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Old 07-19-2015, 11:03 PM   #11
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Hope this topic is ok on this thread. My question is can I drive all day in the sunshine using solar power( 95watts) with my fridge on or will it drastically reduce my batteries. Assuming there is nothing in the fridge that starts with P.Thanks in advance. Peter
That is actually a difficult question to answer. Some variables are: the size of your fridge, the air temperature, the efficiency of the circuit all the way from the alternator to the fridge, the capacity of your batteries, etc. Lots of hard to measure variables.

Starting at the fridge, using 12v option (as opposed to the propane option) will require somewhere around 200 to 300 watts. I don't have my manual handy but regardless, the fridge takes more than solar can provide. In theory, a running vehicle can make up the shortfall. But from reading reports on this forum, a number of folks say they end up with flat batteries after towing all day. So, what could be going wrong?

One problem, it is the long distance from the source to the drain (alternator to fridge). Skinny wire can cause a significant voltage drop. A bit of tarnish on the trailer connection can cause voltage drop (which is exacerbated at higher amperage). The trailer voltage regulator may be confused by the alternator voltage regulator. And the list goes on...

I plan to try the following some day. With a blanket over the solar panel and the fridge running on 12v with the door open (so you know beyond a shadow of doubt that the boiler is heating), measure the voltage at the dedicated fuse that goes to the fridge. Then, hook up the tow and and trailer plug and have a volunteer run the engine at 2000 rpm (for a solid output from the alternator). Measure the voltage again. If all is well, the voltage should go up around 1 volt - say from 12 to 13, or better. If you are not seeing a solid gain from the alternator, then you know that you will arrive at your campsite in the evening with drained batteries.

If you try this, please report back.

(And never, ever, put that "P" word in your fridge).

--
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Old 07-19-2015, 11:41 PM   #12
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... I have see propane fridges on fishing boats that are said to run entirely on propane with no electric current. BTW they are match lit.
Older RV refrigerators have no electronic controls and can operate on propane without electricity (and on 120V AC without 12V DC power). Many are piezo-ignited, so they don't need a match. To work, they need to use a similar valve to that in a pilot-equipped furnace or water heater: as long as the flame is going a thermocouple provides enough power to keep the valve open, and a manual button holds it open during lighting. To control the amount of cooling, a mechanical thermostat switches the gas valve between low and high burn rates, so the low rate acts like a pilot flame.

I don't know if this style is still available.
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Old 07-20-2015, 12:16 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by peter View Post
Hope this topic is ok on this thread. My question is can I drive all day in the sunshine using solar power( 95watts) with my fridge on or will it drastically reduce my batteries. Assuming there is nothing in the fridge that starts with P.Thanks in advance. Peter
From my experience you will still drain your batteries somewhat. In an Escape 21 with two solar panels totaling 195W, my two six-volt batteries would lose up to 10% of their charge after a five-hour drive with the fridge set to 12V. Maybe more; I don't remember. The truck's alternator didn't seem to contribute much, presumably due to the length of wiring between the alternator and the trailer's batteries. I finally gave up and started putting the fridge on propane when traveling.
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Old 07-20-2015, 12:51 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by peter View Post
Hope this topic is ok on this thread. My question is can I drive all day in the sunshine using solar power( 95watts) with my fridge on or will it drastically reduce my batteries. Assuming there is nothing in the fridge that starts with P.Thanks in advance. Peter
95 watts divided by 12 volts is about 8 amps. I don't know of any solar panel that will fit on a trailer that will deliver a constant 8 amps minimum.
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Old 07-20-2015, 01:29 AM   #15
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Thank you everyone for the info. Appreciated muchly. Peter
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Old 07-20-2015, 03:05 AM   #16
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My fridge started working on pro pain on the way home from my trip I was plugged in to elect the whole time and it didn't work but suddenly started on my way home .
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Old 07-20-2015, 06:00 AM   #17
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My fridge started working on pro pain on the way home from my trip I was plugged in to elect the whole time and it didn't work but suddenly started on my way home .
Sounds like the fridge was set to Automatic. With AES it will pick the best fuel source. When it was connected to shore power, AES ran it on electric.

If you manually selected gas while camped and it didn't run on gas, there's another problem.
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Old 07-20-2015, 07:09 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by peter View Post
Hope this topic is ok on this thread. My question is can I drive all day in the sunshine using solar power( 95watts) with my fridge on or will it drastically reduce my batteries. Assuming there is nothing in the fridge that starts with P.Thanks in advance. Peter
You don't mention what size the fridge is.

I can travel with my 6.7cf fridge and my vehicle without draining the batteries if I only travel in the middle of a sunny day and don't turn off the vehicle.

In practice, on an 9 hour drive last Sept I dropped 20 Ah by the time I pulled over, 6 am start.

Fridge 14-15 Ah
Alternator feed 10-12 Ah
160w Solar 8-9 Ah max
(Readings per Trimetrics Monitor)

The solar panel output varies as the sun rises and falls, the 160 goes from around 0 Ah at 8am to 7-9 Ah at around noon. I get 4-5 hours of fairly high output a day here in New England. I would expect this to vary depending on where you are, latitude, altitude, obstructions, etc.
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