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Everyone is excited, we’re going CAMPING!!! Let’s get the rig ready for the big trip, bring it to the driveway, cool down the refrigerator and pack up all our stuff. We all do this, but most of us don’t know the precautions that should be taken before we just plug the unit in and stuff it full of goodies.
First, most driveways have a slight slant away from the garage for drainage. This slant might be enough to actually ruin our refrigerator if left running for even a couple of days! RV refrigerators or absorption refrigerators have no moving parts and rely on heat and gravity to create a chemical reaction and cool the refrigerator.
The solution is heated with either an LP flame or by plugging it into a 120- volt heat element. The solution rises up to the evaporator coil and must zig zag it’s way back to the boiler assembly by gravity. If the refrigerator is unlevel, approximately 6 degrees side to side and 3 degrees front to back, the solution will pool at one end and start to flake and become blocked. Eventually, the solution will not be able to make the cycle and not cool efficiently. Make sure the rig is level on the driveway by using the round level disc provided by the refrigerator manufacturer. This is a common issue as we are not sleeping in the coach at night and don’t notice it is not level.
Next, make sure you are plugging the unit into a dedicated outlet that has enough capacity for your rig. Too often owners simply plug the unit into a wall outlet thinking “I’m just cooling the refrigerator down”. When you plug your rig into an electrical outlet, the power goes to the distribution center and supplies 120-volt appliances AND the converter which will periodically charge your batteries. Even if you have everything in the rig off except the refrigerator, your batteries will drain slightly and the converter will kick on and charge the batteries. This can be as little a 2 amp draw, or up to 9 amps! Add that to the draw of the refrigerator which could be another 4-9 amps and you could have as much as an 18 amp draw. Most residential outlets are connected to a 10-15 amp circuit breaker which would not be enough for your rig. Plus, those outlets are usually “ganged” to other outlets with a refrigerator, freezer, or air compressor which would also draw from the circuit. It’s a good idea to have an electrician wire a dedicated outlet with at least a 20 amp circuit for your rig.
And finally, make sure your extension cord is rated for the correct draw and not over 25 feet. Typical medium duty cords you get from home improvement stores are only rated for 10 amps and not heavy enough for your needs. If you need an extension cord, make sure it’s rated for your needs and not over 25 feet.
Just a few precautions while gearing up for your great adventure will help eliminate headaches or worse so you can hit the open road!
About the author:
Dave Solberg: Managing Editor, RV Repair Club
For the last 25 years, Dave has conducted RV maintenance and safety seminars, developed dealer and owner training programs, written RV safety and handyman articles, authored an RV handbook reference guide and logged over 100,000 miles on the road in an RV.
RV Repair Club is your go-to online resource for enthusiasts who want quality RV maintenance, repair, and upgrade information – a community where passionate RVers can come together to gather knowledge and share their experiences.
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David P. ~ “I had to use the Coach-Net system for coach jack problems. They were very helpful in resolving the issue and i was able to continue my journey. This was the first time I had to use Coach-Net and it worked out great! When time to renew, I most definitely will. Thanks for all of the help!”
The writer of this article should stick to what they know. They obviously have no knowledge of how a house is wired.
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Not a helpful comment. What did the author get wrong? How could they have provided better information? You apparently have vastly superior knowledge, but useful and share it cordially. Rude comments without helpful info are as useful as teats on a bull.
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John Deegan said:
A dedicated RV rig outlet should be properly sized for the load and installed in accordance with electrical code requirements. In other words, it should be a dedicated 30 Amp or 50 Amp circuit to match the power requirements of the rig – not a 20 amp circuit as noted in the article. And, a professional electrician should be engaged to install a dedicated RV circuit. There are many things to take into consideration, such as wire size to minimize voltage drop, proper grounding and Code requirements. The cost of having an RV power outlet professionally installed will be minor compared to the potential costs of damage recovery as a result of using an undersized or improperly wired circuit, not to mention potential life and safety issues.
I really don’t see anything wrong with what was written for the article. All points mentioned are accurate and true. A dedicated circuit is best for your rig, at least 20 amps as stated in the article. That is more than sufficient to keep the batteries charged and the refrigerator running if necessary. Of course full power requirements for the rig would require a 30 or 50 amp dedicated circuit. The point is, a lot of owners probably do plug into an existing 15 amp circuit not fully understanding or realizing the minimum power requirements of their rig.
Tom Saroch said:
Why do some people show their behind by putting others down? They try to express their superior knowledge when they did not read the whole facts. Each situation in wiring is different, but the article covered the basics. The one comment was way off base when he stated” stick to what you know”. Perhaps that person should stick to what we know-he is an a#%, and showe it by his rude comment to someone that is trying to help others.
Max Rogers said:
Question: when referring to six degrees, are you talking front to rear of the refrigerator or front to rear of the motor coach? Example: I’m standing in front of my refrigerator and front to rear of the refrigerator is opposite of front to rear of the coach.