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Old 11-01-2010, 01:42 PM   #1
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Confused about all this fridge talk...

With all the talk about refrigerators and recalls lately, it seems like the perception is that a "residential fridge" doesn't have the fire hazard associated with them that, say, some of the Norcold and Dometic units do in Class As.

Is this really true? How exactly is a residential unit less of a fire threat?

I'm pretty spooked now by all this talk about potential fires looking for our future Class A. Seems like the newer entry-to-mid level DPs don't have them even as an option...

Thanks!
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Old 11-01-2010, 01:59 PM   #2
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The Norcold and Dometic refrigerators in question use a process called absorptive refrigeration where an external source of heat provides the energy required to drive the cooling process. An explanation of absorptive refrigeration can be found HERE.

In RV applications, this external source of heat is provided by a propane flame or an electrical heating element as opposed to an electrically-driven compressor that powers the refrigeration process in a household refrigerator. This heat, in conjunction with various degrees of flammability of certain constituents used in the absorptive refrigeration process, results in a higher fire hazard than household refrigerators (except for isolated exceptions such as the old Servel gas-fired absorptive household refrigerators.)

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Old 11-01-2010, 02:40 PM   #3
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Whoa! There's no reason to yell "FIRE" and cause a stampede partner.

I'm afraid you're jumping to an unreasonable conclusion with your assumption. The dual-mode fridge units are no more of a fire threat than, say, your propane water heater or stove top. The common demoninator being they each have a burner assembly in order to function. The residential fridge has no burner.

The recall is to provide better burner assembly protection/controls to shut-off the fuel source in the event of an ammonia refrigerant leakage should happen to occur. [ BTW: an highly improbable thing to happen] To infer that all of these fridge units post a "fire hazard" is ludicrous. You you have to come up with some pretty good research of those who have experienced such a leak [resulting in a fire] against the hundreds of thousands that are problem free since, the 1960's. Once the recall add-on's are installed, you're good for the road.

No...the best argument "For" a residential is to have rock-solid ice-cream and more amenities such as larger objects, in-door features, etc. [These RF offer much lower temps than possible with the dual-mode units.] The downsides are heavy weight, cabinet modification,4 more batterys, larger inverter...All-of-which drive up the coach cost and require a much beafier chassis weight rating. Meaning, the top-of-the line models are where you find these offered.

There is no reason whatsoever "to be spooked" ..to avoid the tried-n-true dual-mode units. I've had one now for 14 years and will probably do so again . Now, if my retirement model had an option of a RF, I'd go for it without reservation as DW loves to carry a lotta food & frozen stuff.
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Old 11-01-2010, 02:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 62Morgan View Post
To infer that all of these fridge units post a "fire hazard" is ludicrous.
The fact that they use a flame and some variably flammable refrigeration system constituents does make them a "higher fire hazard" than a residential fridge with no flame. Most of us who have been around RVing for any amount of time probably know someone first-hand who has experienced a refrigerator fire and lost an RV - we certainly do.

Do I lose sleep over it? No. However, to ignore that the absorption fridge is inherently more of a fire hazard than a residential fridge is, IMHO, unrealistic as well.

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Old 11-01-2010, 02:58 PM   #5
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There is good reason to be concerned about the recalled Norcolds as there have been too many fires.

I wouldn't worry about those units not subject to the recall.
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Old 11-01-2010, 02:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by go6car View Post
With all the talk about refrigerators and recalls lately, it seems like the perception is that a "residential fridge" doesn't have the fire hazard associated with them that, say, some of the Norcold and Dometic units do in Class As.

Is this really true? How exactly is a residential unit less of a fire threat?

I'm pretty spooked now by all this talk about potential fires looking for our future Class A. Seems like the newer entry-to-mid level DPs don't have them even as an option...

Thanks!
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Old 11-01-2010, 03:04 PM   #7
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There is good reason to be concerned about the recalled Norcolds as there have been too many fires.

I wouldn't worry about those units not subject to the recall.
Good point, however none of them are ever subject to a recall until they are and then we say boy were we lucky. Sometimes we must think ahead of the people who make these things and try to protect our selves without going too crazy and spoiling the whole experience.
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Old 11-01-2010, 09:08 PM   #8
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An absorption type fridge uses some hydrogen in the cooling unit and, if released by a crack in the metal tubing, that is extremely flammable.
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Old 11-02-2010, 08:35 AM   #9
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Thanks, everyone, for your responses! Helps to clarify all the pros and cons a lot!
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Old 11-02-2010, 08:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary RVRoamer View Post
An absorption type fridge uses some hydrogen in the cooling unit and, if released by a crack in the metal tubing, that is extremely flammable.
Even though it's regulated as a non-flammable substance, so is the ammonia in concentrations of roughly 18% to 25% if a strong ignition source (i.e., an open flame) is present.

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Old 11-02-2010, 09:20 AM   #11
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Hate to burst everyone's bubble however, the latest recall by Norcold has EVERY model 1200 and 1210 ever made on the list. if you don't believe me, just give Norcold a quick call to ask. Many Dometic units also have recalls, they are not without guilt and responsibility for problems.

I had the first Thermal Switch Recall done in January 2010 and it needs to be done again. I have a Norcold 1200 LRIM.

Most if not all of the Norcold frig fires have been when the unit has been operating on AC not LPG. It's not the fact that there is a flame present to start the fire when the gases escape. Its the fact that the AC heaters short out causing an arcing in the burner stack which makes a hole in the cooling system and then the gases escape which catch on fire from the electrical arcing.

A residential refrigerator runs on AC and although it is less likely to start a fire, it can certainly have an electrical short which in turn could cause a fire to start in the combustion type material found around the refrigerator compartment.

The BEST course of preventive action in any current Norcold or Dometic installation is to install a 1 liter Halon SS-30 fire suppression system in the rear frig compartment to put out any fire that may get started for what ever reason.

I have one and I sleep much better at night knowing that I won't lose my life, my home or my personal possessions due to a frig fire. The $150 was very cheap insurance even if it never gets used. I also have an SS-200 AFFF engine fire suppression system for when we are traveling from one location to another. A fire there can be just as devastating.

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Old 11-02-2010, 09:32 AM   #12
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Most if not all of the Norcold frig fires have been when the unit has been operating on AC not LPG.
Depends on the model...see the full Norcold recall text HERE.

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Old 11-02-2010, 09:43 AM   #13
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Depends on the model...see the full Norcold recall text HERE.

Rusty
Rusty,

That web site is OLD information, sorry.

As I stated earlier, every model 1200 and 1210 along with the 1201 and the 1211 ever built is now on a safety recall. That means every Norcold unit built up until Ocotber 6, 2010 of those models.

Refer to these more current web sites.

Norcold Recall

Norcold Promotion

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Old 11-02-2010, 10:18 AM   #14
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Oops - my bad. I should have stuck with Dometics, which is what I have. Their recall 08E-032 dated April 11, 2008, reads:

Quote:

Dometic Recall Information


Your refrigerator is affected

The information you entered indicated that your refrigerator is affected by the expansion of the Dometic recall, announced to NHTSA on April 11, 2008.

At no charge to you, Dometic's SBH Kit needs to be installed on your refrigerator. Your
preferred RV service technician can perform the installation.


Use our service center locator for help finding an installer in your area that can perform the recall work. Searching by area code should yield the best results.
Click here for the service center locator.
Please read the following.

Turn the refrigerator off immediately if you notice any of the following indicators:
Leakage or staining at the back of the refrigerator.
Yellow residue at the back or sides of the refrigerator.
The smell of ammonia.
Refrigerator does not properly cool.


Any unit found to have one or more of the characteristics mentioned above MUST be shut down and not operated until the unit is fixed and the recall rework administered.
For any unit that does fall within the recall population, but does not exhibit any of the four indicators mentioned in #1, consider the following:
1.


Do not operate your refrigerator on LP gas under ANY circumstances. Dometic recommends that you turn off the gas valve at the back of your refrigerator. DO NOT, however, attempt to disconnect the gas supply. For instructions on how to turn off the gas valve, click here

2.


Dometic recommends that the unit not be operated on electric unless absolutely necessary until your unit has been serviced. If you choose to operate your unit on electric prior to the recall rework, you must inspect the burner area weekly for any of the indicators referenced in number 1 above.

3.

If you must operate your refrigerator on electric, DO NOT operate your refrigerator while in transit or while occupants are asleep.

4.

The rework kit is currently available. Call your preferred service center to set up an appointment. For help in locating a service center, or for the most up-to-date recall information, call 1-888-446-5157.

Please do not simply go to a dealer or service center without an appointment, since some facilities will not be performing this work, and the ones that are doing the work will need to obtain the appropriate parts from us. Please bring this letter with you at the time of your scheduled service.

5.

If the repair facility fails or is unable to remedy this noncompliance without charge and within a reasonable time, please contact us at the number provided above so we can attempt to resolve the problem. You may also submit a written complaint to the Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, DC 20590; or call the toll-free Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY: 1-800-424-9153); or go to www.safercar.gov.

6.

If you previously paid to repair or replace a Dometic refrigerator that failed due to this defect, you may be eligible for reimbursement for your costs pursuant to Dometic��s Pre-Notification Reimbursement Program. To be eligible for reimbursement under that Program, you must complete and submit the required form and provide the necessary documentation. The Program and form can be obtained by calling 1-888-446-5157.



Rusty


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