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Old 11-07-2014, 11:16 AM   #1
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Update on my Residential Fridge Retrofit

I recently swapped my poor performing Norcold fridge for a residential Samsung RF197. You can read about my installation here.

I followed the advice of those that went before me and sealed up the outside RV fridge vent grill as well as the fridge chimney. After the install, I noticed a fair amount of heat venting into the coach around the Samsung. Most of it was venting from the bottom and right side of the fridge. The Samsung’s compressor is at the lower left of the rear fridge panel. Compressors of course create heat, so I was worried that the compressor might eventually fail if it did not have adequate ventilation.

RV manufacturers have been installing residential units in RV's for a while now, so I initially didn't think ventilation would be an issue. Many other RV owners have successfully retrofitted a residential fridge in this same manner, but I was worried that long term use might eventually produce a compressor failure. A warning label on the Samsung advising that it is intended as a free standing unit only, just exasperated my concerns.

I decided to take some heat readings. Armed with an IR temp sensor gun, I measured the heat expelled by the Samsung (this was all done with an outside ambient air temp of 86F). After running the fridge for several hours, the rear panel of the Samsung near the compressor measured 123F. The heat expelled via the interior vent of the fridge (just below the doors), measured 99F. I then opened up one of the three venting rows of the RV fridge grill and took readings 45 minutes later. The heat at the rear of the fridge dropped 13F degrees and the interior lower vent heat dropped 7F degrees. With these findings, I decided to leave one row of the rear fridge grill open for the time being.

Fast forward: the DW & I went camping the week of Halloween. The cooler weather brought out campfires. Since the fridge cavity is no longer air tight, we found that our neighbor's campfire smoke began creeping into our coach via the fridge grill. The DW then kicked on the fantastic fan in the galley to expel some cooking odors. This pulled so much smoke into the coach that we both began coughing. This was not something I had not thought of when I decided to open up part of the RV fridge grill. Despite this, I left the grill partially open for the time being.

We are currently remodeling our sticks & bricks home. Right now we have no kitchen, living room or dining room, so we have been spending most of our time in the RV while parked on our RV pad. I have full hookup's, so we are comfortable. Yesterday our contractor upgraded our home's main electrical panel. This meant that we would be without electricity for several hours. No big deal, since the RV has a generator. 90F weather had been forecast for the day, so I set the RV's A/C t-stat and left the dog inside while I ran errands. I came home in the afternoon and found the RV filled with diesel exhaust fumes. It was not enough to trigger the carbon monoxide detector but it was enough to make me gag. I was thankful that I didn't come home to a dead dog. All of this occurred, even though I took the time to attach my Gen-Turi generator exhaust tube before leaving. I theorized that the A/C intakes must have slowly pulled exhaust fumes in via the fridge grill during the course of the day. No more stalling, I quickly re-sealed up the RV fridge grill.

The OEM Norcold is an air tight installation. A residential retrofit is not unless you make the effort to make it air tight. If you don't want outside odors and elements invading your RV interior, I highly suggest you seal up ALL vents around a residential fridge retrofit, as others have suggested. I will deal with the small amount of heat venting into the coach and keep my fingers crossed that the Samsung’s compressor doesn’t suffer as a result.

Happy Travels!

Craig
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Old 11-07-2014, 02:16 PM   #2
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Well that sure is some problems I'd never have thought of. Thanks for sharing
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Old 11-07-2014, 07:30 PM   #3
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One could leave the vents stock and open and pack foam between unit and walls or use a molding or trim to seal the unit.
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Old 11-07-2014, 10:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TQ60 View Post
One could leave the vents stock and open and pack foam between unit and walls or use a molding or trim to seal the unit.
I'm not sure packing foam around the sides of the refer is a great idea with a Samsung. Part of the heat exchange occurs from tubes that run along each of the sidewalls. Stop air circulation here and you hamper cooling the freon. If you only seal around the front of the unit and leave full air circulation around the sides and out the top you would probably be OK.

If you don't seal the unit and close the existing vents and leave an inch to an inch and a half opening at the top you should be just fine with these units. Yes, they put some heat into the room. But, they are designed for that and this normal operation should not pose any problem to the compressor.
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Old 11-08-2014, 08:36 AM   #5
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This is why I didn't seal the roof vent(chimney) when we upgraded with a Whirlpool.
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Old 11-08-2014, 11:20 AM   #6
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Update on my Residential Fridge Retrofit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramets View Post
This is why I didn't seal the roof vent(chimney) when we upgraded with a Whirlpool.

I was thinking the same thing, but couldn't a roof vent fan just as easily pull in undesirable elements via the chimney? One would think that it will pull air in from the least resistant source. What's your experience with this?

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Old 11-09-2014, 07:08 AM   #7
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Well normally when using our roof vent fan's we have windows open. That will certainly pull in any smells outside. But our experience has been that we really don't get a lot of that happening coming from the fridge roof vent, unless of course we're somewhere that a lot of campers have fires going. In that case we don't run the fan's or have windows open.
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Old 11-20-2014, 03:31 PM   #8
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i sealed my roof vent with expanding foam and made an insulation blanket for the sidewall opening panel, its not 100% air tight but pretty close
i installed a vent in the coach to help air flow around the unit, so far we have not had any issues
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Old 11-20-2014, 03:50 PM   #9
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FWIW it would seem that the thing to do is seal the refer to wall but manage the floor to ceiling flow. In the summer vent out the top to exhaust the waste heat. In the winter exhaust the warmer air back into the room via a top vent to the inside. All it would take is a flapper to direct the air flow.
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Old 12-03-2014, 12:27 PM   #10
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If anyone should just read the installation instructions, you would find that the refrigerator requires clearance ALL AROUND and is not meant to be sealed in. It no longer needs to be isolated, there is no gas to seal from the living area for safety. You may close the rear and chimney off but you must not enclose it in any other way.....period!
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Old 12-03-2014, 01:24 PM   #11
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Years ago when I put a residential refrigerator in a 83 MH.
I left the rear vent and top vent open.

And sealed off the bottom front factory vent.
Also put extra insulation on the sides and top.
I did put a small fan in the rear to blow on the compressor.
No heat getting inside the MH to cool from the compressor.

It still was working good 4 years later when I traded it off for my present MH.

I will do the same when my 15 year old OEM quiets.
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Old 12-03-2014, 06:34 PM   #12
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I switched from our Norcold to a res. fridge a couple of years ago.

For the Norcold, the rear grill vent and the roof vent provide an 'outdoor environment' for the propane burner, to vent out the propane fumes and the heat. The fridge is sealed into the cupboard cavity to prevent propane fumes and heat from entering into the coach.

For the res. fridge, no such ventilation is required. I weather sealed both the grilled vent and the roof vent. The fridge fit snug into the cupboard, with about 1 1/4" of clearance at the bottom of the fridge. I was fortunate that there was about 4" of cupboard above the fridge, into which I installed a register.

When the fridge is running, air is drawn in along the bottom of the fridge, and there's a breeze of luke warm air blowing back into the room through the top register.

Jim
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