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Old 04-01-2008, 07:19 AM   #1
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I know this has been discussed but I'm not having much luck searching for the thread that talked about this.

I know my refrigerator works off the inverter. I found that out by leaving the refrigerator on "au" and accidentally leaving the inverter on when at the dealer getting some work done.

The tech comes out and "reprimands" me for leaving the inverter on because he said the refrigerator instead of going into the propane mode, was using the "ac" mode off the inverter and it drew down the batteries to an unsafe level. I didn't get why he was so concerned because won't the inverter shut off before it draws the batteries all the way down?

Anyway, my real question is, why is it not recommended to run the refrigerator off the inverter while traveling down the road? I know there have been many threads on "to use" or"not to use" propane for the refrigerator while on the road but why isn't using the inverter recommended? Since the engine is running, there shouldn't be any battery problems using the inverter while on the road, should there?

Thanks.

<span class="ev_code_BLUE">edit: sorry folks, I put in the wrong search parameters. I now have found several threads discussing this. I am at this moment reading through them to see if I can find answers to my question. However, if anybody wants to chime in on this thread, please feel free to do so!

Thanks!</span>
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Old 04-01-2008, 07:19 AM   #2
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I know this has been discussed but I'm not having much luck searching for the thread that talked about this.

I know my refrigerator works off the inverter. I found that out by leaving the refrigerator on "au" and accidentally leaving the inverter on when at the dealer getting some work done.

The tech comes out and "reprimands" me for leaving the inverter on because he said the refrigerator instead of going into the propane mode, was using the "ac" mode off the inverter and it drew down the batteries to an unsafe level. I didn't get why he was so concerned because won't the inverter shut off before it draws the batteries all the way down?

Anyway, my real question is, why is it not recommended to run the refrigerator off the inverter while traveling down the road? I know there have been many threads on "to use" or"not to use" propane for the refrigerator while on the road but why isn't using the inverter recommended? Since the engine is running, there shouldn't be any battery problems using the inverter while on the road, should there?

Thanks.

<span class="ev_code_BLUE">edit: sorry folks, I put in the wrong search parameters. I now have found several threads discussing this. I am at this moment reading through them to see if I can find answers to my question. However, if anybody wants to chime in on this thread, please feel free to do so!

Thanks!</span>
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Old 04-01-2008, 08:34 AM   #3
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I was told by the dealer to shut fridge off before I brought it in when I had a fridge that worked on propane or invert....if set in au and batt goes low the concern was fridge would ignite while they were working on it.....I now have all electric fridge I was told I can leave on while they work on it jim k
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Old 04-01-2008, 08:50 AM   #4
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Thanks for the comments, Jim.

Actually, I wasn't at the dealers to have work done on the refrigerator. He just coincidentally noticed the batteries at a low level as he was working on something else and attributed it to the refrigerator drawing power from the inverter.

I've always used propane for the fridge as I'm going down the road (right or wrong, that's what I've been doing). Now that I know that the refrigerator works off the inverter, is there anything wrong with running it off the inverter as I travel down the road?
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Old 04-01-2008, 09:57 AM   #5
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Generally the fridge will run off AC if it is available assuming that that AC represents grid power.

When it is an inverter supplying the AC, the fridge is being fooled.

The fridge takes a lot of energy to keep going so running it off of storage batteries is not a good idea if you need the batteries for other things.

As for in motion, you should not run any open flame appliances when on the road. That means not using propane for the fridge or for water heaters or whatever. Since you have an alternator supplying DC power to the inverter, using that to power the fridge doesn't deplete the batteries and that allows running the fridge without an open flame.
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Old 04-01-2008, 10:20 AM   #6
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Thanks, Bryan.

Yes, that's what I'm gathering from reading the other threads.

Definitely I should not be running the refrigerator off the inverter while dry camping. I've never done that as I know it would deplete the batteries quickly.

However, is there in fact anything "wrong" or dangerous with running the refrigerator off the inverter while moving? ...as long as I remember to turn the inverter off when coming to a stop (shutting engine off) and switching the refrigerator to propane. I have the 2000W inverter.



AND, if I do forget to switch, does the inverter in fact shut itself off before draining the batteries down to zero?

Thanks!
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Old 04-01-2008, 11:07 AM   #7
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check the shut off voltage on your inverter.12.2 volts is half dead on your batts and you should'nt go below that for good batt life. some inverters won't shut down till mabe 10.5 volts so you can see the problem. your tech did good. most do'nt know the the truth about batts. good luck. dave
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Old 04-01-2008, 02:07 PM   #8
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Oh wow! Thanks, Dave.

Yeah, I think he told me that the voltage had drained down to 11.5 and said that was "dangerously" low.

I asked if I had done any damage to the batteries or if their life would be diminished and he said that probably not in that they're deep cycle batteries and sometimes it's good to have them dip down that far.

I'm hoping he's right and you're wrong for my sake!

Thanks again.
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Old 04-01-2008, 02:40 PM   #9
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">As for in motion, you should not run any open flame appliances when on the road. That means not using propane for the fridge or for water heaters or whatever. Since you have an alternator supplying DC power to the inverter, using that to power the fridge doesn't deplete the batteries and that allows running the fridge without an open flame.
Posts: 66 | Registered: May 24, 2007 </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Above post by BRYANT

I have alsways run my refer off propane while on the road over 20 plus years. Whats the difference.
YES--if you pass in a tunnel that requies it to be shut off you do so,
YES- you shut it of when fueling.
Take the obvious precautions when using any open flame.
Other than than, what does using propane on a refer differ while in motion or at rest?
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Old 04-01-2008, 05:46 PM   #10
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by scirocco22:
--snip--However, is there in fact anything "wrong" or dangerous with running the refrigerator off the inverter while moving? ...as long as I remember to turn the inverter off when coming to a stop (shutting engine off) and switching the refrigerator to propane. I have the 2000W inverter.

AND, if I do forget to switch, does the inverter in fact shut itself off before draining the batteries down to zero?

Thanks! </div></BLOCKQUOTE>We run our fridge off the inverter while traveling about 99% of the time. I'd rather use one or two HP from the engine (driving the alternator to charge the batteries to run the inverter) than use up propane. You will not build up much if any soot in the fridge vent by not running it on propane which will reduce maintenance. I see no reason why this practice is dangerous - in fact you can probably make a much better case for not running propane while on the road (although I think this is inherently safe as well.)

Your inverter should have a low voltage alarm and/or cutoff - check the manual. It's never a good idea to deeply discharge batteries, but once in a great while should be okay.
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Old 04-01-2008, 06:49 PM   #11
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Thanks much, John.

That's exactly the answer I was looking for.

I've been running propane for the fridge while on the road and just assumed that my refrigerator is not plugged to the inverter. Now that I know that it's plugged to the inverter, I can see no reason for not running it off the inverter while going down the road as the engine alternator is keeping the batteries charged.

However, is the refrigerator working efficiently on the inverter? I'm assuming so ...or do I need to turn refrigerator up to its highest setting and hope it can keep up? Or will it be as efficient as running it off of propane or generator?

Thanks again.
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Old 04-02-2008, 12:43 AM   #12
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by scirocco22:
Thanks much, John.

That's exactly the answer I was looking for.

I've been running propane for the fridge while on the road and just assumed that my refrigerator is not plugged to the inverter. Now that I know that it's plugged to the inverter, I can see no reason for not running it off the inverter while going down the road as the engine alternator is keeping the batteries charged.

However, is the refrigerator working efficiently on the inverter? I'm assuming so ...or do I need to turn refrigerator up to its highest setting and hope it can keep up? Or will it be as efficient as running it off of propane or generator?

Thanks again. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

The setting is a temperature setting not a power setting so if it can't maintain 45 degrees setting it to 40 won't change anything. On my old Vectra I could run the refridgerator all day on the inverter and only had to recharge the batteries once a day. While underway I would not worry about it and enjoy the propane savings.
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Old 04-02-2008, 02:56 AM   #13
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by scirocco22:
--snip--However, is the refrigerator working efficiently on the inverter? I'm assuming so ...or do I need to turn refrigerator up to its highest setting and hope it can keep up? Or will it be as efficient as running it off of propane or generator?

Thanks again. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>You're quite welcome

The fridge will work a little better off propane because the propane produces greater heat than the electric heater (the ammonia refrigeration cycle operates from a heat source.) The answer to that situation is increasing the temperature setting by a number or two.

As to the absolute efficiency of inverter operation vs. propane operation, my guess is that propane operation is much more efficient - with inverter operation you are:

a- converting diesel to rotational motion
b- rotational motion is converted to 12V DC voltage via the alternator
c- DC voltage charges the batteries
d- batteries power the inverter
e- the inverter is only 85-98% efficient in converting 12V DC to 110VAC
f- inverter powers heat strips in fridge heating the ammonia
g- and finally you have a cold fridge
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Old 04-02-2008, 03:39 AM   #14
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by BryanL:
The fridge takes a lot of energy to keep going so running it off of storage batteries is not a good idea if you need the batteries for other things. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

The heating element in my Norcold 1200 draws 225w AC. Not a large load, IMHO.

-Tom
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Old 04-02-2008, 03:42 AM   #15
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by BryanL:
As for in motion, you should not run any open flame appliances when on the road. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I disagree. An RV fridge is made to operate on LP while on the road. The practice is perfectly safe.
I do shut mine off when fueling or taking on LP.

-Tom
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Old 04-02-2008, 07:05 AM   #16
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Thanks, Neil, John, and Tom!

All this time I could've been running down the road with the inverter powering the refrigerator? *argh*

That's so good to know! I will definitely try it the next time out.

All of you have been great. Thanks again for the good advice and suggestions!
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Old 04-02-2008, 08:33 AM   #17
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Yes, yes, yes. Run it off the inverter and or propane. I agree with Tom, I don't worry about the open flame going down the road..That what it is for. I ran my fridge from the inverter most all the time on the Horizon.

Some model year Winnies, will not run the fridge off the inverter, Which years I don't know but some don't. Good Miles
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Old 04-03-2008, 02:55 AM   #18
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The refer on our '05 Journey will not operate on inverter power...but that may be just our coach. As shipped from the factory it only had the 400W inverter, so there were only a couple of AC outlets which were powered by the inverter. As part of the deal our selling dealer added the Dimensions 2000W inverter, and I don't know if the circuit to the refer was supposed to be powered and just wasn't. Maybe someone with a similar year model Journey or Meridian which was factory-spec'd with the big inverter can chime in...

BTW it's my observation that the referigerator uses very little propane even in continual LP operation. I was advised that when first cooling down the refer after it has been off for a time that it will chill must faster on LP than AC power (goes to the efficiency as pointed out in above posts).
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Old 04-03-2008, 04:07 AM   #19
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Hello rocco,

I was told by the dealer (and I think it is in the manual) to run the frig on a/c off the inverter while traveling. Makes ice that way. Although It seems to make ice on the road also if it is on propane. If I stop for more than a few minutes I'll switch it over to propane so it doesn't draw the batteries down.

How is your RV garage working out?
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Old 04-03-2008, 08:56 AM   #20
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">check the shut off voltage on your inverter.12.2 volts </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
The thing is that the inverter is testing the voltage under load while the 12.2v being half discharged reference is for a resting battery. It is very easy to run even a fully charged battery voltage down below 12.0v with a good load - it will spring back after the load is removed.

The 10.5v or so cutoff that many inverters use is also generally a safety thing intended not for 'normal' discharge levels but rather to prevent total battery depletion when you forget to do what you are supposed to do for your batteries.

As for open flame on the road - if you look around you can find a lot of discussion on that topic. From what I can tell, the risk is small and is only present at fuel stops where there can be flammable vapors. Not running with open flame seems to be on a par with the idea of not stopping for fuel at the bottom of a long grade decent when your wheels are hot from braking.

Note that this risk is from open flame or automatic ignition sources, not heating elements. A fire would also require an appropriate fuel to air mixture and that is also rather difficult to obtain accidentally.

As far as the fridge functioning, there should be little difference whether the heat is coming from an open flame or an electric heating element although the heating elements seem to be a bit less vigorous.

The reason to advise against any open flame appliance being operational on the road is to reduce this small risk at fuel stops. You never know what the other idiot is going to do and they may just decide splashing gasoline on the side of your rig is an oopsie - it has happened.

But, it seems, very many don't worry about this risk.
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