dead refrigerator problem. To recap, my Dometic 3-way refrigerator never worked properly and pretty much died. After using the van for 2 substantial trips, I find the requirement to park level to be a lot of trouble. I'm this van's 3rd owner so I really don't know how it was used before. The more I thought about it and researched options, the less I wanted to have it run on propane and the heat absorption method. I've heard it said that when they work, they work well but but when they don't, they are nothing but trouble. I had the latter.
I was researching marine refrigerators with the Danfoss compressors and liked what I read. Very efficient 12V compressors. I finally settled on the Isotherm Cruise 130 with the ASU as the right fridge for me. I pulled the trigger today and ordered it from Defender.com. They ship it by truck even tho it fits in the specs for Fed-ex or UPS shipping. Apparently, there are too many complaints about damage from them, so the most responsible companies insist on shipping it by truck.
It seems that those who use these in RVs are happy with them and I found a couple of posts on how to install. The ASU is quite expensive but it really cuts down on the amount of battery use. It senses when there is a good charging voltage from the alternator or shore power and freezes what amounts to a cold pack unit. Then, when using battery as the power source, it keeps the fridge cold for hours before the compressor needs to come on again. Reports are that this can work for 8 hours. There are some detailed threads in the Sportsmobile forums about people who use this fridge and a smattering of posts elsewhere.
The new fridge will fit into the old cabinet space with a little extra room that I will fill with extra insulation. It has about 1.5 cu. ft. more interior space than the old one had at 4.6 cu ft. It comes as 12V only but I could get a 110V connection for it. I don't think I will do that as the batteries get charged reliably when I have 110V so I don't see why it needs to run on 110V. It is rated at using 400 watts per 24 hours which means it uses about 32 amps/24 hrs. Real world reports are about 18 amps/24 hrs. as it doesn't run constantly.
It was an expensive item but I want to be miserly with my battery usage but still have a reliable fridge. I decided the extra cost of the ASU would be worth the gentle battery usage over time. It has a very small freezer that will not be adequate for my pet food. I feed my animals a raw diet so I will need some more freezer space. My plan is to get a portable refrigerator/freezer to be able to get several pounds of meat and keep it for them. There is space behind the passenger seat that is not in the way for that unit.
Now, another consideration is solar panels. Now or later?