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Old 12-13-2013, 02:47 PM   #1
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Running Fridge while Driving

Hi, never had a trailer before, trying to read and understand choices around operating fridge while driving. Do I have it clear here:

-Seems like many/most people run propane while they drive. Sometimes the flame is blown out, but then relights itself and carries on its merry way?

-Some people cool fridge before leaving, then leave fridge off while driving.

-A few people run 12V while driving. Requires a heavier gauge wire from tv to trailer, ideally shutting off when tv is off. Tv and trailer batteries don't get charged while driving. Would solar and dual 6V options resolve this problem, enabling successful running of the fridge on 12V and charging of batteries? Is there another solution for successfully running 12V and charging batteries? j
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Old 12-13-2013, 03:43 PM   #2
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That's about it in a nutshell for choices.

I always cool it down on 120V for a day or so at home first. When travelling short distances (up to 3-4 hours, depending on outside heat) I don't worry about running it when driving.

When it is real hot out, or I will be doing a days drive, I always put it on propane, and have never had an issue with it not working great. Just be ready to turn it off where required, like ferries or refueling.

I don't have the 12V option, and doubt I would use it if I did.
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Old 12-13-2013, 05:14 PM   #3
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I escape for about 6 straight months a year. Start and leave the fridge on propane and leave it there the whole time. Last year turned on March 31 off Oct 4. Traveled from coast to coast and back. Lessons learned.. keep fridge and freezer fairly full, limit opening fridge a lot on travel days, when possible park fridge vented side of trailer away from midway sun..
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Old 12-13-2013, 05:24 PM   #4
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Every RV I have owned I would start the fridge on 120 for a couple of days then switch it to propane for travelling and sitting. Never had any problems.
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Old 12-13-2013, 05:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PGDriver View Post
Every RV I have owned I would start the fridge on 120 for a couple of days then switch it to propane for travelling and sitting. Never had any problems.

Did you shut propane down and restart after fueling up the tow?
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Old 12-13-2013, 05:27 PM   #6
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Jamie,
You will need some additional information in order to answer your question. Go here The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1) and read parts 1 and 2 and then determine what your 12v needs are. What is the draw of the refer while on 12v. You then calculated perhaps 50% run time and determine your needs for a 24 hour period. You then look at your battery capacity as well as solar and your tow vehicle adding to that capacity. You do the math and end up with your answer. Or, turn on the propane…….
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Old 12-13-2013, 06:56 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone for the answers...I knew that darn math would come back to bite me in the rear. j
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Old 12-13-2013, 07:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Did you shut propane down and restart after fueling up the tow?
Hi Glenn

Good point, no I didn't I guess thats another thing to add to my list of things that may or may not get done in my lifetime.
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Old 12-13-2013, 07:38 PM   #9
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Good point, no I didn't I guess thats another thing to add to my list of things that may or may not get done in my lifetime.
Ha, ha...your post made me feel better about everything I may or may not do. Thank you!
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Old 12-13-2013, 07:41 PM   #10
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This is the sort of question which can start a very long and heated discussion.

... but I agree that the summary of alternatives is good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
Did you shut propane down and restart after fueling up the tow?
There's no need to shut off the propane supply, just to remove the source of ignition (which creates a danger due to gasoline fumes around a fuel pump). That means turning the refrigerator off, or perhaps to electrical power. Same for the furnace or water heater if they are left running (which is much less commonly done).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jamie beers View Post
-Seems like many/most people run propane while they drive. Sometimes the flame is blown out, but then relights itself and carries on its merry way?
Although some appliances with pilot lights - typically water heaters - are available with re-lighters, it is not common and I have not heard of a refrigerator doing this. Refrigerators typically don't have pilot lights; they either go between low and high flame operation of one main burner, or just turn that one burner completely off and on (spark igniting it).
Appliances without pilot lights which use direct spark ignition (DSI) should relight as required, and if the flame won't stay on after some time they should give up and indicate a fault condition; the fault can be reset when you stop and operation resumes. (This would include, for instance, the Dometic RM2454)

In our old non-Escape trailer, I prefer to use 12V power while driving (that's what it's for), but it is a pain to light that refrigerator so I have used the leave-it-on approach... fuel stops kill the benefit of this idea.

In our motorhome, the Dometic DM2852 refrigerator offers no 12V option so the choice is easy: I run it on propane and hit the off switch before fueling. No problems.

Current owners or buyers: Which specific Dometic model is in the Escapes? The 19' (which I believe Jamie is buying) has (according to the Escape website) a "4.3 Cubic ft. 3-way Dometic Fridge", with a 6.7 cu ft model optional... are these the RM2x54 Americana series, the 8-series, or something else? I don't see anything else in the current DometicUSA catalog that would exactly match the listed volumes.
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Old 12-13-2013, 08:23 PM   #11
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I believe they are using the RM8551 and RML8551 models.
See: http://www.dometic.com/b7342c38-3e42...8ae83680.fodoc
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Old 12-13-2013, 08:57 PM   #12
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Does Escape not use models with an AUTO setting? I leave mine on AUTO unless I'm testing the unit, 120v primary, switches to propane if no 120v.
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Old 12-13-2013, 09:39 PM   #13
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You might want to search for earlier threads about this issue. In our experience with the smaller unit in our 19, it didn't seem to matter what we ran the unit on...allowing for ferries, refuelilng, etc. The biggest issue we ran into was that the fridge just doesn't work well if the outside temp is much over 80F. It seemed many others had a similar experience. We just had an extra cooler in the back of the TV and added ice every 2-3 days. I would strongly suggest buying a small thermometer that hangs inside the fridge so you know where you're at.
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Old 12-13-2013, 09:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Does Escape not use models with an AUTO setting? I leave mine on AUTO unless I'm testing the unit, 120v primary, switches to propane if no 120v.
Yes, at least my 3.0 fridge is automatic. The best advice is to run it at home at least overnight before packing it with cold food. I've had no problems but then I don't camp where it's too hot.
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Old 12-13-2013, 10:01 PM   #15
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Dometic told me that their 6.7 cf models are in the RM855XX series.
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Old 12-13-2013, 10:04 PM   #16
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Quote:
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We just had an extra cooler in the back of the TV and added ice every 2-3 days. I would strongly suggest buying a small thermometer that hangs inside the fridge so you know where you're at.
Yep, the ole cooler THANG and get a thermostat that allows you to know the temperature without opening the refrigerator door!
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Old 12-13-2013, 10:12 PM   #17
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The 5 cu ft is pretty much a manual refrigerator with a electronic igniter, i.e. no electronic board. It uses a manual push button to physically open the gas valve when first starting in the propane mode. You can hear the spark ignition going until it lights as you hold the button in. Once it lights, a thermocouple in the flame generates the electricity to hold the gas valve open & the spark lighter stops.

If it blows out on the road it will immediately start the spark lighter and attempt to relight the burner without going into a "fault" mode. Before I solved the "blowing out" problem mine would relight after having blown out when ever I stopped, even 1/2 an hour after going out. I do wonder what the gas valve is doing while all this is going on since I don't have to push the manual button to restart it, and, obviously, with the flame out the thermocouple isn't holding the valve open. How does the spark igniter restart the flame if the gas valve is shut?
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Old 12-13-2013, 11:45 PM   #18
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The 5 cu ft ...
If it blows out on the road it will immediately start the spark lighter and attempt to relight the burner...
A relighting standing-flame refrigerator! I stand corrected. Thanks Jon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
Before I solved the "blowing out" problem mine would relight after having blown out when ever I stopped, even 1/2 an hour after going out. I do wonder what the gas valve is doing while all this is going on since I don't have to push the manual button to restart it, and, obviously, with the flame out the thermocouple isn't holding the valve open. How does the spark igniter restart the flame if the gas valve is shut?
I can only guess that the gas valve is opened by an alternate circuit to the thermocouple, turned on at the same time as the ignitor, and that both are periodically re-trying, indefinitely.

I would be interested in checking this out further, but I don't want to go down the wrong path - this one is not the 8-series and does not sound like the RM2x5x Americana series... could it be the RM2510.2R? (note the controls on the bottom) This model is listed by Dometic as having "manual electronic" controls, and does not run on 12V DC (only propane and 120V AC)
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Old 12-14-2013, 12:12 AM   #19
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I believe they are using the RM8551 and RML8551 models.
See: http://www.dometic.com/b7342c38-3e42...8ae83680.fodoc
Thanks

I was looking only in the DometicUSA site (which is supposed to be for Dometic North America), since models not listed by them should not be available here. The RM8551/RML8555 are listed in the DometicUSA catalog; it was the 4.3 cu ft capacity that I didn't see. Strangely, the US catalog lists the RM8551 as 3.74 cu ft, but the "caravan" catalog lists it as 122 litres, which 4.3 cu ft

So far, perhaps the models are:
  1. 3.0 cubic foot 3-way (15' std, 17' std) RM2354 Americana
  2. 4.3 cubic foot 3-way (15' opt, 17' opt, 19' std, original 5.0 std) RM8551
  3. 5.0 cubic foot (what Escape models?) RM2510.2R
  4. 6.7 cubic foot (19' opt, original 5.0 opt, 21' std) RML8555

The exact model does matter if one is trying to understand how it will operate... which was part of the original question.

The model number should be on the appliance manual, and on a sticker inside the refrigerator compartment - anyone want to check what they have?
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Old 12-14-2013, 12:34 AM   #20
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Sorry, just a disjointed reply here from a newbie, as I am continuing my reading.

I read a blog I found on google, this person mentioned from their tv's 130 amp alternator, with standard wiring to their trailer battery, they were getting 5 amps of battery charging. They installed #2 wire and then got 25 amps battery charging.

Is this what people mean when they say you need to install a heavy wire from your tv if you want to run your fridge on 12v? So it gives your batteries a better chance of handling the fridge draw? j
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