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Old 11-08-2008, 12:34 PM   #15
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I have been interested in this for several years as well. There are a couple companies making 12v compressor fridges comparable to the double door rv units. Tundra (owned by Dometic) has an 8.5 cu.ft. double door model and NovaKool makes a 9 cu.ft. unit. I suspect that the unit discussed above was a small single-door unit with a little freezer "compartment", which might explain problems with a cold-enough freezer.

I haven't had any experience with either of these, but have with a residential "SunFrost" 12v unit used with 4 solar panels (300 watts) and 2 Trojan T-105 batteries. It worked great, and used the same "Danfoss" compressors used in the Tundra and NovaKool units. (BTW, the SunFrost is extremely bulky and totally unsuitable in an rv.)

Note that the compressor type are much more efficient than absorption types - nearly 10x in fact. I actually measured ("Brand" power consumption meter) the power consumption (on 115v) of my Dometic "New Dimensions" (about 9 cu.ft. I believe) and it uses 5 Kw-Hr/day (outside temp 85 F during day and 60's at night). The Tundra is rated at about 0.65 Kw-Hr/day!

It should make a lot of sense if one has a substantial solar panel system. I have those solar panels on my rv, so if my Dometic ever gives out, I'll probably look seriously at replacing it with the Tundra. It probably would require running heavier wiring for the 12v wiring to the fridge.
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Old 11-08-2008, 12:46 PM   #16
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Has anyone converted to a residential frig? I looked on line and found that a 18.2 Cubic Foot unit would fit within the opening of my 4 door Norcold. The 18.2 is about 6" deeper than the Norcold but that wouldn't cause too much of a problem. Yea, I would have to put in a sine wave inverter, and an extra battery but that cost with the cost of the 18.2 (around $650.00) would be cheap if you consider that a new Norcold would cost around 3K.

Can anyone think of any other negatives besides the increased 120Volt draw when on shore power. The 18.2 would provide half again more space than the Norcold.

Right now my frig is okay but it is now over 5 years old so I am thinking maybe I should start considering my options if the frig goes belly up.
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Old 11-08-2008, 02:16 PM   #17
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A couple points on numbers (from experience):

1. Cost of the Norcold is around $1,200. (a bit less than $3,000).

2. The 12-volt compressor Norcold runs on Less-Than 3.6 amps when the compressor is running.
Compare this 3.6 amps at 12-volts to 0.36 amps at 120-volts (or use the approximate equivalent of 43.2 watts ). These numbers should help you compare/evaluate a residential model.

The 7-cubic-foot version I have runs directly from the 12-volt supply (when no AC is present). No need for an inverter (indeed it would waste energy to use the inverter to run this unit).

Hopefully this helps you decide.
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Old 11-08-2008, 07:06 PM   #18
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You may find 12VDC appliances interesting.
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Old 11-09-2008, 02:14 AM   #19
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There's nothing wrong with running your refrigerator on AC with a good inverter and a good battery bank. We travel all the time this way. The engine has a large alternator and I have 230 watts of solar panels that also keep the batteries charged. This way the engine alternator isn't carrying the full recharge to the batteries. Likewise I feel safer then running the refrig on propane while driving, and I don't have to worry about turning off the propane when entering a gas station.

We saw one of Tiffin's motorhome models at a recent RV Show which had the residential style refrig and it looks like a very good idea to me.
Granted this may not be such a great idea if you boondock a lot but with the proper amount of batteries and more solar panels this shouldn't be a problem either.
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