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Old 09-04-2010, 11:05 PM   #1
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The perfect refrigerator

It's time to buy the refrigerator for the Overlander. I need to know the dimensions so I can ensure I'm building to accommodate it. The most popular choice for Airstreams seems to be Dometic... though this may be in part because they fit the existing spaces in Airstreams. It also seems that there are other successful makers of RV and marine refrigerators including Norcold, Nova Kool, etc. Isotherm also makes a drawer refrigerator which, while small, seems efficient to access.

I realize Dometic and Norcold both have fans. As noted in another thread, I'm not sure if this is a "Ford" versus "Chevy" thing. I also wonder if there is some superior product out there... as there is with some of the other components. I'd appreciate any thoughts. If I don't buy the frig soon, my daughters may discover I have a bit of money.
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Old 09-04-2010, 11:18 PM   #2
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I think that the Dometic/Norcold debate is a Ford/Chevy/Dodge debate as they are both ammonia absorption types. The different unit, more gas/diesel is the ammonia absorption vs. DanFoss compressor. Both Dometic and Norcold use that unit also. I have an ammonia absorption in my Safari and a DanFoss compressor in my Liner. Both work well and both have pluses minuses.

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Originally Posted by hampstead38 View Post
It's time to buy the refrigerator for the Overlander. I need to know the dimensions so I can ensure I'm building to accommodate it. The most popular choice for Airstreams seems to be Dometic... though this may be in part because they fit the existing spaces in Airstreams. It also seems that there are other successful makers of RV and marine refrigerators including Norcold, Nova Kool, etc. Isotherm also makes a drawer refrigerator which, while small, seems efficient to access.

I realize Dometic and Norcold both have fans. As noted in another thread, I'm not sure if this is a "Ford" versus "Chevy" thing. I also wonder if there is some superior product out there... as there is with some of the other components. I'd appreciate any thoughts. If I don't buy the frig soon, my daughters may discover I have a bit of money.
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Old 09-05-2010, 12:52 AM   #3
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As much as I would prefer to remain a purist, the fact is I've given up on rv fridges.If there is one appliance that has a mind of its' own ,it would be the fridge. So,I've come to settle for the reliability of electric vs original correctness. Being the shallow person I am,the superficial appearance of a door that looks period correct will suffice. I've taken into account the time traveled in remote areas and opt to experience the wild. I suggest the lowest form of camping technology for these times,the ice chest.Who would argue that Airstreaming be a time to enjoy life,free from the anticipation of a 'melt down'.Carry on, Richie Rich.
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:04 AM   #4
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For an Airstream, Dometic and Norcold will work best. If you were to have a problem with it, you will be happy with Dometic. Warranty is better with them, parts are more universal (Dometic puts the same part on many different models and a RV repair center is more likely to stock it vs. having to special order it)

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Old 09-05-2010, 11:30 AM   #5
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The new Dometic's work very well. We do a lot of boondocking and have not any problems, just set it on auto and forget it.
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Old 09-05-2010, 12:15 PM   #6
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Fyi

I'm with Bill on this one.

When my Norcold blows out in my new bus, I'll be replacing it with a unit that has the Danfoss compressor. It's a lot easier to do this in a motor home, as it will have a much larger battery bank an inverter to draw from if required and ample solar power battery charging. Plus it has an 8000 watt diesel generator.

The benefits of the Danfoss are many: much tougher than a domestic 120VAC fridge (think marine use), able to operate off level up to 30* and super reliable. Plus, they can get the fridge to lower temps than most gas absorption (G/A) units.

They are also cheaper to purchase than comparable G/A units and have never been under any type of recall as both Norcold and Dometic units have. Safety is another factor, as the refrigerant in these units is non-flammable, and there has never been a record of an RV fire traced to a refer with a Danfoss compressor, unlike both Norcold and Dometic. I've been doing a lot of recall work lately.

I've been using a chest type refer with a Danfoss compressor (think ice chest size) in my service van for 4 years to keep drinks and lunch cold while on the job, and they run from either 12VDC or 120VAC, which ever is available. It has performed flawlessly, and can be used as either a refer or freezer, depending on the thermostat setting. Mine draws about 2.5 amps on DC and below 1 amp on AC.

I really think this is the way to go if you are replacing a standard RV fridge and have the capacity to keep your batteries charged while on the road with solar, shore power from an overnight campground stop or a generator.
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Old 09-06-2010, 06:36 PM   #7
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It looks like the Dometic Tundra has the Danfoss compressor. I guess what you're saying is to abandon the LP GA option on the refrigerator and go straight 12v. The Overlander has the copper plant to accommodate a GA unit, however, most of our camping will be in campgrounds. It's not a problem to run it solely on electric. For boondocking, I'm guessing we'll have a generator. One of the things I do prefer... if something goes into the fridge, I'd like it to be cold, not just sort of cold.
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Old 09-06-2010, 07:04 PM   #8
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No, I am not saying that at all. I don't think that there is much difference between the two manufacturers of ammonia absorption units. The Danfoss compressor is an alternative, but you need a way to recharge your batteries if you don't have hookups. The ammonia type is much quieter and the compressor does make noise. I went with the Tundra in the Liner because I did not want to cut holes in the trailer for ventilation and I was planning on installing solar panels to keep the batteries charged. We have the ammonia type in the Safari and are very happy.

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It looks like the Dometic Tundra has the Danfoss compressor. I guess what you're saying is to abandon the LP GA option on the refrigerator and go straight 12v. The Overlander has the copper plant to accommodate a GA unit, however, most of our camping will be in campgrounds. It's not a problem to run it solely on electric. For boondocking, I'm guessing we'll have a generator. One of the things I do prefer... if something goes into the fridge, I'd like it to be cold, not just sort of cold.
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:00 PM   #9
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I have built twin battery banks into my Argosy (each with two 6V AGM golf cart batteries) and have just taken delivery on a Novacool DC 'marine' fridge. This fridge has a Danfoss compressor. I chose this set up because my experience with the 12V DC portable fridge that I use in my Lancruiser has been so reliable.

I also want to run the fridge while driving long distances, camping in the backcountry, etc. The 3 way is poor on cooling with 12V, the propane is (IMO) unsafe and unreliable, and operating on 12V with a 3 way fridge uses more than 2X the amperage that the Danfoss uses. Pretty simple decision.
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:39 PM   #10
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I think the advice you've received so far is good advice.

I don't think there's much difference between Norcold and Dometic. Maybe Dometic has a slight edge in quality.

The ammonia type is the way to go if you want to be able to run more than 24 hours without a generator or shore power. Consider where you're going to store the rig, overnight parking at your house, as well as actual boondocking. The Danfoss units are great if you can count on shore power, or are putting them in a van or boat some other situation where the batteries recharge quickly when the engine runs.
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Old 09-15-2010, 05:02 PM   #11
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When you decide (I'd get the propane/120 option) get the fridge before you build the enclosure. Stated dimensions have a way of being wrong or enough off to be a surprise.

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Old 09-15-2010, 05:10 PM   #12
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I disagree with the advantages you listed for the Dan Foss units. They run 30 degrees off level, I do not have a level space to put the trailer in front of my house to get ready for a trip, therefore cannot precool an ammonia unit. Solar panels work much better in keeping the batteries charged than relying on a generator or a tow vehicle alternator.

Bill

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I think the advice you've received so far is good advice.

I don't think there's much difference between Norcold and Dometic. Maybe Dometic has a slight edge in quality.

The ammonia type is the way to go if you want to be able to run more than 24 hours without a generator or shore power. Consider where you're going to store the rig, overnight parking at your house, as well as actual boondocking. The Danfoss units are great if you can count on shore power, or are putting them in a van or boat some other situation where the batteries recharge quickly when the engine runs.
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Old 09-27-2010, 11:53 AM   #13
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I need to order my frig. The standard counter height is about 36". The Dometic 2354 will fit easily under the 36" countertop and I can tie exhaust/vent in. Around $650 seems like a decent price. Any additional suggestions? Any thoughts on framing the unit in? I want to design the space to make it relatively easy to service the frig. The PO had squeezed a Kenmore into a space that required me to dismantle the cabinetry to pull it. (The unit was junk anyway).

I was thinking I could use removable stop blocks to keep the frig firmly in place but make it easy to pull out. Oh, and yesterday I added insect screen to the vent cover. The fewer bugs coming in, the better.
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Old 09-27-2010, 01:15 PM   #14
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It's surely too late, but we love the 7 cubic foot fridge in ours. Great for long trips. It will not fit under a counter except sideways, a bad idea.

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