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Old 02-02-2016, 08:53 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
Actually, that's a myth. Salt water DOES have a lower freezing point that fresh water, but everything in your freezer reaches the same temperature, based on the thermostat setting. If your freezer is set to 0F, then saltwater ice in the freezer reaches 0F, and freshwater ice in the freezer also reaches 0F. And so does your vodka, your frozen meats, etc.

The important thing to remember is, keep the freezer as full of something as you can, consistent with allowing air flow around everything. Six pounds of frozen anything takes longer to thaw than one pound of frozen anything. Anyone who has ever tried to thaw a frozen turkey at Thanksgiving knows that. So if you don't have enough frozen food to fill the freezer, then use blue ice packs, ice, saltwater ice, vodka, whatever, to make up the difference.
The manual that came with my Yeti cooler recommended using crumpled newspaper to reduce the air volume. We loosely packed it in plastic bags. It works in the Yeti, and should in the refer.

In the AS, we use a small battery powered fan to move air around and keep the temp even.
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Old 02-02-2016, 09:35 AM   #30
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I've tried to find evidence of actual problems and came up empty.

The closest I came was a hydrogen fire from a defective fridge while someone was under way in a motorhome. While turning off the propane would have prevented a fire in that particular place and time, it likely would have just postponed it until parked somewhere -- not any safer. No one was hurt.

Even accidents while refuelling don't seem to occur. The all-causes fires at gasoline pumps are in the single digits to low teens nationwide each year, with static electricity being blamed for most of them and cigarette smoking for most of the rest.

Actually, the 'stories ' of hydrogen fueled fires in an RV are not accurate. I was directly involved in a Norcold fridge fire that totaled the coach it was in. It had their 'recall kit' in it that I installed, along with about 200 others several years ago.

The owners insurance company insisted that I was liable as they insisted that the recall kit, consisting of a heat sensor at the boiler section and a 12 VDC disconnect was not properly installed, as they were designed to mitigate a fire.

Only problem was the recall kit was designed to remove 12 VDC from the control board, thus automatically closing the LP valve at the fridge and removing the heat source.

This is NOT EFFECTIVE when plugged into shore power and the fridge is operating on 120VAC, as the heating elements require quite a bit of time to cool from their operating temperature of approx. 600 degrees F. It does shut down from the recall kit, but try placing your hand on a hot burner from an electric range just after you turn it off.

This fiasco continued to a formal inquiry where I was absolved of any liability. There were 3 paid fire inspectors present at this inquiry, along with my attorney and myself.

I was told by the Norcold rep that in situations like this, a small pinhole leak that generally forms in the ammonia circuit is responsible for spewing very hot, pressurized ammonia into the boiler section of the fridge and it is the ammonia that he described as being in a 'plasma state' was responsible for the fire.

All of the hydrogen (and there is actually very little of it in a gas/absorption fridge) leaves the unit via a low temperature mechanical device called a 'fuse' that is placed higher up in the cooling unit.

In short, it's the super heated ammonia, not the hydrogen that fuels the fridge fires.


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Old 02-02-2016, 10:09 AM   #31
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You clearly had experts looking at this, but as a one-time chemistry major, I'm still curious about the burning ammonia. A quick google search turned this up:

"Ammonia is a nonflammable gas but will ignite at a temperature of 1204F within vapor concentration limits between 15% and 28%".

Seems like it would take the propane flame to ignite the ammonia. Could it be that it all happens too fast for their shut off to work? The reason that I ask, is I always thought it would be safer to operate it on electric then gas, in light of these fridge fires. Not trying to argue, just trying to resolve a puzzle.

We always hear how we live in a litigious society. It has got to be tough on a business operator. My sympathies that you had to have this experience.
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Old 02-02-2016, 04:38 PM   #32
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Thanks Siegmann! That and $8000 to the attorney!!!!! Norcold left me hanging in the breeze on that one. That event is the reason I no longer touch RV refrigeration. In fact, nothing LP related either. Just too much exposure!!

The Norcold guy, who said that they have had 'hundreds' of similar fires, basically agrees with your findings as he stressed 'super heated' ammonia.

Live and learn!!

Be careful out there ............


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Old 02-02-2016, 04:49 PM   #33
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Lew, now I understand your liking Danfoss-style refrigeration systems. Thoughts to ponder.


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Old 02-02-2016, 06:07 PM   #34
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If I were concerned about the propane fridge catching on fire, I would be more concerned about running it while sleeping than driving. I say use propane on the road and never when sleeping while boondocking.
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Old 02-02-2016, 06:36 PM   #35
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I'm surprised some people don't use it traveling. It's among the basic conveniences of our Airstream and any risk, especially of injury seems extremely small to me. It is after all designed to operate on propane while moving, and does work very well.
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Old 02-02-2016, 07:05 PM   #36
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Lew, now I understand your liking Danfoss-style refrigeration systems. Thoughts to ponder.


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Actually, my 'fixation' with Marine compressor fridges started long before Norcold decided that their units required a safety recall. After you work on a hundred or so gas/absorption units and start to catalog the operational complaints from the owners, it clearly points the way toward a better product that is not dependent on 120 year old technology.

Like anything else in our 'modern' world, it becomes strictly an issue of money. Despite all of the fires that Norcold is responsible for, especially considering those that still occur with their 'recall kit', one would think that they would re-design the offending area and upgrade it to eliminate the possibility of an ammonia blowout in the tubing.

When I posed that exact question to the fire inspector that was representing Norcold at my inquest, he actually told me (off the record, of course!) that they felt it was more cost effective to simply settle the fires on a case-by case basis rather than putting money onto the design, testing and production of a safer product!

THAT….as the saying goes…….was the icing on the cake for me!!!
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Old 02-03-2016, 12:36 AM   #37
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Yup. That's getting to be the attitude all too often. Safety issues being treated as a business expense item.

My first conversion was a van I did myself. Had a danfoss style fridge in it.


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Old 02-03-2016, 08:02 PM   #38
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I'm surprised some people don't use it traveling. It's among the basic conveniences of our Airstream and any risk, especially of injury seems extremely small to me. It is after all designed to operate on propane while moving, and does work very well.
We never drive with the propane on-- and I repeat myself only so that newbies don't have to feel it's essential if they're uncomfortable about it. If y'all want to drive with the propane on, hey-- it's your call. Driving with it off is our call.

Re-freezing freezer pacs (or plastic water bottles, as some have suggested,) when you're stationary is a very, very minor routine.

When we bought our first AS in 2007 (from Can-Am in Ontario,) our salesman told us that most people drove with the fridge on, but that it was a good idea to turn it off-- just in case we were in an accident. (Not as an issue during normal travel.)

Nobody expects to get into an accident. But we did in 2014, and our AS was a write-off. Since the propane was shut off, it's hard to say what would have happened with it on, but at least during the instant when we scrambled out of the truck after impact, it wasn't something we had to worry about-- with an elderly driver still in her flipped car, and a swaying snapped-off utility pole with live wires above our heads.

We came very close to another accident a few years before that, when a moose ran right in front of our truck on a narrow 2-lane highway, en route to Glacier NP. Although we were doing about 60 mph, we could brake somewhat and pull into the opposite lane, when the moose suddenly decided to turn straight and then veer off the road. Equally thankfully, there was no oncoming traffic.

For any city folk who haven't encountered a moose in the wild at close quarters, they're the size of a horse. If you hit one at a high speed, they do tend to crash through your windshield. This happened to an acquaintance of ours. At a time like this, you don't want to worry about your propane.

I could imagine other reasons for cutting back on propane use as a conservation measure, but really it has more to do with the rare but possible chance of a traffic accident.

So to each his/her own.
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