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Compressor fridges, solar panels etc.

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    Compressor fridges, solar panels etc.

    Lot of talk recently re compressor fridges. I have an R20 with traditional 3-way Dometic gas fridge. I want to run without EHU more often and although the fridge is fine on gas it is a pain and less efficient, I believe, than a compressor fridge. But then again, I know nothing about compressor fridges.

    What model compressor fridges are folks installing are or being installed in new vans? I assume something like a 100-120W solar panel would be adequate to keep the leisure battery topped up well enough to run a compressor fridge for a week or so? What are the costs of fridge, installation/replacement of a traditional 3-way gas fridge? Anyone installed a large 100W+ solar panel on a Romahome R20? Not sure I'd be happy managing the cable routing. Any thoughts on where I might get such work done and at what sort of cost?

    Before anyone mentions it - yes, I'm aware this is possibly not the wisest financial investment but it would maximise the flexibility of use of the van and mean that we would never need EHU. No EHU and just using LPG for cooking means a couple of months easily wilding or using cheap campsites - showers are still a problem but there's swimming pools etc.

    Ideas, thoughts, recommendations welcomed.

    Originally posted by BrianTheSnail View Post
    showers are still a problem but there's swimming pools etc.
    I know nowt about compressor fridges, but the only one I've seen is quite large and boxy... which doesn't really help you Brian! In my caravan, I would have to find a bigger space than where the 3 way fridge resides to site it inside. I know they can run on gas, but If there isn't a few air holes then to run them on gas/lpg, you would need to run them outside in the awning, if you have one, and have an outdoor gas feed. here's my answer to that one:

    It's only small, nothing like a 'real' shower, but better than a wash down. I use mine in the loo tent or awning, using a plastic drawer to stand in. Mine's packed and ready to go!!


      jayjay Thanks - our problem is that we tend to go on loooong trips in the R20, a couple of months or so. As such space is limited and carrying even something as small as that Hoselock shower and a small tray to stand in would be a pain as they are bulky items which won't easily stow in the R20's lockers. We do carry the smallest Outhouse tent for clothes drying so could use it as a shower cubicle (or even shower outside in swimming cozies), a black plastic bag camping shower takes less space. Would still like a small tray to collect the water to dispose of sensibly though.

      Yeah, for fridges that was my question really jayjay - do they make ones that would be a direct replacement for my Dometic? I suspect if they do they are 'orribly expensive. Just trying to assess whether we could be almost totally self-sufficient in the van for trips - EHU is very expensive just to run the fridge - apart from charging phones etc. we have no other use for electricity - no TV or anything. LPG is OK but needs managing, service stations need finding and a 2.7Kg Gaslow bottle probably lasts less than a week when running the fridge.

      Still fancy a solar panel on the R20 though - we could take ham radio stuff.


        I take everything out of the bottom tray in my plastic chest of drawers and pull that out to stand in ... with a small towel in the bottom so I don't slip. If you have a plastic drawer or storage container (or even a standard size washing up bowl? you could do the same. Although the shower I mentioned is small, it's still quite large to find a space for though. How about a bowl of water and a jug!! Water - soap on, water, soap off. I often wonder if that is the easiest way!


          The guy who's converting my van swears that the Vitrifrigo compressor fridges are the best - it's going to be the 50L version so I think reasonably small and there will be a solar panel - hopefully good enough to run without EHU for several days - won't know until I get it!

          For a shower my best idea so far is something like these 2 items:

          12v pumped shower from bucket:

 ;referer_id=537135&ach=0c124&achsqrt=164f3 &gclid=EAIaIQobChMImu6D8vvw2wIVE5kbCh3CQQ-kEAQYASABEgJVO_D_BwE

          Foldable dog bath:

          Depends how foldable and how much I really want a shower!


            The first thing I do every time I get a new camper is to fit a 100W solar panel and a second leisure battery. I never use EHU, it's a waste of money. With a Gaslow or similar there is no need to change your fridge. Personally I wouldn't bother. If your gas fridge isn't working properly it is faulty so get it serviced. (Unless it has lost its gas it should work just fine and make ice). Fitting a solar panel is easy, and for a tech savvy guy such as Brain it will be a doddle. I'm sure you know how to join two wires to two plugs and sockets. Get a kit from someone like this
            You won't need EHU ever again and gas (specially refillable gas) is a lot cheaper than the expense of changing your fridge even if you can find a compressor fridge that fits. Check if they make a 'compressor' noise in the night, I seem to remember someone saying it kept them awake.
            The king knows all that they intend by interception which they dream not of.


              My duo came with a Waeco compressor fridge fitted into the same space as the more common 3ways. I think sizes are fairly standardised so a straight swap should be possible.
              Internet chatter seems to say that they will run happily on solar although I haven't tried that yet.
              Although the external size is the same there is more space inside and a decent ice box.
              The compressor isn't totally silent but near enough and not sufficient to wake me up.
              Last edited by jondxxx; 26-06-2018, 12:02.
              Sesquipedalianism:-The overusage of long words.


                I use a Waeco CDF 18 coolbox in place of my gas fridge, but can also be run as a freezer reaching -18°C. It's still installed but not economic to run and there can be difficulties in obtaining the 3.9kg propane gas bottles in some areas. Also, whenever there's a shortage, it always seems to be these bottles affected. Running at 2°C in an ambient temperature of about 16°C, it uses about 8Ah per 24h so easily runs from my 5 year old ailing 125Ah battery but after about 3 days it start to lag. I've placed mine on a foam 'sit mat' to minimise any vibration and noise and place some clothing over it at night. I hear it switch on once or twice and run for about 8-10 minutes on each burst but it's not loud enough to be annoying - and I am a very light sleeper.

                My husband has a Waeco compressor fridge with full-width freezer compartment which can freeze to -26°C - far better than my gas fridge ever managed with its measly ice-box. It is powered by 2 x 40W solar panels which generate about 4-5Ah in bright sunny weather and about 0.5Ah in cloud. The van is currently in Scandinavia so I'm not sure how it's faring in the current heatwave and bright sun - I'll ask. Without driving, the fridge will run at 1°C and freezer at -18°C (or lower) with a 125Ah battery for about 3 days before a boost is needed via driving or EHU.


                  A couple of photos. I think this is a 60litre version but the model no is missing. waeco2.jpgwaeco1.jpg ​​​​​​
                  Sesquipedalianism:-The overusage of long words.


                    I'm toying with the idea of a 12V shower (Ebay £12.99), runs off the car cigarette lighter. plug in, stick the pump in a bucket of prepared water (we carry the bucket anyway), step into the tray and off we go. Not sure how easy it will be to bail it out and it may well not survive hardstanding, certainly not without something underneath it

                    We already have a folding shower tray, which I think I've shown before.

                    IMG_1388.JPG This is it FOLDED. IMG_1392.JPG This is it with corners popped together.

                    I bought this as it is but should be easy to make for any handy person


                      Hi Brian, I have had ours for over 3 year now it is an IndelB cruise 42, which is much the same as the small 40 litre Waco I think both use the same Danfoss compressor.
                      Physically it is slightly smaller than the 3 way Electrolux fitted as standard in most vans. Easy to fit - just block-up the vents - not needed - just inside the van air in from below about a 2 inch gap and out somewhere behind - the winter bonus is this is slightly heated so raises the ambient tyemperature.

                      On the pods roof we have a solar panel - I used 2 full length pieces of 40mm ally angle if you look at this thread you will find a picture of the solar panel
                      It is a 100 watt and I have a 110 amphour leisure battery. I just took a look in the sunshine - we have been about 24 miles today and as always the fridge is running it is showing 14.2v at the battery - when the fridge is empty I stick a couple of cool box blocks in the icebox to give it something to grip on.
                      My charge controller is a cheapo £14 on Ebay effort - the panel from Ebay was also cheap - we do not have any facility for EHU and do not think it is a drawback.



                        I also swear by vitrifrigo fridges. I fitted a 50 litre in my first doblo and ehen i changed to the black extended the cabinet downwards as it was no longer ovef a eherl arch and only had a hob not a sink over so more height was available. It is now 75 litre guess. I have 160 watt of solar in italy at the moment the fridge uses about 1 amp the panels on clear sky give about 8 amp. We usdd to have the fridge off when we slept because the duvet might have choked the air supply to the fan and my wife thought it might keep her awake, but the fan is now routed away and she does not notice the fan noise enough to be a problem. With ice cubes in the ice box it used to stay cold all night when off. I have switched it off at night to defrost it since and found it still frozen in the morning mind you we were at 2000 m.
                        we never go to camp sites. We do drive most days though even if only a short way. Our ring b2b charges at up to 30 amp whilst we are driving, so even half an hour puts enough to replace the fridge electric use on and off on the thermostat for 24 hour. Our only other electric use is led lights, charging phones and tablets, and the fan of the propex. We have a 300 watt inverter to charge a bluetooth speaker and run a 150 watt wand blender. By far the largest use is the fridge. The vitrifrigo cost 600 pounds, the 100 watt panel on the blue doblo was about 100 pounds 5 year ago from memory but 2 x 80 also from photonic universe were more like 300 pounds . I installed everything myself and you can see how on my doblo threads. We go away for 4 to 6 months per year so being independant is cost effective to us.
                        you can check the size of a 50 litre vitrifrigo but it is about 370 deep, 600 high 390 wide originally with a cutout at the back for the compressor. I used that for the wheel arch and moved the compressor to the side. It is now high behind the back over a higher wheel arch.
                        i am surprised how little heat the vitrifrigo puts out. It does not need ducting outside even in hot summers. However as you have duct holes all over for your 3 way you could duct outside if hot .
                        we have a propex heater. i plan to use the fan only option to pull cool air in from under the car for cooling in southern summers.
                        we just flannel wash in front of the sink but i want to install a drained wet floor in that part of the corridor.
                        we will be getting 14 litre of water from a high stream with road access tomorrow we spotted it on our walk today. Mostly we find taps or springs.


                          On the heating side we have invested in a Chinese copy of an Eberspacher diesel heater - amazingly cheap - £160 for a full kit including the fuel tank - the recomendation from the FaceBook users group is to use heating oil (Kerosene) instead of diesel. Ultimately I want the pod be 4 seasons and off-grid.
                          We have installed a 30 litre water tank and Shureflo pump - ironically because I have IBS and can easily upset my stomach we have to be careful with water, so always use bottled water from the supermarket - the cheapest about 10p per litre.
                          Regretably no room for a refillable gas tank


                            I will just add our new leisure battery is agm (which can be more deeply discharged) but only 85 amp hours. Our previous 110 ah wet lead acid was never deeply discharged except once when charging failed and i did not notice. Then the fridge cuts out when volts fall to 11.? To preserve the battery. This is down to us moving almost daily and having solar that balances the fridge use. You must have more batteries if you are less regular.


                              I know compressor fridges are very expensive but I understand that over recent years they have become more efficient and don't need a lot of power - although how much not a lot is I have no idea.

                              Personally, having just spent a lot of money on a refillable gas system as you have, I'd be looking to make the most of that with the existing fridge!

                              In my van, a 3.9KG propane will last 15 nights - that's being used 24/7 over weekend trips of 2/3/4 nights. I've never had a problem (as Karen has) getting refills of that size. However, that's irrelevant. When I was in France last year I used a Campingaz 907 which I believe is equivalent to your refillable one, Brian. It lasted 10 nights, of which 5 were on one site - so fridge running on gas 24/7. I'm guesssing I would have got at least one more night if I'd been on the move and switching to 12v every day - so I'm surprised that yours lasts less than a week, although I realise it has to be filled up before it's completely empty.

                              Showers - the 12v one that Gregor links to looks the biz. I was going to buy a similar one a few years ago but never got round to it. I just look for motorway services, swimming baths etc or book on to a site.

                              I do have a 150 watt solar panel on my van's roof - but I got that put on to support the battery for off grid use in winter when I need the heating on and it requires leccy to run the fan.

                              P.S. I really don't understand "shower outside in swimming cozies" - I've seen that suggested elsewhere but the whole point of a shower is to wash the bits that need it most - and they will be covered up by the costume, surely?


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