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Norcold 4.5 3 way idiosyncrasy


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We were traveling with our Norcold 4.5 refrigerator on Auto.  We had the LP off and were running on DC.  We check this too by pressing the mode button and the LED illuminates showing DC.  When we got to the campground where we don’t have shore power we turned on the LP.  I checked the stove at some point and turned on the Truma outside and the at the remote inside.  After a few hours I happen to check the VictronConnect Smart Battery Shunt numbers using my iPhone and Bluetooth and discovered extraordinary draw.  I immediately checked the refrigerator by pressing the mode button and confirmed it was on DC.  Several iterations of this with the Norcold setting of Auto always showed DC when I pressed the mode button.  I finally changed to manual LP and the LED F was displayed indicating an LP issue.  I couldn’t understand why the stove and Truma would work and the Norcold had a code, but power cycling the refrigerator after relighting the stove for one more check resolved the issue.  I suspect the code was suppressed by the Auto setting on the refrigerator.  My warning is to not trust the Auto setting without checking the actual operation by pressing mode or setting to the desired setting manually.  

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David Caswell and Paula Saltmarsh


Hull 509 "The Swallow"

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When we had  three ways, I  learned to use manual settings, never auto. 

What probably happened was there was air in the line, causing the fridge to go back to dc, as default.

Before running a fridge on lp, I always ran a burner on the cooktop, first. The cooktop draws more fuel, and isn't as sensitive to an air bubble in the line. Fills the gas line.. the fridge uses a very small amount if lp, and will shut down with just a bit of air in the line, in my experience. 

After running a burner for 20 or thirty seconds, I'd shut down the burner, and fire up the fridge.

Glad you checked everything,  and didn't deplete your batteries,  running the fridge on dc, unintentionally. Good for you!

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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The earlier Dometic 3-way refrigerators on auto would NEVER go to DC. They would only switch between AC and LP. If you want DC you manually have to initiate it. The later trailers with the Norcold units in auto will switch between all three choices. I don't like that feature and I would do as @granitestaters is doing, just set your preference manually.

Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge) 2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0026 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0050 2017 Silverado High Country 2500HD Diesel 4x4 

 

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I just acquired a lightly used 2021 Elite I, and am having trouble with the Norcold 3-way refrigerator. Initially, it would run only on propane, not on AC or DC, when connected to shore power. The touch-screen controls were working, so it was getting some DC power. After some reading in this forum, the manuals, and elsewhere, I guessed that the unit's AC cord probably wasn't plugged into its outlet, and I was right. This outlet is in the wall behind the lower kitchen drawer, so it wasn't easy to access.

Plugged in, the fridge now runs on AC or propane, but not DC, either from batteries alone or connected to my tow vehicle with the engine running. I've got it fully cooled down, so I'm not expecting DC to chill it from a warm starting point, just to keep it cool when I'm towing. I've checked the DC fuses, both the one in the main fuse panel under the dinette and the one on the DC power lines in the vented outside compartment (where the propane flame is located). They seem fine. Likewise, everything looks connected behind the plastic wiring box in this compartment, but I lack the knowledge to troubleshoot anything in there. I have the Solar-Pro package (roof-top panel and inverter). All other systems are working fine.

Anyone have a clue as to how to get this fridge working on DC? I don't want to run it on propane when towing, although I've read that some folks do.

Jerry

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If it's running at all, its getting dc to the controls. So, the place to check, I guess, is dc to the cooling unit. 

Also, the control push button. On our dometic, this was an issue. (Eyebrow board.) 

Not sure which model norcold you have. Never had an issue with that. Til it died. 

And, we rarely, if ever tried to run on dc. Too much power loss for our batteries.  

We're one of that group that runs on propane . Or, used to be. Dc danfoss/secop compressor fridge runs fine, underway.

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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We always run on propane while towing so if you don’t get it figured out you can use propane and don’t need to worry until you get it fixed.  We have the older Dometic so hopefully someone with the new Norcold will chime in.  The plug issue seems to be common, I hope the factory folks figure out a solution.  Mike

Texas Hill Country | Elite II #135 | Ram 2500 6.7L

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Thanks to SeaDawg and Mike and Carol for the replies. Here's some more information about my situation with the fridge.

The fridge I have is one of the Norcold N3000 models; don't know which one specifically.

When I select DC power on the control panel, it flashes a display with a wrench icon and the #6. The text in the manual for this error code is this: "The refrigerator does not work on 12V. Make sure the engine is running. Try to run the refrigerator on another power source."

I guess I wouldn't use DC to power the fridge except during towing, when I would expect the towing vehicle to supply and offset any power drain on the trailer's batteries. Isn't this why you would have a fridge with a 3-way power option? Shore power when your site has it. Propane when your site doesn't. DC when you're traveling between sites.

I appreciate the suggestion to go ahead and use propane during towing while I sort this out. If I can't get this problem resolved before our next trip (Thursday), that's what I'll do.

Anyone know how I can tell if the cooling unit is getting DC, short of pulling wires back there and putting a voltage meter on them? I'm afraid I would break something doing that.

JerryZ

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Either your fridge has a lockout to not run on 12v unless you have the trailer connected, or, you have a glitch in the control board, and that's  a warranty item.

How far are you traveling? Cool the fridge down, load it up, add a couple frozen cold packs, and unless it's super hot, you're good for a few hours without the fridge running at all. Or, turn it to propane . Also, when you hook up the trailer, before you leave the driveway, see if the fridge runs on dc if the engine is running in your truck.

Then, open a service ticket. Your fridge, even as second owner, is probably still under warranty with norcold. Worth the call to find out 

 

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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1 hour ago, JerryZ said:

Anyone know how I can tell if the cooling unit is getting DC, short of pulling wires back there and putting a voltage meter on them? I'm afraid I would break something doing that.

No need for a voltmeter here. The error code 6 tells you all you need to know.

 The Norcold has two separate 12 volt connections. One is for powering the controls and the other for the heater. When these refrigerators are installed in a motorized camper, the control input is wired direct to the battery and the heater input is connected to an "engine running" source. This scheme is intended to prevent the vehicle battery from being run down inadvertently. In a travel trailer where this isn't a concern, the two 12 volt inputs should be jumpered together so both are powered by a single circuit.

Definitely open a ticket with service. This is an installation error they should resolve for you warrantee or not.

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Again, thanks to all for the insights. I will definitely call the service folks at Oliver to get their advice after my next trip. In the meantime, I'll either run it on propane while towing (turning it off at gas stations) or load it cold packs for the short 2-hour trip.

JerryZ

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Instead of calling, open a service ticket.  You'll have documentation,  and so will Oliver service. You can even insert a link to this thread, which will save time.

Have fun on your trip, and come back and let us know about the results. 

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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