You are here

Comments for RV Travel Newsletter Issue 828

  • Once again, an excellent and informative issue. Thank you.
    Perhaps you could present both sides of the residential refrigerator “debate”.
    After replacing one RV type `fridge, and having the next worked on or repaired numerous times, I elected to install residential knowing I limit my camping options, but tired of having to cope with the headaches that came with the RV type `fridge. Will be looking to upgrade / change RV, and will most likely go with the standard gas / electric.

  • just wondering where you are staying…looks to be near Ingram, TX. We will be at the Johnson Creek RV Park and Resort for the month of February, just a few miles north-northwest of Ingram. This will be our third winter visit there. We are from Ottertail, MN, not too far from Frazee where you saw the world’s largest turkey statue a couple of years ago.

  • Chuck, your continued lamentation that the world of RV’ing has changed, that people want bigger, more luxiourious rigs is getting old. Dude, let go of the past, people and times have changed, most of us now don’t want to boondock, but rather, travel around the country, exploring, in comfort. Yes we have to plan ahead more to get in to a preferred RV park, so what, we have done this for every other type of travel since we were born, ie plan ahead. Instead of moaning about the good old days, why don’t you start writing about the RV’ing world as most of us enjoy it today, not how it was. Your magazine would be much more useful and relevant to most of us.
    P.S. I have a 38′ class A (with a big, beautiful residential frig, 3 TV’s, fireplace, etc). I spend about 4 months out of the year traveling around the US, and I don’t find it a hassle to go and camp where I want to, just the opposite, all my trips seem to always be enjoyable, that’s why I RV.

    • Leo, I disagree about living in the past. I’m writing specifically about how things are changing, for the good, for the bad, depending on how one uses his or her RV. That’s about today, not the good ol’ days. As I wrote today, these residential fridges are for “living” not “camping.”

      You write: “Most of us now don’t want to boondock, but rather, travel around the country, exploring, in comfort.”

      No argument there. But for those RVers who do wish to take their “self-contained RVs” out into the desert, a BLM or Forest Service campground where other RVs are around, then don’t go bothering your neighbor with your noisy generator two to three hours a day just so you can run your refrigerator. I run mine on propane on those occasions, which respects my neighbor.

      Have you noticed the ads for the RV industry, showing RVs in gorgeous settings, away from crowds, the RVers enjoying the peace and quiet. I like that idea. But in reality, what I see a whole lot more is crowded RV parks with my neighbor 12 feet away.

      “Going where you want when you want” isn’t true much anymore as the industry advertises. I’ll bet 98 percent of RVers with residential refrigerators camp in RV parks rather than in the boondocks, which seems to agree with what you are saying. So where will they, and all the other half-million new RVers each year, stay when so many more RVers with all-electric refrigerators are basically unable to stay where there are no hookups, which means crowding into already crowded RV parks? That, Leo, is about today, not the good ol’ days.

      I don’t moan about the good ol’ days, as you say. I reflect on change and do my best to interpret what I see.

      I’ll be writing more about this.

    • I agree with Chuck, I hate to have to plan my stays just so I have a site to park in. If I didn’t require a CPAP for me and my wife we would be in the National Forests all the time. I can go for maybe a week but as my generator is propane that limits my time away from the plug. I do miss the old days and the simplicity of hopping in the rig and getting away. I don’t need the TVs and stereo and if it wasn’t for the local weather report I would not have repaired the dash radio when it died. Wife insisted it be repaired.

      • Good morning Ed. I use CPAP too. I wired a 12 volt plugin straight up from batteries into bedroom and bought a 12 volt power supply for CPAP.
        Bingo… into the bush. Your CPAP supplyer can get one for you.

  • While I HAVE read about fridge fires, I’ve never met anyone who actually experienced one. So, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about that, and DO spend a lot of time boondocking.

  • We do not have a problem with the residential refrigerator. Our pet peeve is the floor plan that we really like doesn’t come with a gas cook top. Only induction. That uses more power than the fridge. Also need to have the generator running. So much for quiet times in New York State parks.

  • Chuck, We just purchased a new fifth wheel with an RV refrig. I think you missed why the move to residential refrigerators. I think it is because they are cheaper for the RV industry. We found that the salesman pushed the residential refrig, saying that they could run off of the battery for up to three days and that they will stay cold for up to eight hours while traveling. We found that the quoted price for a RV or residential refrig equipped RV to be similar but the profit margin on the residentiual refrig to be larger.

  • I disagree with you about the residential fridge. I have no problem boondocking and camping with mine. The AGS runs about an hour in morning and hour in late afternoon (not during quiet hours), and I am running everything in my coach as if I were hooked up to shore power. If I scrimped some on power, I suspect the fridge would require 1 hour a day of generator time. The generator does not “run hours on end” as you say. The residential fridge is much nicer than that little RV fridge, and fires do happen. Why not eliminate that risk. Many with coaches like mine “upgrade” to an Amana residential as soon as they can.

  • Chuck:
    If Norcold and the others made a decent refrigerator, I would agree with you. We got tired of 50 degrees inside on a hot day, slow ice production on hot days. It was more than frustrating. when it quit altogether whenever it rained and Norcold’s “fix” shut it down. With proper management and enough batteries, we boondock just fine.

  • We never boondock and love our electric/gas refrigerator. Once you know how to fine tune the adjustments they work quite well. We learned to not buy groceries for the next 2 weeks stuffing the fridge. We never drive longer than 300 miles or 6hrs which ever comes 1st and our fridge stays cold without running the propane while pulling.

  • RE: Editors corner 1/13/18
    We too visited the Dulles RV Show yesterday. We go every year just to see whats new and walk around. We also noted the inclusion of residential size refrigerators. The space is designed around it, so it does not surprise me that an option of a smaller refrigerator is not possible. This was a limiting factor in our purchase of an RV last year. There are many reasons we prefer a smaller frig that can operate on gas. There is no reliance on electricity so it opens your options for locations, We also prefer to travel lighter and do not want to carry a loaded refrigerator. We have traveled for weeks at a time and have never needed more than what we can store in a smaller frig. for larger families they may need more or buy more frequently. I still believe it should be an option. For those who have multiple people and use their RV as a vacation home with long stays in one spot, I can see where a larger refrigerator may come in handy. But there are many of us that want a smaller/gas option with the other amenities that come with those rigs. We would like that option.Think about what you need when you buy. You may be looking in the used market.

  • Chuck, You are a celebrity so you need to let people know where you are so they can come meet you. Love the newsletter.

  • Agree about the residential fridge. I spent a year in a Lance camper, boondocking (’95). The fridge had a mechanical thermostat. It would freeze things, so you had to be very careful, but no power demands. I bought a TT in ’11. I noticed it drew about 30 AH a day when nothing was ‘on’. The fridge had a computer board and a gasket heater, undocumented. The heater could be snipped. The board was still 15 AH a day. This annoyed me a lot.

    I’m not buying another RV. The products have all gone big and deluxe, which misses the point for me. I bought a small cargo van and just camp in it. It’s too useful as a vehicle to build out, so I use stuff that folds or rolls up. The Danfoss compressor fridge I have draws maybe 20 AH a day, which is less than the electronics in the Dometic.

    The RV industry is not selling minimalist or conservation, basic interactions with nature. If people say you are out of it, that’s not fair. You have a perfectly valid point of view. A lot of the simpler stuff is DIY, whether vans or box trucks, Tiny Houses. This is where Bob Wells provides decent information for people.

  • I also believe you are inaccurate in your assessment on residential refidgerator power use. While I have no experience in trailer 5 th Wheel battery capacity. Most motorhomes add additional batteries with a residential installation. Newer refrigerator models can easily run a day on the batteries.
    Constant generator runs? Perhaps you should try before you jump to conclusions. Our prior coach with a residential ( Samsung 18 cubic foot) required a 2 hour am run and a 1-2 hour evening run I realize some folks are large energy consumers lots of microwave tv , satellite etc but with a little care the convenience of the residential outstrips the old gas /electric. Let’s also face the fact that people purchasing these larger rv’s aren’t rushing out to go camping . They may be hiking and other recreational activities but they don’t want to “rough it”. For dinner or sleeping accommodations!

  • We have a residential fridge in our class A Holiday Rambler Vacationer. Going to Quartzsite Arizona for the RV show in two weeks. Checking into portable solar so we can boondock more. Don’t mind using generator to recharge batteries for fridge but with all the solar advances why not get something to run fridge. We can stay out longer with a packed fridge this way. Portable solar for us, then if we get another unit down the road we can take with us. Also, we do love staying in nice parks. We meet so many wonderful new friends.

  • Chuck, I disagree with you about the residential refrigerator not allowing boondocking. We use one in our 35′ MH and have run on the batteries (4X12v) for up to two days without recharging. This includes other electrical equipment in the MH. Of course I have a gen set which allows me to charge when necessary (don’t have solar charging). Running the generator for a couple of hours per day is not terribly inconvenient.

    • George, you are right. It was acquired by the REV Group. We will have a report in next week’s issue. The acquisition was announced at 4 p.m. (Eastern) on Friday, when we were, as usual, focused on the last minute stuff that goes into getting the next day’s newsletter finished up.

  • More residential refrigerators means more camping spots in the Idaho forest and desert campgrounds. Until all the public lands are gifted to corporations and closed to public use. In Idaho a lot of state land is being transfered – and of course trading land for money is a fools game. Tho considering who is elected to the legislature, not unexpected…

  • As always a informative newsletter and we look forward to our Saturday morning issue which takes priority before the local paper.

    Agree with your thought on residential refrigerators in RVs today. We are looking at going to 5th wheel and most have them although we also found most would let us “downgrade” (as they refer) to a typical RV model.
    We personally know 4 families that own them and 3 of the 4 have issues specifically when camping on batteries, 2 of them even with expensive solar upgrades. The technology just isn’t there yet to support this camping style.
    We also noticed every 5th wheel today has double opposing slides. That’s great for that extra space but every one of them have the utilities, (sink, oven, stove, fridge) on there. That means all that extra weight is on that slide.
    Factory reps assured us that engineers took this into consideration when they calculated for the motors and hardware that move the slide. But they could not provide any specs or clue as they stood there with blank stares when I questioned, as if how dare I question them.
    The same reps had no explanation as to who why 3 families we know had/have still slide issues with units bought in the past 3 years, all with the utilities on them, (2 of them are the above mentioned with residential fridges). All we got from them is this is now the industry standard.
    As much as we love to camp we may just give up the RV life we love and invest into something else. What else is there today……

  • Chuck,
    If they can put a residential refrigerator in RV’s, why can’t/won’t they install a CheapHeat Hybrid Electric Furnace Kit in those same RV’s. With the CheapHeat Kit you can switch back and forth from electric when you’re plugged in to shore power or gas when you’re boondocking.
    This system is UL listed, RVIA compliant, and according to CSA (the certification Agency) it does not affect the furnace’s ANSI listing.
    Seems to me these are the types of questions that need to be asked; WHY IS THE INDUSTRY HOLDING BACK NEW PROVEN TECHNOLOGY like Gas/Electric furnaces?
    Check it out at

  • It’s a thin line between RVs and manufactured housing. We can’t call them “campers” any more and I wonder if a unit can be called self-contained if its only for a day or until it arrives at the next full hook-up RV park. I’m sure there would be a market for RVs without holding tanks or propane, with the expectation that they will hop from one full hook-up park to the next and never boondock.

  • Changed out my Norcold 1200 fridge for a Samsung RF18 and love it. I have solar and 4 12 volt AGM batteries in my 5th wheel. And a Honda 3000 generator. Run the gen at night to watch TV etc and the batteries are at 12.4 V in the AM. So no problem boondocking. In Quartzsite right now having a great time. Also getting a check now each year from the class action suit against Norcold.

  • This whole residential refrigerator thing kinda makes me wonder… The rv manufacturers buy these things in bulk ,so they get a price break. They were never designed to be shaken, rocked and rolled down the highway liken to a 6.0 earthquake ( trust me I know bout that) , and also the battery manufacturers are going to love these things because of replacements…. I guess time will tell. Kinda like when the class A’s went to tripod jacks in the early 2000’s and told all this was the wave of the future …. just sayin…

    • “This whole residential refrigerator thing kinda makes me wonder… The rv manufacturers buy these things in bulk ,so they get a price break.”

      Mike, I’m pretty sure the manufacturers are buying in bulk from Domestic and Norcold as well. You can be sure they aren’t paying what we’d pay for a replacement. I’m not sure what your point was with that.

  • I’m selling my Allegro Breeze 32BR. Would have sold it 10 times if just a guy was buying it. Wives are killing the deal. 1st time RVers and they want a residential refer, dishwasher and washer/dryer. They dont want to go “camping” — GO BUY A CONDO.

  • Chuck,

    You have missed the mark. I too as several have the residential style fridge. If I choose to boondock I will simply turn off the fridge and use my coolers that I have had since tenting. Your fridge excuse of not calling a 5r a recreational vehicle is weak at best. Better to report on the Glamping vs Camping or simply take yourself back to tenting and report on why it cost as much (or near to it) to tent as it does to camp.

  • Hey, you guys heard of solar powered fridges. Mine runs all the time, use as a spare beer fridge when laid up at home. Just remove a few beers and load up for the next trip. Does not cost anything. Sunlight is free in New Zealand.
    David McKee

  • Good Lord Chuck- I didn’t know it was a debate. I just thought you were presenting some insight on new RVs. From what I’ve seen and heard, the residential fridge is for larger capacity- more food. Nothing more than that. Dude. (yeah, I’m chuckling)

  • We agree with you Chuck. Along with those residential fridges another thing the rv industry has done is to change out the style of windows. The new ones hardly open. If you are in an rv park with electric hook ups, you can run fans or air conditioning. But if you want to boondock, even in a Walmart parking lot while on the road, you can’t get hardly a breeze through those windows. We feel both windows and fridge changes are simply economics. They are cheaper for the manufacturer.

  • I like my propane/electric RV refrigerator. Mine will operate at zero or -2 in the freezer and about 34F in the bottom when set on “6” out of 10. Uses a minuscule amount of propane. Either I got a good one or they have been around long enough the bugs are all out. I did have the option of a residential style when buying my 2013 Winnebago new but apparently now the choices are limited.

  • Also: We’re bringing back our Zip Code Contest next week. If you see your randomly selected Zip Code in this newsletter and are the first to tell us, you win cash. In the past, we given away as much as a few hundred dollars to individual winners.

    Did I miss it?

  • Lots of comments about residential refrigerators. We have an RV refrigerator and dislike it’s ups and downs. The freezer gathers ice at the bottom and the refrigerator is impossible to regulate. We bought a tiny refrigerator and put it in the garage for salads, fruits etc that freeze in our RV refrigerator. Can’t comment on the big residential ones myself but I have friends I boondock with that have them and they have no complaints.

  • Two things annoy me with RV,S nowadays.
    First some engineer decided it was better to have an Rv fridge that requires 12 volts to operate on propane.
    That’s going backwards in my books. The old ones only required the propane bottle.
    The other is the lack of any improvement in efficiency with furnaces.
    One could roast a wiener at the exhaust outlet on a furnace.

  • We had a saying in the electronics company I work for over 35 years. Talking to the dead is only slightly more difficult than talking to an engineer and talking to a computer programmer is the dead. The upper level management does not have a clue about what is engineered, built and sold. The management and engineers should have to live in one of their designs for a few months and I will bet there will be some changes made. I have a passionate dislike for gas refrigerators because they are nothing but troublesome expensive pieces of junk which has been the cause of many a fire. The #1 complaint I hear out in the world of boon docking is the troubles people are having with their junk gas refrigerators. The engineers of these things should be casterated with a dull rusty knife. When people ask me what they should do when they have troubles, I tell them to get a picture of the CEO of the company who made their refrigerator. They should glue the picture of the CEO to the front door and drag the damn thing out to the gun range and shoot it with a high powered rifle aiming at the CEO picture. Also while they are doing it they should video record and put it on you tube.

  • Chuck

    For what it’s worth. I often like to check back on comments I make to see if there are replies. This is difficult at RV Travel – there are systems that allow for notification when replies are added. Never having investigated I don’t know costs but suspect others feel the same and might warrant your investgating

  • Your Trivia info is not correct for all areas. I grew up in Mobile (home of the original Mardi Gras) and there is no state, city or county law requiring masks on floats. Instead, each parading society makes the rules and while all of the older ones have strict mask requirements, several (comic cowboys ex.) does not require masks on the floats.

    • That’s interesting. Thanks, Cheryl. I was surprised to learn that any of them required masks to be warn. —Diane at

  • We are now in our 3rd motorhome in our lives, 2 of those as full timers (FT since 2009).

    1st 2 rigs had propane fridge. Current rig has residential fridge (installed as modification after market, not from factory). We will NEVER go back to a propane rig.

    We have three 8D AGM batteries and a quiet 10KW diesel generator in a quiet box mount. If you are not camped right next to us, it will not bother you. However, I just installed 1400 watts of solar panels to take advantage of “free” sunlight and ZERO noise.

    And no our rig is not a expensive new motorhome. It is a high end 2003 Foretravel U320 40′ 2 slides. We have no sticks and bricks, and hope to never have one again. Love this lifestyle.

  • While in San Antonio area, recommend a few days in Fredericksburg. Stay at fairgrounds for $25. Lots of music and history including museum of the Pacific War. Luckenbach is a suburb and music starts at 1pm every day if you like old time country and gospel. Love your newsletter.

  • Back in the late 50’s early 60’s Chicago had nothing but gas refrigerator s . There was not enough wiring for electric refrigerators . The brand name was Servel if I spelled it right still used in remote areas for cabins That was called residential then Never heard of a fire. I like my Dometic, keeps things cold/frozen and I’ve never had a fire either

  • Hey Chuck, you really opened a can of worms! We fell into that trap of buying a new M/H in 2016. We were & still are planning an ALCAN vacation this June. When we were looking all the “A” seemed to only offer residential & up until then we were mostly boondockers for 40 years, hated hook uppers & generators, still do. Anyway we got a new 35′ with the residential refer & its awesome compared to the gas one! I’m still trying to get the amperage draw figured out so I don’t need to run the “YUK” gen! So far I bought 4 AGM L16, 390ah batteries. Have only one 160w solar & ready to install 2 more. But due to current roof issue I have to & see if that will cover my needs for a day without using the gen. If anyone has info on a real life usage with boondock camping with the residential refer, please let me know.

  • Chuck, you need to wake up to what is going on around you. If you notice at the RV show, a lot of the shoppers are like me, baby boomers. We are now retiring and looking for something to do. We are healthy and have money. We do not want to sit in a rocking chair on our front porch, like our parents and grandparents. I purchased an RV with a lot of the amenities you scoff at. I am not camping, I did that for 30 years. I am now sightseeing in my condo.

  • Talking about RV refrigerators, I wonder if any of you are using a 12-volt DC fridge using a Danfross swing compressor? It uses 12-volts DC directly and varies the amperage draw based on how much cooling needs to be done. The compressor technology doesn’t scale up to a full size refrigerator, but the trucking and marine industries make a bunch of mini-fridges that should be able to run from a modest solar panel array. Should Chuck and I do survey about this? And I can probably get Engle to send me one of these for testing on a solar panel array.
    So is there enough interest in refrigerator power draw of various cooling technologies that I should research it and do an article in my RV Electricity Newsletter on the topic? Let me know and I’ll make the call.

  • Leave a Comment