One of our challenges in the old Lance was how poorly the DC absorption refrigerator performed. Being only 6 cu.ft. also meant we were having to stock up on fresh produce every 3 days and we were unable to take advantage of sales or stock up our freezer with prepared meal portions. We cook nearly everything from scratch and one of us can still pack it away which means we go through a lot of fresh produce, dairy and meat/protein throughout a week. We set our sites on going up to a minimum of 10 cu.ft with as close to 3 cu.ft. freezer as we could get.

Researching the market of viable refrigerator choicse began over a year ago and, we had both added and removed models and their specs throughout the design phase. Of course, there was a spreadsheet!

Early on, one model from the solar refrigerator category stood out. It was a DC compressor running on 12VDC. The brand was EcoSolarCool and at 10cu.ft. it met our minimum size capacity. It did not meet all of our wishes, but the power needs were the lowest of our choices and easily fit our battery bank capabilities. As the time to click the buy button loomed, we found that they had stopped importing into the US.

After that letdown, we didn’t find anything in either the Solar or RV DC Compressor market that we were wanting to settle for. After scouring the 24″ apartment refrigerators out there, we had a group of models that we prioritized. We would narrow down the list as the purchase deadline loomed closer. This is now early December 2020 and we didn’t need to purchase anything for another 4-6 weeks based on lead times. Unfortunately, our top pick (readily available locally) disappeared by late December. There was no inventory to be had. Double checking our options led us to a couple models from Europe that we hadn’t noticed previously. When we dug deeper into the specifications, it was a no brainer to chase down the Blomberg 11.4 cu.ft high efficiency model. The shipping time was a big concern, but we weren’t any better off trying to purchase locally so, we pulled the trigger. Everything was taking multiple weeks and with the communication from the seller being mediocre, we definitely thought this was going to arrive too late. I started shopping for coolers so we could use a cooler for our shakedown trip!

Episode 14 Video

There are many who think a DC refrigerator is the only viable options over a typical absorption refrigerator for RV use but our research says otherwise. Speed control of AC refrigerator compressors using variable frequency drives coupled with electronic expansion valves is significantly more efficient that DC compressors. High efficiency residential refrigerators with this combination are on the market. If combined with a high efficiency inverter (~95%) with a low idle consumption, the AC combination can exceed the efficiency of a DC system. We dug into the numbers and found that our 120V AC, 11.4 cu.ft., high efficiency refrigerator (even with inverter losses) has more features, is equal in price and more efficient than a 10 cubic foot 12VDC compressor refrigerator. It is interesting to note Bomberg makes a standard efficiency unit with 10.3 cubic feet and a high efficiency unit with 11.4 cubic feet with virtually identical exterior dimensions. This evidently means that the space consumed by the compressor and heat exchangers is much less than a standard unit. In the end we have the features we want, even more space that we thought we’d get and we’re not taking a hit on power consumption or weight!

If it’s of interest, below is the power table we show in the video. We purchased the Blomberg BRFB1045SS High Efficiency model (not to be confused with the BRFB1044SS standard efficiency model). In our few days of usage and manually tracking the power consumption we are very impressed with how little it consumed relative to power available.

What’s next?

Phase 2 of the rig work is continuing. Vehicle maintenance and updates have been the focus the last several days including adding a new leaf spring to the F350. And we’ll skip any videos for those, less interesting topics. To mix things up a bit, we’ll do the trail run trip video next and take a break from the build topics.

Once the vehicle work is completed, Steve still has 2 large efforts to get completed. One is the water system needs to work and the shower built. The other is mounting and wiring in the remaining 4 solar panels for a total of 5 x 190W panels (950W total).

If you missed a couple of our Instagram posts with the sunset we had front row seats too, check these out!

180 degree sunset from our Bradshaw Trail Campsite

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