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Norcold refrigerator in freezing weather


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I would like to know how other owners of the Oliver with 2019 Norcold N41X refrigerators are using their units when the outside temperatures are 32 or below.   In the Norcold N41X manual from Oliver University,  page 9, there is a paragraph with the heading "Effects of freezing temperatures on operation".   The information states that there is a potential for malfunction at 32 or below.  We are planning on using our Oliver in below freezing temperatures and we would like to hear from other 2019 owners on how the unit performs under these conditions.

I am not sure on the cold weather performance of the previous Dometic model.  I do know Norcold markets a cold weather kit (thermostat controlled heat tape) but the kit is not available for the N41X.  

Thanks for any replies and information.

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We have a 2019 Elite II and have camped with temperatures at night down to 16 and above freezing during the day, without any real problem. 

One morning the temperature in the refrigerator was a little high so, I turned it off and back on again and everything was fine.  I don't know if there was a problem or I was just being overly anal with my new baby.  I did check with Jason, from Oliver service, and he confirmed with the manufacture there is not a "freeze kit" specifically  for this refrigerator.  A freeze kit is a 12v heat strip that wraps around the coil in the back of the refrigerator, that is designed to allow the refrigerator to work down to zero.  They do make this kits for larger refrigerators and Jason said it could work but the manufacturer did not recommend it.

In my opinion, I think the refrigerator worked fine. 

I hope this help,

Andrew

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Andrew, Carianne and Buffy | San Diego, CA


2019 Legacy Elite II Hull #468 "California Burrito" | 2018 BMW x5 35d 

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  • 9 months later...

In preparation for upcoming delivery of our 2021 Oliver Elite II, I have been viewing Oliver videos and reading component manuals; novel idea, huh??  I have the same concerns as dgward.  I don't see much talk regarding the Norcold fridge, but perhaps there are not many who have the aforementioned model.

Two questions for those of you with the Norcold N41X fridge currently being installed Elite II models:

1. As stated by the OP, according to the manual, the Norcold fridge is not equipped to operate at below freezing temps.  It seems odd to install such a fridge in a trailer designed for 4-season use.  Is this referring to outside temperature or temperature inside the trailer?  Norcold manual says:

"A gas absorption refrigerator is not designed to operate in freezing temperatures.  If the refrigerator is not equipped for low temperature operation, and if the cooling system of the refrigerator is exposed to temperatures of 32° F. or lower for an extended period of time, the refrigerator operation may be disrupted.  The refrigerator operation will resume when the cooling system of the refrigerator warms sufficiently.   

If the refrigerator is equipped for low temperature operation, the refrigerator will operate in temperatures down to 0° F.

Disrupted operation of the refrigerator, due to extended exposure to temperatures of 32° F. or lower, and any costs incurred to warm the cooling system of the refrigerator are not covered by the Norcold limited warranty. Please contact your local RV dealer for information about how to resume refrigerator operation or about how to equip your refrigerator for operation in freezing temperatures. Do not change the installation or the venting of your refrigerator .  Refrigerator failures, which are the result of changes to either the refrigerator installation or to the venting, are not covered by the Norcold limited warranty"

The Dometic manual states that their fridge has the following features:

Climate Control System

"During the summer months of high temperatures and humidity, the metal frame between the freezer and fresh food compartments may have water droplets forming. The number of water droplets will increase if the vehicle is not air conditioned during these months. The refrigerator comes standard with a 12 V DC climate control that will evaporate the water droplets when they form. The climate control can be left on continuously or used only when temperatures require it. Note that when turned on, the climate control will draw 12 V DC power continuously.  Turn it off when a charging source is not available."

Low Ambient Control (Dm3862, nDm1062 & nDr1292)

"The refrigerator is equipped with an exclusive feature that allows for trouble-free operation in low ambient temperature (like below 50°F) for extended periods of time. once the outdoor temperature is above 50°F, the low ambient switch should be turned off."

I don't see that the Norcold has either of these features.  Has anyone had the Norcold fridge stop working when outside temps drop below freezing, as indicated in the manual?  I'm going to assume that the cooling system is enclosed between the hulls and not an issue, but perhaps I'm wrong.

Will the fridge resume cooling automatically, when "the cooling system warms sufficiently".  Later it says, "Please contact your local RV dealer for information about how to resume refrigerator operation".  This implies that it does not resume operation on its own. 

Maybe I'm making this difficult, but I'm confused 😐  The fridge is my least favorite component of any RV, aside from the fact that we like to eat ☺️

2. Regarding operation of the fridge on DC power while in transit:  We rarely run our current fridge on DC power, keeping LP turned on during transit (I know, not a recommended practice, but common nonetheless).  Here is what Norcold says about running the unit on DC power:

"This refrigerator is made to operate on DC power while your vehicle is “in transit” and AC power or propane gas sources are not available.  Operate the refrigerator on DC power only when the vehicle engine is running.  For the refrigerator to operate correctly on DC power, the battery must be maintained in a fully charged condition.  For the battery to be fully charged at all times during refrigerator operation on DC, the vehicle engine must  be running and the battery charging system must be in good operating condition.

Keep in mind the following electrical precautions for DC operation of the refrigerator:

-  Good battery condition is necessary for correct DC operation.

-  The capacity of the battery charging system must be more than what is necessary for the refrigerator and other DC appliances.

-  While the vehicle engine is running, make sure the voltage of the DC power supply leads at the refrigerator is more than 11.5 VDC."

As stated by Oliver and LifeBlue, our lithium batteries will not be sufficiently charged by the tow vehicle during transit. Will the solar panels satisfy the need for fully charged batteries to operate the fridge on DC while in transit?  Or is this just a warning that the batteries must be kept at a high level of charge to prevent the fridge from drawing the battery SOC to undesirable levels? 

Inquiring minds want to know!

Thanks
 

 
 

 

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Ray and Susan Huff

Elite II Twin on order

2013 F350 3.2l diesel Super Duty 4x4 long bed crew cab

2017 Leisure Travel Van Unity Twin Bed (sold)

AZARCACOGAHIIDILKSLAMSMONENVNMOKORSCTNTX

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Sigh. This is (yet) another reason I seriously had hoped that Oliver would offer a 12v Danfoss/Secop compressor fridge to those who get the lithium package. These fridges are much less touchy in cold or hot temps, don't need to be level, and don't use much power, especially compared to a gas threeway running on dc. They cool down very quickly, compared to the gas absorption fridges. All around, even the less expensive models like my truckfridge are just more efficient.

That said, we've always had gas absorption in the past. No problems with cool weather camping. But, we don't often camp in weather in the 20s or teens, at least not on purpose. I suspect the ambient heat in the Oliver helps some, though I  don't really know. Our dometic didn't have a low temp button, that I can recall. If it did, I  never used it.

Sherry

 

 

Edited by SeaDawg
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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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As far as your panels keeping up with the greedy dc setting on the norcold,  I'd give it a solid "maybe," depending on how far you are driving, if you have sun, if your batteries have a good charge when you begin. We only have 200 watts of solar, and 2 group 27 agms, so for us, it was not an option. We ran the fridge on gas when we traveled. 

At least with the connectivity capability of the lifeblues,  you should be able to check how you're doing with your phone.

 

 

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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