Running the Refrigerator - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-04-2016, 10:49 AM   #1
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Name: Martina
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Running the Refrigerator

My husband and I are new to the travel trailer life. Still looking for a tow vehicle. Bought a 19' Escape and have been working on equipping it and acquainting ourselves with all the appliances and functions of the equipment. Our trailer is parked in our driveway which is on a somewhat heavy incline. We had a new refrigerator installed (as part of a recall), were told by the RV place who installed it that the refrigerator was tested and was in working order. We wanted to try it ourselves but the problem we have is that the bubble on the leveler is on the left side of the center - meaning the front part of the trailer is on the down slope of the driveway. We have tried to jack it up further but the front axel of our two axel trailer then comes off the ground. We were told that we should not do that. My question now: how level does the trailer need to be to run and test the temperature of the fridge????? Any comments would help. Thanks! MartinaM
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Old 04-04-2016, 11:27 AM   #2
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In order to really test it I think you would need to run it for several hours.

My understanding is that an absorption refrigerator can be severely damaged and may even start a fire if the refrigerant is not able to circulate properly. Having 'too steep' a slope can prevent this circulation. The definition of 'too steep' is brand and model dependent; it varies.

I would consider that there is potentially a large risk at stake and review the manual for the refrigerator and/or contact the installer for specific information.

The alternative would be to move the trailer to a more level location or to rig some leveling blocks and wheel chocks that will function on your slope.
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Old 04-04-2016, 02:42 PM   #3
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Thank you Mike. We have definitely thought of contacting Dometic and speaking with them. Right now we can't move the trailer because we would have to rent a vehicle to do so. We are waiting. Will get back and let everyone know when I have more info.
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Old 04-04-2016, 05:50 PM   #4
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I also have a steep driveway. But the sloop is going in the opposite direction so built a ramp for the trailer with lots of wheel blocks As yours is going in the opposite sloop direction perhaps you could just put a couple of level blocks under the front axle only to get it up enough to level with the tongue.

Running the fridge when the trailer is not level is not good for them. They may work but they need to be level in order for the fluids to freely flow through the piping. If the fluid does not freely flow, over time the piping will gum up and the fridge will not work well or just give up. A number of folks have indicated that when there trailer is not level the fridge does not work very well - thats even on newer trailers.
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:04 AM   #5
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My experience with propane refrigerators , through various types of campers, and motor homes, is that they will not operate normally if on much of an incline. I am not aware that it will cause damage, but they certainly will not keep anything cold. As pointed out, it varies from model to model, but generally speaking, they have to fairly level. I would guess less that less than three degrees off level should be okay.
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:39 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
I also have a steep driveway. But the sloop is going in the opposite direction so built a ramp for the trailer with lots of wheel blocks As yours is going in the opposite sloop direction perhaps you could just put a couple of level blocks under the front axle only to get it up enough to level with the tongue. ...................
The word you're looking for is SLOPE, not SLOOP. A sloop is a type of ship.
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Old 04-05-2016, 12:07 PM   #7
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Does your fridge have a 120V option? Perhaps a suitable extension cord would keep things running in your parking spot.

I have to sneak in my opinion on RV refrigeration. I believe my 12V fridge would work at any angle. Lose the propane. Enjoy the sun. So there. I said it.

Stay cool,

Gordon
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Old 04-05-2016, 12:40 PM   #8
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Older fridges needed to be very, very level to avoid damage. Newer (definitely from the 90's on if not earlier than that) fridges don't need to be quite so level- the instructions I see most often are "if you're comfortable, the fridge is level enough". If you can't walk or stand or sleep comfortably in the camper, then it's too tilted to run the fridge. If it's level enough for you to live in the trailer comfortably, it's level enough.
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Old 04-05-2016, 12:47 PM   #9
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Contacted Dometic and they replied: "The refrigerator must be level with tolerance of 6 degrees front to back and 3 degrees left to right" (from what I learned from others is that this is determined when facing the fridge). I am now considering getting a level with degrees to determine how far we are off.
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Old 04-05-2016, 12:50 PM   #10
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Running the Refrigerator

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
I also have a steep driveway. But the sloop is going in the opposite direction so built a ramp for the trailer with lots of wheel blocks As yours is going in the opposite sloop direction perhaps you could just put a couple of level blocks under the front axle only to get it up enough to level with the tongue.

Running the fridge when the trailer is not level is not good for them. They may work but they need to be level in order for the fluids to freely flow through the piping. If the fluid does not freely flow, over time the piping will gum up and the fridge will not work well or just give up. A number of folks have indicated that when there trailer is not level the fridge does not work very well - thats even on newer trailers.
Thank you for your suggestion Carol. We will give this a try as a possible way to solve our problem. I think this might be doable.
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Old 04-05-2016, 01:02 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Gordon in Idaho View Post
Does your fridge have a 120V option? Perhaps a suitable extension cord would keep things running in your parking spot.

I have to sneak in my opinion on RV refrigeration. I believe my 12V fridge would work at any angle. Lose the propane. Enjoy the sun. So there. I said it.

Stay cool,

Gordon
Hi Gordon, thanks for your time in replying. I am not certain that the effect of the fridge being off level is influenced by either running it on gas (propane) or 120V. I can run the fridge on three energy sources but, I believe, it still has to be level. If I understand it correctly, the cooling liquid has to move around in the fridge to not form crystals. Not being level, the liquid will pool and cause the crystalizing. Since I am a total novice, I may be interpreting your suggestion differently than your possibly obvious intent. The answer I got from Dometic is that there is a tolerance range and that is 3 degrees side to side and 6 degrees front to back (facing the fridge).
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Old 04-05-2016, 01:14 PM   #12
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Running the Refrigerator

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon in Idaho View Post
Does your fridge have a 120V option? Perhaps a suitable extension cord would keep things running in your parking spot.

I have to sneak in my opinion on RV refrigeration. I believe my 12V fridge would work at any angle. Lose the propane. Enjoy the sun. So there. I said it.

Stay cool,

Gordon

If you have a 12v (Danfoss type) compressor refrigerator, that is probably the case to a certain point. I surely wouldn't try running it upside down. But if it is an absorption refrigerator, it doesn't matter if it runs on propane, 120v AC, or 12v DC. If it is not (close to) level, an absorption refrigerator will not operate properly.


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Old 04-05-2016, 01:17 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by ZachO View Post
Older fridges needed to be very, very level to avoid damage. Newer (definitely from the 90's on if not earlier than that) fridges don't need to be quite so level- the instructions I see most often are "if you're comfortable, the fridge is level enough". If you can't walk or stand or sleep comfortably in the camper, then it's too tilted to run the fridge. If it's level enough for you to live in the trailer comfortably, it's level enough.
The fridge was installed in Oct. 2015. The only test performed on it was just after installation by the local RV dealer. The owners' manual doesn't say anything, at least that I could find, about leveling the fridge. The response from Dometic USA was that there is a tolerance range of 3 degrees side to side and 6 degree front to back facing the fridge.

We have sat with friends in the trailer, tried out the bed and it seems quite comfortable. However, when I place a round pencil on the dinette table it rolls gingerly toward the front of the trailer. I am not certain I can determine what comfortable living means to me as compared to someone else. Sitting, standing or walking in the trailer I don't have to lean to stay straight. It has seemed so natural to us that we were surprised about the vertical distance we jacked up the tongue of the hitch (about 3") and we hardly made a dent in leveling the trailer.
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Old 04-05-2016, 01:20 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Martina View Post
...I can run the fridge on three energy sources but, I believe, it still has to be level...
You are correct. My impression is that the specs for level relate more to the slope of the tubes at the back of the fridge and assuring the ammonia can flow downwards. The leveling targets are not dependent on the heating method. 120vAC will not overcome poor leveling.
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