12v replacement fridge

Section for discussion of Chinook interior and appliance issues, repair or installation.
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VT Chinook
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Joined: December 25th, 2021, 8:14 am

12v replacement fridge

Post by VT Chinook »

Hi all we are new to the RV scene and jumped in last November with a 1995 Chinook Concourse. We bought it in NC drove it home to VT ( spent the first night with some PBR in the Walmart parking lot ).Got it home and proceded to gut and redo the entire interior. We have taken a couple of trips with it to Harvest Host sites and absolutely love it. Everything was working great until the fridge would not get cold and we can now smell amonia. I have not read great things about.the 3 way fridge on this site and am thinking about replacing it with a new 12v only fridge. Just wanted to see if anyone on here has experience with this or had any advice on the subject.

Thanks
Jeff
Manitou
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Re: 12v replacement fridge

Post by Manitou »

Fixing seems to always be "easier" then replacing. That said, they are problematic. Since you smelled ammonia, something most likely cracked. You "gutted" the rest of it you said.. so what's 1 more thing? (other people will probably have more helpful advice haha)
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Roly
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Joined: February 11th, 2015, 8:16 am
Location: Puget Sound WA

Re: 12v replacement fridge

Post by Roly »

There is much conversation on that subject to be found here.

Try <search.php?keywords=danfoss> for instance.
Mr. Blue-Go contributed particularly.

Removal of the 3-way and remodeling that area to accommodate a 12 volt compressor icebox seems to be the biggest job.

I found it easier to locate specific tech. info on this site with google than with the search box here.

Welcome, Roly.
1998 Premier
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caconcourse
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Joined: October 31st, 2014, 10:25 pm

Re: 12v replacement fridge

Post by caconcourse »

This company was referenced on the Facebook page, but if you are interested in a DC compressor option, this will retrofit your Dometic. It can also be a DIY project: https://jc-refrigeration.com/product/do ... -unit-new/
Clay
2001 Concourse
Santa Barbara, CA
VT Chinook
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Joined: December 25th, 2021, 8:14 am

Re: 12v replacement fridge

Post by VT Chinook »

Thanks for the help everyone. Unfortunately the interior is already done so we will be retrofitting a DC fridge in a very new remodel. Oh well. We are.just gonna use the fridge as a cooler for now and do the update this winter. I will send an update once it is done
deppstein
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Re: 12v replacement fridge

Post by deppstein »

Welcome VT Chinook...
Lucky you to have your Rig in the Green Mountain State! So many terrific places to camp, hike, bike, and paddle. Our Rigs are perfect for that.
You mentioned Harvest Host Camping...certainly one option, but we have found the State Park network around the country to be one of America's Jewels.
Regarding what to do about your frig...first question I would ask is what kind of camping do you expect to be doing? If you have an adequate solar set-up that is always recharging, or you are running the frig when you are on shore power (AC or DC using a converter), then yes, I think an electric retro of your existing frig (given your statement that you just did remodel and don't want to start all over) makes the most sense. But, if you are going to be away from shore power and don't have adequate solar, then I would suggest you reconsider and think of keeping the propane option. That is what I did, due to the fact that we often camp without shore power and do not have constant solar (just a portable "suitcase" of 220 watts).
I actually made the trip to JC Refrigeration in Indiana (we are in Boston area) to have them do a rebuild of my original 3-way Dometic to make it propane and AC. I know some people don't like to use propane for the frig when driving, but we have been doing it now for 7 years...and no issues. That said, the fact that our frig was going on 17 years old did give me pause after I read about a frig fire on another post --which is why I began to research some sort of retro-upgrade. I found JC Refrigeration, and they fit the bill perfectly...able to do the retrograde without having to take the frig out of the Rig (they pull it out of its space, find a way to pivot and lay it down in the dinette area, but the new guts onto the back of the existing frig, and maneuver it back into place). Took less than three hours! The quality of the ammonia pipes and other equipment they use are top quality--thicker and more sturdy than the OEM, and the quality of their work was excellent...price also reasonable. I am now five months into using the refurbished frig, including a 5 week trip already this spring, and all is well. Frig runs cooler than before, and no evidence of leaks whatsoever.
JC Refrigeration also does an upgrade of our existing frig/freezer boxes for just electric (no propane).
Hope this helps...
Best,
David
deppstein
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Re: 12v replacement fridge

Post by deppstein »

VT Chinook...why don't you post some pics of your remodel under Projects--I, for one, would love to see what you have done.
David
VT Chinook
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Joined: December 25th, 2021, 8:14 am

Re: 12v replacement fridge

Post by VT Chinook »

Thanks for the info on the David. We plan to be off grid most of the time and are planning a solar upgrade this winter (new pannels and LI battery(s)) so I think we are going to go with the 12 V option. Just not sure on the retro fit of the original or new one yet. Also my look into 12V ac unit. We went this weekend in NY 2 different HH breweries and got away with using the firdge as a cooler only consuming 3 bags of ice.

I will post photos of the reno soon.
20220716.jpg
Thanks

Jeff
deppstein
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Re: 12v replacement fridge

Post by deppstein »

…into the future with new solar and lithium ion batteries! Good for you. Under those circumstances, I can see why you are going 12v option for Frig. Do let us know which way you end up going—retro or new install. My two cents—I agree with Blue Go that going with a new 12v unit will give you more Frig space within same cabinet footprint and quite possibly be more efficient than the retro route. Also, if you are going to get rid of the original, you can cut it up for simple removal and install of new, slightly smaller unit that would have same capacity as you do currently. There are good posts about this on other threads in the forum.
Another idea I think might be worth your consideration, given your use profile of boondocking with solar and lithium (with possible 12v AC), is to pull the generator (it is only really needed for microwave and AC). I mean, who needs a micro when boondocking??? We have found that storage is the main concern for long-trips and the added space where micro is converts to a very nice pantry, while the outside generator storage area is incredibly useful. For power when you need it, a small Honda 1000watt quiet generator is the ticket I think. We use it to charge our electric bikes in a pinch when not enough sun to do that with our 220 watts of solar.
Safe travels, and send those Reno pics one of these days.
David
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