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Old 02-13-2016, 09:52 AM   #1
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Have a residential refrigerator? What brand and why?

We gutted the interior of our trailer and will soon be starting reconstruction. We made the decision to replace the old Dometic with a residential fridge in the 9 to 10 cu. ft. size range. Our difficulty stems from the fact that very few of the vendors who sell them put them on the sales floor, and when they do, are never plugged in. Online reviews for this size of refrigerator are either very high or very low. Biggest complaints are level of noise made by these units, quit working in less than 2 years and terrible customer service by the manufacturers. For those who have a residential fridge, which brand did you choose and how satisfied are you with its noise level and performance?
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Old 02-13-2016, 10:12 AM   #2
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Be sure that any residential refrigerator you put in has coils on the back for heat dissipation. Many of the small refrigerators use the side and top skins of the unit to get rid of the heat, and when put into an enclosure will not work properly. If you read the instruction manual for them they are designed for "free standing use only".
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Old 02-13-2016, 03:11 PM   #3
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We'll see if it's possible to access owner's manuals online, then. When looking at them on vendor websites, they often don't picture the back. I don't think many residential refrigerators come with open coils on the back anymore. Many of the bad consumer reviews we've seen are from homeowners who put these smaller refrigerators in a bar area, basement or small kitchen. They don't always specify if it's enclosed. However, we've seen some reviews from RVers who are happy with them.
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Old 02-14-2016, 12:17 AM   #4
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From what I have seen when I snoop around appliance stores, you are correct, not many smaller refrigerators have coils on the back. That means they are probably on the side and top skins, which are then used for heat disposal. I have not seen any small residential refrigerators with fan forced cooling, which is common on the larger residential units.

For a while Sears had a nice small refrigerator with coils on the back, but I don't know if it is still available.

I think you are going to have to physically look at any one you consider buying to be sure how it dissipates the heat. I am not too sure that even an online manual will be clear as to how it must be used, that is if it can be built in or if it must be freestanding with space on the sides.

BTW, noise from the compressor could easily be caused by it being overworked due to not being able to dissipate heat (due to mounting and enclosure).
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Old 02-14-2016, 09:18 AM   #5
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On most modern residential refers the "condenser" coil is located under the refer. A fan is required to dissipate the heat. Where as with the condenser on the back the heat is dissipated by convection, natural air flow. Many residential refers fail because no one cleans the dust a crap from the condenser coils whereby they plug up, overworking the unit.
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Old 02-14-2016, 09:45 AM   #6
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Heat dissipation aside, I'd be concerned that those "apartment or dorm room style" fridges are not built to withstand the rigors of bouncing down the road. They are cheaply made to hit a pretty low price point. Not to mention that since they run on AC only, you will need to run an inverter all the time which will put a strain on your batteries. This might be an OK solution for a trailer that rarely moves and that has AC power available all the time but for a moving camper, and one that does not always have AC hookups, I'm not so sure you would be pleased. You might want to look at 12 volt DC marine fridges using a Danfoss compressor such as those made by Vitrifrigo or Webasto (there are others.)
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Old 02-14-2016, 01:30 PM   #7
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I was able to get an Igloo 10 cu. ft. on sale at Best Buy for $200. So when my old Dometic crapped out, it was a no-brainer. I used all that spare change rattling around in my pocket to upgrade the inverter and install a pair of T-105s.

I have a pair of muffin fans blasting air at the back, up the flue from the old fridge. Fridge works fine, but I find that I need to defrost the freezer more than with the Dometic. The readings on my digital thermometer always makes me smile...
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Old 02-14-2016, 02:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starstream View Post
We gutted the interior of our trailer and will soon be starting reconstruction. We made the decision to replace the old Dometic with a residential fridge in the 9 to 10 cu. ft. size range. Our difficulty stems from the fact that very few of the vendors who sell them put them on the sales floor, and when they do, are never plugged in. Online reviews for this size of refrigerator are either very high or very low. Biggest complaints are level of noise made by these units, quit working in less than 2 years and terrible customer service by the manufacturers. For those who have a residential fridge, which brand did you choose and how satisfied are you with its noise level and performance?
Keep in mind, that products are made for certain uses.

A household Reefer is fine, BUT, they are not designed to take highway bumps and bruises. They are designed to be parked on a floor and not move except for cleaning for many many years.

RV Reefers on the other hand are designed to take the bumps, as well as work when traveling.

However, it's your choice as always.

Andy
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Old 02-15-2016, 07:44 AM   #9
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Ventilation, power supply and a cushioned ride have already been factored into the plans for a residential refrigerator, if we choose one. The wife just has an issue with appliance shopping in general. It's been our experience that there is just no such thing as a good value anymore. We have 2 appliances in our house that are more than 15 yrs. old. One is the clothes dryer and the other a small chest freezer. Everything else has been replaced at least once and in some cases 3 times. Sad to say, most of these were brand names. RV refrigerators aren't without their issues either, so it seems kind of like a "Darned if you do, darned if you don't" kind of choice. Big sigh...

Just so you all know, we appreciate your opinions and thank you for taking the time to leave a response.
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Old 02-15-2016, 08:11 AM   #10
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Residential fridges are......as the name implies........are MADE FOR RESIDENTIAL USE!!! The RV industry is using more of them in larger motorhomes and 5th wheels to get away from the horrid performance and incendiary risks associated with gas/absorption units, but many issues exist, not the least of which is durability and off-level operation.

In addition to requiring a continual source of 120VAC for power to the compressor, wait until you have an issue that requires repair of the unit. You will find that no one will accept the job!! I have seen this time and again in trying to get large motorhome units repaired.

No regular appliance techs will touch a unit 'in an RV'. And RV dealers don't have the trained techs to address repair situations.

The best solution is a marine unit with a Danfoss compressor. Runs on 12VDC, easily serviceable by any marine dealer ( who will not balk at the unit being in an RV), and built to take a pounding AND work up to 30 degrees off-level.


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Old 02-15-2016, 08:14 AM   #11
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Have a residential refrigerator? What brand and why?

I bought a Haier 10 cuft fridge off the floor at Lowe's.

So far so good at well over a year in. It cools very well and is attractive enough inside and out.

It draws about one amp A/C when the compressor is running, which is about 10 or 11 amps 12V DC via my inverter.

My tow vehicle runs the fridge and charges my batteries at the same time without issue.
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This is the best picture I have of it in my phone....

Sadly, the trend for appliances is about a five year lifespan these days, when the Haier breaks, I will just replace it with another....

The freezer is "frost free" and has thus far been trouble free.

Brevi tempore!
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