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Old 08-01-2018, 10:47 PM   #1
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Default High altitude problem???

Just returned from a week at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon....8,800 feet..

Had a problem with the Dometic propane refrigerator..... could not keep things cool enough causing us to get ice chests and ice everyday...pain in the ass....

Have any of you had problems with this situation or can explain what you did....
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Old 08-02-2018, 05:10 AM   #2
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Hey man. I'm the master of problems with Dometic fridges! But I did the north rim last year. Great place, eh? Sorry to hear that you had problems but I wanted to post and say that with all my problems, I didn't have any with my Dometic at the north rim. So I don't think it's the altitude. We frequently camp in the White Mtns near Alpine AZ which is higher and I haven't experienced them there either. I'm heading to Glacier in 10days with an iffy Dometic. Could have to do ice as you did if it doesn't cool down. I'm wondering, did you try putting ice in the Dometic freezer and if so, did that work?
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Old 08-02-2018, 05:19 AM   #3
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That said. I think that I remember reading that the propane appliances were calibrated for 4,500 feet. Someone else, I'm sure, is more knowledgeable in how altitude can affect pressure in the system. What I have learned about Dometics is that they are very shall we say finicky about pressure.
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Old 08-02-2018, 06:04 AM   #4
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Default Calibration issue

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That said. I think that I remember reading that the propane appliances were calibrated for 4,500 feet. Someone else, I'm sure, is more knowledgeable in how altitude can affect pressure in the system. What I have learned about Dometics is that they are very shall we say finicky about pressure.
I seem to recall reading in the owners manual for the Dometic propane fridge that 3,250 feet is the maximum.....we were up at 8,800 feet...

We did have frozen food in the ice box.... I could hear the propane click and start...and the outside got a little warm on the exhaust... but, it wouldn't cool down....got hotter each day with the ambient temperature....was around 85-90 degrees...

As the evening temp fell the unit cooled off to around 55 or 60 but went back up to 70 degrees.... during the day...

One more thing...it was hard to get a level ground....lots of inclines everywhere....we used leveling blocks wherever we could.....
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Old 08-02-2018, 08:58 AM   #5
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Mine has worked well at 11,000ft so your problems are not with the design of the burner. Check propane pressure, clean the burner tube with alcohol and remove the propane orifice to see if it is clear.
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Old 08-02-2018, 01:33 PM   #6
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Color me lucky but I have never had any problem with a propane refrigerator in any of our rigs over the years because of altitude. It is, in my opinion, very important to level the rv properly to assure the maximum performance of the frig and that has proven to me to be even more important at altitude. We camp at or above 10,000 with some regularity every summer.

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Old 08-02-2018, 01:49 PM   #7
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From the Dometic manual,

Quote:

OPERATING REFRIGERATOR AT HIGH ALTITUDE

All gas appliances experience lowered efficiency (or rating) at high altitude. This is a direct result of lower atmospheric pressure and oxygen levels, and is not a defect of the refrigerator.

Reduced cooling performance and burner outage may occur at altitudes higher than 5500 feet above sea level (while operating on LP gas). Always operate refrigerator on electric power at altitudes higher than 5500 feet.

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Old 08-02-2018, 01:51 PM   #8
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.

Did the outside temp drop below 32F at night?
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Old 08-02-2018, 02:14 PM   #9
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Default This is good to know....

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From the Dometic manual,
Thank you...... I will check it out.....

Maybe it's nothing more than that.....my problem was that I didn't have electricity where we were......and my generator failed to continue working..( turned out to be a bad switch)......

I don't know...how much power it would have used if I had just run it off my house batteries??

I have a 160 watt ZAMP solar panel.... normally it keeps the system charged up during the day and at night it falls to around 12.8 or 12.7....volts.

How much further would it have dropped with the refrigerator running....
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Old 08-02-2018, 02:28 PM   #10
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I live at 5000' and regularly take the RV above 10k ft and I agree that efficiency drops with my refrigerator but it never stops working on propane. I try to plan ahead and overly cool the interior before going into the high country, and it helps me to keep the thing full to have less dead air space to rechill when I open it, and maybe add a little thermal mass. Once it warms up, it takes a long time to rechill, there isn't much cooling power in mine
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Old 08-02-2018, 02:41 PM   #11
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Default Yes, our refrigerator was pretty much full of food...

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I live at 5000' and regularly take the RV above 10k ft and I agree that efficiency drops with my refrigerator but it never stops working on propane. I try to plan ahead and overly cool the interior before going into the high country, and it helps me to keep the thing full to have less dead air space to rechill when I open it, and maybe add a little thermal mass. Once it warms up, it takes a long time to rechill, there isn't much cooling power in mine
Thanks, when this occurred, we had just climbed from about 2,000 feet to almost 9,000 feet... actually 8,800 feet......

And discovered that the refrigerator could not adapt to keep the food cool... our only option was to put everything in ice........ very inconvenient ......

What do think about switching to batteries?? Do you think my solar panels system could handle it?? I'm not sure?

I have two deep cycle AGM 6 volt batteries in series...for a total of 12 volts. I understand that it's a better system than one 12 volt battery......

In any case, I didn't have shore power....
.. which was a problem...
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Old 08-02-2018, 03:03 PM   #12
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.

Don't even think about 12v when the engine is not running.

The fridge has an 800w heating element; ie. it uses 67A per hour. Your 200AH battery bank will last less than 2 hrs.

[Edit] [Edit] [Edit]

Thank you markopolo.

I stand corrected.

I just googled; The Dometic heating element is 175w.
(I was thinking of the Truma furnace/water heater element)

Which translates to 15A

Your 200AH battery bank can support it for 6 hrs.
(assuming no other electrical draw)
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Old 08-02-2018, 03:27 PM   #13
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Default OKAY....

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.

Don't even think about 12v when the engine is not running.

The fridge has an 800w heating element; ie. it uses 67A per hour. Your 200AH battery bank will last less than 2 hrs.
YES... I was afraid of this..... I don't know how much solar it would take ....to remedy this...
I know that on the E-TREK model they have a pretty large solar panels system and no propane tank at all and no generator..... they use lithium batteries as well...

If I had been able to have shore power this might not have been a problem?
High altitude or not??

Unfortunately, I was at the National Park where there's no electric hook up.... And being at almost 9,000 feet...the propane was not working efficiently.

Tell me ...is there a lot to go wrong with propane refrigerators?? I'm not completely up on this technology..... but, I do know that they're very susceptible to high heat.
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Old 08-02-2018, 03:33 PM   #14
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BBQ makes a good point about not running on battery power for too long when the engine is not running. It wouldn't be an 800 watt element though! Much more likely to be something around 200 watts.
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Old 08-02-2018, 03:41 PM   #15
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Default How much solar would it take to get around this???

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BBQ makes a good point about not running on battery power for too long when the engine is not running. It wouldn't be an 800 watt element though! Much more likely to be something around 200 watts.
If I could add more solar panels on the system... would that work with the two house batteries or would I need more batteries???

Problem is where to add batteries... don't really have any space for this.....

OR... maybe I just can't boondock in without using the generator?
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Old 08-02-2018, 03:48 PM   #16
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I'd focus on getting the propane related issue fixed.

I think that in terms of cooling performance propane would be the best.

#1 - propane
#2 - 110V AC
#3 - 12V DC

A LPG gas pressure test is always a good starting point when beginning the troubleshooting process. Make sure testing occurs with other gas appliances running. Typically, these fridges require 11" WC when 50% of the rig's gas appliances are running.
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Old 08-02-2018, 03:51 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo View Post
BBQ makes a good point about not running on battery power for too long when the engine is not running. It wouldn't be an 800 watt element though! Much more likely to be something around 200 watts.
Thank you markopolo.

I stand corrected.

I just googled; The Dometic heating element is 175w.
(I was thinking of the Truma furnace/water heater 800w element)

175w translates to 15A

Your 200AH battery bank can support it for approx 6 hrs.
(assuming no other electrical draw)

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Old 08-02-2018, 04:15 PM   #18
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With all the new rigs there's just too many things to keep track of BBQ.

I've had two Dometic fridge cooling problems over the years.

The first was freezing in the fridge compartment. The fix was replacing a faulty thermistor.

The second was no cooling when in gas mode. The fix was to adjust the gas pressure to 11" WC at the fridge test port when other gas appliances were also running.
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Old 08-02-2018, 04:41 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadtrek Adventuous RS1 View Post
If I could add more solar panels on the system... would that work with the two house batteries or would I need more batteries???

Problem is where to add batteries... don't really have any space for this.....

OR... maybe I just can't boondock in without using the generator?
Keep in mind:

'THE or the ONLY reason an absorption refer exists is that there is not enough reliable electrical power.' Want to use batteries, a compressor refer. How much battery power is required varies by application.

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Old 08-02-2018, 05:42 PM   #20
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Here is a link to a service bulletin from Dometic. Not sure of your model but it covers several models.

http://www.public.asu.edu/~glennh/emrs/dometic1.pdf
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