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Old 07-21-2018, 11:36 AM   #1
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Frig cooling issue

It's an 8 cuft Norcold with a 1-5 coldness slider switch and "auto-off-propane" slider.

Has been working fine for the last week while camping on 120VAC and propane. Frig temp has been 0-4C, despite ambient temps over 30C.

But yesterday we got carried away shopping and loaded up the freezer with a large roast and two packs of chicken, unfrozen. Also lots of stuff in the frig part. Moved the slider to 4.

This morning (14 hrs later) the frig was ~16C !!! Propane flame looked good but switched to electric anyway and moved the slider to 5. Seems to be cooling down but is very, very slow.

So. Is this normal?

Should we only be putting *frozen* food in the freezer? IIRC this is the first time ever we've put unfrozen food in the freezer, and I'm thinking that may be the issue.
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Old 07-21-2018, 11:53 AM   #2
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Ouch! I'm no refrigerator expert (for that matter, I'm expert at nothing) but we have never seen that kind of thing happen (I think we have the same frig as you do). Certainly if one puts a bunch of stuff in the freezer that is near "refrigerator" temps (a little above 0 deg C) you would expect the freezer might heat up a bit in the near term. But after 14 hours the new items should be a lot colder than their entry temp.

So I don't think that is normal. Sorry, I can"t be helpful in finding a solution.

Good luck!

Bob
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Old 07-21-2018, 01:00 PM   #3
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YES......
Stuff a freezer FULL of unfrozen items...especially dense items (MEAT) the freezer WILL struggle.


Add to that burden by filling up food compartment with unchilled items
LOT of heat to remove


Unlike a compressor fridge the freezer in an absorption fridge has to cool down FIRST before food compartment can cool down
Typically freezer temp needs to be at/below 10*F (-12C) in order for the ammonia can have room to absorb heat form food compartment evap coil


Over packed, unfrozen, non-chilled items and an absorption fridge has to begin the cooling process all over again........just like initial start up.




Excerpts from Norcold Quick Tips'
*Pre-cool your food items
*Your refrigerator’s cooling efficiency depends on free air circulation. For best results, pack items loosely and avoid the use of shelf liners.
*Cooling performance changes are usually related to changes in weather, temperature settings, and the amount and/or temperature of your food items.
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Old 07-21-2018, 01:02 PM   #4
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I don't have an answer but something is definitely wrong. We have put unfrozen items in the freezer without problems. Ours actually seems to work better on propane than on electricity.
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Old 07-21-2018, 01:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old-Biscuit View Post
...

Unlike a compressor fridge the freezer in an absorption fridge has to cool down FIRST before food compartment can cool down
Typically freezer temp needs to be at/below 10*F (-12C) in order for the ammonia can have room to absorb heat form food compartment evap coil
...
Thanks, that's good info, and a lesson learned.

It's actually a relief to hear that the frig is prolly working normally and not malfunctioning. May have to throw out some food though ...

And I can see why some folks prefer compressor frigs. Not being able to stock up your freezer with unfrozen foods in the middle of a long trip is quite a disadvantage.
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Old 07-21-2018, 05:22 PM   #6
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Fridge temps coming down....recovering????
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Old 07-21-2018, 07:14 PM   #7
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Yep, it's working ok now. Many thanks for the advice.

I pulled everything out of the freezer and dropped it into my daughter's chest freezer. A few hours later the freezer is *much* colder, and the frig temperature has dropped from 15C to 9C. All should be fine in a few more hours, and we'll put the frozen stuff back in tomorrow morning.

Not sure how much will have to be tossed yet, but lesson learned. And thank goodness the frig is not broken.
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Old 07-21-2018, 08:21 PM   #8
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Better to toss if the chicken became frozen/thawed/frozen.
Salmonella is not fun....don't ask!
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Old 07-21-2018, 08:33 PM   #9
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Propane cools better. My refrigerator was at 41 degrees on Electric. I switched to gas and it went down to 36 degrees. I made the switch to save money. My electric is metered @ $.26 Kwh. My propane is $2.67 per gal. I did the math and the propane is cheaper to run and more efficient.
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Old 07-21-2018, 08:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egwilly View Post
Better to toss if the chicken became frozen/thawed/frozen.
Salmonella is not fun....don't ask!
Seems the chicken and roast we put in the freezer never froze, but the other stuff in the freezer became unfrozen. Temps maybe got up to about 0C there as there were still ice cubes that I had put in a freezer bag floating in water. Will prolly toss the defrosted peas. Ice cream softened but didn't melt; think that's ok.

The frig stuff was mostly vegetables and unopened cans of beer, wine, condiments. We should be safe there. But the steak also got up to 16C ... might be a bit too well aged for consumption.
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Old 07-21-2018, 08:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cavie View Post
Propane cools better. My refrigerator was at 41 degrees on Electric. I switched to gas and it went down to 36 degrees. I made the switch to save money. My electric is metered @ $.26 Kwh. My propane is $2.67 per gal. I did the math and the propane is cheaper to run and more efficient.
My electricity is free, basically, so I run on it whenever I can. When things are working as they should I haven't noticed any major temperature difference.

In this situation I happened to be on propane up to when I noticed the temp rise from ~2C to 16C and only switched to electric to test whether there was something wrong with the propane. But the problem continued until I emptied the freezer.

Now that the sun's gone down and my solar+inverter can no longer support the frig on 120VAC, I've switched back to propane.
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Old 07-21-2018, 09:00 PM   #12
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Your fridge is working OK.
Just remember that if you have questions about something that might have been partly thawed, you will have no problems if it is cooked well. Salmonella will be killed by cooking. It can only survive in uncooked food.
That's why I never order my food "rare"
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Old 07-21-2018, 11:16 PM   #13
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Another tid bit, the longer you leave the door open (while loading or unloading) the longer it takes the fridge to recover. All the cold just falls out and it can warm considerably

Also consider buying one of those battery operated fans. You can find them at any rv parts place , it really does help

Another way to get it to cool faster than normal is to unplug the thermistor for a few hours , just donít forget to plug it back in
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Old 07-22-2018, 07:28 AM   #14
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We've only had our Creek Side for a year now and as before keep the temp control in the middle position. However it seemed like this Norcold did not cool quite as well as the one in our previous trailer. I could have just chosen a cooler setting but wondered why the difference considering this trailer is better insulated.

So after a bit of digging I came across a couple articles about how moving the thermistor's position on the fins can change the temperature. For our particular model I found the thermistor was further to the right and higher than its "proper" position so I moved it to where it should be. The result was not a huge difference but noticeable. I'm hoping if there's a reason for a proper position maybe it'll prolong the life of the fridge.

As a result on a 30C day running on electric the empty fridge/freezer manages to stay within +/- 1 degree. With the thermostat set at 3 the freezer temp is ~ -16C and the fridge ~ +3C. I'm happy with that and as mentioned it helps to have items pre-chilled before loading the fridge. If a fan helps maybe I should get one of those too.

The articles can be found here and here.
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