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Which way to orient camper?

camperfour wheel camper 3-way fridge solar heating Four Wheel Campers desert camping summer camping

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#1 yovik

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Posted 19 May 2020 - 03:27 AM

Here's a super basic question: which way to orient the truck when we camp for a few days?

 

I've got a Hawk (rollover couch) on an F150. It's awesome, no doubt. As per usual with 4WCs of my era (2006), the passenger side of the camper has the big windows. We've added the Reflectix to those windows. The driver side of the camper contains the refrigerator, and I normally try to keep that on the shady side of the parking spot.  

 

Normally, I park with the driver side to the west or the north and deploy my Low Cost Mod Shade Tarp (tm?) on the sunny side.  The shade is effective, but the camper heats up, even with the Reflectix in all the windows (The Artic Pack is in our future, and that'll help with the heat a bit. So might not camping in the desert, but...I digress)

 

This last weekend, however, I got to thinking about this normal strategy. Not to give it away or anything, but I did something different, and I gave more consideration to how the camper would heat up throughout the course of the day, rather than primarily thinking about keeping the driver's side and fridge minimally exposed to the sun.  

 

Now I'm curious what folks on here might suggest. 

 

Here's the scenario for this question: 

 

You're spending a few days in the desert in a 2006 Hawk configured like mine. There's no shade to help you out, so you've gotta make your own.  Your fridge runs very well on the propane (50F below outside air temp), but it is sensitive to the sun's impact.  Your camping spot is flat, and you can basically orient any direction and have a level, pleasant spot to camp.  As mentioned, the shade you have with you can be deployed on either side of the truck. It's May and you're in Baja Arizona (south of the Gila River, Gadsden purchase country). This time of year, the sun is up for almost 14 hours. Daytime highs are 85-90F.

 

Given this situation, which direction do you orient the truck/camper and why? 

 

Thanks-Alex

 

 

 


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#2 XJINTX

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Posted 19 May 2020 - 11:41 AM

Personally I'd try and keep refrigerator out of the sun as long as possible but mine is dual and not propane. I also deploy side and rear awning to add shade inside. You do not mention a breeze but I consider that too. FOLLOWING for additional input :)


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#3 larryqp

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Posted 19 May 2020 - 12:24 PM

Interesting question, which I'm sure will have many different answers, so here are my thoughts.

 

I'm usually active during the day, away from camp, hiking, fishing etc so my big concern is personal shade for happy hour, cooking and dinner. So I try to face the front of the truck in a northerly direction, giving me the most shade on the passenger side, which would be on the East. The passenger side is also where my National Luna compressor Refrigerator and 270 degree awning is. I setup "camp" on the passenger side, under the awning, so this also give me sunrise in the morning when having coffee. I'm not as concerned with my refrigerator as you are because it has a compressor and I got 200 watts of solar and 2 x 260 amphour 6 volt AGM batteries. More sun equals more power. But this also means less sun on the refrigerator as well.

 

Also by facing the truck north the bedroom wall without windows get minimal sun, therefore doesn't bake at the end of the day.

 

One suggestion on for your refrigerator. You can buy a small fan designed to move air across the refrigerator coils. It has its own solar panel, and mounts in the exterior cabinet below the top vent and above the bottom vent. I had one decades ago in an old scamper pop up truck camper and it worked great. 

 

But in your case, without some modification to keep your refrigerator cooler, your best bet is to keep the sun away from the refrigerator wall as much as possible. If you are not in camp, you may try lowering the top, then at least the insulation of the camper and roof, would be better than the soft sides cooking all day.


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#4 Beach

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Posted 19 May 2020 - 01:38 PM

As mentioned by Larryqp, a fan to help carry heat away from the back of the fridge will help. My main awning sets up on the passenger side so I just have a separate small awning I set up to keep the sun off the fridge area. If your getting a 50 degree differential between ambient and fridge temp your fridge is running very well but always check the burner for proper flame(blue and crisp) as it can get cobwebs and surface rust on it over time that will degrade burner performance.


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#5 JaSAn

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Posted 19 May 2020 - 03:02 PM

Here are some things I consider when choosing a place to park:

 

Safety - I don't like to back up, especially if I need to leave quickly.

Sun - morning sun on my panels and afternoon shade on my refrigerator (left) side.

Level - some orientations are easier to level the camper than others.

Wind - I do not want the door sheltered from the wind in buggy locations.

Entry - don't want to track anything into the camper.

Dog - nothing to get tangled around (Oscar is an expert).

 

Other stuff:

 - view from bed (my bed is at window level)

 - distance from the fire ring (not too close) and upwind; picnic table (not too far)

 - no branches rubbing on camper

 - hidden from other campers

 

The campsite usually dictates the positioning of the camper, especially in developed campsites.  When dispersed camping, I try to find a campsite that satisfies all of them (and I have probably forgotten something). 

 

jim


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#6 craig333

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Posted 19 May 2020 - 05:10 PM

Keeping the camper level is a big one. Facing into the wind if its especially windy. Orientation isn't something that keeps me awake at night.


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#7 rando

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Posted 19 May 2020 - 05:20 PM

Which ever way is easiest to level is likely #1 for me.  #2 is a nice landing for the entry ladder on the passenger side (which is also where the awning and outside kitchen are). #3 is a nice view from the passenger side and finally back of the truck into the wind to minimize the noise at the bed end if we are expecting wind.


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#8 yovik

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 03:19 AM



One suggestion on for your refrigerator. You can buy a small fan designed to move air across the refrigerator coils. It has its own solar panel, and mounts in the exterior cabinet below the top vent and above the bottom vent. I had one decades ago in an old scamper pop up truck camper and it worked great.

.


There's a small electric fan similar to the one you mention, and it does improve the fridge performance. Not sure if it's factory or a mod from one of the previous owners.

That said, an additional solar fan might be helpful...unless that side of the truck is shaded. Hmmmm... ;)

Thanks for the thoughts!
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#9 yovik

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 03:22 AM

Good reminder on the burner checking. I pull it apart once a year, but I don't view the flame as often as I could.

Do you have pics of you small fridge awning? That's interesting, for sure.

Thanks, Beach!

As mentioned by Larryqp, a fan to help carry heat away from the back of the fridge will help. My main awning sets up on the passenger side so I just have a separate small awning I set up to keep the sun off the fridge area. If your getting a 50 degree differential between ambient and fridge temp your fridge is running very well but always check the burner for proper flame(blue and crisp) as it can get cobwebs and surface rust on it over time that will degrade burner performance.


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#10 ntsqd

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 12:14 AM

I'm usually happy with nearly level in dispersed camping!

 

Bonus points for anything that deals with the location specifics in the best way.

 

Fridge is not a concern now that we have a compressor fridge. With the old 3-way it was very much a concern. And with the old 3-way I had two 80mm computer box fans set on thermostats to exhaust air out of the back side of the fridge. The compressor fridge doesn't need them.


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