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Old 07-01-2013, 04:01 PM   #1
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Help choosing new 12 volt fridge

I'm currently running a cheap Coleman thermo-electric cooler. It actually draws 4 amps per hour and because there is no thermostat that 4 amps is constant, 24/7. I plan on spending large periods of time off the grid and am in the market for a compressor-type, 12 volt fridge that's very efficient and has a front opening door (no top loaders). I've been to Norcold, Dometic, Engel's websites and they all have pretty much the same info and specs. All run around 40 watts and claim around 3 to 3.5 amps. I suspect those numbers are misleading though. Is it 3 amps just to kick it on? Is it a realistic number with a thermostat controlling it so it won't be cooling constantly like my current solution does?

What is your experience with fridges. Who makes the most efficient ones? How much draw does your fridge actually pull? Help me choose my new fridge!

Thanks in advance.
Eric
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Old 07-01-2013, 04:39 PM   #2
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Re: Help choosing new 12 volt fridge

Off the top of my head, I think most 12V fridges average about 3.5A. So with a 50% duty cycle, many will draw 7A when running, averaging 3.5A over the full cycle.

FWIW, I think the top loading fridges are better at retaining the cold, since you don't lose as much cold air as when opening a front loader.


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Old 07-01-2013, 05:11 PM   #3
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Re: Help choosing new 12 volt fridge

My Norcold DE-0041 specs at 2.8A - when running. And the duty cycle is ~50% at 85 degrees. I did get some 1/2" foil backed foam insulation and have 'wrapped' the hidden surfaces of the refrig and that helped. Sealed every seam with metal foil duct tape.

With two group 27 house batteries I could run the refrig 3+ days (before added insulation) when parked. A 130W solar panel eliminated that concern.

Others have found the IsoTherm refrig to be superior, but I have no complaints about my Norcold.

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Old 07-01-2013, 05:12 PM   #4
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Re: Help choosing new 12 volt fridge

This is what I will be buying very soon. I use a small dorm (AC) fridge with an inverter and it is killing batteries.

http://truckfridge.com/

These guys make a solid product. Larrie (on the forums) has one, as do a few others, and has had great luck with it, even supporting it's use on solar alone with good sun.

Good luck!
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Old 07-01-2013, 05:17 PM   #5
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Re: Help choosing new 12 volt fridge

I'm looking at getting the Truckfridge.
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Old 07-01-2013, 05:44 PM   #6
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Help choosing new 12 volt fridge

I had the same Coleman setup in my van and switched to a Truckfridge. It works great. Draws between 2.5 and 2.9 amps depending on the outside temperature. It runs about 50% of the time. My group 24 battery can run both he fridge and heater all night without reaching 50% of he battery.
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Old 07-01-2013, 05:57 PM   #7
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Re: Help choosing new 12 volt fridge

my 4.2 TF Rocks
no complaints

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Old 07-02-2013, 08:36 AM   #8
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Re: Help choosing new 12 volt fridge

I switched from the stock Norcold to an Isotherm with the ASU several years ago have I found that it works great. With solar, I never worry about running our house battery below 12.2v. There is no adjustable thermostat (not needed) and it will freeze ice cubes over night but never freezes the lettuce.
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Old 07-02-2013, 08:41 AM   #9
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Re: Help choosing new 12 volt fridge

Wow, a lot of people seem to like the truck fridge. Larrie, you're averaging 2.5-2.9? That seems very good and about where I would want to be. Are you sure on those numbers? The reason I ask is because the Truck Fridge website mentions 6amps. They also say 60 watt nominal power but 24 watts average. Does anyone know what nominal power means? 24 watt/hour average would coincide nicely with Larrie's avg. The 60 watt nominal/12=5 amps so the nominal rating is still under the 7 amps they claim too. These varying numbers are a bit confusing for the specs.

With respect to "duty cycle", perhaps someone could clear up what that actually means in terms of power consumption. If a device is rated at 5 amps for example, but it only runs half the day (I'm assuming that means 50% duty cycle), then would that actually equate to 2.5 amps per hour because of the 50% run time? Or is the 50% already built into the 5 amp spec from the outset?

That 2.8 Norcold sounds great too Mike. I have 195 watts of solar on my rig but am still trying to be as efficient as possible for those cloudy days...
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Old 07-02-2013, 09:47 AM   #10
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Re: Help choosing new 12 volt fridge

Esus, I have been kind of confused too by their numbers, but at the same time I have read of many people who have had great luck with them. They are also great for the price and have a Danfoss compressor, which is about the best made I am told.
To offer a less number specific example, Larrie can run his overnight without running down a single group 24 battery. My AC dorm fridge run with 2 group 29 batteries and an inverter won't do that, and it is claimed to use only 6 amps, but I have never tested it. As I see it, the TF couldn't be pulling more than 3 amps, and probably less.
I emailed TF the other day to ask them about colors (Black is the only color they come in BTW, but I couldn't find it on their website). I got a helpful detailed reply within about an hour. To me, that's great customer service! They can probably give you all the specifics you like if you ask them.

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