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Old 09-06-2008, 01:58 AM   #1
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Hey. Our RV refrigerator is belly-up. From what we have been learning, we most likely have a leak. There is yellow powder. The boiler works, everything else is working normal except we have no cooling capacity. We are fulltime RVers and are considering replacing it with a Magic Chef 10 cubic foot refrigerator we saw today at Home Depot. It fits perfectly in the space where our Norcold 9182 currently is. The dimensions are only off by a fraction in all measurements.

We are considering this primarily due to the cost. $339.00 vs. $1500.00. We have heard that it is not worth getting a refurbished model unless it was refurbished under warranty.....otherwise it has a lot of age on it and the other components break down.....motherboards, control panels, boilers, etc.

The only problem is that we are hearing that standard refrigerators just won't make it. We have heard that the compressor gets damaged every time you plug and unplug from shore power. It has been explained that it is similar to unplugging while your a/c is on. Is this true? Does anyone out there currently use a standard refrigerator in their RV and travel successfully? Is there any way to safely turn off a standard refrigerator to prevent damage? We are currently on ICE and could use the helpful hand of our RV neighbors to make this decision asap.
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Old 09-06-2008, 01:58 AM   #2
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Hey. Our RV refrigerator is belly-up. From what we have been learning, we most likely have a leak. There is yellow powder. The boiler works, everything else is working normal except we have no cooling capacity. We are fulltime RVers and are considering replacing it with a Magic Chef 10 cubic foot refrigerator we saw today at Home Depot. It fits perfectly in the space where our Norcold 9182 currently is. The dimensions are only off by a fraction in all measurements.

We are considering this primarily due to the cost. $339.00 vs. $1500.00. We have heard that it is not worth getting a refurbished model unless it was refurbished under warranty.....otherwise it has a lot of age on it and the other components break down.....motherboards, control panels, boilers, etc.

The only problem is that we are hearing that standard refrigerators just won't make it. We have heard that the compressor gets damaged every time you plug and unplug from shore power. It has been explained that it is similar to unplugging while your a/c is on. Is this true? Does anyone out there currently use a standard refrigerator in their RV and travel successfully? Is there any way to safely turn off a standard refrigerator to prevent damage? We are currently on ICE and could use the helpful hand of our RV neighbors to make this decision asap.
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Old 09-06-2008, 05:41 AM   #3
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Many of the newer diesel pushers use residential refrigerators. However, they also usually have 6 (or more) batteries and at least a 3000 watt inverter to power the refrigerator while on the road or when 120V is not available.

Don't know about just turning the fridge off. It certainly should stay cold long enough to get to your destination, but I don't know if shutting it down frequently would damage it or not. I'm sure lots of people who have summer cottages shut down the fridge every weekend when the leave to go back home.

One possible way to overcome shutting down the fridge when the compressor is running is to first turn the temperature knob to a higher setting and allow the compressor to shut down naturally before cutting power.
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Old 09-06-2008, 08:46 AM   #4
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">
The only problem is that we are hearing that standard refrigerators just won't make it. We have heard that the compressor gets damaged every time you plug and unplug from shore power. It has been explained that it is similar to unplugging while your a/c is on. Is this true? D. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

More mis-truths and urban myths....Unpluging the frig is no different than the unit cycling off on it's thermostat then then back on a bit later.

If you have the frig good and cold and keep it shut up, it should make it for a few hours while on the road.

By the way.... Glad to have you here on iRV2.com.

Lots of folks that are long term parkers, use a small home type frig and some of the newer DP come with a conventional frig.

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Old 09-06-2008, 09:07 AM   #5
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We have an under counter 120vAC dorm style refrigerator in our Class C as well as a similar freezer unit. Works well. Just make sure you secure the unit in place and you allow vented airspace around the sides and top (like a couple of inces per side). New fridges tned to have the coolent tubing routed in the sides and top instead of in the rear (think of the old exposed "fins"). Many Bus converters install residential-type refrigerators. So far, I have not run the units while going dow n the road. Our genset messed up and none of our subsequent moves have lasted longer than 200 miles. Even in a 100 degree summer day, the freezer didn't start melting although the ice box section of the frige defrosted slightly (needed it) in that time frame.
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Old 09-06-2008, 11:16 AM   #6
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Hey thanks for your input. Sorry I am just getting back now. We had to break camp because we could not get an extension where we were.

So great to have people who might actually know something about this issue. It has been hard to get any answers.

We have already been in the habit of keeping our RV refrigerator Off while traveling because we don't want to run it on propane despite it being "safe". We take short trips - around 200 miles 4/6 hours. We have never had temperature problems unless we push it longer or it is extremely hot.

We have a 98 Chateau 27J with slide TT. We are pretty much at capacity. I am not sure we can swing an inverter/battery bank in our current set-up. Won't that require quite a few batteries and weigh a lot?

As far as boondocking, that only represents about 1 - 3 weeks per year. The rest of the year we are hook-up to hook-up. We were thinking that perhaps we could use some dry ice or an ice block to help us through the "down time" at NP's when we can run the gen....or are at Walmart overnight. This would take some thought ahead of time, but we usually do plan ahead when dry-camping.

4. Does anyone have any suggestions for "sealing off" the inside compartment from the outside service compartment - if we do the Magic Chef. It is the same dimensions as our Norcold except by fractions. We just want to make sure we don't pull in any gases, air drafts, etc.
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Old 09-06-2008, 01:15 PM   #7
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Use a can of "Great Foam" around the FRONT of the unit. They will require the vents to vent off the heat build up. We left the rear access vent and the roof top vents open like it was for the 3 way RV unit. We have not had a problem with the cold or water. We spent this past winter in NE TN. Cold air was not a problem. The Great Foam also helps keep the fridge in place (we also have pop-riveted "loose-pin" hinges to the fridge and freezer to attach them to the ref cabinet frace frame... Please note, this is our 2nd freezer since we drilled a hole thru the coolant tubing!).
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Old 09-06-2008, 02:13 PM   #8
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Lorna - great info!!!!!! That helped a lot. We were planning to leave the RV venting in place on the side of the TT and the roof. Now will those remaining "as is" be enough to vent out the heat? Loved the spray foam idea for the front face of the refrigerator only - I take it from what everyone is saying that we SHOULD NOT put any additional insulation around the refrigerator in it's cabinet compartment because this will cause it to get too hot. Feedback on this point by anyone for clarification would be great.
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Old 09-06-2008, 08:59 PM   #9
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Just want you all to know that we did go and get the Magic Chef tonight. So far we are planning to keep our vents in the roof and side service compartment. We will not know what kind of clearances we have to work with until we actually pull out the Norcold. From what we can tell, we have about 3" clearance on the roof, and 3" along the backside. Assuming that they built the compartment area according to minimum clearance requirements on Norcold, we should have at least 1/2" each side. According to the directions we will not be putting any insulation around it. It would be great to know exactly where Lorna secured her refrigerator. Drilling into the coolant tubing is such a bummer! We sure don't want to do that. Anyone who can help us along with this conversion - we would great appreciate and value any advice. We are not going to be doing any battery banks/inverters right now. Just the refrigerator installation.
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Old 09-07-2008, 01:55 AM   #10
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IF I were to install this kind of refrigerator in an RV I would secure it to the floor front and rear and on top from the hinge bolts by use of a bracket.
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Old 09-07-2008, 08:02 PM   #11
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Well the current update is that we are stuck until we can get the right sized cap for the gas line. It is 3/8", not standard - like everything RV. LOL. Anyway we will have to go tomorrow to a store which specializes in hardware, and hopefully they will have one.

Lorna, I have to say there are many naysayers out there. I am getting a lot of guff on other forums. They say that your setup CANNOT work if it has the heat dissipating from the sides. Until we get the Norcold out, we will not know for sure exactly what kind of clearances we have. From what we can tell, we will have at least 3" on top plus the roof vent, 3" in back plus the service vent. The sides are the big question. The Norcold states that the minimum clearance on the sides has to be 1/2" each side. All the other areas are exceeding the clearances needed on the Norcold, so we are thinking that we should have more than 1/2" each side. With the air flow created by leaving the vents alone, and not putting any sort of insulation in the clearance areas, we are thinking that we should have enough air flow to keep the Magic Chef happy. After all RV vent systems are meant to dissipate heat from a gas burner or 325 watt electric element as well as the heat drawn from the refrigerator. We can even leave the solar fan we have installed to assist the ventilation process in place.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-08-2008, 08:48 AM   #12
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This comment is not meant to say that you cannot do what you are planning, but, I haven't seen any comments on the practical aspects of your proposed change. I have no way of knowing how long you intend to keep your rig. If you will keep it until the wheels fall off, then no problem. However, have you thought about a possible decrease in value and possible increase in difficulties if you want to sell? Surely, everybody RVs in a different way. There are plenty of folks that would not be bothered by an AC only refer. There are others, such as myself, who boondock or otherwise need/expect a "conventional" RV refer. If I was shopping and found out your rig had an AC only refer, I would simply walk away without a backward glance. I am only saying that you may be limiting (somewhat) the range of potential buyers if you ever want to sell.
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Old 09-08-2008, 02:07 PM   #13
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If you are handy enough with tools and have some spare time have you thought about replacing the cooling unit in your Norcold yourself? I did mine a few weeks back for less than $400.00 and it cools better now than with the OEM unit. Plus I got a 3 year warranty.

Just a thought before you spend the same kind of money and then have to start modifing your rig to accomodate the non-oem setup. Also, 3 weeks of dry camping a year is quite abit. The fuel cost alone to exclusively power you refer using a generator can certainly get expensive (may not be real popular with your neighbors if there are others camped close by also).

Just a thought,

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Old 09-08-2008, 07:15 PM   #14
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by dlineberrys:
...Lorna, I have to say there are many naysayers out there. I am getting a lot of guff on other forums. They say that your setup CANNOT work if it has the heat dissipating from the sides... </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

So does that mean that my Haier refrigerator and Avanti freezer hasn't been working for the past 2 years? Sure could have fooled me. I think that they work quite well. They do not overheat not even thru a South GA summer. They do not freeze up during the winter. We did not insulate the sides/top of the units. Perhaps you should cruise thru a couple of the bus conversion forums and do a little searching there. Hardly any of the self converters use RV fridges. To be honest, it's usually crap about the compressors not being able to stand up to the road vibration that I hear (also not true). If you plug in your unit and let it run, you can feel approximately where the tubing runs. We just happened to hit it just right. The opposite side didn't have the tubing run in that particular area. When we drilled for the replacement, we tore the side skin off the damaged unit so that we could see where the tubing ran. 1/8" over and we would have missed the tiny tubing. I would keep the solar fan since it's already there. I don't know where you camp at but it sure couldn't hurt and the sunshine is free.

I will be doing it over again (in a cube van conversion) except I will be running two 4 CF freezer units - stacked - and one 4 CF refrigerator - built-in under counter. I will use the same method that I have used to secure my computer CPU. A cushioned chain (keeps the chain from damaging the case) with turnbuckles with the eyebolts bolted thru the floor. As a matter of fact, this is how we will also attach my 30" LP gas homestyle drop-in range (yes you can really do that) and a "thin-twin" washer/dryer unit. I've spent over 5 years researching info on converting a 40ft highway bus into an RV. I will simply take all the info I've learned and reapply it to converting something else. I've also partially rebuilt our Class C. I learned a lot about how an RV is constructed and my opinion of "sticks-n-staples" units is pretty low... I don't care who made it or how much was paid for it. But that is my opinion. What you do depends on you and how you use your RV. I figure I will never sell my Class C. We will live in it until we convert the van we will use to move out to NM. One of my daughters has "claimed" the old RV. She knows what we have done to this RV to make it more usable. The conversion will also not be sold. To be quite honest, I find it hard to believe that any one (except me) would want a Gothic Victorian styled RV (interior only... exterior will look like a U-haul painted white). And my windows will most likely be ports (from West Marine... yes, a marine store... same place my low profile solar-powered roof vents will come from). David says the conversion will be my only "house" and I have always wanted a Victorian (just not the upkeep $$$$). But that is what works for us. If you plan on selling your Rv in two or three years and it's a pricey unit, then keep the RV unit. Otherwise, think about what will work for you.
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