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Author Topic: Norcold, again  (Read 498 times)

Dan de La Mesa

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Norcold, again
« on: October 01, 2017, 05:42:30 PM »
When we first bought our 2006 Winnebago View in 2015, we had problems with the propane fridge not staying lit. I solved the problem at the time by removing the accumulated carbon in the gas supply holes with an old toothbrush.

On our just-completed eastern Sierras trip, the fridge kept going out, but I blamed it on the high winds we were experiencing. I shielded the flame loosely with some foil, and that solved the problem temporarily, but there came a point where it wouldn't stay lit, period.

So, with a flashlight, I discovered that the flame source, a 1/2-inch horizontal tube with cuts on the top side of one end, had accumulated very hard deposits of carbon that the toothbrush wouldn't remove. I poked carefully with a piece of wire until most of the carbon came loose. Problem solved.

The manual says that the fridge is designed to be used in propane mode up to 5500 feet. I'm supposing that above that, the oxygen/propane mixture isn't right, causing the carbon accumulation. Now that I finally know exactly what the situation is, I can stay on top of it. We often camp up to 8000 feet and beyond, and so long as the slits in the tube are clear, there's no problem.

I'm still grumpy that Winnebago put in a fridge with this critical limitation -- operating lower than 5500 feet. Is it so difficult a matter, making a self-adjusting flame according to the altitude? I had a pickup with a self-adjusting carburetor over 25 years ago, and the principle seems similar.

ArdraF

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Re: Norcold, again
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2017, 06:09:40 PM »
Those Winnebago and Norcold workers live at an elevation of less than 1,000 feet (Illinois and Michigan) and don't know there's anything higher!  ::) I was given a cute little weather station and couldn't figure out why the humidity wasn't showing until monsoon season started when it worked.  Whoever designed it didn't know that desert environments often have less than 10 percent humidity so the lower limit on that gadget is 10 percent!  It works great when I'm in humid areas.

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

John Canfield

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Re: Norcold, again
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2017, 06:38:40 PM »
.....I'm still grumpy that Winnebago put in a fridge with this critical limitation -- operating lower than 5500 feet. Is it so difficult a matter, making a self-adjusting flame according to the altitude?...
That's the same fridge used industry-wide in thousands of RVs.

Quote
I had a pickup with a self-adjusting carburetor over 25 years ago, and the principle seems similar.
That self-adjusting carburetor is called fuel injection  :D. Even at altitude fuel injected engines benefit from superchargers or turbos to force more air into the intake manifold.
--John
2005 Horizon 40AD, 2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited
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Mile High

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Re: Norcold, again
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2017, 07:01:14 PM »
I've had absorption fridges for 30 years before this MH, and my house is at 6,500 ft so vacation is usually well above that.  I've never heard of the complication you are talking about until now.
Brad and Dory
2013 Winnebago Itasca Meridian 42E (new to us 2016)
2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
FMCA 457993 / WIT W170238
Denver, CO

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Norcold, again
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2017, 01:02:19 PM »
I think the 5500 ft thing is a CYA, probably excessively conservative in this litigious era. The engineers are probably confident it "works as designed" at 5500 ft - they can park an RV in Denver and verify that, so easy.  They aren't going to spend time & money to prove anything higher than that, so you are "on your own" legally.

As Mile High says, it probably works ok  to 7500-8000 and maybe higher, but no guarantee.   Similar situation exists with non-injected gas engines, e.g. generators. They may not work well above certain altitudes.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2017, 01:04:18 PM by Gary RV_Wizard »
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

SCVJeff

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Re: Norcold, again
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2017, 04:11:36 AM »
Don't blame Winnebago unless you KNOW there is another appliance (not made by them) that is guaranteed to work at altitude. All this is driven by sales, and there simply isn't enough call to go out of their say to even sell that point: otherwise they would. That includes all manufacturers of RV and appliances.

Best idea: Go to altitude, try it, track the data, and come back and post it. It will likely turn into a popular search result for those asking the same question. Out here it's easy to go from sea level to 8000'  in about 90mins, so I'll wait for it too..
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Dan de La Mesa

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Re: Norcold, again
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2017, 10:05:36 AM »
My primary point was that I had found a way to keep the refrigerator running by removing hard carbon deposits blocking the gas exit with something less subtle than a toothbrush, a thin wire. Other sources suggest blowing it out with compressed air, which is inadequate. Whether it will work at altitudes higher than 8000 feet I am unlikely to discover, considering that my personal carburetor has its own limits. And when that blows, I won't be needing a fridge, unless I end up where I had hoped not to.

John Canfield

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Re: Norcold, again
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2017, 10:14:41 AM »
The ultimate solution is to get rid of it and go to a counter-top household fridge assuming you have the space. I had nothing but grief with mine and wasted $1,000 on repairs and lost time over the years. A grand day in my life was when I watched the Lowe's delivery guys unload our Frigidaire and load up the removed Nocold in their delivery truck.
--John
2005 Horizon 40AD, 2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited
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Dan de La Mesa

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Re: Norcold, again
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2017, 06:45:15 PM »
How do you power a household fridge when dry camping? Do you have to run the generator?

John Canfield

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Re: Norcold, again
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2017, 08:30:45 PM »
We have 290 watts of solar (and an inverter of course) but when dry camping we usually run the generator 24 hours a day whenever possible. Our QuietDiesel only uses about 8 gallons per 24 hours, we've run it for five straight days before.  Nice to have the AC running when 'roughing' it.   :D
--John
2005 Horizon 40AD, 2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited
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Sun2Retire

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Re: Norcold, again
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2017, 09:17:49 PM »
Just as a follow-on, we're currently at 6200 MSL, and have a year old Norcold 1210 that generally performs very well, running in the 30s in hundred degree weather. But occasionally, as OP and others have reported, it's having some trouble lighting here at altitude so running on electric as we're not dry camping.

John's points are well taken, and performance wise the residential fridge will always beat absorption, but I'm still old school and want the propane appliances, heat and fridge for dry camping, which is why I opted for another Norcold when the first one died. Even though our Powertech supposedly burns a little less fuel than the Onan, I'd rather not run it if I don't have to (and yes, it is noisier  :( ). With 800W solar, if we watch the microwave and coffee pot usage, don't need the generator on full sun days.
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
Eezrv TPMS, VMSpc, 800W Solar
2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab
Stowmaster towbar & Brakemaster

John Canfield

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Re: Norcold, again
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2017, 07:09:41 AM »
I wish I had room for 800 watts of panels  :(  I was a holdout for a long time changing to a residential fridge because I also didn't want to lose the ability to run on propane but after several years of not having that ability, we don't miss it one tiny bit. We don't boondock very often so that factored into the decision.
--John
2005 Horizon 40AD, 2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited
Our Horizon projects
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Norcold, again
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2017, 09:14:34 AM »
Quote
How do you power a household fridge when dry camping? Do you have to run the generator?

You need adequate batteries and an inverter. Larger motorhomes like John's have the battery capacity, plus solar and genset for charging. Smaller RVs may be more challenged. However, modern "energy star" fridges are not power hogs. Just how much battery bank you need depends on the fridge chosen, your fridge usage habits, and how long you want to go between battery charges, but you should not assume that a residential fridge is impractical for boondocking. Many here do it.
Gary
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Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

John Canfield

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Re: Norcold, again
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2017, 10:25:17 AM »
^^ Yup ^^

My 17 cu ft Frigidaire only draws about 120 watts when running (not counting any defrost function), I've seen my Nocold 1200 (4 door) use 700 watts but that was probably with the door defrosters and the heat element running.

Cold retention is quite good so you could easily get by with the fridge turned off at night (assuming you aren't camping in 100 degree weather.)
--John
2005 Horizon 40AD, 2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited
Our Horizon projects
Our weather

Dan de La Mesa

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Re: Norcold, again
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2017, 07:58:34 PM »
That's enlightening about the house fridge power usage. Since our primary purpose in camping is to get away from civilization, complications and noise, we'll stick with the temperamental Norcold until it croaks. When it works, it works splendidly. The selector has five increments, and No. 3 keeps the ice cream hard.

 

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