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Old 07-12-2013, 10:10 PM   #1
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The refrigerator @ 104 in the shade.

I may have found a limitation to operating my 5.0 cubic foot frig down here in Texas. During my last outing it was very warm outside(104/92) and my refrigerator really struggled to keep the milk from spoiling. I was running on gas at the maximum cold setting 24/7. During the build Reace added extra insulation and a cooling fan to help with this issue. Does anyone have a mechanical solution or mod that has helped them operate in these extreme summer temps?
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Old 07-12-2013, 10:23 PM   #2
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Do you know what were the temps were in the refrigerator and freezer? In your situation I would put anything that may spoil on ice in a good cooler. The refrigerator can only go so many degrees below ambient.
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Old 07-13-2013, 06:39 AM   #3
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They have solar refrigerator shrouds that replace roof top models with built in fans, it would seem with that high heat outside that the heat created by the refer was not exiting thru the roof vent. Does it work okay on 120v? If so then that maybe your solution?
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Old 07-13-2013, 06:57 AM   #4
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We hit the limits with our new 6.7 cubic foot fridge on the way home from California a couple of weeks ago. It was 108F driving across the CA central valley, and the fridge just didn't have a chance. We made the mistake of adding some groceries to it just before we left in the middle of the day, and it didn't cool down until nighttime. In general, if the temps were much above 90 during the day, the fridge temp would get up into the mid/upper 40s and then cool off again into upper 30s at night. I couldn't tell much difference whether on 120V or propane in camp, or between 12V and propane while driving. We tried a fan inside the fridge which helped a little. We had to throw away some milk and other things. The whole time, the freezer section seemed to be fine, although I didn't measure the temperature there. I think in the future, if we're in seriously high temperatures while driving, we'll pack a bag of ice right in the fridge.
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Old 07-13-2013, 07:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveandsandyclink View Post
Does anyone have a mechanical solution or mod that has helped them operate in these extreme summer temps?
Drive to a cooler climate. Heck, even I would be melting at those temps.

Seriously though, even with good ventilation, there is not much to be done with these evaporation type fridges. As mentioned, they operate at a set temperature below ambient. I have had the opposite situation happen to me, in that when using the fridge when temps are below freezing, it is tough to keep the contents from freezing, even on the lowest setting. We have often just turned it off for a while to remedy this.

Maybe adding ice might help. Maybe freeze some in pop bottles to keep in the fridge, and open it as least often as you can get away with.
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Old 07-13-2013, 07:15 AM   #6
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I try to maintain my temperature at 4-8 for the freezer and 36-40 for the refer, all the time. Milk should not spoil in the 40's degrees temporarily. Do you have thermometers and are you sure it is not blowing out and getting warmer than in the 40's? Also I think whole 4% milk is more perishable than 1% or 2% milk. I have a set of these and they tell you not only the current temperature but also the high and low temperature, which is good to know to determine the swing in temperature while towing. Amazon.com: ACU_RITE Refrigerator/Freezer Wireless Digital Thermometer 00986: Kitchen & Dining
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Old 07-13-2013, 08:44 AM   #7
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We had both whole milk for tea and 1% for cereal, plus mayo that we didn't trust. The milk definitely went "off" before we finished it, and we were afraid of using the mayo after a few excursions for hours at a time in the upper 40s F. We measured the temps with an old fashioned fridge thermometer plus a small digital unit that I left in there. I like that remote setup; might have to try one.
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Old 07-13-2013, 09:15 AM   #8
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I have been monitoring my inside frig temps with a Camco temp monitor. Temps ranged in the upper 40's /low 50's. I also use a cube fan to circulate air inside the frig. I thought about using ice but did not want chance of water getting loose and reaching the floor. There seemed to be no difference between 120v & propane.

We often just travel and use our Escape as a rolling bathroom, motel, and a place to eat. A light load of food & drinks, lots of road time, opening the door very little.

I read on a RV site that adding a duct to exit air directly out the side vent would help. I've done that. I have thought about installing a solar powered
roof vent directly above the refrigerator area to help vent warm air out.

Like I stated, I might have reached it's operating range. Having said that, the roads are full of RV's this time of year.
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Old 07-13-2013, 09:39 AM   #9
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Has anyone removed the freezer section ? If so does the removal increase the cooling ability ?
What is the model number of the frig that is currently being used in the 19' TT ?
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Old 07-13-2013, 09:39 AM   #10
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I wonder if there are models of fridges that will go colder. Reace is bound by the smaller opening size of the Escape door for what he can fit inside.
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Old 07-13-2013, 09:41 AM   #11
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Has anyone removed the freezer section ? If so does the removal increase the cooling ability ?
I don't think that would make any difference, but not certain. With using the cube filters like Dave is, it circulates the air to even out the temps anyway.
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Old 07-13-2013, 09:44 AM   #12
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I believe it increases capacity, not efficiency
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Old 07-13-2013, 11:02 AM   #13
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Old 07-13-2013, 11:44 AM   #14
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The tip about having the refrigerator side in the shade is absolutely true. Usually not possible when under tow, but should be considered when parked. Over on the CasitaForum, there's a thread where a member made a "shade" for the refrigerator vent. Riveted an awning rail to the top of the vent inspection door, ran the awning in the rail. The bottom of the awning was held up with PVC pipe in a pocket then legs against the body (with rubber protectors) and then bungied to the bottom of the trailer to hold it tight. Evidently it works well is easy to install and is completely removable for travel.

I know a shade works. I've camped in cow pastures where the ambient temp was right at 100 degrees. I flattened a box and with an extra lawn chair was able to shade the refrigerator vent inspection door. Temperature in the refrigerator then dropped to an acceptable level.
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Old 07-13-2013, 12:18 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jubal View Post
Has anyone removed the freezer section ? If so does the removal increase the cooling ability ?
What is the model number of the frig that is currently being used in the 19' TT ?
Yes it does increase efficiency and capacity! I tried it on a hot trip last month when boon-docking and had to reduce the setting from 5 to 3. When the temps run over 90 this is a good option. The best I could do when the freezer section was installed and the ambient temp was around 95 was 44 degrees and it went up quickly if I opened the refrigerator to get something. My non-fat milk spoiled at that temp. BTW, my refer is the RM8551.
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Old 07-13-2013, 12:43 PM   #16
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We put Otter Pops in the freezer, they are good even when a bit slushy and do not leak.
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Old 07-13-2013, 12:49 PM   #17
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An interesting thing I learned recently about the propane operation of my refrigerator;

I didn't feel that my refrigerator was performing well on propane when ambient temps went up over 80 degrees so I did a study and ran the refrigerator at home for several days, recording the temperature every few hours on 120VAC and then ran the same study on propane. I have digital temp monitoring sensors in the freezer and refrigerator sections Amazon.com: ACU_RITE Refrigerator/Freezer Wireless Digital Thermometer 00986: Kitchen & Dining so I didn't have to open the refrigerator to take readings.

The refrigerator cooled very well on 120VAC and not so well on propane.The only difference was the heat source; temperature applied by 120VAC heading strip or propane burner flame. I decided to check the propane pressure so I built a manometer and found the gas pressure to be low at 9 inH20. It should have been around 11.5. I then increased the gas pressure to slightly above 11.5 at the main regulator and continued the temp study on propane. The increase in gas pressure to where it should have been had a very positive effect on cooling and now the refrigerator runs almost as well on propane as 120VAC. Increasing the gas pressure about 25% increased the flame size and now more heat is generated. I visually inspected the flame and the color and size look great. Note: It is now also set at a safe setting, as recommended by the manufacturer.
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Old 07-13-2013, 12:55 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
The tip about having the refrigerator side in the shade is absolutely true. Usually not possible when under tow, but should be considered when parked. Over on the CasitaForum, there's a thread where a member made a "shade" for the refrigerator vent. Riveted an awning rail to the top of the vent inspection door, ran the awning in the rail. The bottom of the awning was held up with PVC pipe in a pocket then legs against the body (with rubber protectors) and then bungied to the bottom of the trailer to hold it tight. Evidently it works well is easy to install and is completely removable for travel.

I know a shade works. I've camped in cow pastures where the ambient temp was right at 100 degrees. I flattened a box and with an extra lawn chair was able to shade the refrigerator vent inspection door. Temperature in the refrigerator then dropped to an acceptable level.
I noticed that the inside of the fiberglass boxed-in-area behind my refrigerator in my Escape 19' is not insulated. When the sun bakes this area it must get very hot. Insulating this area well with something fireproof should help cooling based on Donna's information.
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Old 07-13-2013, 01:28 PM   #19
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The refrigerator cooled very well on 120VAC and not so well on propane.The only difference was the heat source; temperature applied by 120VAC heading strip or propane burner flame. I decided to check the propane pressure so I built a manometer and found the gas pressure to be low at 9 inH20. It should have been around 11.5. I then increased the gas pressure to slightly above 11.5 at the main regulator and continued the temp study on propane. The increase in gas pressure to where it should have been had a very positive effect on cooling and now the refrigerator runs almost as well on propane as 120VAC.
I didn't have the benefit of real data, but I suspected the same with our fridge on the way home from CA. While at Lake Tahoe, I bought about six feet of vinyl tubing and made a water manometer to connect to a stove burner. I too discovered 9" of pressure and turned ours up to 11". I believe it helped, but again, I lack real numbers. In the midst of all this, I called Escape and confirmed 11" is correct as measured at a stove burner connection. This was with no propane flow. With the fridge on running on propane, the pressure dropped about 1/2" and I decided to leave it that way.
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Old 07-13-2013, 01:33 PM   #20
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I can't say I have completely solved the problem with my 5.0 cu ft, but it is a lot better after a number of modifications. In 90 degree plus temperatures I've been able to keep the refrigerator below 40 degrees and the freezer below 0.

I added a curved baffle at the top of the back side of the cooling section, added insulation everywhere I could, sealed the cooling section from the refrigerator with aluminum tape - in fact, I covered the entire rear of the Refrigerator with aluminum tape to reflect the heat away from the refrigerator. I added an interior fan (see my trailer modifications page for the fan). I also added a layer of aluminized bubble wrap to the inside of the freezer door.

I also added a fan behind the upper grill that I use when it gets over 95 degrees out. It doesn't help much below that.

All in all, a big improvement over what I had. With the addition of a furnace filter covering the lower outside grill and the additions to the rear section, I no longer have a problem with the gas flame blowing out while driving. While the filter alone helped, the additions helped more.

One additional note - Be careful depending on the refrigerator thermometer linked in Jim's #6 post. I purchased one, had it replaced by the manufacturer, and in both cases, it stops sending (or receiving) on at least one channel. Since it doesn't show any indication that the readout is frozen (pun intended), you can be surprised...
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