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Post Info TOPIC: Residential refrigerator in a 5th wheel????


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Residential refrigerator in a 5th wheel????


Our new 5th wheel is going on the production line next week. Finally!!!! We just did a change order and added a Xantrex Freedom SW (true sinewave) 3000 Inverter Charger and four 6 volt 220 amp AGM Lifeline batteries - GPL-4CT. We will also have an 8K diesel generator.

We have read about and been told that there have been several recalls due to RV fires related to propane powered RV refrigerators. Also, our experience and that of several other RV friends is that there are issues of uneven cooling in the standard RV refrigerators. Often eggs and lettuce froze in the two RVs we spent the most time in. Lack of storage for fulltime use was also an issue. Especially if you are spending a week or more in a area where a grocery store is not close by or the local remote area grocery charges a high premium for their goods. 

So, my question is, "Does anyone have experience with having a residential refrigerator in a 5th wheel WHEN they are frequently moving from site to site and not staying put where they have "shore power" for the refrigerator?" As a general rule, we will be travelling less than two hundred fifty miles between campsites and will boon dock from time to time. We often do Walmart overnights when travelling. We plan to stay a week to 21 days each time we stop. We would not boon dock more than three days at a time.

NOTE:  For those of you new to this and other RV forums, "house" batteries charge in a RV motorhome when you are driving it down the highway. That is not the case in a 5th wheel.

Thanks,

Steve



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Steve Conrad


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First off in my opinion you have now taken extra responsibility for managing your battery and 120 volt electrical usage.  You seem to realize that but I can see you don't really know what you are getting into by the questions you are asking.

If you can get them to use Lifeline GPL-6CT's instead of 4CT's you would have 300 amp hour batteries instead, but these are taller and might not fit.  Alternately if 6 batteries will fit that will be better, 6 to 8 4CT's is what is often standard in motorhomes with a residential fridge.  4 normal golf cart batteries, 4CT's, is about the minimum you can get away with. 

Second you should install a battery monitor, like a Trimetric, that uses a shunt.  You need to know the amp hours going in and out of your batteries since they will always be under load and using voltage (which is probably what the Xantrex display will use) won't be that helpful.  This is about $200 to $250 in parts plus labor for the shunt, battery monitor and cable.  This will tell you how your particular setup is doing, using others experience could lead you astray.

Talking about a "residential refrigerator" generically is not helpful.  Size, model, brand and how well ventilated the fridge is will affect its power usage.  I am sure your 5th wheel manufacturer choose the model based on their cost and how it looks, not is it the best and most efficient for your needs.  Hopefully it is a bottom freezer, they are normally the most efficient and side-by-side models the least.  Hopefully they ventilated the back of the fridge well, or it will run way too much.  People find that well ventilated and efficient fridges run about 1/3rd of the time (duty cycle of 20 minutes per hour), more in hot and humid weather.  They normally use 3 to 4 amps of 120 volt, which would be 30 to 40 amps of DC being conservative for inverter inefficiency.  A 1/3rd duty cycle would be 8 hours usage in 24 hours or 240 to 320 amp hours out of your battery bank.  With 4 4CT's, you can only drain them 220 amp hours before needing a charge.

Most residentials can be turned off for 6 to 8 hours at a time, unless it is is hot and then they might need to be turned on for half hour or so every 4 hours.  A remote temperature sensor is an excellent idea, one in the freezer section and one in the fridge.

Bottom line: You will be using that generator before you go to bed when boondocking and probably in the morning.



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A couple other points.

If you have a large alternator in the truck, or can install a larger one, you can use a larger wire (or a second wire) to charge the house batteries while driving. This is worth thinking about.

If you do find yourself boondocking more than you expected a small gas generator like a Honda or Yamaha might be a good addition.

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I posted in another topic that I had to run my generator about 10 hours per day to keep up with our power requirements when we dry camp. We have 4 giant 8-D AGM batteries but we also use a lot of power. Another poster disagreed that I needed to use that much power, but he is not me and after 10 years of being on the road full-time I am pretty sure I know what MY requirements are. I have no idea what yours would be. Driving should not be an issue as your batteries would keep everything running for many hours. As suggested, it would be better if you could add some charge while driving so the batteries will be more fully charged when you stop. If you are going from hook-ups to hook-ups this would not matter but if you are driving and then dry camping you will likely have to get on your generator fairly soon. If you are having solar panels installed this will help while you are driving and while you are parked so you can consider the cost of a proper solar setup vs. hours of fuel used by the generator. Once it's dark out we need to keep the batteries at full charge so the inverter will work through out the night when we shut down. That means I am going to need TV, Internet, microwave, fridge, computers, lamps, mood lighting.....whatever....and that means I have to run the generator from dark until bedtime. By morning I will on the generator again to get the batteries charged enough to last while I am gone for the day.
Personally, the fridge fires stories are mostly overblown compared to the number of RV fridges out there, but it you are the 1 in 10,000 (guessing) then overblown or not it's pretty damn terrible! The rest of the RV fridge stuff is pretty true but there are circulating fans that can be added and a little thought given to food location which makes them quite usable even for a full timer. Now, here is MY personal thought. I would NEVER full time with an RV fridge. If it were just me I wouldn't care as my boxed dinner is likely to do quite well no matter what. However, if I expect Janet to cook the dinners that she does and have her happy about doing so, my (our) only choice is food storage in a nearly perfect environment.
I certainly don't dry camp that often and the longest is only 7-10 days once a year while in Quartzsite, AZ. and then about a week while in Albuquerque, NM for the Balloon Fiesta. Otherwise, we dry camp 1-3 days in a location before moving to hookups. I would say that my total dry camping days (not including overnighting at Wal-Mart) is likely less than 45 day per year.

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Bill Adams



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Thanks Bill and Bill. I had to order the batteries Friday. So for now, that is what I will have. The truck has been ordered and I considered a heavy duty alternator but was told I did not need it. I may be able to change that on the order if it is not too late. Bill Joyce, if you would, please explain about running a heavier wire and a way to charge the house batteries while driving the truck pulling the 5th wheel.

Again, thank you both.

Steve



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Steve Conrad


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I have a motorhome but friends with 5th wheels say their truck does keep their batteries charged up while driving, but the charging wire is small and cannot handle more than about 5 to 10 amps before the voltage drops too much to do more. If your alternator can handle it you can replace the charging wire with a heavier gauge or add a parallel charging wire to boost the available charging amps to 20 or more amps. 20 amps should do the job of keeping the batteries charged, but I have never done it. I know our 150 amp alternator on our motorhome does the job but the charging wires from the engine to our house batteries are huge and short since the batteries are right by the engine.

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For those that are interested I have a spreadsheet that addresses the issues with residential refrigerators and solar/genset usage. It has several REAL LIVE examples of use of different model refrigerators in it. And helps you calculate haw much solar and genset time (or combination) you will need. Email me and I will email it to you. Maybe I'll post it on my website...(email addr. on website - can't remember if it is on this site or not)

Anyone that has actual figures (not gueses - instrumented figures) on residential refrigerators if you send them to me I will add them to the database of info.



-- Edited by Jack Mayer on Sunday 4th of September 2011 01:05:12 PM

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We have left our fiver unattended (in the desert while boondocking) for period of 2 to 10 days. Invertor was always off, hooded roof vents open, and the RV fridge never failed. A residential fridge would have drained the (large) battery bank within 36 hours. We generally charge every other night with the generator and still enjoy 2 computers, 2 TV's, wireless internet, sat TV, and all the lights we want. The better question is "Are residental fridges designed to take the pounding of going up and down the road?"

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Yes, they are. Ours is currently 12 years old and doing just fine! Now, that's mounted in a motorhome. Does a 5er take more of a beating when being towed?

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Bill Adams



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Thanks "Land Yachty", Jack, and Bill,

I know that in our 2010 DRV Mobile Suite there was a time or two that we had a bouncy ride and things moved around a little. After spending time with Howard and Linda and Bill and Linda N., we made a decision to have MOR/ryde ISS on our new 5th wheel. I know they are both happy with their decisions to change to ISS on their 5th wheels . I hope ISS will give the refrigerator a smoother ride.

I woke up this morning wondering how would they secure the residential refrigerator if we go with that change?? Also had questions about the wiring changes in the RV and the truck if we add another altenator so we can charge batteries while driving down the highway??

Steve



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Steve Conrad


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Bill Adams wrote:

I posted in another topic that I had to run my generator about 10 hours per day to keep up with our power requirements when we dry camp. We have 4 giant 8-D AGM batteries but we also use a lot of power. Another poster disagreed that I needed to use that much power, but he is not me and after 10 years of being on the road full-time I am pretty sure I know what MY requirements are. I have no idea what yours would be. Driving should not be an issue as your batteries would keep everything running for many hours. As suggested, it would be better if you could add some charge while driving so the batteries will be more fully charged when you stop. If you are going from hook-ups to hook-ups this would not matter but if you are driving and then dry camping you will likely have to get on your generator fairly soon. If you are having solar panels installed this will help while you are driving and while you are parked so you can consider the cost of a proper solar setup vs. hours of fuel used by the generator. Once it's dark out we need to keep the batteries at full charge so the inverter will work through out the night when we shut down. That means I am going to need TV, Internet, microwave, fridge, computers, lamps, mood lighting.....whatever....and that means I have to run the generator from dark until bedtime. By morning I will on the generator again to get the batteries charged enough to last while I am gone for the day.
Personally, the fridge fires stories are mostly overblown compared to the number of RV fridges out there, but it you are the 1 in 10,000 (guessing) then overblown or not it's pretty damn terrible! The rest of the RV fridge stuff is pretty true but there are circulating fans that can be added and a little thought given to food location which makes them quite usable even for a full timer. Now, here is MY personal thought. I would NEVER full time with an RV fridge. If it were just me I wouldn't care as my boxed dinner is likely to do quite well no matter what. However, if I expect Janet to cook the dinners that she does and have her happy about doing so, my (our) only choice is food storage in a nearly perfect environment.
I certainly don't dry camp that often and the longest is only 7-10 days once a year while in Quartzsite, AZ. and then about a week while in Albuquerque, NM for the Balloon Fiesta. Otherwise, we dry camp 1-3 days in a location before moving to hookups. I would say that my total dry camping days (not including overnighting at Walmart) is likely less than 45 day per year.


 Hey Bill, was that you that plugged into shore power and made the lights go dim in Southern Cal ?  



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No.

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Bill Adams



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I realize I'm late to the party but I had no experience with residential refrigerators in campers.

Wednesday through Sunday I had the misfortune to be set up near a fifth wheel using one.  Even a quiet generator gets annoying after 14 or more hours a day. It WAS off at the specified time, 2300, and back on a little after first light.

Folks that do that just aren't good neighbors.  If there had been another reasonable spot available I'd have moved.  There are no refunds at this sort of thing and I paid way to much for the "spots" to just leave.  Next time I'll ask about this kind of crap before I pay.

I'm sure the generator junkies were completely satisfied but those around them didn't fair so well.  If anyone is thinking about a residential reefer, please consider your neighbors.

fleamarketeer

 

Sorry for any mispellings.  My spell check won't work with this stinkin' java script.



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fleamarketeer wrote:

I realize I'm late to the party but I had no experience with residential refrigerators in campers.

Wednesday through Sunday I had the misfortune to be set up near a fifth wheel using one.  Even a quiet generator gets annoying after 14 or more hours a day. It WAS off at the specified time, 2300, and back on a little after first light.

Folks that do that just aren't good neighbors.  If there had been another reasonable spot available I'd have moved.  There are no refunds at this sort of thing and I paid way to much for the "spots" to just leave.  Next time I'll ask about this kind of crap before I pay.

I'm sure the generator junkies were completely satisfied but those around them didn't fair so well.  If anyone is thinking about a residential reefer, please consider your neighbors.

fleamarketeer

 

Sorry for any misspellings.  My spell check won't work with this stinkin' java script.


   I know this does not pertain to original subject, just wanted to say say DITTO  to fleamarketeer's post. 

We had a similar incident with a neighbor and their generator. Noise was bad enough, but we could not sit outside or have our windows or door open because of the exhaust fumes. We finally had enough and left the campground early.

 



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Just before you retire at night it is safe to just shut the refridge off! It will stay cold until morning. Pieere

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No. Stuff in your freezer will be too thawed.

As an aside, I want to know what campgrounds allow generators at all. If it's dry camping sites then no one should be surprised that folks are using generators. It's like the guy who complained that I ran my generator overnight at a Wal-Mart for A/C. For him to have the "balls" to approach me in the first place was only surpassed by my response to his ignorance. You should know what you are getting into before you commit to a long term location.

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Bill Adams wrote:

No. Stuff in your freezer will be too thawed.

As an aside, I want to know what campgrounds allow generators at all. If it's dry camping sites then no one should be surprised that folks are using generators. It's like the guy who complained that I ran my generator overnight at a Wal-Mart for A/C. For him to have the "balls" to approach me in the first place was only surpassed by my response to his ignorance. You should know what you are getting into before you commit to a long term location.


   We were in a NF campground in Donnelly ID. (Rainbow Point). As far as I know there are no generator restrictions except for night time. IMO if people can not make it thru a weekend with out TV, Video Games, Air Conditioners, and what ever they should go to campgrounds with hook-ups, truly boon-dock, or stay home.

            

          

      



-- Edited by 3fortheroad on Thursday 13th of October 2011 06:50:52 AM



-- Edited by 3fortheroad on Friday 14th of October 2011 09:10:00 PM

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Clearly it's not enough said, but I guess it's enough for you. I am sorry to hear that you see things only from the perspective of "If you don't do it the way I want, you shouldn't be doing it at all". I can't begin to argue with an irrational point of view. I sounds like the others followed all of the campground rules but that still was not good enough.

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When the ambulance comes to take the person away who was running an oxygen concentrator with that generator you disabled maybe you will feel a bit bad?

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bjoyce wrote:

When the ambulance comes to take the person away who was running an oxygen concentrator with that generator you disabled maybe you will feel a bit bad?


 Sorry guys, my statement may hav been out of line. All I am trying to say that it just falls under common courtesy.



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Common courtesy says that if I am allowed to run a generator until 11pm then no one anywhere should complain that I did. As an aside to my Wal-Mart parking comment, I was parked as far away from others as possible, 2 other 5th wheelers arrived later and parked 1 row and 2 rows away. It was the guy 2 rows away (on the other side of the one parked 1 row away) who dropped by to inform me about "the rules". Poor guy, he left there thinking I was not the nicest guy on the Planet when in reality he was simply being ignorant! I think the low that night was somewhere around 80 degrees (TX in the Summer). How he slept I have no idea but I can assure you that I am not the rough and ready type. I need to be cool to sleep.



-- Edited by Bill Adams on Thursday 13th of October 2011 06:25:29 PM

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So, Bill, what was the problem with running air overnight in a WalMart? I did not know there were "rules" about that. I guess the trucks idling all night or running their APUs (generators) were not informed.

Also, you really need a lot of nerve to first park next to someone, and then tell them how you don't like what they are doing.....

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Jack, the answer, of course, is there's nothing wrong with what we did and (while you might find this surprising!) I very rudely explained to him that he was somewhere between out of his and mind drastically misinformed. The strangest part of it all was that I was on the very far edge of the property. Imagine the lot laid out E-W. I was at the far W edge. The in and out drives ran N/S with my single row of parking as far away as you could get. A 5th wheeler pulled into the next set of striped parking which was separated by an in/out driving lane. The guy who wanted to tell me about the "rules" was parked on the other side of that 5th wheel in the 3rd set of parking spaces. I am sure the guy left and told all of his friends what jerks those "bus people" are as he clearly never got the point I tried to get through that I parked where I parked so I COULD run my generator all night.


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Hey Bill:

 

As long as there is a slight divergence from Steve’s original question about refers, I guess that was you going down from Flagstaff toward Phoenix on I-17 today around noon or so.  Your rig and work toad sort of are unique.

 

We were on the way up I-17 toward Flagstaff.  It was HOT just west of Phoenix in Buckeye for the last week.  ‘Much nicer here now at 7,000 feet.

 

Bill



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Yep! That would have been us. Why on God's green Earth am I leaving Flagstaff to head for the 100 degree temps (OK, only 99 today) in the Phoenix area. We had planned to stay in Camp Verde tonight and tomorrow but (as usual) our plans got changed when the coach had an issue with airing up. We have had an ongoing issue with this but it seemed to have resolved itself until today so we drove about 20 minutes down the road without enough air to get our suspension inflated and not enough air to hit the brakes more than once or twice before we ran out of air and the brakes locked up. Finally! the valve closed and we aired up. That left us 2 choices. Stay in Camp Verde (the middle of nowhere) and pray that we aired up (could not make it down the hill with no air) or drive into Chandler where we had a lot more options and much flatter ground should we try to wait it out again. All options stink but we felt that this one was the best. We are currently parked in a Trailer park/ RV Park with full hook ups for less than $30/night so I think we made the best choice. I hope you get a chance to go to the Black Bart Restaurant for dinner (right there at the Black Bart RV Park). The Prime Rib is some of the best we have ever had and the signing waiters/waitresses just add to the already excellent experience.

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Sorry to hear about the mechanical issues.  Yea, I-17 South is nothing to fool around with if full brakes aren't available.  Climb up today was good.  No temp issues with the Chevy.  Never had any – don’t expect too. 

 

Thanks for the dinner suggestion, DW Linda thought that was a good idea.  Maybe tomorrow night after a little drive to the Grand Canyon.  We leave in a few minutes to go over to the Lowell Observatory and hopefully take a look through the big telescope at Jupiter.  Tough job but someone has to do it.

 

BTW, “Soon to Travel,”  Don and Lois are with us and made the trip from the east coast.   Their first long trip.  Been great to be with them.

 

B & L



-- Edited by Bill and Linda on Monday 17th of October 2011 07:56:15 PM

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We did Lowell at the end of last year. Did you get a chance to do the solar observation during the day. It was great to be able to see sun spots and solar flares. We went back that night to see Jupiter and they were very sorry that the atmosphere was not cooperating. All we got to see was a fuzzy ball smaller than a dime. Let me know if you have better luck.

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Bill Adams wrote:

We did Lowell at the end of last year. Did you get a chance to do the solar observation during the day. It was great to be able to see sun spots and solar flares. We went back that night to see Jupiter and they were very sorry that the atmosphere was not cooperating. All we got to see was a fuzzy ball smaller than a dime. Let me know if you have better luck.


We didn’t get there in time to do the solar observations as we were at Walnut Canyon during the afternoon.  But it was quite clear last night and Jupiter was very clear with the 4 moons.  They also had the 24” refractor open to view a Globular Cluster.  While that instrument is seldom used for research now it was very cool to see the “ultimate” backyard telescope again.  It was a very beautiful evening.  A must stop in Flagstaff.

Off to the GC today.

Hope your air system is good now.

Bill



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I do know residential fridges have been used in RV's and are still being used today. I don't know this for a fact but I was told by others that Drv will install a residential fridge in the Suites. Can't remember the persons name but he has a I believe 2007 Mobile Suites and he just install a residential fridge this past summer.. I do think the weakest link in the 5th wheels is the fridge, they have changed very little in the last several years, but they have gotten larger. If we ever order another new 5th wheel we will have a residential fridge.. Happy Trails...

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Delaine and Lindy
You hit the nail right on the head the RV fridge is the weakest link in any RV doesn't matter if Camp trailer 5th wheel or Motorhome they all will have problems with their RV fridge. After ours failed 2 times we said enough of this nonsense and put in a residential fridge. Doubled our capicity and have not had another problem sense. Course that has only been 2 years but the RV fridge only lasted 3 years to begin with and had to have a new cooling unit installed only to have that cooling unit fail after 6 months. Norcold said they had discontinued that model but they have one that looks awfully close still in production and I will be willing to bet it won't last much better. The cost to replace our fridge with a new RV fridge was in excess of $4000 just for the fridge not counting the around $1500 worth of labor Camping World would charge. The cost of the Sears fridge was $1395 and I put it in myself. I gave the old fridge to my local RV shop if they would take it out of the coach and set the new one in the coach, they could fix the RV one and sell it for whatever they wanted. They were more than happy to do it for me. Sure you do have to get more batteries or run your gen set more but it is a small price to pay for the extra space you have for storage of food and the peace of mind that it will be kept cold. We run our generator if it is very hot when we are on the road for more than an hour or really anytime we are going to be unplugged for more than an hour. I can buy a lot of diesel for what I save by not having to run to the store every other day because now I can store 7 days worth of food with space to spare. We are full timers that still have full time jobs and businesses to run. We don't get to go that much so spend most of our time plugged into shore power. This keeps the fridge happy and the batteries charged.

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