fridge not working on propane - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-13-2020, 01:29 PM   #1
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fridge not working on propane

Hi, I need advice. I brought my NTM 2013 16ft to the RV repairshop because the fridge would not work on propane, only on shore power and battery. mechanic (who got great reviews on google) said he repaired it by cleaning out cobwebs and dirt, but on our next boon docking trip, it was still not functional, so I brought it back to him and he told me that these domestic camper fridges, 1.9 cu. ft. were just garbage. I don't know that I believe that because my last fridge in my pop up was very similar and I never had any problems with it. Everything lights just fine and all other gas appliances work except for the fridge. Any suggestions or have any of you had unresolvable problems with your fridge? The RV guy's suggestions was to just use it as an "ice" box, which is unaccepable. Thanks for any suggestions.
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Old 08-13-2020, 02:03 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Campingbliss View Post
Hi, I need advice. I brought my NTM 2013 16ft to the RV repairshop because the fridge would not work on propane, only on shore power and battery. mechanic (who got great reviews on google) said he repaired it by cleaning out cobwebs and dirt, but on our next boon docking trip, it was still not functional, so I brought it back to him and he told me that these domestic camper fridges, 1.9 cu. ft. were just garbage. I don't know that I believe that because my last fridge in my pop up was very similar and I never had any problems with it. Everything lights just fine and all other gas appliances work except for the fridge. Any suggestions or have any of you had unresolvable problems with your fridge? The RV guy's suggestions was to just use it as an "ice" box, which is unaccepable. Thanks for any suggestions.
I'm guessing you have a Dometic 2193 which is what I have. Because of it's small size and lack of a freezer, it tends to be one of the better performers. And with no electronics, there is no battery drain on propane. Remember these fridges take a long time to come to temperature and tend to struggle in 90° + temps. Try freezing some plastic water bottles to put in the fridge to help with the cool down. I freeze 4 half full one quart rubbermaid bottles and add water for drinking before they go in the fridge. If the flame stays lit, the thermocouple is good. If he cleaned the orifice and chimney then the only other issue could be the regulator. But I bet you're just not giving things time. Also, a thermometer in the fridge is a big help. In most cases my frozen water bottles have the fridge below 40° when I get to the camp ground. An hour after you fire it up put your hand on the side of the burner chamber. It should be very hot.
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Old 08-13-2020, 02:20 PM   #3
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Make sure the baffles and ducting for the exhaust are set up properly and all the heat is going out the venting. with a 2013 its old enough to cause problems if stuff is breaking down. adding vent fans blowing through the heat exchanger helps. has your propane pressure and flow been checked? everytime I had problems it was 2 things the propane regulator was not up to snuff and /or was a spider nest in the burner jet. the nests I get are so small and on the inside of the jet which you have to take out the burner tube, take out the jet and clean out the back side. it looks like very fine piece of cotton in there. I have also had issue with bigger nests inside the burner tube and use a Q-tip to remove that.
Light your fridge, turn on one burner on the stove note the height of the flame then turn on your gas heater and look at the flame, turn on your water heater and look at the flame now turn on you other burner. if the flame keeps dipping some as you turn other stuff on then your gas flow is compromised and needs to be checked. You need clean blue flame all the time. Does your fridge work well on 120 volt? if it does it should work well on propane.
if all else fails take it to a certified Dometic repair shop. call Dometic. I park my trailer outside and my neighbors grass is a foot away I deal with these issues almost every year just before camping season.

dont put in anything that isnt already cold in the fridge. these little fridges do not have to strength to cool down a warm six pack in not much less than a day. keep the fridge full or every time you open the door you will loose a lot of cool and it has to recover all the lost cool best to have stuff to over come cool lost in the fridge it helps recovery.
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Old 08-13-2020, 03:15 PM   #4
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Hi Raz and Steve,

Thank you so much for your replies and suggestions. Scamp is at the RV repair shop now so I will wait for a reply and if the service guy was unable to fix it, I will ask about the troubleshooting items you've mentioned. I did initially give the unit 24 hours to cool down on propane, before our recent trip to Utah, and it didn't workl. I again tried it on propane while in Utah and let it run on propane overnight (and yes, I had a fridge thermometer and fan inside the unit), again it didn't work. Super frustrating since I just brought it in a month ago to fix the same problem. It didn't help that the guy was super crochety and seemed impatient when I tried to ask questions. If this fails, I will find a Dometic Service repairman.
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Old 08-13-2020, 08:35 PM   #5
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Question

What is the model #? Is it a Dometic 2193?
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Old 08-13-2020, 08:50 PM   #6
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I believe it is model 2193. The manual is in the camper at the shop
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Old 08-13-2020, 10:09 PM   #7
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When you say "not working" do you mean it doesn't keep things cold or the flame fails to light?

Here is a manual. The last page has a trouble shooting guide: https://www.scamptrailers.com/wp-con...191_RM2193.pdf
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Old 08-13-2020, 11:00 PM   #8
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Thanks for the manual. The troubleshooting guide was pretty basic and didn't really address my issue. I hope the technician is able to trouble shoot and fix the problem, the most troubling thing is his comment that "these refrigerators are garbage", when Dometic and Suburban have been around for a long time and are the most popular RV fridges on the market. So, the metal tube gets hot so I know that the propane ignitor is lit and I can see the flame. the gas stove works and I have an external LP adaptor for my grill, which also works. The fridge just doesn't get cold at all. I have a thermometer in it and after 24 hours, monitoring the temp, it is quite warm inside. When I plug it into shore power, it does get cold. I just don't feel comfortable taking anything apart in case I make the problem worse. Plan B is to look up a Dometic RV fridge repairman in my area. Thanks all for the great suggestions.
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Old 08-14-2020, 08:20 AM   #9
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How does the flame look? See page 11 figure 9.
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Old 08-14-2020, 08:27 AM   #10
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Shockingly enough, that “basic” guide is fairly thorough. Plenty of us have been through fridge problems and have all kinds of advice.

I’d first want to know if it’ll cool on gas over cold periods. If it 40 or 50 outside, will it cool then? Usually they work on propane, they just can’t keep up at certain temps. If it won’t cool in 90+ temps, well, neither will mine
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Old 08-14-2020, 08:37 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Campingbliss View Post
Thanks for the manual. The troubleshooting guide was pretty basic and didn't really address my issue. I hope the technician is able to trouble shoot and fix the problem, the most troubling thing is his comment that "these refrigerators are garbage", when Dometic and Suburban have been around for a long time and are the most popular RV fridges on the market. So, the metal tube gets hot so I know that the propane ignitor is lit and I can see the flame. the gas stove works and I have an external LP adaptor for my grill, which also works. The fridge just doesn't get cold at all. I have a thermometer in it and after 24 hours, monitoring the temp, it is quite warm inside. When I plug it into shore power, it does get cold. I just don't feel comfortable taking anything apart in case I make the problem worse. Plan B is to look up a Dometic RV fridge repairman in my area. Thanks all for the great suggestions.
Hi: Campingbliss... When our Dometic fridge wouldn't work on propane I was told in Fl. by a dealer I needed a new Igniter..."They can't be fixed"!!! My local RVTech said that was BS!!! It wasn't sparking in the right place cause the wire had bared itself by rubbing on the chassis while traveling. He simply cut the wire added a shrink wrap tube, soldered the wire together again and heated the shrink wrap. EASY & CHEAP.
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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Old 08-14-2020, 08:42 AM   #12
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Much thanks to everyone, hopefully RV guy will call back today with good news, but I've been taking notes on all your suggestions. my flame looks good, a bit of a blue tip, but I don't have a good comparison I guess. The temps where I am now are quite hot, so I'm hearing that I can't expect this tiny fridge to get cold when outside temps are crazy hot? I do all the tricks, pre-freeze or chill food, cool fridge for 24 hours before a trip and put freezer packs in fridge when I arrive at campsite. Do those of you who camp in hot climates use a good cooler to supplement your fridge then if you can't get it cold enough? Do you recommend any particular cooler (Yeti vs. Igloo?) I have looked at the youtube comps and may have to fork out a few $$$ for a decent cooler, yikes! By the time I (hopefully) get my fridge working, I guess I could have purchased a molded cooler. I would love to replace this tiny fridge with the 4.0 cu. ft. model, but that can get up to $1000.00 or more (so I'm told). My last question is that for those of you who have an older Dometic, is it still running? Do you experience many problems with it? The Dometic fridge in my last pop up was only 6 years old, but I never experienced any problems, even when I wasn't exactly (fully) level. I hope to meet some of you out on the road one of these days. Unfortunately, most of the rally's are in the East, and I am in San Diego and not able to take any extended road trips at the moment. Happy Camping!
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Old 08-14-2020, 09:25 AM   #13
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These refrigerators work by applying a precise amount of heat to boil a liquid solution. It is pretty common for the refrigerator to not work well on propane (LP) gas, but to work pretty well on 120 volt electrical.

The basic reason for this is that the 120 volt electrical heating element either works or it doesn't work; they don't "fade" over time and produce less heat; they basically just keep working up until the day they fail, which is actually pretty rare.

Operation on LP gas, on the other hand, requires that a 12-volt igniter works properly, that a precise little orifice is metering exactly the right amount of gas, under just the right pressure as metered by a regulator, and is efficiently heating the fluids through a twisted piece of metal called the flue baffle or turbolator which serves to facilitate the heat exchange.

So, there's a lot of things that can and do go wrong when trying to operate on gas.

However, if the refrigerator works well on 120 volt electrical, this eliminates a lot of other potential problems and generally narrows it down to the igniter (yours is working), the orifice (it's not clear if that was cleaned properly), the pressure regulator not producing 11-inches of water-column pressure (it's not clear that this was checked), and the turbolator and flue (these should be cleaned with a stiff brush to remove any carbon build-up that will reduce heat transfer).

Beyond that, there are some issues with hot weather operation. In brief, under hot weather conditions, the refrigerator is sensitive to whether there is sufficient ventilation in the back to carry away the "waste heat". Many folks resort to small "computer fans", often operated by a thermostat, to improve hot weather performance. (By the way, this is a fan which carries heat away from the back of the fridge, not the little battery-powered ones used inside the cooling compartment to circulate air.)

A proper installation with the correct clearances and well-placed insulation are also important.

If the technician says these units are "garbage", this indicates that they do not in fact have a clear understanding of how the units work and, most importantly, what needs to be done to make them operate properly. They are also showing that they do not have the curiosity to learn why their efforts are not effective.

Curiosity and perseverance are important characteristics of real problem solvers. When this person says the units are "garbage", they are basically just giving up and blaming others instead of figuring out what the real problem is and what needs to be done to fix it.
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Old 08-14-2020, 09:33 AM   #14
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My 2193 is 10 years old and works fine. That said I seldom camp in 90° weather for very long. When I notice the fridge is not performing, I clean the orifice and the chimney. Because the orifice is so small, I examine it under magnification. Even a small amount of dirt will effect performance.

When I do camp in 90° weather I add a small muffin fan to the upper vent to increase air flow. When the temperatures drop below 50°, the fridge will freeze salad vegetables unless you remove them or turn it off.
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Old 08-14-2020, 09:49 AM   #15
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And, it helps to orient the trailer so that the sun is not beating down on the fridge side. Not a fix, but helps in normal operation.
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Old 08-14-2020, 10:00 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Campingbliss View Post
Thanks for the manual. The troubleshooting guide was pretty basic and didn't really address my issue.
The troubleshooting guide in this particular model's manual is not as thorough as that for some other models. I would focus on the preceding page describing how the orifice is to be properly cleaned and the gas pressure requirement of 11-inches.

Because you have a blue flame and it apparently (?) requires removing the fridge to check the flue baffle, this might be left as a later resort.

San Diego and Utah present challenging hot-weather conditions. This can be helped or hurt by how well the unit was or was not installed. However, it sounds like you have a solid understanding of how to help the refrigerator perform, likely aided by having owned and successfully operated one in your A-frame trailer.

A fan to purge the heat from the tubes and fins on the outside-back of the fridge has been very helpful for many.

I suggest trying a Dometic technician before giving up and looking for a new refrigerator.

Personally, if I were to consider a supplemental cooler, I would consider a 12-volt compressor fridge. There are many units on Amazon such as the Alpicool which, while expensive, cost much less than the Dometic and "name brand" units; they also also seem to be getting better reviews.
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Old 08-14-2020, 10:29 AM   #17
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in answer to your question i use the more modern roto-molded igloo sportsman ice chest. a much cheaper copy of the yeti coolers. in it gets all my drinks and frequent items. that we may enter 10 -20 times a day. food stuffs are placed in there frozen and a couple of days we start filtering food to the fridge in our scamp 13. we transfer cold drinks to the fridge as needed for after hours use. anything you can do to keep from opening the fridge will help. the fridge for us is too small for a weeks use especially when its hot most of my camping is during 90-100 F and maybe a low of 70 at night. unless we go to Quartsite in February. then is gets really cold there at night.

My 1986 fridge works ok up until you start getting around 80 F then it needed help so I had to dig into it and find out why it was struggling so much. the worst thing I found was the cobbled up ducting done by Scamp back in the day.
they made a duct on top of the fridge with the fiberglass cut outs from building the trailer. they cut the stuff and taped it up with duct tape to direct the heat out the top vent. after 20 years when I got it i went looking for problems. the failed ducting was no longer working and heating up the the whole cabinet the fridge was in. it was no longer causing a flu like effect to draw headed air through the cooling fins and out the vent. so I took out the stove top to gain access to the failed house of cards and rebuilt it with proper metalized ducting tape and sealed it to the fridge and out the vent. now this helped allot. then I put a computer muffin fan mounted to the lower tube of the fridge blowing up through the fins and out the top vent on the side of the trailer. part of the wiring for this fan went to a switch mounted inside the trailer and a small thermal switch mounted by the fan that will turn off when cold and turn on when the temperature rises. this helped a little more. another problem I encountered was the side panel for the fridge sealing the back of the fridge opening to the side of the trailer. it was held in place with the same failed duct tape and had to be removed and pushed back in place and re taped with the proper metalized duct tape. this was a plus and a fail to me. plus it helped the fridge work better but frustrated and hinders me to service the burner unit. which i have to do nearly every year. The next frustration is replacing the regulator for the propane I have done this 3 times in the last 6 years i get corrosion in my safety valves and the check balls get stuck blocking flow. this is all sealed in the propane lines and the regulator. when I first got the trailer I had to flush out the propane line as there was an oily tar like substance for using propane for 20 years or so. I found this the first time I pulled out the jet for the burner. cleaned that out and it has not returned yet. But my spider problem has kept on and frustrates me to know end.
the hole in the jet is twice that of a human hair so it takes nothing to hinder the flow.

These fridge units work on a very delicate balance in normal operation. its pretty much all we got to work with. and we force them down the bumpy roads in life and beat the crap out of them. the half dozen I have dealt with were never installed properly to begin with and compromised their operation from the get go. for us using them in areas over 85F or high altitude they can be a series of frustration. there are t manuals that come with them operation and installation the most important one is the installation read that and take it like the word from god.
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Old 08-14-2020, 11:44 AM   #18
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Refer not working on propane

You have to wonder about some of the "technicians" out there. I had one that argued with me when asked about a 12 volt problem. Told me there are no refers made to run on 12 volt except for the propane light curcuit. Had never heard of or seen a 3 way fridge.
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Old 08-14-2020, 01:23 PM   #19
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I have a Dometic RM2612 which operates a bit different than the older RM2193. If I understand correctly, the RM2193 is just either "on" or "off"? There is a piezo ignitor but once the flame goes out it has to be manually reignited, correct?

I was having issues with mine getting down to low enough temp. It would get above 50 degrees which is no good. 1.) I checked the baffle distance (with my finger basically) to make sure it wasn't out of position from bouncing down the road. 2.) Cleaned the burner out 3.) Cleaned the orifice (burner jet) by taking off and soaking in alcohol. 4.) Cleaned off the screen in the roof vent (very dirty). 5.) Checked the thermistor for resistance. I didn't clean the flue because it seemed pretty hard to get the baffle out. After all this it stopped auto sparking and I determined that the igniter failed A trip to Amazon and $55 replaced the igniter.

After all that, on my last camping trip the fridge kept down to 40 degrees in upper 80's outside temps

Quote:
A fan to purge the heat from the tubes and fins on the outside-back of the fridge has been very helpful for many.
I like that comment about the fan. I've been thinking of adding a little 12V fan to get the heat up & out through the roof vent more efficiently. Should keep even colder in really hot weather.

Bottom line is these propane fridges are fussy. Keep the compartment and burner clean. I've always enjoyed the challenge of figuring out how things work and how to trouble shoot them (I'm an Engineer ). I look at my time as an inve$tment. If major components break down out in the middle of no-where you're stuck. I hate depending on other people for my comfort or survival
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Old 08-14-2020, 01:29 PM   #20
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Thumbs up

Also, I thinking the comment about having junk in the gas lines is good. I don't know what the spec is for pressure for the RM2193 is but it would be worth figuring out and then having your pressure measured, IMHO. Good luck!

PS: If you take it to a different RV Tech and you find out what the issue was/is please post back so we know. Thanks!
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