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Old 06-05-2013, 10:27 PM   #1
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Default Dometic fridge auto selections

There was an interesting discussion on the Yahoo board a few days ago concerning what settings give what results for Dometic 3 way frigs. As it turned out, I think, what we had been told by the dealer, had others tell us, and what made sense to me, all were wrong. The dealer had told us the frig, when on auto, would do AC as first choice, gas as second choice, and DC as third choice, all without any input from the operator. Other folks said the same. We didn't have our 3 way long enough to figure out exactly how it all worked because we quickly decided the off level issue made it desirable to go to the compressor frig.

As it was described on Yahoo, there is an on/off button that turns on the frig, and is on the left. Next is a DC button with indicator light. If it is on when the power switch is on the frig runs on DC, and will NOT switch to AC or gas by itself. If the DC is on, you get DC with no other possibilities. If the power is on, the DC off, then you get to chose auto or gas mode with the third button column. Gas setting you get gas all the time, auto it will use gas unless AC is available.

This all came up in a discussion about things that could try to light a flame while you filling the van with gasoline. One poster said that when you are on DC, as many are while driving, the burner will never try to light, which is correct, and a good thing. Another poster described the operations of the controls, which was spot on. What he said he does is run with the DC on when going down the road, and in auto mode all the time. That way when he stops to camp or in a parking lot for a while, he just turns off the DC, and he automatically goes to gas. Makes sense.

But--what I know some folks do is to ALWAYS shut off the DC on the frig whenever they stop, including for gas. Their goal (maybe misguided) is to save their batteries, as they have heard the horror stories about how quick the frig kills batteries on DC. If they did that, while they had the third button on auto or gas (the only settings, no off), the frig would try to light, right when you don't want it to at the gas station. Maybe I am still misunderstanding, but it sounds like it would be pretty easy to mess up. My thought would be that the DC would disable the auto and gas modes until you reactivated them by pushing the button, not all by itself. You are right there anyway pushing the DC off button, so it would be no big deal and would eliminate the potential problems.

What say you folks that use the 3 way all the time, like we don't!
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:40 PM   #2
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Default Re: Dometic fridge auto selections

Note: this applies to Dometic 3-way fridges with electronic controls. This does not apply to older fridges with manual controls in case anyone is not sure if this applies to their fridge.

This is clearly a potential problem. I read through an owner manual and operation is exactly as you describe.

On or Off is well... on or off
Auto is Electric or Gas with electric having priority
DC overrides all other controls

It would be easy enough to create fire hazard you describe when refueling the van.

Fridge on, auto on, DC on when driving. Turn off DC when you stop to refuel (fridge is still ON and in Auto mode) and the fridge will seek electricity and not finding it the fridge will ignite propane gas............. while you are refueling !

If you have one of these fridges the best habit to get into is to use the on and off button. Only ever have it ON when propane gas ignition is not a potential problem.
If using DC turn the fridge OFF then turn DC ON.

Dometic does advise you to turn off all propane appliances when refueling.

Quote:
FOR YOUR SAFETY, when refueling, shut off all
LP gas appliances which are vented to the outside.
Thanks for sharing this info booster.
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Old 06-06-2013, 03:44 AM   #3
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Default Re: Dometic fridge auto selections

O.K., so we use our 3 way Dometic and we wonder if we are using it correctly. When we turn it on and to auto, it goes to AC first, then to gas, then, if it doesn't find gas, we've been told that it will go to DC. What we get instead is the "Check Refrigerator" light (if we aren't hooked up to shore power and we don't have the propane turned on.

There is also some sort of manual switch that will turn it between the 3 modes. So, when we want DC (12V) we use the manual button and select it.

When we are on Shore power, we set it to auto and it automatically chooses AC. When we are traveling, we have it set on DC at all times, unless we are stopping for more than an hour or so in which case we switch over to LP gas. We turn it off before traveling. We've been told it is a no-no to use propane while driving.

When we are boondocking, we turn on the propane to conserve 12V DC for other stuff.

Not that we have done this a lot. We are still new to all of it.

...........Rocky
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Old 06-06-2013, 12:45 PM   #4
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Default Re: Dometic fridge auto selections

Your description correlates with what I read in a newer Dometic 3-way fridge manual - the fridge will never choose DC - that decision is left up to the RVer. The "Check Refrigerator" light coming on is expected in the circumstance you describe as the fridge can't find AC or Propane so it is alerting you of that problem.
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Old 06-06-2013, 01:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: Dometic fridge auto selections

What Rok sees and has been told all looks fine, with the exception of being told the frig will switch to DC when on auto. As was mentioned, you only get DC when you select it manually. Since he only takes it off of DC if they are going to be stopped for an hour+, he is safe in a gas station.

I think the issue really is that Dometic leaves the auto/gas mode active and ready to run as soon as the DC is shut off. It is good from a standpoint of making sure you don't get spoiled food, but could be dangerous if used incorrectly while fueling.

I think it would be good for them to get the word out about how and why it is important to shut the frig to OFF when fueling (as there instructions say), so folks don't do the DC shutoff to save batteries thing.
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Old 06-06-2013, 01:57 PM   #6
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Default Re: Dometic fridge auto selections

I have a manual 3-way Dometic. I run it on propane almost all the time unless plugged in. It's not a big deal to turn it off for a few minutes when fueling diesel. With manual, I don't run DC much unless I know I am not going to stop much. It is too easy to forget to switch over and if we had not done so on a recent 3-1/2 hour stop at House on the Rock we would have certainly drained the battery.

I wonder if Dometic could put in a DC delay to switch over when stopped, of say, 15 minutes or anything you want to program it for to cover those short fueling and bathroom stops. Then you could pretty much run no-brainer.
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Old 06-06-2013, 04:27 PM   #7
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Default Re: Dometic fridge auto selections

What I wouldn't mind having is a "no propane" switch. That way, it can switch from AC to DC at will, without the risk of igniting fumes when filling up. Even better, perhaps a selection mechanism so one can turn off AC, DC, or propane individually.

Of course, the ideal would be having a propane fuel cell that charges a lithium-ion battery bank, then having the fridge be compressor based and completely electric, getting power to charge its batteries from the fuel cell, AC, or DC.
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Old 06-06-2013, 04:53 PM   #8
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Default Re: Dometic fridge auto selections

I believe Advanced RV has switched from using a propane Dometic to a 6.8 cu ft Nova Kool Danfoss compressor refrigerator/freezer. The Airstream Interstate uses a 3.1 cu ft Nova Kool under the cabinet but the large Nova Kool has the freezer on the bottom and the fridge part on top.
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Old 06-09-2013, 01:50 AM   #9
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Default Re: Dometic fridge auto selections

We have the 3 way fridge with the electronic controls in our 2008 C210P Roadtrek. Yes, the controls operate as booster described.

When we are driving, we run the fridge on DC. If we plan on being stopped for longer than an hour or so we will switch it to propane. When we have shore power we run it on AC. When stopping for gasoline, we stop well before we get to the pumps, turn the fridge OFF and then turn the coach battery switch off. That way none of the appliances can try to autostart. After we pull well away from the pumps we will turn the coach battery switch back on and then turn the fridge on and put it on DC.

Robert
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Old 06-11-2013, 12:59 AM   #10
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Default Re: Dometic fridge auto selections

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
Note: this applies to Dometic 3-way fridges with electronic controls. This does not apply to older fridges with manual controls in case anyone is not sure if this applies to their fridge.

This is clearly a potential problem. I read through an owner manual and operation is exactly as you describe.

On or Off is well... on or off
Auto is Electric or Gas with electric having priority
DC overrides all other controls

It would be easy enough to create fire hazard you describe when refueling the van.

Fridge on, auto on, DC on when driving. Turn off DC when you stop to refuel (fridge is still ON and in Auto mode) and the fridge will seek electricity and not finding it the fridge will ignite propane gas............. while you are refueling !

If you have one of these fridges the best habit to get into is to use the on and off button. Only ever have it ON when propane gas ignition is not a potential problem.
If using DC turn the fridge OFF then turn DC ON.

Dometic does advise you to turn off all propane appliances when refueling.

Quote:
FOR YOUR SAFETY, when refueling, shut off all
LP gas appliances which are vented to the outside.
Thanks for sharing this info booster.
Like trekerinsc, we got into the habit of hitting the "battery disable" switch on the monitor panel when stopping for any kind of refueling to prevent any appliance that requires 12V to fire up a DSI igniter from trying. My old Dometic fridge has a manual push button igniter to fire it up on propane, so it's not a problem(we don't try to run it on propane while driving), but your water heater or furnace could be inadvertently switched on while refueling, causing an unwanted and dangerous propane ignition/flame situation.
Do newer class B vans still come with "battery disable" switches?
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