Propane refrigerator that can run with no 12v? - Fiberglass RV
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Old 02-01-2021, 05:33 PM   #1
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Name: Michael
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Propane refrigerator that can run with no 12v?

Contrary to trend, we enjoy running our 1980 Trillium Jubilee on propane for stove, fridge and heat and with minimal electric power for lights and fan only.

Looking at a new 2.7 Cu. Ft. Norcold N306.3 (black) or N305.3 (beige) 3-way. It's an older design that has been upgraded over the years and still in production. I was pleasantly surprised when a Norcold CSR stated that it does't require electricity to run on propane.



If that's true, it's unlike every other new compact 3-way built-in RV fridge that I could find. They all seem to have electric controls and safety devices that demand significant constant battery power to run on propane.

Can anyone else confirm the Norcold N305/306 can run on gas only?
Thanks.
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Old 02-02-2021, 02:40 PM   #2
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I don't know about your unit but I had a trailer some years ago that had no battery or any other electrical service. The furnace was propane. The light was propane, with a mantle. The fridge was propane with a pilot light that was lit with a piezo lighter and the pilot stayed lit. The fridge worked excellent. I would much rather have a fridge like that than the one I have now that requires a battery and lights itself. While this fridge doesn't use a lot of electricity to run, the igniter draws significant power over time.
I needed two 20lb cylinders of propane to winter camp for a week at below freezing temperatures. I can't do this in my current unit without a generator and four cylinders of propane per week.
If I had to replace my fridge I would definitely go with this set up if available.
I'm also considering installing a gravity furnace which also doesn't require electricity as battery power is limited during winter months when there is less sun.
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Old 02-02-2021, 04:27 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mique View Post
..
Can anyone else confirm the Norcold N305/306 can run on gas only?
...
I can not.

But I can confirm that the Dometic RM2410 in my 2015 Scamp does not need any electrical power.. not one joule.
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Old 02-02-2021, 07:47 PM   #4
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I had an N300 which I believe was an earlier model. It did not require 12v. to run on gas. Do a search for the manual just to make sure. I'm sure it will contain wiring diagrams.
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Old 02-02-2021, 09:38 PM   #5
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Agreed. The ability to run exclusively on gas has great appeal to some of us but this feature has been largely phased out by manufacturers.

The Jubliee's original refrigerator; the "Trav'ler by Elixir" model 202-90 operated independently on propane.

A search on Dometic shows the RM2410 is now a discontinued model and it seems to have disappeared from the online vendors.

I obtained a 2014 Norcold Service Manual for the N305.3 and N306.3 that states:
  • "A 12 volt supply connection is only necessary if the refrigerator is to be operated in DC mode. Both the AC and GAS modes operate without need for 12 volts."

So I ordered one today, fairly certain that it will work as promised.
Thank you all for help with this research.
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Old 02-03-2021, 04:43 AM   #6
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Two suggestions: First, I recommend a fan for the fridge section to circulate the air and second, early N300 models would fail to stay lit because of a voltage drop between the thermocouple and the gas safety valve. A larger wire was the cure. I made it a habit when I serviced the burner to clean the connections (which included a switch) with contact cleaner .

Also, I currently have a Dometic 2193 which is smaller (no freezer) and also runs on gas with no DC required. Another option, perhaps. Good luck.
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Old 02-03-2021, 07:51 AM   #7
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Gas no electric?

Hi,

Looking at the manual it looks like this fridge has a standing pilot
light which means that the box should operate without any AC or
DC input.... Check the Manual...

https://norcold.com/wp-content/uploa...ers-manual.pdf

Uncle Larry
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Old 02-13-2021, 01:02 PM   #8
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Norcold - 5 stars

We have this Norcold model in our 1980 4500. It's served us well for 7 years and uses no battery on the propane setting.

Just get the burner cleaned every 1-2 years.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=...AAAAAdAAAAABAR
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Old 02-13-2021, 01:11 PM   #9
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Can't remember the model number but my Norcold runs off propane, battery or 110.
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Old 02-13-2021, 01:42 PM   #10
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In my 2011 Escape 17B, I had a Dometic RM 2510 5 cubic foot 2 way (120V or propane) refrigerator. While it did not use any 12V to run, it did have a 12V powered igniter.

There was a similar sized & shaped refrigerator used in a friend's 2010 Scamp 16 that used a push button igniter that required no 12V connection. It was a Dometic, but I don't know the model.
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Old 02-13-2021, 04:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Vermilye View Post
.
There was a similar sized & shaped refrigerator used in a friend's 2010 Scamp 16 that used a push button igniter that required no 12V connection. It was a Dometic, but I don't know the model.
..

RM2410 is closer to 4 cubic feet I think..didnt check..
And it uses an ignitor, so no 12 volt connection at all.

(Sounds like its getting rare to have an absorption fridge that is completely free from electric power needs.. I better take good care of it!)
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Old 02-13-2021, 05:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mique View Post
Contrary to trend, we enjoy running our 1980 Trillium Jubilee on propane for stove, fridge and heat and with minimal electric power for lights and fan only.

Looking at a new 2.7 Cu. Ft. Norcold N306.3 (black) or N305.3 (beige) 3-way. It's an older design that has been upgraded over the years and still in production. I was pleasantly surprised when a Norcold CSR stated that it does't require electricity to run on propane.



If that's true, it's unlike every other new compact 3-way built-in RV fridge that I could find. They all seem to have electric controls and safety devices that demand significant constant battery power to run on propane.




Can anyone else confirm the Norcold N305/306 can run on gas only?
Thanks.

Unless fitted with a fan, 3-way fridges do not use electric power when running on gas.
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Old 02-13-2021, 05:36 PM   #13
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A while back I did some research as I wanted a refrigerator that had no DC requirement on propane. What I found was many 3 way refrigerators have a DC powered control board to amplify the thermocouple signal, power the igniter, and/ or power a thermostat. Four to 500 milliamps is a typical current draw. The board is typically shown in the manual as part of the wiring diagram.
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Old 02-13-2021, 06:00 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Raz View Post
A while back I did some research as I wanted a refrigerator that had no DC requirement on propane. What I found was many 3 way refrigerators have a DC powered control board to amplify the thermocouple signal, power the igniter, and/ or power a thermostat. Four to 500 milliamps is a typical current draw. The board is typically shown in the manual as part of the wiring diagram.



I guess you would have to go to the older used fridge to find one then.
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Old 02-13-2021, 06:01 PM   #15
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Thanks to everyone for your replies.

The takeaway is that while many owners of older 3-way rv refrigerators have good experience running on propane without 12 volt draw, the trend in new products is to require a constant 12 volt source for operating control boards and safety devices.

Just be aware that a replacement refrigerator may not operate on propane without a connection to a charged battery.

My brand new old-generation Norcold N306.3 has been delivered and I can begin designing a larger cabinet enclosure. It's an inch wider than the original fridge and SURPRISE! the extra inch prevents it from going through the door or the escape window.

I'll have to start a new thread on replacement doors!
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Old 02-13-2021, 08:02 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by matthfam View Post
Unless fitted with a fan, 3-way fridges do not use electric power when running on gas.
In many cases.. the above statement is flat wrong.

And that is the main point of this thread. In recent years, absorption fridges (either 3-way or 2-way) are often designed with convenience features (such as automatic transfer of the required heat source) using electric controls which require constant electrical power. While the control does not use much electric power, these units will NOT operate unless they have electric power and the fridge will not cool without the electric power.

The following comment is the exact opposite of "flat wrong.":
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raz View Post
A while back I did some research as I wanted a refrigerator that had no DC requirement on propane. What I found was many 3 way refrigerators have a DC powered control board to amplify the thermocouple signal, power the igniter, and/ or power a thermostat. Four to 500 milliamps is a typical current draw. The board is typically shown in the manual as part of the wiring diagram.
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Old 02-14-2021, 09:39 AM   #17
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propane fridge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Vermilye View Post
In my 2011 Escape 17B, I had a Dometic RM 2510 5 cubic foot 2 way (120V or propane) refrigerator. While it did not use any 12V to run, it did have a 12V powered igniter.

There was a similar sized & shaped refrigerator used in a friend's 2010 Scamp 16 that used a push button igniter that required no 12V connection. It was a Dometic, but I don't know the model.
I have a 95 13f scamp still has the original dometic fridge just a spark to light! hope it lasts forever! I have read such stories of replacing it!
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Old 02-14-2021, 09:47 AM   #18
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gizmos

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raz View Post
A while back I did some research as I wanted a refrigerator that had no DC requirement on propane. What I found was many 3 way refrigerators have a DC powered control board to amplify the thermocouple signal, power the igniter, and/ or power a thermostat. Four to 500 milliamps is a typical current draw. The board is typically shown in the manual as part of the wiring diagram.
I used to sell restaurant equipment! Everything was manual lighting then the manufactures thought they were being cute started putting in all the electronic lighting gizmos! Why I don't know?

Of course with heat those circuit boards blew up! I think with all the rattling around rv stuff endures these additional electronic things only add to problems!

Then the headaches and expenses started both fields!
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Old 02-14-2021, 10:02 AM   #19
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I guess you would have to go to the older used fridge to find one then.

Obviously from the discussion there are a few still being produced but I think the propane fridge with or without electronics is on the way out. Compressor fridges are about the same cost and are much easier to install. No combustion products so no sealed enclosure is required and many are installed without ventilation. Powering them is the customers problem. I was offered a good price on a generator if I would take the compressor fridge.
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Old 02-14-2021, 01:31 PM   #20
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Obviously from the discussion there are a few still being produced but I think the propane fridge with or without electronics is on the way out. Compressor fridges are about the same cost and are much easier to install. No combustion products so no sealed enclosure is required and many are installed without ventilation. Powering them is the customers problem. I was offered a good price on a generator if I would take the compressor fridge.

i dont think there will ever come a time the average rv person will want to carry a battery bank!


i can run a week running a propane heater and fridge all on propane!
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