Warm refrigerator - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV

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Old 11-16-2011, 04:15 PM   #15
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Name: Rick
Trailer: former Boler, now 1980 Trillium 4500
Posts: 368

Originally Posted by rabbit View Post
This fridge will cool acceptably on 120vac but immediately shuts down and warms up again. The propane maintenance problem is on the back burner UNTIL I get a positive indication that the fridge will function on electricity.

Jack, it looks like your electrical system maybe has a problem different than just not getting cold enough. You don’t say what make and model fridge you have, and I can’t read the labelling well enough on your picture, but Dometic often has the gas control on the left and the burner on the right when looked at from the rear, so it could be one of those.

The fridge wiring should be very straightforward. In the two brands of fridge that I have taken apart, including Dometic, the electric heater is a single unit with embedded wiring for both 12V and 120V operation. In other words, the same heater works on both voltages. Yours has separate power switches for the two voltages, and a thermostat below the power switches. Other than that, there is probably nothing else in the electrical circuit except perhaps a fuse. The owner’s manual for the fridge should have a wiring diagram, or else you can likely find a service manual on the internet.

If your fridge is getting cold, then turning off and warming up without ever going on again, there are two places you could start. First, the thermostat. On one of my fridges, the thermostat was burned out from years of use, but seemed to work. It still clicked on and off when the temperature was adjusted, but the terminals to the heater were burned out and would not pass the current. I was able to get a similar sized thermostat from an RV fridge place. Since thermostats are basically on-off, any RV type that will fit into the space will do the job. It is possible that your thermostat has a poor connection that heats up, causing it to expand, then breaks the connection with the expansion until it cools down again. No repairs are generally practical, just replace the thermostat.

The other possibility that I can think of is a similar crack in a wire, connection, switch, fuse or the heater itself. Since the heater works well enough to cool your fridge the first time, it is not likely the heater. You can test this by cooling the fridge down until it shuts itself off, then measuring the resistance across the heater wires once your fridge has shut itself down (disconnect the power before doing this). Again, it is possible that a poor connection will heat up and expand enough to cause a break. In my experience these kinds of cracks usually close up by themselves fairly quickly as they cool, say a minute or two after the power is removed, thereby re-establishing the connection, so if you fridge stays powerless for long periods (like 20 minutes), then it may not be that. Intermittent problems are the hardest to find.

One thing that might help is to use a volt meter to follow the voltage from the wires through the switch, fuse and thermostat, trying to find where the power is cutting out. Another possibility is that the circuit that is supplying the power to your fridge has the fault.

Good luck.
Rick G

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Old 11-16-2011, 07:43 PM   #16
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Name: Jack
Trailer: '98 BURRO 17WB
Posts: 2,548
Fridge is a Dometic RM 2202. It's presumably the age of the trailer ('98) and appears to be in good condition (clean, no discoloration on coils). I guess I'll try some of the your troubleshooting tricks to identify the problem on shore power. THEN I'll worry about the propane. Thanks Rick.


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