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Old 07-21-2021, 10:08 PM   #1
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2021 16' Caravel
Folsom , California
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Refrigerator draw

Just ordered a 2022 Caravel 16RB for delivery near the end of the year (they say).

On line specs say the 3.1 refrigerator draws 2.4 amps. What is your experience? My assumption is that its 2.4 amps when the compressor is running, not continuously.

Wanting to work out if the small solar panel and 2 80 amp AGM batteries are sufficient for off grid camping, or if I will need a lithium upgrade and or a solar suitcase.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-21-2021, 11:14 PM   #2
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2020 19' Caravel
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Here is my personal experience with my 2020 Caravel 19CB: Stock Interstate batteries with two 90W panels on the roof. As many as five nights at a time camping off-grid over the last year. My fridge draws about 4 amps while the compressor is running. I did add a 100W suitcase panel this year to supplement on cloudy days and in shady campsites. I am yet to stay in an established campground with any services. This last 5 night trip over July 4th I was supplied 100% by solar and my batteries were back at 100% by early afternoon. That included running the furnace at night (we were camped at about 8000' elevation).

As They say, YMMV.
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Old 07-21-2021, 11:22 PM   #3
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Thanks. Which suitcase did you go with? I assume it has its own controller. Do you use the plug on the frame or clip it direct to the batteries?
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Old 07-22-2021, 06:12 PM   #4
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I bought a Renogy without a controller. Then I rewired the external Zamp port so that it feeds my Victron charge controller and is in parallel with my rooftop panels. The three panels have a similar open circuit voltage so a parallel arrangement is acceptable to me. Make certain you verify polarity prior to connecting a new panel to your system, I have to use an adapter to reverse the male/female plug connections. So far, so good.

I am pleased with the addition of a portable panel versus another roof mounted one since I can easily follow the sun with it. Much higher charge current in the morning while the sun is still low on the horizon.

My electrical consumption may be lower than some. Lights, fridge, furnace, and occasional exhaust fan are about it for me while the sun is set. Inverter use is limited to daylight hours. According to my BMV-712, I consume about 25-30 amp-hours at night when it is cold enough to run the furnace and about half that in warmer places.
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Old 07-22-2021, 06:21 PM   #5
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Hi

The fridge specs *should* have two numbers. One is the peak current with the compressor running ( say 4 amps). The second will be the average current with the ambient at 70 and the fridge a some temperature ( say 2.1 amps ). The "best of the best" 3 cubic foot gizmos are at 1.5A average. The typical fridge of that size is up above 2A average.

Best guess: the 2.4A number is average drain at 70 degrees.

Bob
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Old 07-22-2021, 07:06 PM   #6
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Camperguy58 — there is a recent and lengthy discussion on the power issues associated with the compressor fridges in a thread titled “Electric only fridge on factory models”.

There is no simple answer, you will have to factor in personal assumptions about how and where you will be camping. Temperature, shade, how much other electricity you will use are critical variables.

Here are a few facts apparently agreed on in the other thread:

- the Nova Kool fridge supplied in the 16’ Caravel draws 2.4 amps when the compressor is running (source Nova Kool website)

- the cycle time at various ambient temperatures is 35-40% at 70 degrees; 55% at 80 degrees; 100% at 90 degrees. (source is phone call with Nova Kool tech support)

- 2.4 amps for 24 hours is just short of 60 amp hours. You will have to estimate your cycle time based on the temperatures where you camp. In my opinion, an assumption of 50% cycle time is reasonable and this would result in about 30 amp hours per day just to power the fridge.

- 30 amp hours per full day from a 100w solar panel is what AM Solar designs to and what Renogy references. Some experienced people on this site report that as a best case and expect somewhat less.

- so, IF the fridge uses 30 and the single panel produces 30 then the panel will support the fridge. However, all other electric use will not be replaced.

- two 80 amp AGMs can only safely provide a total of 80 amp hours.


Very much in my opinion: you are on the edge here. Cloudy days or shady campsite, less than minimal other electric use, and this may not work for more than 2-3 days. Adding a second 100w and/or going to lithium batteries and you are probably good.
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Old 07-24-2021, 04:43 PM   #7
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Camperguy58, I added a Zamp 90W suitcase, total 180W, and have camped off grid with mostly sunny days in W Texas, several times November thru May. Had to have the extra solar for the heater & the fridge. No issues. Iím headed from Texas, to New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana & Idaho in August. Iíll be off grid near the Canadian border for a week and will rely on my generator to charge my batteries.

Having a previous trailer about the same size as my 16ft Caravel, for 10 years, I found that my energy usage is about the same on both trailers. The NovaKool uses more energy than my dometic 3way fridge did (LED panel & fan), but the suburban heater in the previous trailer could easily eat up the gas fridge's battery savings over one cold night. The suburban heater, did I mention, sounded like an airplane taking off. The AS is better insulated and most of the time I donít hear the smaller atwood heater running. It a lot better and warmer. The only small complaint I have with the NovaKool is sometimes you can hear the compressor run as it cycles on & off when it quiet in the trailer.

For me, I did not make my solar decision until I camped in my AS a few times.

I guess you should look into adding solar panels & replacing the batteries with lithium, and the mods the batteries require, if youíre off grid for extended periods.

Years ago I ordered a trailer & there was a 5 month wait. Like you I spent the time figuring things out. Made everything easier when I took delivery. Happy camping.
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Old 07-24-2021, 05:22 PM   #8
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The sticker inside my Nova Kool on my '21 22" Caravel says it draws 2.4 - 4.4 amps.
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Old 07-24-2021, 05:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian R. View Post
The sticker inside my Nova Kool on my '21 22" Caravel says it draws 2.4 - 4.4 amps.
This can be confusing and misleading. The 22í has a different (larger) fridge than the 16í and it draws more power.

The Nova Kool specs for the fridge in the 22í are that it draws 4.4 amps at 12v, and this is the amp draw that should be compared to the 2.4 amps drawn by the fridge in the 16í. (The 2.4 amps on the sticker is the draw at 24v, which is not relevant in the Airstream application.)
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by field & stream View Post
This can be confusing and misleading. The 22í has a different (larger) fridge than the 16í and it draws more power.

The Nova Kool specs for the fridge in the 22í are that it draws 4.4 amps at 12v, and this is the amp draw that should be compared to the 2.4 amps drawn by the fridge in the 16í. (The 2.4 amps on the sticker is the draw at 24v, which is not relevant in the Airstream application.)

Thank you for that clarification.
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Old 07-25-2021, 02:02 PM   #11
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Camperguy58 You might check & see what brand AGM batteries youíre getting. Going back to January, 2020, when I purchased my 16ft Caravel, 2 x 80amp Lifeline AGM batteries were included with the solar package, not sure about today. If so, go to Lifelines website and check out the specs on these batteries. After just a year & a half they get a thumbs up from me. Especially after putting up with Interstate Batteries decline, then the mostly AGM myth & finally settling on a Samís Club Duracell wet cell.
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