My freezer freezes pretty well all year long. However, my absorption refrigerator has trouble staying below 38 degrees in the hot summer in Arizona. I have installed a computer fan in the outside access, forcing the air upward. Also, I raised the vent cover about 3/4 inch to allow the air to escape better. I have started to investigate putting in an additional domestic refrigerator but have been told that it will not operate very well running through the inverter system in an RV. Dave, any help or advice that you can give me would be appreciated. Thank you. —Gary, 1998 Fleetwood American Dream
If the outside temperature is over 100 degrees, like it can be in Arizona, 38 degrees might be the best you can get! There are several RVers out there that would love to have 38 degrees, considering it is only 6 degrees above freezing. I know most of us like to keep beverages in the refrigerator at 34-36, but it’s best to try to keep it below 40. There are a few things you can try, assuming you might be getting some spikes over 40.
First, the computer fan mounted to the base of the outside vent will not do much good, as you have found, as there is too much obstruction with the burner vessel and tubes of the cooling unit. I would try using the 5” fans mounted to the top part of the evaporator tubes that will help pull the majority of the heat out, as the process starts in the freezer. This does require removing the refrigerator and installing the dual fans on the evaporator coil. However, Valterra makes an aftermarket fan that is installed in the roof vent opening and it has gotten very good reviews on Amazon and etrailer.com. You can find it here.
You can also shade the side of the rig the refrigerator is on with an window awning or even a small tarp or pop-up tent. This will cool the sidewall and cavity down, sometimes as much as 20 degrees! And the cooler you can keep the ambient inside temperature the better, pull down the shades and black out curtain and limit the amount of times opening the door.
If you are plugged in all the time, a residential 120-volt refrigerator is a good option. If it runs through the inverter, most have a pass-through feature that allows the 120 volt to pass directly through the inverter to the refrigerator. The only time the inverter is working is if you are boondocking and using house battery power to invert to 120-volt power. In that case, the residential refrigerator will drain your batteries almost overnight, as not only does the refrigerator draw power, so does the inverter.
12-volt compressor-driven fridge might be better
It would be better to replace it with a 12-volt compressor-driven model like Everchill, Dometic, or Norcold. Mike Sokol did a test and found the residential refrigerator going through an inverter only got 10-12 hours with a 100 AH lithium battery while the Dometic 12-volt model lasted 39 hours!
Again, if you are connected to 120-volt power most of the time, a residential refrigerator is fine and typically a little cheaper. The best option depends on how you are hooked up.
You might also enjoy this from Dave
How can I add an inverter to power my refrigerator on 120-volt while on the road?
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”
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