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Old 01-15-2009, 12:22 PM   #1
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Norcold is Nevercold -Refrigerator Threadfest

Hey All:

I have the 4.1 CU Norcold fridge in my '03. Its the second one. Like Scatter, mine started cycling off and on non stop. After I while, I thought I'd better shut it down and start it up after it had time to mellow out. We fired back up, it ran non-stop and did not cool. It did a good job of warming the contents of the fridge, however. I mentioned this in a trip thread, but best to deal with it here. I've looked around and it seems this is not a completely uncommon problem for the newer 12/115 units. What happens, it apepars, is that the refrigerant leaks out. Norcold does not install a low pressure valve on the unit so a person can recharge it. Runs on the R134 stuff. So, what I've read is of people installing a brass "T" connector in the line and installing a low pressure connection onto the "T" line. So, when time permits, I'm going to give it a whirl and I'll post the pics here. I've read, although I can't verify this, that the 134 structure is such that it will always leak at the seals. Makes sense as I've noticed you have to recharge modern AC units on vehicles more often than when using freon. Anyway, if this is accurate, by not making the unit servicable (without having to replace the entire cooling unit), it seems Norcold has built in failure in the units (requiring us to get out the wallet). If that's the story, it chaps my hide. If I can't fix my unit, then I'm probably gonna give the Tundra a try. Reviews I've read have been glowing due to the quietness of the unit, cooler prowness, and usable space. We'll see. Here's a tundra: http://www.marinespecialists.com/Tundra/frige.html However, not sure if servicable. Just thought I'd share. Tundra states it uses 3.2 amps on 12v (1.6 amps on 24v). Norcold claims less on 12v (2.8 maybe) but the same 1.6 amps on 24v?? Humm.
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Old 01-16-2009, 11:48 AM   #2
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Our 4.1 Norcold seems to need to run more often now than when it was new (and thus drains the house battery faster). I called Norcold last year and got the same answer...you can't recharge these units. So, please keep us posted on your project...I'll be adding a way to recharge ours too if your solution works.
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Old 01-16-2009, 04:19 PM   #3
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FWIW I don't think that any of the small RV fridges (istherm, dometic, etc.) have service ports. My Isotherm does not. I would'nt hesitate to add one if the need ever arises.
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Old 04-08-2009, 01:29 PM   #4
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Re: Norcold is Nevercold -Refrigerator Threadfest

Well, its getting to be that time of year and I still need to address this fridge issue. I have only learned that those that have tried to recharge these little fridges have had marginal luck (4 successes out of 10 attempts, for example). The reason, I've read, is that if you go even a little over of the pressure, then you'll lose the compressor. If planning of keeping the fridge and buying the cooling unit (which includes the compressor), then it would be worth a shot to fix (if it didn't work, oh well, you are just out your time and effort). If I try and can't make it work, I'm certainly not going with a small Norcold again. So, is it worth it to take the time to try? Probably not for me. So, the options for me are the Nova Kool, the Trunda (now part of Dometic and marketed as a marine refrigerator), or, perhaps, a big Norcold. The big Norcold DE-0061 or whatever the mdoel number is, apparently, CAN be recharged. However, the noise of my 4.2 CU unit is still ringing in my head, and the power draw of the big Norcold, makes me think this might not be a good option (not sure I can mod the cabinet enough anyway to fit it in). If I can make it fit, it might be worth a shot because I can get a new one delivered to me relatively cheap. Doubt I can make it fit (the same cabinet houses the rear AC condensor unit), so most likely going with the Tundra or the Nova Kool. The Danfoss compressor is, apparently, the way to go. What do you all think??
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Old 04-08-2009, 03:47 PM   #5
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Re: Norcold is Nevercold -Refrigerator Threadfest

Quote:
Originally Posted by deminimis
What do you all think??
I try not to think deminimis, it makes my head hurt. Anyway, as I mentioned to you, I replaced my Norcold, but that was a freebie cause of warrantee
As far as the Danfoss is concerned, you're right, it is the way to go. Great compressors and low power usage. Other then that, I'm sure others will chime in on what they've done.
Good luck
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Old 04-08-2009, 09:20 PM   #6
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Re: Norcold is Nevercold -Refrigerator Threadfest

Here's my refer design on my some-day SMB: All the marine refrigerator companies sell kits. Remember, they're selling to boats. The Danfoss can be installed "off site", that is, outside the standard refrigerator box and even ~6' away.

I intend to buy one of their box kits. They come with all the typical controls, thermostats, lights, etc, plus whatever side and bended cold plates you want, depending on size of box & whether you want a freezer or not. While I'm at it, I intend to super insulate the sides, top & rear w/ more and more efficient stuff than an off-the shelf model has, probably for not much more added deminisions. This will not only give me a more efficient box, it'll have much more internal capacity in the same footprint. This is because there won't be a big closed off hunk inside the shell taking up space for the compressor.

Somewhere in the coach nearby (not sure where yet; maybe in the next-door cabinet), I'll put a small enclosure for the Danfoss and computer-fan it's little heart to death, excising the small amount of heat it produces. This may require cutting in a small vent in the body side. I don't care; that's what bug screening's for.

Now, to be on point w/ this thread: These outside-the-refrigerator Danfoss's just plug together. Somehow, after installing the cold box(es) and hooking up the wires, you just pull something from the ends of the refrigerant lines and shove them together with their counterparts coming from the cold plates. Now, if these smaller boxes tend to loose charge, it seems to me that we can more cheaply address this by just R&R'ing the Danfoss. I know the marine repair guys can do it; that's why they install the compressor separately (plus needing to fit the boat). So, I intend to cool away until it doesn't or uses too much 12v. Then, I'll buy another compressor (probably upgraded, anyway), re-plug and cool away some more.

Lots more trouble this way; but Paul in Austin told me he's done exactly this a few times for SMB customers who had marine backgrounds & knew about boats, What we all really want in SMB's, anyway, is a high-grade marine product that rolls on wheels.

JC
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Old 04-13-2009, 03:38 PM   #7
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Re: Norcold is Nevercold -Refrigerator Threadfest

Spent a little time researching and calling around today. As I may have mentioned, Dometic bought Tundra. Now it seems (according to one source) that Dometic removed the service ports on the former Tundra fridge so its now a sealed unit (like the Norcold, so if it leaks, you're buying a new cooling unit instead of just getting it recharged). Now, Vitrifrigo, as it apparently turns out, used to actually make the Tundra unit and Tundra just put their badge on them. The Vitrifrigo still uses a danfoss compressor and it has the needed service ports!! So, going with the Vitrifrigo.
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Old 04-14-2009, 10:16 AM   #8
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Re: Norcold is Nevercold -Refrigerator Threadfest

Keep us posted on this deminimis and don't forget pictures!! Lots and lots of pictures....
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Old 04-14-2009, 10:39 AM   #9
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Re: Norcold is Nevercold -Refrigerator Threadfest

Will do.

Electronic Engineers, please advise: My Norcold DE-0041 is an AC/DC model. I have yet to pull it. The electronics are all operating just fine. I can buy a Vitrifrigo DC model for much cheaper than an AC/DC model. See where I'm going with this? Is the AC component of the Norcold system just a voltage step-down dookicky or is the compressor itself, a dual volatage unit? Man, if its a step-down doohicky, I would think I could buy any 12vDC fridge and add Norcold's 110v electronics and be golden. Trying to recycle and do my part
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Old 04-14-2009, 10:41 AM   #10
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Re: Norcold is Nevercold -Refrigerator Threadfest

It's easy enough to pull. My money is on it NOT being a dual compressor, but it's not like I've actually looked.
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