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Norcold 1200 cooling unit


michaelivan

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We have a 2003 Windsor 40PST and I am needing to do a repair/replacement on my Norcold 1200.  The cooling unit has ceased functioning and so I am exploring a few options.  Option 1 would be to replace the existing cooling unit.  Option 2 would be to replace the unit with a residential unit. Option 3 would be replace the entire unit with a new Norcold 1210.

We only use the MH about 75-100 days each year and so it sits in storage for extended times.  While in storage I do have 30 amp power connected so we normally keep the refer on and ac/heat on to control humidity in Florida.

We have a storage drawer under the refer that the wife really likes and would like to keep it.  All of the seals on the doors are still in good condition and don't appear to leak any cold air so there is no reason to replace the entire unit.  We are also used to the capacity of the 1200 so we have learned to plan grocery shopping to keep the shelves stocked.

I am leaning towards the JC refrigeration Dutch Aire (Amish) Hvac compressor cooling unit.  It would allow us to keep the existing unit (and the needed drawer}.  I was just wondering what others have experienced with the compressor style cooling unit.  Also. it comes in either 12v DC model or 120v AC model so which is better/best? We seldom dry camp except for an occasional overnight in Walmart of a truck stop and have always gotten by using either the inverter or the genset.

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I replaced the cooling unit of my Norcold with the Amish unit two years ago in my 2003 Signature, and have been very satisfied so far. I didn't want to change cabinets and lose storage, and I wanted to keep the propane option. It only took them less than two hours to get it all done. I also recently added their interior fin fans.

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Posted (edited)

I'm not really concerned about the propane option so that's why I am looking at the Hvac units.  Hvac should give us the reliability of a residential unit without the costs of modifying the cabinets.  Just wondering about the 12v vs the 120v models since the 12v takes the inverter out of the equation.

Edited by michaelivan
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I installed the 12v compressor unit last year and am very happy with it. As you said, the 120v unit needs an inverter when you are not on shore power so that is a waste of energy. J C says the compressor is the only difference in the two units. I definitely suggest you go with JC's 12v unit.

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Michael,

I/we are in the same boat.  We bought our coach with a non-working 1200 (we were told it worked).  The cooling unit is out on it.  I've looked at all the options and have decided to go with the JCI unit.  The only question is if I will put it in, or have them do it.  But the one thing I wanted to mention is that when I called JCI, I inquired about a DUAL compressor 12V unit for the 1200, like they offer for other refrigerators.  They said that they are introducing their 1200 dual compressor 12V unit THIS month, and they are taking orders.  We live in Texas where it gets VERY hot.  My brother, who lives in PA., got a JCI 12V single compressor for his coach and put it in himself and he loves it.  But I'm concerned about it keeping up with the Texas heat - although I haven't heard anyone complain on any of the RV boards.  Everything I have read said the single compressor 12 V unit stays cold and people are happy with it.  But after looking at all the pictures of burned out coaches and reading horror stories of people that lost everything and barely escaped with their lives, I think I would replace it anyway.  These 1200's are fire hazards, and Norcold knows it.  Which is funny since the last 3 Norcold's I have owned are/were bullet proof.  One of them is 46 years old and still working great!   Good luck my friend.

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Mike, you will get LOTS of opinions and recommendations. The following is just my personal opinion of the Norcold 1200 - I will NEVER own another RV if it has a NotSoCold 1200 or anything even similar to it installed. It could be the most "perfect" RV and I will walk away unless it is or can be easily removed and a residential installed.

The NotSoCold is the biggest POS ever built and has caused millions of dollars' worth of damage and a loss of life. Not to speak of the thousands of RVer's who have spent thousands on upgrading it only to discover more problems later on.

After dealing with years of "tricks" attempting to get mine to work correctly along with thousands of dollars spent on spoiled food an angel appeared and told me that it was time to dump this POS and get a fridge that really works.

I also had storage under the NotSoCold. After the conversion I still had storage, it was just a little less storage.

I've been very happy ever since for the last 10 years.

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I replaced my cooling coil about three years ago with the 110 v compressor unit. Did it myself. If you are handy you can. JC was very helpful if I had a question during the installation. Just called them. FYI Get a couple of extra cans of foam and more aluminum tape if you do it yourself. I foamed and taped mine well. Compressor is not a problem with the inverter. It uses very little power. When boon docking I’ll be running the generator some of the time anyway. That keeps the batteries up too. I’m happy with my unit. No problems . No fires.

Jim 2000 Dynasty Jeep Liberty Toad 

Mississippi Gulf Coast 

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This is a little off subject, but I was wondering if the fire danger on these units is the same when using AC instead of the propane? If the hydrogen leaks out, there may be a less chance of ignition without the propane flame. Also, how does the cost of the compressor for the Norcold compair to a residential unit swap out?

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18 minutes ago, Stuboy said:

This is a little off subject, but I was wondering if the fire danger on these units is the same when using AC instead of the propane?

Many of the fires come from the heating elements for the 1200, not leaking hydrogen.

Our Norcold gave up the ghost and we went through the same dilemma.  Boondocking was critical.  I strongly considered the JC Refrigeration propane unit but without a helper I couldn't do it myself and driving to Shipsewanna was cost prohibitive.  Probably could have had a mobile mechanic help but would have driven the cost way up.  I abhor dealer servicing (time out of service and cost).  

If it would have fit I could have gone with a residential unit and worked out the boondocking issues.  My unit has a furnace and plumbing under the fridge. 

I ended up finding a 1 yr old Dometic 1352 for $750.  Same fit and function as the "NotSoCold".   This summer will be our first test. 

6 hours ago, michaelivan said:

I am leaning towards the JC refrigeration Dutch Aire (Amish) Hvac compressor cooling unit.  It would allow us to keep the existing unit (and the needed drawer}.  I was just wondering what others have experienced with the compressor style cooling unit.  Also. it comes in either 12v DC model or 120v AC model so which is better/best?

As for michaelivan I'd trust JC Refrigeration with their new dual compressor unit.  If 12V you'll need to run some heavier wiring to support the extra current.  Worth it vs the 12V->120VAC inverter losses IMO.  Some people run a separate inverter just for the fridge but there's still those pesky energy losses. 

Sorry for the plug but I have our old Norcold 1200 for sale in very good condition (except the chilling unit) with good door seals, electronic boards, etc all for $100.  Someone could rebuild this unit then do a quick swap out vs having to do it all inside the coach in a few hours.  I know Dr4Film would love to see our 1200 in a landfill but I hate throwing stuff away.  There's more life in this box for the right person. 

- bob

 

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I'm afraid we may have missed a few points on residential vs JC compressor.

1. The residential definitely is not made for an RV which resembles an earthquake rumbling down the road. Many people have experienced problems just due to continuous shaking, and I've heard of warranties have been denied.

2. Getting a residential fridge into a coach often requires removal of a window or windshield.

3. The compressor retrofit by JC is much more efficient at keeping a constant and desirable temperature in both the refrigerator and the freezer. Just think back on your ice cream that got thrown away due to ice crystals forming while in the absorption freezer. Problem resolved with a compressor unit, residential or compressor retrofit.

Just sayin...

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I have the JC conversion 120 volt unit for the past 2.5 years and it works great. I dry camp 90% of the time and I'm full time.

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Just finished up another 5 day rally with my converted Norcold 1200. I had JR install the 12v compressor and I can't be any happier. My seals were good and it maintained -3/26 on setting 3 all week. I had to run a heavier 12v line from the batteries (either 10 or 12ga - can't remember which) and I went an additional step by putting a shutoff switch and 25amp circuit breaker in the new 12v line. Now I did have my awning out this week which does help keep the temps a little cooler but coming home and sitting in the hot sun, it is still +1/39 on the same #3 setting. And I have gone 36 hours and still had plenty of battery left (4 - 6volt).

I'm a very satisfied JR fan!

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8 hours ago, Stuboy said:

This is a little off subject, but I was wondering if the fire danger on these units is the same when using AC instead of the propane? If the hydrogen leaks out, there may be a less chance of ignition without the propane flame. Also, how does the cost of the compressor for the Norcold compair to a residential unit swap out?

It is far greater on 110VAC than on propane.  It is NOT the propane that causes the fire, but the heaters concentrating so much heat (even after the recalls reduced the wattage) in such a small area of the coils,  fatiguing the metal and then an arc igniting the ammonia solution. 

  - Rick N 

I'll offer this for your consideration.  The Norcold, eccentric when new, did not have as good of insulated refrigerator box as most residential refrigerators have.  If you are not interested in the propane feature, I would not upgrade the Norcold with a non- propane cooling unit.  I say this as on owner of a Norcold with the Amish modification (propane).  Also consider that the the replacement parts for your old Norcold, are expensive, if you can even find them. Your 20- yr old unit will likely need new door seals in the near future - they are no longer available (unless you buy complete new door with the seals).  Also, I suspect putting a new cooling unit will cost as much as a new residential refrigerator. 

  -Rick N 

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Ditto Tim, we installed our 120 volt JC conversion unit about 18 months ago and are very happy with it also.  We live in South Texas and the 120 volt system keeps icecream rock hard.  Couldn't be happier.  God Bless you in this project. Ed & Sylvia

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For 10 years I did everything I could to keep the Norcold working, replacing fans, control cards, sensors, ice makers and heaters. That is after the original owner had replaced the cooling unit. I finally found a $600 Frigidaire refrigerator that would fit in the same spot, above the furnace that sits under the Norcold. I removed the doors on the Norcold, and with the help of three friends, we lifted it out through the emergency exit window. The Frigidaire came in the same window. Total process took about an hour. No modification of cabinets and it holds more food, freezes fantastic, and only pulls one half amp, runs perfect on the four house batteries, and weights a lot less than the Norcold. Now, I sleep at night without that worry and if it quits, I will go to Home Depot and buy another one.

I live close to Colaws. a large RV salvage business. Seeing all of the burned out motor homes gave me night mares, so that was added incentive to make the move. I evaluated going with the compressor cooling unit, thought about it for several years. but I was tired of rebuilding the Norcold and waiting for something else to fail. Every time I walk pass the Frigidaire or open it for a cold drink, or see the wife standing there with door wide open, looking for something, I just smile.

Greg

2000 Diplomat

 

 

 

 

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I also have an amish cooling unit and never really been happy with it.   It still frosts up and sometimes temps are higher than they should be.   I would go residential if i were you.
 

I have also read that some of the residential units fit fine through the door, so check before you believe that comment a few message's back.

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I upgraded our Norcold 1200 with the 120V JC conversion unit last year as well. The process was very straight forward and one of the best modifications to date on our coach. The temps in both freezer and chill box have never been better!

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I wonder how long it will be before owners who still have the NotSoCold in their coach start posting about their fridge doors falling off. One had fallen off and was repaired by the original owner with metal sheeting even before I purchased it after they owned it for 2 years. Then one day my wife opened up the other door and the entire thing landed on her foot. Used JB Weld to fix that one. 

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12 hours ago, pulsarjab said:

For 10 years I did everything I could to keep the Norcold working, replacing fans, control cards, sensors, ice makers and heaters. That is after the original owner had replaced the cooling unit. I finally found a $600 Frigidaire refrigerator that would fit in the same spot, above the furnace that sits under the Norcold. I removed the doors on the Norcold, and with the help of three friends, we lifted it out through the emergency exit window. The Frigidaire came in the same window. Total process took about an hour. No modification of cabinets and it holds more food, freezes fantastic, and only pulls one half amp, runs perfect on the four house batteries, and weights a lot less than the Norcold. Now, I sleep at night without that worry and if it quits, I will go to Home Depot and buy another one.

I live close to Colaws. a large RV salvage business. Seeing all of the burned out motor homes gave me night mares, so that was added incentive to make the move. I evaluated going with the compressor cooling unit, thought about it for several years. but I was tired of rebuilding the Norcold and waiting for something else to fail. Every time I walk pass the Frigidaire or open it for a cold drink, or see the wife standing there with door wide open, looking for something, I just smile.

Greg

2000 Diplomat

 

 

 

 

Greg, could you please tell us what the Frigidaire model number is at Home Depot?

Thanks, 

Carey

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1 hour ago, Idoc57 said:

Greg, could you please tell us what the Frigidaire model number is at Home Depot?

Thanks, 

Carey

Greg, the only Frigidaire models that I can find at Home Depot are about 3" taller than my Norcold.  That would mean losing the storage drawer in order to make it fit.

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The model I installed is FFHT1425VB. It works great.

 

I would have preferred French doors with water and ice in the door, but could not find one small enough to fit without modifications. In addition, the fridge is in the hallway so protruding door handles was not a good idea. Installed, I ended up with about six inches to spare on the side and top which was easy to block off with 1/2 inch plywood painted black. I may do something different, with that space, but for now, just enjoying the RV.  

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I am installing a Nova Kool refrigerator model RFU9200. No propane needed & runs on AC/DC. From all I've read and researched it should cool down in 30 minutes. Much more interior space with the same footprint, 9.1cu/ft. works in the same space as my old norcold unit.

 

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  • 1 month later...
On 4/17/2022 at 4:15 AM, pulsarjab said:

The model I installed is FFHT1425VB. It works great.

 

I would have preferred French doors with water and ice in the door, but could not find one small enough to fit without modifications. In addition, the fridge is in the hallway so protruding door handles was not a good idea. Installed, I ended up with about six inches to spare on the side and top which was easy to block off with 1/2 inch plywood painted black. I may do something different, with that space, but for now, just enjoying the RV.  

How was the depth on your FFHT1425VB install? I have an ‘04 Diplomat and am looking at installing this same fridge.

 

 Thanks!

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