Fridge Problems

I slept well, especially in the cool post-thunderstorm air. My batteries, which were at 12.6 volts when I went to sleep, were down to 12.2 when I woke up. Not great, but not low enough to trigger a low voltage alarm overnight. I haven’t used Starlink, which was the only reason why.

I got up, got dressed, and made my morning coffee. I used my new stove, plumbed directly into my propane tank, and it worked perfectly. But imagine my surprise when I took my milk out of the fridge to pour in, only to find it was as solid as a rock!

My Alpicool T60 fridge/freezer decided to chill the fridge side to 7º, while allowing the freezer to warm up to 34º. Why, I don’t know. In fact, my standard temperature settings were still in place. It just decided to completely ignore them.

Since each side’s contents sit inside a metal cage, I was able to take everything out of the fridge instantly and put it outside to thaw. A little internet sleuthing taught me how to perform a full reset, putting the fridge back to factory settings. This worked, and then I reconfigured it to my preferred settings. The fridge warmed up quickly, and the freezer chilled to where it belongs. When it hit my target temperature, the compressor shut off as it should. Once the contents of my fridge thawed (it didn’t take long in the Arizona desert), I put them back, and it’s been working fine ever since.

I’ll be sticking close to home today to keep an eye on this situation. Interestingly, it’s exactly the same thing that happened to Vancity Vanlife’s original fridge/freezer, with the two sides reversing with random temperature settings he couldn’t change. His was a model from a different brand that was discontinued long before I bought mine, but it’s still a funny coincidence. The factory reset seems to have done the trick for now, but I’ll keep a close eye on it to see if this happens again. If it does, I’m well outside the one-year warranty on this fridge, so I’d have to buy a new one.

On the plus side, this would explain my horrible battery performance lately. If the fridge compressor was constantly on, it would draw a lot more power than if it was operating properly on about a 35% duty cycle. So maybe this, rather than failing batteries, is why I’ve been having problems holding a charge the last couple of days.

I ran the generator a bit this morning, particularly when I was intentionally cranking the fridge hard to cool down the freezer. Now that temperatures have stabilized and solar charging is working well, I shut off the generator, and we’ll see how well normal charging works throughout the day. The true test will be what my battery voltage is at sunset, with no charging at all and before my devices drain power overnight. Since I still have the low-power consumption cellular data option, I’m not going to run Starlink today to give my solar charging the best chance of success. If I’m lucky, I may have solved two problems at once, and may not have to think about replacing my house batteries after all. Here’s hoping that’s the case. A new fridge, while not pocket change, is still cheaper than new batteries. If I have to replace those, it would be silly not to upgrade to lithium at the same time.

Did someone wish the old Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times” upon me? Between my equipment problems and last night’s thunderstorm, it sure feels like it. It can stop anytime now, really.

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