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Camper trailer solar and battery upgrade for a freezer

Discussion in 'Camping Trailers' started by Aaron Schubert, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. Aaron Schubert

    Aaron Schubert Moderator

    Hey guys,

    Figured I'd share the most recent change to our soft floor camper trailer, as I spent many, many hours reading up on options, deciding how to do it and buying the required gear. Hopefully it saves someone a bit of time!

    In essence, we purchased a 55L freezer for the camper trailer, and had to install 270Ah of batteries and 400W of solar to keep up. The panels are run from a Victron MPPT regulator and are permanently mounted.

    The freezer running at -15 to - 18 pulls about 650 - 1000 watts over 24 hours, which is 50 - 80 amps. In other words, a lot of power!

    It works brilliantly, with the batteries fully charged by 11 - 1PM ever day. I don't have to worry about moving panels around either, which is fantastic. We are off to Steep Point shortly, and will give it a real workout over 9 days.

    I wrote a detailed post about everything if you want more detail - Our Camper Trailer electrical and solar upgrade.


    Attached Files:

  2. Bigfish1

    Bigfish1 New Member

    What sort of 55 litre fridge pulls 50-80 amps a day. I used a 60 litre engel in the top end wet season for many years and it only pulled 40 amps/day at best... I now run a 47 and a 40 litre with 2 x 120 amp batteries and 120 watt panel. all good. Have you checked the fridges connections are clean and not causing a high resistence joint? Seems awfully high amp usage.
    komaterpillar likes this.
  3. Aaron Schubert

    Aaron Schubert Moderator

    It's running as a freezer mate. That's normal consumption for most 12V freezers at that temperature - negative 18 degrees. As a fridge it probably uses about 25 - 30 amps a day.

  4. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    Cruiser John and barcher like this.
  5. sharkcaver

    sharkcaver Well-Known Member

    If you are not freezing stuff to store for 3 months or more, you don't need anywhere near -18 degrees temperature. That will save you a hell of a lot of power. I understand you will be mainly targeting fillets, but I would just vac pack them, freeze at -7 to -10 or so and put them into deep freeze once back at home. Just my opinion like.
  6. Cruiser John

    Cruiser John Member

  7. TonyF8

    TonyF8 Active Member

    You dont need to run it at -18 to be a freezer, we run ours at about -5 with 28-30 degree ambient days and nothing thaws out, why burn up amps when you don't have to.
    komaterpillar likes this.
  8. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    I found this site useful too in trying to explain why a professionally designed and built system failed to provide enough power:
  9. Aaron Schubert

    Aaron Schubert Moderator

    The standard for keeping food frozen is -18. I'm sure you can run them much lower than that, and we would have too in the past when we used our setup as a fridge/freezer combination.

    We are going to be putting fresh fillets of fish in ours, so want them to freeze as quickly as possible and stay at -18 to get maximum longevity.

  10. sharkcaver

    sharkcaver Well-Known Member

    The standard for keeping food for 3 months or more is -18. For those of us travelling, replenishing food stocks on a fortnightly or even monthly basis, -18 is overkill. Massive overkill and power hungry.

    I had this argument before I left for a month trip on the CSR on this forum last year. I was not running a freezer at all and proved the point, my vac packed chicken (white meat is the worst scenario), lasted the 4 weeks and I didn't get sick. No freezer at all.

    Like I said, I understand your needs and getting those fillets frozen quicker is better. But I still argue that at -7 to -10, vac packed, your fillets will be fine.

    Anyway, best you have a great trip to Steep. I look forward with envy your report when you return.
    komaterpillar likes this.
  11. TonyF8

    TonyF8 Active Member

    Aaron, the FDA AND Foodsafe Australia state that to keep frozen food safe the freezer should be kept at 0 degrees or lower
  12. Aaron Schubert

    Aaron Schubert Moderator

    0 degrees Fahrenheit, which is -18 degrees in Celsius

    Mr Rum likes this.
  13. lr98

    lr98 Member

    Hi Aaron,

    Very informative link and a great build. Well done to you. I'm in the food industry myself. I agree with some comments saying that you may not need to run the freezer at -18, but it's your call and it will definitely snap freeze the fillets. You've built a great system capable of supplying power to run at such low temps, you may as well utilise it.

    dabbler and Aaron Schubert like this.
  14. Bigfish1

    Bigfish1 New Member

    Sounds like a good set up. Just finished a 2 week FNQ trip. Evakool 47 litre (fiberglass fridge) used as a freezer (-15) . It used about 60 amps a 24 hour period. Had to fire up genny once as we were camped in a shady area with not much sun for panels . 2 x 120 amp fullriver agms. Wont bother using a freezer again as vacuum pack will do me for several weeks. I was surprised at the amount of power used.
    Aaron Schubert likes this.
  15. GaryM

    GaryM Well-Known Member

    Theres a difference between storing frozen food, and freezing fresh food. When you freeze food, the ice crystals burst the cells of the meat, slow freezing, low freezing will make this worse. If Im reading it right, Aaron is catching fish to take home, so wants to freeze them.
    Aaron Schubert likes this.
  16. Aaron Schubert

    Aaron Schubert Moderator

    Yep, freezers suck the juice.

    Yeah, usually we bring fish home and freezing them quickly is pretty important, as you've explained.

  17. GaryM

    GaryM Well-Known Member

    Usually? Not so confident in your catching abilities? I suppose thats why its called fishing not catching. :p
  18. red99td5

    red99td5 Active Member

    In your article you mention how much of a pain it is bringing the big 160w folding panel, have you looked into bringing a 10m cable along so you could connect the car and trailer together so the trailers solar can put some charge into the house battery in the cruiser?
  19. Aaron Schubert

    Aaron Schubert Moderator

    Yeah, you know it. We do pretty well spearfishing most of the time, but still take backup food just in case!

    Yep, and I've actually just done that. I guess the portable panels are good insurance should you have to park the camper in shade. I've since sold our 80 though, so will have some adjustments to be made in the near future :)

  20. Batts88

    Batts88 Well-Known Member

    You can run the a great risk of bacteria growing it might look and feel frozen on the outside but it's a different story on the inside. Maybe ok for a few days but not long term not worth the risk of getting ill or hospitalised.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017

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