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Old 11-05-2010, 05:01 PM   #1
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Ever try a real icebox vs anemic propane refer?

Anyone ever make a nice icebox to replace the inop refer?
I got tired of paying for many repairs to keep my original refer going,so I placed an ice block in it and it worked pretty well, mainly drinks,and low perishable items already cooked etc.
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:46 PM   #2
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We just jerked the crappy RV fridge out and replaced with a 3 CF dorm fridge and a 4 CF under counter freezer. Works great. We can run up to 8 hours without any melt or warming before having to kick the generator on to cool it all down again. That works out to a nice days drive and an overnight stop. We run the generator before bed, shut down overnight, restart generator in the AM while we have breakfast and get ready to go again. Just what works for us.

We used to have a pop-up that had a insulated icebox instead of a fridge. The drain tray caught the ice melt and drained it out to the ground thru a small diameter plastic tube. You could do the same with a pan and a plastic fitting.
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Old 11-05-2010, 07:28 PM   #3
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I've not seen, or used every make and model RV refrigerator on the road today, but honestly DO believe that most Dometic and Norcold boxes get a bad rap due to poor installation by RV makers - as well lack of a few SIMPLE mods that CAN make them far more efficient.

Our own Norcold in our '88 may well be a classic example! We bought the MH a bit over a year ago - the freezing unit was bad, so I replaced it with a rebuilt. Everything SEEMED OK at first - sitting in our yard in cooler weather, internal temps dropped as they should.

BUT, hotter weather, and out in the real world, it soon became evident that there were substantial issues with the box - temperatures inside the freezer and refrigerator sections varied widely - and when summer temps hit, ice cream in the freezer was out of the question. Nights were fine, with their lower temps - but 95 degree temps and sun on the refrigerator side of the MH quickly caused way too high temps inside both freezer and main box.

The fix for mine, was raising the rooftop vent cover for better airflow at the rear of the box, and simple installation of cooling fans to circulate the airflow these boxes MUST have for efficient operation. The whole modification in text and pictures, is HERE:

I need better refrigerator venting

With what I have done to our Norcold, the freezer stays at 0 degrees, the main box at about 40degrees - the thermostat is set at the halfway mark - and the ice cream stays hard 24/7.

Added to the above, is the fact that from a warm start, our refrigerator freezer will drop to 0 degrees in less than 3 hours. Give your RV refrigerator a break - and help it breaaaaath, for better performance!
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Old 11-05-2010, 08:04 PM   #4
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Our Norcold 1201 works very well most of the time ...in 7 years we have replaced the front board twice and have replaced the cooling unit once. An "ice box" might work for week-enders, but our MH is our home and we need a real live refrigerator. I have looked at home refrigerator alternatives, and likely would go that direction if/when we have a major problem with the Norcold again...
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Old 11-06-2010, 10:48 AM   #5
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Have used ICE box
Have used "office/Dorm" type fridge (Residential type)
Have used RV type.

Hope never to go back to Ice Box
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Old 11-06-2010, 11:13 AM   #6
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I suppose that for those RVers who pretty much constantly are roosting in full service CGs and similar, the residential refer is a viable alternative - just be sure to leave space all around so they too have sufficient ventilation for efficient cooling - you might not SEE the heat exchanger coils if they are secured inside the outer refer walls - but they ARE there, and require free air movement for proper operation.

Added to that, is the need for the residential box to be well secured for those occasions when the user IS out on the road, to avoid damage and potential personal injury if it should fall out of it's place.

For us, since we frequently boondock where shore power is unavailable, and are in motion a lot, there's no real alternative to the RV type refer - and ours easily duplicates the abilities of our home refer after the mods pointed to above, that consideration of other alternatives is unneeded...
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Old 11-06-2010, 11:24 AM   #7
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I don't know why it would be anemic. We have had very few problems over the years. Had to replace one that was 29 years old and another one at 11 years, one control board. We have had short life spans with the residential frigs.

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Old 11-06-2010, 10:21 PM   #8
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My friend has a residential propane refrigerator made by Servel in his double wide in northern Az. It uses no electricity at all. Think it cost him about $1,200, which is close to what an RV ref. costs. Might be better since it uses no electricity.
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Old 11-07-2010, 11:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
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My friend has a residential propane refrigerator made by Servel in his double wide in northern Az. It uses no electricity at all. Think it cost him about $1,200, which is close to what an RV ref. costs. Might be better since it uses no electricity.
Your friend has a Servel by Dometic propane refrigerator. That said the Servels are supposed to be (or were) slightly less $ than a comparable Rv fridge (they were the largest propane fridge for residential you could buy) and were made better. Nowadays you can buy 18 cf propane units. You will pay for it. You can also buy all fridge (21 CF) and all freezer units (15 CF).

Gas Refrigerators, Servel, Crystal Cold, Dometic, Consul if you want an idea of prices.
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Old 11-07-2010, 04:56 PM   #10
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When I bought my 1988 the refer was having problems such as the freezer was getting cold, but the fridge part would not. Had it checked and was told it was shot. CW wanted a whole bunch of money for a new one including installation. I told them just to remove the old one and I'd figure something out. Turns out the roof vent was cracked and water was pouring into the area, the floor was rotted, etc. Well I fixed all of that and installed a small dorm sized 110v fridge (< $200) with a freezer section which is good for weekend or week long trips. I finished out the area by adding a couple of shelves above the fridge. I put in a couple of eyelets and use bungee cords to keep it secure during travel and it works just fine.

We don't plan to boondock and everywhere we plan to stay will have access to 110v.
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Old 11-07-2010, 07:04 PM   #11
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use bungee cords to keep it secure
I would use SOLID tie-down straps of some kind ...nylon straps are pretty cheap ...or metal brackets. Bungee cords are nothing but large rubber bands, and they likely will NOT keep anything in place in an accident or maybe emergency stop situation.
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Old 11-09-2010, 02:03 PM   #12
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Howdy yall,
When I bought my 1969 16' Streamline TT it had a HOLE for a fridge... My son came home from college and brought an almost new dorm fridge with him..
I confiscated it, slid it into the hole, screwed it to the cabinet, used styrofoam blocks to make it rigid and plugged it in.. It's been running over 14 years and keeps stuff cold, whether on the go or at the ranch.. JUST HAVE TO DEFROST THE DARN THING!!!!!!!!!
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Old 11-09-2010, 06:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PalmSprings View Post
Anyone ever make a nice icebox to replace the inop refer?
I got tired of paying for many repairs to keep my original refer going,so I placed an ice block in it and it worked pretty well, mainly drinks,and low perishable items already cooked etc.
Where can you buy an ice block now a days?
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Old 11-09-2010, 06:30 PM   #14
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Most Safeway Grocery stores, any of the bigger carries that run Koldkist ice products will usually have the blocks.
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