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Author Topic: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator  (Read 447 times)

John Stephens

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Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« on: August 19, 2017, 11:25:40 PM »
Does anyone know what the standard temperature range for a Norcold 4 door refrigerator/freezer is for both units when the coach is 12 years old? I just bought an Accurite temp double sensor unit so I can monitor the temps in both compartments and the freezer is staying at between 18 to 20 degrees, which is fine, but the refrigerator is running 40-44 degrees, which seems a bit high to me.

We just had the fridge serviced by a top Norcold distributor last year that installed a recall kit and rewired the exhaust fan because it was wired backwards from the factory, so it should be running as good as possible for its age. We make sure get in and out of the fridge as quickly as possible because we were told that for every minute you hold the door open, it will take two hours of recovery time. But I like to keep my home fridge at around 38 degrees, so I'm just wondering if there may be something wrong, or if it's running high due to its age, or if it is simply the nature of the beast. We have it set on the coldest setting.
John

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Arch Hoagland

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2017, 01:05:19 AM »
I keep a remote thermometer in 2004 Norcold 1200 and will see temps down to 33 degrees in the mornings and up to about 50 degrees when traveling to another RV park.

What number do you have you temperature set at? It can be set at 1 through 9 and I usually keep it at 5.

My fans currently aren't running....had it serviced last year and i think they reversed the wires.  Still working on that issue.
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John From Detroit

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2017, 07:41:07 AM »
Fridge should be below 40 and freezer close to ZERO.. I'd adjust your temnp sensor UP a bit on the fins or go to a higher setting on the dial.   You are close, very very close

I'm not ..Hold on I'll check.  Oh here is the URL
http://www.refrigeration-repair-tips.com/refrigerator-temperature.html

Maximum safe temp for the Fridge is 41 Degrees F
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2017, 07:53:47 AM »
Those numbers are both high. When operating as designed, the freezer should be around zero and the fridge 33-38 degrees.

There can be various reasons it cannot sustain those temps, often just poor installation.  The big Norcold is sensitive to both the ducting behind it to provide good airflow up the back and out, and hot air trapped around the sides or top, which warms the box. RV makers are notorious for ignoring Norcold's admonitions about both of these things.  The Norcold also has two fans in back and if they quit or their thermostat malfunctions, the cooling process suffers.

Try temporarily placing an additional fan in the back to see if that causes a temperature drop. If it does, you can decide whether to pull the fridge out to change the air baffles and sealing, or maybe just add a permanent extra fan. As a test, you can remove the outer access door and stick in a cheap 120v fan on an extension cord - Walmart has them for around $7.
Gary
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John Stephens

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2017, 08:47:48 AM »
Thanks to everyone who responded. I will address each of your questions and comments.

Arch - I keep this set at 9, the coldest setting. I have tried to keep it at lower numbered settings, such as 5, 6 or 7, and the results simply aren't not good enough. Although I'm not an expert on these units, I do remember the Norcold repairman that worked on this unit last year tell me my wires were reversed and this was going to cause the fan to suck in hot air rather than blow it out. If that is the case, then you have a different problem with yours if the fan isn't running at all.

John - Thanks for the link and the information. That's what I was looking for but didn't know there actually was a federal standard that has to be met. I had the sensor residing on one of the lower shelves, so I moved it up to the top shelf just below the fins. Possibly that will give me a satisfactory reading, but I would think that the entire box should be reading less than 41, per guidelines, and not just the area closest to the fins.

Gary - Last year during our drive out west, I had a truck wash clean the coach but they sprayed pressurized water into the vents of the fridge and tripped it off immediately. I took it to a reputable repairman, according to the locals of Gold Canyon, AZ, to have it reset. He turned out to be the largest Norcold distributor in the country, so he knew something about the units. As soon as he took the outside vent panel off, he could see that it had not had a recall performed that apparently had been ordered something like six years before. He installed some kind of a cylindrical venting on the right side of the unit that is surrounded by insulation. I have no idea what it is, but it sounds like what you have mentioned. He also noticed that the fan was wired backwards and switched the wires after double checking schematics to make sure he was right. He said it had probably been wired wrong from the factory and that was a reason the unit wasn't cooling as it should. When he was finished, I could run the unit at setting level 7 and get satisfactory results. However, this year, it appears the unit is once again struggling to keep the temps where they should be. I will try your idea of putting another fan on the outside of the coach blowing on the back of the unit and see if that makes a difference. If it doesn't, I am going to wonder if the unit simply is wearing out. It is my understanding that these Norcolds have a life expectancy of 10-12 years, and this one is 12 years old.

Gary, I was going to contact you and ask if you would like to get together today. We have been at Mama's for the past week but have been busy every day between exploring the area, driving the BRP and spending a lot of time with my son and grandchildren, but I reserved today to see you. I now am going to have to bow out because we have decided to throw away our last day here and leave this afternoon as soon as we can break camp. Between my son and the local news stations, I have gained a fear that we may get stuck in traffic if we wait until tomorrow as planned to drive to Pigeon Forge. We are fortunate that Creekside, where we are staying in PF, has our site open tonight. So I'll lose my free night here and pay for another somewhere else, but I think it is the wise thing to do considering what the traffic is supposed to be like tomorrow. My apology to you. I hope to catch you again during a future visit.

John

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ArdraF

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2017, 11:14:38 PM »
Quote
Those numbers are both high. When operating as designed, the freezer should be around zero and the fridge 33-38 degrees.

I agree with these temperatures.  John, where you put your remote sensor makes a huge difference.  If you put it near the front of the fridge it might read ten degrees warmer than if you put it near the fins.  Also, once parked move things around.  For example, we keep milk on the top shelf and use a curtain rod "thingie" to keep them in place against the fins while driving.  Once parked I remove the rod and pull the milk cartons out to leave more space between them which makes them cooler.

Finally, the defrost cycle warms the box up considerably, but it should cool back to under 40 degrees within a couple of hours.  I used to worry about the defrosting warmth but now check to see if the fins have deiced and know it will soon cool if that's the cause of the warmer temperature.  All that said, is your milk cold?  Can you keep ice cream in the freezer?  If the answer is no, then you need to find out why, but if the answer is yes then it's likely a function of sensor placement.  The other day our freezer was -1 F and the box was 33 F.  The fridge sensor was behind the milk near the fins.  The freezer sensor was in the back of the freezer.

ArdraF
« Last Edit: August 20, 2017, 11:16:19 PM by ArdraF »
ArdraF
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2017, 08:45:33 AM »
An absorption fridge doesn't really wear out in the usual meaning of those words because there are no moving parts. However, it can be a victim of gradual internal corrosion due to repeated overheating, e.g. from off-level operation.   The corrosion leads to a pinhole leak in the pressurized cooling system, and it will lose cooling rather quickly when that happens. It's possible you have the beginnings of a leak and, if so, all cooling will likely stop within a few weeks of continued use.

That cylindrical insulated thing at the right is the boiler for the cooling unit. It's not new, but installation of the recall temp sensor there probably required re-wrapping it and so it looks new.

It shouldn't be too hard to figure out which way the internal fans are blowing.  They are mounted high in the back on the condensor fins and normally blow upwards.
Gary
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John Stephens

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2017, 09:51:49 AM »
Again, thanks to all for all the good information and advice. Gary, you should be an instructor; you are a walking encyclopedia of RV knowledge.

Apparently Ardra and John had the right idea about moving the sensors to different places. I moved the fridge sensor to right in front of the fins and it has been reading between 29 and 35 since then. I turned it down to 8 from 9 when I saw it was dropping the fridge temp to below freezing and it is now a consistent 35. The freezer sensor was moved from the top of the compartment to the bottom and doesn't seem to have made a difference with the readings still being a consistent 8, which is satisfactory to me.

Gary, when the Norcold distributor did the recall, he installed the insulation that wasn't there before along with some venting sheet metal. I have no idea if he also installed a new sensor. I know he worked on it for a solid hour and was getting frustrated with his inability to get the metal and insulation positioned exactly how he wanted it.

I have noticed a big difference between items kept in the doors and items kept in the back of the unit, so the insulation of the actual box apparently lacks compared to a residential unit. It stands to reason that things in the door will be warmer, but I have gone to keeping my drinking water inside rather than on the door because there is a pretty big difference.

Thanks again to all that responded.
John

2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J

Sun2Retire

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2017, 10:15:12 AM »
I have noticed a big difference between items kept in the doors and items kept in the back of the unit, so the insulation of the actual box apparently lacks compared to a residential unit. It stands to reason that things in the door will be warmer, but I have gone to keeping my drinking water inside rather than on the door because there is a pretty big difference.

Absorption fridges don't have any forced air circulation which can cause wide variations in temperature in the cabinet. I added this internal fan system to the last two Norcolds I've had, and wouldn't be without it. Nearly eliminates any fin frosting, speeds cool down and evens out temps. I have no relation with the company, just a very satisfied customer.

Also, can't remember where I saw/read this but believe it was an official source (probably Gary  ;) ) - the coldest part of the freezer is the bottom left side so that's where you want to keep the ice cream. I have the same Accurite thermometer and keep it in the right freezer, my theory being that will be the first to show too warm and set off an alarm. For the same reason I keep the fridge thermometer sensor about two shelves down as I'm interested in the temp in the whole cabinet, not just near the fins.
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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2017, 11:13:53 AM »
About truck/RV washes and Fridge outside vents...

I bought 2 of those flexible cutting mats from Dollar Tree for $1 (2 in a package)

When I go to the RV/Truck wash, I shut down the fridge then place those 2 plastic cutting mats behind the outside vent.

That way no water can harm the back of the fridge and it's workings.

Very handy.
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Arch Hoagland

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2017, 05:10:30 PM »
About truck/RV washes and Fridge outside vents...

I bought 2 of those flexible cutting mats from Dollar Tree for $1 (2 in a package)

When I go to the RV/Truck wash, I shut down the fridge then place those 2 plastic cutting mats behind the outside vent.

That way no water can harm the back of the fridge and it's workings.

Very handy.

Good idea. Went though a truck wash only once when was on our first long trip cross country. Never again.

The refrigerator quit working for a full day. 

Luckily it started working after things dried out.


I keep a small fan going inside my refrigerator and it helps keep everything cool.
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John Stephens

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2017, 05:19:45 PM »
Scott - thanks for the fan link. For $155, I think it would be well worth it if it works as good as you say, and I have no reason to doubt your word.

Ardra - you mentioned a defrost cycle. I didn't know these units had one. I am getting a fairly thick coat of ice on the back wall of both sides of the freezer and am wondering how to get rid of it. If this thing has a defrost cycle, how often does it kick on and off? I just wondering how long to wait before I turn the fridge off to defrost the freezer. And if it automatically defrosts itself, where does the condensation go?
John

2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J

Rene T

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2017, 05:47:34 PM »
Scott - thanks for the fan link. For $155, I think it would be well worth it if it works as good as you say, and I have no reason to doubt your word.

Ardra - you mentioned a defrost cycle. I didn't know these units had one. I am getting a fairly thick coat of ice on the back wall of both sides of the freezer and am wondering how to get rid of it. If this thing has a defrost cycle, how often does it kick on and off? I just wondering how long to wait before I turn the fridge off to defrost the freezer. And if it automatically defrosts itself, where does the condensation go?

My last fridge did not have the defrost cycle. We waited till the frost just stated to effect shutting the door so then we knew it was time.
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ArdraF

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2017, 11:45:10 PM »
John, the defrost is only in the fridge box where the fins are located, not in the freezer sections.  When we're on a long trip of a few months I do an occasional defrosting of the freezer the "old fashioned" way, e.g. taking everything out and using a small hair dryer to defrost it quickly.  It's logical when you think about it.  When the freezer defrosts the water stays in the sealed section because there's no drain like there is in the fridge box.  You have to manually dry out the freezer when it's defrosted before returning food.

Our early RV refrigerators didn't have any defrosting, so this one is great by comparison! ::)

ArdraF
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2017, 08:22:21 AM »
Since there is only one "temperature sensor" for the fridge control board (mounted on the fridge funs), I'm guessing you are talking about moving around an auxiliary thermometer?  The only meaningful way to measure temps inside these fridges is to put the thermometer (or its sensor, if separate) in a cup or glass of water. That way you measure a more stable temperature.  The reason is what Scott said - there is no forced air circulation inside and temperatures are very uneven.  Further, they can be dramatically affected by the contents of the fridge, both the placement and the types of items. Moving either the thermometer or the contents around can change readings substantially, but be aware that the food temperature in that location is also affected.
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gravesdiesel

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2017, 09:19:48 AM »
I bought this for mine about a year ago.  Made a HUGE difference in cool down time, evenness of temperature and reduction of frost on the fins. Was a simple install too.  Title says Sometic, but it works for Norcold (which I have) too.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dometic-Refrigerator-Deluxe-Fan-to-INCREASE-cooling-inside-with-METAL-GRILL-/181208057633?epid=1054807255&hash=item2a30d78721:g:BV4AAMXQfj9SNg04&vxp=mtr
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John Stephens

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2017, 03:14:31 PM »
Gary - Yes, I am talking about an Accu-Rite thermometer that has two sensors - one for each compartment - and one monitor that you can set to alarm any temperature you want. I bought one for the home fridge and liked it so much, got another for the coach.

I don't understand why manufacturers don't add a small fan mounted on the fins to allow more even cooling throughout the entire box. The one that Gravesdiesel linked appears to be quite simple to install and uses the wiring for the interior light or any other 12v source. It surely wouldn't cost that much for them to begin making their units with something like this.
John

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More-Gas

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2017, 11:38:54 AM »
We keep a small circulating fan in the fridge all the time also we have a few ice packs that we rotate from the freezer to the fridge These methods really keep our temps constant.
Joe & Doreen
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More-Gas

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2017, 11:41:03 AM »
just to be clear the small fan runs on 2 d cell batteries it will run at least 4 months on the bats.
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8Muddypaws

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Re: Proper temperatures for a Norcold Refrigerator
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2017, 02:45:51 PM »
Have you tried to move the thermistor to decrease the set temperature?  Whichever fin it is on move it UP on the fin.  (Counter intuitive but that's how it works)

If that doesn't help search on 'Muddypaws Mod' on this site.  It involves putting a bit of foam insulation under the thermistor to slow down the heat conduction.  This made about a -5F difference on my 1201LRIM.

If that doesn't work or you want it cooler install computer muffin fans at the top of the system to suck air through.  (The fans make a huge difference).  Many people here have done this as well.

My refer stays at 33F, Freezers are at -18 and I never run it higher than 4.
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