Question to fridge owners - Do you leave it “running” in cold ambient temps?

grogie

Like to Camp
I don't tend to winter camp, but I had several days last fall of below freezing nights, and I just left the fridge running and I didn't see any battery drain. It was funny to open the fridge one morning when it was 23 degrees out, and fortunatley the half and half for coffee wasn't frozen.
 

jacobconroy

Adventurer
I'm no expert, but I've had a National Luna fridge running for two years (nonstop). Mostly in the house as a beer cooler. It does have a freezer, but my understanding is that the "freezer" is simply kept 20º F lower than the regular storage area by directing more freon towards the freezer portion. The temp is determined by the "fridge" part...not the "freezer" part.

In short, I simply plug my fridge into 12V when I leave and I move to the house (on 120V) when I return. Always on. I've read that there is an esoteric situation where the fridge temp can drop below your set level (and the fridge turns off) which leads to the freezer getting warmer (because there is no call to cool from the internal thermostat). This can theoretically lead to a situation where you fridge in not running and your freezer is no longer freezing.

I live in Montana and have yet to find that my frozen stuff is...well...no longer frozen. I wouldn't worry about it dude. Set your fridge temp, plug it into your rig, and go camping!

If your fridge doesn't have a freezer, then just plug it in and run it forever. If it doesn't need power, then it won't use any.
 

67cj5

Observer
I'm no expert, but I've had a National Luna fridge running for two years (nonstop). Mostly in the house as a beer cooler. It does have a freezer, but my understanding is that the "freezer" is simply kept 20º F lower than the regular storage area by directing more freon towards the freezer portion. The temp is determined by the "fridge" part...not the "freezer" part.

In short, I simply plug my fridge into 12V when I leave and I move to the house (on 120V) when I return. Always on. I've read that there is an esoteric situation where the fridge temp can drop below your set level (and the fridge turns off) which leads to the freezer getting warmer (because there is no call to cool from the internal thermostat). This can theoretically lead to a situation where you fridge in not running and your freezer is no longer freezing.

I live in Montana and have yet to find that my frozen stuff is...well...no longer frozen. I wouldn't worry about it dude. Set your fridge temp, plug it into your rig, and go camping!

If your fridge doesn't have a freezer, then just plug it in and run it forever. If it doesn't need power, then it won't use any.
Montana, Never been there but from pictures and movies It has to be one of the most spectacular places on the planet,

In Montana you have massive temperature variations from mega freezing with Huge amounts of Snow to very hot summers, that would be a good place to test out any fridge.
 

pugslyyy

Robinson Fuso
We live 35 miles from the nearest grocery store, so we use the fridge a lot - especially in the summer. I leave mine always powered up. One of the big Dometic dual compartment ones.

I solved the problem of battery depletion by plugging the van into a battery maintainer when parked at the house. I have the UJOR bumper with a DC quick connect on it, and just plug it in using that. Makes it super easy and I know that the fridge is always ready to go.

I had an Engel for years and always kept it running 24/7 as well. When I wasn't using it in a vehicle it pulled duty as a drinks fridge in the garage.
 

Winterpeg

Member
Please explain
If the garage is too cold the fridge is unreliable (ice in the freezer melts, etc). In some cases turning the temp to the coldest setting helps, but not reliably enough to trust putting food in the freezer.
The only solution is to keep the garage warmer for the fridge to act more reliably.

(FYI.... the fridge runs just fine in the summer)

ARB fridge:
On a long trip I used my ARB.
It was winter.
Things melted in the ARB even though it was set below freezing.

The fridges appear to be influenced and "tricked" into thinking it's colder inside the fridge than it actually is due to ambient outside temps.
 

67cj5

Observer
If the garage is too cold the fridge is unreliable (ice in the freezer melts, etc). In some cases turning the temp to the coldest setting helps, but not reliably enough to trust putting food in the freezer.
The only solution is to keep the garage warmer for the fridge to act more reliably.

(FYI.... the fridge runs just fine in the summer)

ARB fridge:
On a long trip I used my ARB.
It was winter.
Things melted in the ARB even though it was set below freezing.

The fridges appear to be influenced and "tricked" into thinking it's colder inside the fridge than it actually is due to ambient outside temps.
Yep that's right which why most fridge/freezer manuals tell you not to use them in Temps of 10*c and below as a Base line figure but they will work in a bit cooler temps but there is a fine line between working and not working, Yes they will work but they start to thaw if the thermistor is telling the fridge it is cold when it is not.
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
kinda makes sense for Combi units, you have one compressor and thermo switch.. its just using insulation to keep a freezer side and a fridge side.. if its hardly cycling pump then freezer side has a chance to warm up to fridge temps with such a low duty cycle.

however if its just a singular unit fridge OR freezer, these conditions dont exist.
 

67cj5

Observer
kinda makes sense for Combi units, you have one compressor and thermo switch.. its just using insulation to keep a freezer side and a fridge side.. if its hardly cycling pump then freezer side has a chance to warm up to fridge temps with such a low duty cycle.

however if its just a singular unit fridge OR freezer, these conditions dont exist.
It effects all fridges or freezers and fridge freezers Both Off Road Fridges and Domestic, The Cold Tricks the Thermistor/Sensor in to thinking it is Cold because it is in the Base of the Unit and the fridge or freezer respond to what the Thermistor/Sensor is saying.
 

jacobconroy

Adventurer
We live 35 miles from the nearest grocery store, so we use the fridge a lot - especially in the summer. I leave mine always powered up. One of the big Dometic dual compartment ones.

I solved the problem of battery depletion by plugging the van into a battery maintainer when parked at the house. I have the UJOR bumper with a DC quick connect on it, and just plug it in using that. Makes it super easy and I know that the fridge is always ready to go.

I had an Engel for years and always kept it running 24/7 as well. When I wasn't using it in a vehicle it pulled duty as a drinks fridge in the garage.
I'm going to try the same thing this year by leaving the fridge in the rig full-time. I know from last year that my fridge will run for at least 30 hours before draining the coach battery to 12.2, so all I should need to do is plug into shore power at night when at home (permanently installed NOCO). Probably going to pull the trigger and install a second monster battery, then I should be good for several days no matter what. It's a crap-load of money to spend for the convenience of having cold water with you all the time.
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
Cold water perhaps, but seasoned with hops!

I ditched the cooler because I was sick of throwing out food, from border crossings where they opened up food and threw it back in the water to coming back from a few days of backpacking to a bear locker full of room temp meat.. that and constantly heading to town for ice when your trying to get as far away from towns as possible.. yeah its costly, but its reassuring when your packing alot of expensive groceries before leaving home for a few weeks or more.. having said that I left home once with a bad battery and that was near catastrophe, so now I dry run in the days before departure to avoid that.

It is a hassle, weighs a ton and is costly.. so its quite the luxury if you find a cooler is adequate.
 

jacobconroy

Adventurer
Cold water perhaps, but seasoned with hops!

I ditched the cooler because I was sick of throwing out food, from border crossings where they opened up food and threw it back in the water to coming back from a few days of backpacking to a bear locker full of room temp meat.. that and constantly heading to town for ice when your trying to get as far away from towns as possible.. yeah its costly, but its reassuring when your packing alot of expensive groceries before leaving home for a few weeks or more.. having said that I left home once with a bad battery and that was near catastrophe, so now I dry run in the days before departure to avoid that.

It is a hassle, weighs a ton and is costly.. so its quite the luxury if you find a cooler is adequate.
Shush! The hops are top secret!

Everything you said is true. I committed to the fridge for several of the same reasons; avoiding the grocery store in search of ice, monitoring ice during camp, tossing wet food, eating nearly-cold cheese, etc. Sometimes I forget how wasteful it was when using a cooler. A fridge lets you raid the fridge at home when preparing for a trip and put the unused stuff back when you return.

To be fair though, these days I monitor battery voltage instead of ice.
 

grogie

Like to Camp
Shush! The hops are top secret!

Everything you said is true. I committed to the fridge for several of the same reasons; avoiding the grocery store in search of ice, monitoring ice during camp, tossing wet food, eating nearly-cold cheese, etc. Sometimes I forget how wasteful it was when using a cooler. A fridge lets you raid the fridge at home when preparing for a trip and put the unused stuff back when you return.

To be fair though, these days I monitor battery voltage instead of ice.
Haha! And everything you said is true too, including that you can actually put unsided stuff back in the home fridge. I have my longest trip yet with my fridge with going to Expo West next month. It will be just over 4,000 miles over 16 days. Previous trips of that distance were always with ice coolers...
 

67cj5

Observer
Haha! And everything you said is true too, including that you can actually put unsided stuff back in the home fridge. I have my longest trip yet with my fridge with going to Expo West next month. It will be just over 4,000 miles over 16 days. Previous trips of that distance were always with ice coolers...
That's one serious Road Test, lol
 
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