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Old 09-21-2013, 03:56 PM   #1
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Replace 40 yo Dometic with residental apartment sized fridge?

Am I bordering on heresy? The fridge in question is original to our '73 Overlander and while it still works on gas, doesnt get the lower part all that cool, all that quickly. Small apartment sized units that run on 110 can be had for 4-500 and should fit in the space (60" tall, 24" wide). Ih know that we would give up the ability to run the fridge off gas if we were to go boondocking, but I honestly dont think we will be doing that much anyway.

New units seem to be available for about 1100 which is double the cost. A replacement cooling unit is about 500 but that still leaves me with an old box with rust and in need of new door seals, etc. I'm all about the vintage look, but I like the appliances as modern as possible. This is an Avanti 10 cubic foot model for 445 as just one example:



If I decide to replace it, it will be over the winter when my phase 2 of restoration starts. Would like to hear from folks why or why this isnt a good idea. Would it be possible to run this off an inverter on 12v if we ever chose to go that route? I'd consider adding solar to the roof if we find that we do like to go places without electric. Or I could get a small generator to power things up as well. Thanks in advance for any insights I might be missing.
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Old 09-21-2013, 05:37 PM   #2
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I bought a used Dometic fridge from craigslist, for half the price of a new one. It was from a late model SOB that was wrecked. I put in a wanted ad in the RV section and people called me.
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Old 09-21-2013, 05:52 PM   #3
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I would not want to go without my LP powered fridge, we use it all the time while camping. We don't 'boondock' but we do a lot of camping without hookups, and I like the flexibility of knowing we are capable of being self contained for a long weekend.

Also, I don't think apartment fridges are meant to handle the abuse of being towed down bumpy roads year after year.

I would agree with ventport and go looking for a genuine RV fridge to replace it with.
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Old 09-21-2013, 05:58 PM   #4
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The only drawback other than losing the ability to boondock (or just live through a power outage) is the noise that conventional fridges make due to the fact that they use a compressor system to cool. It varies by model, but none of them are silent.

Not a problem during the day, but I personally hate listening to ours at night if I wake up.

I'm actually in the midst of replacing our compressor-type fridge with a used Dometic.

They are relatively easy to repair, since there are very few moving parts. You can replace the cooling unit yourself if you are at all handy. That is like having a brand new refer, if the rest of it is still cosmetically in good shape.

Here's how you do it:

Replacing A Dometic Cooling Unit - YouTube
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Old 09-21-2013, 06:10 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by aquinob View Post
Am I bordering on heresy? The fridge in question is original to our '73 Overlander and while it still works on gas, doesnt get the lower part all that cool, all that quickly. Small apartment sized units that run on 110 can be had for 4-500 and should fit in the space (60" tall, 24" wide). Ih know that we would give up the ability to run the fridge off gas if we were to go boondocking, but I honestly dont think we will be doing that much anyway.

New units seem to be available for about 1100 which is double the cost. A replacement cooling unit is about 500 but that still leaves me with an old box with rust and in need of new door seals, etc. I'm all about the vintage look, but I like the appliances as modern as possible. This is an Avanti 10 cubic foot model for 445 as just one example:



If I decide to replace it, it will be over the winter when my phase 2 of restoration starts. Would like to hear from folks why or why this isnt a good idea. Would it be possible to run this off an inverter on 12v if we ever chose to go that route? I'd consider adding solar to the roof if we find that we do like to go places without electric. Or I could get a small generator to power things up as well. Thanks in advance for any insights I might be missing.
I took out the old Dometic in my 1976 31' Airstream and replaced it with an Avanti 110V stainless steel fridge and re did the entire kitchen at the same time. I don't boondock so running on propane was not an issue. While on the road after the fridge is plugged in overnight I can drive 6 or 7 hours and the food in the freezer is still frozen and still cool in the lower fridge. No one notices that it is not a "RV" fridge and I don't tell them. Works perfect and no noise. I have it bolted down to the floor and sides so it does not move while traveling. Here are some pics.

Airstream interior 2009_1.pdf
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Old 09-21-2013, 06:35 PM   #6
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I took out the old Dometic in my 1976 31' Airstream and replaced it with an Avanti 110V stainless steel fridge and re did the entire kitchen at the same time. I don't boondock so running on propane was not an issue. While on the road after the fridge is plugged in overnight I can drive 6 or 7 hours and the food in the freezer is still frozen and still cool in the lower fridge. No one notices that it is not a "RV" fridge and I don't tell them. Works perfect and no noise. I have it bolted down to the floor and sides so it does not move while traveling. Here are some pics.

Attachment 196126

Before you can replace the Dometic you first have to get it out. I think they built the trailer around this thing. Since I was remodeling anyway I was able to get to the hundreds of screws that were used to hold it in place. Its also heavy and just barely fits through the door. Here are some pics of the removal.

remove frig.pdf
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Old 09-21-2013, 06:41 PM   #7
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One caution to you. When you select the household refrigerator, be sure it is one with visible coils on the back to remove the heat of compression. Many of the small refrigerators these days have the condenser coils welded to the inside sides and top of the unit and use the sides and top as their heat dispersal. They cannot be put into an enclosed space where no air circulates over the sides of the refrigerator to keep them cool. This is an important and critical issue, not to be ignored.

Also try to find one with a good solid door latch so it does not come open while traveling. The RV refrigerators are designed with that issue in mind, household ones are not.
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Old 09-21-2013, 06:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adonh View Post
Before you can replace the Dometic you first have to get it out. I think they built the trailer around this thing. Since I was remodeling anyway I was able to get to the hundreds of screws that were used to hold it in place. Its also heavy and just barely fits through the door. Here are some pics of the removal.

Attachment 196128
Don.

That installation looks great. Can you tell me what model/size fridge that was? I'm saving both those pdf's if I end up going this route. Also, do you know how many amps it draws when running?

Thanks.
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Old 09-21-2013, 09:10 PM   #9
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I was able to get to the hundreds of screws that were used to hold it in place. Its also heavy and just barely fits through the door. Here are some pics of the removal.
Hundreds f screws? On mine there are six screws that hold it in. There's a few thing to disconnect from the outside of the TT (rear of the refer), but I wonder what you really did take out!?
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Old 09-21-2013, 09:35 PM   #10
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I too am going to try to go with a 110 unit. If I'm boondocking, I will either use ice chests or my genset (Honda 2000i & Companion). I actually bought a used Dometic Classic from a wrecked SOB. But the SOB that sold it to me lied. So, I have a cosmetically nice looking refer sitting in my garage...that does not work. If the 110 doesn't work out, I'll spend the money to replace the cooling unit on the Dometic. But maybe the bigger issue for me, is that I just don't want to cut a hole in my new floor...and belly pan...and suffer that big hole for dirt, water and critters to gain access.
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Old 09-21-2013, 10:44 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by arktos55343 View Post
I too am going to try to go with a 110 unit. If I'm boondocking, I will either use ice chests or my genset (Honda 2000i & Companion). I actually bought a used Dometic Classic from a wrecked SOB. But the SOB that sold it to me lied. So, I have a cosmetically nice looking refer sitting in my garage...that does not work. If the 110 doesn't work out, I'll spend the money to replace the cooling unit on the Dometic. But maybe the bigger issue for me, is that I just don't want to cut a hole in my new floor...and belly pan...and suffer that big hole for dirt, water and critters to gain access.

Why would you have to cut a hole in the floor to remove the fridge?
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Old 09-21-2013, 10:58 PM   #12
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My '72 Trade Wind had a hole in the floor and belly pan behind the refer for air flow. I have since replaced the floor. I was assuming the hole in the floor was necessary for the refer to work properly. Am I wrong?
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Old 09-22-2013, 12:13 AM   #13
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The opening in the floor, screened with hardware cloth to keep the mice out, and with a screened hole below it in the belly pan, was the inlet air for the refrigerators in all of the trailers up to the early 80's I think. It also was a safety mechanism for propane leaks behind the refrigerator. Propane is heavier than air, and it could then just sink out the vent hole, rather than building up and causing an explosion or fire.

Later they went to a door with intake holes on it. The door was both for access to the refrigerator propane and electronics as well as air supply for cooling. In theory, the heavy propane, in the event of a leak, could also vent to the outside via the door vent holes.
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Old 09-22-2013, 08:53 AM   #14
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Don.

That installation looks great. Can you tell me what model/size fridge that was? I'm saving both those pdf's if I end up going this route. Also, do you know how many amps it draws when running?

Thanks.
The details on my Avanti model RA757PST is shown below. The amp draw is low but I ma not sure how many. In looking I found that this model was discontinued and replaced by the one shown here. Looks about the same, still a good price.

Avanti RA7316PST 7.4 cu. ft. Counter-Depth Top-Freezer Refrigerator with Adjustable Glass Shelves, Adjustable Door Bins, 2-Litter Bottle Rack and Interior Light: Platinum

Features:
  • 7.5 CU. FT. CAPACITY
  • Two door apartment size refrigerator/freezer
  • Full size refrigerator section
  • Full size freezer section
  • 4 door bins
  • 3 glass shelves
  • Crisper with glass cover
  • Full Range Temperature Control
  • Interior Light
  • Integrated Door Handle
  • Removable Shelf in Freezer Section
  • Power: 110V / 60HZ
Approximate Dimensions:
  • Width: 21.5"
  • Depth: 22.75"
  • Height: 56.25"
Approximate Weight:
  • Unit: 110 lbs
  • Shipping: 120 lbs
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