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Old 05-20-2018, 09:38 AM   #1
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Residential Frig or Not

Hi All,

Looking for some guidance whether to swap out our Norcold RV refrigerator for a residential. I know there are many, many posts on this topic and I have read most of them. But looking for some recent experiences and opinions.

Here is our situation. Our current Norcold 1200 rarely gets below 45 degrees in the refrigerator. The unit is ~5 years old having been replaced by the previous owner due to recalls and repairs. From what I can tell, it has all the proper recall items, the rear air space is clear, and does not have any obvious issues. The freezer does get cold, but the refrigerator rarely gets below 45 degrees. Being in Texas, our outside air is pretty regularly in the high 90s. I have owned several RVs and I find this pretty normal when the outside air is so high.

We are typically connected to power or have the generator running, even when driving down the road. Simply to hot to not have the basement AC going. We are at times, of course, not connected to power (such as when staying overnight at a Walmart or similar) and if cool enough we do not run the generator all night. We still have the original Domestic inverter (modified sign wave) and three standard deep cycle house batteries.

Looking for thoughts on this. For those of you in the hot south, have you found a way to get your RV refrigerator to stay at a safe cold temperature? For those of you who have switched to a residential unit, are you happy?

Not looking to debate one or the other, simply looking for some positive guidance.

Thanks.
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Old 05-20-2018, 10:47 AM   #2
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Your Norcold 1200 is an accident waiting to happen. Residential refrigerators are safe and perform pretty much exactly like they would if installed in your kitchen at home.

Some things to consider:

1. A pure sine wave inverter may be required depending on the refrigerator. Probably wouldn't be a bad idea to upgrade it anyway.

2. You will need 4 - 6 6V batteries (true deep cycle like golf cart batteries. With this battery setup, you will get at least 12 hrs runtime for the frig. Modern refrigerators consume very little power so don't worry too much.

3. You do not need to run your generator while driving to power the refrigerator. The alternator and your inverter will supply ample power.

4. There are many models that will fit in the space your Norcold fits in now. Normally, some carpentry work is required. The most fun will come from removing the old frig and installing the new one. Most installers will remove the driver's window to remove and install the frigs.

I would look for a shop with experience doing these conversions. Probably faster and less hassle than tackling this one yourself.
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Old 05-20-2018, 11:57 AM   #3
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We love our residential fridge in our Adventurer. But it came from the factory with it, a 2000 watt PSW inverter, 4-AGM batteries, a solar panel and controller- even auto gen start.

We’d never go back to a RV fridge in a MotorHome.
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Old 05-20-2018, 12:34 PM   #4
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The only thing I can think of is some of the after-market cooling fans, etc. Here are some links you might want to check out before spending the bucks on a residential fridge that you may not need:

http://www.irv2.com/forums/f115/extr...elp-94770.html

https://community.fmca.com/topic/300...wont-get-cold/

https://rvcoolingunit.com/-Improve-y...5.aspx?sid=298
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Old 05-20-2018, 01:47 PM   #5
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Forty years of RV fridges and no problems on any except age and wasps. Yes I do run a battery operated fan in the fresh food section. Just don’t understand limiting the ability to dry camp or boondock without a massive solar system or substantial generator use to have a residential fridge. If the latter, please don’t pull up near me. Nature has so many beautiful things to hear. “A solar panel?” How’s that working out?
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Old 05-20-2018, 02:10 PM   #6
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I'm with LarryW all the way.
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Old 05-20-2018, 05:51 PM   #7
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I would never swap my Norfold for a residential for the above reasons
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Old 05-20-2018, 09:47 PM   #8
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I would never swap a residential for a gas model. I have had both so I don't think I am making an unknowledeable opinion.
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Old 05-20-2018, 10:19 PM   #9
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Most RVers that have residential fridges have also owned RVs with Gas Absortion RV fridges, too. For those of us with that experience we know which works the best. I would also suggest that most folks that have only had a RV fridge see a limitation that’s not really a problem, but they just don’t know it yet.

If you are switching the fridge in your RV though, I would strongly encourage you to add more batteries, and an inverter at the very least. And consider adding some solar as well. You’ll rest much easier if you do.

Those additions will help your RV in many ways and even add to your Boondocking abilities.
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Old 05-20-2018, 10:39 PM   #10
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“see a limitation that’s not really a problem” and “consider adding some solar”

The “limitation” is real. Most battery banks cannot sustain a residential fridge. Four won’t usually but six can. Most RVs can’t carry four batteries much less six house batteries without modifications.

Add “some” solar? I disagree. Either install a solar system that will fully recharge your adequate battery bank on most days or forget solar altogether. Most RVs don’t have the roof real estate for enough panels. Most RVers aren’t scooting about in 40-45 foot As.

OP in another post parked one night at Walmart...one night...and drained is batteries using a residential fridge. That’s not “self contained.” Run your generator all night away from me please.
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Old 05-21-2018, 12:10 AM   #11
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Thanks everyone for the replies.

We do have a fan at the back of the unit. I hear it come on but will double check it is functioning and still placed correctly. I think I will also replace the thermistor. Even if not the issue, pretty inexpensive test. Thanks for the link to the posts suggesting the thermistor.

The comments regarding boondocking or dry camping make sense and for those of you who do that often clearly an RV refrigerator has its benefits. While we rarely dry camp, as I mentioned we do have the occasional overnight. We do run the generator often (simply to hot for me otherwise) but if I installed a residential refrigerator, I will likely install a switch to allow it to be turned on/off. I would think a few hours of no power and keeping the doors closed should be fine.

While I may upgrade the inverter at some point, will likely be a while. Can a residential refrigerator run on a modified sign wave inverter?
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Old 05-21-2018, 07:04 AM   #12
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The fridge will work on a MSW inverter but the word on the forums is it causes premature failure of the fridge.
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Old 05-24-2018, 08:28 PM   #13
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“You will need 4 - 6 6V batteries (true deep cycle like golf cart batteries. With this battery setup, you will get at least 12 hrs runtime for the frig.“

Gee, what a ringing endorsement for residential fridges...at least 12 hours runtime with four batteries. Just like golf too.
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Old 05-25-2018, 01:53 AM   #14
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In the past we have found that ours worked better on gas than electric, you might try that for a day or two.

We now have a residential refrigerator and don't want to go back.

Larry
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