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Old 09-12-2012, 01:35 PM   #1
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Norcold 1200 refrigerator questions

I recently purchased a 2005 unit with a Norcold 1200 4 door refrigerator and am trying to get it operating. I have read all manuals and all seems to function according to manual but icebox goes to 0 (zero) degrees F (did so in about 4 hours) while the regrigerator (lower box) stays at about 60 degrees F. I have had it running for about 6 hours. It runs and stays running on either AC or LP. As I am plugged in to shore power it switches to AC when in the auto mode. I have set a 9--which is the coldest setting.
I have never had one take this long to cool down. Is this normal, is something wrong or am I doing something wrong?


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Old 09-12-2012, 01:41 PM   #2
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Try helping it with some frozen items in the refrigerator. I use blue ice. Get a digital theremometer and "shoot" the fins in the back and see what they are reading. But above all DO NOT open the door(s). See what it does after 24 hours. Why does you think they call 'em 'nearcolds'?

Tom, Cheryl & Blossom(coonhound mix) Formerly of Bellingham,WA'05 Winnebago Journey 36G. FL-XC, Cat 350, aero muffler, AFE filter, 4 FSD Koni's, ultra track bell, SafeT+, FMCA397030, WIT 129107
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:53 PM   #3
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I have the 1200 also. Used it this last weekend, stated it up from complete shut down, after 12 hours it will have made ice cubes, lower box will be 39F set at 6 on control. Nothing in freezer or lower box at that time, I use a digital temp gauge to check temps as we travel. We just came back from 2 month trip to Alaska, fridge worked fine. If you open doors it will take much longer to get it to cool down. That is why I use the remote temp gauge. Fridge cools same when on gas or electric, temp in storage building last time I use it was about 70F.
They are slow when first turned on, Hope this helps, Good Luck.
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:54 PM   #4
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There's a thingy on the rear fins that controls the frig temp, I think it's a thimistor, but don't really know the name.
It sounds like that's bad.
Ours will freeze a gallon of milk on 9 on the bottom shelf of the frig.
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:02 PM   #5
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Easy check to see if the thermistor is bad. Just unplug it. It is the cheapest part to start trouble shooting. Approx. $20. Then the control board, approx. $120. Then the cooling unit. I went with the Amish cooler for $900.
Tom, Cheryl & Blossom(coonhound mix) Formerly of Bellingham,WA'05 Winnebago Journey 36G. FL-XC, Cat 350, aero muffler, AFE filter, 4 FSD Koni's, ultra track bell, SafeT+, FMCA397030, WIT 129107
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Old 09-12-2012, 03:33 PM   #6
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On your 1200, it'll take overnight for it to cool properly. Also check to see if you hear your fans working. The 1200 has two factory installed fans, you should be able to hear them. I wouldn't leave it on 9 for an overnight check. Try a it on 6 overnight and see if it is indeed cooling. Also check for leakage in the back of your refrigerator, any yellow powder or stains anywhere is a sign of cooling unit failure. If present do not attempt to use it because of fire danger. A complete Amish unit including fans and new heating elements will cost you about $1300. No recalls to deal with and a 5 year warranty. Mine was the best thing I ever did. Everything stays frozen and no worries. Good luck. I hope overnight works for you.
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Old 09-12-2012, 05:47 PM   #7
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It's a NOCOLD,good luck. Use a rubber mallet and tap the the cooling unit on the back. Mine didn't the same thing, turned out the cooling unit was starting to block up. Ended up replacing it with a residential fridge while on the road in the keys laser winter
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Old 09-12-2012, 06:04 PM   #8
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Make sure the fans are working! Both of mine went out at the same time and the fridge section would not cool. Replaced both fans and it cooled right down.
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Old 09-12-2012, 07:09 PM   #9
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BruceinMN......For whatever reason, the 1200's get coldest on a setting between 3-6....try 4. They also have thermister issues as a previous poster stated. They cost between $15.00 -$20.00. I just bought one Monday. You need the serial number of your refer. There are two different thermisters and will be determined by the serial number. Even if yours doesn't need one, it will eventually. As another stated, it's a cheap fix to see if yours is working properly.

You also need to check and see if the recall was performed on your refer. There was a recall to keep these refers from catching fire when in gas mode. (It's a rare occurence, but Norclod had to respond.) The recall is a small black box with a red light (about the size of a marchbox). It should be obvious when you remove the exterior refer door. It's basically a thermal switch. The recall removes the 12volt power lead from your refer and it's attached to the black box. A lead from the black box goes back to your refer. Another lead from the box goes to a thermal sensor that they attach to the refer chimney. If the refer gets too hot, it shuts the power down.

This particular model has been a nightmare for most owners. They rarely cool well. The only repair is to replace the cooling unit with a heavier duty Amish made unit, about $1200.00 dollars. Many others have just tossed them and put in a residential model. A Samsung RF197, 18 cubic foot French door model fits in the opening. They're about $1200.00, but you have to have a good battery bank (at least four) and a large inverter.

Give your refer at least 24 hours to get fully cold. I installed two computer fans just inside the exterior door to aide in air flow. They've worked well until the trip we're currently on. I can usually get my refer down to 34 degrees overnight, but this trip it's staying at 38.

Lastly, this refer has a defrost cycle that comes on every 48 hours and warms the refer up to defrost the fins. I cheat mine by turning the refer on and off once a day during hot weather. This stops the defrost cycle. The darn things take sooooo much care to make them minimally work well.

I'll probably replace it when we get home.
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Old 09-12-2012, 07:23 PM   #10
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I think it can be simply stated that the Norcold 1200 is a piece of crap. RV manufacturers could do us all a favor & stop installing their junk. Recall after recall. Fires. Poor cooling. Guess that sums it up.
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Old 09-13-2012, 04:26 AM   #11
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My similar issue turned out to be the fans as mentioned a few times in this thread.

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Old 09-13-2012, 05:51 AM   #12
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It will take up to 24 hours for the larger RV refrigerators to get cool. It also helps to not open the door during cool down.

If the fridge is not cool after 24 hours, HERE is a link to the Norcold 1200 Troubleshooting Manual. It will tell you how to use the keypad to read fin temperature, how to read fault codes, how to check the thermister and many other things.

The Norcold 1200 has been the subject of several recalls recently. Make sure your fridge has the latest recall before operating the unit. If the recall has been done, you will have a small black box clipped to the coils in back of the refrigerator. The box, which is shown in the photo below, can be seen by removing the rear access door. (NOTE: the red light on the box should NOT be lit - this indicates a fault). If you do not have the recall box, do not operate the refrigerator. Get the serial numbers of the refrigerator (inside the door) and the cooling unit (on the large black cylinder in the back of the fridge) and call Norcold immediately.

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Old 09-13-2012, 07:47 AM   #13
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Our Norcold 1201 has always worked great. 0-5 in the freezer and 34-38 in the fridge. And we never use the max cold setting. Make sure both fans (outside, near top of cooling unit) are working and there is adequate air flow out the top vent.

This model fridge is rather sensitive to proper installation. I have seen factory installs that did not follow the Norcold specs for side & top clearances, sealing around the cooling unit, etc. and those seldom perform well until the fundamental problem is fixed.

Measure the temperatures by putting a thermometer in a glass of water - it is the only way to get accurate readings inside an absorption fridge.

Many people resolve their fridge problems by replacing with a residential type. A Samsung R197xx usually fits well where a 1200 was originally installed. Has 50% more capacity too!
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Old 09-13-2012, 10:03 AM   #14
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When I got my Amish cooling unit I had an interesting talk with Curtiss at the factory about gas absorption cooling units. The folk in Shipsawana, IN seemed very knowledgable. He told me a properly built and installed Norcold cooling unit can keep up (or down if you are talking degrees) with the best Amish cooling unit. He stated the problem is so many are not properly built by Norcold and/or properly installed by the coach manufacturer. He told me the outside vent on mine should be twice the size it is. The other issue is the size, angle and design of the coil. When I told him I spent a lot of time in REALLY hot weather he said anything you can do to more air across the unit is a good thing.

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