Compressor Fridge and Solar Power

scotjimland

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Considering this option with the new van..

As an example.. What size solar panel with a Waeco CR 80 compressor fridge. I'm think minimum 100 watt, probably more..
Waeco Fridge Unit approx 48 watts consumption. 1.8Ah/h @ 25'C ambient.

I'm aware of the pros and cons.. different time of year and locality will affect the calculation, can do the maths but nothing beats practical experience ..

who has this set.. what is your experience .. how long can you go without ehu ..and would you recommend it ?
 
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Jul 1, 2012
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I have a compressor fridge and 90watt solar panel. Can't remember the last time on EHU. UK and France.
Tend to drive on every few days which helps the battery. Just done 4 days without moving and battery still OK.
The fridge is a Vitrifrigo.
Hope that helps
 

UK Pete

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I have the waeco cr 80, 135w solar panel and 250ah battery bank, i can leave my fridge on all the time this time of year and the solar keeps it running in the day and the battery bank at night, they draw even less than stated in my experience, definetely worth doing, my current set up is going to be upgraded to 295w of solar and 375ah as soon as i can afford it, the only reason for this is i would like to get more solar power in the winter/ autumn months
I have had 3 way fridges in the past , but have come to the conclusion that with a decent solar arrangement commpressor fridges are amazing,once fitted you can forget about them no fuel bills, no pilot lights going out or hard starting both of which i found my 3way fridges did and the way forward especially if your trying for a stealth van for wild camping as there are no flue grills
pete

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quickweh

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Pretty much the same as previous posts, I have 180 Watts of panel which can be a bit marginal in early Spring with TV, heating and Vitrifigo fridge running off 2 100AH batteries. No problem this time of year.
 
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scotjimland

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great info so far..

I know it's a piece of string question.. but the replies are encouraging.. thanks :thumb:
 

Terry

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Hi Jim I thought about this a few weeks back and also using a normal house fridge via inverter
Costs from a 3 way = £550 =100ltr vents
compressor fridge = £550 =80ltr plus extra batteries or at least 1 = £70 plus 100 watts solar =£150 ish total £770 no vents
house hold fridge = £120 =100ltr plus ---extra batt =£70 solar 100 watts = £150 ish inverter £30 total = £370 no vents
Assuming nothing goes wrong with either set up ::bigsmile:
solar and extra batt handy for other things and 3 way plus solar = price of smaller compressor but House fridge is less than half price of both set ups ::bigsmile:
decisions, decisions, ::bigsmile:
terry

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scotjimland

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Hi Jim I thought about this a few weeks back and also using a normal house fridge via inverter
Costs from a 3 way = £550 =100ltr vents
compressor fridge = £550 =80ltr plus extra batteries or at least 1 = £70 plus 100 watts solar =£150 ish total £770 no vents
house hold fridge = £120 =100ltr plus ---extra batt =£70 solar 100 watts = £150 ish inverter £30 total = £370 no vents
Assuming nothing goes wrong with either set up ::bigsmile:
solar and extra batt handy for other things and 3 way plus solar = price of smaller compressor but House fridge is less than half price of both set ups ::bigsmile:
decisions, decisions, ::bigsmile:
terry

I've looked at that Terry.. but domestic fridges may not be up to the shake rattle and roll of a van.. nor do they do not like slopes.. (not many houses have kitchens on slopes :roflmto:)

.. possible for a home build ..

it's also possible to convert a small domestic chest freezer into a very good fridge.. investigated this when I had the RV..
 

Snowbird

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Just my two penny worth, but what do you do when there is little or no sun, or in winter when the sun is low in the sky. A roof full of solar panels is of little use on a cloudy day. I have 330 amps of batteries and 250 watts of solar and can live happily off hookup watching TV and with LED lights, but would be asking a lot if I was using a fridge as well if the weather was inclement for a week. Modern AES fridges have a facility to run from solar when the leisure batteries are full and I would have thought this a better option than a compressor fridge that only has the one option.
 
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scotjimland

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Just my two penny worth, but what do you do when there is little or no sun, or in winter when the sun is low in the sky. A roof full of solar panels is of little use on a cloudy day. I have 330 amps of batteries and 250 watts of solar and can live happily off hookup watching TV and with LED lights, but would be asking a lot if I was using a fridge as well if the weather was inclement for a week. Modern AES fridges have a facility to run from solar when the leisure batteries are full and I would have thought this a better option than a compressor fridge that only has the one option.

In a word... HONDA :roflmto:

I take your point Dave.. a lot depends on the useage.. how long you stay off grid etc. .

for touring in most of the year I wouldn't see an issue.. with a couple of 90ah batteries and 100 watt panel, two or three night off grid should be easy..

but as a backup.. HONDA

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vwalan

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hi. i have been using house hold fridges for years in my trailer . first i used an old one that cost nothing as a friend was chucking it out . i then bought a new one .
they dont mind being on slopes and i can assure you i take my truck and trailer over some rough ground .
its an easy calculation . as terry says fridge new 120. solar these days for 160 quid you can get 2x80 -100 wt panels . inverter i say get a bigger one . you can always use it for awhile to power other items like washing machines .
works for me .
yes i get away in winter . here i,m now powering the house fridge via a lead from inverter into house.
end of sept and oct is dodgy . may not have enough sun . but it can be cheap. you can buy second hand house fridges for a few quid .
 

hilldweller

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Waeco Fridge Unit approx 48 watts consumption. 1.8Ah/h @ 25'C ambient.

I'm surprised you ask. That 48Ah per day is a whole leisure battery. And nowhere near what a 100w panel will provide even in summer unless the go to Morocco where the fridge will have to work harder.

More light = more heat. Light conversion is low. It's lose lose lose.

Go to Scotland, enjoy warm beer.
 
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scotjimland

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I'm surprised you ask......... .


why.. ?

like I said, I can do the maths.. I wanted reports from people who have experience.. not just maths lessons..

What I was interested in was how it performed with a solar panel in practice..

I know a 100 watt panel will not supply ALL the power.. but even a little help will extend the endurance of the battery..

As you say, 48ah is a full battery.. now if we add some power from a panel.. even just 4ah .. for 6 hours.. = 24 ah ..
that reduces the power from the battery to 24ah.. so while the panel does not produce 100% of the load to make it self sufficient.. it extends the time you can stay off grid..

There are many factors.. and it's impossible to cover every situation and every possible set up.. hence my asking ..

what I have read is encouraging.. thanks .. :Smile:

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hilldweller

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why.. ?

like I said, I can do the maths.. I wanted reports from people who have experience.. not just maths lessons..

I know a 100 watt panel will not supply ALL the power.. but even a little help will extend the endurance of the battery..

As you say, 48ah is a full battery.. now if we add some power from a panel.. even just 4ah .. for 6 hours.. = 24 ah ..

. it extends the time you can stay off grid..

There are many factors.. and it's impossible to cover every situation and every possible set up.. hence my asking ..

what I have read is encouraging.. thanks .. :Smile:

I think that you know the answer but want to be swayed otherwise. Not one of the replies mentioned location or accurate fridge consumption. The fridge is relentless. The sun very fickle depending on location.

Worse case, if you are away in winter it's hook up or no fridge.

Best case, Spain, summer and 200W would just about run the fridge of your choice unless you go for sun tracker.

The reason I commented, we had a fridge problem and first thought was "new compressor fridge" which was rejected immediately.
 

Gromett

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I am just about to get a new fridge after having been without a fridge for 2 years (as a fulltimer)

I have hummed and ahhed over it for so long now but have finally committed to a compressor fridge again.

I can't be arsed to cut holes in the side of the van.
I can't be arsed dealing with wiring in 240V/12v AND gas.

I am down to a single 250AH battery now but still have 240Watts of solar power.

Some tricks I picked up from my last fridge and as I build the new cupboard/drawer unit to house it..

I will be making a box for it which has a 4" gap at the bottom and a 4" gap at the top. This will allow air to circulate using convection behind the fridge. In addition I will be routing some Truma vent piping from underneath the van to the base of the fridge. This will be filtered and have a temperature controlled fan attached.
This will power up as the back of the fridge warms and blast cool air from under the van onto the back of the fridge. I know this will be helpful after experiencing a similar system in my old Eura Mobil. It kept the van very tolerable even in 40C temps in France.

Secondly I am moving the fridge from being directly over the boiler cupboard and putting insulation under it.

The cooler you can keep the back of the fridge the better it operates and the less juice it sucks.

It may seem like stating the obvious but just in case you hadn't thought about these things which I hadn't when I built my van originally.
 

pappajohn

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dont forget Jim, the compressor will be on and off when the fridge is running so the 1.8a/h isnt a realistic figure for daily consumption.

I would think the compressor will run for 35 to 40 minutes per hour so 1 amp per hour would be more realistic

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scotjimland

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dont forget Jim, the compressor will be on and off when the fridge is running so the 1.8a/h isnt a realistic figure for daily consumption.

I would think the compressor will run for 35 to 40 minutes per hour so 1 amp per hour would be more realistic

Know what you are saying John.. :thumb:

not 100% certain, but I think Waeco take that into account in their figures.. ?

maybe not, but better to err on the safe side when calculating ..
 

Snowbird

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I maybe wrong, but if am not mistaken JJ was hardly ecstatic with the results of his Waeco in the field and he tells me the sun is constantly shining where he lives.
 

vwalan

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also fit the fridge opposite side to entrance door but not directly opposite as sun will shine on it if door is open .usually folk want the entrance door in the sun .so other side is in the shade .
when i built mine . i wanted to be back of trailer towards the sea . ideally for maroc so i could just drive off if needed to. side door on right hand side so it was in the sun . fridge otherside in the shade .
as for winter in uk you dont need a fridge anyway . there is no sun but its freezing anyway.
but a bit of thought when building a camper can save money and inconvenience later .
be carefull with table top fridges they do seem to be fussy with some inverters .
maybe a pure sine wave one would be ok.

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Pat4Neil

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I think Waeco definately take that into account of their figures, because they say an average figure of over 24 hours.

We have a Waeco compressor 140litre fridge, which uses the bigger danfoss motor. I would say that its is on approx 30minutes of each hour, usually in 15 minute stints. We have not used it in earnest yet, so cant really confirm about the figures in running it.

The smaller the fridge say the 80litre the easier it is to fill it making it more economical to keep cool. Compressor fridges are in my opinion noisy. Make sure you have adequate ventilation around it, because yes you can not have outside vents, but you need to give it ventilation We have also fitted a couple of computer type fans, to switch on to help it, and have insulated the area surrounding it, but allowing for venting as well.

We have 720 watt solar, and the equivalent to 440 amp batteries.

When we were looking at the vitro frigo fridges I think that the were more economical, but werent the tropical rating that we wanted, and the guy who sold them said that the freezer isnt guaranted to freeze.

Waeco fridges have had their problems too.

I think the fact that youre not necessarily going to be off grid all the time, and as long as youre not using extended tv etc, and the supplement of a generator you could get away with it for 3 days.

Pat
 
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I have a Vitrifrigo C85i and don't regret my decision at all.

I have 400Ah of batteries and 200w of solar but run a 12v computer and 24" screen all of the time I'm in the van as well. The most time I've spent in one place is about 5 days and I've never had any issues - even in the middle of Winter.

I've never used EHU (in fact I've never tested it) but do have a great charging system whilst the engine is running which can recharge the batteries at a rate of up to 100Ah per hour if I ever do need a quick top-up.

If you do go for a compressor fridge it's worth giving thought to ventilation for the fan which will make it use far less power. This is pretty simple - vent below to let cold air in and above to let warm air out. It's also worth changing the fan on the compressor to a good quality silent PC fan (the standard fans are a little noisy).

Out of interest, is this for a an "off the shelf" van or one you are building?

Edit - If I were you I'd add at least 200w of solar panels. They are so cheap now and a pain to add at a later date. I bought mine from ebay Germany for about £150 delivered.

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Peter_n_Margaret

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Our experience is not necessarily relevant to you guys....but....
In our MH in Austraila, we have a 10 year old compressor fridge (130L Vitrifrigo 'all fridge' with a remote compressor). Having a remote compressor allows the installation of extra insulation. We added an extra 50mm on all sides, top and bottom.

The power consumption of a fridge is dependent on the efficiency of the compressor/evaporator plus the quality of the insulation.
The Danfoss 35 compressors are pretty standard, but insulation quality can vary dramatically from make to make.

In Europe we have a Waeco compressor fridge (about 120L) which is almost 20 years old.
It is clear that the insulation is quite poor and it uses at least double the power of our fridge in Australia when exposed to similar conditions.

Our MH in Australia also has a DIY deep freeze (about 25L net) with 150mm of quality polyurethane foam insulation. It uses even less power than the fridge and can continue to operate effectively in the toughest conditions.

Good refrigeration with low power consumption is about insulation quality.
The fridge....


The freezer.....


The tropics (where it is hot and wet and not much sun) is the most difficult place to survive on solar alone. We find that colder places (with less sun) also have less demanding refrigeration requirements.

Cheers,
Peter
 
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scotjimland

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Just to clarify.. I am not building the van .. it will probably be an off the shelf Globecar .. prefered model Family Scout L .. not even sure if a compressor fridge is an option.. still researching .. so that may well change ..

thanks for all the advice... as usual no one can agree.. :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
 

Flymal

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Here's my tuppence Jim. I have a Waeco 80L and have no problems at all. 200W on the roof and 2 x 110Ah. Now I can only tell you what I think and I have no big experience like the other fine folks.

Last summer the average daytime OAT was 26C on my travels and the compressor runtime was 23 mins on and 35 mins off. As others have said, many factors involved but I also had limited cooling at the heat exchanger and it still coped well. I shall add a simple convection vent into the cupboard above this summer, job done and will improve the runtime. The fridge is not noisy but again, we all have varying thresholds of noise annoyance. My fridge is switched directly to the batteries and so I have control rather than through the Sargent PSU, for ferries and driving etc.

As far as EHU, well I have never used it other than to test it. I was still in Copenhagen on October 3rd and solar noon was fairly low in elevation, the roof panels still sustained the batteries at full charge. If the days were overcast, well the OAT was lower also, so the runtime shorter, although the OAT below 15C, has little effect on runtime - internal temperature being one of the major factors. The longest I was stationary and overcast was 6 days and again no problems although not fully charged. Running after October, I can not say but I reckon it's not going to be that bad.

Good thing about getting a compressor fridge is no holes in your van. You can always remove your compressor fridge if you don't like it and fit a gas job in place. Once you ask the converter to cut holes you have holes. When I say my fridge coped, well I mean it will sustain ice in the freezer compartment. The other thing, I was not constantly chilling booze but maintaining plastic cola bottles chilled and I adjusted the temperature knob as required. Someone having a weekend on the lash, will obviously not have the same results as us.

OHMS law is good for fixed loads and theoretical max load but there are too many variables to use this as a decision maker in selecting a compressor or not but you already know this, especially with a reasonable solar panel output. For the frozen wastes of Scotland in mid winter, then you have your genny, EHU or just drive but get a gin clear winters day, the panels will output something useable. Again you know this. I would say compressor is the "coolest" way to go.

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Sep 23, 2013
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Jim

You may find this useful.
http://www.penguinfrigo.co.uk/page/...dvice/?phpMyAdmin=vNCe7VLq9Iqlmr91Fbf3ewjErAf

As far as I know, a compressor fridge is a factory option with Globecar. From memory, the compressor fridge they specified wasn't necessarily the ideal model. But then the 3 way fridge fitted to the 2013 models wasn't an AES fridge either, which I find disappointing. That's the big downside of a van from a volume producer - you don't get much choice over the details.

If I had gone down my original route, which was for a VW T5 converted to my specification, then a Vitrifrigo compressor fridge & solar panels was going to be my choice.

In a big panel van, like the Globecar, with space for big gas bottles, an AES fridge is a viable option, but I don't think I would settle for anything less again. But my use isn't really typical; as well as the 4 -5 days in the middle of a field somewhere, I also get days where I'm changing power source 4, sometimes as much as 6 times a day.
 

Movinon

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I have a 3-way fridge and a portable compressor fridge in the garage. The ideal setup in my opinion, offering the best of all worlds. It's a brilliant, if expensive, bit of kit. Nowadays I have a 100W solar panel and 200AH batteries but I used to run the compressor fridge using no solar and just 100AH battery. We just about got away with it. Mind you, we used to move on (hence the user name) almost every day. The compressor fridge will drop the temperature to -20 in less than an hour and generally uses around 2amp on a normal basis. Tropical, temperate or whatever conditions it's seen them all and doesn't care.
 

gerry mcg

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Our new Globecar 600L will have a compressor fridge, rather than a 3 way absorber - which is a bit of a downer
icon_cry.gif
- when we ordered we thought it was 3 way AES absorber type- so could run on gas - but it looks like the compressor is fitted as the fridge location in the galley overlaps with the sliding door and there is no way to vent to the exterior.

Has anyone got a van with the compressor fridge? how does it work in practice and how power hungry is it? - we will have a twin 95Ah leisure battery bank and will probably add 100-200w solar - the feedback i’ve had to date indicates this won’t help and the compressor fridges are unsuitable for off- grid camping due to their current draw - somewhere between 50-100A /24hr which is a bit of a blow.
icon_cry.gif


what are our options? We will suck it and see for a while is it even possible to retrofit a AES fridge? i appreciate it might be tough to duct vents to the exterior of the van.
Cheers

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GeriatricWanderer

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And don't forget that with just a little planning, for much of the time you really don't need to run the fridge during the night.
Keep freezer blocks in the freezer and when you turn in for the night move the blocks into the fridge and turn the fridge off.
8+ ish hours of ah saving, every night.
 

Cal54

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I have a compressor fridge (Autocruise Alto) and was concerned about this before actually purchasing my van. From day 1 I have had 2 x 100 amp batteries and added a 100 wt solar panel after about 10 months. I found initially that when I was stationary for approx 3 days the batteries were running low. I added a further 100 wt solar panel this summer and can safely say I very rarely even look at the control panel. I would recommend a minimum of 2 x leisure batteries and max solar that your roof and pocket will permit!! This will save you from constantly wondering if there is enough juice for the fridge.
 
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I installed a 2nd hand shoreline 12v compressor fridge (approx 100 litre) in my hymer...2 x 75 watts of solar on the roof, 2 x 110 ah LB's...3 months in the spanish winter sun, on a site in Beni, and never switched the on board charger on (although I was on ehu), everything using 12v including tv, LB's never below 12.2v, fridge was barely audible.

regards
Allen

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