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Residential fridge du jour


bhsl8

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Looks like I need to replace my Norcold cooling unit, at least, again so I’m entertaining the switch out to residential. I’ve seen issues with the previously popular Samsung units. What are the current options in vogue please? I have the 1210 model. A perfect fit would excite me. 
 

Brouck Sleight

2002 Dynasty                                                        
2020 Explorer ST    
2022 Indian Pursuit                                           

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I have done that before. 

 

Samsung RF18 almost perfect  

 

If you prefer the NorCold.  I have a almost brand new one I would remove from mine and sell you.  $1500.00. I will do the residential one in this coach too.  I do not Boone dock very often.  

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Best place to narrow down the choices based on size is AJ Madison, they have a filter you can put in the critical measurements.  https://www.ajmadison.com/refrigerators/.

The height is the most critical.  Make sure to choose a counter depth model unless you have enough room and it doesn't bother you if it sticks out 3-4 inches.  Also be aware of door swing and clearance. 

A lot will depend on whether you would be satisfied with a two door with about the came storage capacity.  There are a number of models that will fit the opening. 

If you want to go with a larger refrigerator there are only a few that will fit with minimal modifications.  What do you have above and/or below your existing refrigerator. 

In my case I had a furnace and wanted to keep it so it took quite a bit of modifications, had to lower the furnace to the ground and then make a support for the refrigerator above the furnace.  I actually did install a Samsung RF18, many people have.  Yes I have heard of some failures but not many.  I did an internet search at one point on Samsung failures/recalls and most of them were for the large residential models, the FR18 was not listed.  So a lot depends on who you talk to and believe.   

 

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image.thumb.jpg.5196f4298a05923009fedb67d6de56ae.jpgInstalled the RF18 4 years ago, zero problems and we are full timers.

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I went with a 17.2 cu ft Hisense (link below).  It fits perfectly width wise but is just a tad taller than than the Norcold.  If resources were limitless I would have much preferred a french door model for the fridge portion, but they were nearly twice as much as the Hisense I went with.  With slide in we can still access the fridge though it definitely doesn't open very wide.  With slide out we can open it almost a full 90 degrees.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Hisense-17-2-cu-ft-Bottom-Freezer-Refrigerator-Stainless-steel-ENERGY-STAR/5001252387

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I had similar reservations about the Samsung reliability and the last thing I wanted was to be on the road somewhere looking for someone to fix my fridge. After much research I went with a Fisher Paykel fridge. They are considerably more expensive but have excellent reviews. I have had a Fisher Paykel dishwasher in our home for 12 years. The french door counter depth model with icemaker fit great. It works fine on the modified sine wave inverter. One simple modification was building a new plywood base an inch lower just above the furnace. 

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I put in a Fisher & Paykel - it’s height was an inch or so shorter than the other ones I looked at. I needed to gain a bit of height by lowering my furnace (it was up on a 2x4) and then lowered the floor of the fridge compartment. 
8F7A744A-1ADF-4FF9-802B-A921A7361E9A.thumb.jpeg.a1356ffa9ae83a831de9ea3548c79e06.jpeg

so I needed a couple of inches for height- then it was slightly narrower than the “Never Cold”. I added a 2” oak strip (1/4” thick) on the side for trim to finish it off - and match the oak kitchen. 
 

I have really liked this fridge (installed last December).  Best Buy could order them in. It was a bit more expensive, but the size fit well. 
Model#
RF170 ADX 4N

to get it in the MotorHome, took out the chairs, took off the closing bar on the door - so it would max swing, took the doors off the new fridge, added painters to tape to the doorway and two big delivery dudes lifted it into the MotorHome. The old one came out easily- after the sawzall put in on a “diet”.

We full-time, added 400w of solar to cover the power. 
 

To keep the doors closed when traveling- we added some stainless steel loops to the wood on the side, then we just use a strap that goes through the loops to hold the door closed (one for fridge, one for freezer).

We were amazed at how much more room we had in the new fridge and freezer!

Good Luck

Edited by Rocketman3
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One thing that made my decision easy was that I found the Samsung RF18 on clearance one day for $865.  At that time my Norcold was still working but I needed an extra refrigerator while I was building the SB.  Then when the Norcold crapped out I had the fridge ready to go.  I could not get mine through the front door (overhead TV cabinet) so removed the passenger side window above the table and slide it through there (should have done that the first time).  

Last year in ND the outside temps were +100F and the sun beating down on the side of the coach with the refrigerator in it.  Fridge stayed cold and dropped ice all day long.  I would have been throwing food away if I had the Norcold.

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4 hours ago, bhsl8 said:

Looks like I need to replace my Norcold cooling unit, at least, again so I’m entertaining the switch out to residential. I’ve seen issues with the previously popular Samsung units. What are the current options in vogue please? I have the 1210 model. A perfect fit would excite me. 
 

Brouck Sleight

2002 Dynasty                                                        
2020 Explorer ST    
2022 Indian Pursuit                                           

Here are your options depending on your use case.  Your use case has a substantial impact on which option will fit best for you:

- Option 1: If you are on the grid nearly full time and do not have significant solar power, then stay the course with your existing absorption refrigerator, but make the following changes: 

  • Buy a new 12V compressor style cooling unit for your existing refrigerator from JC Refrigeration.  Then, if you are within a reasonable driving distance from JC Refrigeration in northern Indiana, have JC Refrigeration install the new compressor based cooling unit.  You may also have JC refrigeration ship a cooling unit to a qualified local installer

 

- Option #2: If you have significant solar power (i.e. more than 300 watts) and have more than 200 amp hours of usable battery capacity (this is 200 amp hours of lithium or 400 amp hours of Lead Acid), and your solar power is available while your RV is stored , then do proceed exactly the same as Option #1:

  • Buy a new 12V compressor style cooling unit for your existing refrigerator from JC Refrigeration.  Then, if you are within a reasonable driving distance from JC Refrigeration in northern Indiana, have JC Refrigeration install the new compressor based cooling unit.  These units only consume 60 watts when the compressor is running.  You may also have JC refrigeration ship a cooling unit to a qualified local installer
  • Another equivalent choice of a 12V compressor RV style refrigerator that has the interior storage and features of a residential refrigerator are the RecPro RV 12V refrigerators.  These refrigerators have doors that will not open when you are on bumpy roads just like your existing Norcold and they include standard mounting hardware so that you don't need to do a custom installation. The only catch is that they may or may not fit your existing opening, so measure carefully:
  • Another alternative, just for this use case, is to purchase a counter depth residential refrigerator that fits your existing opening, but keep in mind that will be a custom installation which requires that your inverter is on full time since residential refrigerators run on 120VAC.  Although most residential refrigerators run on 75-200 watts, the issue is that most inverters draw a significant amount of additional energy (typically 45-100 watts) which put a substantial additional load on your solar system and battery bank.  Be careful of advice to run a residential refrigerator without considering the additional electrical load of running an inverter full time.
    • Other big disadvantages of residential refrigerators verses the JC refrigerators compressor cooling units is that the don't have a provision to keep the doors from opening when encountering bumpy roads and they expel their heat into your RV instead of outside your RV.  Most RV rooftop ACs are barely sufficient, thus adding a residential refrigerator heat load will make make cooling your RV more challenging in the summer.

- Option #3: If you are not on the grid nearly and do not have significant solar power, then stay the course with your existing absorption refrigerator, but make the following changes: 

  • Buy a new absorption style cooling unit for your existing refrigerator from JC Refrigeration.  Also, buy the ARP Absorption Boiler monitor (Called the Fridge Defend) from https://www.arprv.com to eliminate the potential of a cooling unit fire.  Then, if you are within a reasonable driving distance from JC Refrigeration in northern Indiana, have JC Refrigeration install the new absorption based cooling unit with the ARP Fridge Defend boiler monitor.  The ARP Fridge Defend will also substantially increase the lifespan of your absorption cooling unit by protecting against boiler overheating conditions which lead to internal corrosion and failure of the cooling unit.  For additional peace of mind and an absolutely "safe" refrigerant for an absorption cooling unit to make a fire impossible, JC Refrigeration also offers  helium based absorption cooling units so you can optionally select a helium based cooling unit instead of an Ammonia based cooling unit:

Above all things, your personal safety comes first.  So, if you fit into use case #3 above, be advised:

  • In all cases, never buy the Norcold or Dometic OEM new gas absorption refrigerators or their associated replacement cooling units due to the risk of fire.  Although both Norcold and Dometic have partially addressed their fire issue via safety cutoff safety switches for runaway boiler overheating situations, their cutoff switches don't turn off the boilers until a much higher temperature is reached versus the ARP Control.  Also, the JC Refrigeration units have much thicker tubing than the OEM units and are MUCH more efficient at keeping your refrigerator and freezer temperatures down in the safe range.  
  •   The #1 insurance claim in the RV insurance industry is refrigerator fires.  NEVER run an ammonia based cooling unit without an ARP Fridge Defend and / or a fire suppression system attached to the cooling unit.  If you are depending on the Norcold and Dometic recall kits alone (i.e. thermal runaway switches) then you are at risk for an ammonia fire when the thin OEM cooling unit tubing corrodes and dumps flammable ammonia on your open propane flame or electric heaters.  I have personally been there and done that with my Norcold OEM cooling unit when it failed and was very fortunate. 
  • The JC refrigeration Helium based absorption units are vastly superior to the OEM ammonia based cooling units from a safety perspective as there is no potential for fire as Helium doesn't burn.
 
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I try to rack my brain and do a “mental recap”.  We had a few, but probably very few issues with the original Samsung.  That one was a model than had a slightly better energy rating.  Somewhere along the ways, Samsung switched to the current 18 CF model….which is about one CF smaller, and seems to be a little less energy efficient.  There were come control board issues with the originals.  So, when you try to digest and compare, don’t lump them all together.

i made the switch in 2017.  I had read all the posts and designed my own “blocking or locking” system.  Got the idea from Frank McElroy and it was Bill Groves (RIP) a that used double stick tape.  I when with DST but used SS plates and some wood and made it “easily removable”

I also began to do a lot of reading and I noticed from the pictures and personal tales that there was a lot of misinformation.  Many were focusing on the aesthetics of the install.  Some had elaborate frames or facial boards added.  One had a car upholstery shop make a vinyl, screwed on, façade so absolutely NO air got inside,

I did NOT know until mine was being pulled out and the dealer, a very competent and very experienced installer said…you want the insulation left?  NO was my response.  I instinctively knew you needed air circulation.  After the install, I had an issue. My upper and lower vents were wide open.  Then it hit me.  This thing fails when it gets really cold….maybe 5:00 AM.  I lived with that until I got home.  Called the Samsung hot line.  Got a REAL Samsung (their truck….not GE or Lowes).  He laughed,  I had insulated both the frame and the covers.  That resolved the “why did it shut down” issues.  He said that it was a frequent call when someone upgraded an old unit in a garage or an outbuilding or on a porch and put in a “residential” unit.  They will shut down because they have a much narrower ambient temperature range.  You can still by all weather units.  You do NOT need this in the Motor Home.

Therefore, you have to pull out the insulation on the sides of the Norcold or adhered to interior walls.  You want AIR CIRCULATION.  Not having good air circulation is or was misunderstood and folks that had issues had created a problem or the installer was not well informed.

Bottom line.  A Samsung 18 CF 7 it has an excellent reliability issue when the MH has had the vents (side and/or top) sealed and there is adequate air flow around the unit.  Putting in a decorative facade that makes it look nice is detrimental and could lead to operating issues.

Based on all comments here, the newer Samsungs have a very good record,,,,,past may have been a design issue OR a problem with the installation that lead to premature or control board issues.  Having said that, no appliance is 100% fool proof.  I read some of the complaints and there were many that were not awarde of the need, at home, for the all weather unit and the appliance store never asked WHERE it was going to be used.

i would purchase one again in a heartbeat….

as to the comments and such….you have to decide what is best for you, but many have stated that they wishes they had not invested money for a new cooling unit as that was more than 50% of the cost of a res Refer INSTALLED.  There are also a myriad of issues with door seals and control board,…so my spend money on trying to salvage a device that can be deadly or is costly to repair and not as functional…

EDIT.  This topic could/should have been merged with the 3 pages discussing the same subject.  Please click on the link below.  It has a wold of good info….some redundant and posted every time replacement comes up….but it has many points that are or have not been made here…

There is a good exchange on “boon-docking and running the Generator”.  The facts and consensus of many members are there if you are concerned about battery life and boon-docking and how often you have to run the Genny.  The consensus, 4 years ago and it has not changed.  You need reasonably good batteries.  Folks swear up and down theirs are perfect.  If they will recharge back to 80 or 90% of their original specs, then running a 4 bank set for 3 hours every 24 hours works for the majority….and this was a long round table discussion with real energy measurement by at least 30 members at the 2018 Gathering.  So, it is factual.

Edited by Tom Cherry
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We also replaced the fridge with a Hisense 17 fridge with ice maker was $750 (at the time) from Lowes. Due to the furnace and plumbing, it was not really an option lower the floor of the fridge space. look only at "counter depth" fridges. then measure width and height. The power cord and any water line will add another 0.25 inch to the max depth of the fridge. so make sure that you include any protrusions at the back. When loading the fridge through the door, tape the light switch flat so it does not catch on the door frame.

The fridge fits perfectly. Just note that you should upgrade to a PSW inverter or add a dedicated inverter. A 1000W should be fine as ours consume about 250w when running. I lucked out and was gifted a 2000w PSW inverter that I then installed in the space adjacent to the batteries (same side as the fridge).

Have fun with this install.

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I am replacing my Norcold as well.I am looking at a Vitrifrigo fridge with freezer (marine product) I have one of there fridge/freezer chest as a temporary solution for now,when I do purchase the new one the chest will become the freezer in the basement. All electric. Might be worth checking out,running off the grid these seem to be very effective. 

Citimarinestore.com

Wayne 

1999 Signature ceaser 

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I have found the Samsung RF 18 on sale at Lowes right now. Replacing the Norcold with this unit appears to be the best option by far, both in terms of dollars and importantly safety. 
I thank all of you that chimed in with useful information and suggestions. 
I do have some slight confusion yet about the question of the insulation with the install. Some say yea, some say nay. 
I would hear further testimony. 
Thanks again. 
 

Brouck Sleight

2002 Dynasty                                                    
2020 Explorer ST                                              
2022 Indian Pursuit

 

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Residential refrigerators require space and airflow to operate correctly.   If you look in the manual it will have minimum clearance requirements.  It's hard for a RV owner to achieve these but the more the better.

I pulled all the insulation from the sides of the cabinet the Norcold was in.  I also pretty much left the bottom open to allow for air flow.  I have a ~3/4" space around the sides and top of the fridge at the cabinet space to allow for air flow.  I put ~2" spacers on the back wall to keep the fridge spaced and also keep it off the electrical outlets.  I also added blocking on the sides to help center the fridge in the cabinet.

I insulated the ceiling vent to seal it off.  I took some styrofoam and insulated the outside door, closing up the vents.  I also cut a piece of styrofoam that fits tightly in the opening of the outside door. 

Since mine is above the furnace there is a vent door mounted in front which allows for good airflow under and up behind the fridge. 

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Jim is correct about the airflow. Even though some is required it is not huge.

Measure and measure to make sure it will fit. The RF18 was just to tall for us.

One other thing is to block all outside air flow. That is the top and bottom fridge vents in the fridge space.

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I have noticed lately that many OEM household fridges are not Samsung. Lots of Whirlpool. Even with buying power a Samsung is considerably cheaper than Whirlpool. Must be a reason for not installing Samsung. Could be all the lawsuits against Samsung.  

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After 2 house Samsungs failed me, I looked at my options and chose a GE w water and ice in the door.  I had to lower the floor closer to the furnace, but fits well and been happy ever since.  

20200926_185250.jpg

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