Any hope for this Fridge?

Submitted: Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 18:34
ThreadID: 106070 Views:1975 Replies:6 FollowUps:9
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So I've recently come to posses a Dometic RM4401.

I've done a bit of reading about & learnt about the climate ratings etc & starting to wonder if I'm wasting my time with it & should be looking for a replacement.

Does anyone know if these units can be made to perform?

Can anything be modified or upgraded to improve their performance?
Different elements? Gas Burner?

If not what would be a recommended replacement?

Right now, its sitting in the front yard on a 31 degree day & the fridge temp has climbed to 9 degrees.

Cheers

Phil
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Reply By: Batt's - Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 19:10

Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 19:10
So if I'm right it's a 97 ltr upright designed to run in a caravan is that where you are using it ? Absorption fridges aren't the most economical or best type of cooling fridge to run they don't like direct sunlight or hot weather and don't work very well while travelling especially in hilly areas. Make sure the door seal is in good condition take the back off and give it a good clean make sure the wiring from the power supply is big enough and in good condition.
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Follow Up By: Phil 23 - Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 23:01

Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 23:01
I do think installation is 90% Ok, Condition of the unit is excellent with little use.

What I really want to question is this particular model and its "SN" Climate Rating.

Just not convinced it's even up to our requirements..

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Reply By: Notso - Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 19:26

Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 19:26
The way they are installed can make a huge difference. Check out how it is installed, the manual is here:Dometic Manuals

A lot of van makers cut corners.
AnswerID: 525715

Reply By: Member - Rob D (NSW) - Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 21:02

Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 21:02
I had a similar model which worked well for several years and then decided to "play up" getting no lower than 14 degrees; I did a lot of searching on the internet and found that several knowledgeable people recommended turning the whole fridge upside down for a period of time (I did it for a day) and then turn it up the correct way and it would work OK.

This worked for my fridge. Apparently crystals can form in some part of the fridge and impair its operation.

It may be worth a try.

If you relax at a faster pace you can get more relaxation in for a given time.
Regards Rob

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Follow Up By: Phil 23 - Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 23:09

Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 23:09
Hey Rob,

Do you know what model it was & possibly it's climate rating.

Would be interested to know those two facts.

This one worked great last Easter, but peak temperatures were only in the low 20's at that time of year.

Not the 32 to 39 degree temps we are seeing ATM.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 23:13

Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 23:13
Rob,

Don't think it's "crystals". I understood it to be a partial vapour lock.

Early in my working life I did a course in refrigeration mechanics. In the last lesson the instructor addressed absorption systems. I can hear his voice to this day....... "Take it out on the back lawn and roll it up and down a few times. Come back next day and by the Grace of God it may be working".

Like that instructor, I have no other advice for Phil!

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 23:59

Monday, Feb 03, 2014 at 23:59
HI Rob
Yes ,Crystals can form & block piping , doing permanent damage.

Sometimes they can be dislodged by rolling & turning

That can also fix VAPOUR locks

BOTH are usualy caused by the fridge BEING USED OUT OF LEVEL !
Sometimes to the extent where the correct circulation fails & high localized temps build up, causing crystals of the internal rust inhibitor to form
ONCE formed they do not dissolve & may cause blockages from time to time


PeterQ
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Follow Up By: Member - Rob D (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 04, 2014 at 10:23

Tuesday, Feb 04, 2014 at 10:23
Hi Phil,

Electrolux 2330 I think. It was the standard one they installed in Ultimate Offroad Camping trailers about 10 years ago.

If you relax at a faster pace you can get more relaxation in for a given time.
Regards Rob

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Follow Up By: Member - Ian F (WA) - Tuesday, Feb 04, 2014 at 21:37

Tuesday, Feb 04, 2014 at 21:37
Hi Rob,
I have an early model 29l Engel, green one nearly went to the tip as it died. A friend told me to turn it upside down and like yours it has worked better than it ever did previously.
Ian
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Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Tuesday, Feb 04, 2014 at 00:31

Tuesday, Feb 04, 2014 at 00:31
What is the fridge installed in? Most of them I saw last century were not installed properly. I has a Regent van, which most thought was one of the better models. When you looked through the top vent you could see the top of the fins well above the bottom of the vent. I had a repairer install a second vent above the bottom and redirect the draft deflector to the top of the new vent. I then blocked the bottom vent up to the level of the top of the fins. It then gave reasonable performance up to around 35 deg ambient.

If there is any space at the top or sides of the fridge cabinet then block it off, you don't want any heat travelling around the sides or top. If the fins are any more than 10 - 15 mm from the side wall of the van then put some packing in there to force the rising air through the fins. If you have the up draft bypassing the fins then it will not be removing heat from the cabinet.

Ye you are right about the climate rating. They are last centuries technology. Do you have a handbook for it? If not then get one from here.
PeterD
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Follow Up By: Phil 23 - Tuesday, Feb 04, 2014 at 07:39

Tuesday, Feb 04, 2014 at 07:39
Hi Peter,

This is in a 2004 Olympic. While there is margin for improvement, I still question the fact that it has a "SN" climate rating.

I beleive it equates to a limitation of 7°C maximum cooling capacity at an ambient temperature of 32°C.

No really fitting with our summer conditions.

Cheers

Phil
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Tuesday, Feb 04, 2014 at 11:11

Tuesday, Feb 04, 2014 at 11:11
As I said, they are last centuries technology. It does not matter whether it is an N or a SN there is only a few degrees ambient between the test conditions. You have to use them as ice chests rather them fridges.

You can make good use of these fridges if you use them as ice chests. Back in the 50s and 60s that's all they had (in fact that's all some homes had.) We survived OK in those days, perhaps we knew a bit more about food keeping. You just have to remember that you can not stretch your food keeping times out to the maximum you do in a household fridge. The saving grace is that with these fridges is their capacity is so limited that you don't have the capacity to keep things too long.
PeterD
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Follow Up By: Phil 23 - Wednesday, Feb 05, 2014 at 07:48

Wednesday, Feb 05, 2014 at 07:48
Would like to see a few examples of how people have more effectively sealed above the top of the cabinet where the cabling & gas line lies.

The aluminium baffle/deflector that sits on top of the fridge is a very poor fit here allowing the top to the cabinet to be heated.

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Reply By: Phil 23 - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014 at 08:19

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014 at 08:19
Update.......

As originally mentioned, fridge was only holding 9° on a 31°.
Couple of 37° days & we were seeing 15° with little chance of
any recovery until evening temperatures arrived.

So, have pushed some plumbing lagging tubes either side of the rear of the cabinet to block the voids on the sides & put another bit on top to try & help seal the top of the cabinet where the electrics & gas line pass. Very crude.

Astounded at the results though.

Thermostat is set to see an overnight minimum of around 2°C.

Worst day time temp I've seen now was 7° and that was on a couple of 39°C days where overnight temps barely dropped below 30.

On a few 34° days it has now easily maintained below 4° & recovered from occasional opening.

Now to do it properly.

How to deal with the wiring & gas line at the top is the main challenge.
Suggestions would be appreciated.

Cheers

Phil
AnswerID: 526173

Reply By: Phil 23 - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014 at 08:25

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014 at 08:25
Update.......

As originally mentioned, fridge was only holding 9° on a 31°.
Couple of 37° days & we were seeing 15° with little chance of
any recovery until evening temperatures arrived.

So, have pushed some plumbing lagging tubes either side of the rear of the cabinet to block the voids on the sides & put another bit on top to try & help seal the top of the cabinet where the electrics & gas line pass. Very crude.

Astounded at the results though.

Thermostat is set to see an overnight minimum of around 2°C.

Worst day time temp I've seen now was 7° and that was on a couple of 39°C days where overnight temps barely dropped below 30.

On a few 34° days it has now easily maintained below 4° & recovered from occasional opening.

Now to do it properly.

How to deal with the wiring & gas line at the top is the main challenge.
Suggestions would be appreciated.

Cheers

Phil
AnswerID: 526175

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