Jump to content


Photo

Another refrigerator question


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 tinstartrvlr

tinstartrvlr

    Senior Member

  • Validated Members
  • 201 posts
  • SKP#:116265

Posted 08 January 2017 - 12:16 PM

Why are fridge questions so popular?!!

 

Hello all,

 

I have searched the internet and this forum for an answer, and I am really more puzzled now than before.

 

I have read much about how RV fridges don't work well in cold weather, along with some of the ideas for fixing the problem, but everything I read has to do with pretty cold temps, usually close to zero or below.

 

Just went through a couple days of cold weather; mid 20's at night, 30-40 during day, plus wind chill. 

 

So I get up this morning and look to find some things in the freezer compartment to be nearly completely thawed, and most everything in the fridge compartment to be warm to the point of being unsafe.  Thermometers show temps to be in the unsafe zone for both compartments, so I ended up tossing some food that just didn't seem safe to keep.

 

So here is the problem (or two).

 

When the outdoor temp drops below freezing, (32, give or take)  the fridge just shuts down. It doesn't work less efficiently, it just won't come on. No burner burning, no warm coils, etc..  But as soon as the outside temperature rises above freezing (give or take a few degrees), it starts working.  Actually, the hotter it is outside, the colder the food, because then it runs constantly.

 

It's almost as if the thermostat for the fridge is located outside the box, so it is only activated by the outside temp, not what's going on inside the fridge!  Along those lines, Dometic told me some time ago when I asked about another issue that it was probably installed incorrectly; in their opinion bad installs happen frequently.  I noticed that there is an inch to two inches of space around the box (top and sides), so I considered that maybe the entire box is affected by the outside temp because it isn't insulated enough, thus confusing the system.  Should there be any space around the top and sides?

 

Any thoughts?


Ya just can't RV without a hitch.....!


#2 Kirk

Kirk

    Major Contributor

  • Weekend Moderators
  • 27,620 posts
  • SKP#:60541

Posted 08 January 2017 - 03:59 PM

Absorption refrigerators must be able to bring the liquid refrigerant to a boil in order for it to vaporize and that vapor then must get to the top of the unit before it cools off in order to work. Your problem is that it gets so cold that the small heat source under the boiler just isn't capable of converting the refrigerant into vapor. There are several things which I have done to avoid that problem, successfully.

 

The first is to limit the amount of air movement through the cooling unit. I do that by covering about half of the openings in the access door, more if weather gets near to 0° in order not to cool thing too rapidly. In addition, I keep a 40 watt, incandescent light bulb burning in the bottom of the refrigerator any time that the refrigerator is in use. In general, RV refrigerators work best in temperatures that are between 40° and 80° without any modifications. 


Good travelin !...............Kirk

Full-time 11+ years...... Now seasonal travelers.
Kirk & Pam's Great RV Adventure
dolphins.jpg
 


#3 tinstartrvlr

tinstartrvlr

    Senior Member

  • Validated Members
  • 201 posts
  • SKP#:116265

Posted 08 January 2017 - 04:16 PM

Thanks Kirk,,,guess it is just the nature of the animal.

 

I have covered the vents, all but two (the bottom one, to allow for propane to escape in the event of a problem, and the top one to allow the fans to vent) with little improvement.  Can you clarify where you put the lightbulb?  I assume you mean near the coils etc outside, not in the food box.  Prefer to be ignorant and ask, than assume and be wrong!  :unsure:


Ya just can't RV without a hitch.....!


#4 Kirk

Kirk

    Major Contributor

  • Weekend Moderators
  • 27,620 posts
  • SKP#:60541

Posted 08 January 2017 - 07:06 PM

I used a drop light and put it on the bottom of the refrigerator space, with some insulating to keep the hot shield from contacting the wood floor of the space.  You may also want to disable a fan if there is more than one. 


Good travelin !...............Kirk

Full-time 11+ years...... Now seasonal travelers.
Kirk & Pam's Great RV Adventure
dolphins.jpg
 


#5 LindaH

LindaH

    Major Contributor

  • Weekend Moderators
  • 7,329 posts
  • SKP#:49643

Posted 09 January 2017 - 09:02 AM

We've never had a problem with our refrigerator in cold weather.  We try to avoid really cold weather, of course, but we have been in single digit temperatures on several occasions without any detrimental effect on the refrigerator...and we don't do anything special with it.  In fact, this is the first I've heard that refrigerators don't work in cold weather!


LindaH
2014 Winnebago Aspect 27K

2011 Kia Soul

 


#6 Dick N

Dick N

    Senior Member

  • Validated Members
  • 302 posts

Posted 09 January 2017 - 11:21 AM


I have this same problem. Temperature this morning was 10 degrees F. Refrigerator would not start in any mode. Heated it externally with a radiant heater (bottom vent cover off) and after about an hour it started working.

#7 tinstartrvlr

tinstartrvlr

    Senior Member

  • Validated Members
  • 201 posts
  • SKP#:116265

Posted 10 January 2017 - 04:37 PM

Well I thought I should update this thread with what I now know about my refrigerator situation in case it helps anyone else.

 

After several phone calls to Dometic, I discovered that my particular fridge model, which has a button on the front to change the temperature of the fridge, also is supposed to have a thermister (the little plastic piece that slides up and down on the fins in the fridge.)  Having had a fridge with a thermister before, I am somewhat familiar with it, and understand it controls the temperature (at least on the previous fridge I had). 

 

So I mistakenly assumed that the button on the front to control temperature was new technology and the thermister was no longer needed.

 

Bad to assume, I guess.  Seems they work together to control the temperature, along with something called a "low ambient control", (which keeps the fridge running regardless of temps outside the fridge). 

 

So what we discovered is that this particular fridge apparently left the factory without a thermister. 

 

Looks like a new fridge is in my future; just waiting for the chance to get a tech to verify that the thermister is missing.

 

I am not sure how this thing has been working at all without the thermister since it is apparently pretty critical.

 

Strange animals, these absorption refrigerators.

 


Ya just can't RV without a hitch.....!


#8 Kirk

Kirk

    Major Contributor

  • Weekend Moderators
  • 27,620 posts
  • SKP#:60541

Posted 11 January 2017 - 07:29 AM

I am not sure how this thing has been working at all without the thermister since it is apparently pretty critical..........

Strange animals, these absorption refrigerators.

I am retired from the electronic control maintenance world and am very familiar with thermistor temperature controls and am skeptical that one would work at all if it was not installed. I think you must have a recalled refrigerator or they would not replace it for you, but do not believe that the reason you were given is accurate. Very interesting and I hope that you will keep us updated on what happens and how it works after it is done. 


Good travelin !...............Kirk

Full-time 11+ years...... Now seasonal travelers.
Kirk & Pam's Great RV Adventure
dolphins.jpg
 


#9 tinstartrvlr

tinstartrvlr

    Senior Member

  • Validated Members
  • 201 posts
  • SKP#:116265

Posted 11 January 2017 - 09:18 AM

I'm guessing they are replacing it since it is still under warranty.  I knew about the recall on older refrigerators; is there a recall on the newer ones that I hadn't heard about?


Ya just can't RV without a hitch.....!


#10 Kirk

Kirk

    Major Contributor

  • Weekend Moderators
  • 27,620 posts
  • SKP#:60541

Posted 11 January 2017 - 09:04 PM

A repair would be much more probable response to a simple warranty condition. Replacement seems to indicate something much more serious than usual and especially so since you have not yet had it examined by an authorized repair technician. I'll be very interested to hear your report once you get to the shop and they do their work. 


Good travelin !...............Kirk

Full-time 11+ years...... Now seasonal travelers.
Kirk & Pam's Great RV Adventure
dolphins.jpg
 


#11 kinseypw

kinseypw

    Full Member

  • Validated Members
  • 99 posts
  • SKP#:118734

Posted 13 January 2017 - 06:45 PM

Our fridge has worked fine in temps as low as -7celsius. I understand what Kirk was saying but we have never had a problem in spite of numerous times our overnight got below 32 F. Not sure what is different about our setup (Cougar 32ft 5er)



#12 Kirk

Kirk

    Major Contributor

  • Weekend Moderators
  • 27,620 posts
  • SKP#:60541

Posted 14 January 2017 - 08:06 AM

Our fridge has worked fine in temps as low as -7celsius. I understand what Kirk was saying but we have never had a problem in spite of numerous times our overnight got below 32 F. Not sure what is different about our setup (Cougar 32ft 5er)

It isn't the temperature outside that matters but the ambient temperature inside of the refrigerator cooling unit. Your -7/19.4°f, would depend  greatly upon how long it lasted and things like wind conditions, etc. We have not had ours fail due to cold in recent years but I do things as preventative steps since I did experience the problem back when we used to hunt elk in the mountains of WY where night temperatures frequently fell well below 0°f/-18°c. The issue is for the heat source to turn liquid in the boiler into vapor. 


Good travelin !...............Kirk

Full-time 11+ years...... Now seasonal travelers.
Kirk & Pam's Great RV Adventure
dolphins.jpg
 


#13 Eagle Eye

Eagle Eye

    Senior Member

  • Validated Members
  • 229 posts

Posted 14 January 2017 - 08:59 AM

I had the problem one time when because the thermal switch for the fans had quit working I by-passed the switch so the fan ran all the time. That wasn't a problem until the temperature drop to the single digits and the refrigerator wasn't cooling. That was a couple of years ago and I think it was Kirk that mentioned that the cold outside temperatures could be causing the problem, I shut the fans off and the refrigerator began to cool again. I did eventually replace the thermal switch an refrigerator it is still working fine.


Dave, Marge and Boots
2008 Mobile Suites 36 RSSB3
2005 FL M2-106 Sport

http://buckstravelnews.wordpress.com/


#14 tinstartrvlr

tinstartrvlr

    Senior Member

  • Validated Members
  • 201 posts
  • SKP#:116265

Posted 14 January 2017 - 10:52 AM

Interesting responses....strange how some have problems in cold weather and others don't.  And some can handle lots of cold while others (like mine) won't work at 40 degrees.

 

Kirk-to your comment about why they are planning to replace the fridge (unless the tech finds a good reason otherwise) I think it is because there was never a thermister installed, which would mean drilling, wiring, etc to add a thermister.  And on top of everything else, the seals are not that great (dollar bill test) so that just adds to the problem. 

 

 I will update after the tech does his thing.


Ya just can't RV without a hitch.....!


#15 RayIN

RayIN

    Major Contributor

  • Validated Members
  • 5,363 posts

Posted 15 January 2017 - 11:32 PM

Interesting responses....strange how some have problems in cold weather and others don't.  And some can handle lots of cold while others (like mine) won't work at 40 degrees.

 

Kirk-to your comment about why they are planning to replace the fridge (unless the tech finds a good reason otherwise) I think it is because there was never a thermister installed, which would mean drilling, wiring, etc to add a thermister.  And on top of everything else, the seals are not that great (dollar bill test) so that just adds to the problem. 

 

 I will update after the tech does his thing.

I suspect you are right about the reason for the recall. An RV/absorption refrigerator will work with a faulty thermistor, it goes into default mode = maximum cooling continually.


2000 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom 40JD,Spartan MM chassis, Cummins ISC 350; GS life member, USA retired

"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air - however slight - lest we become unwitting victims of darkness."___Supreme Court Justice William Douglas