Shortly before I went camping in March, I noticed the monitors and water pump weren’t working. I have mobility issues and my neighbor noticed the propane tank looked a bit old, so I wasn’t going to have propane. Fortunately, I had shore power and my 110 outlet worked, so I was able to cook with my Instant Pot, even boil water to rinse dishes. I could do without running water for 4 nights. Obviously, not long term and I hope to live in the van when all is working.
Last Nov, I had a 160w solar panel installed at the Enigmatic Nomadics Van Build, with two marine batteries that I only recently realized aren’t deep cycle. Someone on Cheap RV Living told me they’re really 57 ah, while they read 135 each. Alas, I bought 3 more before I realized that. My mechanic and I completely misunderstood each other’s camping styles. I assumed he’d know to use marine batteries because he has a trailer, but he assumed I’d be plugged in or using the genny...so he replaced the old batteries with the same kinds automotive starter batteries.
Other than the 12v plug where the TV was, everything seemed to work great then. I’d bought a 3000w inverter, but the electrical engineer who led my install team said it would drain power and my Xantrex 1200 was great (I assumed it would be outdated).
Last night, I tried charging my phone on the 110 and it didn’t work. I originally forgot to plug the bypass into the inverter, but even after I did that and plugged in the inverter, nothing.
I suspected it might be fuses for the monitor and pump, but how can I tell an RV fuse has blown? I’ve had to trip the breaker a couple times at my parents’ house and a few apartments. Don’t think I’ve changed a fuse, but could tell when one needed replacing and had maintenance do it. I used to be generally handy, but definitely no background in electrical. I turned the breakers off and back on, but nothing. Only the house light works and I assume the fans, but forgot to try them.
Even without these issues, I have a few projects I’d like to get done: install 12v & USB outlets on couch, add a 160 W flex panel, add the additional batteries or get AGMs, replace the automotive house batteries, rewire stereo to house batteries (has anyone had an issue with battery drain? Would like to use stereo for a couple hours a day when parked or at drive in, rear speakers work). Hope to get it all done at once.
Also need to get genny fixed because bad gas got into it and probably change propane tank. Honestly, I’d love to get rid of it and get an electric fridge and induction burner. Already have a convection oven. Or install a camp oven that uses small bottles of propane.
First, has anyone had an issue with the monitors or water pump? Was it fuses or something else? I see many inexpensive sets of fuses, any brand reccs/warnings?
Second, I know most people say it’s almost impossible to run a mini-fridge in a van, especially on 110. Yet I see many Skoolies and Sprinters that do, and even a few B190s. If you’ve done it, what’s your solar/battery system like? Given the layout of my van, a cooler-shaped 12v fridge won’t fit, except on tub. They’re also almost as expensive as RV fridges. I’d rather invest in solar and batteries. If I can find someone to do it affordable, I’d love to take the tub out and add storage.
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Proud 1990 B190 newbie owner
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It's unusual for a fuse to randomly blow, though - it's normally either a sign of too much power being drawn, or a short circuit somewhere. Replace the fuse, but if it blows again, you're going to need to do some diagnosis. Don't put a larger fuse in, either, because that's a good way to have a fire. I'd buy a pack of 20 amp (or whatever size they are) fuses. They're pretty cheap. Some packs of fuses include a little tool that makes it a bit easier to grab them.
I rewired my stereo to the coach power, and I haven't had an issue with battery drain from it - they really don't draw a lot of power. My guess is that you'd use more power on practically anything else.
For the compressor fridge: This one draws 1.3 amps. 1.3 amps times 120 volts = 156 watts when it's running. You have to decide whether that's too much or not. (That was the first one I found that had power specifications on the page. I'm not recommending that specific fridge.) For reference, your absorption fridge in electric mode draws something like 360 watts. Also, both of those are probably maximums, the regular draw is probably lower. I'd need to test it with a kill-a-watt meter to know for sure (I should have done that when I was playing with it last summer...oh well). Note both of these are going to incur inverter losses as well - that is, the conversion from 12 volts DC to 120 volt AC is not 100% efficient, so you'll lose some more battery power simply to that conversion.
The other option for fridges are the Danfoss cycle fridges. But they're more expensive. This one (again, just the first in my search) says it draws 6 amps at 12 volts, which is 72 watts, half the power requirement of the dorm fridge. This also doesn't need the inverter, so it saves some electricity that way. (Actually it says it averages 40 watts. That's not bad!)
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer
WBCCI #13270, Washington, DC Unit