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Old 05-26-2015, 05:40 PM   #1
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isotherm refrigerator Vs norcold refrigerator ?

Was considering using the Isotherm CR-130 Standard refrigerator as opposed to the sportsmobile Norcold 4E refrigerator

Isotherm CR-130 Standard refrigerator exterior dimensions (4.6cu.ft. Capacity, 29-3/8"H x 20-3/4"W x 19-15/16"D, 5.0A @ 12V DC, 55lb.)

Norcold 4E a.k.a. DE-0041 (30-7/8": 784.2 mm 23-1/4": 590.6 mm 23-1/2": 596.9 mm)

The isotherm is it $100 more, larger 4.6 cu foot vs 3.6 cu ft, has the option of a smart controller to halve electricity use, no fan, probably quieter, proven in the marine world for years

The isotherm has an optional smart controller for $150, looks life a good option to save battery, maybe up to 50%, http://www.westmarine.com/buy/isotherm- ... --14015747

Sportsmobile installed isotherm refrigerators a few years back but they are off the price list today

any comments or thoughts ?
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Old 05-26-2015, 06:04 PM   #2
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Re: isotherm refrigrator

I'm not sure what the installed price is but If I were to do it again (and that might be sooner than I thought) there is no way I'd go with the Norcold. Mine is new and the new unit pulls just over six amps when it cycles. I've yet to hear what the total AH is at a given temp and time. Just from what I'm seeing, it appears that I'm waking to lower battery reserves but I've also had some recent electrical issues that might be contributing to the lower battery state.
I'd try to research what amp hours each uses and go by that. A few hundred bucks isn't that big of a deal in my opinion for a more efficient unit but YMMV.
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Old 05-27-2015, 09:24 AM   #3
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Re: isotherm refrigerator Vs norcold refrigerator ?

We replaced our original SMB-installed Norcold in April 2009 with an Isotherm. Together with solar, it really takes the worries about the house battery if you add the smart controller. Our original house battery was replaced a little over 2 years after we bought the van new. The next one lasted 3 years, 5 months. It was replaced 3 years, 6 months later in early 2011 after replacing the refrigerator. That battery is still working fine, 4 years later. Not enough data for a true comparison but it certainly seems to be a factor.

If you decide on the Isotherm, do get the smart controller. The refrigerator has a cold pack which is frozen when the house battery level is up. At night, when the house battery drops to somewhere above 12.2v, it turns off the compressor and things stay cold from the cold pack.

In addition, there is no thermostat to adjust in an Isotherm...lettuce doesn't freeze at night but ice cubes do...
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Old 05-27-2015, 09:50 AM   #4
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Re: isotherm refrigerator Vs norcold refrigerator ?

Isotherm CR-130 Standard refrigerator: 1.2amps --- 14.4watts!! for 43F inside and 72F outside.

Norcold 4E DE-0041 2.8amps --- 33.6watts (I think, Norcold does not provide details like Isotherm).

The above amps and watts should be average power draw.

West Marine for comparison: Isotherm CR-130 $1,349.99 Norcold 4E DE-0041 $999.99
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Old 05-27-2015, 10:52 AM   #5
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Re: isotherm refrigerator Vs norcold refrigerator ?

Just as another possibility, I think I'm going to install the Vitrifrigo 130. Reasons I like it over the Isotherm:

1) I prefer the freezer arrangement/size.

2) I like a full sized (depth) bottom shelf. My SMB (smaller Norcold) unit had this style and I liked being able to just sling milk and heavy items onto the bottom shelf (vs. fiddling with a little plastic half depth crisper or something).

3) They make it either with a typical, built-in compressor, or with a separate compressor. I like a separate compressor for a few reasons. One is that you can insulate the heck out of the box (since it doesn't have to vent the compressor), and two is that there is no "notch" taken out of the space (so it is slightly larger). Three is that I can sound insulate the compressor more easily (Isotherm may offer this style as well, not sure.)

Both Isotherm and Vitrifrigo are well thought of in the boating community, so as brands I like them both; hence my preferences are about the form factor and I don't think you could go wrong with either. I have also heard good things about Nova Kool but have not been involved with one.

The one I'm going for is Vitrifrigo C130RBD4-F. This is "regular" or it comes in "steel." (There isn't anything really different, but just stainless steel trim on the latter. I prefer the regular -- you can still change the door panel to whatever you want). Vitrifrigo doesn't have "ASU" like Isotherm does, so that may be a factor. I like the form factor on the Vitrifrigo so will likely use the "keep a blue ice block in there" method of holding cool at night.

Vitrifrigo available at Sure Marine amongst other places (Defender, etc.). I'll link to it on Sure's site since I like the way they show them, and they also carry Nova Kool in case you want to look for comparison. The C130BD4-F is shown at minimum advertised $996 but their actual price is less. They estimated around $100 or so in shipping to AZ. They are a great, "real" shop in Seattle with not only refrigerators, stoves, etc. but all the parts and pieces (and expertise) a real person walking in in the middle of a project would need. I like that.

http://www.suremarineservice.com/C130RBD4-F.aspx

Defender might be better for you in a more easterly location and they are good too (but not as much of a dedicated refrigeration/heating type place as Sure) (not that that should matter in this case).

http://www.suremarineservice.com/refrigeration.aspx

In case others start to think about refrigerators while reading, Vitrifrigo (and I believe Isotherm) also make some really nice drawer refrigerators. They could be nice in a location where the refrigerator is really close to the floor (vs. bending over to get in the door).

Lastly, there is a company that makes super-insulated, custom sized refrigerators for boats (or vans ). I'm sure they are not cheap, but the people I've spoken with who have them, love them.

http://www.seafrost.com/

Lastly, please decide, order, and install before I do mine so I can try to copy all your cool ideas
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Old 05-27-2015, 09:08 PM   #6
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Re: isotherm refrigerator Vs norcold refrigerator ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LenS
Isotherm CR-130 Standard refrigerator: 1.2amps --- 14.4watts!! for 43F inside and 72F outside.

Norcold 4E DE-0041 2.8amps --- 33.6watts (I think, Norcold does not provide details like Isotherm).

The above amps and watts should be average power draw.

West Marine for comparison: Isotherm CR-130 $1,349.99 Norcold 4E DE-0041 $999.99
Sorry but you're looking at old info off the Norcold site. The 4E pulls a whopping 6 amps now @ 12vDC. SMB tested several, two of which were installed in my van. I was told all the other Sportsmobile sites are seeing the same. According to SMB, Norcold finally admitted they have installed a new improved compressor. Both the small and larger unit (like I have) now pull more than double the amps when cycled on than previous year models. Of course that doesn't mean much if the new compressor takes half the time to reach a desired temp compared to the older model. It's amp hours that matter and what they use to reach a specific setting. Still I was very upset being I talked with them and they claimed no changes were made. I have not taken the time to see what the total AH of the new unit actually pulls.
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Old 05-27-2015, 09:37 PM   #7
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Re: isotherm refrigerator Vs norcold refrigerator ?

Along those lines, I was told by someone whom I think would know (although I have not checked for myself since it wasn't in the running for me) that some Norcolds no longer (or never?) used the Danfoss compressor. Of course other compressors could be just dandy, but the Danfoss is a known quantity. I'm hedging slightly in case I have this wrong, but at least it's something to look into: What compressor does a unit use?

I would be really annoyed at that power consumption discrepancy (even if it "evens out" in the duty cycle). It's not hard to update specs on the Internet - come on people. I also wonder if it really would run half as long, because that seems like it would make for big temperature swings? Either that or on and off very often.
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Old 05-27-2015, 11:54 PM   #8
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Re: isotherm refrigerator Vs norcold refrigerator ?

They sure didn't improve on the insulation. Seems like I have to run it at 3.5 where the older one did the same at 3 (and it hasn't even hit 90* outside yet). Again that might not mean anything. It does sounds different. Sometimes it's dead quiet when running and other times it makes a swishing sound. Not that it bothers me when running but I can't help looking at that volt/amp gauge every time it cycles
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Old 05-28-2015, 09:24 AM   #9
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Re: isotherm refrigerator Vs norcold refrigerator ?

Is the Isotherm a drop in install or is the exterior size different?
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Old 05-28-2015, 01:49 PM   #10
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Re: isotherm refrigerator Vs norcold refrigerator ?

the IsoTherm 130 is pretty close to a drop in replacement for the Norcold 0041 (SMB 4E)
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