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Norcold refrigerator


Ann Henry

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NOTE.  The THREADS HAVE BEEN COMBINED.

No punitive action taken  Please do not do coninuations or new threads with similar topics unless at lease a Month has transpired.

We are having trouble with our Norcold refrigerator. A red light is on behind the outside refrigerator panel. we rest it using a magnet so the red light goes off. We then start the rigerator with either electric or propane, it runs for about 15 minutes and then it shuts off and the red light is on again. any ideas as to what we can do?

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22 minutes ago, Ann Henry said:

We are having trouble with our Norcold refrigerator. A red light is on behind the outside refrigerator panel. we rest it using a magnet so the red light goes off. We then start the rigerator with either electric or propane, it runs for about 15 minutes and then it shuts off and the red light is on again. any ideas as to what we can do?

That recall device is there to shut down your fridge as it is overheated and if it were to continue it could catch fire. It’s probably time for a conversion kit or new fridge. I’m sure you’ve heard about coaches burning to the ground because of fridge fires.

Please do not continue to run fridge. Other will chime in on this soon.

Edited by Gary M
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As Gary has stated, your device is doing its job. There is obviously a major problem with your NotSoCold as the stack is overheating causing the safety device to shut it off.

You have options available. Do your research and due diligence as to what they are then make a wise choice.

I chose to install a residential fridge 10 years ago and it was the BEST decision and upgrade to the coach I have even made. I will NEVER own another coach unless it has a residential fridge installed.

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2 minutes ago, Dr4Film said:

As Gary has stated, your device is doing its job. There is obviously a major problem with your NotSoCold as the stack is overheating causing the safety device to shut it off.

You have options available. Do your research and due diligence as to what they are then make a wise choice.

I chose to install a residential fridge 10 years ago and it was the BEST decision and upgrade to the coach I have even made. I will NEVER own another coach unless it has a residential fridge installed.

Richard nailed it. I had a Norcold in a Winnebago. I traded the MH and knew that my extended warranty would have had to take a big hit. This was for the DOOR gaskets. They are non replaceable and a new set of doors is more than the cost of a Samsung Res Refer...the 17 CF model that 90+% of folks use. The safety issue, though, is the main concern. Some folks have installed new compressor replacements and others have bought the Amish units.  Mixed reviews...so just think that it may NOT be the most cost effective solution to keep the old box, with the doors, and put big bucks into the Amish installation....UNLESS you do it yourself. It is VERY labor intensive and there have been more than a few cases where the installer botched it and it had to be redone to make it efficient as air leaks are a problem.  Only qualified, experienced folks or very meticulous owners have had success. We have had many that abandoned the Amish and the Norcold a year or two afterwards.

There is a thread going on VENTING....if you decide to take the plunge, read it.  It deals with what to do to make it work. Common sense....plus having a knowledge of what needs to be done to make the newer, more energy efficient units, working.  Mine has been in for 5 years and once I insulated the rear access panels, no issues.

start at the top and read down....good experience from folks that understand....

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We are still contemplating leaving on vacation with our RV but we have some more questions:

If we turn off the breaker to the refrigerator and unplug it from behind the outside panel door, will I have to worry about a fire, thinking of just taking a big cooler with us.

Can I still use the propane for my stove, will I be safe?

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Not sure where you live, but we have a former Monaco employee just south of using Junction City, Oregon, business name Amazing Creations, who replace the fridge with a residential for under1k.  You provide fridge of course.  Scott 8s his name, knows these coaches inside and out.

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Why would you not be safe running fridge, especially using ac power only? Why are you worried about all this? It is probably more risky driving the freeways in a RV than worrying about these other things. It is all about the level of risk you want to take based upon factual data. Only you can assess this for yourself. 

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In her other thread she stated the protection devise keeps tripping which is a sign something is not right with it.

As stated above, just shut off the fridge and no worries. Everything else will work as normal. 

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2 hours ago, Ann Henry said:

We are having trouble with our Norcold refrigerator. A red light is on behind the outside refrigerator panel. we rest it using a magnet so the red light goes off. We then start the rigerator with either electric or propane, it runs for about 15 minutes and then it shuts off and the red light is on again. any ideas as to what we can do?

Ann, depending upon where you live, there are two professional installation options: RV Dealer or JC Refrigeration

  • JC Refrigeration, located in Northwest Indiana, charges ~$300-$500 for the install of a new cooling unit.
  • RV Dealers charge ~$500-$900 to install a new cooling unit

Assuming that you prefer to keep your dual fuel propane refrigerator, I personally recommend JC Refrigeration for your new cooling unit:

https://jc-refrigeration.com/product-category/norcold-gas-electric-cooling-units/

And an absolute must to protect your new cooling unit from early failure is to add the ARP boiler controller:

- Buy Kit #2 https://www.arprv.com/purchase.php

So, your total repair bill will be:

  • Install Labor
  • Cooling Unit
  • ARP Control
  • New electric heaters (From JC Refrigeration, Don't use old heaters on a new cooling unit)
  • New Condenser Fans (From JC Refrigeration, Don't use old worn out fans on a new cooling unit)

 

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And you can use your propane stove safely.  Simply powering off the refrigerator from the panel is sufficient.  Unplugging the refrigerator is not helpful because the refrigerator will still run off of propane automatically if you power on the refrigerator.  

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Having had a frig fire, DO NOT use it again. I was lucky to catch it right away so there was little damage but it was burning like a blow torch. Those refrigerators have filled rv bone yards with burnt down rv's.

If you ever have a fire the appropriate extinguishing agent for ammonia is water. A aftermarket company makes a add controller that prevents these fires.

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With our old Norcold I had to do the magnet trick once.

We went through this about 9 months ago when our Norcold just stopped cooling.  We got lucky and found an equivalent 1 yr old Dometic absorption fridge for $750 (Facebook Marketplace - owner swapped it for a residential fridge).  On a really hot day, especially while traveling, it doesn't hold it's own but I do a *LOT* of boondocking, 2-3 days at a time, so (other than a Samsung RF18 wouldn't fit) we're stuck with an absorption fridge.  You situation may be different. 

As a diagnostic you could try testing it on propane or replacing the heating elements (they cause fires, too) but with the age of your Norcold I'd recommend replacing the unit or, if the doors and seals are in good shape, having JC Refrigeration aka "The Amish People" rebuild your Norcold.  They schedule it by appointment and can have it done in a few hours.  Downside is they are in N IN.  They'll ship the chiller for $250 but you still need a qualified installer.  Personally I don't trust my local techs, and the local shops make you leave your coach with them for weeks or months. 

Under no circumstances should you test it without setting a lawn chair out and watching with 2 fire extinguishers in your lap and a water hose at the ready. 

Why is it fridge has a 'd' but refrigeration doesn't?

Good luck,

- bob

 

 

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17 minutes ago, Steve Maurer said:

What really is the risk?

Risk is always a personal issue.  There was lengthy thread on irv2 concerning absorption fridge risk.  User FridgeDefender has several posts in the thread. 

We used a dorm fridge for several months while we contemplated our issue.  It was enough to 'get by'.  It sat in the hallway in front of the bathroom sink.  Better than a cooler and waaayyyy better than a fire.

Consider a 12V cooler that you can plug in to a cigarette lighter.  After you get your new fridge you can keep the cooler up front for instant access to drinks or, my favorite, cold coffee!  Some have freezer compartments.  Prices and features are all over the map. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=12v+cooler&crid=5S29URGEQNWH&sprefix=12v+cooler%2Caps%2C258&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

- bob

 

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1 hour ago, Steve Maurer said:

Hi, has anyone compiled how many fires versus how many refrigerators? Or any data of full time use vs 3-4 times a year.

What really is the risk?

Just Curious.

It's not about the number of fires versus the number of refrigerators. Or whether you are a Full-Time or Part-Time RV'er. These RV's are fully engulfed in flames within 4-5 minutes and totally crispy in 15-30 minutes.

The rear of the NotSoCold is like a chimney flue and that's why the fire escalates so quickly.

What it boils down to is whether you want to take the risk or not.

I chose not to over 10 years ago, so I sleep very well at night not thinking about how to use the emergency window and taking all of my important stuff with me.

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Ann,

Sine you are a new member, you probably weren’t aware of some of the “protocols” and started a second post when the first was adequate.  I have combined them and we all welcome new folks,,,,some are long time MH owners and others are newbies…. So we don’t know your experience and knowledge.  The Norcold fires have impacted many here.  It is a real “hot button”….thus the concerns. Many members and we moderators try to assist, but when there are two,threads, the information blurs.  I have combined the two threads.

Your response about not using the Norcold indicates that you do understand the life threatening consequences of continued use.  That is the main thing and many have chimed in quickly to help you and your family stay safe….as well as not endangering your fellow campers.

Your Windsor MH is one of the better MH’s that Monaco built without going to the higher level models.  As an Ex Safety Director for a large division of a Fortune 500 company with 20 plants, I tend to be a bit “fanatical” about safety….especially fire safety.

Next up, the easiest way to safely shut down your unit is as follows….and also to be the least disruptive.

Look on page 211 of the owners manual.  You can download that from Monaco if you don’t have one.  It appears that the refrigerator (labeled Freezer?) is fuse 12 in the bedroom overhead area.  Remove that fuse. This should kill the DC power.  Turn off the Refrigerator breaker in the 120 VAC panel.  As a a somewhat redundant measure, the OCD Safety Director in me, that will not go away, also suggests that you open the hatch behind the refrigerator and unplug the power….you may have one or two cords.  Then it would not be necessary to cut off the propane and you can cook.  If you are somewhat knowledgeable, there may be a propane shut off valve on the back of the refrigerator….but removing the fuse should suffice. If you see and recognize the 1/4 turn gas valve, turn it off…..

Most of the community, myself included, would recommend that you not pour any money into the Norcold.  Painful as that might be, it is rarely a good investment.  There is a thread going now on the “things to consider” when upgrading to a residential refrigerator.  There are probably many Windsor owners that have done this and might chime in.  If they do, contacting them using the internal messaging option is a great way to get info…

Good Luck and enjoy your outing, you will be safe and I know that I speak for all….and that is what we want.

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I own a 2002 Windsor, my Norcold refrigerator died back in 2018, I did reset the black box twice with a magnet but it tripped both times.  So I unplugged the refrigerator and used a small dorm refrigerator until I found time to replace. 

On my rig the propane fed the furnace (located under the refrigerator), the refrigerator, and the stove.  There was no valve to shut off individual appliances, the only valve is at the tank which shuts all the propane off.  There was a Tee fitting under the refrigerator next to the furnace that supplied propane to the refrigerator.  The other option is to take the line loose from the refrigerator and plug it.

I had already purchased a Samsung RF18 that I had used while I was building my new house and had intended to use it when (not if) the Norcold died so that's what I did.  Although we do boondock I was pretty sure we could get by with a residential. 

Here is a post I did on IRV2 on my install, it was tricky because of the furnace and limited headroom.  https://www.irv2.com/forums/f115/samsung-install-finally-done-461001.html 

I also got some great advise from VanWill and Bob Nodine who had both covered to residential with the furnace under their Norcolds.  This conversion is not for the faint of heart due to the height restriction but it can be done. 

If you are not interested in that much work you can

  1. Replace the Norcold with a similar model
  2. Convert your Norcold using one of the conversions
  3. Replace your Norcold with small residential that will fit in the same space with not modification, this is probably the cheapest option and could be done in a day. 

 

Edited by jacwjames
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42 minutes ago, jacwjames said:

I own a 2002 Windsor, my Norcold refrigerator died back in 2018, I did reset the black box twice with a magnet but it tripped both times.  So I unplugged the refrigerator and used a small dorm refrigerator until I found time to replace. 

On my rig the propane fed the furnace (located under the refrigerator), the refrigerator, and the stove.  There was no valve to shut off individual appliances, the only valve is at the tank which shuts all the propane off.  There was a Tee fitting under the refrigerator next to the furnace that supplied propane to the refrigerator.  The other option is to take the line loose from the refrigerator and plug it.

I had already purchased a Samsung RF18 that I had used while I was building my new house and had intended to use it when (not if) the Norcold died so that's what I did.  Although we do boondock I was pretty sure we could get by with a residential. 

Here is a post I did on IRV2 on my install, it was tricky because of the furnace and limited headroom.  https://www.irv2.com/forums/f115/samsung-install-finally-done-461001.html 

I also got some great advise from VanWill and Bob Nodine who had both covered to residential with the furnace under their Norcolds.  This conversion is not for the faint of heart due to the height restriction but it can be done. 

If you are not interested in that much work you can

  1. Replace the Norcold with a similar model
  2. Convert your Norcold using one of the conversions
  3. Replace your Norcold with small residential that will fit in the same space with not modification, this is probably the cheapest option and could be done in a day. 

 

Thanks for chiming in.  From the previous posts going back many years, the Amish or other conversions are expensive,  And there has been a fairly high failure rate as the sealing and how meticulous the installer is ….is a major issue.  Having owned a motor hime with bad door seals, the issue of sealing, due to the Norcoldks unique “pressure testing” and alarm is a real hassle.  The doors are only sold as new and the gaskets are not replaceable.  Many ingenious members have stuffed tubing and rope and such to “restore” the seals so they do not leak and others have salvaged doors to keep theirs going.

I THOUGHT that the Windsor was one of the units that had a “fitting in” issue due to the furnace location.  Bob and Van are well skilled and resource and meticulous.  Mine was easy as I reined the useless drawer and cut off the shelf or floor that the Dometic was used on and it fit like a glove and has been one of the best upgrades.  I fought the issues of efficiency on the Dometic 1402 and actually upgraded the cooling system and added in a secondary fan to remove heat so it ran cooler.  Still, a PITA a and it was NOT a residential equivalent.

For now, Ann appears to be safe and will have some time to consider all the options.

Thanks for the heads up on the shutoff valve,  There was not one on my Dometic, but one never knows with Monco.

Appreciate you input and wisdom.

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I agree for the most part about use after it shuts down and having that red light on. However, I had the recall performed and several months later had the red light on and was just getting ready to make a trip. Still had electrical connection. I went to my dealer and they tested the recall device and found I needed another device. Norcold supplied the device through the dealership and they installed it. I had no more issues with it. BUT the cooling unit failed a few years later and I had the amish unit installed and so far it is doing ok.  I had some sleepless nights over that refrigerator, hard to trust it. I remember they needed some date code off the original recall device, and made me think there were some of them that failed. But required me to have the dealer check it.

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To elaborate on my issues with the Norcold.

It really never did keep the refrigerator temps cool enough all the time.  I did add a helper fan to try an push more air across the back of the fridge but I didn't see any real change.  Also played with the thyrister on the fins in the fridge but didn't seem to make a big difference.   I started using two remote temp monitors so I could keep an eye on it.  When the refrigerator temps started to creep up I would move freezer blocks to the fridge to keep temps in the safe range.  But I also know that over the years we threw out $$$ worth of food.    With all of this in the back of my mind I knew that when the time came I'd replace with a residential fridge.  I started to collect information on the change from both the Monacoers and IRV2 website, specifically installs with a furnace underneath.  So when I saw a new Samsung RF18 on clearance at Lowes for $855 it was a no brainer, I used it for a year while I was building our house and then stored it in the basement until I could find time to install in my Windsor.

So I did do the install as mentioned in a previous post but to remove the Norcold we took the cooling unit off the back.  I found that there was a pretty wide air gap between the cooling unit and the heat sink/transfer plate for the fridge due to the amount of adhesive they used.  This was probably the problem with cooling issue, not a good heat transfer from the cooling unit to the fridge. 

I was able to take a couple long trips last year and found that while boon docking my generator use did not change that much depending on electrical use and sunlight since I have 325 watt of solar.   And since I traveled in the summer I was having to run the generator for AC sometimes anyway.  But the proof is in the pudding in that when I was in ND in July of last year outside temps were +100F but the Samsung preformed flawlessly.   Parked in the open, no shade, couldn't have awing out due to high winds, and the sun beating down on that side of the coach the fridge kept temps cold and dropped a tray of ice about every 1.5 hours🙂

For me converting to a residential made sense

Edited by jacwjames
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