In this post, I'll wrap up the install of our new Whirlpool residential refrigerator. It's a bit long but is mostly photos.
First up is the prep for the delivery from Lowes.
I needed to figure out how best to get the new fridge inside the MH. Because we purchased a counter depth one, it should fit through the front door. So, time to measure and do a mock up with cardboard.
Based on the actual measurements, I knew I had to remove the passenger seat as you see in this photo.
Needed a bit more room so time to remove the screen door.
This photo shows the door with the hinge stop pin pulled so it can open up and rest against the mirror.
Time for the removal of the Norcold and delivery of the new refrigerator.
The delivery people were great! They pulled in and asked where the new fridge was going. I pointed to the MH and asked if it was a problem. Their response was "No problem."
First thing was the removal of the old Norcold.
In this photo you see the Norcold coming out. It took the delivery dudes all of 15 seconds to pull it out of the MH.
Here you see the Norcold in the driveway and then in the back of the delivery truck to be recycled.
Getting the new fridge in the MH was a bit more of a challenge. I did ask them to remove the doors and all the shelves and bins to make it easier to get it in the MH and for me to work with it during the install.
No pictures as I was helping them wrestle the new fridge into the MH.
The delivery guys tried but just couldn't turn it enough to get it over the dash area. It was about 1" shy.
I thought it may be a problem when I used cardboard to visualize how it might fit through the door. But I had a solution that may work.
I asked the delivery folks if they would help me remove the front door. They held the door as I removed the 12 screws that hold the door to the MH.
Success! That was enough to give the clearance for the fridge to swing in the MH.
Here's the new fridge sitting in the MH kitchen area.
Let's start modifying the fridge opening!
With the fridge case in the MH, I was able to do multiple measurements as I modified the fridge opening. Here I'm getting ready to widen the left side face frame.
To get the needed width, I had to cut very close to the reinforcement of the wall. I used a jigsaw and held a shop vac to suck up most of the dust created during cutting. Still need to smooth out the cut in this picture.
In this photo, I had removed the old deck so I could lower it to the top of the furnace.
This photo is a bit out of focus. I'm showing the cut on the right hand side of the face frame.
It's close to the sliding door for the bath area but it will clear it.
Let's plug up the chimney.
With the opening cut to the proper size, time to work on building the new platform for the fridge to sit on. Couple of thoughts on the platform:
- I needed all the height I could get.
- I thought about putting a solid floor for the platform but that would take up at least ½ inch of space which I really didn't have.
- After looking more closely at the bottom of the new fridge, it was open and actually had a bit of a void that would be over the furnace. That'll provide plenty of clearance between the furnace and the new fridge.
- So, decided not to have a solid floor. I'll just buildup each side for the fridge wheels to rest on that will be flush with the top of the furnace.
Decide to use 2 x 6 for the height and top it with 3/4 plywood. Used various construction brackets and lots of SPAX screws.
Here is the start of one of the 2 x 6 standards.
I used 3 2 x 6 uprights on each side. This photo shows the right side. Just need to add a bit more reinforcement.
Here the right side with the plywood attached to the top.
Here a shot of the left side platform.
This photo shows the right and left side uprights completed. I added the angle in the back for 2 purposes.
- It's about 1 inch off the exterior wall and serves as a stop for the new fridge. Need to maintain some clearance for air flow.
- Second, I used it to help secure the rear of the new fridge bottom by drilling holes in the fridge frame that line up with the holes on the angle.
Closer view of the left side. Note the plywood is flush with the top of the furnace.
I have the angle in the rear installed to help hold the fridge in place. Let's add mending brackets to the front for additional stability. I'll use the mending bracket to run a 3/8 bolt through it and screw it into the front leveling feet.
This photo is the right side. Also, note I added a 1/8" shim at the rear to square up the fridge in the opening.
Here's the left side.
So, will it fit? Time to do some test fitting in the new opening.
Like others, I needed a dolly that was the same height as the opening. What worked for me was a Harbor Freight dolly that I cobbled some 2 x 4 and 1/2" plywood for the wheels to sit on and roll across. This allowed me to roll the fridge in and out. The longer 2 x 4 may look odd but it actually helped me maneuver the dolly around.
I was working by myself and needed to get the fridge on the dolly. So I used 2 x 12 lumber to walk the fridge to about the same height as the dolly.
Got it on the dolly!
Let roll it to the opening for a test fit. Fingers crossed! Note how close to the fridge is to the ceiling.
It's rolling in!
Phew! My measurements were good!
OK. The new fridge fits. I did put it in and removed multiple times during this process as I was making tweaks to the cabinet and the stuff I used to secure it.
Time to put the fridge doors back on. As you've seen in other photos, there isn't much room between the fridge top and the ceiling. So, to put on the doors I had to remove it from the opening and roll it under the fan in the kitchen area as you see here.
Time to secure the new fridge.
Here I show how I used the mending bracket to run a 3/8 bolt in to the front leveling bracket. I used washers to make up the difference between the two brackets.
Next, let's secure the back. I ran a 1/4 lag bolts on each side through the space where the rear wheel are located. Here I'm showing the lag screw in with a long extension on it.
No pictures of the additional 4 bolts I ran through the fridge frame in to the angle that I installed along the rear of the new platform.
Back to the inside to look at the finished install.
Here the fridge is back in with the doors installed. I'll be relocating the smoke detector. Also, the door just clears the light in the picture. It was very close but does clear it.
Let's pull off the protective film, installed the handles, and modify the the grill below the fridge. Looking good! Note: we secure the doors while traveling by using a simple length of Velcro wrapped around the handles.
How to power the new fridge? MSW vs. PSW
I was lucky enough for my fridge to be installed directly above the inverter/charger bay. Our MH has the Freedom 20 (I think that's the right part number) which is a modified sine wave one. Wonder how the new fridge will work with it?
First, I contacted Whirlpool support and asked them if it would be OK to use a MSW inverter. Support simply directed me to the power requirements in the user manual. No help.
So, I plugged it into the receptacle powered by the MSW inverter. It runs! However, the compressor was noisier than when run on house (or generator power) and the compressor was quite hot to the touch. Compare that to the compressor just being warm when on normal house power.
Knowing the above, I decided to install a dedicated 2K PROwatt PSW inverter
from Xantrex. Went with the 2k size because the current to start the compressor is about 11.5 amps. The 1K Xantrex has a limit of around 11.3 amps which is lower than the compressor needs to start so needed to up the capacity of the inverter.
Keep in mind, the Whirlpool is pretty good at sipping power. Running normally it draws around 1.5 amps +/-. During defrost it pulls just over 7 amps. To start it needs 11.5 amps to get the compressor running.
Let's wire up the fridge circuits
In our MH, the old Norcold had 2 electric circuits running to it. I suspect that's a fairly common approach.
One circuit was for the Norcold ice maker and it ran back to the main circuit breaker panel. This one only works if the genny is running or you're on shore power.
The second circuit was for the refrigerator and it ran to the Freedom Inverter/Charger. It's always powered either from shore/genny power or from the inverter.
This picture shows the 2 outlets prior to me moving them. The one labeled I is for the ice maker and one labeled R is for the refrigerator.
I left the outlet label R alone and just relocated it from the wall to under the new fridge. This one runs back to the Freedom 20 Inverter and I'll keep it as a spare. In the event the new PROwatt PSW inverter would fail, I can just move the fridge plug to the Freedom outlet.
I ran a new 12-2 line from under the new fridge through an existing penetration that goes into the inverter bay.
Here's the new line in the bay.
Next, I installed a new junction box in the inverter bay. This box will tie the new PROwatt transfer relay to the new inverter, shore power input, and output to the fridge.
For some reason, I don't have any photos of the new inverter and transfer relay installed in the bay. I'd take some but the MH is getting a new passenger windshield installed...
Anyway, it all works well.
Since I completed in the install in early December 2015, we have used the MH for a total of 4 weeks and traveling around 5,000 miles. Here's what we've experienced so far:
- The new fridge has worked without issue.
- Makes ice like there no tomorrow.
- There been no negative impact of the furnace being open to the bottom of the fridge. I doubted it would be given the large amount of air flowing around underneath the fridge.
- The fridge has been rock solid. No movement. I'm not too worried about it as it can't rock very far in any direction. There's only about 1/2 clearance from the top of the case to the ceiling.
- My bride loves being able to find stuff in the fridge which was always a challenge in the Norcold. This is mostly because of the LED lighting inside the fridge.
- I love having ice so I can shake up a cocktail at the end of a long day on the road!
- We leave the fridge running all the time. While driving, the engine alternator has no problem keeping up with the fridge and other power needs.
- As mentioned above, the new fridge is pretty easy on the battery power. I was pleasantly surprised.
- Out of the 4 weeks of travel, about 1 week was boon-docking.
- Had no issue with keeping the batteries up during the day or night.
- We do run the generator in the morning and then again at night before bed. Over night the voltage on the batteries drops to about 12.4 and that's with the furnaces running.
- We have only 4 Interstate GC2 batteries. I may add 2 more as Hypoxia has done.
- One of my prior upgrades was to change over all the interior lights to LEDS. I purchased from M4. I know that alone really reduced our power consumption over the old bulbs.
- Overall, we are very pleased with the new fridge.
That wraps up this project. Hope I didn't bore you too much and perhaps for those thinking about changing to a residential fridge, you see it can be done with proper planning and lots of measuring!!