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Old 07-26-2020, 03:57 PM   #1
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Question Norcold Polar fridge not cooling well in hot weather

All, looking for best advice on new fridge. We are new owners of a 2020 ORV TR 24RKS with a Norcold Polar fridge, N8. The main issue is that it wasn't cooling well when we were in hot weather, but here's some more details.

Just after purchase (mid-June in Texas), we were checking the whole unit over for 3 days. The fridge was cooling well at that point, although with a minimal load of food. It would go well below 37 for fridge and below 0 for freezer at the coldest setting of 5, and seemed to hold well at the 3 setting.

While getting ready for our first trip to west Texas in early July, the fridge seemed to cool down well again, although I had to bump to setting 4. The highs were around 90 then. We picked up food and loaded the fridge on a day where the high was around 98, lows around 75. The fridge didn't cool well for the next day, even on highest setting. It would get to around 50-55. The freezer would be between 20-25.

We traveled to our campsite. The travel day encountered high temps over 100 so we were expecting a problem with the fridge when we arrived, and it was near 60. Overnight the temps dropped into upper 60s, so were hopeful it would recover overnight, but no - only 50. We did check as best we could for any blockages of air flow, but the light seemed to go all the way up the back of the fridge without

I finally got the temp down by loading blocks of ice (frozen water bottles and containers), and we had to keep cycling that through the fridge for the next few days. That kept the temp around 40-45.

Then on the return leg of the trip to mid-Texas with the temps still in mid-90's, the fridge started cooling well again, down into the 30s with the freezer to around 10. It just kept getting colder the next 2 days as we headed back home with air temps still in mid-90's. I finally had to drop the setting back to 4 to keep the food from getting too cold.

Any thoughts?

I'm looking into adding a cooling fan in back and one inside the fridge, but wanted to ask for other advice first.
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Old 07-26-2020, 04:24 PM   #2
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Make sure food and drinks are COLD before you load.

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Old 07-26-2020, 05:20 PM   #3
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Those are high temps but if it is working your fridge Temps should be good. I would look at the temp sensor location, next the vent fans behind the fridge are working and not blocked. After that it gets expensive but you should be under warranty.

The warranty is under fridge itself. I would check with their website on how the warranty works. Usually they give you a list of technicians in your area that can fix the fridge. Easy, I did this with a dometic hot water heater.
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Old 07-26-2020, 05:28 PM   #4
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Your story sounds very similar to mine. New 2020 Timber Ridge 25RDS. Plugged in on the side of the house with outside temps in 85-90 range. The fridge seemed to do great. The day before loading, I switched to propane and still had great cooling. I pulled it out took it around the block and parked it in front of our house to load. Everything still seemed cold.



We arrived at out camp spot and we had a red blinking light with fridge not working. Read the manual and figured out how to reset it (turn it off and then back on). It didn't start back right away, but eventually returned to cooling again both plugged in and on propane. Although, neither was great. Temps at our campsite were 100+ with no air movement at all the first 2 days. The next 2 days it did cool off a little with a slight breeze.



Once home, I picked up some cheap thermometers to hang in both the fridge and freezer. Here is what I have come up with. Everything works fine until about 90. Above 90, if there is no breeze I have poor performance. But if there is a slight breeze, it works great. Again, both plugged in and on propane. I put a small computer fan in the outside vent area and that changes everything. No matter what the temp, it keeps working.



I'm figuring that my problem is due to no or poor airflow within the outside refrigeration portion of the unit. I haven't started investigating deeper because I'll still probably still take mine in to get a few other things done. Although, I may just do everything myself. I haven't quite decided yet.



I'm thinking about just getting kit #3 from here and seeing how that does. https://www.arprv.com/purchase.php
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Old 07-26-2020, 07:40 PM   #5
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If the issue is only when on gas, then the orifice in the propane line may be plugged or restricted due to debris in the line. Turn off the fridge and remove the tubing between the valve and the burner. There is a fitting with a tiny orifice in it, barely visible. Blow it out but do not used compressed air as that will damage it. Re-install and turn it the fridge back on. I had to do this on both of our previous new CreekSides and it worked each time. Good luck.
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Old 07-26-2020, 07:44 PM   #6
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The most common problems with absorption refrigerators is improper installation with too much space or not enough space behind for proper air flow. Which points to the other problem is enough air flow over the back condenser coils. If yours doesn't have fans on the back of the fridge, the best thing you can do is install a couple to pull air in from outside and push it up over the back of the fridge.
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Old 07-26-2020, 07:49 PM   #7
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Seems to me that the fridge may not be level?! Absorption fridge's have to be level to work... it's mandatory for them to be level when stationary.
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Old 07-26-2020, 08:18 PM   #8
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Thank you all for the quick replies.

The fridge was level at the campsite, checked by how water sat in the icetray or how liquid containers looked in the fridge. I knew that gas absorption units didn't work well out of level.

And I did try both gas and electric. I think we might have had a gas problem on the way out to the campsite contributing to the higher temps, but we were on electric at the site. I think the high temps plus lack of air flow caused most of the problem.

I'll add a fan to the fridge for better flow, and I'll keep looking for a fan I can easily add to the back without having to pull the fridge out. We shouldn't experience 90+ temps for a while on future trips, so hopefully I have some time.
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Old 07-26-2020, 09:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1361 View Post
I'm thinking about just getting kit #3 from here and seeing how that does. https://www.arprv.com/purchase.php
I recommend getting the option that includes 2 defrost blowers. I installed that kit on my 23DBS and the defrost blowers made a noticeable difference in keeping the temperature consistent throughout the entire fridge as opposed to some spots being colder than others. Our fridge has always worked fairly well even in hot weather so the ARP was primarily installed as added protection against boiler overtemp. The improved performance as a result of the fan kit was an added bonus.
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Old 07-28-2020, 12:49 AM   #10
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I recommend getting the option that includes 2 defrost blowers. I installed that kit on my 23DBS and the defrost blowers made a noticeable difference in keeping the temperature consistent throughout the entire fridge as opposed to some spots being colder than others. Our fridge has always worked fairly well even in hot weather so the ARP was primarily installed as added protection against boiler overtemp. The improved performance as a result of the fan kit was an added bonus.
I'm also thinking about getting the ARP Fridge Defend for our 2020 280KVS with a Norcold N81X refrigerator in a slide (side vent). Which Norcold does your 23DBS have? Which ARP Kit did you purchase? How was the install? It looks like the only real tricky part is accessing the boiler tube for the sensor install. $250 seems like a good investment to improve our refrigerator performance in provide increased protection. Thanks for any tips you can provide!
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Old 07-28-2020, 06:32 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by litzdog911 View Post
...
It looks like the only real tricky part is accessing the boiler tube for the sensor install.
...

Installation of the ARP sensor on my older Norcold was indeed the trickiest part. Ended up pulling the while frig out of the wall a bit to get better access to the pipe.
Didn't get the fan option as we've never had problem other than when too much tilt.
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Old 07-28-2020, 07:59 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by litzdog911 View Post
I'm also thinking about getting the ARP Fridge Defend for our 2020 280KVS with a Norcold N81X refrigerator in a slide (side vent). Which Norcold does your 23DBS have? Which ARP Kit did you purchase? How was the install? It looks like the only real tricky part is accessing the boiler tube for the sensor install. $250 seems like a good investment to improve our refrigerator performance in provide increased protection. Thanks for any tips you can provide!
The 23DBS has a Norcold N8XCR with a roof vent. Given yours is side-vented you would want to use kit #4 and I would get the option with 2 ventilator fans and 2 defrost blowers. Installing the boiler tube sensor is the hardest part and I had to pull the fridge out several inches in order to get enough room to install it.

Here is a link to a series of pictures from my installation. Some are annotated as I was helping another member work through their installation. Once you sort through the wiring the installation is pretty simple. Let me know if you have questions.

A couple of notes though - ORV installs by default the Norcold Cold Weather kit and wires it into the AUX 12v power from the Norcold control board. In order to install the ARP the power for the Norcold Cold Weather kit has to be re-routed to the 12v from the trailer as running it through the ARP can potentially overload the ARP.

Also, have some extra fibreglass insulation on hand when you install the boiler tube sensor. You will want to pack the extra insulation in between the sensor and the burner flue in order to ensure that the sensor is accurately reading the boiler tube temperature and not being influenced by heat from the burner flue. You also want a layer of insulation between the boiler tube and the sensor wires to help protect them.

One of the nice things about having the ARP installed is the ability to see the current boiler tube temperature by cycling through the display. This was helpful in understanding what normal operation looked like for future reference and troubleshooting.
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Old 09-08-2020, 04:20 PM   #13
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Follow-up: Titan Fan added

I wanted to follow-up on the mod we made that appears to work well. We researched several of the options noted above. We added a TITAN fan (90mm with auto fan control) to the back lower vent on the fridge.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/slredirect...getName=sp_atf

As a quick install for now, we attached the fan to the lower vent, pulling air in. We wanted to see how this worked and whether we would need to relocate it to the top vent pulling air out. I was also able to figure out a way to route the wiring inside and mount the controller to the side of the drawer under the fridge. I was able to connect the fan to the Aux 12V fridge power source, split off to the 0deg Norcold kit. Since the fan and the 0deg kit should not run at the same time, the parallel connection to the 12V aux should be fine.

We also added a battery powered circulation fan inside the fridge.

Performance was greatly improved. On our last trip in mid-August, we had upper 90deg temps again for 3 travel days, but this time the fridge stayed in the proper temp range with either 3 or 4 'flakes' for the setting. The fan on auto mode does a good job of running faster with higher temperatures. You could feel the air getting pulled in as the fan was running.

Having the controller inside the camper is also very helpful. Since we connected to the fridge 12V aux power, each time the fridge is reset off and on, the fan is reset to off. We can easily put it back on auto or manual mode from the inside of the camper without having to take off the outside back panel.

Just as ORV has chosen to add the 0deg kit to the fridge, it would be great if some kind of vent fan could also be installed, either by default or by option.
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Old 09-13-2020, 05:52 PM   #14
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We had the same thing going on with a new ORV Titanium 260RLS. After 2 trips to the shop and they couldnít duplicate the problem, we opted to pay to have a fan installed. It seems to work now. Cost us $175 to get the fan installed on a trailer with a full warranty but I got tired of worrying about food poisoning and was happy to get it done.
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