Refrigerator Question?

Sportsman Matt

Adventurer
Anyone have a Norcold 12V fridge mounted in their camper? Not talking the 3 way or portable cooler type units, but something on the lines of the DE-0041T. Reason I'm asking is I am working on a new truck camper build, and the info from Norcold doesn't say if it needs outside ventilation, unlike the propane models that call for exterior vents both top and bottom like my Norcold N300.

Other thing is how feasable is it to have the 12V over the propane unit? I know there is a price difference, but I know that I can go for 3 weeks on a 20 lb propane tank, but not sure about the 12V refrigerator running off 2 deep cycle batteries for a week of remote camping and fishing.
 

kerry

Expedition Leader
I doubt two batteries would power the frig for a day or maybe two without being recharged.

Here's an explanation of how much an Engel 12V frig draws:


If my vehicle’s engine is turned off, how long can I safely leave the Engel 12-Volt Refrigerator Freezer plugged into my cigarette lighter socket before compromising the battery’s ability to start the vehicle?
The safe answer here is approximately 3 hours in most situations. Actual conditions will vary depending upon the number of electrical devices that have been switched on during the last part of your drive (wipers, lights, blower, defogger, radio, cell phone, aux heater, cooler and or other accessories) and what driving conditions have just been experienced (high speed highway or stop and go traffic). Further limitations and factors are the relative condition of the battery and it’s charging system as well as season, temperature, and weather conditions.
Under ideal conditions your Engel 12-Volt Refrigerator Freezer could be run for many hours on just battery power. Under the worst combination of conditions, accessories could potentially deplete the battery in 10 to 20 minutes. Some vans have 10 or 12 bulbs lighted when the interior lights are on. Just these lights can drain a battery below starting power in about 15 minutes, without any other electrical device being present. Good judgment is required when making the decision about whether or not to leave any device plugged in while away from the vehicle. The best way to understand your situation is to test it before you count on it.
 

FlatlinesUp

Adventurer
DE-0041
specs show at 12vdc it draws between 2.8amps, call it 3 to be safe.

My two deepcell batteries have 125 amp hours for a total of 250

250/3= 83.3 hours till compleate drain, but you shouldn't drain past 60% very frequently, so 83.3 x .6 = 50 hours you can safely run it without recharge

put your two deepcells in parallel and isolate them from your starting battery and you don't have to worry.

Keep in mind if you want to deal w/24v that the norcold specs show 1.6amp draw.
 

whatcharterboat

Supporting Sponsor, Overland Certified OC0018
Hey guys, a word on doing your calcs for power consumption of a fridge.

Sometimes a manufacturer will quote low power consuption by averaging out the consumption over a day. Sounds like it here. Most fridges run Danfoss compressors. Engel make their own. A Danfoss will draw about 4.7 amps at 12volts. The actual daily consumption is going to depend on the duty cycle and this will depend on how effective the insulation of the fridge cabinet is. Something to think about antyway. Hope it helps.
 

whatcharterboat

Supporting Sponsor, Overland Certified OC0018
The actual daily consumption is going to depend on the duty cycle and this will depend on how effective the insulation of the fridge cabinet is.

And of course the ambient temperature.
 

michaelgroves

Explorer
Most fridges run Danfoss compressors. Engel make their own.

I believe Engel use a Tecumseh compressor. We found the Engel seemed to run down our batteries noticeably more quickly than our home-made Danfoss-based freezer, and didn't perform as well either. As you say, it's all down to insulation (including positioning), venting, usage (keep it full, and closed!), and ambient temp.

I think the question of what other accessories are being used, and what was being used last time you ran the engine etc., is something of a red herring. Of course, if you have loads of lights and other stuff running at the same time, it will run your battery down more quickly, but to be useful, you have to factor those out of the equation to understand what you might be able to achieve with the fridge/freezer alone.
 

fisher205

Explorer
I believe that Norcold is similar to my Nova Kool. I can last 3-4 days on two deepcell (27's ) batteries again it depends on how much other power I am using. I am pretty frugal with the power usage. The Nova Kool will shut itself down before batteries get low enough to do damage as I have found out. I believe the Norcold is similar. I looked at the Norcold but got a better price on the Nova Kool. THe manufacturer should have specs for how much air exhange they need. It doesn't have to be external venting like a gas refrigerator requires. - Brad
 

whatcharterboat

Supporting Sponsor, Overland Certified OC0018
Hi Michael, How are you going? Good to talk again.
Interested in how much your 6 wheeler Landy weighs fully loaded? Telling my brother about it. He's a Defender Driver.

.
I believe Engel use a Tecumseh compressor. We found the Engel seemed to run down our batteries noticeably more quickly than our home-made Danfoss-based freezer, and didn't perform as well either. As you say, it's all down to insulation (including positioning), venting, usage (keep it full, and closed!), and ambient temp.

Not sure. Always thought they were there own. Don't know where I got that from. I used to do pipeline robotics. All my mini tractors had Engel planetry gearboxs. Excellent engineering. Also I fitted an Engel compressor / plate kit to a yacht a few years back. They made their own cabinet using 3" urethane foam with a tapered silicone seal. So the lid was like a plug with effectively a 3" thick seal as well. Then they put a light weight cutdown timber door over the top and that was the dining table. Very, very good performance with the better insulation.

The lines came pregassed. Or I should say one line . One of the lines ran inside the other to make it even easier to run them. The compressor came with a 240v /12v changeover too.
 

Sportsman Matt

Adventurer
After havng several discussions over the phone with a couple techs in the RV business, along with more research by reading forums found on Google, I'm going to steer clear of the Norcold DC unit, and go with a Nova Kool. Similar price, but Norcolds it appears have compressor problems that develop within the first couple years and cost big bucks to have repaired, even under warranty.

Only thing is that you need to make sure is that the back of the unit has just enough space to create a tunnel for the air to be pulled in from underneath and through the coils in the back, and out the top of the unit, most Nova Kool info calls for a 30 sq inch vent top and bottom, and speaking to one tech, needs 1" behind the unit (which has already been designed in the cutout dimensions Nova Kool puts out with their spec sheet)

Now on to more designing nightmares, hopefully I'll get to the construction stage this spring.
 

deminimis

Explorer
Wish I would have seen this post earlier. Good thing you figured it out regarding the Nevercold. $500 to replace the system when the freon leaks out (okay, its not freon, but whatever). Noisy POS, in my experience. I replaced mine with a Virtrifrigo fridge. Similar footprint, but 4.2 CF interior space. Quiet, Danfoss compressor, and RECHARGEABLE! Very impressed with the quality of the latch, the metal cabinet (Norcold's was reflective cardboard over foam) and its quietness. Anyway, probably too late, but just in case, thought I'd toss that out there.
 

Kilroy

Adventurer
Where did you buy your fridge? The only dealer I get with google is Truckfridge.com.



Wish I would have seen this post earlier. Good thing you figured it out regarding the Nevercold. $500 to replace the system when the freon leaks out (okay, its not freon, but whatever). Noisy POS, in my experience. I replaced mine with a Virtrifrigo fridge. Similar footprint, but 4.2 CF interior space. Quiet, Danfoss compressor, and RECHARGEABLE! Very impressed with the quality of the latch, the metal cabinet (Norcold's was reflective cardboard over foam) and its quietness. Anyway, probably too late, but just in case, thought I'd toss that out there.
 

deminimis

Explorer
I got mine from a marine dealer in Seattle. However, there is a marine dealer on the E Coast that sells/ships them. No internet now, just phone, so can't post a link. There's an eBay seller near Miami, but that ************ tried to screw me on shipping after I bought one. Seems there's another marine store on eBay with them.
 

andytruck

Observer
I am looking at DC fridge models also. I have a Coleman DC cooler, $100 or so. It runs all the time, so will make things very cold on a cold day, or just cool on a hot day (ambient temp).
I run off of two Golf Cart type batteries that are 6 volt run in series to make 12V.
It has about a 150 watt solar panel also.
On a cloudy day with full batteries and only running the cooler (maybe a little water pump) it will go for 24 hours easily, but is loosing voltage and the cooler is slowing. Seems that 2 days on the typical two-battery set-up is about average from what I am seeing. This is what people want to know when they are looking for cooler/refrigerators. How long will it run, is the big question.
With the supplemental solar panel on sunny days I can run 3 days, and if I had another panel I bet I could run indefinitely. The one panel I have seems fine in the sun, but it is at night where it loses the battle and cannot recharge batteries fully and run the cooler at the same time. One step forward, two steps back with the charge - so to say…
My little Coleman cooler is doing the job, but temps have been cool at night mostly, but additional insulation would help.
The cooler can run top open, or upright with side open. I travel with the door on top, and when set up in camper have the door open like your house fridge as I put it on a shelf to save space vs on the floor or table with door on the top.
I do not know about running it any other angle, but I like it over propane only in that I will not ruin it running it out of level. Propane units are so needy when it comes to being level when stationary. By out of level, I mean any tolerable angel that I might park at. I would never park at an extreme angle for camping, like the 30 degrees people mention.
Amp hours. Take the amps the unit uses and divide by the available amp hours of your battery, then divide by 2. Divide by two as you really can't run a battery to zero and have the accessory work right, not like you can when you run a propane tank to zero. When battery gets low there is not enough juice to run your accessory, and running battery past half charged is not a good thing for the battery.
So, maybe a 100 amp hour battery will give you 50 hours for a 1 amp draw, or 25 for a 2 amp draw. Also, this is assuming it runs all the time. For units that only run 50% of the time you can double the time until battery depletion.
So, example, a 5 amp draw on a 100 amp battery would yield 20 hours, but if it runs 10% of the time then you would get 200 hours - then divide by two for 100 hours/ 4 days of runtime before the battery is not providing enough power to run it correctly. I think I did that math right…
Also, batteries will lose voltage on their own over time.
Unless you are just a weekender then supplementing with solar or generator is necessary.
 

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