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lostagain View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: dometic refrig while traveling
    Posted: 05 Oct 2018 at 4:54pm
Battery is only easier if you have your TV and trailer wired for it.  The little dinky wires in the bargman plug and cable, and probably your wire in TV are likely not adequate and you'll drain your battery fast.  For those who have planned for battery power for the fridge while driving and have wired correctly for the current demand, it is a great system.  But for those who are trying to run the fridge off the bargman plug, you'll find your taking out more electrons to run your fridge than you're replacing with the TV and when you get to your destination, you'll likely be short on battery power.

As for fueling, for situations where safety requires that the propane be turned off, there is no point in running on battery for those few minutes (and it also has spark potential in the switches).  The fridge is well enough insulated that it will hold it's cold temp for way more time that it takes to refuel.  And if the flame from the fridge is a fire danger, so is the ignition switch and other electric components in the TV that can also provide an ignition spark for fuel vapor.  And they're a lot closer to the vapor source than the fridge flame.  i don't think any common TV's are manufactured to mine safety spark specifications, but I've been wrong before.
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mcarter View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2018 at 5:03pm
Lostagain,

We agree. For those of us that have planned and an have adequate battery systems, we don't have a discharge issue. It is a great system and a statement of planning and being prepared. For those of you that didn't or haven't propane on.
Mike Carter
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lostagain View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2018 at 6:34pm
mcarter, were you a boy scout?  Wink

Sparks that can ignite vapor while fueling can come from pretty much anywhere, including the TV, a cell phone, the switch supplying energy to the electric heating element of the fridge, or just good old static electricity.  Given the very few explosions around gas pumps, these events are statistically insignificant [I found no reports of such explosions on Google, and if it ain't in Google it doesn't exist].  The same is true with explosions around gas pumps due to a  travel trailer fridge running on propane.  They just don't happen often enough to be an issue of real concern.  If someone has spilt a bunch of gasoline in the pump area, you are in as great a danger of a fire just driving in as you are with your fridge running as you pull to the pump.  Moral of the story, if you see spilled gas, don't drive near it, with or without a trailer.

The question is not one of safety but what kind of hydrocarbon you want to burn to power your refrigerator.  No one has discussed how much energy it takes to generate the electricity from your TV and send it down copper wires to heat a heating element in the refrigerator.  Do you use more energy burning the propane than gasoline to turn the alternator of your TV?  

My intuition tells me that burning gas to turn the flywheel of an internal combustion engine, which in turn drives a pulley belt, which in turn has to spin the bearings in the alternator, then sending those excited electrons down the copper wire with what ever ohms of resistance, depending on wire size, is likely to be less efficient.  But if we really want to fully understand the energy consumption, we have to go back to when the petroleum upon which the propane and gasoline were based.  What energy was expended to pump and refine them?  Which used less energy getting to the point of distribution.  Does the gas have ethanol, which has a negative energy balance [that is it takes more energy to produce it that it yields]?  How much extra energy did you consume going to Tractor Supply to buy the propane?  How many calories did it take to pressurize the propane in your tank and pump it from the mother tank?  

The point is there is no right or wrong answer because we don't know all the variables that go into producing a watt of energy for the fridge.  Advanced  planning to use electricity is not an issue of being prepared and using the most efficient system, it's a matter of being well prepared to send the electrons scurrying from your alternator to the fridge without burning up the wiring on your vehicles.  Using propane isn't any better because it, too, can present unplanned ignition and combustion issues.

For me, I don't want to spend the money on a heavy duty electric system for my little old Dodge Dakota with a stock alternator.  There is no discernible benefit in the cost/benefit analysis.  On the other hand, if I had a $65K Dodge diesel that came with an alternator big enough to light up Las Vegas, and 6 awg wire to a convenient plug in the back of the truck and my pod was wired with similar wire from the battery to plug into the truck wire, I'd probably use it, notwithstanding the ultimate energy use calculation.  [edit. - I forgot to mention my dream truck would have a 15 amp AC plug, so I could run the refer on AC and not worry about 6 awg. wire.]

So to everyone, use what you have, enjoy it and don't look down on the other guy who likes to do something different.  At the end of the day [an over used cliché], we all want a cold refrigerator so the beer doesn't get warm.
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OldNeumanntapr View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2018 at 8:03pm
Did somebody say cold beer? That’s all I heard. ;)

TIC

Very well written and thought provoking.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2018 at 8:13pm
lostagain,

Absolutely was. Love your closing argument.
Mike Carter
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Oct 2018 at 9:50am
Here is the follow up to the post from Friday.  When I reset the flame on the fridge it never went out again, so no worries there.  However, I think the battery monitor on the R-Pod is worthless.  When I was plugged into the house, I had full battery.  The moment I unplugged, it dropped to 2/3 full.  I drove for 1 hour and it remained there.  I parked for 4 hours, running the fridge on propane the entire time.  I drove for another hour, got to my destination, the flame was still lit, and the battery was still 2/3 full.

I boondocked for Friday thru Sunday.  Running the bathroom fan on low the entire time for airflow in the camper, and minimal lighting (was worried about the battery with the fan running full time) when I packed up on Sunday, I was still at 2/3 full.  Drove home for 2 hours and still 2/3 full

Looks like a new battery monitor is in order, but the fridge works flawlessly on Propane, while driving, and boondocking.


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CharlieM View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Oct 2018 at 11:37am
Look carefully and you'll see the fourth light does not mean fully charged. It indicates the battery is being charged. Shortly after disconnecting shore power the fourth light will extinguish. That said, the whole four light panel is still worthless. A safe interpretation of the four battery lights is:

Four lights - Battery is being charged and converter is working.
Three lights - Battery is present in some reasonable condition.
Two lights - Battery might be present but condition is unknown.
One light - You left the battery at home.

The tank level indicators are also worthless. Install a SeeLevel monitor system and a digital voltmeter wired directly to the battery. Camp on.
Charlie
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Oct 2018 at 12:43pm
Here we go again, one of our favorite topics...
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Oct 2018 at 1:16pm
Charlie is right. The indicator is not much more than a dashboard idiot light. If it shows full (all 4 lights on), you are most likely plugged in with the converter in one of its charge modes. If when you unplug the shore power and you still have 4 lights, you are most likely fully charged.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Oct 2018 at 1:55pm
Originally posted by CharlieM

Look carefully and you'll see the fourth light does not mean fully charged. It indicates the battery is being charged. Shortly after disconnecting shore power the fourth light will extinguish. That said, the whole four light panel is still worthless. A safe interpretation of the four battery lights is:
Four lights - Battery is being charged and converter is working.
Three lights - Battery is present in some reasonable condition.
Two lights - Battery might be present but condition is unknown.
One light - You left the battery at home.
The tank level indicators are also worthless. Install a SeeLevel monitor system and a digital voltmeter wired directly to the battery. Camp on.



Not quite, but I appreciate the humor. If the battery wasn't there then there would be no LEDs because you need some voltage to run the LEDs. The top LED is probably the only useful one on that panel because it shows the state of the converter. You're much better off with a gauge that shows voltage to determine the battery charge state.
Alan
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