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Old 10-14-2018, 08:28 PM   #1
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Going to a residential refrigerator from a Norcold

Thought I'd share our residential refrigerator replacement project as I found lots of helpful info on these threads.
2004 Monaco Sig Baroness '40 Norcold finally gave up the ghost - when we woke up to a sore throats and a horrific ammonia smell at 3AM. Options were new cooling unit, new RV type fridge or residential. All seemed to come with a $3000-4000 price tag installed. We was in the middle of a tough work week, living in the coach, so we couldn't do much right away.
After researching the options, we opted for a residential. But we needed something in the interim to get us thru till either I or others could do the work. The wife and I went to Lowes and purchased an apartment size fridge ($120) and stood it next to the old one. Stocked to the gills and farming a bit of stuff out to the neighbors we survived 14 days.
Those of you with similar coaches know that the only real pot and pan storage is in a drawer under the fridge. The Samsung 3 door model that is so popular requires loosing the drawer and some cabinet rework. I finally found a Whirlpool Model # WRS321SDHZ. 21 cu. ft. Side by Side Refrigerator. The dimensions of this model are almost exactly the size of the NorCold 1200 opening. The wife liked it better as it was a SxS vs 3 door - she's 5'2" making for easier access aside from the top shelf. Saving the drawer pushed the fridge almost to the ceiling.
Install was interesting. Fortunately, we needed a windshield and had it already scheduled. We coordinated with Lowes for fridge delivery, the Glass guy and some local help including a forklift and the install began at 1:20PM.
We should have sold tickets as everyone in the park came by. Windshield and old fridge come out. New fridge goes in, tight fit but we had some moving blankets and the forklift.
We needed to increase the height of the fridge opening about 2" for the Whirlpool to fit - jig saw. Then the doors come off so we could twist it in to the opening. Fridge was in and running by 5:30PM - 4 hours. Spent another 3-4 hours hooking up ice maker, securing the unit and sealing everything.
Having only removed 2" at the top of the cabinet we could use the front "feet" to wedge it in to the cabinet. Two "L" brackets on the bottom front and four bottom back secure the bottom. Removing the roof vent I used some oak 2x3" and secured the top of the fridge to inner roof of the coach to eliminate the chance of it tipping out. Filled the roof vent area with foam and flex tape and put the cover back on. Taped and filled the side access and vent with foam and put it up. Still need to access electrical and H2O hook ups. I did have to remove the trim in front of the sliding shower privacy door so the freezer side could open all the way.
We are now 8+ months and 10K miles out and all works perfect. We were a little concerned about needing a pure sine wave inverter. We use little load bars inside to keep things from jumping out when you open the door and found a rubber refrigerator secure strap on Amazon to tie the doors together during travel.

Total cost was less than $2K. $1300 for fridge at Lowes w/extended warranty even in the RV (check this out). $100 misc supplies, $100 tip and a bottle of Crown to the Glass guys (they were loads of help) and $50 to the forklift driver.
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Old 10-14-2018, 09:21 PM   #2
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Is the norcold very hard to disconnect and move from its position?

How often are u running the new fridge off the inverter?

Could the norcold and the new fridge fit through the entrance door instead of removing the windshield?

Irishguy
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Old 10-14-2018, 10:10 PM   #3
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Irishguy: we've run on the inverter for about 6-8 hrs max. We did run out of battery power overnight when dry camping - fridge, 2 fans and occasional lights but I also have identified two week house batteries of the four.

It might have fit thru the door after removing the passenger seat but since the glass was coming out anyway it just seemed like it was meant to be. Our door is pretty narrow, screen door off and fridge doors off, seat moved -

Norcold comes out easy but they are heavy. Four bolts at the foot. The surrounding insulation is dusty though. Should've taken the doors or at least door panels off. Remember to plug the gas line and check for leaks which was not easy due to the location I chose.
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Old 10-14-2018, 10:23 PM   #4
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Wow, looks great! Nice work.
We keep a folding plastic step stool next to the fridge for my wife.

irishguy, yes the Samsung will fit through the front door sideways. You must remove the refrigerator doors and freezer drawer, disconnect the motorhome upper door scissors and fold the door back against the mirror, remove the entry grab bar, and it makes it easier to maneuver if you unbolt the passenger seat (4 bolts).

The Norcold also comes out the front door if you remove the doors.

Link to my Samsung install with detailed measurements:
http://www.irv2.com/forums/f115/samsung-refrigerator-install-in-2004-monaco-signature-356096.html
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Old 10-15-2018, 03:37 AM   #5
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Having recently helped remove a 1200 in a 2002 Sig and replace with a Samsung, they will fit through the front door without folding the front door back. My cut hand says it would be better to fold the door back. Did not remove anything but did cover the seats and dash. 2 people out and 3 in. Had to remove the 5" drawer below the 1200 as there is electrical controls above it.

Fit fairly well although there were 1/2" gaps on each side unlike the Whirlpool 21 W1TXEMMWQ I installed in my Dynasty which ended up 1/2" to tall. I'ts a top freezer so if the DW is short and you save the drawer below, like the OP did, I would not recommend it. I removed the driver's side window to exchange the units.
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Old 10-15-2018, 06:56 AM   #6
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A Norcold will go through the entry door, but a Dometic 1402 will not -- Much easier to remove both seats -- Only 5 bolts each & a connector -- Bill Willard
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Old 10-15-2018, 08:54 AM   #7
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Thank you all for the great info!

I have to make a decision on what to do with our current Norcold 1200 as we plan to finally go full-time next year. The inconsistent temps of the fridge drive my wife crazy but yet we are hesitant to give up the rv fridge as we dry camp a lot and being on propane is sure handy.

We don't have solar and only have four house batteries with a modified sine inverter. So my dilemma is I don't want to spend thousands on solar, more batteries and a pure sine inverter. I'm wondering if the current modifed sine inverter would shorten the life of the residential fridge electronics?

I don't want to spend thousands on a new RV fridge either, to only deal with the same issues of poor cooling. Perhaps maybe install one of those superior cooling units in our current Norcold such as the Amish cooling unit?

Decisions decisions!

Irishguy
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Old 10-16-2018, 04:13 AM   #8
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I'd think it would depend on the frig design, with newer ones having gone to a much more efficient and compact cooling/control system. Still be good to investigate.

One of the reasons we put a Samsung in our Endeavor was because it was touted as working well with MSW inverters. The PO had already installed a residential frig (yay!) in our Camelot, but when I called Whirlpool to ask if it would work on MSW, I got a verbal version of "deer in the headlights look" from the tech-support person. Haven't had the time to pursue any farther.
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Old 10-16-2018, 05:30 AM   #9
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Samsung is popular because it will fit through the door and work on a modified sine wave inverter because it has DC compressors. AC compressors loose 20+ % efficiency on MSW...reason enough to put in a PSW inverter. A residential insulation needs two more batteries to match up to your other energy uses...2 will power it for over 24 hours before needing to be charged. A energy star refrigerator uses less than 100W when running and my 21 cuft uses 1.5 to 2 kW of power a day...20-25 cents/day.

Wish I’d known this before I kept putting money into my no cold because of the myth about residential and boondocking.
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Old 10-16-2018, 06:20 AM   #10
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Going to a residential refrigerator from a Norcold

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivylog View Post
Samsung is popular because it will fit through the door and work on a modified sine wave inverter because it has DC compressors. AC compressors loose 20+ % efficiency on MSW...reason enough to put in a PSW inverter. A residential insulation needs two more batteries to match up to your other energy uses...2 will power it for over 24 hours before needing to be charged. A energy star refrigerator uses less than 100W when running and my 21 cuft uses 1.5 to 2 kW of power a day...20-25 cents/day.

Wish I’d known this before I kept putting money into my no cold because of the myth about residential and boondocking.


Yep well stated. Also the little inconvenience of an occasional boondocking does even come close to having a cold refrigerator and not having to baby sit it.
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Old 10-16-2018, 08:20 AM   #11
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I've been using my Samsung RF197 for 5 years on modified sine wave inverter without seemingly any damage to the unit - works fine.

Solar doesn't have to cost thousands - i just put a single 345 watt panel on the roof for a total cost of less than $500. If you are handy you can do it all yourself.
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Old 10-16-2018, 09:48 AM   #12
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Our Norcold generally worked quite well and we really considered going with the Dutch unit. In the end, the Whirlpool swap was cheaper, easier and a better choice for us and resale. We chose the Whirlpool for the door config and size and couldn't be happier. As close to Plug and Play as you can get. In our 40' floor plan, the Samsung everyone crows about was going to take some cabinet modification according to my measurements. More than what I wanted to do and keep the storage drawer. Plus we really prefer the SxS config having friends who went with 3 door Samsung.

I received the same canned answer from Whirlpool tech - "it is designed for residential power." Ours runs fine on the MSW inverter and four (4) house batteries. I do wish the previous owner hadn't removed the solar. I figured if it really didn't like the MSW I could always buy a smaller PSW and dedicate it to the fridge. These things really don't draw much, especially Energy Star rated.

We could have gotten both thru the door after passenger seat removal but since we needed the windshield anyway we chose to go that route. I would not have taken the windshield out just to install the fridge.
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Old 10-16-2018, 02:33 PM   #13
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If you need a counter depth unit choices are more limited.
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Old 10-16-2018, 02:42 PM   #14
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X2 on solar not costing all that much if you do it yourself. I’m working on a 700W installation that will costs less than $1000. Panels were $55/100W and a Outback mttp controller $420. Another $150 in wiring and miscellaneous.
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