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Old 07-27-2021, 07:27 PM   #1
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Name: Bob
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Reefers

Hi all,
This is an all-call for anyone with experience with Dometic refrigerators. We have just bought one to replace our old one and it already came with broken Pizio, (probably in shipping).

We have heard many issues about these on this forum, but I need a fresh take. So anyone want to convince us out of our Dometic, and sell us on the best replacement?

We appreciate it,

Bob
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Old 07-27-2021, 08:31 PM   #2
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Suggest you provide some information, like, what size/ model / year of Scamp and what size / model of fridge are you replacing, with what size / model?
In any event, I'm sure replacing the piezo would be relatively cheap.
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Old 07-27-2021, 11:00 PM   #3
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Welcome out from the shadows!

There are a number of issues that seem to often occur in newer units.

A primary one is when the factory installation in Casita trailers does not provide a narrow enough constricted area at the back of the fridge to direct the airflow through the back of the unit's piping. Another is having the upper vent located low on the sidewall of the trailer instead of the roof of the trailer.

Either of these conditions can make it difficult or impossible to maintain adequate cooling in hot weather conditions.

A "tropical" kit is sold in Australia to serve as a "chimney" out the sidewall and divert some of the heat, but it is not sold not in the states; some folks have created their own of copper pipe, etc.

Perhaps somewhat curiously, these refrigerators operate by boiling a liquid solution. So, they require a good installation and ultimately some occasional service to keep everything working properly.

If you're game, it can be very satisfying to overcome the issues and get them operating properly. On the other hand, they can be just plain frustrating if you just want something that works.

If you used to like owning and working on air-cooled Volkswagens, (I did, long ago), this might be just the thing!
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Old 07-28-2021, 06:52 AM   #4
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Never mind, I thought someone was selling some MJ.
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Old 07-28-2021, 07:06 AM   #5
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You cannot blame the fridge for the shipping damage. Biggest question is whether the one you are replacing gave good service for your travel style. Do you typically camp with or without hookups? What led you to replace your current unit, and how old was it? What trailer and what size/model fridge?

Absorption fridges can give decades of service with adequate cooling in moderate conditions. They can be fussy to maintain a steady temperature when ambient conditions change because they don’t cycle on and off with a thermostat. All struggle in extremely hot weather, but can be improved by modifying the air flow at the back as others have described. They are great for extended use without hookups, but beware of newer units that require continuous 12VDC power to run the control panel. We have a Dometic 3-way in our other RV. It works okay with the limitations described.

The alternative is a 12VDC compressor fridge. They are slowly becoming the standard in new RVs and maintain a more consistent temperature over a wider range of ambient conditions with much less fuss. They’re very efficient but still require greater battery capacity and means to recharge off-grid. They are often paired with lithium and solar. If I were configuring a new RV it’s definitely the way I’d lean.
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Old 07-28-2021, 07:47 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
The alternative is a 12VDC compressor fridge. They are slowly becoming the standard in new RVs and maintain a steady temperature over a wider range of ambient conditions with much less fuss. However, they require greater battery capacity and means to recharge off-grid. They are often paired with lithium and solar.
I have one running in my Honda Odyssey van. It is running every time we start the van up. Got it 4 and a half years ago when when we took the grandkids to Yellow Stone. We were RVless at the time. It seats between the seats in the second row. Has not caused an electrical problems and is plugged in the 12 vdc rear power outlet (cigarette lighter type). It has gone on trips in our class B Roadtrek, but is mainly at home in the Honda. Gets loaded up when we go grocery shopping and when we take short day trips and when I go to the VA. Saves lots not stopping at restaurants! If I were to get rid of our Absorption Refrigerator, I would definitely be looking at one of their Compressor Refrigators!!! I'm going lithium in the Scamp, and I could always add another battery to the battery bank. I think it would handle the power load quite nicely.
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Old 07-28-2021, 08:34 AM   #7
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Never mind, I thought someone was selling some MJ.
Me too! With it being legal in Canada, such discussions are much more common now.
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Old 07-28-2021, 10:09 AM   #8
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Nope, this thread is all about refrigerator madness.
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Old 07-28-2021, 10:30 AM   #9
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Nope, this thread is all about refrigerator madness.
Specially, Absorption refrigerator madness.. and they have sent many an owner to madness. And you can even buy the tee shirt...


But Glennn is right.. OP needs to detail what he had, what he got, and what he expects. Dometic sells both Absorption and Secop compressor fridges, and many models of both.
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Old 07-28-2021, 02:25 PM   #10
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Name: Bob
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reefer

Thank you everyone for your responses. I neglected to give some details. My RV is a 13' Scamp, our Dometic 3-way came with the rig (it's a 2002). It never really worked since we got it about two years ago. We just ordered and received a new 3-way Dometic, which did not work after our mechanic checked tried to install it.

Again, the issue for us is whether or not to stay with this product or give up the use of propane, and go with a compression frig. I'm hearing the arguments lean toward the compression, 12 vDC with additional power sources, i.e., lithium and solar. I guess I was wondering if anyone out there would lobby strongly in favor of the 3-way absorption frig.

My wife and I really appreciate the feedback, it is very helpful. Thanks so much,

bob
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Old 07-28-2021, 02:44 PM   #11
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choosing compressor fridge vs 3 way

Choice between compressor fridge and 3 way fridge involves these factors:

- similar initial cost for both types of fridge
- significantly higher cost for providing electrical power (edit: for a compressor fridge) IF the intent is to use off grid even for a few days at a time
+ for off grid use (edit: using a compressor fridge), solar panels, charge controller, additional batteries can easily exceed $1000
+ if NO off grid use is expected, then compressor fridge is a convenient choice and no off grid electrical capability needed
+ 3 way fridge is a good economical choice for both on grid and off grid use
- 3 way fridge is VERY slow startup and recovery time - 24 hours or more
- compressor fridge is quick startup and recovery time - a couple of hours
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Old 07-28-2021, 02:48 PM   #12
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The question comes down to boondocking. If you have shore power even a cheap dorm fridge will work. But if you camp without shore power then you have a few options.

In sunny parts of the world in summer its easy to use solar to keep an 12 volt Secop compressor fridge running without spending tons of money on the solar equipment. In winter without much sun you might have to triple your solar generation and battery capacity and maybe carry a small generator as a last ditch back-up.

A propane fridge will run as much as a month on a 20 lb tank, and many do not require any electric at all. In that case little or no power generation is needed for the fridge when boondocking. However, most absorption fridges will struggle when it gets in the 90+ (f) degree range.

So which fits your needs better?

Or you can do like I have done.. the originally installed two-way absorption fridge that still works fine (as long as it is maintained) AND a portable Secop compressor fridge that runs on 12 VDC or 120 VAC. I'm ready for whatever conditions I have.
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Old 07-28-2021, 03:02 PM   #13
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Nailed it. Really depends on how you intend to use your Scamp, where, and under what conditions.

Just returned from a week vacation in a Michigan upper peninsula NFS campground. 31 of the 32 camp sites including our site had dense tree cover, not suitable for solar power generation. We came prepared with a 3 way fridge running on propane and pre-charged lifepo4 batteries, (EDIT: and yes I left the solar charge controller and solar panel at home). There was lots of sunshine all week but not in these 31 sites.

Parked in the 32nd site (next to us) with no tree blockage was a motorhome with 9 lifepo4 batteries and a roof full of solar panels. They had even removed the AC unit to maximize the number of solar panels on the roof. They had a large compressor refrigerator and in any other site in that campground they would have been running their generator.
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Old 07-28-2021, 03:58 PM   #14
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Absorption

We have had propane /electric refrigeration in three different Casitas and now in our Escape. They all have worked like a charm. The one we have now keeps the ice cream frozen and the beer cold. I just started ours up this afternoon. Pushed the on button and away it went. It had not been used for 9 months. When I took off the lower outside grill, the whole compartment was covered with spider webs, weed seeds, pollen and dust, but it started right up.
Im sorry you have had troubles with your fridge but that has not been my experience.
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Old 07-28-2021, 04:56 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Klein View Post
Again, the issue for us is whether or not to stay with this product or give up the use of propane, and go with a compression frig. I'm hearing the arguments lean toward the compression, 12 vDC with additional power sources, i.e., lithium and solar. I guess I was wondering if anyone out there would lobby strongly in favor of the 3-way absorption frig.
In fairness, many of the absorption refrigerators do work fine. Years back, the owner of Little House Customs took a "non-working" refrigerator that he had replaced for someone and set about trying to figure out why it hadn't been working. That began a thread on one of the Casita forums which illustrated how some folk's refrigerators worked fine, and some didn't, and most importantly what could be done about the ones that did not.

There are many such threads, on this forum and others. Some of the things people post are not objective or well-informed.

An electric compressor refrigerator can bring its own issues including the capital cost for solar and batteries, (and possibly a generator), the limitations of solar when you are under trees or clouds, etc.

I purchased a small, relatively inexpensive portable 20 quart refrigerator-freezer and found that it didn't hold temperatures reliably. I posted the following review:

Quote:
I ran the F40C4TMP as a refrigerator for a week on a 2,000 mile road trip to camp at Yosemite. I put it on the floor of our SUV tucked behind the passenger seat. I covered the top of the fridge with a folded blanket to keep the sun from cooking it. Although the temperature changes in the SUV were not extreme, it didn't hold a consistent temperature. As best I recall, it was swinging from below 30 to above 45 degrees Fahrenheit per the two thermometers I used to monitor it. The fridge was probably packed about 2/3 full.

Overall, I was rather disappointed in the control as it ranged from too warm to keep food safe, to freezing the lettuce. The good part is that it will freeze things extremely well, so if you are interested in a freezer it's terrific.
I have seen a few people here on this forum and elsewhere who have traveled widely and happily with just an ice box. So much depends on what you are looking for.
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Old 07-28-2021, 07:45 PM   #16
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IDK anything about the F40C4TMP fridge and a quick search didn't help.. But I do strongly suspect they do not use the efficient Secop / Danfoss compressor. Those that do, including Indel-B, Truck Fridge, and maybe Nova Kool most of all, get good marks. I am very happy with mine.. it maintains temps under demanding conditions too. So you are right, its important to be well informed and to evaluate the information you see online.
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Old 07-28-2021, 08:12 PM   #17
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Before Reefer Madness there was Cab Calloway and I heard his reefer reference song on Sirius Radio today early afternoon. I have seen the short reefer madness film in health class in the 8th grade. The teacher was also the baseball coach. We stayed in class on rainy days. On nice days three or four of us got in his 38 Chevy and went about 6 blocks to the baseball field. He left the class to his student teacher. At Hayes Field, we prepped the diamond for the game coming up that afternoon. After the prep was done, coach took us down to Bohemie town for a hamburger and a huge 25 cent ice cream cone. Little did I know that I was destined to oversee maintenance on 45 ball diamonds and 38 soccer fields later in my life. The coach was still active and attended the graduation parties for each of my kids as their counselor/advisor. Bob Vrbicek was a heck of a good teacher. Did you know you could get electric door locks for the back doors on a 38 Chevy?
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Old 08-05-2021, 10:37 AM   #18
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Not Many Choices

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Klein View Post
Hi all,
This is an all-call for anyone with experience with Dometic refrigerators. We have just bought one to replace our old one and it already came with broken Pizio, (probably in shipping).

We have heard many issues about these on this forum, but I need a fresh take. So anyone want to convince us out of our Dometic, and sell us on the best replacement?

We appreciate it,

Bob
Unfortunately you have only Dometic in the propane refrigerators to pick from.
I have gotten 20 years of good service out of them in past RVs.
As my 2015 Casita fridge ever gives out I will look hard at the efficient DC Compressor electric for a replacement due to COST !
The downside is the Amp draw at 5A x 50% x 24hrs = 50-60Ah/Day.
Not realistic for BoonDocking...
The Side Vent models in small trailers work better as you open the Top Vent as you are stationary.
Good Luck
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