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Old 08-12-2016, 03:22 PM   #1
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Default How level for fridge operation

Somewhere I read that for the refrigerator to work in my RT-170 the ground has to be pretty level. How level does it have to be?

I'm about to take our first trip this weekend and in preparation I tried the fridge on LP mode - waited 30 minutes - didn't seem to cool down. I know there could be other things wrong but I want to eliminate that the RT was parked in my driveway which had a 5-inch drop from front wheel to back wheel (that's after leveling best I could).
Thanks
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Old 08-12-2016, 03:57 PM   #2
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I believe the manufacturer says that if the vehicle is level enough for the passengers to be comfy, the fridge will be ok.

I use the free RV Companion app to level my van, it'll tell you which corner needs to come up and how much- iphone or android

before trip I plug in the fridge ( AC) for a couple of days and get it cold before any of the food stuffs go in.
we use blue freezer packs and rotate them from the freezer to the fridge to try to equalize the cooling.

an internal fan will also help and there has to be room for the air to move, don't overfill with stuff.- camco makes a D cell battery fan which I bought and then once I saw the result I replaced with a fan wired to 12 volt.

I also have exterior fans to move fresh air past the fins- (which will be hot if the system is working)

and a thermometer sender in the fridge with the display where we can see it ( just a common inside/outside wireless type- $15)

check your door seal with a dollar bill

use propane when stopped, AC on shore power and DC while rolling.

some use propane for fridge when rolling- I consider this dangerous- even more so on an RT where the fridge propane flame is same side as the gas filler!




also check the fridge status lights every once in a while- on mine when on DC, starting the van may cause a check light, which requires a reset

the manuals for many fridges ( like my dometic) are available online and give a good description of how they work and what to expect...and some checks and fixes.
If you are on propane- there should be obvious heat coming from the combustion stack...which depends on valves being opened, ignitor working and clean jets etc
( mine has the valve on the main tank, a manual valve on the gas line behind the fridge & a solenoid operated gas valve too)

mike
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Old 08-12-2016, 04:41 PM   #3
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Nothing wrong with shutting off propane while driving but also no significant risk keeping the valve open. Just insure you have no open flame near the gas pumps so no fridge, hot water, furnace, stove running on propane at the gas pumps. Propane Onan is OK.

Fridge spec is 3 deg tilt limit along the length of the van so it would take a 1 ft height difference on a 20 ft van from front to back to be outside the tilt limit for an absorption fridge. Compressor fridges are good to 30 deg or so.
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Old 08-12-2016, 09:28 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by ra2jim View Post
Somewhere I read that for the refrigerator to work in my RT-170 the ground has to be pretty level. How level does it have to be?

I'm about to take our first trip this weekend and in preparation I tried the fridge on LP mode - waited 30 minutes - didn't seem to cool down. I know there could be other things wrong but I want to eliminate that the RT was parked in my driveway which had a 5-inch drop from front wheel to back wheel (that's after leveling best I could).
Thanks
Good answers so far, but I'll chip in some thoughts anyway.
Assuming you've got the Dometic, with the press and hold the gas valve open button with one hand, while repeatedly pressing the igniter button with the other, does the little needle eventually creep over to the running side of the meter, to indicate you've got her started up, and then stays there? If not, you haven't achieved propane ignition Nirvana in your fridge. If you can't get the fridge started on LP, check the main tank valve (mine is located behind the faux license plate cover on the rear bumper, ymmv), and make sure it's open, and that you have propane in the tank. If that all checks out, pull the slotted grill off the driver side of the van (fridge vent cover) and check that there isn't any debris blocking the burner tube. Spiders and mud dauber wasps love nesting in them (in furnace vents, too). You can probably clean it out with a pipe cleaner or similar. I don't think you're too far off minimum level required for the evaporative process to work, but flat level is best for the sake of troubleshooting any issues. Lastly, based on experience, 30 minutes isn't nearly enough time to run it on LP for it to cool down much, if at all.
Finally, if you've left it cooling overnight on LP, and it's still not working in the morning, take it to a qualified RV service center. They'll be able to help figure it out.
Mike's (the other good looking one) tips and tricks are all pretty good suggestions for maintaining a cool fridge once you get it cooled down. I use most of them, too.
Good luck.

p.s. One of my pet peeves is avoidable devastating fires in/on RVs because of propane appliances running when they shouldn't be. Disabling your coach batteries is a good way to disable most of the propane appliances that use DSI ignition. The fridge is usually an exception to that rule, so turn it off, prior to refueling if you're running it on propane while driving.
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Old 08-12-2016, 10:30 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by gregmchugh View Post
Nothing wrong with shutting off propane while driving but also no significant risk keeping the valve open. Just insure you have no open flame near the gas pumps so no fridge, hot water, furnace, stove running on propane at the gas pumps. Propane Onan is OK.

Fridge spec is 3 deg tilt limit along the length of the van so it would take a 1 ft height difference on a 20 ft van from front to back to be outside the tilt limit for an absorption fridge. Compressor fridges are good to 30 deg or so.
There are some tunnels that have signs at the entrance prohibiting any propane appliance from operating in the tunnel but leaving you no spot to stop to shut it off.

FWIW, the shop that rebuilt my refrigerator told me that most absorbing refrigerators typically installed in an RV are more sensitive to side to side tilt than for and aft tilt. It had something to do with the layout of the tubing. He also said that excessive tilt also affects the efficiency of the boiler.
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Old 08-12-2016, 10:57 PM   #6
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There are some tunnels that have signs at the entrance prohibiting any propane appliance from operating in the tunnel but leaving you no spot to stop to shut it off.

FWIW, the shop that rebuilt my refrigerator told me that most absorbing refrigerators typically installed in an RV are more sensitive to side to side tilt than for and aft tilt. It had something to do with the layout of the tubing. He also said that excessive tilt also affects the efficiency of the boiler.
The Dometic tilt spec for fridges is 3 deg side to side (van front to aft) and 6 deg front to back (van side to side). You need big height differences in either direction to get this much tilt. If it is comfortable to live in the fridge is typically fine...
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Old 08-14-2016, 01:09 AM   #7
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Many thanks to all for these insightful responses. I made it to Clear Lake camp w full services so w propane not working on the fridge I'm still ok. The LP tank is full and the stove works just fine, but still can't get it working on the fridge even after cleaning out the spider webs. During start process the indicator doesn't move at all. I flick the igniter 5 times then wait 10 seconds before trying again. I did this 3different times in a 1 hour period then gave up.

Sounds like 1 more item for the tech to look at. Thanks again to all.
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