RV Appliance Strategy

Propane 12V blah blah blah is almost never worth it. Here’s an example with the fridge in our RV, swapped out today.

Existing fridge: Dometic something 12v + 120v + propane. When I turn it on, it drains my batteries overnight even with 9kWh storage and 2kW solar. I suspect it’s just heating the condensor(?) as it would with propane but indefinitely. After 4+ hours thinking and futzing with it, I give up. Cost: $0 cash (came with Ballena Blanca), 4+ hours labor.

New fridge: biggest one at Walmart that would fit in opening left upon removing old fridge. 120v and that’s it. Cost: <$300; this is substantially more than it would have cost in the U.S. (we picked it up earlier this week in La Paz. Bonus: I got to accidentally break the tempered glass in a display oven by tipping it over as I tried to lift the fridge from behind it. The Energy-Star-equivalent tag on it specs maximum yearly energy consumption as <300kWh per year and informs me that this is a *less efficient* model. Cost: <$300, <1 hour labor to remove old fridge and put this one in. Definitely we should add door bungees or something before moving. Probably we should turn it off when/if moving + some time after to protect the compressor from damage with the oil shaking around or whatever it is. We could get fancy and automate this with an accelerometer + relay controlling the outlet, and we almost definitely won’t bother:)

New propane RV ones? LOL: $1500 for a similar-sized one, which is over a quarter what I paid for the entire RV. Also, we’d continue to run explosive gas through our highly-flammable abode.

This is probably the biggest difference in appliance cost, but lesson is even more salient if you add on other accoutrements: use a more mass-produced, generic alternative unless a very compelling reason to go more niche. Yes you’ll need a bigger battery + solar and/or generator if going off-grid for longer periods, but the difference in cost + ability of replacement parts make this well worth it in my not-so-humble opinion.

Or, get really good at hybrid RV refrigerator repair and prove me wrong. There’s a Dometic waiting for you next to my storage container in El Sargento;)

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