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Main Forum => General Discussion => Topic started by: judymoreland on September 09, 2010, 01:07:45 pm

Title: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: judymoreland on September 09, 2010, 01:07:45 pm

We are going to take delivery of our brand new PC 2551 next week.  It's very exciting, but I have lots of questions since this is the first motorhome.  How do you keep your refrigerator running (and your food cold) when you're driving down the road.  I've heard it is not safe to have the LP tanks "open" when driving.  If you don't use LP, what keeps it going?  Any thoughts are very welcome.

Title: Re: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: Ron Dittmer on September 09, 2010, 02:16:20 pm

You were misinformed on LP usage when driving.  Appliances using LP should be turned off only when the RV is indoors like in a garage, or outside at a gas station or LP filling area.  This to prevent asphyxiation indoors or an RV appliance igniting gas station fumes.  But any other time including driving the motor home, it is perfectly safe.

The hot water heater and the fridge would be the 2 most likely appliances using propane when pulling into a gas station.  The proper thing to do is turn them both off, which is extremely easy to do using their controls.  The hot water heater has switches located just under the kitchen counter, and the fridge has an on/off switch right in between the upper freezer and lower fridge doors.  Most people like myself leave the hot water tank off until at a destination because propane or electricity both heat up the water very quickly.

Your Phoenix Cruiser refrigerator, it will have either a 2-way or 3-way power system as follows.

1) 110v opperation (when plugged into a power source in a camp ground or at home)
2) propane opperation, also requiring 12v but only a small amount to control when the propane goes on and off

1) 110v opperation (when plugged into a power source in a camp ground or at home)
2) propane opperation, also requiring 12v but only a small amount to control when the propane goes on and off
3) 12v opperation exclusively (uses a lot of battery power to work)

People have told me that 3rd method in full 12v opperation, is real hard on the batteries.  It is useful only when driving, and only when the outside temperature is below a certian temp.  I don't know what that is.  When it get's too hot outside, the #3 12v opperation looses effectiveness quickly.

We have a 2-way fridge in our 2007 Phoenix Cruiser.  We use the #2 propane opperation almost exclusively and it works great, even when driving.  It also uses very little propane.  One day running the furnace will use more propane than the fridge does in 3 weeks.  The fridge still needs 12v but very little, only to control when the fridge cycles on and off.  The main power requirement is through propane usage.  I don't know how heat from propane makes a fridge cold, but I can say that it works extremely well.

When in a campground with electricity, plug your motor home there and switch propane to electric and that works great too.  In our case, we most often camp where there is no electricity which is why we use the propane setting most often.

You'll have a lot more questions.  Just keep asking.

Title: Re: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: TomHanlon on September 09, 2010, 03:19:58 pm
Hi Judy,

You most likely will get the same refer and water heater that is in my 2010 PC. Yes, like Ron said you can leave the LP on while driving, on a motorhome with the LP in a frame mounted tank like we have, there is a safety cutoff if the tank is damaged in an accendent. The trailer folks have to turn off their tanks when traveling. This is where some people get that the LP must be turned off.

The refer can be set to Auto and it will use the electric option when it is available, else it will automaticaly switch to LP. My refer uses the inverter to run off the batteries if I am not plug into 110v at a campground or home.  Driving recharges the batteries or plugging into 110v will also. Or you can select either the 110v elec or the LP option but I don't know why you would want to do that. I am lazy and like to let things take care of themseleves when possible. If you are dry camping, you will want to set it to LP.

As for the water heater, it will run on 110v when plugged in, not off the inverter, and/or the LP.  We turned on the electric when we left home two weeks ago and have not touched it since. The water stays hot all day and we plug in at the campground every night. My way of thinking is I only need the LP when I don't have electric hookups (dry camping) or when in a real big hurry to get hot water. Again it has been on electric since leaving home and we have not used the LP.

We have also been able to use the electric heat strip in the A/C to keep us warm at night. Two nights ago in West Yellowstone, it went down to 21 degrees and we stayed toastie.

I feel you will really enjoy your new motorhome and if you have any questions ask away. Someone on here knows the answer and we have most likely "been there and done that."
Title: Re: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: PJ Corey on September 09, 2010, 08:00:54 pm
Hi Judy,  Many people do keep their fridges going on LP while driving.  I don't.  I have found that if I put the fridge/freezer on one day before a trip and get the fridge cold and the freezer frigid and fill it up the night before or the morning I am leaving I can keep everything cold/frozen with the addition of a big zip lock bag of ice in the freezer and one in the fridge for a three or four hour trip to my destination and then turn it on, either LP or electric,  once settled in my camp site.  I have never had anything frozen defrost on me when I add the ziplock bag full of ice.  Plus, the ice comes in handy later.  Just my way doing it.

Santa Fe
2010 2551S
Title: Re: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: mciai2000 on September 09, 2010, 08:11:04 pm
First off, congrats on the new purchase.  How exciting is that???  We also have 2010 2350.

We still use our fridge and hot water heater the same way I did back in the 70's.  When we leave our campsite in the morning we turn off both our fridge and water heater and travel all day without either in operation.  When we get to our campsite we start the fridge (elec or gas) and start the water heater on gas.  Once the water heater is up to temp I switch to electric if available.  I always have bagged ice in the freezer for ummmm mixed drinks and that keeps the fridge unit chilled all day. We never have any condensation or water issues.  Today's fridges are so well made that they keep cold all day without power.

As you can see, there are many options available to you.  It is just a matter of how you most feel comfortable. Most importantly have fun!! :)(:
Title: Re: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: Ron Dittmer on September 09, 2010, 09:33:44 pm
By the way Judy, I too congratulate you on your purchase.  If your's is being built right now, we here on the forum might have some suggestions as to what options are good, and which are a "must-have".

For example, some people elect to get the standard single pane windows.  We were talked into getting the double/thermal pane glass, which we are so happy we did.  The motor home is much more quiet to sleep in when parked overnight in rest areas and Walmarts.  A semi truck idling next to us is tollerable now.  It's much warmer on cold nights greatly reducing the radiated cold coming down on you when sleeping.  It also stays cooler inside on real hot days, allowing the dash board a/c to cool down the entire house.

The themal pane glass is also great when on the open road.  Trucks that roar past are much less an unpleasent experience.   My wife enjoys some of her time in back sitting at the dinette.  She'll play a movie, have a cup of coffee on the table, and go through the vacation pictures on her laptop, all while watching the world go by.

We do long multi-day driving to get to and from our destinations, so the commutes are a big part of our experience.  The thermal pane windows help make it more enjoyable.

So what options did you order?
Title: Re: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: Bob Mahon on September 10, 2010, 04:41:38 am
Congratulations on your Phoenix.
We seldom “Dry camp” so our use is a bit different than Ron Dittmer’s.
Like others, I have my opinions, as listed below:
1.   Reefer: I manually set the Reefer on Propane when driving and change to electric when in a campground. I do this to help me remember to shut off the Reefer when fueling. Obviously you don’t want a flame when taking fuel. This has worked well for us in over 25 years of having various rigs.
A word of warning: If you have the 3-way Reefer, I’d suggest you not run it on 12-volts. Doing so requires a lot of current and unless very heavy wires and high amp alternator supply it, it can stop you dead. I speak from personal experience from experience with 2 separate units. 
2.   Water heater: We use electric exclusively and turn it on & off manually. I will say our Phoenix has the best water heater we’ve ever had. It’s fast and the water is very hot, which is just fine for us.
3.   Dual-pane widows:  I do not like them because our last 2 units had them and over time the seals went south and the windows fogged between the glass panes due to condensation. This is a fairly common problem and there is no easy fix; the windows must be completely removed and rebuilt with new seals. I found this particularly annoying with our Alpine and it is expensive. I’d rather put up with a little extra noise and use the heat-strip or furnace on very cold nights than have to go through the window repair again.

As to the quality of a Phoenix; our other units were considerably larger (and more costly) but, after completing an almost 11,000 mile trip this summer, I must say the PC quality is just as high as our Alpine was and it’s easier to drive. It’s certainly less expensive to operate/maintain, easier to maneuver and doesn’t require that we tow a car for the side trips when away from home.

With the help available on this forum, I’m sure you’ll be able to have any questions answered and I think your biggest problem will be deciding where you want to go next (you can always do the Captain Kirk thing; point and say “That way”).

You’re gonna love it.
Title: Re: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: judymoreland on September 15, 2010, 08:05:21 am
To everyone,

Thank you all for your comments.  You've got a lot of experience and I appreciate the input.  We are upgrading from a trailer, so that may be why I thought you "had to " turn off the LP before traveling. 

We go to pick up the PC tomorrow.  In response to your question, we ordered the 2551 with the convenience package (don't know why anyone would not), the awning, slide out, power seat, leveling jacks, surround sound, backup camera, leather seats and sofa.  We added a few special things, like an additional fantastic fan, roof covers for all the fans, beefed- up hitch, reading lights over the beds, a place for the kitty litter box under the street side bed, small shelves at the end of each bed on the wardrobes, etc.  We didn't order the double windows.  Maybe we'll regret that decision.

We plan to do a lot of dry camping too.  I'm so glad to hear from folks who have this product and are so pleased.  This is a very large investment.  I want to have made the right decision with the Phoenix.  So far, so good.

Title: Re: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: Ron Dittmer on September 15, 2010, 11:30:00 am
You went "All Out" except for the thermal windows.  You probably won't miss them if you never experienced them.  Hopefully you won't have regrets down the road.

Doing a lot of dry camping?  You'll be doing well in your PC for that.  On our trips, we'll dry camp 6 out of 7 days over a 3 week period, hooking up once a week to charge our batteries better than we can with limited generator run times using my smart 4/10/20/40 amp Black & Decker charger.

I never bother hooking up water and sewer anymore because it's not worth the effort given we are so well groomed for dry camping.  So our on-board water pump (with my added pressure tank) is used exclusively.  If our vacations were the kind where we plant ourselves in RV parks for extended periods, I'd be thinking conventionally.

About your comment...."Very Large Investment", that hits home.  Three years running and so far so good here too.  Our investment looks like this in rounded figures.

- $67,000 purchase price
- $5,000 in sales tax and related
- $4,000 suspension upgrades
- $2,000 interior upgrades and other initial investment supplies (I installed two TVs, one with integrated DVD which covered about half that)
- $2,000 in towing and braking kits (installing everything myself)

$80,000 pretty much sums it up for us, doing it once, doing it right, no regrets.  This thing better outlast us, ha, ha.
Title: Re: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: Ron Dittmer on September 15, 2010, 12:15:30 pm
Judy, One more thing I'll add here.

I see the waste tank specs on your 2551  is the same as my 2350.  The gray tank is the smaller of the two.  If yours is plumbed the same as mine, plan to flood the black tank with gray water once in-between dumps.  No harm in it at all.  It's just that you'll fill the gray tank long before you run out of fresh water, and the black tank will be near empty, most often when showering.  My wife will yell to me, "Honey, the water is not going down the shower drain".  I'll go out and toggle those two electric switches, wait 10 seconds, toggle them back, and wholla!
Title: Re: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: Dick & Trish on September 16, 2010, 07:52:55 pm


I've enjoyed reading the forum and feel that I have learned much over the past couple of months.  My wife and I have been RV owners since 1996.

Your comment about transferring gray water to the black water tank is interesting.  I need to know how to do it as I know that sooner or later I'll need to do it.  Can you explain the procedure?

Title: Re: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: mciai2000 on September 16, 2010, 09:01:30 pm
Well Ron, I can see you are putting your engineering degree to work again.  I too am curious how you fill the black tank. Please explain further.  With two kids who love to get dirty i too would find that info useful....

Title: Re: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: Ron Dittmer on September 16, 2010, 10:16:22 pm
My fellow Cruisers,

Flooding the black tank with gray water or visa-versa is "Extremely" easy.  This is the process.

1) Open the access panel to the Sani-Con system
2) Press the gray tank electrical switch to open the gray water tank valve (water will make a gurggling sound)
3) Press the black tank electrical switch to open the black sewage tank valve (water rushes in from the gray to the black)
4) Wait a minute to allow the gray water to balance out between tanks
5) Reverse steps 3 to 1

No fuss, no mess.  Once in a great while I will do it twice before dumping.

I take no credit for that either.  That was explained to me by Phoenix USA during our inspection when picking it up there new in 2007.

BTW:  No degree here.  Just a high school diploma.
Title: Re: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: mciai2000 on September 18, 2010, 09:11:58 pm
Ron, thanks for the info. I know that will come in handy. Btw, more often than not the school of hard knocks is a lot more useful than the school of higher education.....

Title: Re: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: judymoreland on September 23, 2010, 02:47:13 pm

We are now in possession of a beautiful motorhome.  We camped near Elkhart over the weekend to do a "shakedown", then went back to Elkart to have a few minor things fixed.  I can't say enough about how helpful, polite, frendly, and generally wonderful Kermit, Bob and Amanda were.  We got our PC fixed in a couple of hours and got on the road back to Ohio.  The PC is in the driveway now waiting for another camping trip this weekend.  The first for the cat.

Thanks for the tip about equalizing the black and grey tanks.  I've wondered why the grey tank was so small especially in relation to the black.  Equalizing the two tanks would certainly help with that.

Title: Re: Using refrigerator while driving
Post by: Ron Dittmer on September 23, 2010, 03:39:40 pm
Congrats Judy!

You'll have more questions.  Don't be shy.