Replacing Fifth wheel RV refrigerator with regular apartment size?

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Atchisons

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Joined
Feb 26, 2009
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My mother recently moved, full time, into a 12 yr. old fifth wheel that had been lightly used and appeared in good condition. It's in a permanent location, running on shore power from a post type breaker box in the ground outside.
This week the refrigerator/freezer unit quit working. It still wouldn't operate after switching to propane so we were told that it would either need an expensive replacement of the heating element or even more expensive cost to replace the entire appliance. It was recommended that we replace it with a standard 9 cu. ft. apartment refrigerator  as the cabinet can be customized to accommodate the size and this RV will never go down the road again.
My question is; has anyone here done this or is familiar with that conversion?  How complicated is it to shut off the existing refrigerator propane feed so that an AC appliance is operating safely in the same space?  I would have it done professionally, if it is feasible.

We know very little about these units and it didn't come with a systems manual so I greatly appreciate any insight those of you with knowledge about this can offer.
Thanks,
Randi
 
There are a couple of different kinds of home refrigerators, and the best way to install each depends on what kind of condenser coils it has.

The easiest refrigerator to install is one that has the exposed condenser coils on the back. Just remove the old refrigerator and put the new one in place, so the coils are in the same place as the old refrigerator.

The advantage is the refrigerator's operating heat will be dumped outside the rig, so it doesn't add to the summertime air conditioning load.  The disadvantage is the area to the rear of the refrigerator is open to the outside air, so you have to create a seal between the refrigerator and the front edge of the cabinet to avoid drafts in the RV.

If your new refrigerator exhausts it's heat through the bottom, you can seal the outside openings (the vented door and roof vent), leave the air space underneath the refrigerator open and let it dump it's heat inside the RV.

A third kind of refrigerator has the radiator tubes inside the metal shell, and radiates the waste heat through the skin.  You want to avoid this type unless you're installing the refrigerator free standing with the required clearances on all sides.

As far as capping the propane line, you'll have to make a plug.  Go to a hardware store and get a flared fitting similar to the one you'll see when you remove the gas line from the refrigerator.  Screw this into the flared fitting at the end of the gas line, then cap the pipe thread end.  Be sure to use gas rated Teflon tape or pipe thread compound on the pipe threads.  Or you can remove the copper tubing at the gas manifold underneath the rig and cap it there.
 
The refrigerator I've ordered is a Danby, single door, 9 cu. ft. , 59"h x 24"w. A gentleman who has said he can do the replacement for us seems to have some knowledge of the requirements, but also indicated that we wouldn't know exactly what we're dealing with until the old one is removed. The new unit will fit in the existing width, but the wall panel at the top will have to be cut out to accommodate the added height. I'm waiting for the arrival of the new unit, before removing the old, as my mom is using it as an ice box. I'm hoping that taking the old one out is a fairly simple operation after disconnecting AC & propane from the panel.

I thought the wisest thing is to have the plumbing company, that put in the permanent propane ground line, do the permanent gas line capping so that I'm not risking potential problems with a "do it yourself" mishap. When it comes to plumbing, wiring and gas I like to leave the work to those that are licensed.
I have been looking online for an instructional video on removing the RV refrigerator, but haven't found anything yet.

Again, thanks for your input and help.
Randi
 
We did the exact same thing in our TT. We bought a used one, but after a couple of months the fridge went out. Replacing with a apt fridge was the best thing we did. It was cheaper and it gave way more space to store food. It is very easy to do too!
 

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