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Old 07-26-2021, 02:08 PM   #1
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Default Absorption vs Compressor 'fridge?

The Dometic refrigerator in my 2008 RT Popular 210 finally gave up the ghost. Now onto a new refrigerator. Absorption v. Compressor?

FYI, in the year or so we've owned this RT, I have never found the need to use propane. Couple of other considerations:

  • We do not boondock.
  • We do like cold food.
  • In particular I would like the freezer to work well as I have a close relationship with ice cream
  • My experience has been erratic with food keeping cool as we drive (which may have been an indicator of a dying 'fridge or perhaps user error).
  • Absorption is reportedly better at staying consistently cool (less sensitive to level ground, etc)
  • Compressor units are a bit less expensive, but I don't mind spending the $$ for something that works better.
  • Preference is for not having to reconfigure the counter/slide in area/electrical to accommodate the new unit.

Thoughts, opinions, experiences, rants or raves? Thanks in advance.....
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Old 07-26-2021, 02:12 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Kegan View Post
The Dometic refrigerator in my 2008 RT Popular 210 finally gave up the ghost. Now onto a new refrigerator. Absorption v. Compressor?

FYI, in the year or so we've owned this RT, I have never found the need to use propane. Couple of other considerations:

  • We do not boondock.
  • We do like cold food.
  • In particular I would like the freezer to work well as I have a close relationship with ice cream
  • My experience has been erratic with food keeping cool as we drive (which may have been an indicator of a dying 'fridge or perhaps user error).
  • Absorption is reportedly better at staying consistently cool (less sensitive to level ground, etc)
  • Compressor units are a bit less expensive, but I don't mind spending the $$ for something that works better.
  • Preference is for not having to reconfigure the counter/slide in area/electrical to accommodate the new unit.

Thoughts, opinions, experiences, rants or raves? Thanks in advance.....

You have the benefits and detriments backwards. You currently have an absorption frig and they have trouble with temp control in hot conditions and unlevel


Compressor frigs do all of that better as long as you have enough to power them, and if you are always driving or on shore power you would not have any issues.
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Old 07-26-2021, 02:26 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Kegan View Post
  • Compressor units are a bit less expensive, but I don't mind spending the $$ for something that works better.
  • Preference is for not having to reconfigure the counter/slide in area/electrical to accommodate the new unit.
I'd expect a compressor fridge to cool better under nearly all conditions, provided that it's vented per mfg. instructions. I would also expect that the existing 12V circuit to your absorption fridge would be usable for a compressor fridge.

They draw more power though - but if you are plugged in or driving, that should not be a problem.
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Old 07-26-2021, 03:11 PM   #4
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"reconfigure the counter/slide in area/electrical to accommodate the new unit."

The electrical is already there. This is a 'No-Brainer'.
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Old 07-26-2021, 03:36 PM   #5
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A 12VDC compressor fridge draws less power than a similar sized absorption fridge running on DC power, and it’s more consistent in a wider range of conditions. The only reason to choose absorption over compressor technology is off-grid use on propane. You say in a year of ownership you have never used propane. Does that mean DC while driving and AC at night with hookups? If so, then yes, the compressor fridge is a no-brainer.

Off-grid does not necessarily mean boondocking. Plenty of nice developed campsites do not have power (like most of the beach campsites in California we enjoy, for example). If you decide to go with a DC compressor fridge and find yourself in the future going to places where hookups are not widely available, you may have to add battery and recharging capacity.
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Old 07-26-2021, 04:19 PM   #6
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factor in the costs of an electrical system which will supply the comp fridge


these could be considerable for DC or AC inverter operation





on propane my fridge will reliably get internal temps 60 below ambient temps


and that's what we used for 75% of overnights on our recent trip


the Federal campsites didn't have power


how you camp is probably different



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Old 07-26-2021, 04:20 PM   #7
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I bought a Born Free Built for Two.

The absorption refrigerator ran on LP or 120 VAC. Legally I can not have an open flame when refueling the RV. Which means turning off the LP to refrigerator before pulling into a gas station and remembering to turn back on after I leave. Also LP has to be turned off when entering tunnels. Then there is the description that an RV is a "home riding on a earthquake". Do I really want to run the risk of a LP line rattling free as I motor down the road? Then there is the leveling and trying to park with refrigerator vents on the non-sunny side of the RV. The coldness of the refrigerator is dependent on the outside day's temperature.

Boon docking? I do want the ability to go two or three days without running the generator.

My solution was to take my RV to JC Refrigeration in Shipshewana, Indiana. They converted my existing refrigerator to a 12 VDC high efficient compressor type. Conversion cost less than a new refrigerator. Now I can drive down the road or refuel without LP concernes.

My interpretation of my Vicron battery monitor leads me to believe the refrigerator can run for 5 days on battery power alone. This weekend I'll put my Vicron monitor understanding to the test.
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Old 07-26-2021, 05:01 PM   #8
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factor in the costs of an electrical system which will supply the comp fridge

these could be considerable for DC or AC inverter operation
Are you thinking of a 110VAC dorm-style compressor fridge or a 12VDC compressor fridge? I assumed the OP meant the latter, since he said they are “a bit less” cost than an absorption fridge (while dorm fridges are way cheap). An inverter is not required.
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Old 07-26-2021, 07:35 PM   #9
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Top is fridge/freezer, bottom is ambient. Try that with propane.



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Old 07-26-2021, 09:36 PM   #10
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You have the benefits and detriments backwards. You currently have an absorption frig and they have trouble with temp control ...
Right you are. I guess I was a bit sleepy on my orig post. Thanks for pointing it out. I stand corrected.
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Old 07-27-2021, 03:10 PM   #11
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This seems like a no-brainer to me. Compressor fridge all the way. I think the benefits of compressor fridges is so great that I am seriously considering replacing my existing absorption fridge with its equivalent compressor model despite the breathtaking cost.

You missed an additional big benefit of compressor fridges - they cool down rapidly, so if you want to use your camper for a day trip to the beach, park, hike, etc. you can throw your drinks and food in the fridge and expect them to be cold in an hour or two. With an absorption fridge I need to turn in on 6-8 hours in advance to get it cold enough for use (propane), even longer if using electric. No good for a quick trip.
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Old 07-27-2021, 05:52 PM   #12
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I need to turn in on 6-8 hours in advance to get it cold enough for use (propane), even longer if using electric.

yes great point, in Phoenix I need a full day for the fridge and turn on the van ac as well to start up the fridge


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Old 08-01-2021, 03:54 PM   #13
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Our 12 V Nova Kool fridge draws 4.5A when running. It is far superior to the absorption fridges we’ve had in other RV’s.
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Old 08-01-2021, 04:06 PM   #14
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Default Nova Kool units are great 👍

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Our 12 V Nova Kool fridge draws 4.5A when running. It is far superior to the absorption fridges weve had in other RVs.
Absolutely, I can second that. It's because of the Danfoss/Secop compressor and the efficiency.

My unit is so quiet, you can't hear anything.... and the twin solar panels on my RV keep the unit running 24/7.....

I never run out of power on the compressor refrigerator.
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Old 08-01-2021, 04:20 PM   #15
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Another vote for the compressor fridge since I replaced our 3-way RM2554 with a Nova Kool R5810 three years ago (2008 RT 210P). Faster cooling, no need to be level, more consistent temps, and no battery issues. See attached.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Nova Kool R5810 Battery Test2.JPG (172.2 KB, 27 views)
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Repl 3 way fridge with Noval Kool ACDC fridge_08210P.pdf (333.2 KB, 35 views)
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Old 08-01-2021, 09:30 PM   #16
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+1 for the compressor, especially for your use case. We got tired of the propane fridge not cooling when the temps were too high >95F (beach camping) or too low <20F (we snow ski). The Vitrifrigo C130RXD4-F fit well in our 06 C210V and keeps ice cream solid (7-10F) no matter the weather. This is the second propane fridge we replaced, first used an apartment size fridge to replace the 8 cu ft fridge in our class A. Both were very successful.
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Old 08-01-2021, 10:49 PM   #17
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+1 more for compressor fridge as the new compressor fridges are very efficient and more flexible for being out of level. The absorption fridges we have had kept getting better over time (newer models) however the new low power use compressor fridges dont use an excessive amount of power and most are better insulated these days.
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Old 08-02-2021, 12:01 AM   #18
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+1 more for compressor fridge as the new compressor fridges are very efficient and more flexible for being out of level. The absorption fridges we have had kept getting better over time (newer models) however the new low power use compressor fridges dont use an excessive amount of power and most are better insulated these days.
I agree. We have no solar, but since we drive everyday, no problem overnight on our old lead-acid batteries. No worry now for probably 2 nights with our current 200Ah lithium batteries.

While they are pretty efficient, don't count on anything near a 50/50 run & off cycle. Ours has run probably 80-90% even in mild to cold temps. Don't know if it has a variable speed compressor since it is so silent, but just know it runs a lot.
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Old 08-02-2021, 12:09 AM   #19
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I agree. We have no solar, but since we drive everyday, no problem overnight on our old lead-acid batteries. No worry now for probably 2 nights with our current 200Ah lithium batteries.

While they are pretty efficient, don't count on anything near a 50/50 run & off cycle. Ours has run probably 80-90% even in mild to cold temps. Don't know if it has a variable speed compressor since it is so silent, but just know it runs a lot.

Have you done a 24 hour energy use on it? That much running is generally not typical. I don't know what our new one will be, but the old one ran mostly in the 20-40% time range unless it was terrible hot. Long run times are often a sign of inadequate venting.
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Old 08-02-2021, 02:25 AM   #20
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Have you done a 24 hour energy use on it? That much running is generally not typical. I don't know what our new one will be, but the old one ran mostly in the 20-40% time range unless it was terrible hot. Long run times are often a sign of inadequate venting.
I have only tested running consumption (41 watts/3.154 amps) on my battery monitor and I've not tried to test consumption over a 24 hr period.

I have constant readout temmometer with a probe behind the fridge and a 16CFM squirrel cage fan on a 100 degree on/ 80 degree off button thermostat that vents the cavity through a tube to the rear lounge area of the van. But since we camp in mild weather, it rarely runs. I have also improved lower venting since Airstream provided none in the initial build. Top ventilation (barely adequate) is supplemented by my fan.

The following is anecdotal
:
The fridge runs very silently so I can only really hear it run at night while in the bathroom where the sound comes through the fiberglass shower wall. It's only when the compressor turns off that I notice the silence, because being off is that rare.

Don't know if our home fridge is comparable, but while it cycles more like 1/3 on 2/3 off, it never cycles off for more than 30 minutes. And during our February deep freeze power outage, the interior temp of our home fridge rose from 37 degrees to the low 40's in less than 2 hours with the doors remaining closed.

I would have thought an undisturbed home fridge could go 8 hours before losing more than 5-10 degrees so long as doors remain closed. But this has made me think that manufacturers decided that since their fridges run efficiently, that they decided to skimp on insulation and just run longer.
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