Refrigerator Fan

There is a lot of discussion out there regarding the cooling efficiency of a propane absorption RV fridge. Some people have reported having difficulties getting the fridge to cool enough, especially if it is very warm outside. Overall, we have not had any cooling concerns with ours. An addition that apparently helps the fridge cool, is a small fan, installed behind the upper vent cover, above the top evaporator grid. The theory being that if you help the natural convection along a bit, the fridge become a little more efficient, and the cooling increases.

Safari Condo now has a fridge fan option, but being early adopters of the Alto, it was not on our option list. As I like modding, this became a nice little project. Even though we have had no concerns, there are times when that side of the Alto has been in full sun, so it would be helpful to be able to switch a fan on when needed. Not many parts needed…a fan, usually a 12v computer fan, a fuse of some sort, a switch, and some bits and bobs of wire and aluminum. At our local electronic parts store, I found a suitable fan, 120x120 mm square, ball bearing spindle, moving 70CFM. I also picked up a lighted rocker switch, as I want to know at a glance that it is running.

One change that SC has made on the fridge install is the addition of baffles inside the fridge enclosure. This is to help direct the airflow outwards. Looking at ours, without the baffles, there is a lot of dead air space, which can trap warm air. We have noticed that the inside of the little cabinet behind the stove can become quite warm, so I suspect the baffles will help that a bit. I fashioned the baffle out of thin galvanized sheet metal, that I found in the HVAC section of Home Depot. Standard stuff. My baffle install is not as fancy as the factory’s, but it serves the same purpose.

Next was to mount the fan on a piece of L aluminum, then this was screwed in place above the evaporator grid. I tapped into the 12v terminals for the refrigerator, and fished the wire up towards the fan. Next I drilled the hole for the switch, right beside the 12v plug I installed a few years back. Located here, it is out of the way, yet still visible enough to see that the switch is lit and on. A bit of wiring, including a low amp fuse in the circuit before the fan, so if something goes screwy with the fan, this fuse will blow first, and not impact the power feeding the refrigerator.

Re-installed the main refrigerator fuse, always wise to cut any sort of power, and flipped on the new switch. On went the indicator light, and on went the fan.

There is a nice little breeze being produced, so it should do the job. There is a bit of a noise as it is running, but not too noticeable. For the times it will be actually. In use, I figure the roof fan will also be running, which will mask most of the noise.
running...but you'll have to believe me
Put the cover back on, and the air was moving nicely through it. It will be interesting to see what sort of impact this fan has on the operation of the fridge, but regardless, it was a fun little project. In terms of costs, it was probably about a $30 dollar job, with a time investment of about 3 hours...most of that running back and forth to the basement when I forgot to bring a tool or something back with me. Always happens.


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