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Old 08-14-2019, 11:08 AM   #1
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Residential Refrig vs Ammonia Fridge

Somebody help talk me off a cliff, please. My first 2 MH's back in 2003 had ammonia fridges. Never could get them cold enough for ice cream, etc. The last 2 MH's had residentials. No problems, of course. Now I'm looking for another RV and most seem to have the old ammonia type refers, which I am reluctant to have. As a result, I'm passing on some nice units. Are the new units much improved so cooling is no longer an issue?
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:05 PM   #2
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If the fridge is the only issue, why not change it to residential after you buy the rig ?
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:10 PM   #3
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Slabman --


The 2011 Tracer Executive travel trailer and then my "step up" 2007 Damon Astoria DP I previously owned both had absorption (ammonia) refrigerators -- Dometic brand in the TT and Norcold in the Astoria. I had no problems with either fridge. The freezers in both fridges performed well i.e. freeze meat, keep ice cream frozen, etc. Both fridges were smaller, 10 cubic feet, two door models i.e. on freezer door, one main compartment door. Both fridges did struggle with cooling if the outside ambient temperature was over 100 F. The Norcold had an electronic controls panel while the Dometic had the manual "Thermistor" tube in the back of the main compartment.


Personally I would not make an absorption vs. residential type refrigerator the deciding factor in purchasing an RV.
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:25 PM   #4
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My 2000 year gas fridge performs just like my 2017 gas fridge.

When it gets hot out it needs to be turned to its highest setting and the ice cream is still soft.
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:27 PM   #5
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Residential Refrig vs Ammonia Fridge

Prior to our Bay Stay we had a 2018 Cardinal 5th wheel that came with a Norcold 18 CU refrigerator that I could never get below 40 degrees in the refrigerator.

A requirement for our MH purchase was it had to have a residential refrigerator or we didnít consider it.

Iíll will not go back to an absorption refrigerator again. I will note, that we donít boondock.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:36 AM   #6
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The absorption type refrigerator is no different than it was years ago.
The Amish cooling units are much better so I read.
We just removed our Norcold...as the higher humidity climate was a cooling issue.

I agree not sure I'd pass on a coach I wanted just for the fridge. But changing out isn't that simple either as we had to remove a window and some cabinet work. And of course you have to weight in if you will boondock....a factor that is considerable for 120vac fridge.

So no, the newer units aren't any better to answer your question.
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Old 08-15-2019, 09:29 AM   #7
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There are several things you can do to make an absorption fridge work better and be safer as long as it hasn't been previously damaged by mis-treatment, like using it a lot while being unlevel.

I spent about 3 or 4 days on our fridge making several mod's before we went FT. It has proven to be time well spent.

We have a 2012 Norcold, N822RT absorption fridge.
Ours stays consistency at around 35ļ - 37ļ with the controller set on 6 or 7 in normal outside temps, turn it up to 9 when it gets real hot outside. Freezer keeps ice cream rock hard.

What Iíve done to our fridge, Post 9
Norcold fire prevention
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Old 08-15-2019, 09:39 AM   #8
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Absorption units are fire hazards.

If the boiler unit is not insulated properly, they can cause fires at the TOP of the chimney (the inside wall of my coach was badly scorched BEHIND the aluminum insulation and the fiberglass insulation and a metal panel)

They are NEVER cold enough.
Mine also drained on the floor inside my coach often enough that the floor was ruined in that area and I'm still working on fixing all of that. There were 3 different recalls for the same fridge for "fixes" related to it being a fire hazard.

A 12 cubic foot NotCold: $3500 for sub-par performance.
A 23 cubic foot Frigidaire Gallery Counter-Depth from Home Depot: $1200

Oh, you want to boondock and have nothing for supplies? 6 golf cart batteries: $600, Xantrex inverter that can power the fridge: $300

Total cost WITH the fridge: $2100, and you still have $1500 available to fill teh fridge with ice cream that it WILL keep at zero degrees even in the worst of a Savannah summer at 112 outside.

I will NEVER have an absorption unit again. When I took out the NotCold, I tried unsuccessfully to even sell the thing on Craigslist for nearly 2 years - Had NOT ONE NIBBLE. That was proof enough for me that nobody else wants them either.
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:33 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pasdad1 View Post
If the fridge is the only issue, why not change it to residential after you buy the rig ?
I'm stickin with this, as it's exactly what I plan to do when I get mine! Good Luck
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:49 AM   #10
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We have both a 5th and a MH with Norcold frig units, N811 & N611 models. In both cases I need to keep the temperature setting about a 3 or 4 out of 5 a scale so the frig compartment does not freeze. The freezer sets right at 0F and makes great crackling ice and keeps ice cream just fine. I have frozen large amounts of meat and fish in the freezer with no issues. The frig compartment stays around 35F.

I do have a fan in the lower compartment to keep the air mixed up and fans in the lower and upper frig chimney. Three up at the top and three down on the lower grill. Just used old computer fans. Added a switch and variable speed control in an existing instrument cluster to control the six chimney fans. Works great and don't need to worry about providing power to a residential frig in a boon dock mode.
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:53 AM   #11
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We swapped out a Damnetic #1492 for a Sammy 18.
Started to have cooling issues at higher elevations and pulling mountain grades (causing out of level) with the propane/electric fridge.


Yes we had to remove a pass side window and do a bit of cabinetry work..
And Yes .. We primarily boon dock..

The coach has a 12.5 gen set and I use it..
(with (4)factory 8D gel house batteries)
I just set the gen set on auto start/stop and don't worry about it..
Gennie normally runs 4 hrs in the morning and 4 hrs in the evening before bedtime..


No solar... not poking any additional holes in my pristine fiberglass roof..
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:56 AM   #12
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What's the total amp draw of the 6 fans ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rarebear.nm View Post
We have both a 5th and a MH with Norcold frig units, N811 & N611 models. In both cases I need to keep the temperature setting about a 3 or 4 out of 5 a scale so the frig compartment does not freeze. The freezer sets right at 0F and makes great crackling ice and keeps ice cream just fine. I have frozen large amounts of meat and fish in the freezer with no issues. The frig compartment stays around 35F.

I do have a fan in the lower compartment to keep the air mixed up and fans in the lower and upper frig chimney. Three up at the top and three down on the lower grill. Just used old computer fans. Added a switch and variable speed control in an existing instrument cluster to control the six chimney fans. Works great and don't need to worry about providing power to a residential frig in a boon dock mode.
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Old 08-15-2019, 02:27 PM   #13
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JC Refrigeration (the Amish Cooling people) has a new compressor type refrigerator that only draws one amp. This is a conversion to your existing fridge, not one designed for a residence. https://jc-refrigeration.com/products/

Quote:
Originally Posted by mevman View Post
The absorption type refrigerator is no different than it was years ago.
The Amish cooling units are much better so I read......
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Old 08-15-2019, 02:48 PM   #14
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My 2006 Norcold 1200LRIM stays plenty cold, but not without some help. I have two fans in the top of the chimney pulling hot air up and out, they work off a snap disc thermostat. I also have a fanset inside the fridge blowing cold air down. Frozen ice cream and cold beer for all, on gas or 120vac, with no extra batteries or whatever.
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