electricity.

Remember that is a heating coil to boil the ammonia in the back and resistance heat is not cheap - nor is replacement of a frig. I guess it would use more electricity than a full size frig because it is using a small compressor and fans.

Steve
The other thing directly related to this comment is whether you operate that fridge in an off level situation. On the older units running off level didn't allow for free flow of the ammonia liquid mix. Once that free flow gets inhibited you start to develop deposits which eventually starts a clog. Somewhat like plaque in an artery. Once it starts it slowly continues to build until you get a clog....and your fridge has a heart attack, which for all intents means a loss of cooling capacity.

The newer fridges have been engineered to be more tolerant of off level conditions. Supposedly if its comfortable for you, then you are level enough. I'm picky and I try really hard to get that bubble centered. RV refrigerators are expensive to replace.

Jack
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:39 PM   #14
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I think in general more things die on trailers from lack of use (maintenance) than over use. But, electric coils do have a wear out factor and certainly running on propane there will be issues with soot build-up. If stationary though I think the electric coils shouldn't be an issue. I can't see feeding the thing propane year round though if the fridge is staying home more often than not.

We have a mid '40s fridge in our house that's been running almost continuously for over 60 years. There's no way it would still be alive if it was left sitting and then plugged in occasionally. OTOH, it's lasted this long because in hasn't been moved in almost 50 years!
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Old 08-15-2009, 12:57 AM   #15
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Another point of view.

Hi, I don't think leaving the refrigerator on all of the time is much of an issue, but the fact that you will be plugged in, most or all of the time is. Your converter, in many cases, will cook your batteries in time and removing your batteries while plugged in will most likely kill your converter. Therefore I only use mine while traveling, ....... "Travel Trailer".
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Old 08-15-2009, 08:20 AM   #16
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Jack,
You are right about the leveling. I have a '90 Excella with a new cold pack installed in '07 on the existing frig box.

I do get it pretty level. Easier to do front to back, I'll tolerate a little off center side to side level, so I think I'm OK within the frig tolerances.

My post was more to ask if anyone found that more continuous running helped clear up an *apparent* ammonia clog. In other words, a lightly clumped gas started running more free.

I have heard of people who have a *dead* frig pull it out and turn it upside down several times. Andy says that is *at best* a short time fix and ready for a new one.

Since I just put on a new cooling unit, I don't think I'm at the *dead frig* point. Least hope not. Wife wants to get a small electric for the back of the pickup when we are in full service RV sites.

Steve
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Old 08-15-2009, 09:29 AM   #17
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I think the ammonia clog is normally a sign of off level operation. Once you operate off level the ammonia mixture separates due to the lack of free flow within the boiler and evaporative piping. The inability for the liquids to remix from being off level along with the heat applied starts the development of the blockage.

I don't believe continuous running is beneficial to clearing clogs. The best prevention is to run them level. Mine ran 14 years in my old trailer before failing due to a leak. Clog was never an issue.

Jack
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Old 08-15-2009, 03:08 PM   #18
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Dometic Service Manual pdf says....

Jack,

You are right. Here is what the Dometic people say:
Very good manual, has a diagnostic flow chart also

"Under normal operation the temperature at
the absorber coils (A) and the boiler (B)
should be approximately the same. If the
temperature at the absorber coils (A) is
much hotter it indicates loss of refrigerant
and the cooling unit must be replaced. If
the temperature at the boiler (B) is very hot
and the absorber coils (A) are cool it indicates
that the refrigerant is not circulating properly."

(The absorber coils are the ones that zig-zag down the back)

I haven't checked this or the top vent yet. Pouring rain in Sav'h today.

Steve
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Old 08-15-2009, 06:11 PM   #19
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We leave our frig on all the time (on shore power) unless we are not going to be able to get out camping for a month or longer...in that case we do shut it down and give it a good cleaning...and leave the door open so that it dries completely inside so that mildew/mold does not have a chance to grow. While running at home, we do check it periodically to make sure it is operating properly...we have not had a problem so far. We did the same thing with a small motor home...also a Dometic frig and we never had a problem.
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Old 08-15-2009, 09:49 PM   #20
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The correct answer is...

Both.
I have noticed it takes about the same time for a cooling unit to "wear out" from constant use as it does to fail from intermittent use. From customers with failed fridges of about the same age, it seems to be around a 50/50 split.
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