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  • Cigarette outlets voltage draw

    I have a Setpower 12 volt fridge that will run off my car cigarette type outlet in the back. This outlet is live all the time. I purchased an Ecoflow River Pro to power the fridge when camping without electric at State Parks.

    This past weekend I tried to power the fridge though the outlet in the back of my Little Guy 5Wide. There didn't seem to be enough juice to get the compressor to fully kick in. Is this just a issue with the battery not being strong enough, or the drop in voltage though the wiring?

    I then tried to be a Mcguyver by running my solar to my camper battery, Ecoflow into the cigarette outlet, and fridge into the Ecoflow. Hoping to charge the Ecoflow while the fridge wasn't running. This just caused the camper outlet to get hot. I then just changed all my solor wiring to be directily into the Ecoflow and did get it to charge with my 1 hour of sun (when it wasn't raining in VT).

    I can live with just running my solar to the Ecoflow, was just wondering about the output from the camper outlet. I will be camping without electricity for 2 weeks at the beach in August.

    Any fix or info will be greatly appreciated.


  • #2
    It could be the battery, but I would agree with your assumption that the voltage drop is enough to prevent the compressor from fully cycling. Little Guy probably didn't use very heavy wire there (maybe 16ga? 14ga? I wouldn't know without looking at it), and the thin wire has higher voltage drop as current increases. Rewiring the outlet with heavier gauge wire SHOULD help. If you look at the Blue Sea Systems wire gauge chart, I would follow the "Critical" systems column to limit it to a 3% voltage drop. So assuming a max draw of 10-15A at compressor startup (i don't know the cooler specs), rewiring that outlet with 12GA might squeak by, but you probably need 10GA. Or instead of rewiring, maybe install a second 12V outlet/circuit specifically for the cooler with properly sized wire and fuse. What model fridge is it?

    For your second question, how "hot" was the outlet? Warm to the touch or hot hot? When current approaches the wire capacity, things will get warm. But they should not be HOT. Ideally, you would oversize the wire enough so that it does not even get warm. Because warm wire means you're literally burning (wasting) electricity.

    The solar may have been overpowering the rating of the 12V outlet and wire by supplying current--> battery --> 12V outlet --> ecoflow & cooler. The fridge was probably trying to run at the same time the ecoflow was trying to charge, basically pulling a lot of current through that little 12V outlet. If the fuse for that outlet was not sized properly to protect the wiring, then there's a problem. Wiring should be sized to provide sufficient power to a device, and fuses should be sized to protect the wiring.

    All of that to say, your solar panels should go directly to your battery (through a charge controller) or directly to the Ecoflow while its NOT connected via the 12V outlet. That original 12V outlet was only intended to provide a little bit of power to a small device for charging purposes - not as a high-power route to/from the battery.

    I was going to offer to take a look at our Promised Land Gathering next weekend because I thought you were on the roster, but its a different Diane this year


    • #3
      Thanks Zach. I will check out the wiring. I would be at Promised Land if I wasnt camping the following weekend.


      • #4
        Hey Diane, did you ever look into this more? Inquiring minds want to know...


        • #5
          Sorry, camping takes up most of my time. I need a non rainy weekend, to empty out the camper and take apart my outlet and check out the wiring.


          • #6

            Sorry it took so long to respond to your question about the 12v receptacle and your 12v fridge. I experienced problems with the Norcold fridge drawing so much power on start-up that the low voltage cut-off kept shutting the fridge off.

            if you look at the TJ forum under "camping gear", you will find my solution to the problem I had with my Norcold 12v fridge in my LG 5-wide Tag. Since making the adaptation, I have camped many times off-grid with zero problems with the fridge! This "fix" really works!!!Also, using a small solar generator has additional advantages - like 110v for small appliances like a coffee grinder!

            Good luck - Chris