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Old 03-14-2014, 11:16 AM   #1
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Norcold 1200 High temp safety unit quirks

Thought I would pass this along since many of us have the Norcold 1200 refers. About a month ago, my "neighbor" in an RV park had his coach washed and waxed by a professional group. They used a pressure washer to wash the coach all over. That night, he knocked on my door and asked if he could use our refer for some critical items as the coach washers "had extinguished the flame on his Norcold" and it was not working. The authorized repairmen came the next day and tried the magnet reset with no results. The red light flashes either when the unit trips or fails. They said they had no control units in stock and had to order one from Norcold. They also said they knew that the unit could be bypassed simply and they replaced one wire and bypassed the control module for two or three days while the new one was shipped. Once the high temp module is bypassed, you are defeating the safety feature and should be done only in an "emergency". Several days later, they came back and replaced the unit with a new one. Took about 3 minutes.

Now, two days ago, another "neighbor" of mine at Albany had his coach washed and once again, shortly after, told me that his Norcold was not working. We googled the bypass process and he bypassed the switch and would run the refer 4 hours on and 4 hours off. He thought it would be days before anyone got there. To his surprise, two guys from Macon arrived in the morning who just happened to be in the area. They were factory Norcold people. They tried the magnet and it did not work, and quickly concluded that the safety module was defective, and replaced it.

Now the important stuff. The techs gave us some important information.

1.) They said both of the situations I mentioned above were produced by the high pressure spray being used to wash their coaches. They said the water pressure wets down the electronic safety control box and if the water gets into it, it is likely to fail. Now, from now on, if I get my coach washed professionally (or I do it myself), I will put some sort of barrier either on the outside of the breather access point (you dont want to block it off for long.... turn the refer off a while before you do that and let the heat exchanger mechanism cool, or it will overheat), or I will stand there and make sure that the kid with the pressure washer gets nowhere near my norcold vent.

2.) Most people have installed the safety unit (the "safety recall module")with the red LED light facing out toward the outside of the case. This makes it easy to see, but the Norcold guys said that it needs to be rotated with the surface with the red LED facing directly down. They said that water gets in through the connections and surface with the LED and if it is facing toward the outside of the case, then water easily penetrates. One wonders why they cant make the unit completely waterproof, but that is another issue. He installed the new one LED side down and when he looked at mine, rotated it down also.

3.) Norcold will not sell you a "spare" unit, regardless of how much you are willing to pay for it. My sense is that it is a legal liability issue. Further, dealers are not supposed to have any spares, and the numbers on units are tracked so that if you swap one and the numbers are wrong and then have problems, Norcold and its lawyers are not liable. The road techs mark down all swapped numbers which go into the computers.

4.) if you have problems, then Norcold will only send out a factory authorized repair guy and you have to wait for him to come. If it requires a new unit, then you will most likely wait for one to be shipped in to the dealer.

5.) A magnet will reset some of the units for some of the problems. the magnet needs to be a medium strong magnet and you put the magnet right over the red flashing LED. It reportedly takes several minutes, but eventually, the red LED stops flashing. If the control module does not stop flashing, then it is completely bad.

6.) So everyone, according to these techs, be sure to rotate their control modules with the red LED pointed down, not out, and BE CAREFUL with high pressure water anywhere near your external Norcold plate.

Just thought I would pass this along. it might be old news to many, but it was news to me.

Gary
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Old 03-14-2014, 03:19 PM   #2
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Thanks for the helpful post. Just my opinion, but I would
never power wash a coach. It was not designed for the
high pressures, and can cause leaks at windows and
other places, as well as damage caulking. I don't think
it does a better job either, hand wash with elbow grease
works for me.
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Old 03-14-2014, 03:34 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macandphyl View Post
Thanks for the helpful post. Just my opinion, but I would
never power wash a coach. It was not designed for the
high pressures, and can cause leaks at windows and
other places, as well as damage caulking. I don't think
it does a better job either, hand wash with elbow grease
works for me.
Hi All..
Just an FYI.. I hand washed my coach here at Cattail Cove a few weeks ago and yup.. The Norcold went out! Just some from a hose can do it!
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Old 03-14-2014, 03:38 PM   #4
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What utter pieces of junk these things are. Even the recalls need a recall.
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Old 03-15-2014, 09:08 AM   #5
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Why not put a little silicone around the red LED? deSanford
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Old 03-15-2014, 11:39 AM   #6
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I would hate to see Norcold go under because of the 1200LRIM refers being so problematic, but their solution for the things catching fire is a joke. I'm guessing they're on about their 8th or 9th generation safety switch, because so many of them were failing.

I know Norcold is between a rock and a hard spot with this litigious society, but how about producing a QUALITY safety switch that is WATERPROOF since it's basically mounted in an outdoor spot. The safety switch is just a thermostat...seal it up and make it work correctly. How many people have had their trips ruined by a faulty safety switch.
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Old 03-15-2014, 12:49 PM   #7
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I have heard of these waging issues before.
When I wash the rig or have it washed. I turn my Norcold off. Then i use a garbage bag and put it on the inside of the rear door of the frige. This stops any water from getting in while spraying water. I never have a problem. An easy fix.
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Old 03-17-2014, 05:10 PM   #8
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All this scary talk is forcing me to
get a Samsung 197.
Too bad the gas powered refers just make sense
when in the wild.
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Old 03-19-2014, 10:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dutch Star Don View Post
I would hate to see Norcold go under because of the 1200LRIM refers being so problematic, but their solution for the things catching fire is a joke. I'm guessing they're on about their 8th or 9th generation safety switch, because so many of them were failing.

I know Norcold is between a rock and a hard spot with this litigious society, but how about producing a QUALITY safety switch that is WATERPROOF since it's basically mounted in an outdoor spot. The safety switch is just a thermostat...seal it up and make it work correctly. How many people have had their trips ruined by a faulty safety switch.
How about building a well-designed, quality product that doesn't fail, burn down coaches or melt your ice cream, and doesn't require a "safety switch" to shut it down before it burns down your coach?

Ever owned a coach with a Thetford/Norcold Aria Deluxe (The original, not the II) toilet? They leaked and went crazy when the electronics got wet, rotted floors and flooded coaches, not to mention being the most annoying sounding and unreliable contraptions ever. Can't tell you how many times I've had to disconnect mine to stop it's insane uncommanded opening, closing and bowl-filling. Also became absolutely sick of having to hug the toilet to spin the little knob in the back a million times to open the flapper manually to empty the bowl. One of the happiest days in my RVing life was the day I replaced it with a manually operated toilet.

This company is legendary for their defective products and their self protective "fixes". My current coach has the Aria Deluxe II, and although it no longer leaks and the electronics are better protected, the stupid thing shuts down and refuses to do anything if I hold the button down longer than a certain time when I have low water pressure. I then have to go pull the fuse to reset it. This is one of their "fixes" which covers their you know what, but to heck with the user. Why this company cannot make a reliable product and just stand behind it is beyond me. The under-designed and arguably dangerous 1200 series has had no significant redesign in almost 15 years...just "fixes" to turn it off before it torches your coach so they won't get sued. To heck with you when the undersized cooling unit won't work in hot weather or it just dies because of design deficiencies....or when the seals go out and you have to buy new doors cause they won't sell you the seal, or when one control board after another quits for no reason.

I've already replaced my Nocold with a Samsung refrigerator. The Aria Deluxe II is one failure away from the same fate. My personal opinion: This company does not deserve my business. Ever notice that no new coaches of any quality have NoColds any more?

Sorry for the rant, but this stuff burns me up! I care not a whit if this awful company goes under. I have been burned too many times in my only four years of RVing to the tune of thousands and thousands.
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Old 03-19-2014, 11:21 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by fishdoc View Post
All this scary talk is forcing me to
get a Samsung 197.
Too bad the gas powered refers just make sense
when in the wild.
Of course no one is forcing you to replace your 1200. The fridge can be made much more reliable and much less dangerous with the Amish cooling unit replacement. However they still suffer a number of design problems and don't work well with installation problems or supplemental fan failure.

I speak from experience when i say that the day you get a Samsung will be one of the best days in your RV. You wouldn't regret it for a minute. You can put one of these in and double or even triple your battery bank without exceeding the cost of a new 1200. An inverter is NOT needed for the Samsung due to it's AC to DC to AC inverter variable speed compressor design. (Essentially, the fridge converts the 120VAC input current to DC then reconverts it to variable voltage and frequency AC to precisely control compressor speed. Because of the AC to DC conversion, it runs perfectly on a MSW inverter, unlike most of the competition. This also makes it incredibly efficient.) Not to mention double the space in the fridge and the freezer being so cold the ice cubes stick to your fingers.

The day hasn't arrived when a residential is a perfect solution for boondocking, but it's not far off. With no increase in battery capacity, my RF197 runs all day long (> 10 hours) (with the icemaker turned off and the energy saver mode on) and my generator has never started on low batteries. It also runs perfectly from the alternator. (provided your "fat boy" solenoid is working ok). However I haven't deliberately boondocked to see how it would perform long term. I do believe the results when I do won't be terrible. If I were to want to boondock regularly, I would add four more cells and perhaps switch to gel. For heavy duty boondocking a solar power kit would just about close the gap.

The thing is ICE COLD too. It's really amazing how good the Samsung is. If I ever go back to living in a S&B house I'm buying one there too.

I also no longer have nightmares about my RV becoming an inferno with me stuck in the bedroom due to a refrigerator fire.

Best decision I EVER made.
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Old 03-23-2014, 08:52 PM   #11
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Just to let people know. The switch can fail without the fridge even being turned on. We were getting ready to turn ours on AC for an upcoming trip and low and behold. Red light glowing. Previous owner had the fix done in 2010......fridge has been off and in storage since October. Local RV shop placed an order for a new box......wonder if Norcold will cover the cost??????
More later......
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Old 03-24-2014, 02:36 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by tricotec View Post
Of course no one is forcing you to replace your 1200. The fridge can be made much more reliable and much less dangerous with the Amish cooling unit replacement. However they still suffer a number of design problems and don't work well with installation problems or supplemental fan failure.

I speak from experience when i say that the day you get a Samsung will be one of the best days in your RV. You wouldn't regret it for a minute. You can put one of these in and double or even triple your battery bank without exceeding the cost of a new 1200. An inverter is NOT needed for the Samsung due to it's AC to DC to AC inverter variable speed compressor design. (Essentially, the fridge converts the 120VAC input current to DC then reconverts it to variable voltage and frequency AC to precisely control compressor speed. Because of the AC to DC conversion, it runs perfectly on a MSW inverter, unlike most of the competition. This also makes it incredibly efficient.) Not to mention double the space in the fridge and the freezer being so cold the ice cubes stick to your fingers.

The day hasn't arrived when a residential is a perfect solution for boondocking, but it's not far off. With no increase in battery capacity, my RF197 runs all day long (> 10 hours) (with the icemaker turned off and the energy saver mode on) and my generator has never started on low batteries. It also runs perfectly from the alternator. (provided your "fat boy" solenoid is working ok). However I haven't deliberately boondocked to see how it would perform long term. I do believe the results when I do won't be terrible. If I were to want to boondock regularly, I would add four more cells and perhaps switch to gel. For heavy duty boondocking a solar power kit would just about close the gap.

The thing is ICE COLD too. It's really amazing how good the Samsung is. If I ever go back to living in a S&B house I'm buying one there too.

I also no longer have nightmares about my RV becoming an inferno with me stuck in the bedroom due to a refrigerator fire.

Best decision I EVER made.
When you talk about "the Samsung" what one do you refer to? Is there one particular model and do they fit through the door without too much trouble? Thanks
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Old 03-25-2014, 11:01 AM   #13
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In the two instances that I have personally been involved with, the Norcold temperature sensor was provided free. In one case, Norcold techs did the repair/replacement for free. In the other case, the service company charged for the service call (two actually 1=diagnose, 1=service/replace) but the unit was free.

Also, it makes sense that the damage due to water would occur regardless if on or off..... It is produced by water entry into the module primarily via the buttons and connections on the front surface (which is supposed to be positioned with that surface facing down).


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Old 03-26-2014, 08:08 AM   #14
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When you talk about "the Samsung" what one do you refer to? Is there one particular model and do they fit through the door without too much trouble? Thanks
We personally installed the RF197. This is the closest in size to the Norcold 1200. The width and depth are the same and the height is a few inches more. There are a couple of other larger capacity models available if you have a 36" wide space available.

The door on our Monaco Windsor is about 23" so it would not fit through for us. If you have a coach with a wider door, they often do fit. On our coach the folks at Elite Repair & Remodeling removed the driver's seat and the driver's side window. They got the NoCold out and the Samsung in very quickly.
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