Changing from Dometic RV Fridge to Household 110v Fridge - Luxury Coach Lifestyles
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Old 09-10-2011, 03:03 PM   #1
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Default Changing from Dometic RV Fridge to Household 110v Fridge

Hi all,

I know you guys have a lot of different opinions on this as I have heard quite a few of them. Bottom line is that Darlene really really dislikes the way the Dometic RV fridge works. So, out it came and I am putting in a Whirlpool 10cu foot fridge like Gordon did. Gordon has described his adventure in putting his in and I will when I am done. The difference is I have to do quite a bit more modification to my cabinet than he did. (every one is custom, eh). So my question to those of you that have the big house fridge in yours already is this.

How much gap is there between the side of your fridge and the cabinet? I have to cut mine and I was thinking about 3/8" on each side.

I have to cut the sides, top and lower the platform the old fridge was sitting on and cut down the vent below it as well as the drawer height.

thanks

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Old 09-10-2011, 03:23 PM   #2
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Mine was factory installed. They left 1/2" on top and 3/4" on both sides. They painted the inner cabinet black so you don't notice the gap.

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Old 09-10-2011, 04:08 PM   #3
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Earlier this year my Dometic went kaput. I came really close to doing as you are. Chickened out at the last moment. (thanks Steve) Main issue was I didn't want to run more wires from the inverter. If you haven't already bought the fridge try out www.compactappliance.com I don't remember which one but they did have one that would have fit without cutting my opening.
Good luck, and where are the pictures?
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Old 09-10-2011, 07:36 PM   #4
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I have 3/4 to 1 inch on the sides, and about 1/2 on the top when the rollers are down. The primary mode of securing the fridge is to jack up the rollers once it is in place. There is a cross piece in the roof that the fridge jams against when the rollers are raised.
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Old 09-11-2011, 01:06 AM   #5
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i made a box at the top to push the fridge up against like richard is talking about. i will also screw it to the floor from the back access panel.

i spent the day with jimmys help making all the new internal cabinet parts, new braces and framing. in addition i cut the opening wider. i ended up using a 1" aluminum square tubing and clamped it to the line and then used a vibrating multifunction tool with a 3/4 circle blade up against it as a guide to cut straight and level. worked quite well. then used a japanese flush saw to do the corners.

i will use black edge banding on the sides and top since the fridge is black and will paint some white edge banding for the pieces i have to make on the front to match the other laminate. i got custom matched paint to the laminate (it had faded so it couldnt be matched).

forest, as for the inverter, you dont have to run new wires to the fridge. i will just take the dedicated circuit in the main panel and run it to my inverter subpanel in the same box. it will take 15 minutes.

i plan on putting a switch on the defroster in the fridge to turn it off. i only use it for short periods so i dont need the defroster.

of course, it is taking me wayyy too long.

the fridge will be delivered on wednesday and i hope to have it ready for it then. i am going to asia the following monday so gotta get it done.

i will post pictures when i am done.

the platform jimmy and i made is much stronger than the original one and the fridge is about the same weight as the dometic.
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Old 09-11-2011, 03:24 AM   #6
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Hey Tom, you are one ambitious guy! I got your message, but I didn't call you. I'll call tomorrow.

We love our Dometic. It works wonderfully. The only issue is that we do have to defrost it every 3 months, or so. That freezer starts getting pretty small...lol. Good luck with your project!
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Old 09-11-2011, 04:52 AM   #7
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the thing with the dometic is temperature. if you live where it is below 100 degrees when you start up the fridge, i dont think there is much of an issue. it takes a day to get cold etc.

but few of you live where it is 100 degrees 100 plus days a year and this year has been over 110 for 30 days.

my fridge worked as well as any. if you look at all the specs, 50-60 degrees from ambient is in spec and 60 is a most excellently operating absorbsion fridge. if it is 110 degrees, that means your fridge is 50-60 degrees. and takes a couple of days to cool down. i have talked to camping world in mesa and the say people want to replace their fridges all the time and there is nothing wrong with them.

i will see how well the power lasts, but i cant imagine that with the defrsoter cut out that it will take any more juice than my uline icemaker. i will just turn that off when using the fridge unless plgged in or genny on.

if i need to i will add a 3rd battery.

the biggest thing wasnt specs...it was that darlene wanted a real fridge.

ok, i get it
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Old 09-11-2011, 12:11 PM   #8
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Darlene happy = Life's good!
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Old 09-11-2011, 01:30 PM   #9
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Tom, with the two fans moving air up the chimmney and out the top we have been able to keep our Dometic under 40 degrees when it was 104 outside, so I would say we have an exceptionally excellent operating absorbsion refrigerator! Now, in our prior motorhome (class c) the Dometic operated more to spec....if it was over 100 it would get into the upper 40's, sometimes into the lower 50's. On that one I installed a couple of solar fans at the top of the chimney to pull the air up and out, and they helped lower the temp on hot days by 6-7 degrees.

One thing Elaine does if we are starting up the fridge on a hot day is to put a frozen gallon jug of water in the fridge part. Speeds up the cooling process significantly.
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Old 09-11-2011, 02:08 PM   #10
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Clarke, this still sounds like the 60 degree differential (+ or - a few).
I am going to look to see if we have any fans but if it is over 90 degrees I am looking to move on!

Tom, it was about 75 degrees here yesterday. I'd offer you a place to come to but I can't even get our coach in here, it would get stuck just trying to get off the highway. I am considering bringing our coach to a park near by so that I can refinish some floors, it is about $20.00 a day but no hook-ups.

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Old 09-11-2011, 02:40 PM   #11
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With this discussion I started looking for answers and found this;
http://www.irv2.com/forums/blogs/sum...roduction-573/

I looks like it was written by a knowledgeable person and has very good advice about maintenance.
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Old 09-11-2011, 03:33 PM   #12
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i have read similar things on rv fridges but this one was outstanding.

two things stuck out at me from it. the first is what i am talking about. the very best just isnt good enough when it is really hot. and btw, 104 isnt hot. the fridge he recommends below is the one gordon put in and the same one i bought from lowes. i paid $304 plus tax including delivery.

1. One more thing -- if the outside ambient temperature is in the ‘uncomfortably hot’ range (you know - 90 degrees +), hot air passing over an already hot Cooling Unit may result in the refrigerator’s inside temperatures not reaching their designed cold temps. (Refer to Precaution # 1 above.) But, rest assured, even when it’s ‘uncomfortably hot’ outside, a properly maintained Absorption refrigerator will do its very best to get the temperature as cold as possible.

2. Comment: The best all-electric refrigerator that I have found to replace a typical RV unit (over and under doors, 60” tall and 24” wide) is the Whirlpool 9.7 CuFt Top Mount Refrigerator, Model ETOMSRXTQ. It comes in white, black, and silver colors, and is usually less than $400.00. (You can find them at Lowes (store or on-line) – they deliver and will take away the old RV refrigerator, too.) And you only have to make minor modifications to the cabinet the refrigerator fits into.
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Old 09-11-2011, 09:58 PM   #13
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Hey Steve....I should have been more specific....it was down to 34 degrees....70 degree differential.
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Old 09-11-2011, 11:29 PM   #14
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Default Dometic refrigerator - my reason for trading up....

My first Newell was a 1987 40'. I loved it. I liked the floorplan and the colors. The only reason I sold it was because the Dometic refrigerator was a p.i.t.a. It never worked and was a constant source of aggrevation. The main problem was the pilot light extinguishing and when that didn't happen the unit would just downright not cool down to a reasonable temp (40-45 degrees). Additionally, it could not RECOVER when the door was opened for a minute or two. Most of the time the inside temps were 60+ degrees. I kept the coach for 5 years trying every new trick to fix it; changed thermostat, thermocouples, added a cooling fan, installed a metal cover to prevent the pilot light from blowing out. Nothing worked!

When I saw the "new" Newell 2000's with a household electric refrigerator I bought one. And I never looked back.

I wouldn't own a coach with the propane/electric style refrigerator for all of the tea in China.
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Old 09-12-2011, 03:21 PM   #15
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After reading that Blog I will not be adding a Fan. It only makes sense that since it increases the Air Flow it Could cause the Burner to Overheat the area that Heats the Ammonia and creates Flow. It Could be like adding a Supercharger without worrying about the Compression Ratio.
Our Dometic does a reasonable job but I have noticed that it doesn't do as good a job when it gets Hot. I will be looking into an Awning, it makes sense that if the Air drawn in is Cooler that it Could help the Dometic work better.
I still like Dry-Camping well enough to put up with the idiosyncrasies and our '82 fits me like a glove.
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Old 09-12-2011, 05:33 PM   #16
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i never saw any difference with the thermostat controlled fan i put in behind the fridge.

regular fridge or propane really depends on your usage model.

i guess i will find out if my usage model is in line with what i am doing.

tom
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Old 09-18-2011, 04:45 AM   #17
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i am off to china and malaysia on monday so won't get it done before i leave.

i am very close to having the cabinet done. i had to do alot of fabrication on it as i had to tear the insides out and redo it. the last bit i have to do is cut down the drawer that is below the fridge platform. i have cut down the faceframe and now just have to do the drawer. it will be quite small so i will have to assemble it as i go to be able to get the drawer slides inside the small space.

i am changing part of my design to be able to jack the tv up in the front using the leg levelers to jam it against a 2" board i am putting at the top to hold it in.

richard clued me in on that.

i got the wiring diagram for the fridge and took it apart and easily found the defroster heater tube and will just unplug it.

i measured the new fridge and it takes 2 amps at startup and then settles down to about 1.2 amps. i measured the uline stand alone icemaker i have now and it draws 1.6amps while on. it also has a heater circuit to free up the icecubes as it dumps them.

so, in a few weeks i will post the final pictures. if anyone is in shanghai, penang or singapore over the next couple of weeks, let me know and we will hook up.

later

tom
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Old 09-18-2011, 02:19 PM   #18
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Tom, be safe.
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Old 09-19-2011, 03:32 AM   #19
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I did a similar project on a coach about six years ago and it worked out pretty darn good. Only minor cutting and a small filler piece. When it was all done it looked pretty clean like factory. As long as you don't need LPG you're good to go. Those darn two or three way fridges are just way up there in price and there is no sense having one of those types if you prefer going electric anyways.
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Old 10-23-2011, 07:49 PM   #20
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i finished my installation of the whirlpool 9.7 cu foot fridge. it turned out great. as usual i spent way too much time on it but i am glad i did. i dont think you could tell it wasnt original.

1. the new fridge was taller and wider. so i had to cut the sides and cut the top and lower the platform it sits on by 4". that meant i had to make the drawer shorter and shorten all the supports underneath including the plenum for the heat in the bathroom. i made a jig out of aluminum stock to cut straight since it was so close to the wall.

2. i used black edgebanding since the fridge is black. and painted the inside with flat black. it blends perfectly.

3. i drilled five 1" holes across the top for ventilation and painted the inside of the holes black.

4. i made a small plenum about 12" high and mounted a 3 speed computer fan on the top pointed at the bottom of the coils on the back of the fridge. i ran a switch to the inside back of the cabinet over the dinette. just for extra ventilation if needed when really hot.

5. i did the same as yours with full sized house fridges. i made a piece of wood go across the top just behind the hinges that i used the front levelers of the fridge to "jam" the fridge up against to hold it steady. i also put 2 wood screws on the bottom plate of the back of the fridge into the platform. it aint going anywhere

6. i sealed up all former openings to the outside. the roof and the side access panel for the old propane fridge. i made the outside one removable to get at the back of the fridge.

7. i wired the fridge into the inverter circuit.

7.5 i disconnected the fridge defrost circuit. we dont live in it full time so it gets defrosted by turning it off. besides, it consumes 400 watts. the fridge is only 1amp with the compressor running and 2 amps at startup for a few seconds. i am trying to keep it as low a power as possible. the uline icemaker i have draws 2 amps....not counting the heater to loosen the ice cubes before it dumps them out.

8. installed it and turned it on. got from 85 ambient to minus 4 in the freezer in a few hours. love it.

i have to say that it was way more work than i expected, but the results are outstanding.

tom
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