Selecting a Residential Refrigerator

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Ernie n Tara

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May 16, 2009
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Ft Myers, FL
My current endeavor is replacing my expired Norcold 2400 RV fridge with a residential. I thought my selection process might be helpful.  So:
Starting point
1. Norcold 2400 measuring 33 by 24.1/2 (approx) by 63.5 inches
2. Weight 250 lb.  plus
3. Installed in a full body slide
4. Cutout 63-3/8 by 33 inches
5. Depth of cavity 28 inches total less about 3-inches of high density foam on rear wall and hookups as below
6. Electric, gas, and water located at the outside wall (occupy about 2 inches at outside wall)
7. False floor located about two inches above the slide floor
8. Facing wood 7-inches below and 3.5 inches above cutout. With propane detector centered below in 5.5 by 2 cutout below
9. About 3/8 inches clearsnce on both sides behind facing
The above dimensions equate to a 33 inch wide, counter depth (28 inches), standard refrigerator which is usually 70 inches tall.
My initial candidate was a Samsung since there are many references to these being selected by others. They are available to fit the specified dimensions, including 28 inch depth (without doors) and 70 inches tall, but appear to have significant design deficiencies and I could find no one who would recommend them! Also Samsung has a terrible reputation for not supporting them. I also wanted to avoid relocating the service connections if possible.
Final candidate selected after days of searching is a GE French Door refrigerator (GWE19JSLSS) whose significant characteristics are:
1. 32-3/4 by 69-3/4 by 24-1/8 inches (without doors which extend into aisle)
2. 18.6 cu. ft.
3. Weight of 232 lbs.
This unit will fit with only minor modifications in the available space:
1.  To accomodate the additional height I have to remove the false floor for 24-1/8 inches minimum to lower the base about 3 inches.
2. I have to relocate the propane detector to a nearby spot (there's even enough wire to reach)
3  I must remove facing for three inches at bottom and top. Both are otherwise clear
4. I will use the large steel brackets I saved from the Norcold unit to stabilize and support the lower back
5  I will make new bracket for the back top to complete stabilizing
6. I will connect the refrigerator
7. I may either screen or insulate the access doors
Since I haven't received the fridge, I may find other minor adaptions, but that is basically it!

Ernie
 

kdbgoat

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Take plenty of pics please. I know this adds time to the project, but could definitely help others. Maybe put a write up in the library.
 

Ernie n Tara

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Ft Myers, FL
1930
Better performance, less fire risk, twice the room, lower power consumption! You are unique in my experience!
Ernie
 

Bobtop46

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Mar 11, 2011
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Bronson FL
Ernie,

Consider and research different methods to keep the doors closed while traveling down the road.  We used recube solutions, others use home made solutions.  We are happy with the recube solution.  Took a minute to teach the wife how to remove it, but she has the hang of it now.  We also like that it is magnetic so we can store it right on the fridge when not in use.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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West Palm Beach, FL
Those who boondock often may be better served with a propane-powered fridge.  Also, folks with smaller rigs may not have room for multiple batteries or carry a genset for re-charging them.  On the other hand, they probably have smaller fridges that use even less power.  However, I urge those folks to consider the residential option carefully, cause a modern compressor-driven fridge is highly power efficient and probably much more viable option than you may think.
 

DearMissMermaid

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Make sure the fridge you buy is made to be built in.

Most are OK, but some are not made to be built in and need air surrounding them.

In this RV park a guy was switching out his broken RV fridge for a house fridge and clarified with the seller (store)  that the fridge was OK to be built in to the cabinet. Well, the wrong fridge was delivered and his RV repairman installed it. No one realized it was wrong fridge until about 3am when he woke up to the fire starting!

Luckily he got it put out and it was discovered wrong fridge was delivered.

New fridge was delivered, correct one and installed.

But a few weeks later the owner lost his nerve and moved out of the RV, he was still freaked out about waking up to the fire and said he was suffering from insomnia something awful.

Like many RV's the fridge fire had him trapped between bedroom and exit door. That was his big worry, getting out alive.

 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Very few residential fridges are designed to be built in and all need ventilation air flow, but modern fridges  typically need very little air compared to 10+ years ago. Most draw air in underneath and let it flow up the back and out the front (over the top) and only need about 1" of space there, so easily accommodated.
 

JDOnTheGo

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Desert Southwest
One item to add Ernie - measurements/calcs to ensure you can get it into the RV - somehow.

I installed a large Samsung (23 cu. ft., counter depth, 4-Door) and had it pretty easy getting it in. Not everyone has massive windows that completely open though!  ;)
 

Ernie n Tara

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Ft Myers, FL
You are correct. In this case I planned to bring it in the door. Tho door is 28-1/8i inches wide to the frame. This was a detrrminent in selecting the 24-1/2 inch deep refrigerator. Full cabinet depth (28-inches)  would have required the refrigerator come straight in. That would, in turn, have hit the dash. The 24-1/2 inch GE will permit entering at an angle that misses the dash. I coiuld have gained about two inches by removing the frame, but that's a lot of work.

I didn't go into it because every rv is likely to be different.

Ernie

 

Photog

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Apr 5, 2009
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SargeW said:
Nice explanation Ernie! I would love to see pics along the way, and when you are done.
I'm with Sarge on this one.  I am considering the same swap out.
 

Ernie n Tara

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Ft Myers, FL
Job Complete!
We installed the new refrigerator yesterday:
1. I have attached before (with old fridge out) and after pics. The job went as planned and was completed in just over three hours!
2. First step was to make two cutouts:
  a. Baseboard at the bottom of before pic was removed by two vertical cuts (at either side) with a MultiTool.
  b. A 1.5 inch cut was then taken at the top of the cutout - total cutout was then 70 inches tall and 33 inches wide.
3. Second step was to remove the shelf seen in the bottom of the before pic. This required a horizontal cut (wall to wall) 25 inches from the front of the shelf; lifting the shelf out; and then removing supports on either side below the shelf (these were simple rectangles fabricated from 1- by 1-inch softwood and stapled to the walls).
4. The doors were removed from the new fridge and it was brought in through the door.
5. Water, 12 V, and gas lines were positioned against the outer wall (back in before pic) and the refrigerator was positioned in the cutout, plugged in, and the water was connected (I added a cut off in the water  line, gas line was capped).
6. Finishing. The following final touches were applied:
  a. Two small brackets were used to stabilize the refrigerator so the body extended 0.5 inches into the aisle. This maintained about 1.5 inches clearance at the rear (from the outside wall insulation seen at the center of the before pic).
  b. The doors were installed.
  c. Both vent doors in the outside wall were sealed and insulated by installing flexible sheets of insulation so they were both still operational.
  d. The propane detector, removed with the botton cutout, was reinstalled by cutting a 2.5- by 5-inch hole in the baseboard just to the left of the fridge and reconnecting the original wires.
  e. The after pic was taken.

In summary, the meat of this job was planning, not the doing. Of particular importance was the 23.5 inch depth of the selected fridge body. This left 4.5 inches of the standard counter depth to clear the attaching hardware and permit easy entry through the mh door.
A second important factor was using a MultiTool. That greatly improved access to make clean cuts.
There are still some minor tasks including trimming the edges of the cutout, and installing the stabilizing brackets I removed from the original fridge (once I'm sure everythihg works well). I may also decide to move the fridge another half inch into the cutout, but that is entirely optional. Everything works and it looks good right now.

Ernie
 
 

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DearMissMermaid

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Fabulous fridge!

I am curious how it will travel and any modifications to that.

For instance, how to keep the doors shut during travel and will the stuff inside stay put?

Next question... when can you do mine?  :eek:

Your fridge looks huge, how did you get it through the front door?
 

Ernie n Tara

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May 16, 2009
Posts
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Location
Ft Myers, FL
If you missed it above the fridge is 18.6 cu ft with an ice maker and water dispenser. Total cost of the project was just under $2,000.
With the doors removed the fridge, on its side, clears the open door, stop unfastened, by about 2.5-inches. Two men carried it in easily.
The doors have strong magnets and are adjusted so they lift slightly when opened. I suspect they will stay pretty well closed without supplementary fasteners. If not, I'll use one of the commercially available units.
The original refrigerator had two large (about 12 inches long and six inches high) steel brackets that were screwed onto the fridge and bolted to steel plates on the side of the fridge. I kept them and will probably install them on the new one.

Overall this has been a good project. I am particularly impressed with the quality of the design Winnebago used for this unit. Also, I haven't mentioned that the fridge is installed with clearance for ventillation (one inch below and above and nearly two at the rear.

Ernie
 

SargeW

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Where ever we park it!
To keep stuff in place, Diane uses plastic bins with rubber feet that sit on the refer shelves. Purchased on Amazon, all different sizes available. 
 

johnaye

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Aug 6, 2016
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DearMissMermaid said:
Fabulous fridge!

For instance, how to keep the doors shut during travel and will the stuff inside stay put?
Recubed solutions makes a door lock for $40.  I have one on my Samsung and it works great.  The only problem we have had is items falling of the top shelf of the refrigerator into the space between the shelf and the door.  We solved that with some spring loaded bars that we install before each trip.
 
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