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Old 07-21-2020, 11:56 PM   #1
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Thinking about a residential fridge.

Gang,
Been RVing for decades and, for the most part, have never really had any issues with any of the factory RV (absorption) fridges. Some have cooled more than others. Our coach is an '04 Itasca Horizon 36GD with the CAT C-7 330HP and MH3000 trans. It's around 16 years old now and, well, I'm not sure the fridge is gonna hold out too much longer.

I'm one of those that makes darn good and sure that the coach is pretty much DEAD LEVEL each and every time we camp anywhere. Since *I'm* the one that has to pay for stuff if I get lazy and don't level properly, I take whatever time is needed, to make sure it's level. Now, with all that being said, on our last little trip, we experienced some fluctuation in the fridge temps. Normally, I turn the fridge on at least 24-36 hours prior to leaving on a trip.

The fridge normally get's down to around 35-38 degrees prior to loading it for the trip. Now, living in Lake Havasu City and working with an absorbtion fridge, even though the coach is in its own cave, and is somewhat much cooler than the outside temp, that garage still hovers around 80+ degrees. Some of you boast that your RV fridge gets down to 32 easily in 100 degree weather. Well, I've never been that fortunate. As stated, my RV fridges have worked ok but, never as good as a residential fridge, in that kind of heat.

First, I must mention that, it's a Norcold N1095. In the 9 years and 53,000 miles we've put on this coach, it's never let us down, even in pretty darn hot weather. But, this last trip, we were in only max temps of around 90 degrees or so and, that fridge started out at about 35 degrees at home but, over a few days, it climbed to around 45-47 degrees. There's only two of us and, we've been trained a long, long time ago, to NOT LET OUT ALL THE PING PONG BALLS!!!!!!!! when accessing the inside for food. We open, grab what we need and close it.

So, with all that garb being said, I'm starting to think of a potential change to a residential fridge. I don't think I want to mess with a new cooling unit but, it's not totally out of the picture either. I have (4) 6V golf cart batteries and, a 2000 watt Magnum M/S2020 Inverter/Charger already. From, what I've read about this potential situation, albeit quite a while ago, at least one approach to this is to purchase at least (2) more batteries and, a separate inverter, with possibly even some solar, to power the residential fridge.

Now, we used to *Boondock* or, *remote* camp years and years ago but, we've sort-a migrated to *hookups* in the last few years. That's not to say we won't boondock. That could happen easily based on what's happening when and where we are invited to go or, simply decide to be on our own for a few days. But, normally, we're at hookups. The size of our present RV fridge is around maybe 24" across by, about 4'-5' tall by about 20" deep or so. This is all just a guess since I've not taken any actual measurements.

I'm kind-a assuming that, the cost for a 120VAC residential fridge of about that size, can't be too much money, just guessing. It seems that, based on what I've seen in many new RVs, that many are coming from the factory with residential fridges already stocked in them. They (the fridge makers), must be making the newest ones, pretty darned efficient.

Anyway, I haven't even looked at a standard, RV absorption type replacement just to see what it would cost too. Just starting to think of alternatives.
Scott
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Old 07-22-2020, 04:57 AM   #2
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Scott, on my last coach I installed a 16 CF residential to replace the Norcold 1200. It had 4 house batteries and I was surprised how well that worked out as we were doing lots of long dry camping trips. I would charge the batteries once a day. Eventually I put 760 watts of solar on which completely eliminated generator usage as long as the A/C was not needed.

I don't plan on having another gas refrigerator. I put a new cooling unit on which leaked a year later. A new cooling unit was sent under warranty but due to travel plans I had installed the residential and was on my way.
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Old 07-22-2020, 05:55 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FIRE UP View Post
Gang,
Been RVing for decades and, for the most part, have never really had any issues with any of the factory RV (absorption) fridges. Some have cooled more than others. Our coach is an '04 Itasca Horizon 36GD with the CAT C-7 330HP and MH3000 trans. It's around 16 years old now and, well, I'm not sure the fridge is gonna hold out too much longer.

I'm one of those that makes darn good and sure that the coach is pretty much DEAD LEVEL each and every time we camp anywhere. Since *I'm* the one that has to pay for stuff if I get lazy and don't level properly, I take whatever time is needed, to make sure it's level. Now, with all that being said, on our last little trip, we experienced some fluctuation in the fridge temps. Normally, I turn the fridge on at least 24-36 hours prior to leaving on a trip.

The fridge normally get's down to around 35-38 degrees prior to loading it for the trip. Now, living in Lake Havasu City and working with an absorbtion fridge, even though the coach is in its own cave, and is somewhat much cooler than the outside temp, that garage still hovers around 80+ degrees. Some of you boast that your RV fridge gets down to 32 easily in 100 degree weather. Well, I've never been that fortunate. As stated, my RV fridges have worked ok but, never as good as a residential fridge, in that kind of heat.

First, I must mention that, it's a Norcold N1095. In the 9 years and 53,000 miles we've put on this coach, it's never let us down, even in pretty darn hot weather. But, this last trip, we were in only max temps of around 90 degrees or so and, that fridge started out at about 35 degrees at home but, over a few days, it climbed to around 45-47 degrees. There's only two of us and, we've been trained a long, long time ago, to NOT LET OUT ALL THE PING PONG BALLS!!!!!!!! when accessing the inside for food. We open, grab what we need and close it.

So, with all that garb being said, I'm starting to think of a potential change to a residential fridge. I don't think I want to mess with a new cooling unit but, it's not totally out of the picture either. I have (4) 6V golf cart batteries and, a 2000 watt Magnum M/S2020 Inverter/Charger already. From, what I've read about this potential situation, albeit quite a while ago, at least one approach to this is to purchase at least (2) more batteries and, a separate inverter, with possibly even some solar, to power the residential fridge.

Now, we used to *Boondock* or, *remote* camp years and years ago but, we've sort-a migrated to *hookups* in the last few years. That's not to say we won't boondock. That could happen easily based on what's happening when and where we are invited to go or, simply decide to be on our own for a few days. But, normally, we're at hookups. The size of our present RV fridge is around maybe 24" across by, about 4'-5' tall by about 20" deep or so. This is all just a guess since I've not taken any actual measurements.

I'm kind-a assuming that, the cost for a 120VAC residential fridge of about that size, can't be too much money, just guessing. It seems that, based on what I've seen in many new RVs, that many are coming from the factory with residential fridges already stocked in them. They (the fridge makers), must be making the newest ones, pretty darned efficient.

Anyway, I haven't even looked at a standard, RV absorption type replacement just to see what it would cost too. Just starting to think of alternatives.
Scott
Hi Scott,
My current and previous rigs 2015 DS 4366 and 2011 Winnebago Tour 42 QD both equipped with residential fridges but prior to that I had the absorption type. I remember wanting to change the fridge in the Winnebago as I was comfortable rving with an absorption type. Boy I'm glad I didn't change it.

I never have to worry about being perfectly level, rushing to close the doors nor do I have to worry about my fridge or freezer not maintaining temps. It works well, just like the one in my house. In fact, it's identical to my house with both ice and water on the door.

Do I boon dock, you betcha! Never had an issue with power. I also have a Dominic fridge/freezer in a slide out tray as well in my current Dutch Star. Because I boon dock and when I bought my DS she had been sitting for a couple years (she only had 1,690 miles on her and now she has 26,000) so I changed the 6 volt 220 amp hour 8 lead acid batteries to Lifeline 300 amp hr 8 batteries. Did the swap myself very simple. I do not have solar.

In short, I highly recommend a residential fridge. Just make sure the outlet is hooked to your inverter.

Happy glamping.
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Old 07-22-2020, 06:14 AM   #4
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We removed our working Norcold 1200 model and sold it on Craig's List for $500. We then bought a Haire refrig from Home Depot for $400 and a dedicated inverter for $100 to operate the refrig on hot travel days (with the truck charging the single 12V RV battery). We did this change 3 years ago and the benefits are the new refrig is lighter, reduced our monthly elec bill in half, larger interior refrig space for the same outside dimension, works w/o being level, and cold ice cream.
We usually camp with FHU's but a small solar system of 700W should keep up with the power needs if desired.
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Old 07-22-2020, 06:15 AM   #5
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Went through the same thing with my Norcold, performance was never great and then started to decline. I ended up putting remote temp sensors in both fridge and freezer to monitor temps. Kept freezer blocks in the freezer and would transfer to fridge as needed. The black recall box finally kicked out, I reset twice and then dust at the bottom, the Norcold was DOA.

When it finally went belly up and replaced with a Samsung RF18 I bought at Lowes on clearance for $850, I used in the new house as were building and when Norcold crapped out I did the swap.


We boondock quite a bit and in most cases we have to run generator to keep coach cool for dogs. After I did the install I did a test and the batteries lasted 8 hrs, this was in extremely hot weather, nothing in fridge or freezer so kind of worse case scenario. So if I have to run the generator a couple hours a day I good with that to have a cold fridge/freezer.
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Old 07-22-2020, 06:31 AM   #6
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Scott, trust me, you won't regret going to a residential refrigerator.

When we were looking for our current coach back in 2006/2007 I was somewhat turned off by residential refrigerators in several we looked at because we boondocked a lot when duning and snowmobiling. We purchased our 2003 Dynasty in February 2007 and our Norcold absorbtion fridge did a great job but as I started noticing more and more people converting it sparked my curiosity and I commenced doing more research as far as current draw and fitment issues.

I told the wife as soon as the Norcold gave the slightest inkling of having issues I was going to replace it with a residential fridge. That was in around 2015 when on a trip to Colorado in August it did similar to yours and had a hard time maintianing temps below about 45 degrees. We too didn't leave doors open and even at home we would cool everything down in the house before it went into the coach's refrigerator to reduce the amount of heat we were asking the Norcold to expel from the box.

I installed a Samsung RF19 in 2015 and would never go back to an absorbtion refrigerator now. Not only is it a bit larger but sooo much nicer having the compressor refrigerator. Loading from the car or grocery store directly into the coach is awesome and one less step we have to perform. The wife loves the extra room and it's nice to bring ice cream along with us and have it actually remain solid/frozen.

We don't boondock as much as we used to so I decided to try it a bit before increasing the number of batteries and/or inverter but it works great and doesn't really draw much power at all. We have 4 house batteries and a 2800 watt inverter and everything works perfectly. Running down the road on inverter or even for a night or two without shore power is not big deal. We will run the generator in the morning while getting ready and maybe for a couple of hours at night around dinner time and it is enough to keep the battery bank topped off and run everything we need throughout the night on battery power.

Best of luck but I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how nice having a residential refrigerator is.
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Old 07-22-2020, 06:42 AM   #7
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I have had both...and prefer residential for all the reasons the other posters have said. I wonder, I don't ever remember a poster indicating that they had experience with both and switched BACK from a residential to an adsorption unit.

I would guess there are some out there...
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Old 07-22-2020, 06:49 AM   #8
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What happens to the defrost water. Most residential I have seen have a pan underneath. The shelves don't have ability to secure the food when traveling like my current Dometic. I was thinking of a residential refrigerator also, but have concerns of defrost water on the floor and food not staying put.
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Old 07-22-2020, 06:52 AM   #9
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I guess many of us are thinking along the same lines. The RV 2 way fridges are expensive. I had to replace a Dometic 13CF 4 door & it was near on $5000.00 all swapped out.

That won't be happening again. I have the battery bank capacity. I have a 1500W pure sine wave inverter. I have the dimensions I need to work with. I have the models & dimensions of some residentials that will fit. Should the current Dometic ever fail the swap should be quick & much cheaper than the last one.

I can get almost three larger CF residentials for the cost of a Dometic.
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Old 07-22-2020, 08:09 AM   #10
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We replaced our Dometic 1292 about a year ago with a residential unit that fit in the same space with only minor modifications. We ran it from our existing 2000W MSW inverter for 10 months with no problems before upgrading to our current PSW inverters.

The total usage for us has been about 100 - 115Ah per 24 hour period so you do the math on how much battery capacity you have available based on your current usage. I would agree that adding 2 more GC2 batteries would likely cover the refrigerator usage if you do not have any solar in place.....with solar you could probably make due with what you have based on your camping style.

I all but dare you to search all of iRV2 and try to find anyone that says "I installed a residential fridge and wish I had my Norcold back".........I dare you
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Old 07-22-2020, 08:17 AM   #11
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Hey fireup. We went residential 10 years ago. Best decision ever. Just add solar and battery capacity and you are good to go. We have the fridge plugged into one of those remote clicker things. When dry camping we quite often click it off during the night which simulates the defrost cycle and saving some power by not making it do the defrost thing. Some people just add a switch to the defrost timer. Something to think about. If you know an appliance guy he can set that up for you. We just go old school and click it off.

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Old 07-22-2020, 03:48 PM   #12
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What happens to the water in the defrost pan with a residential refrigerator in a house???
Yup, it evaporates. The fan that pulls air across the motor and condenser fins causes the water to evaporate. Same thing will happen in a motorhome
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Old 07-22-2020, 04:21 PM   #13
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What happens to the defrost water. Most residential I have seen have a pan underneath. The shelves don't have ability to secure the food when traveling like my current Dometic. I was thinking of a residential refrigerator also, but have concerns of defrost water on the floor and food not staying put.
It works just like your house fridge. RV makers would not install them if they leaked defrost water on the floor.
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Old 07-22-2020, 05:48 PM   #14
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Hey Scott,

Traded my '07 in on a '11 Ellipse 42QD but before I did I was considering JC Refrigeration in Elkhart, IN area. You can google them. They convert the Norcold to a 12v residential fridge. They will ship it to you and you can do it yourself.

Knowing how you've taken care of your DP thought this might be a ticket for you.

Best wishes - Richard
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