Question about Refrigerators

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Insufficient cooling The refrigerator does not cool. The boiler does work on propane and electric. The on/off buttons and thermostat buttons are all working normally.

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  • dlineberrys Sep 06, 2008

    Thanks that is what we feared. The boiler does work because it does get hot to the touch. The absorber vessel and coils are cold. We also saw yellow powder which some are saying is an indication that the chemical has leaked out. We are thinking about replacing our absorption refrigerator with a standard refrigerator. Does anyone know if it is safe to use a standard refrigerator in an RV?

  • dlineberrys Sep 06, 2008

    Thanks for confirming it.....We found a standard refrigerator, Magic Chef

    10 Cu. Ft. Compact Two Door Refrigerator which fits the dimensions of our Norcold 9182 exactly. It is so much more cost effective for us at $350.00 with tax vs $1500.00 with tax. Not being able to us the gas to dry camp would be a bummer as most NPs have specified hours for generator use. On the other hand this represents about 1-3% of our total use since we are full-time RVers. Some have said that the constant "plugging and unplugging" of travel would damage the standard refrigerator's compressor....that they need to be plugged in continueally. Is this true?

  • dlineberrys Sep 06, 2008

    We are not as concerned about it tipping. It will be fitting very flush into the same area our RV refrigerator was. The sizes are almost exactly the same. It will be fitted to the ceiling and on each side. It would sit on a platform made for the current RV refrigerator. So the only motion would be during a right turn....for it to want to tip out into the rig...but being braced by the ceiling...I don't think it will be going anywhere. As far as being fulltimers we are parked for at least 3 days at a time to sometimes months at a time. It just depends on our pace - which these days due to the cost of gas is not so fast! Is there any way on travel day to safely turn off the refrigerator's compressor before we unplug from electrical power for travel?

  • dlineberrys Sep 08, 2008

    Well we have been on the RV forums and have found many who have done this conversion. Despite the drawbacks, we have decided to go for it. If it poops out down the road, then it was a good experiment and not too costly of one.

    Mainly the issue with this model from what I have been reading, is making sure that it gets even ventilation. The side of it are what radiate heat, not the top or back. Of course this refrigerator warns not to use it in RVs or with inverters. Many are not following those directions. LOL. It did also say that you could not use this model in a garage either. I KNOW NO ONE IS FOLLOWING THAT RULE. lol. So far we did purchase it. We powered it up and it runs like a charm.

    The big drawback on RV refrigerators is that they just can't keep up with the heat in the summer. We work and full-time. We never know where we might be. We did a summer in Vegas two years ago, which may have helped the death of our Norcold along sooner rather than later. It is a pain to always have to hurry to get out what you need from the RV frig. Fumble around and it is a cause of cursing. LOL. That is why we are willing to "gamble" on this idea of going residential. It would be so nice to actually be able to eat ice cream again!


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Sounds like an absoption fridge with a blockage or leak.

Just to be sure.... How do you know the boiler is working? If it is hot to the touch, then is is working, otherwise it is not.

If it is working (hot to the touch), then it should be the same temperature to the touch as the fridge coils. If the coils are much cooler or much warmer than the burner tube, then you have either a leakage or a blockage. Either way, you need to replace either your cooling unit or entire fridge.

If the boiler tube is not hot when the fridge is turned on, then you have a blown fuse or faulty control board. Or you have no power going to the fridge.... :)

Posted on Sep 06, 2008

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  • Steve Froese
    Steve Froese Sep 06, 2008

    The yellow powder is the calcium chromate that is mixed in with the anhydrous ammonia. This is a 100% indication that your ammonia has leaked out.


    I am a certified RV technician, so I can answer this question for you. It is safe to use a conventional fridge in an RV, but since they run on AC voltage, it won't work unless you are plugged in or running off generator power. Also, they are difficult to secure for travel unless you use a very small one. Finally, they are not made for being bounced down the road, and also the doors will constantly open unless you rig some kind of latch. Given all this, plus the fact they only run on AC, causes most people to forego this idea and opt for the more expensive RV ones. It's worth it in the end, believe me!

  • Steve Froese
    Steve Froese Sep 06, 2008

    Yes, that is certainly a concern. The compressor could easily be stressed to failure in this case, which is something I forgot to mention in my thread. It is the same idea as when you start and stop the generator with the roof air running. You are doing serious damage to both the genset and the AC compressor.



    However, if you are fulltimers, I would say the compressor will be running most of the time, wouldn't you say? Plus if it does fail, you can buy 3 of them before you have paid the $1,500 for an RV one.



    In summary, I would recommend against a domestic fridge, but if you are fulltimers and the thing won't get unplugged or moved much, you may be okay. My only other concern is the tendency for it to move or TIP when you do drive around

  • Steve Froese
    Steve Froese Sep 06, 2008

    Sorry, I have a few cobwebs. When you said you were fulltimers for some reason I was thinking you might reside in a park fulltime, but of course that is likely not the case....



    Sorry to be a little wishy-washy, but here is my best advice on this topic.



    If you are fulltimers and you are moving from place to place most of the time, do not get the domestic fridge, stick with the RV fridge. Here are the reasons:



    - When you drive, you are risking the safety of those in the coach from fridge movement, and you are also risking damage to the fridge, mainly the compressor

    -Every time you disconnect and reconnect your shore power, the compressor gets slightly stressed. Eventually this will likely cause failure.

    -The fridge does not have the ability to run except on shore or generator power. This is normally okay as you are driving down the road during the day, but you may not have shore power when you are stopped overnight (like Walmart! :))



    Sometimes it is cheaper to have the cooling unit replaced than to replace the whole fridge. You should get some price quotes from different RV dealerships. If I was closer, I'd be happy to do it, but I'm in Vancouver, Canada. You are likely somewhere far away :(

  • Steve Froese
    Steve Froese Sep 07, 2008

    Let me know what you decide to do. I am interested

  • Steve Froese
    Steve Froese Sep 08, 2008

    Sound like you thought it through.... Good, sounds like you made the right decision for you.


    regarding the heat. Hot temperature certainly adversely affect the efficiency of absorption refrigerators, it should not cause premature failure. The only real issue with heat is that the temperature difference between the coils and the ambient temperature becomes smaller, which reduces the ability for the coils to shed heat...



    When I was working as an RV tech, I was always happy to have customers who were either educated enough or did their homework enough so that I could discuss their problem with them on a reasonably technical level. You fall into this category, good for you!

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