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Old 07-12-2010, 08:26 PM   #1
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how can I get a RV fridge to cool in 100 degrees F?

I bought a new Norcold to replace the old Dometic. Now I can't get the thing to stay cold during the day (ambient temp in the shade is running 100 - 106 degrees F). Is it even possible? I can get the fridge to 32 and the freezer to 0 on setting 5 out of 9 over night. But by 5:00 p.m., it's 80 in the fridge and 32 in the freezer. I'm thinking of rigging fans (I emailed stu snyder about his cooler and it doesn't look like it will work on my Norcold in my trailer). So here's what I'm thinking (again, if its even possible to keep it cold when it is hot outside): Build a bank of 4, 90mm computer fans blowing up behind the fridge, and attach a temperature controller to turn the fans on when the temp at the top of the compartment reaches 80 (anyone know a good source for a 12v DC cooling thermostat (temp control)? Any hope? (the vent on this trailer is space between the inside and outside skin of the trailer along a rib with a baffled vent at the top of the trailer, so the hot air has to run up this rib space in the wall in order to vent. I just cut the hole larger, to 9.5" by 2", and it is above the condenser -- previously it was only a 2" diameter hole in the side of the trailer wall)
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Old 07-12-2010, 08:42 PM   #2
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The factory vent "chimney" on both our '65 Caravel and our '83 Excella is much larger than what you describe. Fans may help, but a larger vent with the outlet at the top of your trailer to allow a larger volume of air should certainly cure your problem. I have seen some of the later Airstreams, which do not have such a "chimney", have some problems in hotter weather.
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Old 07-12-2010, 09:14 PM   #3
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If you read the installation instructions that came with your new fridge, it will contain some very specific details about the design of the rear baffle in your fridge enclosure. It's very possible that your fridge enclosure does not fit the requirements (many don't).

These baffles are designed by the fridge manufacturers to create a venturi effect that draws cooler air from the lower opening and passes it over the condenser fins at the top of the fridge, exhausting the warm air from the top fridge vent. This steam of cooler air is essential for keeping the condenser from overheating, which will drastically diminish your fridge performance.

Also, direct sun on the fridge side of the trailer, especially in high ambient heat, will overheat the condenser as well.

The best thing to do is install a cooling fan(s) blowing upward to keep the condenser cooler in the heat of the day. You can use a free-standing fan at the base of the fridge (in the back) or install a couple of computer fans right below the condenser fins. 120VAC or 12VDC ...your choice.

I've done this modification many times for clients and it works well! Some folks put the computer fans right underneath the roof vent (if you have one), which works well also.
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Old 07-13-2010, 11:40 PM   #4
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Thanks Jim and Lew. I did carefully follow the instructions and put baffles in the right places. I am instead going to install a solid metal box baffle so there is no space for air to sit between the two baffles in the "curved" part of the airstream. Then I am going to put a bank of fans at the bottom blowing up and another bank blowing upward by the condenser. The only other option if this fails is to cut a bigger hole into the roof of the trailer.
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Old 07-14-2010, 07:00 AM   #5
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You can install a "thermodisk" thermostat in the upper vent to turn your fans on and off.. These are the disk type switches used in appliances and some furnaces available in different on/ off temp settings.
Use computer fans or something similiar. Don't waste your money on the fan sold by camping world, it is too small and the pilot light in the switch actually consumed more power than the fan itself.
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Old 07-14-2010, 07:15 AM   #6
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btw, if you use computer fans, you can buy a controller from the place you buy the fans.I have been very happy with these guys over several years and computer builds.
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Old 07-14-2010, 07:38 AM   #7
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Add a bag of ice to one of the 'vegetable drawers' in the bottom of the fridge and get one of those little fridge fans that circulates the cold air inside the fridge (they run on 2 D cell batteries and cost about $8. We do this and use one computer fan blowing up across the coils toward the chimney and it seems to do the trick.
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Old 07-14-2010, 08:40 AM   #8
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Have you looked at the top venting? My 1964 Avion had a screen at the top just before the top caps. After 46 years of use the screen looked like a piece of felt, allowing very little air movement out of the heat duct.
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Old 07-14-2010, 03:56 PM   #9
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If your trailer is like mine, a 1961 Safari, the 2 inch hole that vents into the space between the inner and outer skins was designed only for the combustion air when running the fridge on gas. On mine, the space between the inner and outer skins is only about 4 inches wide between ribs. The rest of the shell is insulated with fiberglass and would not provide any additional ventilation by making the 2 inch hole wider. There should be a "hood" over this hole to direct the combustion gas from propane operation. It was not designed, at least in mine, to vent heat from the coils. On mine, the air for circulation for the coils starts at floor level at the bottom front of the fridge and exits above the fridge and into the living space. If you have modified the combustion air vent (if that is what you have) be very careful about the possibility of venting CO into the living space.
Some photos would be of help to us all in assisting you.
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Old 07-14-2010, 04:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nmeyer View Post
Thanks Jim and Lew. I did carefully follow the instructions and put baffles in the right places. I am instead going to install a solid metal box baffle so there is no space for air to sit between the two baffles in the "curved" part of the airstream. Then I am going to put a bank of fans at the bottom blowing up and another bank blowing upward by the condenser. The only other option if this fails is to cut a bigger hole into the roof of the trailer.
When locating your fans, just remember, that air is much easier to pull or draw than to push. Fans drawing the air up the vent space will do a far better job than fans pushing air from the bottom.

Does a vent fan in the roof of your trailer blowing outward ring a bell? It will draw air in your open rear window.

It's physics thing.
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Old 07-18-2010, 12:15 AM   #11
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Sam, I think my situation is like your safari. And the old Dometic did circulate from front bottom and up out into the inside of the trailer. But the new NorCold is a solid box, all the way to floor and is designed to be cooled with air flowing up the back around the coils/condenser, and then out of the trailer completely. It's sounding like a new hole in the roof is going to be required. Doesn't sound like a fan bank mounted over the new 9.5 x 2.5" hole will do much good pulling air into that rib space and pushing it out the top vent hole that was not designed to be a vent. I'll take a picture of the top of the trailer. On the other hand, I really don't see what the problem would be venting back into the RV like the old Dometic... if people didn't die of CO with that arrangement, why would this be any different (I can leave the service door open when parked for intake or make vents in the cabinet at the bottom for intake while the service vent it closed.
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Old 07-20-2010, 02:39 PM   #12
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Amazon has an RV fan kit by Valterra for propane fridges that only cost $36 delivered. It has a 4 1/2" X 3" fan with thermister and another thermister for the boiler tube, when both register their respective temps 100 for boiler and 80 for fan it turns on, very quiet and easy to install venting the hotter air out the top.
When above 95 convection doesn't work as well so less box cooling even a 2007 motorhome I had with Norcold and venting fan had a hard time cooling above 95.
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Old 07-26-2010, 09:55 PM   #13
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Progress! It was almost 100 yesterday and the fridge stayed on setting 4 of 9 (9 coldest) and was 36-37 degrees F (and the freezer I assume was below zero based on past experience). The bank of computer fans is placed above the condenser pulling air from them...though I'm not altogether sure I needed them now that I have the opening venting into the trailer like the original Dometic did (and as some here suggested). I have the propane exhaust pipe vented into the roof vent that goes up the ribs of the trailer between the inner and outer shells, sealed with heat resistant caulk so no CO can get in. I ran the fridge on both propane and electric. I have yet to do: finish work/grate/grill and installing a thermostat to turn the computer fans one at 80 or 90 degrees F. I think a commercial 24v cooling thermostat should work fine with 12v, too. Then pictures. Thanks everyone.
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:31 PM   #14
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Update on Valterra universal fan kit. I started fridge when outside temperature was at 86 at 1PM today, inside the trailer was at 90 and no a/c as if dry camping. By 11 PM the fridge compartment was at 41 degrees with the temp setting at 5 out of 8 and the fan was still running indicating the unit was still cooking to lower the temperature. WHAT A DIFFERENCE, well worth the expense and time to install it.
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