frig./ freezer

I am looking at the 12v/110ac Norcold ref./freezers at Camping World 1.5 cuft. $699 weighting 53lbs. holding 70lbs. of food and the 2.1 cuft. at $869 weighing 70lbs. and holds 100 lbs. I noticed that the smaller frig./freezer uses 2.5 amps and the larger uses less at 2.1 amps. Sure there is a reason, but not sure. These will be shipped a long distance by air and the costs will be high so weight on everthing needs to be also considered. We want to have one of these frig./freezers run on possibly 2 solar panels that will probably be around 125w each. We will also have about 5 12v florscencent bulbs in the house most being 13w. Would like to use a lab top computer also. Plan to have a 1000 or 2000w Honda generator and batteries. This is in an area of the south pacific that have nice temps. with a good bit or sun. Do you think that these two solar pannels would be able for the most part to run the frig./freezer and these lights? We want to keep things simple, but want to be prepared also. The 1000 watt generator weights 29. lbs and the 2000 I think weighs 53 lbs. As far as food storage I feel that the small frig. would be large enough to meet our needs, but was wondering about the difference in the amps. used. I also feel that the smaller generator may be large enough. I feel that marine type batteries will have to be used. Any ideas on about how many batteries would be needed with this set up? Also not sure what size controler would be needed either. What are your thoughts?


  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: frig./ freezer

    The amperage you list; 2.5 amps and 2.1 amps - - is that on 110 Volts AC, or on 12 Volts? And is that the average consumption, or just while it's running? If it cycles, approx what is the on time per 24 hours? I hope it's the rating for 12 volts, but even that does not impress me for such a small unit. Neither does the price. But I must admit, I know nothing about either of these units. I'm just comparing to what I do know.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: frig./ freezer

    Have you considered propane or kerosene fridge/freezers? They are much cheaper (relativly) then the added panel capacity needed to run a electric heat source, or compressor fridge. Kerosene is readily available in most parts of the world, more so than propane I would suspect.

    I think that Electrolux/Dometic still makes and sells kerosene fridges for the third world market. Propane fridges are a dime a dozen. They can be a bit quirky to opperate but I've been running dometics 24/7 for more than 20 years without a hitch.

    I also have a 30's vintage Servel kerosene fridge that still gets cold that I don't bother to use any more.

  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: frig./ freezer

    I will check to see if I can find more about if the amps are 12v or 110ac. I have seen kerosene refrigerators in Samoa in areas where the small villages have their own power and only run them about 4 or 5 hours a day. Wish I had looked into them a little more while we were there. I think that propane would be out of the question though. I will check on the companies that were mentioned also. This is all new to me, but since the power there is 230 and not very dependable and may take some time to get we were looking and other options. I have built a solar hotwater heater and oven that works quite well and believe that I could rig up a small 12v system. Just not sure about how big the system needs to be. I have been reading many of the previous posts on the forum and wondering if you (icarus) have a set up simular to about what I am thinking about as far as generator and panels? Wayne do you know of any other places on the net where I might find a better buy on a frig. if I go this route. The same frig. is at least $100 higher on most of the sites that I looked at. I am sure that you will be hearing from me alot in the up coming months. Thanks for your help and patience.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: frig./ freezer

    I have a somewhat similar set up.
    We have ~150watts of panel, 750ahmp hours of battery. We run a sort of hybrid 12vdc 120vac system. The 12vdc system was built first to power 12vdc lights, radio and such. As 120vac inverters became more available we added a 300 sine wave inverter. Our fridges are all propane, our water gravity fed, with propane demand hot water.

    We now power 120vac cfl lights ranging from 3-15 watts, the radio, the satelite internet system. We charge our laptops during the brightest parts of the day. I have a honda eu1000 generator, coupled to a Xantrex truecharge 20 charger. We very seldom have to run the generator except in the fall, where short days and grey skies tend to prevail.

    We have all the lights we need and most days the system fully recharges. There is a learning curve as to when to run loads and when not to, but we now have a system that works great 24/7. The biggest issue is realizing that you can reduce your loads to almost nothing without giving up comfort.
    Remember that if you size your system for large appliance loads (fridges, washing machine, shop tools etc) you will have a very large very expensive system that has too much capacity when you don't need those loads. If you don't have the ability to sell back to the grid the excess capacity it goes to waste. That is why in most cases that I have seen, it is cheaper and more effecient to run these big part time loads off the generator. (I also have a 5kw diesel generator that I use to run the shop tools. Very noisy, but uses 1 quart or less per hour of fuel).

    Our washing machine is a gasoline powered wringer type that uses about 1/4 cup o fuel per load.

    My best advice is to read and learn all you can about the kinds of things you want to do. This site is a great resource of very informed people who can steer you in the right direction(s), but only you can determine what you need. I will tell you, once you have a system, you will wish it were bigger. The trick is to make it bigger by being smart about what and when you use your loads.

    Good luck,


    PS If you do a google search for kerosene fridges and freezers you will find a lot of stuff. Dometic/Electrolux/Servel still makes and maintains ammonia absorbtion kerosene fridges/freezer for the international market. They are available in N-America, but they are hard to find.

    By the way, I would shy away from running a Norcold (or any other absorbtion fridge) on electric (12vdc or 120ac) as they are not very effecient in that mode. They are made primarily for the RV? Marine market where battery capacity is not an issue.

    Just for example, a 150litre dometic uses [email protected], [email protected], and 15 grams of propane per hour average. So you can see that you would need a minimum of 400 watts of panel just to power the fridge 24/7 (Assuming ~12hours of sun and normal loss rates). That is at 25c (about 75f) More in hotter and more humid weather. As someone once said,,"Do the math" It can be an eye opening experance.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: frig./ freezer

    Thanks icarus, This is the type of info I need to know and do not need to be buying things that may not even work for us on this new adventure. Yes, we are getting excited with the urge to run out and start buying a few things for the trip, but I see already that alot more reading and research needs to be done first. Just like you talking about using a Xantrex truecharge 20 charger. I have no idea what this is, but if it is on the net I will know all I can about one before tomorrow. Why did you change over from 12dc lights to 120vac? I was about to order some 12vdc 13 watt fl bulbs. I had read on an earlier post about your gas powered washing machine and was grinning the whole time I was reading about it. One thing my wife had said that she would like to have over there was a washing machine. I was hoping that she would forget about one after we go there. I could just see her cranking up a gasoline engine that ran the machine. As a kid I remember using an old ringer type machine that you had to run the clothes through some rollers to squeeze out the water. Quess your's may be simular to this? Thanks for your help.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: frig./ freezer

    I changed from 12vdc lights to 120vac cfl because since we have an inverter and a generator we have 120ac available. More importantly, there is a way better selection of 120vac bulbs available at reasonable prices. We run everything from 3 watt candellabra base cfl to 15 watt conventional bulbs. So many bulbs are now available with conventional shapes it makes it easy to do good, effecient lighting.

    As to the washing machine, wringer washers are still available both gas and electric. (Try The great thing about them is that they are tanks, and they use so much less water. At a cost of labour of course but what the heck,,,

    As to the Xantrex charger, it is a heavy duty charger that will put out full amperage on a small generator. The Honda eu1000 just idles along with the charger going full bore.

  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: frig./ freezer

    Might be worth considering Engel fridge/freezers. They're not cheap, but they're very energy efficient. See:

    The 80 liter model is ~2.8 cu. ft. Prices above are in Australian Dollars. The units are also available in the U.S. -- try this Google search string:

    Jim / crewzer
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: frig./ freezer

    HI there , Just a few thoughts to ponder... what are you going to use the lights for? reading room lighting, task specific use? I have a 12 v light system and am using MR16 LEDs ( track lighting base) 3w consumption gives you light equivalent to ~20 w quartz halogen (spot). They dont have the nice golden hue that QH does but lots of light. pricey though but the older tech versions with multiple LEDs aare now quite cheep. search EBay, lots of vendors. very tough construction ans 10,000 hr rating. you can get warm white but lower output.

    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: frig./ freezer

    The 1000w Honda has a built in inverter and probably the same as yours. I have done a good bit of reading on the LEDs that screwed into a regular socket. The only thing that I was concerned about was the amount of lumens and I had about decided to go with 12v flourscent. LEDs were very expensive on the sites that I looked at also. May still buy one after reading your post.
    I was told that Norcold and Engel were made by the same company and it seems that they perform about the same. Norcold advertises
    their sizes in cubic ft. and Engel in liters. They do look alike and priced about the same. Both have a switch where they can be used as a frig. or freezer. Wayne had asked in an earlier post about the 2.5 amps used being AC or DC? The smaller Norcold 1.5 cubic ft. holding 70lbs. uses .71 Amps AC and 2.5amps DC. I think that both of these are considered to be on the upper end of the small type frig./freezers.
    Thanks icarus for explaining the use of your Xantrex. From what I read about the honda generators that they ran according to the power needed. I can see if the Xantrex produces full power on the honda's idle speed that would conserve a good bit of power. Always enjoy looking at Lehman's, but had never looked at their washing machines though.

    You all are alot of help. Many of these things that I am asking you about I am planning to give a trial run before we go there to build.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: frig./ freezer

    A quick look at the Norcold web site,,, I couldn't find a fridge or freezer that used less than 12 [email protected] 12vdc (144watts) Some used as many as [email protected]

    Further looking, I found this They have freezers that use 40-80 watts ~6 amps , 350-500whrs/day. Interesting
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: frig./ freezer

    Yep, icarus the sundanzer would be my first choise if it were not for its size and weight. You can find the two Norcolds that I am looking at by typing in Camping World and then frig./freezer on their search. One is a 1.5cu. ft. and the other a 2.1 cubic ft. They look and perform like the engel that crewzer posted about earlier.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,022 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: frig./ freezer

    On one of the AE sites (maybe this one before the purge) there was a long discussion about brands, but what I remember most, is that the 2006 & later Energy Star fridges, are nearly as efficient as the whatsits, more interior room, and cost less.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    gen: ,

  • MoeMoe Solar Expert Posts: 60 ✭✭
    Re: frig./ freezer

    It appears the Norcold MRFT 40 sold at Camping World for $943.34 (if you aren't a member of the Presidents Club) or $849 (if you are), is the same as the Engle MT45. Here are the MT45 Power Consumption charts for different ambient temperature and cooler temperature settings. It is less than $700 from other sources.

    It also appears the Norcold MRFT 60 sold at Camping World for $1,165.56 (if you aren't a member of the Presidents Club) or $1049 (if you are), is the same as the Engel MT60. Here are the MT60 Power Consumption charts for different ambient temperature and cooler temperature settings. It is less than $1000 from other sources.

    These Engel refrigerators' compressors draw 2.5 amps and 4.2 amps respectively, but cycle on and off. The on vs off time (duty-cycle) increases as the ambient temperature rises and as the compartment temperature is decreased. The 0.7A rating of the MT45 is based on 2.5A times a 28% duty cycle.

    I have no experience with any of these but have read of the smaller MT35 using about 20-24 amp-hours per day in a tropical climate.

    I do have experience with Honda generators and strongly prefer the EU2000 over the EU1000. I've read from owners of the latter, who were successfully using them with 45 amp RV converter/chargers, experience overload when upgrading to 55-60+ amp converters with 3-stage charging capability (higher bulk mode load). The EU2000 runs the same loads as the EU1000 at a lower, less annoying rpm. We have two we parallel to run the RV air-conditioner. One alone will power pretty much anything we can plug into a 15A residential outlet.

    We also have about a dozen of the Thin-Lite 16W 12-volt fluorescent lamps in our RV and we really like them for whole-room lighting. They're mostly installed in pairs so both can be used when on shorepower and only one when boondocking. For an off-grid installation with larger battery bank, I'd use the 4-foot 32W Thin-Lites for the higher lumens/watt. For task-lighting, we're trying to convert everything else from halogen to LED.

    Hope this helps.
Sign In or Register to comment.