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Old 12-12-2013, 08:40 AM   #1
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compressor fridge. low temp performance

After low temps (30° f) here in SoCal I noticed my ice in my Dometic cf -18 was a little melty. Do I have to turn up the cooler control to get it colder in spite of low temps? I know an rv absorption fridge heats the chemicals to produce coolness. Does a compressor fridge do the same? . I would have thought my ice would be much harder.
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:21 AM   #2
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Re: compressor fridge. low temp performance

A compressor fridge does not use heat, rather it compresses the coolant then it cools as it expands after going through a restriction. All fridges in our homes work like this. We find that our Norcold compressor fridge setting depends on the outside (and inside) temperature. The setting also depends on how much food is in the fridge. I suggest you get a digital thermometer with a wireless remote so you can keep an eye on the temps and adjust the setting as needed. We often need to keep the temperature turned to the coldest setting. It is counter-intuitive but you may have to turn it to a colder setting in cold weather.

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Old 12-12-2013, 10:26 AM   #3
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Re: compressor fridge. low temp performance

Funny, isn't it? We have experienced this phenomenon primarily in the Winter when the van is at freezing or below freezing temps, and found the following informative:

"Why won’t the freezer in my garage refrigerator freeze?
. . .
There’s nothing wrong with your refrigerator, the problem lies with your refrigerator being outside and the outside air temperature. Refrigerators are designed to work inside a home where air temperatures are around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The thermostat, located in the refrigerator part of the appliance, senses when the temperature rises above the set level and turns on the compressor causing the freezer to cool and pushing the cold air produced in the freezer part into the refrigerator part.

For a refrigerator located in the garage, where the air temperature gets much colder, the thermostat does not sense a rise in outside air temperature and therefore, never kicks the compressor on. Because the compressor does not come on, cold air is never produced in the freezer. The temperature in your freezer rises and begins to thaw out all your frozen foods. Not good.

To get around this, install a garage refrigerator kit. The kit gets installed . . ."

See:

https://applianceparts.wordpress.com/20 ... or-freeze/

The part below is off topic for the van, but right on for our garage refrigerator. It is excerpted from the comments in the link above:

Jervil | November 25, 2010 at 2:38 pm. “I live in MN. My garage temp dips to a few degrees below freezing in the winter months. Run an extension cord to the inside of the refrigerator and plug in one or two small (7 Watt) night lights. The heat from the night lights will force the refrigerator to see a need to kick on several times a day. Since the temp sensor for the freezer and refrigerator is located in the above freezing portion of the box (The refrigerator not the freezer) the entire unit will stay at the same temps you experienced through out the summer months. This has worked for 6 years.”

RobH | February 7, 2011 at 6:25 pm. “Jervil got it right for fridge/freezers in a cold garage problem. All you need is a small heat source inside the refrigerator near the temperature sensor. I have a small upright lamp with a 7 watt bulb on the top shelf of a Kenmore side-by-side fridge and that solved the problem. You need to have a heat source in the refrigerator side, since that is where the temp sensor is. The freezer doesn’t have one. The heat source has to stay in there until temperatures stay above 45 F. When temps are below 40 F, the refrigerator never warms up enough to signal the compressor to come on unless there is an inside heat source. I put sensors inside both compartments and outside the fridge (I work in a DOE lab). The heat source inside the refrigerator does not affect anything below the top shelf. The freezer has stayed between -5F and 10F all winter.”
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:05 AM   #4
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Re: compressor fridge. low temp performance

Thanks E350! Good info.


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Old 12-12-2013, 11:48 AM   #5
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Re: compressor fridge. low temp performance

So your saying that it is the thermostat telling the fridge it is cold enough and does not need to run?
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Old 12-12-2013, 12:16 PM   #6
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Re: compressor fridge. low temp performance

That was the conclusion we came to after switching out our garage refrigerator, only to find that the newer and better one had the same problem (i.e., the freezer in the refrigerator wouldn't keep things frozen in the Winter).

By posting your question, what you helped me learn today was where to put the electric heat. In our garage side-by-side fridge, the DOE guy says put the lightbulb inside the refrigerator on the top shelf. So I owe you a "thanks" for that, because we were going to try a dog bed heater on the outside back of the refrigerator.

As far as your van fridge goes, I must tell you that I have never had this problem happen on my Engel chest freezer. You can just turn up the thermostat to "5" and it will just run continually, sucking 3 - 4 amps (I don't believe that in the real world there is anything less than a 100% duty cycle for fridges) and it will keep things frozen until the house battery completely drains.

I have no experience with any other van fridges.
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