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Old 04-08-2016, 09:38 AM   #1
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In-slide Norcold/Dometic fridge vs residential fridge

Shopping for a 5th wheel and I have questions/concerns about the models that have a refrigerator in the slide.

I've read to avoid models with a fridge in the slide due to problems. However, I've also read that the problem is when the fridge in the slide is an RV fridge (Norcold or Dometic). My understanding is that the problem has to do with air flow and how the heat is drawn out. Norcold/Dometic refrigerators are designed for heat to escape upward, whereas residential refrigerators are designed for heat to escape out the back. Vents are placed in the back of the fridge in the slide, regardless of make/model/type of fridge, and this doesn't work well for an RV fridge.

Is this understanding correct? Should we stay away from rigs that have RV fridges in the slide (residential fridge is ok), or would you suggest staying away from designs where any type of fridge is in the slide? What is your experience and opinion?


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Old 04-08-2016, 10:12 AM   #2
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Not really true as most larger RV refers have fans that push the air no matter where they are mounted. We've had our Montana for over three years & 30k miles, including the southwest and last year to CA and 114 degree weather. Refer had no problems at all.

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Old 04-08-2016, 10:20 AM   #3
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RV Absorption Fridges WORK...........when RV Mfg. FOLLOWS the RV Fridge MFG. installation instructions.

A Norcold/Dometic installed in a slide is NOT an issue per se........provided RV MFG. takes the necessary steps to properly install with the correct clearances (very minimal) and the number 1 condition-------PROPER DRAFT (airflow)
Draft can be accomplished by the correct use of baffles and Fan(s).

If RV MFG. thinks they know best and ignore the recommendations from Fridge MFG. then absorption fridges will have cooling issues...........mostly due to draft.

Norcold/Dometic/Atwood-----------all have specific installation instructions for each model. They provide clearances, how/were to baffle (kits available), fan location/# of fans....temp controls for fans, were the temp controls are to be installed etc.

Absorption refrigeration has been in commercial use since 1920's. It is a tried and True method of cooling.

RV MFG's have mucked it up by NOT installing units correctly.
They have gotten better at following directions and are now incorporating the necessary fans/baffles and intended draft needed

Fridge MFG's mucked it up when they cut costs by using lower quality/thinner walled tubing when they built CU units back in the mid 2000's
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Old 04-08-2016, 10:55 AM   #4
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Not an answer to your question, but as a person who has owned coaches with both types of refrigerators, I would never purchase another with the rv absorption fridge. Never! The residential fridge is 100 times better than the absorption fridge. Zero maintenance, less current draw, adjustable temperature controllers, larger..... just no comparison at all.

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Old 04-08-2016, 12:24 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by lanerd View Post
Not an answer to your question, but as a person who has owned coaches with both types of refrigerators, I would never purchase another with the rv absorption fridge. Never! The residential fridge is 100 times better than the absorption fridge. Zero maintenance, less current draw, adjustable temperature controllers, larger..... just no comparison at all.


Even if we would quit full-timing and downsize to a small travel trailer for occasional trips, I would either buy the trailer with a residential or put one in myself.
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Old 04-08-2016, 03:07 PM   #6
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I agree with 'Old Biscuit', RV absorption refers work fine if venting/baffles are done per the manufacturer's installation instructions. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with using a residential refer either, provided you understand the potential impacts to your individual RV lifestyle. At a minimum, you need extra batteries and an inverter to provide short-term power for the residential unit. And if you plan on any dry camping, then a generator and/or solar system will be needed to provide long term power. If you rarely move and are always tied to shore power, then a residential unit may be great. Again, a lot depends on your RV lifestyle.
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Old 04-08-2016, 03:12 PM   #7
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It seems to me that many of the RV refrigerator issues are with the big 12 cf models, not the smaller ones. Ours is in a slide and we have not had any issues. If you want to do any dry camping at all, a residential fridge may not be for you.
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Old 04-08-2016, 03:54 PM   #8
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Residential fridges the name speaks for itself. In a motor home with air ride but most 5th wheel suspensions are anything but. Excluding the high end models. I am waiting to see how long they last bouncing and vibrating down the road since they are made to go in homes that only move during earthquakes.
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Old 04-08-2016, 04:15 PM   #9
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My experience with norcold has been nothing but good in 12 years of heavy dry camping. We always have almost always had a box of ice cream sandwiches with us along with a freezer packed wit vacuum packed meat and fish. The only thing I'd like to see is a larger freezer section. There are a lot of big class a that putting res freg in from new but they expect you will hook up to power. most of the time. My opinion is to find a rig you like decide how you are going to use it and make a decision from there.
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Old 04-12-2016, 10:23 AM   #10
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I have a Samsung RF197 in my Everest slide out for 3 years now and no trouble. Mine came from C**** on a ship to a warehouse trucked so I figured if the fridge went through that should be ok in the E?
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Old 04-12-2016, 03:50 PM   #11
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Routemaster, ,funny, I thought the same thing about residential frig's. If they go thru warehousing, fork lifts, delivery trucks and grunts dropping them and they work when unpacked your good for ever :>)

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Old 04-12-2016, 07:18 PM   #12
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We have a Domestic in the slide of our 7 year old unit. It has never been shut off except when propane off for tunnels and ferries.
All the known fridge failures I know where mostly caused by excessive shut downs due to travel, and storage during summer trying to save energy and causing frequent long cooling stages on propane.
In 24 years we have zero issues with our absorption fridges.
We spends weeks on the road an boomdocking with no issues and the fridge on propane a lot.
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Old 05-22-2016, 07:16 AM   #13
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I would like to know where the people live who have no problems with their RV frig. I am in Texas and we have been out at times when the high for the day was in the 101 to 107 and the nights were down to mid 90's and that was just before dawn. It is during these days my gas frig has problems keeping the temp down below 55 degrees. My frig is on a side and has a topper. I have been trying to find a ball park figure for removing the gas unit and installing a residential unit, still looking. If you have changed out your unit I would appreciate a response with cost.
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Old 05-22-2016, 06:53 PM   #14
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Whatever the cost of changing to a residential unit, it should be less than replacing the Norcold/Dometic unit.
We live in Burleson, but haven't camped too many times in summer here--Colorado is our summer home usually. However, we have camped in San Antonio in hot months and our fridge did ok, maybe running a little warmer than in CO. Our secret has been to install 2 exhaust fans in the upper vent area--they run when the fridge is on, unless I don't need them. Getting proper air movement thru the rear of the fridge is necessary to keep the cooling system working. Have you looked over the back of your fridge? Any blockage? Put some 12-volt fans in (computer fans work well) and see if that helps. Also, try to find a campsite that will shade the fridge in afternoon sun.

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dometic, fridge, norcold, slide

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