Question about Refrigerators

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I know this is a vague question. (trying to help out hubby) I am currently at work, however, our norcold elect/gas fridge/freezer in our mallard camper stopped working properly. the lp gas light is lit, however, it iwill only work on gas if plugged in or hooked up to a generator. We are desperate. Any ideas what it MIGHT be that could be wrong?

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Don't be despirate.

You need a little more knowledge ... I'm here to give it.

Your RV refrigerator requires 12 volts to operate; on gas or on electric ... it needs 12 volts - period.

Now then, your frig will get 12 volts from your 'power converter' AND/OR your battery. You do have a battery in your unit, correct? If not - why not? Get one. (Your power converter cannot provide all the 12 volts you potentially require in all circumstances. It is there to charge the battery, which CAN supply all the 12 volts you require. The converter can probably put out 15 amps - your battery can put out 100 amps or more (@ 12 volts DC). Relying only on the converter for your 12 volts will cause over heating and will eventually destroy the converter. Batteries are about $100.00 - converters are about $300.00.

As you know, your frig will run on gas if you are plugged in or on generator ... that allows your frig to get the 12 volts required to run the controls.

What about electric operation? If you are plugged in or on generator, you can run on electric because your Norcold has 12 volts from the converter and/or battery.

Whats going on? Your absorbtion type refrigerator requires a heat source to boil the ammonia mixture to create "heat removing" (you can't really cool anything ... only remove the heat from it!) You can heat the ammonia with a flame or with a electric CALROD. However, the control panel that drives the whole operation runs of 12 volts.

You have a battery and generator and are plugged in and it still doesn't work? You will find a fuse on the control panel in the compartment accessible from the outside of your unit. Check/replace the faulty fuse and you will be back in business.

I hope this helps you and hubby with your Norcold Frig. Thanks for your interest in If you found this solution to be helpful, please vote. Thanks

Posted on Aug 02, 2010

  • breed121 Aug 03, 2010

    yes, we have a battery and it is testing all over the camper that the full 12 volts are there! (info from the hubby) we do not have electric on the site for a week. that is why we had to borrow a generator, however, can only run a few hours per day. IT definately cools if running on a generator, however, as soon as we stop it the flame goes out for the lp. :( So not sure at this point what is truly the problem. My husband works on construction and electrical and it has even himself baffled. He called someone today that is suppose to be coming to look at it and he also said he never heard of such a thing :( It wont run though on anything other than LP, even if plugged in at home, wont run on electric or auto, only lp.

  • A Miller Aug 03, 2010

    You say you are certain you have 12 volts available and I will accept that you know what you are talking about. I stand by my guns ... if you have 12 volts DC and gas, the frig must work. I suggest you verify the 12 volts where it goes into the frig control panel. Also, check the volts on the battery, with the cable disconnected.

    I hear what you are saying. It will run on gas if you have 110 - there is something missing ... this isn't how the design is suppose to work. If the frig finds 110, it is suppose to use 110. In the absence of 110, the 12 volts DC is suppose to turn on the gas and light the flame. Norcold or Dometic ... same same (basic system wise).

    Here is the next thing to try, (when you get home where you have a steady and reliable 110 volts AC), find the leads for the CalRod and wire them directly to 110 volts (you will likely find them curently plugged into to the control panel) They will look similar to lamp cord and there will be two and they will lead up into the boiler section. You can turn the frig 'off' at this point. If the CalRod is good, being wired directly to 110 volts, it will heat up and cause the NorCold to work. Check after a few hours or after a day. If it is cold, your CalRod is good. If your frig is not cold, your CalRod is not working and that is why it will not cool on AC power.

    When a control panel quit on a Norcold I had, rather than pay the big bucks for a new panel, I just hot wired it and it ran fine for the rest of its life (about 8 months) when I replaced it with another Norcold. Of course, it wouldn't run on gas durig that time.

    You might have something else going on in the control ... but what I am suggesting is pretty basic stuff. If you apply heat (via flame or electricity) to the ammonia solution, and the solution is able to travel through the system, the system must work - it is the law (physics).

    As the facility manager at a camping resort, I do encounter some strange things in absorption frigs. I am not a frig mechanic. However, when I apply the logic I have outlined above, generally, the problem is resolved. A blown fuse or a loose connection or a valve turned off ... I am very interested to learn of what you eventually find with your Norcold.



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My Norcold N611 RV fridge freezes everything in the fridge even on the lowest setting. My husband changed the thermostat control board last year, but this did not correct the situation. He wanted to try moving the thermostat on the fins inside the fridge. Should it be placed lower or higher on the fin so the temp doesn't get so cold

Posted on Aug 03, 2010

  • A Miller Aug 03, 2010

    It doesn't make much difference where the probe is located on the fins. Some newer friges don't have adjustible temperatures ... they are fully 'automatic', like it or not.




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