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Old 06-10-2019, 11:00 PM   #1
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Question about running the fridge on battery

Getting ready for our second trip with our 17B. On our first trip we shut the fridge off when driving because I'm anxious to keep the propane running with some things i've read. I found the stuff in the freezer thaws pretty quickly and fridge stuffs warms up quite a bit too. Hubby doesn't want to run the fridge on battery when driving because he worries it will be too hard on the vehicle electrical system. We do have the ETI installed solar panel on the roof. Does anyone know if the solar panel is enough to keep the battery topped up when running the fridge or how much risk is there to the vehicle? We've had alternator problems previously with tent trailer towing and it's no fun to be stuck on the side of the road. Thanks. If there is already info about this please let me know, i'm not great at searches on this forum.
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Old 06-10-2019, 11:15 PM   #2
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Relax. Run it on propane, making sure to shut off the fridge before getting gas, boarding a ferry or entering specified tunnels.

Canadian Propane Association says this:
Propane’s auto ignition temperature is approximately 493° – 549°C (920° – 1020°F), gasoline’s auto ignition temperature is around 257 °C (495°F) – therefore, gasoline will burn or explode at a much lower temperature than propane.


Trying to run on DC won't bother your alternator, but you will have a dead battery when you get to your next camp.
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Old 06-11-2019, 06:03 AM   #3
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Like Glen, I run mine on propane. I have however experimented running on batteries and solar while chasing a fridge issue. There are threads on the topic if you do a google search.

The 2 times I tried it, after an 8 or 9 hour days travel, hitting the road about 7am in Oct, I had a 20 amp deficit with the single 160 watt panel with the fridge on battery by the time we stopped for the day.

With 2 6v batteries it's fairly insignificant IF you will be hooking up to city power at the end of the day. If you do not have hookups the cumulative effect will be a problem after a few days, depending on your nightly electrical use.

What model fridge do you have, mine uses upwards of 14 amps. Your numbers will vary from mine but this gives you an idea of the outcome of running on battery with solar. You need a decent battery monitor to really see what's happening with your specific setup.
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Old 06-11-2019, 07:30 AM   #4
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Historically, the 12v operation has not been as hot as propane operation, therefore not as efficient. The hotter the source, the cooler it can become. I have always used propane while traveling without any issues.
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Old 06-11-2019, 02:54 PM   #5
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We have dual factory solar panels and dual 6 volt batteries and run our refrigerator on propane when traveling . Never saw any advantage in running the refrigerator on 12 VDC and then arriving at your destination with a half dead battery .
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Old 06-11-2019, 03:48 PM   #6
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This debate has happened before. I am in the opposite camp. I feel better not having the propane on, so we never travel with it turned on. We always power the refrigerator on battery using a combination of our solar 150W panel and the charge from our towing vehicle, a Jeep Grand Cherokee. We arrive with the batteries charged and the fridge cold even when we have traveled on cloudy days. So it seems to me that it is personal choice, and either method will work, assuming your tow vehicle can provide enough charge to make up for the deficit that the solar panel cannot supply. To me, it came down to my higher comfort level having propane turned off while traveling. The only way to know for your particular situation is to try it and see if the solar plus TV can work for you. I know it works splendidly for us.
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Old 06-11-2019, 04:15 PM   #7
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I will turn off the propane valves before I head down the road. I also put on a seat belt if I drive at 5 mph across a parking lot. I have zero problems if you wish to do otherwise.
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Old 06-11-2019, 04:43 PM   #8
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This is a never ending debate. After a lot of research my conclusion is the propane in your RV including travelling with your fridge on propane is safer than the gasoline in your tow vehicle. It's also safer than the gas in your lawnmower and that gas container you have in your garden shed out back.
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Old 06-11-2019, 05:05 PM   #9
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This is a never ending debate. After a lot of research my conclusion is the propane in your RV including travelling with your fridge on propane is safer than the gasoline in your tow vehicle. It's also safer than the gas in your lawnmower and that gas container you have in your garden shed out back.
how aobut the diesel in my tow vehicle?


(couldn't resist, contributes nothing but a snicker)...

fwiw, I use the fridge in propane mode, too, and usually forget to shut it off before fueling.
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Old 06-11-2019, 05:09 PM   #10
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It is ironic that some refuse to use propane while traveling but once stopped will switch over to propane? If safety is an issue, why use it while being inside the camper?
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Old 06-11-2019, 08:18 PM   #11
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It is ironic that some refuse to use propane while traveling but once stopped will switch over to propane? If safety is an issue, why use it while being inside the camper?
Likely because they are concerned about a fire or explosion hazard in case of a collision on the road, which doesn't apply at the campsite. I don't consider this an unreasonable risk, but opinions vary.
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:02 PM   #12
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We travel with the fridge on propane, as the fridge is only powered by either propane or 120 volt. I also consider this a reasonable risk. I also carry a portable generator fueled full gasoline and often carry a 5 litre jerry can with additional gasoline. In the event of an accident as Glenn mentioned this is probably as high on the risk matrix as propane. In the end always travel how you feel comfortable the added worry can otherwise marr an enjoyable experience.
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:42 PM   #13
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...
fwiw, I use the fridge in propane mode, too, and usually forget to shut it off before fueling.

I run with propane on. Found out with the last new TT that I'm supposed to turn it off before fueling. Yikes! Like you, I keep forgetting. Luckily, have not encountered any spills or fumes that waft 21 feet over to the TT and have not burned down any gas stations. Knock on wood...
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:50 PM   #14
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I run with propane on. Found out with the last new TT that I'm supposed to turn it off before fueling. Yikes! Like you, I keep forgetting. Luckily, have not encountered any spills or fumes that waft 21 feet over to the TT and have not burned down any gas stations. Knock on wood...

I just thought of something to add to the debate. My natural gas water heater in the last house was in the garage and up on a ~2 foot platform to keep the house from burning down from gasoline or other fumes that might be present. There was also a couple of floor level vents, I'm assuming to allow fumes to escape the garage. My fridge is much higher on the trailer (as an ignition source) and obviously no venting of gasoline fumes required outdoors at the gas station. Maybe this kept me from lighting up the various gas stations I've stopped at Seems reasonable...

I'll try to be more responsible next time.
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:55 PM   #15
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I know I'm probably a nervous nellie, but one of my friends was towing a trailer, and while under tow the thing caught on fire. She was transporting a bunch of dogs in the trailer and was badly burned trying to get them out. Even with her efforts, 4 dogs died. I have no idea what caused the fire, or if she even had her fridge on propane, but something about the idea of driving down the road with an open flame bothers me. Therefore, I've been towing with my fridge on DC. When I stop for more than a few minutes, I switch it to propane to avoid running down my truck battery and allow the solar panel to re-charge the trailer batteries. This system is working for me so far. Maybe there will come a time when I run on propane, but right now it's all about peace of mind. I have a 3-way fridge, so why not use the DC if you can manage it so you arrive in camp with charged batteries??
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Old 06-11-2019, 11:08 PM   #16
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My fridge is much higher on the trailer and obviously no venting required outdoors. Maybe this kept me from lighting up the various gas stations I've stopped at Seems reasonable...

I'll try to be more responsible next time.

It's not propane gas that's an issue at a gas station, it's the open flame of an operating fridge that could ignite gasoline fumes.
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Old 06-11-2019, 11:15 PM   #17
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I know I'm probably a nervous nellie, but one of my friends was towing a trailer, and while under tow the thing caught on fire. She was transporting a bunch of dogs in the trailer and was badly burned trying to get them out. Even with her efforts, 4 dogs died. I have no idea what caused the fire, or if she even had her fridge on propane, but something about the idea of driving down the road with an open flame bothers me. Therefore, I've been towing with my fridge on DC. When I stop for more than a few minutes, I switch it to propane to avoid running down my truck battery and allow the solar panel to re-charge the trailer batteries. This system is working for me so far. Maybe there will come a time when I run on propane, but right now it's all about peace of mind. I have a 3-way fridge, so why not use the DC if you can manage it so you arrive in camp with charged batteries??

My sister had her camp gear catch on fire in the bed of her truck going down the highway. Tarp, tent and sleeping bags ablaze. Not the same thing as you described but similar. Fortunately they got it out before everything caught on fire and she only has a couple of small burn scars from the event. I keep fire a extinguisher in the truck and two in the camper after hearing about it. I hope they never get used.



Glad your friend was OK and always sad to hear about animals getting caught up in things.
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Old 06-11-2019, 11:21 PM   #18
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It's not propane gas that's an issue at a gas station, it's the open flame of an operating fridge that could ignite gasoline fumes.

Yes, agreed. Seems like a spill would be a huge risk in igniting with the fridge sparking away trying to start a flame.
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Old 06-12-2019, 06:33 AM   #19
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The OPs question was "will the roof solar run the fridge?", not is driving on propane safe.
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Old 06-12-2019, 10:07 AM   #20
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The OPs question was "will the roof solar run the fridge?", not is driving on propane safe.


I think the maths plus real world experience have repeatedly shown that in general, the answer is no. Thus the alternative recommendation for propane, which has been overly demonstrated to be both safe and effective.
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