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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LOL, I'm breeding rabbits here too. We should start a rabbit petting zoo.....

Renovation is going...slowly. Like you, I decide to change something and discover something that needs fixing in the process. The to-do/priority list seems to change on the hour.

This closet has taken me more than a week so far, due to the discovery of the rot behind it. Gut it out....again. {{sigh}}
I'm going to be really happy with the end result though. ANYTHING is better than it was. LOL

Yes a rabbit petting zoo!!!

Ugh, sorry about the rot you discovered behind the closet. How frustrating!!!  

You are right, though - I have to leave the perfectionism out of it and remember that anything is better!  Funny how much work these entail and WE have "shorties"!!!!

Good morning; 

What an interesting subject.  There is a lot of data in here.  This is something useful. 

And, if you look at the data and the calculations that have been provided, it is evident that some of our older ways of doing things still have valid applications today, with the precautions required for the propane operated refrigerated thermo-cycle systems, such as making sure the vehicle is level when parked.  

One of my desires is to replace my current two way powered (LP gas and 120 V AC) refrigerator with a three way powered (plus 12 V DC) model of the same physical size.  That would allow keeping the refrigerator cool while driving also, assuming that I will be driving mainly on level roads and not climbing or descending the mountain passes.  There is the normal recommendation to turn off the Propane System while driving, just as a precaution.  However, that upgrade addition is a low priority item for me.  There are many other things I would like to do first.  That is why I say that it is only a desire at this time. 

I will admit that the eventual goal is to optimize the motor home for long term "boondocking."  That includes making as many as possible of the systems in the motor home operational off multiple power sources, so that things will work with whatever power is available at that time. 

The information you provided is confirming and helpful for me.  Thank you. 

Enjoy;   Ralph, Latté Land, Washington 

Hey Ralph, good tips on the propane - hadn't thought about driving and being level.  Just when parked.   I assume there is some leeway?  When we had the Bounder in Denver I know we went up in the mountain a few times, but probably not more than 45 min up and back...

Oh man, MK - your motorcycle?  Ouch.  I cringed reading that.  The sacrifices we make...

My current a/c is 7100-7200 BTU (one of the coleman mini machs - currently works well). I read in one forum where someone could get that going on a 2500 and another where someone claimed a 2000 would start it up. Course replacing it when it does quit one day is a consideration - probably can't get anything that small in a rooftop.  Shame - in the heat and humidity that thing rocks my little space nicely. Anyway, I don't need one for a few months so going to delay that decision for awhile.  Moved it back down the priority list.

Since the fridge is going to be propane solar is back in the picture - and simply be limited to a/c only on shore power.  It's certainly a consideration.

The Dometic manual actually states that the fridge needs to be reasonably level in order for the absorption refrigerator to work properly, though I always level the rig to the refrigerator. It also says that you don't need to worry about having it perfectly level while traveling since the rolling motion of the rig makes sure the distribution of the ammonia is everywhere. Well, that's the gist of it. And some say never to travel with it on propane. We do sometimes and don't sometimes. Blue ice packs work great.

"In an absorption refrigerator system, ammonia is lique ed in the nned condenser coil at the top rear of the refrig- erator. The liquid ammonia then ows into the evaporator (inside the freezer section) and is exposed to a circulat- ing ow of hydrogen gas, which causes the ammonia to evaporate, creating a cold condition in the freezer. When starting this refrigerator for the very rst time, the cooling cycle may require up to four hours of running time be- fore the cooling unit is fully operational. The tubing in the evaporator section is speci cally sloped to provide a con- tinuous movement of liquid ammonia, owing downward by gravity through this section. If the refrigerator is oper- ated when it is not level and the vehicle is not moving, liq- uid ammonia will accumulate in sections of the evaporator tubing. This will slow the circulation of hydrogen and am- monia gas, or in severe cases, completely block it, result- ing in a loss of cooling. Any time the vehicle is parked for several hours with the refrigerator operating, the vehicle should be leveled to prevent this loss of cooling. The ve- hicle needs to be leveled only so it is comfortable to live in (no noticeable sloping of oor or walls). When the vehicle is moving, the leveling is not critical, as the rolling and pitching movement of the vehicle will pass to either side of level, keeping the liquid ammonia from accumulating in the evaporative tubing"

Thats a dilema with gas fridges while traveling,,,, They pretty much have to be level,, and if you have experienced cruising down the roads,,, there are very few LEVEL roads...

 In forty years of RV use and dealing in used RV's, its been my experience they actually cool quite well driving down the road as the constant rolling tumbling and vibration helps and assists gravity in the necessary refrigerant recirculation process.. Sure if your always driving up or down a steep hill that's "off level" for those times, but in general mine all cooled as good as or often BETTER when driving. When driving there's good air circulation plus the added benefit above.

 As far as generator capacity to power a compressor operated AC unit, for a 7500 or so BTU, a 2000 watt (as long as its a quality unit with sufficient short term surge capacity) should normally  start and run it just fine. HOWEVER if its a typical 13,500 rooftop AC unit on an RV, Id recommend from my experience  AT LEAST  a 2500 watt but much prefer and recommend a 3000. I owned several RV's with a 13,500 BTU rooftop AC and a 2500 watt genset and it would start and run the AC BUT IT REALY PUSHED THE LIMITS. Of course a person can carry two small 2000 watt gensets around equipped with the parallel feature and run them both if needed to power a 13,500 BTU rooftop AC unit. 

 There are all sorts of reviews out there for generator brands, shop around. I was impressed by some of the reviews of Hyuandi (spelling???) 2000 watt units. I prefer Honda or Yamaha myself but some like the less costly Champions or Generac and many other big box store sold brands YOUR MONEY YOUR CHOICE NOT OURS.... 

 John T too long retired engineer and rusty lol so no warranty 

So just to finish this out - the fixit place found me a used dometic 3-ish cubic foot to replace mine with.  I think it really was the best possible "compromise".  

$175 and half an hour labor to install it.  It ain't pretty in that the inside of the door is a lovely shade of orange with brown smoke shelves.  Ah well, it's retro, right?  LOL.  Also missing a bite off the top trim but I think I can come up with some creative way of covering that.  I already pulled out the door panel today and painted it. When I can breathe again I want to do a vintage postcard/old pictures mod podge collage on it.  For now though the paint did wonders.

On both propane and electric cools fast and very cold.  Also a 3-way although I believe that they just hooked up the 110V and propane because my original space wasn't wired for a 3-way. Which was fine.

Cleaned up well except for a spot above those metal fins in the back.  You know where you can only reach with a dishcloth strapped to the end of a screwdriver?  I tried to take those off but didn't budge after removing screws so will probably just find some white appliance paint I can strap to the same screwdriver to try to cover it up. Whatever it is, it doesn't want to come off.  

I was sad to lose the space in the fridge, but it has a nice size freezer - full across, AND I gain 10 inches of new storage space I now have on the list to frame out, AND now I can just focus on solar and not worry about the generator until the future when I'm sure I'll need it (which would basically be boondocking and needing a/c - not something I foresee in the next 12 months).

As always thanks for all the advice!  

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