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Old 03-18-2011, 03:40 PM   #1
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Compact Home Refrigerator or RV Refrigerator?

So I have a 24" 1977 Airstream Argosy. Refrigerator died and right now I don't have the $$ to replace with a new 3 way unit which is my goal. I was wanting opinions on using a home compact type unit for a season or two. We probably won't use the trailer more than 3 times a year for the next few years so I was just wanting to get buy with a much less expensive unit. I planned to make a frame that would hold the unit without modifying the overall area so a RV unit could be easily installed later.

I know that the Manufacturers often state not to be used in an RV but I see folks online doing exactly that. Opinions? Any advice would be very much appreciated.

Thanks,

M
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Old 03-18-2011, 03:47 PM   #2
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I suspect folks are going to want to know what caused your current fridge to croak! (I'm one of them.)

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Old 03-18-2011, 04:00 PM   #3
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The Dometic / Norcolds are expensive, complicated in some ways but good. We bought a Magic Chef 10,0 Cu Ft in SS for our 31' 1973. I only lasted 2+ years and was plugged in maybe 3 - 4 months of that 2+ years. I'm now going to buy a Whirlpool 10.0 cu ft from Lowes and buy an extended warranty. One of the challenges is installing the replacement as well as the Dometic was installed. The original could not move and was made to be fastened into a trailer. Fasten it top and bottom so it cannot move. I believe too much motion / shaking caused the Magic Chef to quit too soon. Plus a Magic Chef is a cheap / throw away fridge...( Magic Chef disagrees )Thats my story and I'm stickn' to it....JC
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Old 03-18-2011, 04:01 PM   #4
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Fridges don't necessarily last forever. 33+ years isn't a bad run. Rust never sleeps.

It's not unusual to see "dorm fridge" units installed in older Rvs. There are several things to be aware of however.

1) Few of the compact fridges have a useful freezer section.

2) Obviously it's not going to work without shore power. A fact to consider is that the fridge will defrost when you don't have power (these aren't frostless units) and the water will go somewhere. Think about your travel situation, whether you have power in the location where you store your trailer, and when and how you're going to load food.

3) There have been reports that these things don't hold up well to the rigors of travel and so you have to be prepared for the possibility of an early failure. I haven't seen any failures firsthand but I would guess that this has a lot to do with the compressor bouncing around and causing metal fatigue on the refrigerant lines, leading to breakage.

4) You will not have the rails present in modern rv fridges to keep the food more or less in place during motion.

Everyone's situation is different. You might also consider one of the 12v thermoelectric coolers (Koolatron and similar). Ice chests work too.
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Old 03-18-2011, 04:03 PM   #5
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M, I have a GE under counter fridge in my argosy and it works just fine. We will plug up the trailer about 2 days before camping and after unpluggibg for the trip, things have stayed cold in there for up tp three hours-food going in is always cold or frozen. hope this helps.
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Old 03-18-2011, 07:57 PM   #6
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Are you sure it's dead or just unconcious?

Can you explain what happened when your refer died? It may be easily repaired. Do you know if it has failed in both the gas and electric mode?
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Old 03-18-2011, 09:43 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by TG Twinkie
Can you explain what happened when your refer died? It may be easily repaired. Do you know if it has failed in both the gas and electric mode?
Last September I had service work done on the trailer (I installed new stove top) and had the stoves hooked up by a professional tech. I also had him look at the Refer, the elec heating unit had completely shorted out. Gas still worked however he thought that the refer might have been run in the past without being level. As he suspected the unit failed to completely cool during a 10 day trip in October. And there was a great deal of moisture buildup inside the refer to boot.

In addition the previous owner had not stored with refer door open. Even after a deep cleaning with bleach mold continued to appear.

It was just time to replace it.
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Old 03-18-2011, 11:34 PM   #8
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Advice

If your looking for advice and money is your concern, save your money, and use a cooler. Apply the money towards the right fridge. Pick up a couple side jobs, its worth getting what you want in the end rather then get by with temporary solutions. If you buy a regular fridge your going to have to strap it down or possibly modify your space. Since you will have to unload and load the fridge between travels anyways, why not just use a cooler? I'm just saying. . .

Good luck.
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Old 03-19-2011, 12:52 AM   #9
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I think if I end up finding a trailer with a dead fridge or have a fridge the eventually dies, I'll probably go for a marine fridge with a Danfoss compressor that runs on 12V. They're not as silent as an ammonia absorption unit, but are great for solar boondocking and good for anytime you have an electrical hookup. My impression is that they don't cost any more than an absorption fridge.
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Old 03-19-2011, 09:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKB_SATX View Post
I think if I end up finding a trailer with a dead fridge or have a fridge the eventually dies, I'll probably go for a marine fridge with a Danfoss compressor that runs on 12V. They're not as silent as an ammonia absorption unit, but are great for solar boondocking and good for anytime you have an electrical hookup. My impression is that they don't cost any more than an absorption fridge.
Actually, they cost significantly LESS!

Very low amp draw, excellent cooling/freezing (no more RV soft-serve ice cream ) and are built to take a eating and can run 30* off level. They sure have my vote!
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Old 03-19-2011, 10:54 AM   #11
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We have an older 110 ac dorm fridge and it works fine for us. I say do it. Then go camping. If it burns put in a couple years get another or go RV. These refers are cheap. When mounting, just pop rivet some brackets on it and screw them to the floor. Use steel pop rivets.

Have fun!

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Old 03-19-2011, 11:13 AM   #12
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I know this may sound crazy, but if the ref has not lost it's amonia gas charge, completely disconnect the ref, take it out and turn it upside-down and let sit for 24 hrs. After 24 hrs., turn right-side up and hook it up and see if it works. I have talked to a number of people that swear they have done this and ref has come back to life. It's at least worth a try. Good luck.
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Old 03-19-2011, 01:08 PM   #13
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I put a Kenmore compact refrigerator in. Dimensions were almost the same...I had to elevate it about one inch and used that brace as the attach to the floor Then I took some SO .040 and hand formed it to the curved door edges. Then, for the "Airstream" of it...I used Olympics (way more than needed) around the edges to give it the appropriate look. The SO polished up too.
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Old 03-19-2011, 03:15 PM   #14
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I would save your cash and buy the proper rv fridge. Reason being. The compressor will always kick in on a home unit and possibly drive you nuts from the vibration. Your in an enclosed space with a compressor running so you will probably hear it. I ran into this problem and had to modify the fridge to keep the vibration down. I had to wear ear plugs to sleep . If your a heavy sleeper no worries i guess.
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