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Old 05-15-2017, 07:26 AM   #1
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New trailer's fridge won't work at altitude!

Dealer screwed me? New trailer's fridge won't work at altitude!

Bought a new 2018 KZ 180tht. Told the dealer we dry camp in the mountains. Got the off-road package as well.
Just did our first trip, around 9000 feet, and the fridge kept failing on propane. Now I read the owners manual and it says the propane fridge won't work well or at all above 5500 feet!! I live at 7200 feet!!
It's a norcold fridge and my search has told me there is no solution.
What do I do? Our fridge doesn't work where I camp.
I bought this two weeks ago.
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Old 05-15-2017, 07:38 AM   #2
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It is something I was not aware of. We have never camped at elevations that high so our evaporative fridges always worked, good and bad.

It seems like there may be no solution for the elevation issue unless there is a special fridge built for elevation.

One option would be to replace with a residential fridge. That would include adding an inverter and batteries plus maybe some solar. Plus running the generator if sufficient solar could not be added. Costly but the you will like the result of the residential fridge. More space and better cooling.

Hope there is a simple solution to the problem.
Gordon and Janet
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Old 05-15-2017, 07:43 AM   #3
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Your second option would be a 12 volt fridge.

Still may need some extra battery capacity and maybe solar, but some of them are real efficient. Boats use them in most situations.
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Old 05-15-2017, 08:34 AM   #4
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Why did the dealer do you? Did you write in the contract hat you camped at high altitude, I dought he knew either. Did you purchase at 7200 feet or go low to buy? Sorry but your answer may be inverter, Gen and a large battery bank. I fought there is an option but might be able to use a different jet system to lean out the air/propane mix. If the stove works I'll almost bet there is a way.

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Old 05-15-2017, 08:45 AM   #5
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As a preamble, I hereby declare that I know just enough about propane to be dangerous.
It seems like a good propane technician would be able to change the jet to reduce the propane and restore the stochiometric balance.
Alternatively, increasing the combustion air should work, too.
Is it ONLY the fridge that won't run on propane? I would expect all of the appliances to be affected.
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Old 05-15-2017, 08:47 AM   #6
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A question not asked about the trailer is NOT the dealers fault!
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Old 05-15-2017, 09:19 AM   #7
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Norcold is doing a CYA by stating 5000 ft, but usually an LP burner designed for sea-level still works to around 7000 or so, but will indeed get "iffy" much above that. It's basic physics - the air/fuel ratio gets out of whack because of lower air pressure and reduced oxygen content at high altitudes. And there probably aren't enough people with the problem to justify making a high-altitude version of modification kit. They are usually available for residential stove and water heaters because of higher sales volumes and tear-around need. And those appliances don't move to lower altitudes, so a permanent mod is not an issue.

Part of the problem may be the LP regulator in the RV. You may be able to get an LP regulator adjusted for high altitude use - check with a professional gas appliance shop. RV appliances use standard LP gas pressure, i.e. 11 W.C. inches of pressure.
Gary Brinck
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Old 05-15-2017, 09:37 AM   #8
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Our refrigerator worked at 9,000'. We boondocked a lot.

Your problem isn't the dealer's fault.
Full-timed for 16 Years . . .
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& 8 yr in a 33' Travel Supreme 5th wheel
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Old 05-15-2017, 10:08 AM   #9
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Rather than complain that the dealer screwed you, have you done something like call Nocold and talk to a real person instead of doing internet research?

Sometimes you get information using the telephone
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Old 05-15-2017, 10:24 AM   #10
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I don't have a solution to your problem, but living at 7200 feet, you HAD to know that any gas appliance struggles or at least take twice as long to heat water. Even your cars don't run as well at that altitude. I can't believe you didn't have an inkling there would be an issue.

Work with the dealer to swap out for a 12 volt refer or the installation of more batteries and an inverter. 9000 feet, just leave the food outside, it will probably be cool enough to keep it cold.
Don & Mary
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Old 05-15-2017, 01:21 PM   #11
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That's a new one for me. Spend the summer at 9000 foot, no problem.

I agree, time for a visit to a popane place.
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Old 05-15-2017, 01:58 PM   #12
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Air/fuel ratio is VERY critical for ignition and flame stability

Lower limit is 2%. If propane level is below it is too 'lean' to burn
Upper limit is 9.5% If propane level is above it is too 'rich' to burn

Your fridge is experiencing a too rich condition
(stove top, water heater are more open/exposed to the air available so they the propane level is below the upper limit)

You COULD change out the orifice on fridge to smaller so less propane is available
You COULD lower the regulator so system pressure is 10" or even 10.5" VS 11" which would provide less propane But stove/water heater may not function
You COULD try removing lower access/vent cover when at those high altitudes so as to not impede air flow to burner
You COULD try opening burner shield/cover so more air flow is available to burner

You SHOULD check that spark gap is correct and directly over center of burner slots-----S/B 1/8" (too narrow---spark too weak to ignite gas/too wide---spark to 'cool' to ignite gas due to large gap to jump)

Be proactive and see if YOU can resolve problem
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Old 05-15-2017, 02:11 PM   #13
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I think there have been some changes to newer Norcold burner operations. That might be why folks with older units don't have a problem at altitude.

I read that some of the smaller Norcold units have a 2 stage burner. When cooling the flame is on "high" and usually works fine at altitude. However, once the set temp is reached the flame reduces to a "low" level and that's when the flame goes out. What I read said the problem was mostly limited to smaller refers with a standing pilot. Refers with electronic ignition will simply automatically re-light when the flame goes out.
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Old 05-15-2017, 02:17 PM   #14
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I fail to see where the dealer screwed you.
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fridge, trailer

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