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Author Topic: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?  (Read 44447 times)

Jeff

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #90 on: December 10, 2013, 03:46:38 PM »
Gary you are absolutely right. We had three smaller sized refrigerators going back to 1972 and absolutely had no problems with any of them. I shudder to think some of the places we parked with them out of level back before anyone worried about it


Our issues have been with the 4 door models in the past ten years, one Dometic and the other a NoCold 1210.

Ned

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #91 on: December 10, 2013, 04:04:51 PM »
Our Dometic RM3862 lasted nearly 17 years in full time operation under all types of conditions and 147,000+ miles.
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
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moisheh

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #92 on: December 10, 2013, 05:15:35 PM »
We have been rving for 45 years. Had some small trailers and a few 5th wheels with no problems. They were all Dometic. In the 80's I had a Dometic in a MH. Replaced the cooling unit twice. Once was my fault. I left the fridge on for 5 days and it was way off level. In the last 20 years we have replaced ignitors and main boards. Again they were all Dometic. We had a Norcold 1200 9 years ago and it was fine. Our Norcold in the Bounder is a 1200 and so far so good. But I do worry about it failing.

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #93 on: December 10, 2013, 05:19:50 PM »
My Norcold 1200 works great too, and has since January 2004. Doesn't mean it couldn't explode tomorrow, but its been a good fridge. And now it has an ARP on it, so it's even better!

Watching my own fridge's temperature log has been enlightening. Looking at the temperature track, I can tell when I made a stop for lunch,  when I drove through a town and encountered traffic, and when I pulled into the RV park to register, and again when we moved to a site. The temperature reactions are nearly instant and very evident. But mine hasn't reacted enough to cause the ARP to trigger. Yet.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #94 on: December 11, 2013, 09:51:37 AM »
I asked Paul Unmack about ARP and off-level operation, to make sure I understand it correctly and gave a correct reply here. He made a couple of further points:

1. The cooling unit is sensitive to the direction of the tilt, i.e. a tilt to one side quickly disrupts the flow of liquid ammonia back to the boiler (because it has to flow uphill), while the same degree of tilt in the opposite direction lets the liquid flow downhill to the boiler and has less impact. It might even help a bit at a very small tilt angle. Tilts to the front or back have relatively little impact on boiler operation until the 6 degree mark. The bottom line is that we can't make broad statements about tilting a fridge or what ARP does or does not do for it. We have to consider the direction of tilt as well as the degree.

2. There are three possible tilt scenarios:

  2a. If the fridge is only slightly off-level, or off-level in a less-critical direction, it may not over heat at all, so no worries.

  2b. If the fridge is close to the critical point, the return of coolant may slow or become intermittent. This will cause a boiler temperature rise and ARP will catch it, preventing further overheating, and then restart normal operation after a brief cool-down. Another overheat event may occur, but perhaps not for a several minutes or a few hours. Cooling continues in between, as long as the 5 restart threshold is not reached. In this scenario, ARP has made continued operation possible without damage to the cooling unit.

  2c. If the fridge is sufficiently off level, coolant return ceases and an event will quickly be triggered. ARP will shut down for a cool-off, and then re-start. But if the fridge remains off-level, another event will SOON re-occur. And another and another. After 5 events, it shuts down with no restart, and the fridge interior begins to warm up because all cooling has stopped. It would have stopped anyway in this scenario, but the ARP has prevented cooling unit damage.

In 2B and 2C, ARP has in essence made it safe to operate the fridge off-level, where safe means no internal, long term, damage to the fridge.  So in that sense, ARP gets us back to the manufacturers 3/6 degree level specification.
Gary
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hes4all

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #95 on: December 11, 2013, 10:50:55 AM »
Thank you Gary for all your work and reporting on the ARP. I am in a quandary now. My Norcold 1200 has the Amish unit on it but now it needs a new board. The igniter doesn't work anymore.

So do I buy a new board and the ARP. Or change it out for a Samsung?

Regardless, I would have to put a new board on the Norcold to sell it and I would not be caught without any thing that offers protection to my family and me (ARP) for the cost of the ARP (cheap) in my book.

And here in Idaho, i can sell the Norcold pretty easy.

Sorry for the ramblelings, thanks again Gary!
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Snowman9000

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #96 on: December 11, 2013, 11:59:26 AM »
Thanks, Gary.
:)

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #97 on: December 11, 2013, 08:52:28 PM »
Quote
So do I buy a new board and the ARP. Or change it out for a Samsung?

Well, it's much cheaper to buy the board and an ARP, but with the Samsung (or similar) you get a much larger fridge, self-defrosting, and probably better cooling in hot weather too.

If your 1200 works well enough to keep ice cream in the freezer and beer ice-cold in the fridge, I might be reluctant to spend the extra $2200 or so to changeover to residential. Gotta weigh the $$ versus the extra benefits, and of course the family budget too. But if performance was only so-so anyway, I'd replace it.
Gary
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Jeff

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #98 on: December 11, 2013, 10:00:42 PM »
Our Samsung was $1050 plus $400 for installation.

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #99 on: December 12, 2013, 09:15:40 AM »
Sounds like you got off light, Jeff. Most coaches need more than a few cabinet mods, plus the expense of removing a window to get it in, getting rid of the old fridge, etc. Maybe you found some cheaper labor than typical RV shops?  Or did some of it yourself?  From what I have read elsewhere, typical professional installation cost is around $1000, plus $1000-$1400 for the fridge itself. The fridge price seems to be stabilizing in the $1100 arena lately, so I guess I should amend by previous estimate to be around $2100, and potentially as low as $1500.
Gary
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Ned

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #100 on: December 12, 2013, 09:47:01 AM »
Those prices make an Amish cooling unit plus ARP control look cheap.
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
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2007 GMC Canyon

Jeff

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #101 on: December 12, 2013, 12:14:23 PM »
The appeal of the 18 cu ft Samsung is that it is a counter depth model that is 4" higher than NoCold 1200 but fits the cutout for a 1200 for width and depth. With the doors removed the 1200 and the Samsung are 23" deep and both went out and in through our coach's door so installation including removing the 1200 took about 3 hours. The only mod to get them through the door was moving the copilot seat and a rubber seal on the door.


After the Samsung was installed I pulled it out of the wall and altered the base to satisfy myself by lowering the refrigerator about 3". Materials to do that were $35.00.


Ned unless you travel to Indiana most quotes I saw to have an Amish unit shipped and installed were in the $1600-2000 range.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 12:16:37 PM by Jeff »

Ned

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #102 on: December 12, 2013, 01:56:52 PM »
Dometic Amish cooling units are $635 from rvcoolingunit.com, plus $160 shipping.  Installation by an experienced installer shouldn't be more than about 4 hours, I would estimate.  Remanufactured are $525.  Add about $100 for an ARP.
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
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Jeff

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #103 on: December 12, 2013, 03:48:54 PM »
Sorry Ned, I forgot you had the smaller Dometic. The new Norcold 1200LR is $1165 plus freight.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 09:53:25 PM by Jeff »

toastergirl

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #104 on: December 12, 2013, 06:45:03 PM »
Okay, so for those of us who are RV newbies, most of this technical stuff is pretty confusing, but I am trying to learn. If I understood the post correctly, a lot of RV fridges need to be kept level, and if you leave them on and drive up or down hills or park somewhere where you are not level, it can cause problems up to and including catching your RV on fire. Is that right?

And your friend invented something to stop that from happening?

Sorry for my lack of knowledge, but I am still trying to figure all this stuff out. If I got the jist of the post, that sounds like a pretty awesome invention!
Today seems like a good day to burn a bridge or two.

Molaker

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #105 on: December 12, 2013, 07:13:06 PM »
Okay, so for those of us who are RV newbies, most of this technical stuff is pretty confusing, but I am trying to learn. If I understood the post correctly, a lot of RV fridges need to be kept level, and if you leave them on and drive up or down hills or park somewhere where you are not level, it can cause problems up to and including catching your RV on fire. Is that right?

And your friend invented something to stop that from happening?

Sorry for my lack of knowledge, but I am still trying to figure all this stuff out. If I got the jist of the post, that sounds like a pretty awesome invention!
Mostly, you've got it, but leaving them on while driving is not a problem even when going up or down hills.  When moving there is enough motion and vibration to keep the coolant circulation going and not cause blockage and possible dangerous heat build-up.
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hes4all

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #106 on: December 12, 2013, 11:57:06 PM »
The appeal of the 18 cu ft Samsung is that it is a counter depth model that is 4" higher than NoCold 1200 but fits the cutout for a 1200 for width and depth.

Jeff, you say that the Samsung in only 4" taller? I always thought it was 7"? Boy, this is really got me thinking now.

The repair for my 1200 is about $150 for the board and $80 for the ARP. I do the work because I work cheap.

Not to bad changing the cooling unit out , just to let you guys know. My son and I changed out the cooling unit to the Amish one and it took about 6 hours including a few calm down breaks!

And Gary, our 1200 works great now. The only time I have ever gone above 5 was in Leadville this year @ 10,000 ft elevation. Had to set it on 6.

But I do like the idea of extra room of the Samsung too. What do I do?

Fix the Norcold then go from there. Can't sell it the way it is and I don't do that to people.

Thanks guys!
« Last Edit: December 13, 2013, 12:10:43 AM by hes4all »
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #107 on: December 13, 2013, 11:29:17 AM »
Quote
Okay, so for those of us who are RV newbies, most of this technical stuff is pretty confusing, but I am trying to learn. If I understood the post correctly, a lot of RV fridges need to be kept level, and if you leave them on and drive up or down hills or park somewhere where you are not level, it can cause problems up to and including catching your RV on fire. Is that right?

And your friend invented something to stop that from happening?

You got it pretty well.  ALL absorption RV fridges need to be very close to level to operate correctly. RV fridge manufacturers say that being a little off-level, or intermittent off-level while driving, is no problem. My friend Paul's research indicates this is not entirely true and that internal damage happens in those situations, albeit slowly in most cases.  Paul believes the ultimate result of that internal damage is failure and possibly a fire when it fails.  His invention prevents that damage.

The subjective part of the debate is how much damage and how long does it take to accumulate to the danger point.  And that, of course, varies with the the individual fridge and how it gets used.
Gary
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carson

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #108 on: December 13, 2013, 11:40:22 AM »
In other words, for people without the ARP, it would be advisable to turn the fridge OFF when anticipating a lengthy climb and descent until they are back on level ground. Not a big deal to do.

Carson, 
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...Logic works like a charm...

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #109 on: December 13, 2013, 07:11:33 PM »
And when you stop for lunch or pull into a fuel station or...
Gary
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Molaker

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #110 on: December 13, 2013, 08:20:03 PM »
Maybe I'll just get a block of ice. :)
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #111 on: December 14, 2013, 08:26:47 AM »
Like most everyone else, I never worried about the effects of uphill/downhill on the fridge, nor was I very concerned about brief stops where I was off-level. Watching the ARP demo, the thing that astounded me most was how quickly the boiler temperature shoots up once the tilt exceeds the critical value. What I had envisioned as a slow process that could be tolerated for short periods turned out to be more like a rocket launch, where it transitions from nothing to major effect in under a minute. Couple that with the scientific fact that the sodium chromate corrosion inhibitor is heat sensitive and you have, I think, adequate cause to be concerned.  Clearly the owner can manage this by turning off the fridge when at risk, but it sure is nice to have a device watching for the symptoms and automatically handling it for us. That way I get to enjoy RVing more.
Gary
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Molaker

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #112 on: December 14, 2013, 09:10:07 AM »
Perhaps what is needed is a "level" detector that senses the attitude and shuts the fridge off when too far off.  In fact, with all the hoopla and bad history, I don't know why it's not built in.
Tom & Joyce and Ditto the "don't tell her she's a dog" Westie
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jje1960

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #113 on: December 14, 2013, 01:18:21 PM »
While not having anything to do with leveling.... This picture is from a fridge fire that was very scary ( I was there and put the fire out) not something I wish to deal with again!  Our neighbor last summer was awaken by a big 'boom' and toxic fumes that quickly consumed the Endeavor MH.  End of the ordeal, they got out alright, we got the fire out before the fire trucks arrived.  Flames were already 4' when we started, not a nice situation.  RV fridges are wonderful comforts, however sometimes things go wrong.
Jim
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #114 on: December 15, 2013, 10:00:47 AM »
I think the reason that fridges don't have a built-in level sensor is that it is not a simple task to get it right.  If they put in a simple sensor, basically one that shut down at 2 or 3 degrees of tilt, they would be shutting the fridge off unnecessarily. The spec for "level" is 3 degrees in one direction, but 6 degrees in another. Plus, they would probably want to include a time parameter as well as angle (though the ARP demo suggests the time is very short). If they just put in a tilt sensor that shut down at, say, 6 degrees, then some people would have failures at less than that value and would rightly complain that the tilt sensor didn't do its job.  But probably more to the point, the fridge makers appear to believe that most fridges survive off-level operation in normal use, so no extra-cost sensor is necessary.

Atwood's new helium based RV fridge does have a level sensor as one of its features. However, in an independent test the fridge was tilted far to the side and the sensor did not activate, so its not clear how it works. For more on the Atwood fridge, see the series of videos from FRVTS. Here is their video that shows the Atwood tilt test: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YysfHocCQI
Gary
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Ned

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #115 on: December 15, 2013, 10:22:17 AM »
For one data point, our motorhome is off by about 1/2 a bubble both side to side and fore and aft.  I collected the boiler temperatures over a 24 hour period using the ARP and the graph shows normal cycling with no tendency to overheat.  The ARP set point was 174C and the maximum boiler temperature was 158C during that time.

Edit: Fixed temp units
« Last Edit: December 16, 2013, 07:20:26 AM by Ned »
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #116 on: December 15, 2013, 08:57:32 PM »
Cycling nicely!  While the data collection cabvle isn't a standard part of the ARP package, it is kind of fun to watch how the fridge cooling unit operates.
Gary
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Just Lou

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #117 on: December 15, 2013, 10:16:23 PM »
For one data point, our motorhome is off by about 1/2 a bubble both side to side and fore and aft.  I collected the boiler temperatures over a 24 hour period using the ARP and the graph shows normal cycling with no tendency to overheat.  The ARP set point was 174F and the maximum boiler temperature was 158F during that time.
Ned, why does the chart say the temperatures are in Centigrade Celsius?
« Last Edit: December 15, 2013, 10:20:13 PM by Just Lou »
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Ned

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #118 on: December 16, 2013, 07:17:08 AM »
Ned, why does the chart say the temperatures are in Centigrade Celsius?

Because they are.  I fixed the message units.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2013, 07:20:46 AM by Ned »
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Ernie n Tara

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Re: Fridge: How Level is "enough"?
« Reply #119 on: December 16, 2013, 07:56:20 AM »
Level sensors are relatively expensive components. With the associated controller, it could add as much as $70-80 to the manufacturing cost. A flow sensor based system would probably be less expensive and more effective.

Ernie
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