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Old 08-02-2020, 03:41 PM   #1
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Refrigerator problems, any thought on a new one?

Hi folks, I am realy stuck with this. I have 2006 39' Journey with a Norcold 1200- or 1201. Ibrought it to the local (St George UT) Camping world and they told me the fridge needed a cooling unit. They quoted me a price of $1750.00 and between $450 $550 for labor.. I Icalled Norco and asked for the part and it was about the part was available (at a lower price and they would sell it to me but the company policey was to not recomend major repair on a unit that old.
he present Norcold is 4 door and 12 cubic feet. I don't no about it but 15 years doesn't seem terrible for a fridge. The RV one is never used as much as a a household one but is never bounced around.
So I do realize that was a rather rambling introduction to the question. I think I need to buy a new fridge. Camping world has an updated model a 1210 for $3097.
I really have no brand loyalty to either camping world or Norcold and would really appreciate any thoughts or recommendations.
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Old 08-02-2020, 04:03 PM   #2
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Did a search on Amazon and they sell the cooling unit for $1220 plus $100 shipping. Use this title for your search. I love my 1200LR, we dry camp alot so the gas feature is necessary. And the size is nice. Do a Norcold dealer search for other local installation places. I stay away from the dealers since they charge alot and keep your RV for a month or so to fix things.
Norcold Cooling Unit 1200LR AND 1201


by NORCOLD INC
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Old 08-02-2020, 08:57 PM   #3
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Thanks, I do know you can get it on line cheaper. In this instance $400 dollars cheaper on Camping wolrds own website. But do you think putting that much money in a 15 year old fridge is worth it? Plus labor of course.Thanks
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Old 08-02-2020, 09:59 PM   #4
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Check out https://jc-refrigeration.com/ .They make replacement cooling units that are better and usually a bit cheaper than the OEM parts.
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Old 08-02-2020, 11:07 PM   #5
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Never allow CW to touch your RV. Have heard hundreds of stories about CW ruining things and keeping your RV for months for simple jobs. Don't let that happen to you.

Contact any mobile RV tech near you to do the job. A 'cooling unit' available new from the Amish will be hundreds less expensive and the labor should be under $300.

Amish Replacement cooling unit...

I had my cooling unit replaced (the interior of the refer is kept) by a professional Mobile tech and it took just over an hour. Start to finish. Worked great for 12 more years and then I sold the RV.
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Old 08-03-2020, 02:35 AM   #6
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I also have close to the same year in my 07 Meridian. When it dies I will be going with the JC Refrigeration replacement unit. I plan on the 120v compersor only model, as I all ways are plugged in. I reading it seem a pretty straight forward replacement.

I also checked on how to remove the old and replace with new. From what I found out getting the old out is not to bad as just dismantle as much as you can and take out through the door. I was told a new Norcold would have to come in through the windshield. I was not wanting to mess with the windshield. I could have put a house hold frig. in but decided against that for a number of reasons.

Look into JC Refrigeration
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Old 08-09-2020, 04:31 PM   #7
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We have the same 1201. It caught fire. Our dealer wanted to replace it with the same crap. We took our insurance money, drove to Shipshewana, IN to JC Refrigeration and had a new cooling unit installed. Best decision ever.
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Old 08-09-2020, 04:53 PM   #8
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One point on Camping World? I hate them but find they have nice catalogs but that means they have lots invested in advertisements and have to make it up somewhere and that is usually us! We got terrible work there as well as bad prices. Lots of promises on where they will place what but when we picked it up, the tech said he never installed those that way! Good place to look around for info but not leave any money handy for them.
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Old 08-09-2020, 05:02 PM   #9
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When mine went I put in a residential unit and I have never regretted that decision. The DW absolutely loves it and thanks me over and over for doing it. In my coach it required lowering the floor the frig sat on but there was plenty of clearance to do that. I also replaced the old Modified Sine Wave inverter with a Pure Sine Wave and that too I believe was the right decision. I can get by on my batteries for about a day or two before having to run the generator. Yup, one of the best decisions I have made.
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Old 08-09-2020, 06:22 PM   #10
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That's an absolute "YES" to going with the residential refrigerator, assuming a number of things:

* When you are driving your RV, your engine alternator will recharge your house batteries. This will allow you to boondock overnight and survive without running the generator for a day. ...Just keep in mind, without shore power your house batteries will probably not get a full or slow charge so the number of amp-hours in your battery bank will drop each day.

* Most RVers find they have to run their generator for 3 to 4hrs/day to recharge their house batteries when the State Of Charge (SOC) drops to 50%.

* Running the generator is not an issue if when you boondock you also need to run your roof or basement air conditioner. But keep in mind that your diesel generator will burn 1 gal/hour under load; and that uses a lot of fuel; and is costly over time.

==> I bought my RV with a NeverCold unit that just got a new Amish cooling system installed, any yet, it would only run on electric power. This was after the previous owner sold me the coach and he did not disclose this to me. So I called him on it and he said he can show me the receipt for $1,800.

The short story is: You can't trust people selling old gas absorption refrigerators no matter how much money they spend to make it new again!

* And for $800 you can get a beautiful, hassle free, larger, stainless steel residential refrigerator with and ice maker and-on for another $100.

Note: If you Never-cold has an ice maker then you already have a 110 circuit and circuit breaker installed, so that makes things easier.

* Stainless steel residential refrigerators will immediately make your interior seem newer!

* You can anchor it to the floor and pad the side; and we put 4" base board along the trim to make it look like it came from the factory.

* We kept our old Dimensions Quasi-sine Inverter and see no reason to upgrade to a pure sine inverter until the day our old inverter fails. Note: I don't know if older Magnum or Xantrex square-wave inverters will work well with new residential refrigerators. They may humm... or their life may be shorter, but since you on spend 2-4 month every year in your coach, who cares if their 7-10 year lifespan is cut sort. However, the humming would drive me nuts!

Maybe some other owner with a square wave inverter can tell you their experience running a residential refrigerator?

* Residential Refrigerators can be more easily services and they work so much better, we would never own a gas-absorbtion "fire trap" again.

* If you need more battery power, you can add 400W of solar on your roof, but again this is not needed if you always run your AC with the generator "on"; and if you are camping in the trees you may not get any sun except between 11AM and 2PM. So this will cut down considerably on your solar power.

* The residential frig is a little lighter than the NeverCold and both will fit though your front door if you remove the passenger seat.

* You need to make your own door catch. See attached picture of how we hold the door shut on the road.

Good luck with your up grade! You will never second guess your decision to go "residential" and you will save money on top!

==> Next you might think about getting rid of the plastic toilet and going with a tiny toilet. They now make 0.8 gal/flush, single piece, tiny toilets, that are 24-25" deep; and if you pay no attention to the naysayers out their you will love this upgrade too! ...The argument is pretty much the same: For less money you can upgrade your toilet and your DW will love you for it! ...Of you can give yourself a birthday present!
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Old 08-09-2020, 06:35 PM   #11
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Advise on this site is free and opinionated. Call Leon at National RV in Shipshewana, IN and he will give you an honest opinion (when you get a hold of him). The Amish innuendo is puesdo-truth and beyond hypocrisy: I live in the Amish country and use them constantly and find them simple and honest and trustworthy.
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Old 08-10-2020, 01:56 PM   #12
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To clarify, the owner who sold me my RV was not Amish. He spent $1,800 on an Amish cooling kit, but the refrigerator would not cool properly after that.

The problem here often, but not always, has to do with how the cooling kit is applied to the back of the gas-absorption refrigerator. Most often it works, but sometimes it doesn't. There are many threads on this subject.

My opinion is that when you spend $1,800 to save your NeverCold there is a small percentage change you will not be satisfied. And buying a new $3,500 Norcold is a lot of money when you compare it to a residential refrigerator at $800.

And since we are talking about Opinions:

* I would never own a 38 or 40' RV without a residential refrigerator!

* If i were going to repair my Norcold I would use an Amish cooling kit and I would find a service tech who knows how to install it properly.

* I meant no disrespects to any ethic group; and I think the Amish have a good reputation, but frankly I wouldn't know. They call it an Amish cooling system for good reason and it cost more for good reason.

* If you "boondock" for days at a time then you will be challenged to keep your residential refrigerator powered up. But living "off the grid" is completely different than traveling from Point "A" to Point "B" and then hooking up to shore power when you arrive at your destination. So if your travel habits are more like the latter, then there is no discussion -- the residential is cheaper and 10x better!

* I travel 5K-10K miles every year with a residential refrigerator and 400W of solar power. I never have a problem because my alternator is always changing my house batteries. Then I spend 1-3 days here and there and I can get by with my generator now and then.

What upsets me the most is the cost of repairing gas-absorption refrigerators; and trying to find someone to repair them; especially after you loose all your food, which is extremely upsetting. ...But since I installed my residential refrigerator I have not spent one-dime on repairs! It always works and looks great!
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Old 08-10-2020, 02:22 PM   #13
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Residential vs Two/Three way RV refrigerators

Many people will be happy with a residential refrigerator in their RV and many will not.



If you boondock much and do NOT have lithium batteries and a large solar array you might not be happy with the residential refrigerator.


I am mostly staying at places that have sufficient power to recharge my batteries and/or can run my refrigerator and stove and hotwater from propane by using the generator for and hour each day.


For me, paying the price for dual source refrigerator, stove and hotwater is well worth the freedom propane/electric appliances gives me. IMHO.
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Old 08-10-2020, 02:45 PM   #14
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Had the Norcold 4 door unit for 10 years, replaced the 1st cooling unit at 14 months, just after warranty was up, replaced the replacement last November after it developed a coolant leak, very ugly. Due to space, I did not want to try to put in a regular house refer. Opted for the JC refrigeration compressor cooling unit. Very happy with the outcome.

First two old guys (me and a helper) removed the Norcold, laid down on the floor, removed the old cooling unit, installed the new JC unit, reinstalled the Norcold into its original space. Time spent, about 3.5 hours. JC provided excellent instructions.

Performance is great cools consistently and much much faster. The 120v unit uses about 66w when running. When boondocking, my MSW 1000w inverter handles it well, very little battery draw, in normal temps about a 50% duty cycle, in over 100 AZ degrees, perhaps a 75% duty cycle.

No more worries about being level or fire danger. And you get 3 year standard warranty, which can be extended if desired. And the cooling unit was about $400 less than a new Norcold cooling unit.

Did I say I was very happy with the results, let me repeat, very happy!
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Old 08-12-2020, 02:44 PM   #15
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Fridge. A bit more...

I'm narrowing it down a bit am still in trouble.

The fridge dind't work at all on electrial shore power and only got to 55 degrees on propane.
Camping world said it was the cooling unit. Period.


Besides the fridge problem I've had continuos trouble with the GFI tripping for no apparent reason.


I never thought there was a correlation until I took it eleswhere for them to have a look. They said that the electrical control board is definitely bad. They also said that it would effect the propane side as well. They said that it's replacment was essentil but there was no way of telling if the cooling unit was bad or not. He also said that the cooling unit could possibly cloged and might be able to be cleared.
I was also asked if it had ever had any meintence . No, I had never thought it needed it. Does it?
Thanks for all of your help.

It's a Norcold 1200



Quote:
Originally Posted by Out West View Post
Hi folks, I am realy stuck with this. I have 2006 39' Journey with a Norcold 1200- or 1201. Ibrought it to the local (St George UT) Camping world and they told me the fridge needed a cooling unit. They quoted me a price of $1750.00 and between $450 $550 for labor.. I Icalled Norco and asked for the part and it was about the part was available (at a lower price and they would sell it to me but the company policey was to not recomend major repair on a unit that old.
he present Norcold is 4 door and 12 cubic feet. I don't no about it but 15 years doesn't seem terrible for a fridge. The RV one is never used as much as a a household one but is never bounced around.
So I do realize that was a rather rambling introduction to the question. I think I need to buy a new fridge. Camping world has an updated model a 1210 for $3097.
I really have no brand loyalty to either camping world or Norcold and would really appreciate any thoughts or recommendations.
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Old 08-12-2020, 05:11 PM   #16
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Once had a shop in the north of Canada tell me it was a bad control board and a new one for $218 got me on the road again. Problem reappear after another 300 miles. So I put my own tech skills to work and found that NO the board was not bad after all. What was wrong was that over time, the female contacts from the many wires that plugged into the control board had loosened so they weren't making good contact. The very low current device that senses if the flame has lit and stayed lit was loose enough that under the right temp and humidity conditions it would open circuit and the refer would shut down.

All that shop needed to do was take a pair of pliers and gently squeeze the female terminals together a bit so they made better contact with the spade terminals on the control board. That's all I did and the refer ran fine for 8 years after that, up until I sold the RV.

The only maintenance needed is to keep the fins in the refer, and the freezer relatively free of frost and ice. If it's trying to cool or freeze a bunch of ice or frost, it won't work well.

Then, make sure the outside coils are free from debris and too much dust and that the chimney is clear of obstruction.

Finally, occasionally making sure the terminals on the control board are tight is essential.

That's about it.
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Old 08-12-2020, 07:01 PM   #17
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This may be my last question...?

With alot of help I may have the solution. I am hoping it is the AC (power) control board. I found hopefully the solution and board on line. My last problem is on line they show the panel in plain view of the side fridge opening. It is not my case. If it is there it has to be behinfd a bunch of stuff. Before I go any further I just it's mot in plain sight elsewhere. It's a 2006 39' Journey with a Norcold 1200 Fridge.

I hope the anserw is it's right there in X.
Thanks







QUOTE=Out West;3869035]Hi folks, I am realy stuck with this. I have 2006 39' Journey with a Norcold 1200- or 1201. Ibrought it to the local (St George UT) Camping world and they told me the fridge needed a cooling unit. They quoted me a price of $1750.00 and between $450 $550 for labor.. I Icalled Norco and asked for the part and it was about the part was available (at a lower price and they would sell it to me but the company policey was to not recomend major repair on a unit that old.
he present Norcold is 4 door and 12 cubic feet. I don't no about it but 15 years doesn't seem terrible for a fridge. The RV one is never used as much as a a household one but is never bounced around.
So I do realize that was a rather rambling introduction to the question. I think I need to buy a new fridge. Camping world has an updated model a 1210 for $3097.
I really have no brand loyalty to either camping world or Norcold and would really appreciate any thoughts or recommendations.[/QUOTE]
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Old 08-13-2020, 11:25 AM   #18
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There is a way to find out if your your problem is the control board, or the cooling unit. Learned this long ago, when my cooling unit had a floating clog.

First the control board only controls when the cooling unit kicks on, propane, or electric. Either the thermistor inside the refer calls for cold, or the defrost cycle timing is shutting off the cold.

If you make a jumper with a normal ac 120v cord, Just plug it into your 120v outlet next to the back of the refer unit, you can hook directly to one of the two electrical heating elements. (there is two sets of wires that plug into the control board, using normal connectors. Just pull loose one set, and plug into your jumper cord.

By doing that, you eliminate the control board. If the electrical heating element part of the cooling unit is good, it will just start cooling, and keep cooling. Then you will know.

I just made a jumper to hook to one set at a time, and tested each one separately, you could make a jumper to connect to four wires at once, and get the full amount of cold. I found you get enough cold with one set, to know.

When I finally replaced my cooling unit with the JC Refrigeration compressor unit, it used the existing control board, and the wires on the control board that had to do with the propane side, were disconnected and abandoned. Made it easy on reassembly.
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Old 08-13-2020, 12:08 PM   #19
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What Are The Odds?

Outwest: Everyone is basically saying they rolled the dice on their Norcold and some have won and some have lost.

The fundamental question here is: What is the least expensive way to fix your Norcold... assuming it works on electric but not on gas. IS THIS CORRECT? ...Because if it doesn't work on electric I would not bother trying to fix it. Can you get to 42F or colder on electric power?

It sounds like these your options?

A) Spend $350-$450 to replace the control board.

B) Spending $2,300 + anther $300 on who knows what, because everything cost more when you get the bill to put in a new cooling unit.

DO THEY GUARANTEE IT WILL WORK?

C) Buy a new Norcold for $3-$3.5K + $1200 installation...and I'm guessing the final bill will be just under $5K.

D) Pay a handyman to install a residential frig for a total cost of ~$1,500, assuming you don't have to worry about your inverter and opt for solar. (...but having 400+AH of battery life is a must. All of which I think you have covered.)

FACT: If you can boil the ammonia in the cooling unit it will run! ...But will it get you to 42F in a reasonable amount of time (over night)?

QUESTION: Has anyone performed a "work around" test? This is there you create a wire harness to by-pass the control board. ...And this will confirm the cooling unit works or does not work?

Of course, if you have visual signs of a failed control board that may or may not be a good sign that's what you need to do?

Note; When you install the wire harness work around you need to know there is no shutoff. So this is for testing purposes only.

* I use to carry one for emergency purposes, but I got rid of it after I went residential.

...Did any of your techs by-pass the control board and verify your cooling unit will chill down to 42F or colder?

...if not then everyone of them is just guessing and so are you. But the odds suggest you will need a new control board and possibly you will need a new cooling unit; and right now you are seeing these as separate costs, but they are not. (Hence the extra $300 cost estimate I threw in above.)

You can't reverse a partially blocked cooling unit. And a this is why fires start. However, if you know the history of your Norcold and you know you always ran it on level ground, then you may be able to get lucky when you roll the dice and try replacing just the control board.

It's a tough decision to make.

How much money have you already spent diagnosing your Norcold?
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