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Old 01-13-2013, 12:26 PM   #57
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That's it!!! I'm going to an ice chest!!!
Depends on the make but they're under recall too!
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Old 01-13-2013, 05:22 PM   #58
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Two final comments: The reason not to buy a Dometic. They cost twice as much as the most expensive residential refrigerator. It takes rv refrigerators hours to recover from opening the door. It takes just minutes for a residential fridge to recover. The residential refrigerator is almost twice the cubic feet inside in the same outside foot print. They are frost free!

As for finding victims of fires. That makes no sense. I'm guessing an insurance company paid each time. Insurance companies never want to pay and when they do they always want to recoup their losses. However, I'd never waste time and money trying to sue Norcold. If you win they will just go bankrupt or appeal. The appeals court judges are always on the side of big business. They got elected with money from big business. The only people who will make any money are the attorneys.
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Old 01-14-2013, 12:52 PM   #59
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I just had the people at Thetford contact me stating the unit is not now nor ever was under recall. Now I have to hope that everything they said was true and get on with life. Thanks for all the thread input as It was informative and in most cases fun.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:22 AM   #60
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Like some have said older is better sometimes.
Maybe Nocold believed in quality for customers back than.
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Old 01-17-2013, 08:35 PM   #61
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As an owner and a service company tech/owner I am not so sure that any Norcold has a defect. We will let the courts decide that.

First I own a four door Norcold with a icemaker, I love it. Other than not being a completely frostless refer I only have to de-ice it three times a year.

I keep the MH insured for fire loss not because of the refer but because of the wiring.

I also hold four wiremans licenses, a electricial contractors license, and a administrators license. I also carry a federal license to work on class one and two refergeration systems.

With all of the experts out there I am surprised that no one mentioned that ammonia is a combustiable.

Couple that with the fact you need a heat source to make the system work and there is a possibility of a fire.

If the system leaks bad enough and it happens not to catch fire due to a lack of ignition source then you might want to remember that ammonia is toxic. But then again so is R134a. Along with almost all other gases used in refers. With maybe the exception of CO2 which might suffocate you. Oh yea, that yellow powder, it is known to cause cancer.

Now if all this bothers you throw all of the refers out and buy a block of ice, Grandma and Grandpaw used to use ice, and got sick from food poisoning.

Most if not all of Norcolds problems resluted in failure of the electric heater. When it fails it can and does develop a hot spot, they can get red hot, dull to bright orange. They can also burn out just like a welder with the attendant flash and the melting of steel.

They are strapped to the outside of the heat riser or placed in a well welded to the riser. The LPG burner heats the inside of that same riser.

Here goes the heater, it burns out with a flash and the attendant melting of metal after a week of running orange. The heat riser has been overheated for sometimne and is now very hot from the local heat from the failing orange spot on the heater. The tube burns through.

The system is pressurized with dry nitrogen, so now there is a leak that is blowing ammonia out through a hole right onto a electric flash. Kind of like your Bar-B-Q with a striker.

Now you could increase the wall thickness of the riser to withstand the bad heater without burning through, problem here is that the heat needs to get to the inside where the liquid is inside of the tube so the refer works and increasing the wall thickness will get in the way of that. Poor efficiency and that is governed by the federal government.

So what is in the retrofit kit?

The service person cuts a section of the high efficency insulation away in the area of the heater. straps a electronic heat sensor to the riser tube next to the heater then installs a control module. It senses the orange glow by sensing the additional heat in the local area. If it sees a condition that indicates a bad heater it shuts down the 12 volts to the electronic refer control. Without that 12 volts the control cannot turn on the LPG burner, 12 volt heater, or the 120 volt heater. You are supposed to leave it in this condition until it is inspected and if it passes inspection then the cause of the overheating will get fixed and the safety will be reset. During the repair the service person will look for damage to the heat riser and if found he will disable the system so you will have to replace the unit. It watches all of the energy inputs to the riser for over heating.

Here is where you need a trustworthy service man. I have seen three tripped safety add on systems. All three of which were caused by a failing 120 volt heater none of which caused any riser damage. Just needed to replace the heater and reset the system.

BTW that huge domestic refer that was put into the MH. There are guide lines on how much R134a can be released into each cubic foot of clean air before it reaches unhealthy levels, those levels are described as one where the occupant in that area can exit the area under their own power. That refer was never certified to be installed in a housing unit as small as the average MH. Nor one that moves around and rocks back and forth. You won't care about that certification if there is a large leak from the movement of the MH and you can't wake up and get out on your own power. So it is your choice to use it anywhere you want, so long as you are willing to do so without a user warranty.

Like I said a cooler with a block of ice.

One last point, ever wonder why that Norcold is supposed to be sealed into the space that it is installed in and that there are outside vents in the enclosure, and in no case is there supposed to be any leaks from that enclosure to the living space inside of the MH?

My Norcold flange is sealed to the cabinet face not only with the gasket but with silicone.

Have a nice day and I sleep fine in the bedroom of my MH.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:30 PM   #62
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1 recall + 1 recall + n... Recalls = no defect.

Brilliant. Plenty of old and new absorption refers out there with no recalls and a very specific set of model numbers produced between an equally specific set of serial numbers indicates there is something different about them, is recognized by the manufacturer who repeatedly offers retrofits and recalls. All of this adds up to something and if it is not evidence of a manufacturing defect I don't know what it is or why they continue to offer "solutions". It may well not be proof, but where there is smoke.....

The simplest explanation is often correct. YMMV
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:55 PM   #63
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glenn allen,

Thanks for the informative explanation. Our current unit has a four door norcold in it. We purchased it last spring. I contacted Norcold and confirmed that a recall was done on our unit. Everything has been working fine so far. I must admit that forums and post like this one do give me cause for concern. For now we are happy with checking the back area frequently looking for anything that looks abnormal. Trust me when I say that if we smell amonia or see that yellow powder it will be immediately turned off until repaired or replaced. While I recoginze that a residential fridge might be a bit more efficient and have more interior space, I like knowing that the fridge is still running while we are traveling, and during our stops without having to run the generator.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:07 PM   #64
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Most if not all of Norcolds problems resluted in failure of the electric heater. When it fails it can and does develop a hot spot, they can get red hot, dull to bright orange. They can also burn out just like a welder with the attendant flash and the melting of steel.

I have seen three tripped safety add on systems. All three of which were caused by a failing 120 volt heater none of which caused any riser damage. Just needed to replace the heater and reset the system.
I'm just wondering how you KNOW the riser was not heat damaged? Are you saying that the metal can be visually inspected and the integrity verified or do you have some method of non-destructive testing of the metal?

And, I am under the impression that there is hydrogen in the system too. Ammonia is only slightly combustible while hydrogen is...... well, remember the Hindenberg? If I am correct I would think the hydrogen would be the larger combustble vs. ammonia.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:48 PM   #65
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It takes rv refrigerators hours to recover from opening the door. It takes just minutes for a residential fridge to recover. The residential refrigerator is almost twice the cubic feet inside in the same outside foot print. They are frost free!
The fire safety aspects of replacing our Norcold with a residential fridge were secondary to the huge increase in storage space and the vast improvement in refrigeration capability. Absorption refrigerators simply aren't that good when compared with modern residential fridges. Personally, I'm not all that worried about the durability of my residential fridge riding in my air-suspension MH. And if it were to need replacement, it costs less than 1/3 of the cost of the Norcold it replaced.

So, to summarize the discussion, it appears to me that a residential refrigerator offers the following advantages over an absorption unit:

--Larger storage capacity
--More consistent refrigeration temperatures
--Lower initial cost
--Elimination of any concern about fire

Doesn't seem like too difficult a decision to me!
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Old 01-18-2013, 12:21 AM   #66
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The fire safety aspects of replacing our Norcold with a residential fridge were secondary to the huge increase in storage space and the vast improvement in refrigeration capability. Absorption refrigerators simply aren't that good when compared with modern residential fridges. Personally, I'm not all that worried about the durability of my residential fridge riding in my air-suspension MH. And if it were to need replacement, it costs less than 1/3 of the cost of the Norcold it replaced.

So, to summarize the discussion, it appears to me that a residential refrigerator offers the following advantages over an absorption unit:

--Larger storage capacity
--More consistent refrigeration temperatures
--Lower initial cost
--Elimination of any concern about fire

Doesn't seem like too difficult a decision to me!
Sounds right to me
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:57 AM   #67
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Yep, also some water.

The ammonia and water spend a lot of time mixed together. And when released from the container the ammonia out-gasses. By this time the plan by Norcold seems to be that the safety will cut off energy through the control. All of this should happen before any hydrogen escapes.

The inspection is for damage from the defective heater. No x-ray of the riser tube is involved. If the steel shows no signs on the exterior from burning from the heater then the instructions say to leave it alone. The servicer is also to inspect the old heater for sheath damage and if found to look further. If the new heater will not insert into the well then a light brushing with a rifle brush and if that will not clear it then replace the system. We are not talking about pressures with as much volume as those in a LPG tank.

This basic design has been around for many years and basic service is necessary when all systems are looked at. Of course you are the only one who can make a decision on just what you want to do. I do not reccomend any choice at all. I do reserve the right to make my own decisions. I have been told for years that the halocarbons were of no health concern. Received that information from equiptment makers, from the makers of the refergerants, and the government. Of course when R12 was outlawed the truth came out, it was dangerous to inhale.

I have destroyed several systems from old RV refers. The fire and the expected explosions were at best described as a let down. A minor hiss and no flare up. If I were you I would worry more about the LPG systems in the RV's. Most RV's do not have the most basic venting to let LPG in gas form out of the coach. Many coaches have a electric motor at the bottom of the step well for a ignition source.
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:02 AM   #68
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We now have a residential refrigerator. It is take almost no electrical power. Traveling and dry camping is as easy as it was with the Norcold. It takes up the same area as the old Norcold and is almost twice the size. I can't tell you how happy my wife is not defrosting! This refrigerator is so much nicer than the one we had.
And the residential fridge runs off your battery - it uses almost no electrical power?
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:57 AM   #69
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And the residential fridge runs off your battery - it uses almost no electrical power?
Most of the residential fridges being used for retrofit use roughly 100 watts of power on the average. Believe it or not that is only about a factor of two more than the Norcold 1200 uses when it is running on propane (to power its controls). We see practically no change in our energy usage having changed to the residential fridge. We don't boondock and when driving the power needs of the fridge are easily met by the inverter running off of the batteries and the MH's alternator. We could always turn on the generator if additional power was needed. The only significant electrical difference between having the Norcold and a residential is that the latter requires a starting surge of up to 11A AC which means the inverter has to be sized to provide that.
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:49 PM   #70
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.................................................. ................
I have destroyed several systems from old RV refers. The fire and the expected explosions were at best described as a let down. A minor hiss and no flare up. If I were you I would worry more about the LPG systems in the RV's. Most RV's do not have the most basic venting to let LPG in gas form out of the coach. Many coaches have a electric motor at the bottom of the step well for a ignition source.
nn

Thanks Glenn. I can understand that the expected explosion/fire would be a let-down. However, in the confines of the space behind the Norcold with wood in close proximity the fire may be able to start easier, Especially understanding that the wood I mention is likely dried out from heat. At least that sounds reasonably accurate to me.
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