Portable fridges that work with Propane?

Discussion in 'Camping & Outdoor Gear' started by e9999, Jun 28, 2005.

  1. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    seen a lot of talk here about the usual Norcold etc 12V fridges. But these almost need a second battery to be useful when parked.

    I am more interested in one that works off propane as well. Much better IMO for camping since they will run for days off a small propane tank.

    Seem pretty inexpensive too, about $450 for one in the 35 qt range that I have seen. Can be moved around etc, even come with wheels.

    I would think this would be a pretty attractive solution.

    Any experience with these, anybody?
     
  2. FirstToy

    FirstToy

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    propane needs to vent outside and it sounds dangerous in a suv. 12V fridges dont need a second batt. as a few on here have done very well w/ 1 battery.
     
  3. Hltoppr

    Hltoppr

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    I looked at these before I got an Engel. Unfortunately, they do need a propane source, with the applicable plumbing and mounting issues, and do not work well unless pretty level (+- 5 Degrees IIRC).

    I know its a hard pill to swallow, but I think you'd be better off in the long run just finding an Engel, etc. I picked mine up from compactappliance.com at a good price and free shipping.

    O', mine (35L) will run 5-6 days off my Optima Blue Top Marine battery without draining the battery. They're VERY efficient, and I've added the insulating cover, which helps as well.


    -H-
     
  4. Tigerstripe40

    Tigerstripe40

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    I have some experience with the propane fridges.
    Yes, you have to keep them level.
    but they use VERY little propane (I think it's 2-3 ounces per day) which is also VERY efficient.
    Most will also run on 12 volts or 110 A/C as well.

    Propane fridges have their pluses and minuses
    as do the Arb/Engel fridges.

    Personally since I move around alot, I'd go with the ARB/Engel. But if you are more into expedition style wheeling, where you go some place, set up camp, then weheel, and return to camp, I think a propane fridge is an excellent choice.
     
  5. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    well, you don't want to use propane inside the truck, obviously...
     
  6. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    based on moderate experience with the 3way in our trailer I would say that a 20 lbs tank would run the thing at least 2 weeks. The little 1 pounder are said to last a couple of days.
     
  7. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    wondering if the freezer capabilities are as good on propane though...
     
  8. Tigerstripe40

    Tigerstripe40

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    2 years ago, I was out in The MAze in mid-June (90-98) with my friends propane powered freezer fridge.

    We put some ice cream in it when we went out ther, and we had ice cream the entire time...

    We even lost some beers due to freezing..
     
  9. chet

    chet

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    propane will cool/freeze better than 12v all propane fridges are absorption type and are totally silent. the engels have a compressor and make a little noise.

    If you have a travel trailer use the propane when sitting still and use the 12v while you are driving. Propnae fridges don't like dusty conditions either.
     
  10. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    or very windy...
     
  11. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    how come they were left unused this long? what kinda mudder are you? :D
     
  12. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    more discussion of propane fridges in the Coleman thread...


    Soooo, anybody has used one of the portable 3 way ones?
     
  13. rusty_tlc

    rusty_tlc Dain Bramaged Member

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    20 lbs of propane should run an RV fridge for months. They use almost no propane. I use less than half a 7 gal tank for a whole week of camping, that's running the water heater, forced air heater, and fridge.
    Newer units use DSI (Direct Spark Ignition) so there is no standing pilot, less fuel use and less problems with wind. I've never heard that dust was a problem for propane refers. Good thing to since I haul mine down some pretty dusty roads, if I had known there was a problem I would have been in big trouble. :D
     
  14. firetruck41

    firetruck41

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    According to Dometic (Europe) website FAQ, the 3 way fridges work best at horizontal up to 3-4% (??), after that they still work but their efficiency goes down as it tilts more. A small propane cartridge should last a weekend. They do have one that is basically like a cooler with wheels, very portable and less than $400. I suggest you be the guinea pig, e9999. I don't have to, as I am acquiring two 30 qt Norcold freezer/fridges for a grand total of $178, shipping included. :flipoff2:
     
  15. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    well, surely you don't need 2, right? Will take way too much room... capisce? :D
     
  16. firetruck41

    firetruck41

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    I may sell one, (they are used, working, and appear to be in good condition), but I think I will see what it is like with one and two in my rig (crappy 4runner). Then I will have to wait till I get rid of the 4r and try them in my future 80/100 series.

    Of course I also will try one in the wifes DD Honda Element. With the new baby, and convenience of having formula/milk storage (and eventually solid foods) for baby, and with the wife's busy lifestyle, she may become attatched to it. :D
     
  17. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    well, did some more research on the propane ones.
    I had stupidly assumed that they had a compressor to run them when on 12 or 110V, but that's not the case evidently with at least the Dometic ones, which explains the attractive price. There must be some sort of electric heater in these as well besides the propane burner. Strictly absorption.

    A consequence of that is that the horizontality condition is probably also applicable to the unit running on 12V, which I had also stupidly assumed not to be the case...
    So if you are going for long drives in the mountains, the 3way units may not do as well, even when running on 12V.

    edit: the sentence above about hilly drives is apparently not correct. I just read in Dometic literature that the horizontality issue has to do with ammonia pooling in the evaporator tubes when the fridge is operating for periods of time (over 1 hr) while stopped and at an angle. They say explicitly that if you are moving the angle is not an issue as the movement will prevent the "pooling up". So there!


    Clearly you can get good freezing out of the propane units when horizontal, of course. But what I was not able to find so far is some info that would give me an idea of how long it takes to cool things down in the absorption units vs the regular compressor units...
     
  18. rusty_tlc

    rusty_tlc Dain Bramaged Member

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    Based on my RV experience (20 years) absorption units vs the regular compressor units are about the same for cool down. The absorption units use a heater in 12Vdc/112vac mode and a small flame in gas mode. Angle dosen't seem to be as much of a problem in electric mode. I never really thought about using a 3-way in an offroad rig so I've never researched how they work.
     
  19. LoneStar

    LoneStar

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    I picked up a Dometic RC3000 for $210 off of Ebay a couple of months ago. It works well off 110V, better off propane and will keep food cool off of 12V. It has worked well on 110V and 12V on several trips to the hunting lease and to state parks with 110V available. I finally got some propane usage for a week at the lake house. It worked well off propane with temps in the mid 90's as long as it was in the shade or the non heating side was covered with a large folded beach towel. It did struggle when left in direct sun or when 19 people were opening and closing it getting drinks and food and condiments. The operating instructions reccomend plugging it in for 24 hours before use. I kept it plugged in to 110 at the dock each night and it was very cold when we left each morning.
    http://www.loftyshelters.com/Fridge Pages.htm
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2005
  20. desertdude

    desertdude SILVER Star

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    If you are starting your vehicle every day you won't need a second battery - if you want back up get the inexpensive battery pack jumper - I have my engel 45-qt behind the passenger seat in the Tacoma extra cab. In over 100 degree heat and direct sun the engel just chugs along and keeps my food and drink at the perfect temp - I am all for exploring other possibilities but why fight what works? Yeah it is a chunk of cash up front, but the joy for years spreads out the capitol - in ten years the fridge price is negligible.
     
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