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Old 09-19-2013, 10:54 AM   #1
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Newbie ? about MH refrigerators

As I have recently started research what RVs and RV life is all about, I'm running into the term "dometic" refrigerator. What is so special about this type of refrigerator? What cant one just go buy one of those "pint-sized" apartment-ty0pe refrigerators and stick it in the same slot. I know I'm exposing a lot of ignorance here, but I figure I ought to expose it now rather than at the tie I purchase my first RV.
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Old 09-19-2013, 11:08 AM   #2
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Dometic and Norcold are two popular suppliers of RV refrigerators that will run on either propane or electric. Residential is the term used for a house type refrigerator that runs from electricity only. You can use a residential refrigerator given adequate sized battery bank and inverter to support it when not on shore power.
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Old 09-19-2013, 11:19 AM   #3
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RV refrigerators are a specially designed unit. The operate from a heating element that boils a refrigerant that operates by convection, instead of having a compressor. Here is a detailed diagram of how it works: RV Tech Library - Basic RV Refrigerators
Some people replace a broken RV refrigerator with a house-style 120VAC unit, but they are only powered by AC voltage. This means it must be either left off while not attached to AC line voltage or you must run an onboard generator for power. If the interior temperature reaches 45*F for 4 hours or more the food inside is at risk of bacterial infection or spoilage.
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Old 09-19-2013, 11:21 AM   #4
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Or run it on the generator when on the road. But if you're talking about the dorm size maybe 3 feet tall, you will not get much in that and maybe a semi-functioning freezer section. We put one in our MH to augment our Dometic, and it serves the purpose, but would not do as an only fridge. Now a house sized one might be ok as described above, if you have capability of running it when needed.
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Old 09-19-2013, 11:31 AM   #5
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So what are the precautions, if any, that one has to keep in mind when using a dometic?
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Old 09-19-2013, 12:55 PM   #6
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Cool it down a couple days before you will travel. Cool the food that will go in it if possible, and prefreeze the stuff for the freezer. Keep fridge fairly level when parked. The gas/liquid that causes the cooling will need to be fairly level to circulate through the tubing on the back side of the fridge. Minimize how often you open the door to retain cooling. If you suspect the door seal is not holding corrctly, place a dollar bill in the door and close the door on it. Pull the bill and you should feel resistance. if the bill pulls out too easily, you might need ned seals (assuming something in the fridge is not interferring with closing the door completely).

While these absorbtion refrigerators work well and without mechanical interaction, they do have limitation on just how well they will work on warm foods. They are very little trouble and are a great advantage on the road.
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Old 09-19-2013, 01:09 PM   #7
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I agree with Retired.... the use and care of an ammonia based refrig is to let it chill down for an evening before filling it...and try to prechill your food in the home refrig before you transfer.
In my tales... I find that the Dometic in my rig cools well unless the outside temp gets over 90....and I see a huge increase in its propane use as it cycles to keep cool. I do not have a forced air type fan installed in my roof top vent that will enhance cooling efficiency as some others have added. Have not yet needed.
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Old 09-19-2013, 02:00 PM   #8
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So what are the precautions, if any, that one has to keep in mind when using a dometic?
They are susceptible to setting themselves on fire. My Dometic did. Norcold's are even more notorious for this.

I'm not trying to be an alarmist. Just think you should be aware. I've had gas absorption RV refrigerators for years and only had this happen once. Fortunately I caught the fire early and got it out with minimal damage to the coach, but had it happened while I was away, my RV would have been a total loss. ... And thank God my family wasn't in the coach at the time.

I replaced my Dometic with a residential unit. Haven't had any problems. I'm always either hooked to shore power or running the generator so fridge stays on all the time.

Again, not trying to be an alarmist. If I ever buy a new coach it may very well have a gas absorption RV fridge in it. I would not let that stop me from buying the RV.

If you want to know more just do a quick Google search on RV Refrigerator Fires. You'll get plenty to read.

Good luck.
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Old 09-19-2013, 03:47 PM   #9
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Residential fridge is the only way to go. We full time.
Dometic and nor cold are only for weekenders and short week vacations.
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Old 09-20-2013, 06:13 PM   #10
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Residential fridge is the only way to go. We full time.
Dometic and nor cold are only for weekenders and short week vacations.
Not necessarily. There are a great many long timers and full timers that have been using Dometics and Norcolds for years.
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Old 09-20-2013, 06:45 PM   #11
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Norcold

Happy with mine. Beer is perfect temp (34F) and ice cream is freakin' rock hard. I did the 'Muddypaws mod' to get it to do this. Zero cost.
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Old 09-20-2013, 06:54 PM   #12
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Here is a link that will give info on the problems with the Norcold & Dometic refrigerators.
This will also show conversions of them also.
Most RVers have no problems as long as maintenance is done and the fridge was install correctly.
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Old 09-20-2013, 07:27 PM   #13
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Not necessarily. There are a great many long timers and full timers that have been using Dometics and Norcolds for years.
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Old 09-20-2013, 07:36 PM   #14
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I have used standard RV refrigerators for years. The cooling unit is susceptible to failure if the RV is not properly leveled while the refrigerator is in use. And the freezer does not keep food hard frozen, such as ice cream.

This new to me coach has a residential refrigerator and it is far superior to the standard RV refrigerator. We have more room and it is more reliable and less finicky than the absorption type. For weekenders and vacationers the absorption refrigerator is fine. But, as a full-timer the upgrade is well worth the doing.

If you don't have a RV yet, choose to fit your needs and desires. We love our coach and hunted a long time for this model and year.

Happy hunting,

Rick
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