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Old 05-11-2017, 08:51 PM   #1
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Battery Charging While Running Fridge on 12V

If there are any recent discussions of this, I missed them, so I'll go ahead with my question(s). I'm interested in running our RMD 8555 fridge on 12V while towing....all day, for days in a row, while towing. Is anyone doing this successfully (and arriving each night with a fully charged battery)? If so, how?

The fridge draws something in the neighborhood of 15 amps. I'm well aware of voltage drop and the need for large charge wiring (including ground) to minimize voltage drop. After reading several accounts of folks doing this, it almost seems like this is a losing battle. Even with no 8 AWG wiring, other problems still limit what can be done. Apparently modern charge controllers on the tow vehicle (TV) will limit the current flow from the alternator to whatever is demanded by the nearby TV battery....which normally is not much. The only way to overcome this would be a "sense line" running all the way from the trailer to the charge controller, which I wouldn't want to attempt.

I've read about various schemes to improve the situation, like dual no 8 wires connected through a separate 4-way connector at the bumper. Someone else suggested a voltage booster. One person suggested using one of these to kick the voltage up to 24V at the camper and then feeding this through the solar controller to charge the battery. Novel, if nothing else. Others talked about using an inverter to operate the fridge on 120V while towing. I don't know where they put the inverter. It seems like it would work best connected directly into the TV battery, but that means having a 120V connection to the trailer while towing. That seems pretty sporty. I have to give these folks credit, but I'm not sure I see a sensible way to make this work. The numbers just don't work for me.

I would really appreciate hearing the experiences of others who have operated they're fridges on 12V for extended tows.
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Old 05-11-2017, 09:08 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Parker View Post
If there are any recent discussions of this, I missed them, so I'll go ahead with my question(s).
Actually, this is a popular and frequent topic.

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Originally Posted by Parker View Post
Others talked about using an inverter to operate the fridge on 120V while towing. I don't know where they put the inverter. It seems like it would work best connected directly into the TV battery, but that means having a 120V connection to the trailer while towing. That seems pretty sporty. I have to give these folks credit, but I'm not sure I see a sensible way to make this work. The numbers just don't work for me.

I would really appreciate hearing the experiences of others who have operated they're fridges on 12V for extended tows.
I measured over a volt and a half drop from my alternator to my fridge using alternator power only. If I tried this for a long tow with my batteries connected I would end up partially draining my batteries - not charging them.

Yes, in theory you could connect your 110V inverter close to the alternator and run a cord back to the trailer and power the trailer converter to get back to 12V. The point would be to maximize the 110V run and minimize the 12V run.

I'll wait for someone to report how this works...

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Old 05-11-2017, 10:11 PM   #3
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Hi Parker, a Redarc (Australian manufacturer) sells 12vdc 25 and 40 amp chargers using tow vehicle as your generator. Their BCDC1240-LV is a 12V 40A In-vehicle DC to DC charger suitable for vehicles fitted with an ECU-controlled variable voltage alternator, features a MPPT solar regulator. Has tow vehicle battery isolator and can charge AGM, Gel, Calcium content, VRLA and Standard Lead Acid batteries. The 25 amp is $360 USD and the 40 amp $420 USD.

I recommend using 4 AWG welding wire from wireandcableyourway.com as its's a long run. Use tow and trailer frames to carry earth. Anderson AB 120 series connectors with boot will handle the larger wires and make tow/trailer connection easy and solid. PEI Genesis sells these connectors.

Good luck.
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Old 05-12-2017, 06:10 AM   #4
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Good morning. I was hoping for a miracle, and you guys are coming up short! I'm not sure I like the idea of 120V AC trailer connections while driving. I'd certainly want a solenoid switch to turn that thing off with the ignition. Running higher voltage (even DC) does make sense in term of reducing wire size and losses though, with something to reduce it again at the camper. The Redarc setup sound like it really addresses the problem from a technical aspect, but that's a pretty expensive solution. Santiago, when you refer to running welding cable for the charge line (which I have considered) are you doing this with a standard charging setup or have you taken the plunge with the Redarc system?
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Old 05-12-2017, 06:13 AM   #5
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You may be able to run the refer on 12v if you had enough solar and battery storage, at least dual panels and 2x six volts should help during the day driving and remember that 15 a/h draw is only about 50% for when the refer is actually cooling. But that is why propane is so attractive as an alternative. Some new GMC trucks also offer dual alternators, one for tow and one for the rv, so it is possible.
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Old 05-12-2017, 06:35 AM   #6
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Hi Jim. I know that more solar could help take up the slack on sunny days, but our 2013 with two 6V batteries has the smaller panel that is otherwise enough for our needs. If another panel would do it, it might be worth it. I don't think that's a reliable enough solution, though, compared to plugging into the TV, if enough current were available at the camper. I get the separate alternator idea. That makes lot of sense. So far, I'm not hearing (or finding) much that's going to help, short of a hefty investment of some sort. Maybe the solution, if I want to avoid running on propane (and fussing with trying to keep the thing lit) is to run on battery during much of the day, then switch back to propane for a couple of hours before landing to get the batteries topped up for the night.
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Old 05-12-2017, 07:23 AM   #7
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That is what I do sometimes, 12v during day after 9am when there is sun (I have the larger solar panel) and propane on around 3 pm, this combo works.
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Old 05-12-2017, 07:59 AM   #8
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That may have to be my plan also, modified to suit the weather and available solar. We camp mostly in shoulder seasons with shorter days, so that's what got me thinking more about the practicality of 12V. I'm not too worried about running with propane on the road, but I do like the idea of 12V to avoid the flame and also to avoid messing with various screen materials in the vents to help keep it lit.
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Old 05-12-2017, 08:19 AM   #9
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running on 12 volt

We use 12 volt for fridge we have the dual 6 volt batteries and 165 watt solar .Plus we have a 10 awg from battery to tow .We don't seem to have any problems towing for 10-12 hours . the solar seems to keep up . We still need to run our fridge on propane haven't done that yet .camping in the SE there is almost always elec A/C .In the winter or in the PNW it might be harder to do ? Jim
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Old 05-12-2017, 08:30 AM   #10
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We use 12 volt for fridge we have the dual 6 volt batteries and 165 watt solar .Plus we have a 10 awg from battery to tow .We don't seem to have any problems towing for 10-12 hours . the solar seems to keep up . We still need to run our fridge on propane haven't done that yet .camping in the SE there is almost always elec A/C .In the winter or in the PNW it might be harder to do ? Jim
Well, that's encouraging, but I'd appreciate a few more details. Which fridge would be one (indicating the amount of current required). Also, have you measured the battery voltage after towing all day on 12V? I would like to be able to set up in a non-electric site with the batteries closer to 100% charge if possible. So far, propane has been the only way to do that.
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