More on the RV Refrigerator ...
Several good tips were submitted by readers as a follow up to the last tip ...
I have included these for this week's RV Tip.
Here is what I have done with RV fridges over the years and the results.
We bought our first RV with a fridge in the early '70's. Since then we have had several Norcolds and Dometics.
We had problems with three, only one of which was a refrigerant problem. This was in a used mini-motorhome. I am
sure the previous owners of the mini-motorhome mistreated it. All the rest were either new or we bought from
friends that had the same philosophy as us as far as RV fridges go.
We always carefully level the RV. I don't care what we are told about how the fridge is OK as long as the level
is reasonably comfortable for us. Of course we don't worry about level on the road because of the constant motion,
but when we stop at a rest area or to shop and can't find a level place, we turn off the fridge.
This is the only time the fridges have ever been turned off. At home, we turn the fridge to electric and leave
it on permanently. This keeps the refrigeration process flowing constantly, keeps enough heat to reduce rusting,
mildew, etc. Also it is nice to be able to wait till the last minute to load stuff in the fridge for a trip. Of
course we always make sure food is already cold before loading it in.
I always check the flame after turning to gas before a trip. Sometimes a spider mite will build a nest in the
burner. We don't worry about having the fridge running on gas while traveling. We do turn it off when in a
refueling area even though our tow vehicle is Diesel. We have a Diesel generator in our present fifth wheel, in the
summer we run it while traveling so we can keep an A/C on, we then turn the fridge to electric.
Another problem we had with one fridge was a burned out electric element. I bought a new element, did some
experimenting and found that that particular fridge worked fine at 95 volts AC. I bought a 120 volt to 25 volt
transformer from Radio Shack and connected as a bucking transformer so that about 95 volts was applied to the
element. This is comparable to a 120 bulb that will normally last 1000 hours will last many thousands of hours on
95 volts. So I have used this system in all our RV's, although I now only buck the voltage to 108 by using a 12
volt transformer At 108 volts, the electric element should last for many years of continuous operation.
We presently have a 1975 Kountry Aire that we bought from friends in 1980. It now resides at a shortline
railroad where I am a volunteer engineer and it provides me a place to stay. It has the original Dometic fridge
which works great. I turn it to gas once a month for a bit to exercise the propane system.
We also have a 1989 London Aire fifth wheel which is our primary travel RV. We bought it in 1995. Its Dometic
fridge is original and still going strong. The fridge's circuit board went bad a couple of years ago so I replaced
it with a Dinosaur board. After removing the original board I found burned out traces which I repaired so I now
have a spare.
Once a year I use a shop vac to clean out the back of the fridges.
To summarize; I never turn an RV fridge off, I keep them LEVEL and clean.
Don contributes this:
Let me share this tip with you from a local RV dealer. He recommends that you put a single ice cube in a paper
cup and leave it in your freezer and check it daily to be sure there had not been a power failure at the campground
while you were away for the day, or that nothing else has happened to cause the frozen foods to partially thaw and
If the freezer has been working well, the ice cube should retain it's original shape. If it has melted and
re-frozen the ice will be puddled in the bottom of the cup and chances are that the quality of your food in the
freezer and refrigerator will be comprised.
Good tip, Don!
And one from Prudy:
My quick tip would be: I often cook extra mashed potatoes, veggies, meat & freeze in freezer to microwave
containers for the nights we're rushing. When loading the RV, put cooked frozen foods not only in freezer, but also
in regular fridge to help cool/keep cool what's in there. Arrival - dinner thawed & ready to be nuked. Moving
supply down day at a time also balances out cool air loss when door open or new things put in.