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Old 12-02-2015, 07:23 PM   #1
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Default Replacement Refrigerator Options

It looks like the RM2554 5 cu ft refrigerator is failing on my 2006 RT 210P. I looked at a 2016 210P that had the Norcold DC558 compressor refrigerator, and it did not have solar which surprised me. I have considered putting solar on my unit but that is on hold for now. I asked about this refrigerator on the Roadtrek FB forum and had one favorable response on the DC588 performance. My perception of Norcold is that they are of lesser quality than Dometic but that may be an unfounded concern. So I was wondering if anyone on this forum was familiar with this Norcold refrigerator.

The other option is to replace with another Dometic, or to replace the cooling unit. I did not think the cooling unit replacement made sense, but I came across numerous very favorable reviews of the RCCoolingunit.com Amish built cooling unit. So that is another possibility.

The opinions and knowledge of those on this forum mean a lot. So I would like to hear your thoughts about these options. Thanks.
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Old 12-02-2015, 08:02 PM   #2
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If you have the power to support it, then I wouldn't even consider anything other than a compressor fridge. We have a NovaKool RFU6800 which we love. I suspect the Norcold is comparable. Any unit with the Danfoss compressor is going to be similar. It is a little wonder.

Do watch your power budget, though. These units don't take much power, but they are relentless.
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Old 12-02-2015, 08:25 PM   #3
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Can't speak to quality of other brands, as we have an Isotherm, but the power issue is certainly something to consider. Our 3.0cf model uses in the range of 17 to near 40ah per day. A larger unit will take proportionately more. The rule usually was for a compressor frig you would need one more battery and/or one solar panel to cover a compressor frig. That can be very inaccurate depending on how you use your rig. If you want to live off batteries for long periods without driving or running the engine you would need more of each solar and battery. If you drive every day, you wouldn't really need either, in most cases, unless you had tiny battery capacity.
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Old 12-02-2015, 11:12 PM   #4
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I just got a price quote on the Norcold DC558 from PPL: $1800 ($2100 list). It is a new model. I got a price sheet from a RT dealer on a new 210 with the DC588 and it was not listed as an extra cost option. That tells me they are putting them in as standard equipment. So I am sure they have jacked up the base price to cover it.

Norcold priced themselves out of what I want to pay. For less than that money I could get the 6 cu ft Novakool and modify the cabinet to hold it. I doubt I will do that though.
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Old 12-03-2015, 12:53 AM   #5
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You might be able to find a standard 110v compressor fridge and get a small inverter to run it on battery. The consumption may be a bit higher than these marine grade 12v refrigerators, but the cost would be a whole lot less.
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Old 12-03-2015, 01:27 AM   #6
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Have you looked at this brand;

marine

I seem to be hearing a lot about them lately, but no personal experience with them.

They have regular and drawer types, it appears.
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Old 12-03-2015, 01:28 AM   #7
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You might be able to find a standard 110v compressor fridge and get a small inverter to run it on battery. The consumption may be a bit higher than these marine grade 12v refrigerators, but the cost would be a whole lot less.
I have considered that, but I would lose some storage capacity which would cause an issue with my wife. I'm not trying to go cheap, unless there is a good option there.

I have also considered the Vitrifrigo DP150IBD3 12 volt marine compressor fridge. It gets good reviews on the marine sites. It is about 2" narrower though. I have not been able to get a price yet.

Regarding Norcold compressor refrigerators, the West Marine site has several models, but not the DC558. They get average reviews, with many having serious reliability problems, particularly on the newer models.
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Old 12-03-2015, 03:51 AM   #8
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I have the new Grape Solar Glacier 5. Nice size and low amp draw. Super quiet as well. I just added a simple rubber clasp to keep the door secure when traveling.

http://www.amazon.com/Grape-Solar-GS.../dp/B00HVXE154
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Old 12-03-2015, 04:03 AM   #9
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I have the new Grape Solar Glacier 5. Nice size and low amp draw. Super quiet as well. I just added a simple rubber clasp to keep the door secure when traveling.

http://www.amazon.com/Grape-Solar-GS.../dp/B00HVXE154
I saw that one as well. I even called Grape and they said they saw no problem using in an RV environment. They said you had to leave ventilation on the sides and top. I was not sure how to keep the sides ventilated properly. It looks a bit smaller inside than the Dometic. What vehicle do you have and what fridge did you replace with the Glacier?
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Old 12-03-2015, 04:18 AM   #10
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Try these guys.Good reputation. TruckFridge.com - Quality true 12 volt DC compressor refrigeration with freezer - Georgetown, KY Exit 129 next to Piolt Truck Center - many models to choose from.
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Old 12-03-2015, 04:29 AM   #11
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I had found them too. They don't have anything in my size. I would like if the TF2600 fit but it is about 10" too tall. It looks like it is the same size as the NovaKool.
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Old 12-03-2015, 07:08 PM   #12
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I saw that one as well. I even called Grape and they said they saw no problem using in an RV environment. They said you had to leave ventilation on the sides and top. I was not sure how to keep the sides ventilated properly. It looks a bit smaller inside than the Dometic. What vehicle do you have and what fridge did you replace with the Glacier?
It's actually much larger inside than I anticipated. Here are the technical specs:

Model: GS-UF-5-Fab1
Efficient Volume: 5.3 CU FT
Input Power: DC 45W
Temperature of freezing: 5 degrees F
Temperature of refrigerating: 0-50 degrees F
Dimensions: 513*590*1055

I installed it in my self build Promaster. I installed it in a cabinet with around 3" of space in the back. There is also space underneath due to the plastic legs. It performs great.
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Old 12-03-2015, 10:23 PM   #13
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It's actually much larger inside than I anticipated. Here are the technical specs:

Model: GS-UF-5-Fab1
Efficient Volume: 5.3 CU FT
Input Power: DC 45W
Temperature of freezing: 5 degrees F
Temperature of refrigerating: 0-50 degrees F
Dimensions: 513*590*1055

I installed it in my self build Promaster. I installed it in a cabinet with around 3" of space in the back. There is also space underneath due to the plastic legs. It performs great.
Here's what I measured in my Dometic:
Freezer: 6x8.5x17
Fridge: 27x13x19

From a Grape description:
Freezer: 5” x 7” x 16”
Refrigerator: 28” x 12” x 18”

Does it require space on the sides?

Have you operated it in hot weather, and with the inside of the van hot when parked; how did it do then?
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Old 12-03-2015, 10:31 PM   #14
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Does it require space on the sides?

Have you operated it in hot weather, and with the inside of the van hot when parked; how did it do then?
There is no space on the sides or the top. I live in San Diego and have operated it in temps up to 80 degrees. Inside I'm sure it was a lot hotter than that. It performed great. It just kicks on more when it is hot. The fan is surprisingly quiet.
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Old 12-03-2015, 10:49 PM   #15
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There are a couple of things to remember when you are looking to put a compressor frig into an older Roadtrek. The Roadtreks were designed for the propane frig, with outside vents, high and low on the side of the van, for gravity convection. Most RV based compressor frigs have the condenser coils on the rear of the frig, so they are in the cooling air path and work pretty well, maybe with a bit of baffling.

Marine frigs are designed for boats (imagine that), which would have a bit of a problem venting through the hull, so they vent to the interior of the cabin. The ones I have looked closely at all were all setup to take air in at the floor, below the door, and exhaust it through vents above the door back into the cabin. Our Isotherm was that way, also.

The problem comes if you try to vent some of the marine frigs to the outside with the standard vents, or if you vent them to the inside of the van. Two different problems.

If you try to vent to the outside, you would close off the air paths at the top and bottom, which can disrupt the air flow through the condenser coils. In our Isotherm, it caused looping of the hot exhaust air back to the inlet of the fan so the frig ran continuously and didn't get very cold. It took building a duct from the lower vent to the fan inlet (sealed to it) and a divider between the top and bottom vents to fix the issue.

If you chose to use the marine frig vented to the inside, you will need to seal off the area behind the frig from the outside air, or you will have a good sized air leak to the inside of the van, all the time, and fan forced while the frig is running or if the Fantastic fan is on. On our Roadtrek that would entail sealing both vents and the another screened opening to under the van from the frig compartment.

Some of the marine frigs sit on factory feet to lift them up high enough for the airflow underneath, and folks have cut them off to fit an opening, causing problems with cooling, also.

Not saying you can't make most any compressor frig work OK, just that some will be considerably easier than others.
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Old 12-03-2015, 10:57 PM   #16
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If you chose to use the marine frig vented to the inside, you will need to seal off the area behind the frig from the outside air, or you will have a good sized air leak to the inside of the van, all the time, and fan forced while the frig is running or if the Fantastic fan is on. On our Roadtrek that would entail sealing both vents and the another screened opening to under the van from the frig compartment.

Some of the marine frigs sit on factory feet to lift them up high enough for the airflow underneath, and folks have cut them off to fit an opening, causing problems with cooling, also.
I would seal the vents to prevent rain and bugs from coming in. So that means venting internally, which is why I asked about leaving space on the sides and top, which is what the Grape rep suggested.

I will have times where the van is in 90-100 degree heat, with interior temps similar or more, so I wonder if the system can maintain in those conditions.
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Old 12-03-2015, 11:08 PM   #17
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I would seal the vents to prevent rain and bugs from coming in. So that means venting internally, which is why I asked about leaving space on the sides and top, which is what the Grape rep suggested.

I will have times where the van is in 90-100 degree heat, with interior temps similar or more, so I wonder if the system can maintain in those conditions.
We vented externally, so our frig is sealed on all sides, top and bottom to keep the air and bugs out, so the opposite of what you are looking at. Upper vent on a 210 can be hard to get at I have heard, but no personal experience.

Last fall we spent 6 days in Zion, with the frig side of the van facing unshaded south, with all days between 93-98 degrees F. I was amazed that our frig kept up relatively easily, and I had it set at the lowest, most efficient, compressor speed (you can add a mulitposition rotary switch with different resistors to have adjustable speed). The van side was very hot, but that was also helping convection through the vents, so maybe not as bad as it could have been.

If you have it vented to inside, I would guess you would not have a big issue with it keeping up, but the hotter it gets the more it will run and add to the heat in the van. That was part of the reason we chose to vent outside, along with it being a little quieter with the fan outside.

Davydd mentioned that one of his upgrades that ARV did when he went back in for them a while ago, was to add insulation to his frig. Can't say if they had cooling, noise, air leak, or other issues, but something must have convinced them it was needed.
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Old 12-03-2015, 11:31 PM   #18
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Please note that Marine fridges are built for a marine environment and you pay for that.

Things get really humid/wet on a boat, even below decks - in a storm everything is closed up, except maybe some dorade vents, and there is NO A/C. Maybe a leaky hatch or porthole. With wet, sweaty sailors, with wet foul weather gear. A/C on most cruising boats 35-40ft is reserved when on shorepower, not sailing. So marine fridges have lots of stainless steel in their construction and epoxy coatings, etc. That costs $$.

Boats subject everything to extreme vibration, too. Come off an 8-10ft wave - you don't bounce, you slam down hard! Marine fridges can take that. More $$.

So, if you can find the size fridge from a reputable manufacturer and it is NOT a marine one, it may be just fine for your RV. And you might save some $.

Your $ may be best spent on insulation and ventilation.
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Old 12-03-2015, 11:37 PM   #19
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Our fridge vents to the inside, but the van was designed for this fridge, so there are no penetrations. I love this for aesthetic/stealth reasons. That said, if I already had vent holes, I would choose to use them.

I don't think adding extra insulation fixes any particular "problem"--it just increases efficiency. Several people have reported that it makes a pretty significant difference. I added insulation everywhere I conveniently could. Not sure how much it helped, since I never kept systematic track of running time. Certainly can't hurt.
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Old 12-03-2015, 11:57 PM   #20
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One reason to close the vents on the 210 is that the sidewall where the upper vent is located is sloped, which promotes some water intrusion.
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