How to keep refrigerator cold while driving many hours? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 06-18-2015, 06:07 PM   #1
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How to keep refrigerator cold while driving many hours?

We are quite new to the RV/trailer world, having just picked up our fine little 15A trailer in March, and taken just 3 local 2-3 day trips around State of WA. All has worked well so far, and if we are only going an hour or two away from home, leaving refrigerator "OFF" still keeps things adequately cold until we get to campsite and turn it on with Elec. or propane (we do plug in a day ahead to get it cold/ready). However, we do anticipate taking longer 5-7 hour driving trips in future and wonder what folks do to keep the refrig. cold? Do folks keep in on "Auto" or what? We've heard that some folks turn on the propane and drive that way, but we've also heard that wind can blow out the pilot while driving and then the system will switch to battery power and run down even car batteries? Any thoughts on best-practices for safety and cooling while driving many hours/day?

In advance, thanks much, as usual, for helpful thoughts on this.
King and Kathy Cushman
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Old 06-18-2015, 06:26 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by 2KC Seattle View Post
We are quite new to the RV/trailer world, having just picked up our fine little 15A trailer in March, and taken just 3 local 2-3 day trips around State of WA. All has worked well so far, and if we are only going an hour or two away from home, leaving refrigerator "OFF" still keeps things adequately cold until we get to campsite and turn it on with Elec. or propane (we do plug in a day ahead to get it cold/ready). However, we do anticipate taking longer 5-7 hour driving trips in future and wonder what folks do to keep the refrig. cold? Do folks keep in on "Auto" or what? We've heard that some folks turn on the propane and drive that way, but we've also heard that wind can blow out the pilot while driving and then the system will switch to battery power and run down even car batteries? Any thoughts on best-practices for safety and cooling while driving many hours/day?

In advance, thanks much, as usual, for helpful thoughts on this.
King and Kathy Cushman
You can just run the fridge on battery power while towing. It won't deplete your tow vehicle battery. We run ours on propane while towing and haven't had an issue with the pilot, but some have.
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Old 06-18-2015, 06:30 PM   #3
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We've been on several long trips and have always towed with the refrigerator on propane. No problems with maintaining temperature and have not had the pilot blow out.
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Old 06-18-2015, 06:33 PM   #4
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We always run on propane, no problems.
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Old 06-18-2015, 06:56 PM   #5
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Dometic fridge 12V power must be manually selected at the front panel. In auto mode it will select AC power first, if none available it will run on propane. Mine runs a bit colder on propane when traveling, no issues with flame blowing out.
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Old 06-18-2015, 06:57 PM   #6
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Mine lives on Auto.

Question: If the wind blows out the flame, the fridge will relight itself. Would the user know this was happening?
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Old 06-18-2015, 07:30 PM   #7
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There is a reason folks put wireless thermometers inside the frig and freezer with the display in the tug. So you know when the temperature starts to climb and perhaps the flame has gone out while towing on propane. A <$30 part that can save money vs. spoiled food.
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Old 06-18-2015, 07:35 PM   #8
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I keep mine on manual and propane while towing and manual and electric if at campsite.
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Old 06-18-2015, 08:43 PM   #9
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Many thanks for good advice..!

Hi again to this wonderful forum family,
Thanks for all your good thoughts and advice, as it gives me more confidence to allow running the trailer on propane OR on the batteries (we have dual 6V setup), and I have heard before that running on propane tends to keep things just a little bit cooler.

Once again, thanks to y'all, and a most happy summer and happy "Escaping" to you!
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Old 06-19-2015, 08:57 AM   #10
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I also run on propane while traveling but don't forget to turn off the fridge and/or propane before refueling.
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Old 06-19-2015, 09:43 AM   #11
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I avoid doing that by refueling at the first pump closest to the road and tow vehicle, leaving the trailer and refer at least one car length or 20 feet away if not further. I then swing wide to my right and the trailer does to get anywhere near the pump.
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Old 06-19-2015, 10:34 AM   #12
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I avoid doing that by refueling at the first pump closest to the road and tow vehicle, leaving the trailer and refer at least one car length or 20 feet away if not further. I then swing wide to my right and the trailer does to get anywhere near the pump.
Me too
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Old 06-19-2015, 08:13 PM   #13
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Howdy, fellow model 15-owning Seattleite!

We err on the side of caution and keep the propane turned off while on the road.

We have the dual battery setup as well, and running on battery power works great if the fridge has been pre-chilled *and* both batteries have a full charge. If we're leaving a boondock area or a standard (no electricity) campsite after a few days, we either chuck the food into a still-chilled Yeti cooler or turn the fridge off for a couple of hours (until the batteries are recharged).
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Old 06-19-2015, 08:42 PM   #14
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We have traveled to the SW for the winter from Port Townsend for the last four years, accumulating around 20,000 miles on our Casita, and we have always kept our Dometic refer on automatic. When on the road, it automatically switches to battery which is being charged. When we park and turn the car off, it automatically goes to propane, unless we have plugged in. We never touch the auto switch, and we have never had any problems. I assume that all Dometics work the same.
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Old 06-19-2015, 08:48 PM   #15
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The larger refrigerator in the 21' will probably draw a lot more than your Casita Dometic and can be too much of a draw for your set up, unless you get dual batteries and solar. You may not be able to tow on "Auto" nor 12v but have to use propane.
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Old 06-19-2015, 08:59 PM   #16
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We will have dual batteries and solar. Thank you for the info! Hadn't thought of the size differential. We try to keep the freezer and refer full as we think it makes it run more efficiently.
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Old 06-19-2015, 09:25 PM   #17
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The Dometic RM series of fridges can be connected to automatically select 12V from solar, 12V from tow vehicle alternator, 120V, or LP gas. ETI does NOT connect the 12V alternator NOR the 12V solar sense lines. So, as installed by ETI the RM fridges:
A - automatic will use 120V if present, LP if not - NEVER 12V
M - manual will use 12V, 120v or LP as selected

I prefer this behavior. I do not want the fridge to ever switch to 12V when set to "A". If ETI did wire up the sense wires, if the fridge were set to "A" it would use 12V rather than LP when the tow vehicle was running. (I am of the religious sect which runs the fridge on propane when towing.)
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Old 06-19-2015, 09:35 PM   #18
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I am of the religious sect which runs the fridge on propane when towing.
Amen, preach it brother...
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Old 06-19-2015, 11:01 PM   #19
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I wonder if those who replace their units with the newer RMD model if the rv repair shops follow ETI or they hook them up differently?
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Old 06-20-2015, 02:50 AM   #20
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I haven't towed with my propane on yet nice to know its ok I usually put food in my Yeti when traveling or in the fridge for short periods when it's already cold.
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