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View Full Version : Service for Fridge/Freezers?


nakman
07-23-2012, 04:04 PM
I have two Norcold fridges... one is probably 10 years old, the other closer to 20 years old I'm guessing. They both work ok, but IMO could run better. Anyone know of a refrigerator service/repair shop that has experience with portable fridge/freezers? Would like to take mine in for a check-up, tune-up type of thing.. has anyone done that?

OilHammer
07-23-2012, 04:40 PM
Nope, but I think I need the same thing. Mine still cools, but it seems like it kills the battery far faster than it used to. On days like these, if I drive in to work (45-60 mins) by the time lunch time rolls around its just starting to go into protect mode to keep from draining the battery too far. My guess is the freon is low and it's cycling it more than it used to. Though, most of my experience is in Moab in the off season, so I think it barely runs at all at that ambient temp.

frontrange
07-23-2012, 04:45 PM
Are they solid state, or do they have compressors and refrigerant? If the later, any refrigeration tech should be able to take care of you, they all work the same and get fixed the same way. Pull a vacuum for 30 minutes, then recharge with the type and measure of refrigerant on the label plus a little dye so you can see if there is a leak.

I have all the gear and an R12 license, but I'm not exactly local to you...

IOTOH they are solid state, try blowing out the dust and see if that helps, if not you probably have one or more bad peltier junctions. Don't know how easy they are to replace on your fridge, but they are readily availibile on eBay as well as other more reliable sources.

nakman
07-23-2012, 04:58 PM
Thanks, they're not the peltier kind instead they have compressors and refrigerant. I filled out the contact form on Engel-Usa's web site, hopefully they direct me to someone fairly close.. as all of their service center links come up as not found http://www.engel-usa.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=93&Itemid=124

frontrange
07-23-2012, 05:06 PM
Ok, one thing on the older one. 20 years ago they were still using R12. Don't let anyone talk you into converting to R134 (or any Non-R12 mix) It won't work as well, and you'll never be able to convert it back. The conversion may be fine for a car, but if it's a portable battery powered system you don't want to make it less efficient.

nuclearlemon
07-23-2012, 05:41 PM
Camping world works on mobiles, but they wouldnt answer my email regarding them working on my waeco. I found a company called forest glen rv, but the guy was an idiot plus he won't work on one not installed i. An rv. Good luck. I finally ordered the parts that i hope will fix mine from dometic

farnhamstj
07-24-2012, 10:36 AM
Our home fridge just had some trouble. Mostly due to dust build up. I'll suggest a good cleaning, maybe use an air compressor to blow out anywhere dust could build up. Not exactly what you were asking, but could be helpful.

nakman
07-24-2012, 12:10 PM
So the Norcold service centers, those who answer the phone at least, don't work on these. The closest to help I could get was trying to answer "what kind of an RV is it in," they don't get it.

I ended up calling Engel in Florida and spoke with the owner- nice fella. He said there's really no service to be done, the refrigerant is sealed in the compressor and can't be added, so beyond cleaning out dust, and moving to a lower humidity environment, there's not much else to do. He did give me a few tests though.

- Measure amperage draw while running. Should be 4-5 amps at startup, then settle down to 2-3. I've actually done this (60wag has a cool device for this).

- Starting at 85 ambient temperature, put a thermometer probe in the center of the empty fridge, and crank it up on AC power. You should see 40F in 20 minutes, and 32F in 35 minutes. If you're close to that, then your compressor is fine.

That leaves your DC power source- possible a bad cell in a battery? If so take it in for a load test, etc. Also try measuring your battery voltage at the connection to the fridge, while the fridge is cycling. This is easiest by pulling out the connector so you can touch the wires... there should be no more than .5 volts difference- so if you're 12.4 at the battery, it needs to be 11.9 or higher at the plug. If there is, then it could be a fuse issue where an old fuse just needs replaced, or it could be some other short in your wiring. That's the test I'm going to try next...

nakman
07-24-2012, 12:12 PM
My issue is my big fridge is a lot less efficient now, compared to 6 months ago. I lived out of it for 3 days at Lake Powell before CM, and yes ran the battery down to 11.8 but on the last day. This past weekend, I was at 11.8 the morning after I got to camp. Both times starting the trip with a full fridge, and only cold stuff in it, actually run off of 110 for a day before even pulling out yeah I know all about that... something's different.

rover67
07-24-2012, 12:26 PM
FWIW, mine (edgestar) has been sucking the battery down bigtime here lately too. I was just chalking it up to the ridiculously hot temps in my rig during the day.it'll only run for about 2 days before being totally sucked down.,

OilHammer
07-25-2012, 10:37 AM
I would be fine with two days....I'm lucky to see 5 hrs.

Hey Marco, while working at SNC these past few weeks, I noticed a cool (pun) device. They have these cold plates for cooling satellites and such. Essentially, an aluminum block with milled groves on the back. They bend a copper tube (1/4"?) and lay it in the grooves, then bolt that to another aluminum plate. Much like what you built for pulling beer, but all copper and pre-made. There was a sticker on the side from the manufacturer, but I'm not allowed to take photos. I wrote it down somewhere....pretty sure it was this http://www.thermacore.com/products/vacuum-brazed-cold-plates.aspx

DaveInDenver
07-25-2012, 10:48 AM
Yeah Barry, cold plates are used everywhere in aerospace. File it away in the "How to make a $50 cooler into a $100,000 beer fridge" category. What Marco did is much more cost effective since he's not circulating flight qualified coolant in his. We had a coolant leak in a cold plate fitting once that permanently ruined (for flight testing) a t-vac chamber and much worse required a total disassembling and cleaning a flight assembly, so they get pretty uptight about them and the fluids. Those you linked to would be more for testing sub-assemblies I'd guess.

treerootCO
07-25-2012, 10:53 AM
This thread made me smile. Just yesterday, I was complaining that my fridge can't hold up in this heat. The one change I am going to make first is to rewire 10gauge to the fridge. I have a mess of 12, 16, 10, and 14 going back there now. I started taking stuff inside at night and leaving the rear windows cracked a little as well.

rover67
07-25-2012, 11:20 AM
This thread made me smile. Just yesterday, I was complaining that my fridge can't hold up in this heat. The one change I am going to make first is to rewire 10gauge to the fridge. I have a mess of 12, 16, 10, and 14 going back there now. I started taking stuff inside at night and leaving the rear windows cracked a little as well.

I think that right there helps a lot. My el Cheapo benefited immensely from heavy gauge wiring all the way to it.

That cooler Idea is neat, i'm gonna do some research.

sleeoffroad
07-25-2012, 12:35 PM
Best thing to do in this heat is a the Insulated fridge cover, direct power to the unit, and ventilation in the vehicle to get the hot air out.

We have replaced complete cooling units for the Engels before. Pretty easy to do. The test Paul has given you is pretty much what you want to do. So it either works or not.

nakman
07-26-2012, 10:22 PM
The test Paul has given you is pretty much what you want to do. So it either works or not.

Ok, 3 hour test complete. In that time, I saw a total drop of 82.3F. My goal was a 45 drop in 20 minutes, and a 53 drop in 35 minutes, and I reported 22.9 and 44 degree drops, respectively. So shy of the goal, but maybe some concessions can be made for the large fridge, and higher than normal starting temp? Hard to say... this experiment also uncovered a new mystery that hopefully someone can help me solve. First here's the test, and the resulting graphs.

I have one of those anatomically correct clocks in the garage for both time & temp. My new Twozone remote thermometer mounted and operational with new batteries. the remote sender I literally wedged between the fridge handle and my custom reflectix fridge transit bag. A probe runs from the sender to laying on the middle of the fridge floor. Also, the fridge was completely empty, and was never opened, throughout the test.

nakman
07-26-2012, 10:28 PM
I included the spreadsheet above, in anyone else wants to run the same experiment it would be interesting to compare. My initial conclusion is my compressor is working fine, so it must be something else. I realize that I don't have tons of clearance around the fridge, particularly in front- there's a small bag in the lower about half of the fridge, then the seat is leaned back almost against it, so airflow may be a bit restricted there. I also have stuff on the left of the fridge against the outside wall, but there's no venting on that side. On the right of the fridge, it's pretty open... and no, none of the reflectix material is covering any of the vents.

Here's my mystery: what the heck is the remote sender measuring? Also, it's in Celsius, and I can't find anywhere to flip it to Fahrenheit. I don't get it though- it's got the same slope as the inside fridge line, but a very consistent 25 difference? :confused:

(C+32)*9/5=F, right?

Old40Dog
07-26-2012, 10:58 PM
I included the spreadsheet above, in anyone else wants to run the same experiment it would be interesting to compare. My initial conclusion is my compressor is working fine, so it must be something else. I realize that I don't have tons of clearance around the fridge, particularly in front- there's a small bag in the lower about half of the fridge, then the seat is leaned back almost against it, so airflow may be a bit restricted there. I also have stuff on the left of the fridge against the outside wall, but there's no venting on that side. On the right of the fridge, it's pretty open... and no, none of the reflectix material is covering any of the vents.

Here's my mystery: what the heck is the remote sender measuring? Also, it's in Celsius, and I can't find anywhere to flip it to Fahrenheit. I don't get it though- it's got the same slope as the inside fridge line, but a very consistent 25 difference? :confused:

(C+32)*9/5=F, right?

Hey Tim,

I just bought a new Dometic that arrived yesterday. I'm headed for Montana for a week, but I'd be up to coming over when I return and running some comparison tests to see the difference. I've run 8 ga from the battery to a fuse block in the rear quarter panel and connected the fridge there figuring the voltage drop could be an issue over time. Not an electrician by any means, but thought a little overkill here couldn't hurt. LMK.

nakman
07-26-2012, 11:02 PM
Sure, Dave, or if you have the means it would be cool to see your numbers in a similar test, curious if a "new one" performs substantially better.

I am running 4ga to a fuse block under the passenger seat, then from there it's 14ga to the back where the fridges are. So there's room to upgrade here, but I'm really not sure how much benefit there would be, heck all the stock 12v wiring is like 26ga or something. I need to do the measurement test when it's cycling on 12v to see if there's a drop, will try to knock that out this weekend.

Old40Dog
07-26-2012, 11:44 PM
Don't really have the means to do the test myself, but seems like a simple way to get a realistic benchmark. I'll drop you a PM when I return. If we can't do it before, perhaps at the rally.

nakman
07-27-2012, 12:12 AM
I seem to have bottomed out at 8. I checked it at 10:00, and it was 8, it's 11:00 now and I just checked it again, still at 8. When I turn back the dial the compressor shuts off at about 3.4 on the dial. I'm backing it off to 1.5, my usual fridge setting, will let the old girl have a rest for a while. It's still 90 in the garage, by the morning it'll be closer to 80 I suspect, will check out temps & post up.


edit: at 7:30 this morning the fridge was at 35.8, garage at 79.5. Leaving it plugged in today, parked.