As I write in my guest essay in the RV Travel Newsletter, one of my projects for 2019 is a study of the number of solar panels and batteries needed to run a residential-style refrigerator in your RV while dry camping, without using a generator. While propane/electric refrigerators have been the norm in RVs for decades, in the last few years it’s become popular for RV manufacturers to install full-size residential refrigerators.
This is great for food storage, but means that you either need outside 120-volt power via a campsite pedestal or generator, or you have to add solar panels and batteries to your RV if you want to live “off the grid” while keeping your residential refrigerator running. My plan is to set up a full solar/battery/refrigerator system and meter it for a month or so while monitoring sunlight and weather conditions. That should give me some real-world data that I can use to predict what’s needed to work for you.
I’ve already spoken to several RV gear manufacturers about this proposed experiment, and they’re very enthusiastic about being part of it and will send me all the products I need. I love a good experiment!
Solar panels with appropriate inverter/chargers are already on their way to my shop. Plus the battery manufacturers are stepping up and sending me a number of Lithium, AGM and standard Lead-Acid cell technologies.
Already promised is an 8-cubic-foot, marine-grade refrigerator from Vitrifrigo with a 12-volt Danfoss swing compressor. This technology is electrically way more efficient than a standard residential 120-volt rotary compressor. Plus this refrigerator is built for the marine industry and designed for vibration, something that might be a problem for a residential refrigerator compressor and copper coolant pipes designed to sit in your non-moving home.
The only thing missing from a full experiment is a standard residential refrigerator similar to what you might already be using in your RV. That’s where you come in. No, I don’t need to borrow your refrigerator – I need to know what brand and model refrigerator is most commonly used in the latest RVs. Then I’ll ask the refrigerator manufacturer to send me a donor unit for the test.
Here’s how you can help. In the comments section below, simply tell me which RV you have and what brand, model and cubic-foot residential refrigerator was installed by the factory. I don’t need info on propane/electric units right now since that’s not part of this particular test. I’ll take if from there and get an appropriate residential refrigerator to complete the experiment.
Thanks for your help. Let the trials begin….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40+ years in the industry. Visit NoShockZone.org for more electrical safety tips. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.