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Old 09-01-2019, 05:45 PM   #1
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Default Are you concerned about your propane refrigerator?

My old propane refrigerator had electrical wires that were burned up and could have actually started a fire....

Fortunately, this didn't happen and the refrigerator was removed before any incident... BUT, it was very close to the propane flame and and could have burned up my RV...

So, I'm advising you that this is a possibility for anyone using an absorption refrigerator. You might want to check your current setup.

My new replacement refrigerator will be installed soon and will be on AC/DC, no propane at all.

I can see why many newer units are using compressor refrigerators and avoiding this safety risk.

I've read recently that the large majority of van fires are from improperly installed or electric wire failures with propane refrigerators . Make sure you're very careful using your propane refrigerators especially around fueling stations. They should be turned off while driving.

Do you agree ?
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Old 09-01-2019, 06:53 PM   #2
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My old propane refrigerator had electrical wires that were burned up and could have actually started a fire....

Do you agree ?
Considering the millions of absorption units that are out there in service without damaged wires, I would be more interested in determining how/why the wires got "burned up" than simply replacing the refer.

Dave
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Old 09-01-2019, 07:29 PM   #3
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Default Dave, I know, but that wasn't my point..see below

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Considering the millions of absorption units that are out there in service without damaged wires, I would be more interested in determining how/why the wires got "burned up" than simply replacing the refer.

Dave
Dave, yeah I know that there's a lot of people with absorption refrigerators... millions?? I don't know about that ?

My overall point is that you really don't know what condition your electric wires are unless you check.....

My old absorption refrigerator was the original installed unit from Roadtrek. I incorrectly "assumed" that it was installed properly and safely....who knows what happened... maybe it was OK when they did it and it's just aged out.

My refrigerator unit failed to work on propane and electric and when it was removed from the cabinet we discovered that all the refrigerator electrical wires were burned through and fried.... doesn't matter... this is NOT GOOD.
These wires on the top of the refrigerator were adjacent to a thin piece of "balsa wood" that framed in the refrigerator, a perfect easily ignition to start a fire... and less than a few inches from the active propane flame burning. All of this could have been a huge disaster had it caught fire.

It would be a very interesting question on whether my insurance company would have covered this if the van burned up.... I really don't want to know or find out..

Imagine sleeping in the van and this happening?? I don't think it sounds like an "E-TICKET" ride at Disneyland???
Do you?

That's my point.
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Old 09-01-2019, 08:01 PM   #4
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My overall point is that you really don't know what condition your electric wires are unless you check.....

My old absorption refrigerator was the original installed unit from Roadtrek. I incorrectly "assumed" that it was installed properly and safely....who knows what happened... maybe it was OK when they did it and it's just aged out.

There is also the point that you can't see most of the wiring so it can't be checked, and if fused properly it shouldn't be all burned up.



Absorption frigs historically have lasted way, way, more than 8 years without "aging out", so something else happened and it sure would nicer and way safer if you could know what it was so it won't happen again.
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Old 09-01-2019, 10:37 PM   #5
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My Dometic 2310 came with my 97 PW, so it's 22 years old. Last year I pulled it to do some routine work including adding more insulation around the cabinet. And I also burped it...as long as it was out. When it was on its top, I checked the wiring on the bottom and tried to clean the manual function switch with electronics cleaner. All wires were good going to and from the switch. The rest of my wiring is accessible from the back and that was good also.

Obviously you're not keeping it but above comments which suggest that your situation is atypical are worth considering even as you make the changeout.

My worry about propane has to do with leaks. In addition to the fridge both my water heater and the furnace run off of propane. I yearly have a leak-down test run on the system and regularly use soap to look for leaks.
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Old 09-01-2019, 10:58 PM   #6
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Dave, yeah I know that there's a lot of people with absorption refrigerators... millions?? I don't know about that ?
Really? The thread is about propane safety and refrigerators, yet you would rather argue about how many units are in service than acknowledge the point I was trying to make? So, if it makes you feel better pretend I said thousands instead of millions. There, all better now?

I'll try again - You seem to make a real focus on safety for you and your family while camping but if you don't know what burned the wires, how can you assume there isn't another issue that needs fixing? That's all I was trying to say.

I don't usually like to just replace things - I want to know what caused a failure so I can prevent it happening again. If you are happy with your new refer, then I am happy.

Dave
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Old 09-01-2019, 11:40 PM   #7
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Really? The thread is about propane safety and refrigerators, yet you would rather argue about how many units are in service than acknowledge the point I was trying to make? So, if it makes you feel better pretend I said thousands instead of millions. There, all better now?

I'll try again - You seem to make a real focus on safety for you and your family while camping but if you don't know what burned the wires, how can you assume there isn't another issue that needs fixing? That's all I was trying to say.

I don't usually like to just replace things - I want to know what caused a failure so I can prevent it happening again. If you are happy with your new refer, then I am happy.

Dave
"U.S. ownership of RVs has reached record levels, according to a 2011 University of Michigan study commissioned by the RV Industry Association. Approximately 10 million households now own an RV."

This is a quote from RVIA:

https://www.rvia.org/media-resources/rv-quick-facts


So yeah, I would say millions is a good number. And that's just the U.S.

It didn't take long for this thread to go sideways.

On topic: If the OP had burnt wiring, something was not right. I replaced a 17 year old fridge a couple years ago, wiring looked good everywhere and I used the original wiring to hook up to the new fridge. I would wonder if someone had issues and replaced the fuse with something much heavier, or aluminum foil. Obviously, something was not right. It would really promote safety to find out what the issue was/is and where exactly the burnt wires were/are.

Pics would help, showing the burnt areas.
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Old 09-01-2019, 11:48 PM   #8
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It didn't take long for this thread to go sideways.

Which very possibly could have been the intent from the beginning, based on past history.
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Old 09-01-2019, 11:55 PM   #9
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Which very possibly could have been the intent from the beginning, based on past history.
Yes, or maybe he simply believes whatever a 'professional' tells him, or he likes to make up stories rather than write novels, or............

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Old 09-02-2019, 01:18 AM   #10
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What do the burnt wires have to do with propane, did the propane flame burn the wire?
Wires can also burn on a ac/dc unit.
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Old 09-02-2019, 01:40 AM   #11
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I went to totally no propane 5 years ago. So, I am way ahead of the game

Seems to me you are still finding out the great deal you thought you had bragging it up when you first came to the forum is still rearing its ugly head on workmanship. Absorption refrigerators have been the mainstay for RVs for many years and have been mostly reliable. Propane is relatively safe if you know the precautions involved. I think it is just a pain remembering to shut it down when fueling and going in tunnels and riding ferries. Electrical wiring, IMO, is the least concern in regard to propane.
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Old 09-02-2019, 12:50 PM   #12
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Interesting discussion. The Amanda cycle refrigerator is a nice thing in homes where it doesnít move. In RVs, it is in the top three trouble issues.

Really love my compressor refrigerator freezer.
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Old 09-02-2019, 02:30 PM   #13
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Interesting discussion. The Amanda cycle refrigerator is a nice thing in homes where it doesnít move. In RVs, it is in the top three trouble issues.

Really love my compressor refrigerator freezer.
What are the other 2?

Tks

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Old 09-02-2019, 07:46 PM   #14
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What are the other 2?
Sprinter emissions system & Sprinter speed sensors?
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Old 09-02-2019, 08:03 PM   #15
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I went to totally no propane 5 years ago. So, I am way ahead of the game

Seems to me you are still finding out the great deal you thought you had bragging it up when you first came to the forum is still rearing its ugly head on workmanship. Absorption refrigerators have been the mainstay for RVs for many years and have been mostly reliable. Propane is relatively safe if you know the precautions involved. I think it is just a pain remembering to shut it down when fueling and going in tunnels and riding ferries. Electrical wiring, IMO, is the least concern in regard to propane.
First, I never said that I got a "great deal", maybe a "fair deal"?

Also, I didn't spend close to $250,000 on my Class B; easily done with tax, license, registration and insurance.

I'm sure your ARV model is absolutely stunning. I've actually seen them personally and was very impressed, but, not $250,000 impressed.

As for turning off the propane in tunnels, ferries etc. - don't worry, they'll stop you and ask you to do that, you don't have to actually remember. I know, they stopped us on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

We're still going to have propane for the LPG generator and the heater. Just no refrigerator.
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Old 09-02-2019, 10:43 PM   #16
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What are the other 2?



Tks



Bud


Just my observation, leaks and batteries.
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Old 09-08-2019, 05:02 PM   #17
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Default nothing wrong with his post

Fires from the fridge and over heated blown out tires are the major causes of RV deaths and accidents. He is just trying to keep you safe with a little reminder of something that could have gone deadly wrong. I'm going to be sure to check at least what I can see. thanks for your post
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Old 09-08-2019, 06:11 PM   #18
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I run my 'fridge on 110 VAC when I'm home because it's parked on a slope, and I don't want the flame tilting into the side of the flue.

But in doing so, I get an email from SoCal Edison warning me my electric bill will go up about $50.00/mo. It's a feature of their service; with a smart meter you can set a threshold for unusual usage and they fire off an email.

So I measured the power draw just from the refrigerator and found AC operation runs about 200 to 400 watts continuously. It does not cycle on and off. Hotter days it's more. So this is one very inefficient way to run a refrigerator off from AC power. In comparison, my Whynter compressor-based fridge/freezer runs only 17 watts average. That's a massive difference.

Then there was the time when I was parked overnight in my Roadtrek and a stiff wind was bearing down on the refrigerator vent, and I had the front panel removed to fix a knob. I woke up the next day with a headache, and realized -- I had a case of CO poisoning. The front panel has seals to keep CO out, and those are just one more thing that needs maintained.

A frequent cause of RV fires are these absorption refrigerators. And when they get old, they can leak ammonia. So the risk factors here are quite significant.

So now I'm in a newer class-C and I'm looking for an excuse to replace my relatively-new fridge with a compressor based unit. Just to be safe.

______________

And I wonder if my friend, Amanda, knows she's a risk factor?
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Old 09-09-2019, 02:53 PM   #19
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Interesting about the absorption refrigerator power usage being 200 - 400 watts. That's about double what I thought (I think I'll hang a Kill-a-watt on my rig to see what mine is).

Running your absorption unit on AC on a slope will kill it. Regardless of the source of the heat input, the evaporation and condensation plumbing needs to be level.

Not having to deal with that is pushing me toward a compressor-type. But I really like the freedom from electricity worries that propane provides, so I keep my old Norcold.

[Edit] The Kill-a-watt says 180 watts AC being drawn by the Norcold in my 2004 unit, with the temp control set to max and the refrigerator interior starting at about 65 degrees F.
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Old 09-09-2019, 04:30 PM   #20
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rvsprinterguy, your worries are unwarranted. The draw by modern compressor fridges is minimal. Those of us who came after the absorption era, and therefore aren’t burdened with your calibration, hardly ever contemplate that it could be a problem.
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