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New fridge needed. Looking for ideas.

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The Bargee
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Post by exmoorcamper1 Thu Jun 13, 2024 9:20 am

I am looking for a replacement fridge for our old Electrolux RM4230 in our Pollensa. It works fine on 12v and 240v, but the gas operation is pretty much non-existent, despite a good flame at the burner. I've tried a new gas jet, and even the removal and inversion method, which had no effect at all.

There seems to be a very wide choice out there. I like the idea of a compressor fridge, as they are probably more effective. But I would like to hear about others experiences or recommendations. Dometic seem to offer a good range, but I need to narrow things down a little.

The dimensions of the existing unit are 490mm wide x 820mm high.

Any useful info appreciated.

Thanks

Pete.[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.].


Last edited by exmoorcamper1 on Thu Jun 13, 2024 10:06 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Dbvwt Thu Jun 13, 2024 9:23 am

If it was me I’d definitely go compressor if you have solar.
IanH has recently replaced a 3 way with a compressor, I’m sure he will be along soon.
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Post by exmoorcamper1 Thu Jun 13, 2024 10:05 am

Thanks for your reply. 

We don't have solar though.

Pete.
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Post by bikeralw Thu Jun 13, 2024 10:05 am

This seems very strange. The three methods of producing heat in the exchanger all move the same refrigerant around the pipework. If the fridge works on 240v and 12v, the only reason it's not effective on gas is down to a gas fault. Several things to check, is the flame acting in the right place, a slight twist by a few degrees could make a huge difference. Is the regulator clogged making the flame too small. Is the flue partially blocked by insulation.
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Post by exmoorcamper1 Thu Jun 13, 2024 10:10 am

Thanks Al.

I've had the flue apart, and cleaned it all thoroughly. I will check with the flame positioning, though I'm not sure what I'm looking for there. It would be good if it were a fairly simple gas fault. As I say, it works a treat on 12v and 240v.

It may be worth getting it looked at by a technician, before I write it off.

Pete.
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Post by Roopert Thu Jun 13, 2024 11:05 am

As bikeralw says, it's hard to think of a fundamental reason why gas should be ineffective. The typical cause in my experience is that the burner mixer tube (normally a horizontal short length of tube between the jet and the burner) gets part-filled with rust and crud particles and the flame gets smaller and smaller.

If you spend any amount of time off-grid you will find that a compressor fridge uses a lot of 12V power (or more accurately it uses a relatively small power, but almost continuously when it's hot outside). I've been using a Waeco for the last 12 years and it can be a bit of a battle to keep the leisure battery topped up - especially late or early in the season when the sun is low and solar is not as productive as in full summer sun.
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Post by exmoorcamper1 Thu Jun 13, 2024 12:25 pm

Roopert

Thanks for that info. That's interesting about the current draw on the compressor fridges. We're not off-grid often , but I would plan to use it on gas when we are. But maybe they use a lot of gas too. 

I'll have another look at the burner assembly, between the jet and the burner. Although the flame looks to be a decent size, I don't know what it should look like. It can be difficult to  light, and takes a long time to activate the thermocouple. So what you say would make sense.

Thanks

Pete.
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Post by Roopert Thu Jun 13, 2024 1:09 pm

exmoorcamper1 wrote:We're not off-grid often , but I would plan to use it on gas when we are. But maybe they use a lot of gas too. 

Perhaps I misunderstand what you wrote, but as far as I know, nobody makes compressor fridges that run on gas.

Typically the camper-orientated ones are 12V only, though many have an optional 240V -> 12V transformer (which obviously you don't need).
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Post by exmoorcamper1 Thu Jun 13, 2024 7:39 pm

Roopert wrote:

Perhaps I misunderstand what you wrote, but as far as I know, nobody makes compressor fridges that run on gas.

Typically the camper-orientated ones are 12V only, though many have an optional 240V -> 12V transformer (which obviously you don't need).
That is something I didn't know. 

I haven't looked into a replacement in very much depth yet. I thought some recommendations would be a good starting point.

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Post by Avontourist Thu Jun 13, 2024 11:39 pm

As has already mentioned that fridge uses 3 forms of heating to cool , if it works on electric ok then the gas flame is not hot enough , possibly the gas control on the top behind the temp knob .  my one became seized and wouldn't push in and out , removed it and some wd40 got moving again , also cleaned the gas jet and fittings  . You could see the flame through the viewing window but the flame wasn't big enough to cool properly. After a service it was fine .
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Post by IanH Fri Jun 14, 2024 6:48 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]12v DC only. Connected directly to LB.Apart from Mifi and me, best thing ever to come through the door!!
Been on continuous 2 weeks now, incl 24 hrs on a ferry, LB volts never below 12.4. we do have solar as (imho) every motorhome should, but with daily ot every couple days, it'll be fine.

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More or less same useable volume if you ignore the freezer compartment of the original fitted Electrolux
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Post by The Bargee Fri Jun 14, 2024 7:28 am

In my opinion a compressor fridge is undoubtedly the way to go, but you need to have the electricity to run it. My 2019 Kingham, in terms of battery capacity and the ability to charge that battery, was clearly designed to just make it from one EHU to the next. The charge rates from the engine alternator and solar system were negligible. It certainly would not have supported an electric fridge if wild parking for long.

Your van may be different if it was wired traditionally. Mine has the Sargent system which seems designed to work inefficiently. My solution was to upgrade the alternator charging system (cheap and easy to do) and fit a solar system that works, all wired completely independently of the existing system.

That has also allowed me to fit a good 2000 watt 12/230 inverter, which means that when the gas fridge starts to cause any issues it will be replaced by a mains voltage fridge from Curry’s. In my experience (quite extensive on this subject) a good 1000 watt inverter/mains fridge installation will use no more power than a 12 volt compressor fridge. For the same money as a 12 volt compressor fridge you can buy a Curry’s fridge, an inverter, a better split charge system and perhaps even a solar panel, and you then have 230 volts in your van for other things (if you haven’t already, but you do need > 1000 watts to start a mains compressor fridge).
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Post by IanH Fri Jun 14, 2024 11:52 am

We now have 200A capacity split charge relay, 12v planet, so LB gets a share of alternator output when driving.
As soon as engine is running, LB voltage rises to alternator voltage, about 14.5v.

Solar is 130w, LB is simple lead acid 110Ah.

We don't have anything Sargent, as good a reason as any for having an older van, but anyone who has should bypass it wherever possible, especially solar, from solar controller direct to both batteries is best.

This fridge, from Just Kampers was only £299. Now 325 I see.

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Post by Suppersready Fri Jun 14, 2024 3:45 pm

IanH wrote:We now have 200A capacity split charge relay, 12v planet, so LB gets a share of alternator output when driving.
As soon as engine is running, LB voltage rises to alternator voltage, about 14.5v.

Solar is 130w, LB is simple lead acid 110Ah.

We don't have anything Sargent, as good a reason as any for having an older van, but anyone who has should bypass it wherever possible, especially solar, from solar controller direct to both batteries is best.

This fridge, from Just Kampers was only £299. Now 325 I see.

Minimalism and Simplicity!!

Do you know the average power usage of this when down to temperature Ian ?, I understand this will only be an average due to fluctuations in ambient temp, fridge settings etc.

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Post by The Bargee Fri Jun 14, 2024 7:09 pm

Glad to hear the new compressor fridge is working OK Ian!

We don't have anything Sargent, as good a reason as any for having an older van, but anyone who has should bypass it wherever possible


I think I just have the step to separate out from the Sargent (next week hopefully if the new switch arrives and I find time) and then every hab service that I use or need should bypass the Sargent. I am looking forward to gradually pulling the plugs on the EC700, one by one, to see what happens (or doesn't happen!) without it in circuit. Then it might just get removed!
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Post by IanH Fri Jun 14, 2024 9:26 pm

Re average power, clearly zero when at thermostat remote!. They quote, worth reading the data sheet. It's on their website, less than 40 w when running. I'm seeing 3A at 14v so that's spot on.

Really, best read the data sheet on JustKamers site.

Bluntly, zero power issues for us. Now been on 16 days continuous
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Post by Caraman Sat Jun 15, 2024 7:15 am

The Bargee wrote:In my opinion a compressor fridge is undoubtedly the way to go, but you need to have the electricity to run it. My 2019 Kingham, in terms of battery capacity and the ability to charge that battery, was clearly designed to just make it from one EHU to the next. The charge rates from the engine alternator and solar system were negligible. It certainly would not have supported an electric fridge if wild parking for long.

Your van may be different if it was wired traditionally. Mine has the Sargent system which seems designed to work inefficiently. My solution was to upgrade the alternator charging system (cheap and easy to do) and fit a solar system that works, all wired completely independently of the existing system.

That has also allowed me to fit a good 2000 watt 12/230 inverter, which means that when the gas fridge starts to cause any issues it will be replaced by a mains voltage fridge from Curry’s. In my experience (quite extensive on this subject) a good 1000 watt inverter/mains fridge installation will use no more power than a 12 volt compressor fridge. For the same money as a 12 volt compressor fridge you can buy a Curry’s fridge, an inverter, a better split charge system and perhaps even a solar panel, and you then have 230 volts in your van for other things (if you haven’t already, but you do need > 1000 watts to start a mains compressor fridge).
This is really interesting.  Is it fair to say that the above works best if you are a frequent mover?  If you don't move the van for 5 days and when you do move it you only drive it for an hour, would the solar alone be enough and especially in the winter?
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Post by IanH Sat Jun 15, 2024 8:11 am

Easily imho.
Has so far not bothered either my LB or solar. Max solar has had to do is 3A, mine is 130w at 22v so circa 6A, no issues even in winter
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Post by The Bargee Sat Jun 15, 2024 8:13 am

My answer would be that I don't know, yet! We tend to tour around a lot and we now have very efficient battery charging from the engine and from 350 watts of (recently upgraded) solar on the roof, but we never stop in one place for long. On our recent WAW trip we had no battery issues at all. That is with the existing gas fridge, but almost all cooking is by electricity, which is a much bigger load than a compressor fridge would apply. We have 225 ah gross battery capacity (FLA) and that has been fine so far, before and after the solar upgrade, and we have space and vehicle load capacity to double that if necessary, but my thinking at the moment is that the new upgraded solar will be valuable input if we are not travelling.

Inputs from the solar have been surprisingly good even on a very dull day but we have yet to really assess the full benefit or output of the solar system since the batteries always seem to keep well topped up. The history on the app is showing inputs in excess of 1kw on some days in April, and 20 amp + charge rates when the batteries have wanted to take it, and those weren't long bright sunny summer days! The test of course would be to run them well down and then watch what the panels shove in and how long the batteries take to come up, but I haven't felt the need or found time to try that yet. All I know is that it works for us so far (as tourers) and I wouldn't hesitate to change the fridge to compressor type if or when the gas one packs up.

I think it does all come down to how you use your van, and clearly if gas is not used then an alternative prime energy source is needed. If you are a frequent mover with a good alternator charging capacity then I don't foresee any problem. If you prefer to park up for days on end and run short of juice then the answer might be increased battery capacity.


Last edited by The Bargee on Sat Jun 15, 2024 8:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Caraman Sat Jun 15, 2024 8:20 am

IanH wrote:Easily imho.
Has so far not bothered either my LB or solar. Max solar has had to do is 3A, mine is 130w at 22v so circa 6A, no issues even in winter
Thanks Ian but are you a frequent mover and when you do move do you tend to cover big miles?
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Post by The Bargee Sat Jun 15, 2024 9:32 am

With apologies for pre-empting Ian's evidence on the case I would guess that once in the chosen area we might do between 50 and 100 miles per day, ferreting around exploring etc. The first (or only?) hour of driving in the day is the important bit because the alternator will be bulk charging the batteries at probably 60 amps or more for the first 30 or 60 minutes before cutting back to a more sedate rate. The solar then keeps churning away in a slower but more efficient charge routine to top the batteries up to hopefully full. 

The issue with my van was that, as built, the Sargent split charge system and the thread-like wiring, was only allowing single figure amperages to get to the battery, at a restricted, inefficient charging voltage <14 volts.
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Post by Caraman Sun Jun 16, 2024 12:54 pm

Thanks Bargee.  I think you hit the nail on the head in your earlier post when you said "it does all come down to how you use your van ".  I don't think enhanced alternator charging would make that much difference to us as once we get to our pitch, we might not move for 5 days and sometimes longer.  An extra battery would help but it would rob us of valuable storage space and with extra solar panels increase our rear axle mass which is already up to 1900 kg, and that's with empty fresh, grey and black water tanks.  There isn't that much space on the Nuevo's roof for more panels so if I did go for more panels, I think they would be the folding variety, which will further encroach on our storage space.  If we are on a pitch that doesn't have an EHU or we want to minimise its use or there is a power outage or we are "wild parking" for an hour or two between sites (we don't wild camp), we run the fridge on gas which as with the cooking, doesn't take much. I wouldn't want to lose this ability (which we also had with our caravans), especially as we use the van in the winter when there is much less solar.
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Post by IanH Sun Jun 16, 2024 6:17 pm

When I fitted my JustKampers DC only one, van was at home. Switched it on, asked it for 5c having removed the freezer compartment. Put 7l of beers water etc in it and left it alone.
For a week.

No other use of the van. Never started engine. Weather was UK normal, neither wall to wall sun nor full cloud and rain, let's say half/half of those.

We have 130w solar and just one ordinary SLA LB.

We also have the solar connected to both batteries by a Photonic Universe dual battery PWM controller with remote display.

Monitored the system very closely for the whole week, LB never got below 12.4v, always recovered to full during that day, 12.4 or more each early morning.

Now been away 2 weeks, it's never been off we have had more nights non EHU than with. Weather has been largely dire. Absolutely zero problems at all. Thing has worked perfectly, LB never been upset at all.!

To answer Bargee, it does need a lot of ventilation, see there downloadable instructions manual. In my case I have kept the original vents, no winter covers, all seems happy. It's heat exchanger is fantastic cooked so needs good airflow.
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Post by rgermain Mon Jun 17, 2024 12:00 pm

Having always had a standard 3 way fridge, I would not ever consider a compressor fridge.
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Post by Monty-Plym Mon Jun 17, 2024 8:11 pm

rgermain wrote:Having always had a standard 3 way fridge, I would not ever consider a compressor fridge.
Never mind, change for the better is not for everyone, if it works for you stick with it, bet you have a Nokia mobile phone  hugegrins

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