Fridge and battery

Nov 3, 2017
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Help please. Recently on French Aire, battery failed. First time in a year without hook up, so surprised that it failed after just 3 hours. Went to campsite with mains, discovered that fridge (Dometic) no longer working. Back at home, dealer says no problem with fridge, and charged battery- apparently no problem there either, he says. Question - does fridge need a functioning battery to work even if hooked up? And why would battery go flat after 3 hours unless I have a charging problem, which the dealer also denies? Any clues gratefully received!
 
Oct 12, 2017
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It is unlikely that your fridge works on 12v other than when the engine is running, they draw too much power. Usually when not running and no EHU then they run on gas. 3 hours running on a 12v aux battery was good.
 
Nov 3, 2017
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Thanks, obviously didn’t make myself clear. Fridge was on gas whilst on Aire, so only lights taking power for those 3 hours. Any ideas anyone?
 
Apr 3, 2017
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We've noticed that our Auto Trail control panel often chooses to charge or switch to the base vehicle battery rather than maintain the voltage in the leisure battery when on Aires etc which I find a bit daft after we've been sitting on a French motorway for 3 hours or so.

A couple of questions, Does your van have halogen or LED lighting? What's the manufacture date of your leisure battery? How warm was it when you discovered that your fridge appeared not to be working on hook up?

I ask the latter as on our recent trip to central/southern France I needed to remove the fridge vents from the van walls to enable enough air circulation. It looks unsightly having two gaping holes but makes a huge difference to the operation of the fridge and the job is as simple as lifting the two left hand mounted clips in the vent itself.
 
Nov 19, 2010
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There's certainly something odd here.
Some fridges select their power source automatically - mains if available, 12v if alternator running, gas if neither - but most need you to select the mode manually.
Fridge failing when on mains shouldn't be anything to do with your 12v system, as it wouldn't be using that supply. Are there some trip switches in a cupboard, probably very close to where the hook-up socket is outside? There may well be one for the fridge, one for the leisure battery charger, and maybe one for any 230v sockets. Make sure they're all "On" (often up, not down).
Anyone with a voltmeter or multimeter should be able to do some basic checks to narrow down the possible cause(s) of the fault(s). Notice my cautious use of possible plurals though - fridge failing on mains could be completely unrelated to the flat battery!
 
Nov 12, 2013
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Hi there. We've had a reply from Practical Motorhome's Diamond Dave:

"Depending on the model of fridge it may well need a functioning 12v supply to operate. Many modern fridges are electronically controlled so have a low current 12v supply to power the control electronics, there will also be a higher current 12v supply to provide power to the heater element, this is usually only live with the engine running."

Hope that helps!
 
Nov 19, 2010
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That's interesting.
It suggests then, that even when on mains it'll need that 12v supply. But of course, if the onboard charger is doing its job, that shouldn't be a problem.
 
Nov 3, 2017
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Thanks everyone for your replies. Van dates from 2004, so not a modern sophisticated electronic job! I’m a bit alarmed that my dealer doesn’t have a clue what is causing this and simply says it seems to be OK now. You’ve given me some fresh leads, so I think I’ll approach a mobile guy I know who might be able to run some more checks. Need it sorting before we go off to France again, have already had three weeks over there without a fridge!
 

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