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Old 02-05-2015, 08:33 PM   #1
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New Fridge install-lessons learned

I recently replaced my RV refrigerator and since I installed it myself, I learned a lot about this procedure and wanted to pass along my observations and thoughts.

My original fridge was never installed to Dometic specifications. I did not have any major issues but there have been many people posting how badly their fridges work in warmer climates. I am offering a possible explanation as to why.

I purchased and installed an 8CF Norcold. In studying the installation requirements, Norcold is VERY explicit that there needs to be proper venting for these RV fridges to work correctly and efficiently. I checked the Dometic website for their install requirements and both Dometic and Norcold have the same basic requirements.

If the back cabinet wall is within 1” of the back of the fridge then this step can be omitted. In my case I had 5” of clearance. When you have over 1” of clearance, you MUST build a box the full width of the cabinet to fill this void from essentially the top of the bottom vent cover to the bottom of the condenser coils (fins). This is to make the incoming air from the bottom vent travel up the back of the fridge, across the coils and out the top vent. My ’07 Cruiser did not have ANY of this box blocking.

The top wall vent either is on the roof of the RV above the condenser coils, or on the side wall if the fridge is in a slideout. If on the roof, you need to build panels to direct the heat from the condenser to the vent if the vent is not DIRECTLY over the condenser fins. If the fridge is in a slideout then the top vent opening is on the side wall and the top of the upper vent opening must be at the same level, or above, the top of the condenser fins. This is to allow heat from the condenser to exit the RV efficiently. In my case, the top of the upper side vent opening was actually BELOW the top of the condenser fins by 2” so all the heat had to go down and out instead of up and out. This is another reason that fridges in slideouts are required to have fans installed to help suck up air from the lower vent, up past the condenser fins and out the upper vent.

I also had to add a metal baffle at the top of the fridge to direct air out the side vent instead of into a void I had above the fridge itself. (Another step Crossroads missed.)

OK, so this is getting a big long but hopefully someone will read this and look up the installation requirements and maybe make their fridge run better. There are additional requirements that I am not getting into but those that I do mention are the more critical ones. I was really surprised to see that I had nothing installed (other than a fan) to help direct the air per the manufacturer’s install instructions. Basically my fridge was placed in the cabinet and they were done.

I am not trying to bash Crossroads but rather help those that are having cooling issues. I am pretty sure other RV companies do their installs with the same “put it in and forget it “ mentality.
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Old 02-05-2015, 08:42 PM   #2
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Nice write up Stan! Thanks.
I haven't done anything with ours yet. I better look at things a little closer when it warms up some.

Have you had the opportunity to use it, or at least check it out yet?
Course, it will be a better check this summer when the weather gets warmer.
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:23 AM   #3
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Lloyd - I ran the fridge on the initial test and with 1 - warmest and 9 - coldest I started on 5. It cooled to 28 in 3 hours and then I reset it to #3. It warmed to 33. It seems to be working fine. Won't make a camping trip until March/April.
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Old 02-06-2015, 08:45 AM   #4
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Stan,
So you also discovered that the cabinet is not really insulated, did you fix that as well? I used 3/4 inch rigid foam board on the entire interior of the cabinet, made a big difference in interior comfort adjacent to the cabinet. Since my thermostat was located on the cabinet wall, neither the furnace or the A/C would work properly with it mounted on what was basically an uninsulated exterior wall.
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Old 02-06-2015, 09:51 AM   #5
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Larry, I had some 1" fiberglass around the sides and that was it. The instructions are pretty specific about this as well. Your only suppose to install insulation from the front of the fridge to a point about 3" from the back of the fridge, and from top to bottom of the cabinet. You also add some to the top (ceiling) of the cabinet. I used R-13 fiberglass glued to the walls and carefully slid the fridge into the cabinet tucking the insulation as I went. I was surprised at all the requirements for this install.

The fridge itself fit fine in the existing cabinet - no cutting. I did have to make new panels for the doors so I could reuse the oak panels from the original fridge.
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Old 02-06-2015, 05:56 PM   #6
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Great info Stan. My camper is new. We will make our first trip next week. But living in Texas I will get ample opportunity to see how well the fridge works. This is great info to have if we have a problem keeping things cold. Thanks for taking time to post it.
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Old 02-06-2015, 06:35 PM   #7
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Great info, I fixed a 2003 Jayco the same way with the box and insulation.
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Old 02-06-2015, 07:56 PM   #8
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Stan
Thanks for the info...If I am not mistaken NorskeNY (Bob) also did a mod on his existing refrig, with baffels and temp controled fans... Hopefully he will chime in on this post also...

It was NorskeNY, I found it on page 10 of his posts "Dometic Fridge Issue" Can not retrive pictures though...
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Old 09-20-2018, 11:09 AM   #9
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This is an old thread, but,

Stan how is the new fridge working for you? Can you tell any difference in how it performs compared to your old one?



I was going to replace ours with an 8ft. but this one has been working so darn good I haven't done anything. Right at this point the only reason I would swap it out is for the added space.
(Sure hope I don't jinx myself with that)
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Old 09-21-2018, 10:17 AM   #10
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Lloyd....everything about it works better. It cools down in 1/2 the time, the temp is well regulated and does not fluctuate much at all ( I attribute this to the better temp controls in the fridge not something I did). The newer fridges even have a small bit of increased interior space. It also keeps everything at a cool temp in warmer outside temps and will still get TOO cold in 90 degree outside temp - I attribute this to the improved baffle system to allow better air flow around the fins. Everything I did was well explained in the instructions. If you do replace yours, allow several days and measure carefully as the tolerances between the baffles and the cooling system are very close.
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