Okay guys and gals - 

I'm at a juncture where I'm going to have to make a decision about what direction to go with the fridge, which in turn will drive the energy setup and although I've researched for months, I could use any last opinions.

I'm definitely replacing the fridge and I could go three ways.  The current one is 4 cubic foot, but there are no 4 foot cubic models that will fit my current space (they are all just a little too wide - no room for me to bump it out).  If I replace it I'm looking at the Dometic 2351 which is like 3 cubic feet.  I'm not excited about the size but could make it work.  I could get one here from PPL for about $750-$780 with the door reversing kit and make my own panel.

I really wanted to go 12v - but all the ones I could find, sans a truck fridge won't fit.  There is an a/c truck fridge I could get - 4 cubic feet that would fit for about $800 delivered.  However that is going to require some power to run when boondocking the same as my third option.  The bonus of that, at 50 lbs I could install it myself where I'm leery of the propane 75 lb one.

Finally I could get a $200 dorm fridge (that I would be pleased with the size) and have $600 left to put towards that power solution.

Power...I had been thinking I was going to go solar, but two people now have said I really don't have the room for the panels and bank I would need, and won't be happy with the results, so now looking at the generator option.

I could go portable or onboard if the place can recondition me on that will fit (there is a spot and hookups for one).  There I would probably spend about $1000-$1200 bucks - little more expensive than solar.  Of course I still would need a battery bank and I would lose the currently empty generator bay.

The thing is I want to be able to boondock, but the reality is, for the next two years we're talking three months each in Quartzsite and then I'm back on the east coast.  The extent of boondocking here is overnight at walmarts around here (and of course less sun).

I just keep changing my mind.  I don't really see too much difference in price no matter how I go - it will go into the fridge or into my energy decisions...I might get more convenience and save a little by going with the generator but at expense of noise, loss of space, and another piece of machinery to maintain

Anyone see anything I am not or want to offer thoughts based on personal experience?  I know it's hard to know my preferences but I will say I feel like I walk the line between comfort and off-grid in what I want.  No coffee maker, tv, hair dryer, but we might have two laptops to charge, camera, kindle/ipad.  I do like the idea of hooking back in an Onan so I could run the camper a/c driving - no cab a/c and i worry about the pets if we end up breaking down or something - that would be something not to worry about.  On the other hand, that's a big "maybe" and it would be nice to only have a smaller portable gennie for backup charging of the batteries and rely on free electric - LOL.

Any input is appreciated!!!  My only experience was with the Bounder and we always stayed with hookups.

Tags: advice, generator, needed, refrigerator, solar

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You need at least a 300 to start a 13,500 AC. The start is when it pulls the most energy. I just ordered a Champion 2800/3100 Inverter from Cabela's today. It was the best price I could find at $749.99 plus tax and free shipping. Today Amazon only had 3rd party sellers offering them for more $$$. There is actually a kit that can be installed on a 2000 watt inverter that really does allow it to start and power a larger AC unit. I can dig up the info if anyone is interested. Selling my beloved motorcycle of fifteen years allowed us to finally spring for a generator. People love this model of Champion. See the reviews.

Except of course an ac/dc fridge won't require the inverter to run on 12v so that is a consideration.  

Good to know about the fridge - I've pretty much decided to go residential/generator and add some solar later.

Will report back on my next blog what I go with - thanks for all the advice!

 https://columbus.craigslist.org/rvs/d/rv-refrigerator/6192038219.html.. found this today it has the dimensions on the add. Also thought i would mention that a lot of the small inverter gen sets can be stacked. Two linked together to increase out put. I have not used these or really ever researched them so take a look and see if it would be an option for you.

Fridge is too big I believe - I'm picking her back up today and they'll have the fridge out so I can measure more accurately but exterior measuring appears to be 40 x 23 x 23.  I will look on Craigslist before I pull the trigger.  

You know Rich I was looking at those stacking Champions last night...I might pay more for the same power, but if they are easier to move and deal with the tradeoff might be worth it.  I think they are rated 53 decibels.  If I can get away with a 2000 they aren't a bad price...but then the 3100 if I could fit it in the bay for transport has RV adapter, pure sine, etc. It's 58 decibels.

Hello Dawn , here is my opinion. We have a 85 chief and we almost always stay off the grid . I feel first always fix or replace the fridge so the gas works and sometimes still I think you can get a rebuilt unit. The older ones don't use elect so it won't pull down on batteries. The 12v takes a lot and is mostly only good when you travel so you can recharge as driving. And if the gas part does not work its a easy fix. Hope this helps. I was a r v tech for 20 years many years ago and this is the same advice I would give then. Thanks

 Hi Ronald, I LOVE to hear from RV techs and FWIW (Nothing) I happen to agree if a person does a lot of boondocking I prefer an LP Gas fridge, BUT THATS NOT MINE TO DECIDE FOR DAWN. I also agree if set to operate at 12 VDC that's a pretty heavy battery load but with a good alternator and proper isolation relay the engines alternator can keep up while driving.  True I have a small auxiliary 120 VAC dorm size fridge, but that's in addition to my regular LP Gas unit, gotta have a special nice n COLD fridge for beer n pop right lol

 John T 

I'm hearing for you and others yeah, I can do i, but I'm pushing the limits and will probably be unhappy with the results.  So if I don't go with propane, I've been warned :-)  It does make more sense, agreed, just the money for a size I didn't want (3 cubic) had me kicking.  But if I can find a refurb unit that will fit and still give me 4 cubic feet like I have now I decided that is the way to go.  The modern ones seem to have been made just an inch or two wider and I have no room to move in either direction. Vertically, yes.

I may have a line on a used propane unit that could be the size I need...when that became a possibility it was a no brainer to pursue.  It makes all the difference when I have an RV repair shop in the equation now.  They have leads on things I don't, know the history on their customer's rigs and what is a good deal, what isn't.  So, waiting on the measurements.  Fingers crossed...

Hey Dawn don't know if you found a genny yet just got my harbor freight sale book they have a 3500 more than enough inverter for 649.99 and a 2000 for 429.99

After rereading the excellent info on inverters, converters, verter verters and solar,,all to run a fridge. I went back through my shoe box file system and came across a *disadvantage of running a fridge,,*other then off gas or shore power. I had set up my studio replacement fridge in my other 5'er,,, and it was the cats meow, for maybe a minute. In common sense, I had the juice and the control box and a battery bank. What could possibly go wrong,,, right?   Remember that ole fella, Murphy?  Hes an RV'ers Buzz kill. It worked all fine and dandy,, BUT Murphy was still there lurking in the shadows. My fridge started acting funny,,(thats technical for something is wrong). The fridge started making funny noises,,(another technical term).

After checking the obvious,, like the shelves and door seal and that accumilation of dust bunnies who took up residency,,, I checked the output voltage etc on the power going to the fridge.It had dropped to 112 volts.. Now Im not an engineer or a electrical guy, But numbers dont always lie. The running voltage to the fridge is supposed to be 120 volts.. We have all been told,, to much of a good thing can be bad,, along with not enough is just as bad. Now I can remember back in the olden days,, if voltage to an electric motor is to low,, it puts a strain on the ole motor,, just as to much voltage. Long story short,, I cooked the inerds (technical term again) of the motor. Well,,,, a mini fridge electric motor costs about 3 times what a new fridge would cost. (have to love the consumers thinking). So,, after I took the dead fridge out,,I checked the output of the panel voltage and it was within specs,(I actually read the instructions,.. Can you believe that? A guy actually reads the instructions). I double and triple check the output voltage etc coming off the solar panels, and through the controller, and to the battery bank and through the inverter. My loss ratio was greater then my gain ratio. I was using the electricity faster then I could recoup and recharge it.. Now I was in a dilema as how to remedy the situation.. *A,,, Buy a small trailer and equipt it with shelves and install an industrial battery bank,, weighing in at over 2,000 lbs and have huge power cables to unroll and hook up,,, or *B... use my 3500/4000 W, genset ?

Well this was a no brainer,,,(stay home or travel with an ice chest)... I opt for the genset when off grid,, and when shore power is available,, plug in and semi rough it.

Its in my plan to still attempt to follow John T's formula,, and use golf cart batteries,(6v) and build a practical battery bank and do it the right way. But for now,, a genset serves its needs.

HI Dawn,

There has been some awesome information exchanged here.  I learned a ton!

I wish there was a "like" button on posts, so people know you've been reading if you don't have any input on the subject that will help.  I have no input that will help.  LOL

You are doing things right by thinking ahead and planning things out, without making any fast decisions that you might regret later.  Kudos!  :)

Still following, I'm just not posting a whole lot lately.  

Take care and keep up the great work.  

Hope your renos are going well????  I am feeling a little discouraged today - had a whole list planned and somehow the day got away from me.  The heat and humidity has been terrible here and I tend to lose steam faster than I do when the weather is cooler.  And then it seems every project I do breeds 2 more...like rabbits...LOL.




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