This is to document a DIY residential fridge installation in a 2014 Heartland Gateway 3650BH for anyone interested in changing out the Norcold, or even the 18 cu ft factory residential option.
We like our 3650BH a lot. We got one that had everything on our wish list except the residential fridge. We gave the 10 cu ft Norcold a trial run to make sure, but 2 days later we decided a bigger fridge was a must have.
Looked at a lot of options. After a lot of measuring the 5er and pouring over energy ratings, picked out a 22 cu ft Frigidaire counter depth unit. It has an Energy Star annual usage rating that beat out a lot of smaller units. Math works out to around 1.47kwH a day.
Frigidaire Gallery 21.9 Cu. Ft. Counter-Depth French Door Refrigerator Stainless Steel - FGHF2366PF
I didn't think to take a before picture, but this is what the Gateway looks like from the start:
Here it is delivered. It's a big sucker. Had to remove the doors and hinges to get it through the door:
I started by carefully removing the Norcold unit and kitchen pantry. The fridge is 35-1/2" wide, which would give me about 3/16" or so clearance on each side with the pantry removed. Had to take out the drawer below the Norcold entirely and reinforced the area with 3/4" plywood to disperse the weight of the fridge:
Insulated the whole enclosure:
Finished product. Fits like it was made for it. If you look closely, you will notice I reused the trim piece that use to be below the Norcold and installed it above the fridge now to trim out the opening. I still need a piece of crown molding or similar to cover a small gap where some insulation is still visible when you look down on top of the fridge. Installed:
Here is the clearance with the slide pulled in. Note this is a counter depth fridge. No way would a regular depth residential unit fit:
In order to power it during boondocking, I added 4 Trojan J185H-AC to the house battery and a 1000w pure sine inverter. The Trojans are big suckers (122lbs each) rated 2.99kwH @ 12vdc. I figure an occasional 50% discharge can give us a maximum of about 3 or 4 days without charging if the fridge remains shut, and shooting for 2 days of conservative use. Will post pics of the electrical work once completed.