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Old 08-21-2020, 04:12 PM   #1
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Windsport 29M
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THOR #10254
Outdoor Refrigerator

I've had two outdoor refrigerators quit on me, so I'm looking for a sanity check.

The 1st failure was a PD model that was still under warranty and was replaced with another PD model (looked like an exact match).

That one worked OK for about 9 months & then we started seeing sporadic results. If we were at home, it would get contents cold. But once we hit the road using the inverter, it was hit and miss. Some stops would be cold and some stops we would find the inside contents to be warm.

Some times we could unplug for a bit & then get it going again. Other times, it wouldn't restart. But the next trip, it would work again. Not very trustworthy.

Since we don't have a large residential refrigerator, my plan all along was to use this for my beer cooler. I can't have cold beer getting hot...that's no bueno!

I have the stock Xantrex XPower 1000 modified sine wave inverter.
The manual states ...
"the inverter's high surge capability lets you handle many hard-to-start loads, including large TV's, refrigerators and small freezers".


I tested the outlets by plugging in other devices and they always had power (whether on shore power or running off inverter power).

I did check the outlet power output with a multi meter on both shore & inverter. Shore power checked out fine. BUT, on inverter power, instead of 120 volts, I was only getting 104 volts. Initially, I thought that was my problem.

However, the Trouble Shooting guide for the Inverter says for readings between 96-104 the most likely resolution is to upgrade my cheap Harbor Freight multi meter to one "that can accurately read True RMS voltage of a modified sine wave."

I was pretty confused at this point & really didn't feel like dropping $100 or more on a new multi meter (some are $300 or more!).

My thoughts are that maybe the refrigerator over-heated during travel due to high heat and poor circulation when the outdoor kitchen is all buttoned up.

So, I decided to take a gamble with my $100 on a new Sunbeam 2.7 cu ft refrigerator to replace the PD model. Similar dimensions to the old PD unit.

My super talented brother-in-law can seriously fix anything. He helped me wire in a fan to help circulate air flow in the outdoor kitchen compartment, in the top back corner of the outdoor kitchen. We figured hot air rises, so we'd be better off mounting it high.

He had an old computer fan & drilled many holes through the back wall to match the fan outline to make sure the air would be pushed out properly.
Once mounted, we put some wire mesh over the fan to keep fingers safe from any fan blades.

Under the cabinet, there is enough open air space to make sure I get a good pull of fresh air, so I didn't mess with anything there. I had a gap big enough that my fingers were able to get through from the top side of the rubber/plastic compartment bin.

I just finished a 4 day trip with the new design. During the 1st day, we left the campground for about 5 hours. When we returned, the sides of Sunbeam were hot. I didn't have the fan plugged in and I had the door shut during 90 degree temps that day (doh!). So, I kept the fan plugged in during the day from there on. At night, I unplugged the fan. Each morning, I would go out and check and the refrigerator was running but definitely not hot.

The trip home was great. It was only a 3 hour drive, but I had the fan running the whole time & when we got back, the refrigerator was working but cool to the touch. To be fair, the temps didn't hit 90 that day, but were in the mid 80's by the time we rolled home.

I'm not sure if this will be the right long term solution, but I figured if this is a
mistake, I'm only out $100.

Someday, I should probably upgrade to a True Sine Wave inverter, but hoping this set up will work for a few years.

Does this sound like a reasonable resolution to my refrigerator problems?
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Old 08-21-2020, 04:20 PM   #2
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Sounds reasonable

When we had the Challenger 37ND, in the 5 years we owned the coach we never had an issue with the outdoor fridge. I will say, however, when we traveled in the summer the generator was normally running so we could use the coach AC.
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Old 08-21-2020, 04:38 PM   #3
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That's a great thought. I rarely run the genny while we're traveling. For the hot days, maybe that's an extra safeguard I should do.

I appreciate the input.
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Old 08-21-2020, 05:17 PM   #4
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I broke my original fridge, don't ask how, and replaced it with an $80 walmart special. I haven't had any problems with it. Well at least I haven't noticed a problem It also has a very small freezer section that works. The inverter powers it, I dont run the gen very often when driving


Your solution is interesting and hopefully works for you. Getting that hot air out should help a lot

Jerry
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Old 08-21-2020, 05:51 PM   #5
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BandG,
I think you got it!
Your thought that it was overheating under certain conditions sure seems to have been proven correct!

https://www.thorforums.com/forums/at...1&d=1598028687
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Old 08-21-2020, 06:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by halfprice View Post
I broke my original fridge, don't ask how, and replaced it with an $80 walmart special. I haven't had any problems with it. Well at least I haven't noticed a problem It also has a very small freezer section that works. The inverter powers it, I dont run the gen very often when driving


Your solution is interesting and hopefully works for you. Getting that hot air out should help a lot

Jerry
Thanks Jerry. The new Sunbeam also came with a small freezer section. As long as I can keep this thing working, we were happy to have a bit more freezer room as well. Hope the heat wave breaks for you soon.

Stay safe.
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Old 08-21-2020, 06:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Denman View Post
BandG,
I think you got it!
Your thought that it was overheating under certain conditions sure seems to have been proven correct!

https://www.thorforums.com/forums/at...1&d=1598028687
Thanks Bob. I have some smaller trips planned up through fall (3 hour drives).

Covid willing, we have a longer trip planned to Florida either late fall/early winter. I'll have longer drive times & multiple stops, but in cooler weather.

I'm not sure I can totally rule out a failing inverter quite yet. But after that trip, I should know for sure where the root of the issue is.

Sure hoping I have it nailed down, but as always, we will "adapt & over come any obstacle".

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Old 08-21-2020, 07:07 PM   #8
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Great attitude!
Good luck!
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Old 08-21-2020, 07:28 PM   #9
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Me?
I'd go to harbor freight, use their occasional inverter coupon and put that fridge on its own inverter for $120 or less.
The inverter will also power a small fan or use a 12v fan.

And there's a fair chance there's an outside air overheat circuit in the fridge that kicks it off on occasion.
This is why you unplug and replug and it works.

(early Durango suv had such a thing. Car ac would not work in lake havasu summers.)

And
While you're there get a compressor to run off your new inverter.
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Old 08-21-2020, 09:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ducksface View Post
Me?
I'd go to harbor freight, use their occasional inverter coupon and put that fridge on its own inverter for $120 or less.
The inverter will also power a small fan or use a 12v fan.

And there's a fair chance there's an outside air overheat circuit in the fridge that kicks it off on occasion.
This is why you unplug and replug and it works.

(early Durango suv had such a thing. Car ac would not work in lake havasu summers.)

And
While you're there get a compressor to run off your new inverter.
Good idea. I wasn't sure about trading one cheap inverter for another. I do know if I ever make the leap to another inverter, it will be a Pure Sine Wave.

I already have a pretty decent air compressor, but damn those Harbor Freight stores!...every time I go in for just one thing, I come out with a whole cart full!
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Old 08-21-2020, 10:50 PM   #11
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I have had zero problems with the outdoor fridge on my 29M. I keep my coach plugged in at home so the coach always has power. On the road, I never use the inverter and only run the genny while driving in late July, August and early September when the temperatures in the south is close to unbearable. I don't open the outdoor kitchen door during the driving day, so the refer acts like a big cooler. After setting up at a new campsite the beer and soda is always cold in the outdoor refer. I rarely give the fridge a thought.
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Old 08-23-2020, 09:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lt Keefer View Post
I have had zero problems with the outdoor fridge on my 29M. I keep my coach plugged in at home so the coach always has power. On the road, I never use the inverter and only run the genny while driving in late July, August and early September when the temperatures in the south is close to unbearable. I don't open the outdoor kitchen door during the driving day, so the refer acts like a big cooler. After setting up at a new campsite the beer and soda is always cold in the outdoor refer. I rarely give the fridge a thought.
Thank you. I just heard the same thing from a buddy of mine this evening. He runs his genny and doesn't have issues.

From what I've read, the generator produces a cleaner current than the modified sine wave inverter.

So maybe it's not over-heating as much as I'm slowly choking it over time with a lesser quality of current.

It sounds like I'd be better off using the generator more & relying on the inverter less.

I'll start doing that & see how it holds up over the next year or so.
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Old 08-23-2020, 12:37 PM   #13
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Speaking of "Outdoor Refrigerators"
Drive around in our Town a bit, and you'll start to see them.
There's the HUGE ones in the garage that's full of "Barley-Pops"...
There's always the ones on the front porch: right next to the couch that's been pulled out of the living room because of the flea infestation.
And the ones on the back porch that couldn't fit through the door!
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