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Old 10-10-2007, 02:39 PM   #1
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Refrigerators

OK, rather than hijack the Dynamat thread, I’ll start a new on refrigerators. Kzemach wrote on 10/08 that he wasn’t too thrilled on the quality of the Norcold unit. Before I buy, can someone enlighten me on the subject? I’m looking specifically about the 3cu ft model (Assume it’s the Norcold DE-490) but please chime in about the 4 cu ft as well.

Sounds like most people feel it’s not well insulated (maybe not at all?). I have heard the compressor run time varies (with outside air temperature) anywhere from 50% to 65%. Adding insulation may bring that down to 25%.

Other than insulation, what are the problems? How does the door seal work or not? Latching problems? Compressor noise (see post from 6/4/07)? Has anyone needed to have their unit serviced or repaired?

Has anyone installed a different brand such as WAECO RSD-115. Looks to be the same rough-in dimensions but claims 3.8 cu ft and claims to be insulated. http://www.waecousa.com They also make remote compressors that look interesting. I.e. Build your own cold box.

John K recommended the Norcold 3 cu ft model over the 4 cu ft model simply because there wasn’t much bang for the buck, vs. the storage savings in the EB50 design.

… Charlie
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Old 10-10-2007, 04:30 PM   #2
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The 4cf Norcold has a true freezer. When you're packing specialty gluten free food, a lot of which is frozen, it makes a big difference. My 4cf is always packed to the gills, we drink a lot of soda and like our water cold however. Still I couldn't get by with the 3cf. Even the model I considered with double 3cfs really wouldn't have cut it. We had ice cream last time we camped... it probably wouldn't have fit in the 3cf freezer area for starters.

We've had to keep our on like 3.75 to keep stuff cold all over the fridge, but at the same time I've had a few eggs freeze on the top shelf on that setting. It seems to run a lot, but when I pulled it the back was clean and clear (I expected dirty coils to be part of the problem). I'm hoping insulation will allow me to run it lower and less, but who knows.

The 4cf also has plenty of ventalation people talk about having to make vents below the 3cf, the 4 has a built in grill at the bottom as well as the top... of course it also goes floor to counter.

Mine was also really loud, but it turns out the counter bracing is put in too tight and the fridge was pressed into the bolt pretty good. When it was out, sitting in the middle of the floor I could barely tell it was on. I'm looking forward to fixing that as well... ah quiet! It's tough when it runs all the time and vibrates the counter back to the sink.
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Old 10-10-2007, 08:05 PM   #3
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I don't see living with anything smaller than the 4cf unit even though I know a lot of people do. I keep it set around 3 during the day and 2 - 2.5 at night. I've never noticed an abnormally high cycle time. My only complaint, and it is a big complaint, is the noise. I went through a project to more firmly mount it to the counter (original mounting was pretty sad) hoping that would help. Didn't really make a difference. I was going to go through the "Badger" fix when I get time and see if that helps.
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Old 10-10-2007, 08:21 PM   #4
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pjpvi,

when i pulled mine there was an obvious dent on the lower right as you face it- there is an L shaped bracket that is the only thing supporting the wall behind the driver's seat at the bottom- the black cap covering the nut/bolt on the wall side is smashed flat from years of vibration and matches the dent. The refer is obviously shaking the whole counter.

you'll see all this when I get done and post my project of course

gist is there isn't enough clearance in the back, mine hits on the right (facing) and vibrates the counter, so I'm going to wallow out the bolt hole in the foot of the L and shift the L and wall outward. 1/4" ought to do it. I may tweek the L so it's not quite 90º, but I don't want to go too far because it needs to remain mostly flush against the wall.

There are also two front spacer boards, the left 1/4" think the right 1/8" I'll probably increase the right board to 1/4" once the wall is moved appropriately- not sure what the dynamat is going to do to the whole thing.

since my dynamat just shipped today it will be awhile before i post the project- that's why I wanted to give you all the spoilers.
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Old 10-10-2007, 08:45 PM   #5
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I don't recall that the bolt was hitting mine, but it is a very tight fit. The screws holding my fridge in barely hit the counter sides and really doing nothing to hold the unit in. I don't remember the exact dimensions, but seem to remember glueing and screwing two 1/8" spacer boards, then attaching 1/8" angle aluminum to then mount the fridge to. You can see from the pictures (coming soon to my album as I haven't spent the time to figure out how to insert them in a post) where the original screws just skimmed the cabinet side panels.

A little off the subject, you can see my DVD player that I mounted on the side panel above the fridge facing the sink. When I got my van, it was on the floor behind the driver seat. I now have a sub woofer there firing into the back of the driver seat.

I was thinking of Dynamat'ing the interior of the cabinet to help quiet the vibration. Please let me know how it works out.

Phil
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Old 10-11-2007, 09:27 AM   #6
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My feeling is that anyone who actually thinks their fridge works well doesn't know what they're missing. Yes, I added insulation to mine, and it helped. But the basic problem is that I feel the Norcold is just pretty poor quality to begin with; not sure there ARE any other options. But let me explain:

My family used to do a lot of river rafting, and my brother and his family still do. On his recent trip down the grand canyon, he reported to me that "Ken, you would not believe how much ice chests have improved in the last few years." He went on to explain that they still had ice in their ice chests after SEVENTEEN DAYS on the river. Yes, the ice chests start out completely full of food which is super cold with the intersticies filled with ice. Yes, that is a large thermal mass as opposed to simply cold air. But once they get on the river, they're opening it, quickly, at least three times/day to get food out, and ambient temp is usually over 90F. SEVENTEEN DAYS of ice!

If I turn my Norcold off, it can't keep ice in it for 17 hours. Of course, why should they make it better? What do they care that you have to have it plugged in and running all the time? Since there's nothing to compare it to, you're none the wiser. Face it: if the Norcold had the right insulation, similar to what the high-end ice chests have, half the people on this forum who have solar panels wouldn't actually need them. THAT is a huge extra cost. It's the only reason I'm going to have to get them, as I don't park stationary for more than a day or two.

I am thoroughly convinced that the insulation quality of this fridge is marginal at best. Other than doing the "Badger Job" on the extra insulation around it, there's not much one can do. Therefor, my post is simply an annoyed whine about the sorry state of affairs.

My door seal, however, seems to work fine.
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Old 10-11-2007, 11:01 AM   #7
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Just a quick reply here:
I have 2 3cu fridges, one of which is dedicated to ice cold beverage storage. I've frozen a few sodas in it, and the glass bottle cokes I keep in it usually have ice crystals in it.

The 3cu does have a freezer section, and in the beverage fridge I have a glass bottle that FITS PERFECT which I keep vodka in.

The other fridge is for food storage, and I've frozen a 2 lb porterhouse (on accident) in it. I keep ice cream bars in it's freezer section, plus ice cube trays.

Is it loud? Not more than the other various other pumps/fans/devices I have in the van. I really thought the noise would bother me, but compared to when the diesel is running, nothing in the van is loud now .

I did get extra battery capacity, and the van is plugged in when not being driven (until I get solar) so I planned for the electrical usage. Someday when I see a good walk-through (hint hint) I do want to wrap it just to make it more efficient.

The only negative I have to say about the fridges is the latch could be a lot stronger for a 4x4 vehicle. I've had to brace the door and will be adding a strap or something for when I'm wheelin'.
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Old 10-11-2007, 11:41 AM   #8
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Buji-

You're keeping the fridges turned on to keep them cold though, right? Do you ever turn them off during the day when you're not driving? That's when I find out how poor my insulation is... I can freeze stuff for sure, but it's sucking power like a hoover.

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Old 10-11-2007, 01:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buji
Just a quick reply here:
I have 2 3cu fridges, one of which is dedicated to ice cold beverage storage. I've frozen a few sodas in it, and the glass bottle cokes I keep in it usually have ice crystals in it.

The 3cu does have a freezer section, and in the beverage fridge I have a glass bottle that FITS PERFECT which I keep vodka in.

The other fridge is for food storage, and I've frozen a 2 lb porterhouse (on accident) in it. I keep ice cream bars in it's freezer section, plus ice cube trays.

Is it loud? Not more than the other various other pumps/fans/devices I have in the van. I really thought the noise would bother me, but compared to when the diesel is running, nothing in the van is loud now .

I did get extra battery capacity, and the van is plugged in when not being driven (until I get solar) so I planned for the electrical usage. Someday when I see a good walk-through (hint hint) I do want to wrap it just to make it more efficient.

The only negative I have to say about the fridges is the latch could be a lot stronger for a 4x4 vehicle. I've had to brace the door and will be adding a strap or something for when I'm wheelin'.
Buji,

I'll try to take a pic of the child resistant strap I installed on my fridge (& microwave). It's there for a different reason than you need, but would serve your purpose well. Now whether it will challenge you when you're trying to get that bottle of vodka out of the freezer I can't say...


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Old 10-11-2007, 01:59 PM   #10
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may i suggest the engel? not upright but ice chest only..., IMHO, one of the best coolers out there
http://www.expeditionportal.com/equipme ... /index.php
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