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Old 06-14-2021, 08:12 PM   #1
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Flammable refrigerant

My Norcold 900 series RV fridge finally gave up the ghost. Since I boondock a lot I did not want a residential fridge but after considering the cost in an old MH, I put in a Hailer 10 cubic foot model from Lowe’s. It did fit the space perfectly with more inside space.

While installing I was surprised to see a hazardous warning symbol because from the outside of the MH it was eye level. Something you would not normally see at your house unless you stand on your head.

From the owner’s manual:
“Risk of Fire or Explosion. Flammable refrigerant used. Do not puncture refrigerant tubing.”

One of the reasons often cited for a domestic refrigerator is the hazard associated with propane. I considered the risk and found it acceptable.

Something for people to think about.

So far my experience has been positive. Measure power use. It uses 700 -800 watt-hours a day or about one hour more run time on the generator when boondocking compared to the Norcold on propane.

It has a 70-80 watt draw on the inverter but the starting current is much higher. I turn the inverter off when I go to bed if boondocking. The fridge gets about 5 degrees F warmer then when I leave it on all night whno en on shore power.

I use velcro straps to keep the doors closed. I converted the propane connection to supply my portable grill. I have yet to find a use for the 12 vdc or ice maker water connection.

Had at least one bone jarring pothole experience and no fridge issues.
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Old 06-14-2021, 08:30 PM   #2
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RV Absorption fridge coolant is a mixture of aqua ammonia, water, sodium chromate (rust inhibitor) and Hydrogen Gas
Cooling unit is under 300+ psi

Ammonia Vapor and Hydrogen Gas are flammable
Sodium Chromate is toxic

Life is a risk -- period
Electrical fires are more common
MH diesel fuel/oil leaks...seized bearings are also sources of fires
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Old 06-14-2021, 08:47 PM   #3
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RV Absorption fridge coolant is a mixture of aqua ammonia, water, sodium chromate (rust inhibitor) and Hydrogen Gas
Cooling unit is under 300+ psi

Ammonia Vapor and Hydrogen Gas are flammable
Sodium Chromate is toxic

Life is a risk -- period
Electrical fires are more common
MH diesel fuel/oil leaks...seized bearings are also sources of fires
I agree about risk. For there is more risk retiring to a recliner and boob tube. There may come a time when I can not longer safely enjoy the MH or sailboat.

For any who do not like my safety rants, now would be a good time to stop reading. If I am trapped in a fire, I am not worried about what the chemical to put out the fire might do to the ozone layer.

I listen to a podcast about fatal engineering blunders. It has a segment called ‘safety third’ where listeners share blunders.

So why is a flammable refrigerant being used?

“HFC-free fridges use a refrigerant, R-600a or isobutane. R-600a has a very low global warming potential (GWP) of 3 compared with R-134a, the typical HFC used in fridges, which has a GWP around 1,400! R-600a is also very energy efficient, reducing your electric bill and even more emissions.”

Safety third? The EPA building is next to the White House. Forty years of observing the EPA tells what is number one. The environment, science, and safety do not make the top five.

In other words, do not make one thing worse while failing to make the other better.

Think I am wrong! While achieving ‘good air quality’ in the US, the unintended consequence is indoor air pollution and messing up ground water.

Safety comes first. The OSHA warning label says there is a safety risk. The science says that there is marginal if any benefit for the environment with flammable refrigerant.
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Old 06-14-2021, 09:11 PM   #4
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Didn't follow your rant about HFC ---thought post was about absorption fridge so I'm out of here
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Old 06-14-2021, 09:16 PM   #5
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propane is used worldwide as a refrigerant, folks who worry and it being flammable with 12oz in a refrigerator are the same ones who stand over a 20lb cylinder with a fire on top of it... it is sold as r290 i believe? propane with a smell added.. i use to see chillers with it and no one batted an eye....
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Old 06-14-2021, 09:41 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by followingsea View Post

So far my experience has been positive. Measure power use. It uses 700 -800 watt-hours a day or about one hour more run time on the generator when boondocking compared to the Norcold on propane.

It has a 70-80 watt draw on the inverter but the starting current is much higher. I turn the inverter off when I go to bed if boondocking. The fridge gets about 5 degrees F warmer then when I leave it on all night whno en on shore power.
What kind of ambient temperatures are you experiencing to result in 7-800 watt hours/day?

Just curious for now but one never knows. We/I do mostly boondock.

Thanks.

Overnighting at the Yellowstone River near Cartwright, ND
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Old 06-15-2021, 04:49 AM   #7
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We just purchased a new fridge for home and it has the new refrigerant that is flammable. The EPA approved the use in 2019. Expect to start seeing more and more fridges with propane or isobutane as the refrigerant.

As stated in the earlier post.... if you use a propane tank in your rig today, a fridge with one of the new refirgerants is no more of a hazard.
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Old 06-15-2021, 06:33 AM   #8
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Wouldn’t a new electric refrigerator with flammable refrigerant generally need a flame source to ignite if punctured ? A gas absorption has that propane flame. Not so on the electric. Certainly not very knowledgeable on the environment issues of leaking but it just seems the electric might be “safer”
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Old 06-15-2021, 06:46 AM   #9
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I would think the risk is nominal since we are surrounded by refrigerants and flammable fluids in the A/C units on the roof of our motorhome; in the refrigerator unit; the propane tank, the fuel tank and even our dash A/C unit. If the refrigerant stays where it belongs and is not exposed to outside forces that rupture the line while also providing a spark, or heat, for ignition then no issues of concern.
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Old 06-15-2021, 10:13 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by SteveJ. View Post
What kind of ambient temperatures are you experiencing to result in 7-800 watt hours/day?

Just curious for now but one never knows. We/I do mostly boondock.

Thanks.

Overnighting at the Yellowstone River near Cartwright, ND
Measured 5.33 kwh for for a 7 day period while hooked up to shore power.

Temperature in the coach was 70 to 85 degree F.

This fridge is not designed to be inclosed but there is sufficient clearance for air flow. Initially the vents for the Norcold were left up and I measured about the same on a daily basis. The last place I was boondocking required running the furnace and heat was going up Norcold chimney so I sealed the outside vents.

I think think the biggest factor in power use is how often you open the door.

Two years ago I dry camped next to the Yellowstone River in Montana. Currently I am beside the Colombia River.
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Old 06-15-2021, 10:48 AM   #11
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....The EPA approved the use in 2019. ...
The EPA does not regulate safety.

In my world it was the NRC and OSHA that issued safety regulations. Led process safety hazard analysis teams to meet safety regulations.

Based on my experience, this fridge used in a MH as I have installed it, is an insignificant safety risk. Also measured the efficiency and concluded it will not keep me from boondocking.

How other people use this information is there choice and I hope it helps.
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