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Compressor Refrigerators in 2016 Oliver LEII


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I have searched the forums but haven't found the information on installing a compressor refrigerator as a replacement for the 3 way installed by Oliver.

I have a couple of questions for those who have:

What Brands and Models fit in the space?  Isotherm, Dometic, Norcold?

How hard would a do it yourself instillation be?

How noisy is it at night when the compressor cycles?

Any information appreciated.

Thank you.

2016 Oliver Legacy Elite II.  2021 Ford F250 Diesel

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We did our own install. Not difficult, for us. 

It is not noisy, at all. I hear the fridge more outside the trailer, than inside. Inside, I hear a tiny ping, when it starts up, and a quiet hum, depending on where I am in the trailer. If anything,  at all, in the bed.

Why do you want a compressor fridge? We replaced our 3way because it died, and the compressor fridge was the easiest swap for us. It does stress power requirements,  if you live on solar, as we do. We use 60 to 70 amp hours a day, just for the fridge.

Do we love it? Yes. Would we do it again? Yes. Would i replace a working 3way? No.

Our fridge is a truckfridge tf130, similar but much less pricey than a marine indel (same compressor and body) stainless of same size. 

We like it, because it works. Cons, much more power draw than a 3way. 

 

 

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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If you decide to explore further, this a long thread, with links within to my threads, and others, on conversion.

Is it difficult? Not terribly difficult. 

But, we have a few skills. The most critical (and dangerous) , imo, for average diy guys would be safely removing the propane fridge, and capping the gas line. Working with gas lines is not an amateur task, imo. 

The install took a bit of adaption, in the cavity, and blocking tabbed to the fiberglass with epoxy. We gained about .5 cf of fridge space, overall, lost a lot of freezer space, and gained a drawer beneath the fridge. 

Good luck with your decision. 

Is your 3way not working for you?  Can we help?

Q

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Thanks for the response SeaDawg!  We had a compressor refrigerator in our van which we sold to get the Oliver.  We liked the convenience.  It did make a bit of noise at night, which I didn't like.  We never had to worry about how level we were, running propane while driving, or leveling when stopping for the afternoon.  I'm installing 2 Battleborn 270AH lithium batteries, so we have the power. Compressor refrigerators cool better than an absorption refer, particularly at start up, or in high temperature or high altitude environments.   On the other hand, the efficiency of the absorption refrigerator on propane is a very strong point.

 

2016 Oliver Legacy Elite II.  2021 Ford F250 Diesel

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Those are all good points, and since you, like we, had prior experience with compressor fridge, I can see your points. Especially with your battery capacity. I could go a week or more, with little sun,  with your batteries.

I know Oliver owners don't like using any wood,  but using wood for blocking, I think, helps reduce noise. Also, getting the fridge off the floor (again, with wood rails), cuts down on reverb.

Honestly,  I barely hear the compressor in our small elite. It's actually more quiet than the whoosh and etc. of the previous 3way. And, no orange control panel lights, which always bothered me. (Never bothered my husband, though. Everyone is different. )

The truckfridge is pretty sturdy. Doorswing is only one way, not adjustable.  Fine with me. The freezer door is a chintzy plastic two pin hinge, but same in more expensive marine isotherm. Keep an eye on ice , as it can break the hinge. (Ask me how I know!) 

Door comes in black, only, which is fine with me. 

The freezer is Barbie sized, really tiny. Holds a few frozen items, and two ice cube trays, or five or six meals of proteins, and no trays. 

In an elite II,  you could use a larger Novacool. Pick up a bigger freezer, and still same fridge space. 

Good luck with your decision .

 

 

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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I would like to weigh in on this conversation having owned a compressor fridge back in the days we had our T@b before purchasing the Oliver. Let me just cut to the chase and say I hated that compressor fridge, it was a Dometic. I would never do another compressor fridge based upon that experience, and in fact it was so bad I ended up taking the darn thing out of camper and using the space for more storage. FWIW we have camped at high altitudes and never had an issue with our 3-way fridge in the Oliver and the freezer keeps my home made ice cream frozen solid. Just a few weeks ago we were camped at 8,000 feet for an entire week with no issues what so ever, and its dead quiet compared to an RV compressor fridge. In addition we have towed well over 20K miles using the auto setting on the 3-way and even with extremely steep, out of level ascents and descents out west the fridge has never cut off. While I always make an effort to have our Oliver level I also think people are making a mountain out of a mole hill regarding the leveling use of propane for the cooktop, furnace and fridge. On numerous occasions while stopped and way out of level all components worked just fine and again regardless of altitude. 

For anyone thinking they are going to obtain the home equivalent of a Bosch, LG, Samsung, GE compressor type fridge made for the RV industry is in for a rude surprise. They are noisy and very inefficient compared to the high quality versions made for the home. There really is no comparison in this regard. I certainly don't mean this as a diss on SeaDawg for their apparent success which seems to be very positive, but it certainly is not a route I would take or suggest. From my perspective there is a reason why 3-way fridge's are so prevalent in the RV industry. Hope this helps.

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Legacy Elite II #70

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54 minutes ago, routlaw said:

From my perspective there is a reason why 3-way fridge's are so prevalent in the RV industry.

I agree with you 80%.  Though it does sound like you had the wrong fridge.  I think that compressor fridges have a marginal value over 3-ways, but only if your particular needs fall in the areas where they excel.  And, only if you're willing to up your electrical storage and solar to match their consumption, because they will definitely pull some power - and it's a power drain that you can't just cut off if you're low on battery.

It would be nice if Oliver could offer a compressor fridge as an option for those who want them.  

So, get one if you want one, but don't if you don't.  IMO, for the same expense and work, adding a nice compressor fridge/freezer in your tow vehicle will add far more value, and will really impact the way you travel.

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@routlaw, that's not a diss, it's offering your experiences, which is what Southbird was looking for.

I am surprised that your Dometic was so noisy. I wonder if it used a different type of compressor? Most marine brands (vitrofrigo, isotherm, etc.) and truckfridge use the Danfoss/secop compressor. Or, if you had a bum fridge. I've never seen or heard a Dometic 12v running, so I couldn't comment there.

I, too, think folks get a bit carried away with the leveling for the 3ways. Pretty much, if you're comfortable in the trailer,  the fridge is fine. I think our Dometic manual said either 4 or 6 degrees out of level was OK, and we never had any problems in the mountains, either. In many ways, the 3way can be the ideal boondocking fridge, as it doesn't use much dc power running on gas.

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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We too had a small Dometic compressor fridge in our van prior to the LE2.  I found it to be noisy, and thought that the LE2's 3-way Norcold would be a big upgrade.  The Norcold does keep food cold, and I like the freezer, but dislike the exhaust smell when getting in and out of the trailer, and the noise when sitting under the awning.  I'm wondering if it would be possible for Oliver design for and construct an exhaust vent further up on the roof (like Airstreams, for example).

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2021 Oliver LE2
Ram 2500 diesel

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Fritz, do you know if your earlier dometic had a danfoss/ now Secop  compressor? 

I've read that in earlier fridges, dometic used a compressor they made. Don't know if that's true or not. I think the newer ones use the secop bd35, but not sure.

At this point, with two people saying dometic 12v was noisy, glad I don't have one.

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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31 minutes ago, SeaDawg said:

Fritz, do you know if your earlier dometic had a danfoss/ now Secop  compressor? 

 

I'm sorry -- I don't recall.  The fridge was purchased for, and installed in, our 2008 Sprinter.  So about 13 years old...

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2021 Oliver LE2
Ram 2500 diesel

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A few additional thoughts. With our T@b and Dometic compressor fridge. I tried numerous things to dampen the noise, rumble and hum which helped but only a small amount. I applied dampening material to the actual compressor itself but don't recall the label/name that was on the actual compressor. Inside the cavity I also added quite a bit of insulation and dampening material to the cabinet sides. You could not sleep with the thing running, period. It went through battery power swiftly too. Granted those batteries in the T@b were small 12V, nothing like what we have in our Oliver, still it was a bitter experience. 

Regarding the 3-way currently available in the Oliver. I don't normally smell much in the way of exhaust but do feel the vented heat on occasion entering or existing though I'm not bothered by it. For anyone put off by the small amount of noise coming from the 3-way, they really aren't going to like a compressor fridge. We have the Dometic 3-way, can't help but wonder is the Norcold that much different with noise, smell and heat?

Legacy Elite II #70

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FWIW, it has to be pretty quiet in our trailer to hear our Isotherm.  It's never anything we think about.  The same goes for the National Luna in the truck - you'd have to be sitting with the engine off to hear it.

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I'd love to have an uncut panel, like Overland, for our fridge, but we did the retrofit gig.

Last Tuesday,  we had over 12 inches of rain, in 28 hours. I had some tiny seepage from the upper fridge vent (my fault, rally, still just using double layer of visqueen clamped into the fridge vent panel. I need to work on that. ) Rains were truly torrential. In a somewhat dry  break, I duct taped around the upper fridge panel.  Not sure anything could have withstood that rainfall, but our Oliver was nice and dry.

Our tiny murmuring creek, down the hill, became a roaring stream and a waterfall,  in a very short time.

 

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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The main thing that bothered me with the compressor refrigerator (Dometic) in our old van was the cycling of the compressor at night. It wasn’t very loud, but I am a light sleeper and sometimes it would wake me up. My wife never had a problem sleeping with it. I hear Isotherm makes a very quiet unit. 
 

I appreciate the comments on leveling. I think I have worried about that too much based on the experiences described by routlaw and SeaDawg. It is my understanding the modern absorption units will just shut off if angled too much rather than running the flame at an angle and damaging the refrigerator. 
 

Does anyone know what size/model Isotherm fits in the LEII space? 
 

Thank you all for the input. 

2016 Oliver Legacy Elite II.  2021 Ford F250 Diesel

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The 130 liter models will fit in the cavity (cruise elegance, with the same tiny freezer as our Truckfrudge,  or cruise elegance drink, which has no freezer so a slightly larger fridge capacity.)

I don't think Isotherm makes the 130 classic anymore, which has a different handle, freezer door, and weaker hinges. If you were to find one, I'd skip it and go with the cruise elegance.

Our truckfridge 130, also made by indel, has a kind of hybrid between the two. The weird handle on the door, but the better freezer door. There's a little stainless bracket on the bottom front left corner that helps support the closed door, and keeps the door well-sealed, but I have to push in on that bottom corner to get a good seal.

One other thing about the indel 130s. There us no condensate drain. Water collects in a drip pan below the freezer, and it needs to be checked and emptied frequently,  or the freezer ices up very quickly in humid weather. Ours needs to be defrosted every two to three weeks in humid weather.

The drink model has no freezer, and water is collected in a tray and sent to an evaporator plate .

 

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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2 hours ago, SeaDawg said:

I don't think Isotherm makes the 130 classic anymore, which has a different handle, freezer door, and weaker hinges. If you were to find one, I'd skip it and go with the cruise elegance.

Our truckfridge 130, also made by indel, has a kind of hybrid between the two. The weird handle on the door, but the better freezer door. There's a little stainless bracket on the bottom front left corner that helps support the closed door, and keeps the door well-sealed, but I have to push in on that bottom corner to get a good seal.

One other thing about the indel 130s. There us no condensate drain. Water collects in a drip pan below the freezer, and it needs to be checked and emptied frequently,  or the freezer ices up very quickly in humid weather. Ours needs to be defrosted every two to three weeks in humid weather.

Ours is a Cruise 130 Inox, which I assume is what you're calling the classic model?  It's still made, and I prefer the look, since it's a solid stainless door vs a stainless panel in a frame.  It has the freezer door.  They have a fingerprint resistant stainless now, which would be nice.

I think the elegance fridges are frameless, which could be a problem on the Ollie.  You'd have to cover the edge of the fiberglass somehow.

We haven't had any frost issues with ours, though you use yours for longer periods obviously than we do.  Ours is the ASU model, which might make a difference.  Also, I installed a circulation fan just under the freezer which may keep it dry.  In fact, the drip tray for ours in in a box somewhere - I needed that extra inch.  

We debated getting a drawer unit, and still debate whether we should have.  We also debated the drink model, since the freezer is only big enough for some slim ice trays, but I'm glad we didn't since I like having the ice.  

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Which handle do you have, Overland? I kind of remember your fridge handle being in the middle, like the Elegance? Both were available when I  was studying reviews, looking for a 12v fridge.

Mine, like the classic, is at the opening top edge. The catch is plastic, with a triangular piece of thin metal that acts as the spring. I've had to fix it twice.

I suspect your fan and asu do make a difference. You may also have more insulation in your door than mine. I can sometimes see the outlines of the door shelves, in condensation. 

The freezer doesn't ice much in spring and fall. But humid weather like this summer in NC, it's something I  have to keep up with. I broke the freezer door when I let it go too long, and they're neither inexpensive,  nor easy to find. 

I may just try the fan first. 

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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The handle to mine is on the side. I thought I was getting the one with the center handle but I got the old version instead; which sucked since the door swung the wrong way and had to be replaced. 

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The Elegance can be ordered with a flange, but it probably wouldn't be wide enough to cover the raw fiberglass edge. We covered our raw edge with some trim lock automotive channel, in black.

Bummer that they sent the wrong door. 

I still sometimes wish I'd found a drawer freezer to fit in the microwave cavity, but that would double my power needs, and unless/until we switch up to lithium, that's a no go with my relatively puny  two x 105 ah agms. I'd be way better off with a portable  freezer like yours, in the truck.

Still in all, we're happy with the fridge. It has been very reliable, and cools down fast. The tiny freezer does make ice in a short time. My problems with the handle and free,we door were my own fault. 

It would be nice if Oliver offered a compressor fridge  as an option, for those with the lithium package.

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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I've done fine with the 3-way absorption fridge (Dometic) on our camper van for nearly twenty years. But I've mostly camped up in the cooler northern climate, and I've only ventured to the southwest in shoulder season when the highest highs were verging into the low nineties (at which point I booked it west to get out to the 60s-70s of the northern CA and southern OR coast 😄 ). But I talked with a guy who does a LOT of camping around the desert southwest in all seasons in his Four Wheel Camper on his truck. He claimed that the absorption fridges would just not keep up in the hotter weather he sometimes camps in - he has a fairly efficient compressor fridge in his Four Wheel Camper and says his solar panels on the roof nearly always keep his batteries topped off. I will say that when I made the aforementioned beeline from AZ to northern CA, I crossed the Mojave desert in fairly hot temperatures and the fridge did NOT keep up (granted I was driving and running it on wimpy DC as the pilot light on that fridge blows out at anything over about 25-30MPH) - it got fairly warm in there by evening and I tossed anything like mayo or meat that can't take more than a few hours above 40-ish according to USDA etc. 

So I'm wondering - some of you clearly camp a bunch in hotter parts of the country. Does it ever get so hot that your 3-way Ollie fridge doesn't quite keep up?

Jim and  Yanna, Woodinville WA

2004 Ford E250 camper conversion

Oliver Elite II hull #709

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Honestly,  if I were the op, I'd try out the 3way,, on a shorter trip. If it works, keep it til it doesn't .

Hard swap, no. Waste of money, if what you have, works. Imo

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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