Solar to power my RV fridge while stored at home, realistic?

1996cc

New Member
Joined
May 27, 2022
Messages
2
I’m considering a DIY system to power the fridge in my RV while we are parked at home. It’s a traditional RV fridge that runs on propane or AC power. The RV uses a 50 amp service, but I obviously don’t need that kind of power. I just don‘t want to have to unload the fridge every time we come home, or use up my propane either. The pole barn it is parked in would be extremely inconvenient to run grid power to.

I’m a solar newbie and am just learning. Is this something that is relatively feasible? Obviously I’d need panels, batteries, and I would assume, inverter, charger, and other things I don’t know about yet.
 

rmaddy

Full-time Solar-powered Trailer Life
Joined
Nov 16, 2019
Messages
3,735
Location
USA
Options:
1) Spend a couple thousand dollars buying solar panels, a solar charge controller, inverter, batteries, wires, fuses, and a few other little things plus all of the time to mount the panels on the roof and hookup all of the other components.
2) Spend ??? dollars having power run out to your barn.
3) Spend 5 minutes putting items into a box and carrying it into the house at the end of each RV trip.

If you go with option 1 you first need to work out a few details:
- How much power does your fridge use in a day?
- How much space do you have for solar panels? Would they be able to face south without any shade on them all day?
- Where do you live and what kind of weather do you have? This will have a big impact on how much solar you typically get. If it's sunny all day every day you don't need as much battery or solar. If you live where it's gray a lot then you need a lot more solar and a lot more battery.
- Do you need this year round or just the warmer months?
- If your pole barn an environment where you can have all of this electrical equipment kept all year without problems with weather or critters?

Just thought of option #4) Add solar to your RV. Might be cheaper than option #1 plus you can use it while traveling too.

Are you really sure it's all worth avoiding option #3?
 

BentleyJ

Solar Addict
Joined
Jan 13, 2022
Messages
721
Location
Riverside County, CA
As a former long time boat owner I completely understand why someone would enjoy an RV but get tired of all that goes into mobilizing, demobilizing and maintenance. My take on your situation: If your budget for both free time and finances makes it comfortable to put some solar equipment on/in your pole barn go for it. Also, you should try and take your time and enjoy the DIY solar experience. Your RV'ing enjoyment will be enhanced as a result of not dreading coming home to do a bunch of stuff you don't want to. Reason #2, with the RV refrig running all the time you could use it for beer. LOL
 

Bobert

Solar Addict
Joined
Jan 15, 2022
Messages
824
I’m considering a DIY system to power the fridge in my RV while we are parked at home. It’s a traditional RV fridge that runs on propane or AC power. The RV uses a 50 amp service, but I obviously don’t need that kind of power. I just don‘t want to have to unload the fridge every time we come home, or use up my propane either. The pole barn it is parked in would be extremely inconvenient to run grid power to.

I’m a solar newbie and am just learning. Is this something that is relatively feasible? Obviously I’d need panels, batteries, and I would assume, inverter, charger, and other things I don’t know about yet.
Get a watt meter and get exactly how much your fridge uses for ac power some of the larger absorption style fridges are very inefficient. You need to know what the goal is that you are shooting for.
 

corn18

Village Idiot
Joined
Sep 9, 2021
Messages
507
It sounds like you have an absorption fridge which uses very little
Get a watt meter and get exactly how much your fridge uses for ac power some of the larger absorption style fridges are very inefficient. You need to know what the goal is that you are shooting for.
This is the answer. Doing a quick google search revealed an estimate of 200W-300W depending on the size of the absorption refrigerator you have. You should also look at how much propane it consumes because that draws a heckofa lot less power (20W). From what I have read, it sips propane. Might be a lot cheaper to just use propane vs. a full solar/ac setup.
 

Bobert

Solar Addict
Joined
Jan 15, 2022
Messages
824
It sounds like you have an absorption fridge which uses very little

This is the answer. Doing a quick google search revealed an estimate of 200W-300W depending on the size of the absorption refrigerator you have. You should also look at how much propane it consumes because that draws a heckofa lot less power (20W). From what I have read, it sips propane. Might be a lot cheaper to just use propane vs. a full solar/ac setup.
I mentioned checking the actual ac consumption because certain nor cold double doors fridges generally used in 5th wheel applications have horrendous power consumption. One fellow I heard of had a nearly $100 per month increase in his electric bill running his fridge. Or 3 tanks of lp per month. Better check just to be sure. I have a standard size absorption fridge and it uses 300 ish watts when it is cooling at high outside temperatures it will run most of the time. I tend to use it on lp and can hardly tell how much lp it is using since our water heater dwarfs it’s consumption.
 

jberger

Solar Addict
Joined
Jun 1, 2021
Messages
303
Do you have any existing lights at the barn?
You can run the fridge from a 15a circuit without a problem, it's your battery chargers that can trip the breaker.

Putting some used solar panels on the roof of the pole barn and connecting them to a Solar Charge Controller (SCC) at the motorhome would work too. You could wire them to your existing battery bank and use the inverter to handle the fridge.

We keep our fridge running all the time, and all of the condiments, drinks, etc. Loading/unloading gets old quick if you are doing it every weekend.

Here's a tip I learned from a colleague years ago, put a bag of ice cubes in your freezer. If the power goes out long enough to melt the cubes, you will know when you look at the bag. Keeps you from using unsafe food after a power outage.
 

1996cc

New Member
Joined
May 27, 2022
Messages
2
Do you have any existing lights at the barn?
You can run the fridge from a 15a circuit without a problem, it's your battery chargers that can trip the breaker.

Putting some used solar panels on the roof of the pole barn and connecting them to a Solar Charge Controller (SCC) at the motorhome would work too. You could wire them to your existing battery bank and use the inverter to handle the fridge.

We keep our fridge running all the time, and all of the condiments, drinks, etc. Loading/unloading gets old quick if you are doing it every weekend.

Here's a tip I learned from a colleague years ago, put a bag of ice cubes in your freezer. If the power goes out long enough to melt the cubes, you will know when you look at the bag. Keeps you from using unsafe food after a power outage.
I don’t think my inverter will run the fridge. It only uses AC power when connected to grid or using the generator, otherwise lp. I’m away from home, so I don’t know the model, but it’s a Norcold dual door fridge/dual door freezer.
(No existing power at barn)
 

Captmaddog

New Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2022
Messages
3
On my motor-home fridge, i can open the panel in the outside behind the fridge and there is a 110 plug. I unplug the fridge and plug it into a 110V extension cord. Works great. Just plug it back into the RV receptacle when I'm ready to head out.
 

SacRV

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Oct 9, 2020
Messages
33
We keep our fridge on off the solar when we're not there. The daily power use with the fridge on ranges from 1.6kWh during the winter when it doesn't need to run the compressor much to 2.8kWh per day during the summer when the trailer's inside temperature hits the mid 90's.
 

Rocketman

Solar Addict
Joined
Sep 27, 2020
Messages
763
My old Norcold 1200 used about 450 watts when it was cycled on. So probably 1000w of solar panels (or so) - completely doable.

However, you need enough batteries to keep it running at night. That’s probably a 540ah (@12v) or 280ah battery (@24v) lithium battery (twice as big if you go lead-acid). (Maybe more depending on the weather).

That’s a lot of equipment…

Before going that route- changeout the never cold fridge to a residential fridge. The battery size will be less than half as much. You probably could just run the inverter off your RV’s batteries at night(with really good batteries) then charge them up during the day off the solar.
 

73powerstroke

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Jun 17, 2022
Messages
618
Location
Arizona
Do you have any existing lights at the barn?
You can run the fridge from a 15a circuit without a problem, it's your battery chargers that can trip the breaker.

Putting some used solar panels on the roof of the pole barn and connecting them to a Solar Charge Controller (SCC) at the motorhome would work too. You could wire them to your existing battery bank and use the inverter to handle the fridge.

We keep our fridge running all the time, and all of the condiments, drinks, etc. Loading/unloading gets old quick if you are doing it every weekend.

Here's a tip I learned from a colleague years ago, put a bag of ice cubes in your freezer. If the power goes out long enough to melt the cubes, you will know when you look at the bag. Keeps you from using unsafe food after a power outage.
This what I would suggest also
 
Top