Using Fridge/Freezer Without Dual Battery

jgpoirier

Adventurer
I am new to the fridge/freezer world and have an opportunity to purchase a 50L for a very reasonable price, due to a local business closing. I am anticipating running a dual battery setup next year as this year I have already dumped a ton of money into the Tacoma (at least my version of a lot of money).

This particular fridge has an approximated usage of 0.7 a-h and also has selectable low voltage protection.

Now I don't expect that it will run that low much of the time, but our night's here don't usually stay warm. Mostly I'm wondering if I'm asking for problems running this overnight on my trucks battery and should be looking to do a dual battery asap? Or seeing as it has the low voltage protection that I shouldn't worry too much. Of course battery size needs to be factored. But curious to hear thoughts.

Cheers
 

nmatcek

Adventurer
I have an Indel B fridge in my vehicle. I am using a single battery setup with an optima yellow top. My last trip I left the fridge on medium voltage protection. Had the fridge set to 36F with daytime high of 84F and the fridge partially in sunlight for several hours. Had the truck parked for 24hrs and when I went to start it, it cranked without any fuss or hesitation.
Edit: I've had the fridge on several previous trips without any problems cranking however this most recent trip was the longest time without the truck running so far. Typically the engine is off for 10 hours or so without a problem. I suggest using a battery with a good reserve capacity.

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wreckdiver1321

Overlander
I run my Indel-B on a single battery. I was running a cheap battery until recently, when I upgraded to an Odyssey. I did many overnights with the fridge on the lower end battery, and I was able to run it for about 12 hours (voltage cutoff set on high) without cranking problems. I imagine the Odyssey will extend that significantly, and I have absolutely no plans to go to a dual battery system. I will run the Odyssey and carry my Noco lithium jump starter just in case, but I don't think it will be a problem.

If you're not driving the truck while you're camping, I'd start it and run it for 5-10 minutes every 12 hours or so. If you want to make it even easier, find a decent solar panel that will counteract the draw from the fridge. In fact, it doesn't even have to completely reverse the draw, just slow it down. Either way, you're extending your run time.

I say pick up a good AGM battery, and a solar panel if you're doing a lot of sitting.
 

nmatcek

Adventurer
Also, (note I'm not an electrical engineer or electrician) it probably helps to run heavy gauge wire from your battery to your fridge connection. It is my understanding that will reduce resistance and help with efficiency.

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1Louder

Explorer
Single battery is fine as long as it is a deep cycle and not just a starting battery. Get a jump box like the Anti-Gravity models or similar in case you do kill your battery. Problem solved. Back it up with a 100 watt solar panel when you can afford one and don't worry about a dual battery setup unless you have a winch. Option 2 get an ArkPak or similar device and run the fridge off of that. That's what I do when camped for days and no moving. However, I am sure my vehicle battery with solar can handle the task.
 

Chris Boyd

Explorer
1Louder hit the high points. I also ran a single battery, but beware using the factory wiring on a cig port in the rear of the truck. The limited gauge will lead to the fridge working a bit harder therefore draining at a higher rate. In the land cruisers there is a rear power port, but many have run into trouble using fridges on that circuit.
 

tarditi

Explorer
I can run 1.5-2 days on battery only with my ARB50 from the regular 12v outlet in the summer (starting and running periodically).
Currently (no pun intended), I only have the regular battery, but plan to switch to a deep cycle in the future sometime; there are simply other priorities right now.

This year, I'll be adding the ARB outlet, which reduces voltage drop and increases the efficiency of the circuit a bit. I also purchased a jump pack, which can be topped off in a number of ways.
 

bluejeep

just a guy
If you're not driving the truck while you're camping, I'd start it and run it for 5-10 minutes every 12 hours or so
I've always heard that you need quite a bit more than idle, and 5 - 10 minutes, to make any difference. Need to get that charging system spinning fast and for awhile in order to supply any sort of re-charge to the battery.
Like, make a highway run for 30 minutes
 

comptiger5000

Adventurer
I've always heard that you need quite a bit more than idle, and 5 - 10 minutes, to make any difference. Need to get that charging system spinning fast and for awhile in order to supply any sort of re-charge to the battery.
Like, make a highway run for 30 minutes
How much above idle (if any) is needed to get reasonable output will vary from vehicle to vehicle. You're very right about 5 - 10 minutes not being enough. Depending on the battery in question, alternator output and how drained the battery is, even 30 minutes might not be enough to get the battery back to 80 - 90%. It could take an hour or more in some cases. And to get to full charge, it would need to be running for several hours.

In other words, planning to use your alternator as a battery charger if you're going to be stationary for long periods is not a good idea. That's when it's time for solar, or a small generator you can run a few hours a day.

If you're going to be driving every day and only sitting overnight, then provided the battery is big enough to run the fridge for 12 hours and still crank the engine, you should be good to go.
 

1Louder

Explorer
I've always heard that you need quite a bit more than idle, and 5 - 10 minutes, to make any difference. Need to get that charging system spinning fast and for awhile in order to supply any sort of re-charge to the battery.
Like, make a highway run for 30 minutes
You are correct. Someone else can put up some #'s. Save your gas, and the environment and get a solar panel for $100.00. Deep cycle batteries like long slow charges.
 

1Louder

Explorer
1Louder hit the high points. I also ran a single battery, but beware using the factory wiring on a cig port in the rear of the truck. The limited gauge will lead to the fridge working a bit harder therefore draining at a higher rate. In the land cruisers there is a rear power port, but many have run into trouble using fridges on that circuit.
Yep good wiring is a must. Cheap wiring "works" but you will run into issues. The ARB wiring kit is not expensive and makes it really easy to set something up. DIY isn't that much cheaper but also can be done.

I will also add that I used to have a dual battery setup with the National Luna controller. Some battery related issues let me to yanking the entire system out. In the end you still need a way to charge your battery(s) back up. A solar panel of at least 60 watts and preferably a lot more is the way to go. My Anti-gravity jump box is my backup plan.

As mentioned I also have an ArkPak (it gets used outside of my vehicle and for things other than camping) but I only take this when I know I am going to be stationary for days and I don't want to tax my main battery. When it is in my vehicle my fridge is connected to it and it gets charged back up while driving.

For the cost of a good dual battery setup you can pay for the jumpbox, a bigger deep cycle battery, and a nice solar panel and still have plenty of money in your wallet. Just check to make sure your jumpbox is charged on day 1 of each trip. My XP-3 works great and was around $70.00
 
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xplrn42

Adventurer
Agreed, no need for a dual set up. I run a Die-Hard 31m and have run my fridge for 5 days, then left the dome light on all night and the truck started the next morning. Get the best battery you can.
And a jump starter.

Alternators are trickle charges at best.
 

Scoutn79

Adventurer
Here's my take on this.
It all is going to depend on what size battery and what size motor you have. A big battery will last longer and a small engine will take much less juice to start it, If you have fuel injected engine you also have to run the fuel pump and ECM during starting.
Get an inexpensive voltmeter so you can keep an eye on your battery condition, I like the digital ones, they are more accurate than the dial type.
Unless you are running an alternator of 1970's or older design idle rpm will put out plenty amps to recharge your battery. Just remember when recharging your battery after it has been running the fridge you have to put the amps used during starting back in also.
Modern cars with all of the electronics have alternators much more efficient at idle than the old days. Take your truck to an auto parts store and they can test your alternator and tell you exactly how many amps your put out, both max and at idle.
My GM CS144 alternator has been tested to put out over 45 amps at idle. Not many batteries will take that many amps for more than a few minutes. No reason to rev your engine or go down the highway. Start it and let it idle for 30 minutes or so and you should be able to get 85% or better back into your battery, the last few amps will take a long time idling and are not worth the fuel. As a battery recharges it will accept less and less amps.
A jump pack of some sort, or another vehicle, is a great safety net.
Solar is nice but can take up a lot of space, I have a 40W and it keeps up with my fridge just fine.
Use a voltmeter, or low volt shut off to keep your battery from being killed.
The low volt idea is great but hopefully you'll realize the fridge has been shut off before your food starts going bad.
Lots of options, you just need to figure out what will work for you, how much you want to babysit a system and how much you are willing to spend.
When you get your fridge measure the amps it uses and then get an idea, under real world conditions, how long it runs per hour. IE my Engel 45 uses 2.25A running and runs about 20 minutes per hour, I figure 1 amp/hr on average so 24 amps per day so I can easily run two days before I get near a 50% depletion of the battery...Don't forget to allow for other uses from your battery, lights, stereo, curling iron for the wife etc.

Darrell
 

jgpoirier

Adventurer
WOW! Thanks for the input gentlemen.

I am an electrician and know building wiring in and out. But electrical in vehicles for some reason throws me for a loop sometimes. Especially as I have no experiences with 12V fridges. I think the route I will go will involve retaining the factory battery, and purchase a solar panel mat.

Great to see so much experience and insight on this forum. Again much appreciated!
 

dstock

Explorer
One other thing to consider...ambient temperatures. If it's in the 90's or worse, there is no way a single battery is going to keep up for 5 days with no re-charging.
 
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