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Old 01-20-2011, 10:12 PM   #1
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The Only Real Cure for an Norcold RV Refrigerator "Problem"

We've owned a KZ Escalade 37' Toyhauler for 5 years and have never been satisfied with the performance of the 4 door Norcold 1200 unit that is in our Kitchen Slide Out. We're from FL and would try to run the unit on 8 or 9 to attempt to keep it below 40* on a hot day and usually would have to lower the setting because the refrigerator temperature would rise when we turned it up.

We finally "qualified" for the latest Norcold recall/fix and had the work done in Blythe, CA about 12 weeks ago. After that, we decided that we were not going to wait for this thing to fail, leaving us high & dry out boondocking somewhere with a refrigerator that was now a 200+ lb. paperweight. And there was NO WAY we were buying another cooling unit from Norcold or a new Dometic Fridge that would eventually have the same issues!

We opted for a New Amish Cooling Unit with a 5 year warranty from the RV Cooling Warehouse. The unit shipped to a local RV shop here in Benson, AZ and a friend of mine and I installed it over the coarse of 2 days, incorporating some other upgrades that would help performance and safety for years to come.
We shot photos of the installation and enhancements that were made and have them on "youtube" as a video if anyone is interested at:

YouTube - Amish Cooling Unit Installation Slideshow
Enlarge the screen to Full Size & use the pause button to review each slide. Please click "I liked this" if you did.

The instructions provided were easy to follow and the install went smoothly with no technical problems. The Fridge NOW works as well as our residential unit did in our sticks & bricks house back in FL. It now makes Ice and runs between 34* & 37* on setting 3 - 5 depending on the outside temperature.

It's Great to be free of that old Norcold cooling unit and it's tendency to fail or start a fire. There have been no fires reported with these "beefed up" cooling units but I did install an SS-30 Remote Fire Extinguisher from Fire Fight 1 and it's installation is also part of the slideshow above.

We're now in Quartzsite, AZ to spend a couple of months Boondocking. . . hope to see you out there and hope this helps some of you with what was for us, a tough decision that's turned out really well!
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Old 01-20-2011, 11:29 PM   #2
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Good job FreeByrd and welcome to irv2.
You made the best option with the Norcold which I think many of us will be doing in future.
Their recalls will be a thing of the pass along with them if they don't get something right soon.
Its on my list to do because my 1200 has always worked as it should and the box is a good unit just a poor defective cooling unit.
Your links at bottom are also of good use also.
Thanks for the informative first post.
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Old 01-20-2011, 11:52 PM   #3
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What a great solution. Thanks for sharing that &

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Old 01-21-2011, 06:18 AM   #4
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Great job and post Freebyrd
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Old 01-21-2011, 10:22 PM   #5
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You are right, that cooling unit is IMO the best available. Thanks for posting your experiences and the how-to video
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Old 01-22-2011, 10:04 AM   #6
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When somebody says that "the only way" to cure a problem when talking, I take it with a grain of salt because I'm pragmatic, and, analytical.

My Norcold has been running 24/7 for 10 years and if I don't watch it, my veggies, and bottles of water freeze. I accomplish this with little tricks that are well known by a large portion of (at least full-time) RV'ing subculture.

Ed
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Old 01-22-2011, 01:41 PM   #7
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An Amish cooling unit is a BLOCK OF ICE!! LOL
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Old 01-22-2011, 02:41 PM   #8
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I'd say the "best" solution is to replace it with a residential (compressor driven) fridge. That way the ammonia cycle cooling unit it eliminated altogether, thus making the RV both safer and more functional.

I respectfully submit that the Amish cooling units are relatively recent on the market and we have no way of knowing of they are any better quality than any other manufacturer's cooling unit. The ammonia in an absorption cooling unit is inherently corrosive and some percentage are going to fail. And if the ammonia escapes through a leak, the cooling unit overheats and a fire is a real possibility.
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Old 01-23-2011, 04:14 AM   #9
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FreeByrd - Welcome to irv2.com and thanks for a magnificent video. Fridge problems seem to be universal amongst RV'ers. This looks like a great solution.

Mark
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed-Sommers View Post
When somebody says that "the only way" to cure a problem when talking, I take it with a grain of salt because I'm pragmatic, and, analytical.

My Norcold has been running 24/7 for 10 years and if I don't watch it, my veggies, and bottles of water freeze. I accomplish this with little tricks that are well known by a large portion of (at least full-time) RV'ing subculture.

Ed
Perhaps you'd consider sharing your "little tricks" with the rest of us full timers that don't fall into the "large portion" block of the RVing subculture?
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:37 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary RVRoamer View Post
I'd say the "best" solution is to replace it with a residential (compressor driven) fridge. That way the ammonia cycle cooling unit it eliminated altogether, thus making the RV both safer and more functional.

I respectfully submit that the Amish cooling units are relatively recent on the market and we have no way of knowing of they are any better quality than any other manufacturer's cooling unit. The ammonia in an absorption cooling unit is inherently corrosive and some percentage are going to fail. And if the ammonia escapes through a leak, the cooling unit overheats and a fire is a real possibility.
Thanks for the reply. But as noted in the initial thread, we don't prefer being tied to a power post in a "cramp-ground" full time. Looking at "Brigadoon's" thread in this forum, who did install a Maytag residential unit, it appears to consume about 180 amps/day (including inverter inefficiencies) which is 10% more than our current total power consumption for a 24 hr period produced by our A&M Solar System. . . might not be too practical given our current lifestyle. Might also be why these RV's don't come with a residential unit in them.

Don't know if you're familiar with "Mac The Fire Guy" or not:

Mac McCoy Is

but I was lucky enough to talk with him this week in Quartzsite, AZ and it seems that he has been to the RV Pines (Amish Cooling Unit) facility, met the folks there and plans to have his refrigerator changed over by them this spring or summer. When I told him that we had just installed an Amish cooling unit in our 5 year old 1200 Norcold, and one of the Fire Fight 1, SS-30 Halon fire extinguishers, the same fire extinguisher unit as Mac sells, he told me that I really didn't need it now that I had an Amish Cooling Unit powering the fridge.

I respectfully submit that, until Norcold & Dometic return to building their cooling units the way they did 10 years ago, with heavier gauge, higher quality materials, that the RV fires containing their cooling units will continue.
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary RVRoamer View Post
I'd say the "best" solution is to replace it with a residential (compressor driven) fridge. That way the ammonia cycle cooling unit it eliminated altogether, thus making the RV both safer and more functional.................
The ammonia in an absorption cooling unit is inherently corrosive and some percentage are going to fail. And if the ammonia escapes through a leak, the cooling unit overheats and a fire is a real possibility.
Gary, a compressor driven unit is not any safer or more functional than an ammonia absorption unit.

Ammonia has been used as an industrial refrigerant since before 1900. In addition to ammonia, there was Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and methylchloride. When duPont came on the scene with the "Freon" (Chlorine based) refrigerants, ammonia was pushed to the rear and a lot of the ammonia technology was lost.

Ammonia is still the most widely used refrigerant in large cold storage and food preparation installations. Ammonia is the most efficient refrigerant in use today and it is even used in the cooling system on the International Space Station. I doubt if it would have been used there if it was so unsafe.

Ammonia will burn, in a very narrow combustion range, but only in the presence of a flame. No flame, no fire.

I have been in the industrial cooling field since 1970 and worked with numerous ammonia systems, both mechanical and absorption and have not had one blow up or catch fire due to the refrigerant being ammonia.

The newer ammonia absorption units are not being built to last as long as the older units. Our 1979 Silver Streak had the unit finally stop cooling when it was 29 years old. No leaks, no fires, etc. The systems have an anti corrosive agent in the mix to stop the corrosion.

Mechanical units are actually more prone to failure, due to the moving parts and they are also subject to electrical fires.

Let's not give ammonia a bad reputation based on hear-say and speculation.

Ken
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:27 PM   #14
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To add to the previous post I received a PM from FreeByrd and he told me when he pulled the Norcold cooling unit it was easy to remove from box because it was light, I say it was cheap thin metal tubing.
The Amish unit he needed help to reset in box because it was double the weight of Norcold.
Kind of reminds me of the older well built coils.
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