Dometic gas fridge (in Jayco camper trailer) issues

Submitted: Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 18:53
ThreadID: 65699 Views:29630 Replies:14 FollowUps:12
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We have recently purchased a new Jayco camper trailer which always comes with a Dometic 3-way fridge. When running the fridge on gas the first time we had the following result:

Freezer compartment worked fast and well, fridge compartment took about 2 hours to cool down from about 25 to about 15 deg C and the stainless steel sink near the fridge got that hot that I could not touch it with my bare hands.

As I was concerned about the development of that much heat, I turned it off as I thought it would not be safe to operate it through the night.

I tried several times the following day and eventually gave it back to the Jayco dealer to check.

After 2 days of playing with it (they were not willing to tell me what they had actually checked), I got the following response today:

They have insulated it and it is now not as hot any more as it was before.... not sure where the heat will go now? And it took 4.5 hours to cool down to 4 deg C which they would consider NORMAL.

This is not the end of the story as we had more issues with the product and (even worse) the service department who was unbelievable. So stay tuned for more.

ANYWAY, I would like to get your feedback on what is normal and what is not in terms of heat and cooling down time... not sure how long it would take to cool a few beers to a reasonable temperature.

As always, your comments are very much appreciated.
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Reply By: _gmd_pps - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 19:18

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 19:18
I am just doing a rewire with new triple batteries etc for a friends caravan. She got pulled over the table buy the guy selling her the second hand van. He pulled out the charger and power supply and replaced it with the cheapest around. She also has a Dometic 3 way fridge and it is piece of cr@p. Do yourself a favour and throw it out and put a decent compressor fridge in there.
It takes ages to cool down (your times do even sound fast) and with 12V it need above 10amp pretty much permanently. I have it wired with some relays that the fridge only runs when driving on 12V. No supply from battery (she has only 220Ah AGM) which would discharge too quickly.
I have several fridges myself and NONE is a 3-way. They are utterly useless.

sorry nut thats my opinion. others may think differently but it is a bit like 1000 flies can't be wrong: but they still sit on sh.t

It requires good insulation and one has to make sure that the airflow actually is hitting the vents otherwise you get heat everywhere.

good luck
AnswerID: 347562

Follow Up By: Matt Watson - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 19:35

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 19:35
Hi _gmd_pps,

I'm having similar troubles to dirk (except I dream of getting it down to 4c, at the moment, mine has been getting down to about 10, but its 36c outside, so I'm guessing its a heat dispersion issue). What compressor fridge would you suggest, and how would you go about running this when off 240v, via an inverter?. New to all this, so sorry if its a stupid question :)
FollowupID: 615749

Follow Up By: _gmd_pps - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 19:51

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 19:51
its not a stupid question though.
I have Vitrifrigo 140L with external compressor and I run it over
a 12V power supply when hooked up to 240V. I also have 2 Waeco
35L, one with an external power supply and one with built in 12V
power supply. It is not a big deal to run a 12C fridge over a power supply since they usually only draw around 4amp. My Vitrifrigo draws 5.5 amp and thats pretty much on the high end. Most compressor fridiges are less. There is a guy on ebay selling 12V 33A power supplies pretty cheap. I put one of these in the caravan I was talking about above but still do not plan to run the 3-way over it.
The hardest part to do is to rip the fridge out because in many cases it is foamed in. takes a bit of time. My friend purchased an extra 35l fridge which is running in the car. She did not want to go through the effort of replacing the fridge but did also not want to solely rely on it either.

good luck
FollowupID: 615751

Follow Up By: Matt Watson - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 20:23

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 20:23
Thanks, I'm going to try the usual solutions (turn upside down, fan for fins, etc) before chucking it, but might have to end up getting a compressor, the misses is paranoid about food poisoning, and there is no way she will use a fridge which struggles to keep things below 10c.
FollowupID: 615756

Follow Up By: Member - Old Girl (QLD) - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 20:42

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 20:42
our wish list for the van is Wind Guard aerial, Solar, annex walls and throw the damn fridge out.
Don't like our dometec at all. Has let us down a couple of times both in the camper and now the van both were less than two years old. Going to research a bigger three way compressor thingy. Cab maker will make it fit. I don't care if i loose a bit of cupboard space. We use a 40l engle in the car for drinks so were not opening the fridge all the time. Was thinking about plugging in our 32 lt in the van but thought otherwise the other night. Needed more beer space for small BBQ it was too loud in the house let alone the van. A fellow Eo member from WA put a small fan in behind the external grill to draw out some heat.
FollowupID: 615758

Follow Up By: WRVA - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 01:42

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 01:42
Dometic 3 way works excellent on gas ,your vents must fitted correctly you don't need to fit any fans for cooling ,but the dealer had a go now The Company is the next and only option,
We started out with the Finch,Flight,Dove the 16ft poptop and up and up after 60000k's towing I can't knock the 3 way if you have a problem from day one use your warranty.Dometic bought out Waeco World wide stuff here. fit a track above vents and make or purchase mesh, slide into the track and peg it out allowing a 7''/ 8'' gap between vents and mesh the base will peg out much further out this will block the sun allowing ya fridge to function better, fridge works harder with the sun pounding on it's back for half the day,can supply a photo re mesh mate.
Good idea to fit a Anderson plug for on the road, nothing to do with gas.
You will find the Dometci 3 way in $200,000.00 vans,that alone says a lot.

Some say the noclaf is better than a nedloh , just a point ,but the 3 way works .This will be good.
Happy Wandering.
FollowupID: 616166

Reply By: Member - Roscoe ET (QLD) - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 20:38

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 20:38

I had the same fridge in my Penguin, it did take about a week to start working efficiently and I was getting a bit concerned.

I did find that when the outside temperature was above 30c it really did work overtime and when you turn the gas up more to get it colder heat builds up.

I did a few of things, insulated around the fridge sides and top by packing ceiling type insulation. I also took both vents off when we were camped which did have a great effect as the hot air escaped much better, those vents face downwards to stop water getting in there which tend to slow down the escape of hot air.

I also attached roll up awnings on all sides which stopped the sun adding more heat to the fridge side.

After I did this we found that the fridge worked much more efficiently on 4/5 and at night when the outside temp was below 20c we needed to turn the gas down to the 3 setting as it was too cold and ruined some of our veges like tomatoes and lettuce, also the milk was getting a bit of ice in it.

Ours was down to 4c in a couple of hours max from start up but it did take a while during that first week.

The sink never got hot though that's a bit strange.

AnswerID: 347572

Reply By: oldtrack123 - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 20:44

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 20:44
Many years ago had a Jayco camper van & had similar problems with the heat @ rear not being able to get away THEY ARE ONLY AS EFFICIENT AS THE COOLING OF THE REAR OF THE UNIT. Ventilation as designed is hopeless .I removed the rear louvered covers & fitted a door that I could open to get rid of the heat, worked wonders.A small fan to assist in cooling the condenser fins would also help
The sink gets hot because of the trapped heat above the ventilation.
Incidentally unless they have changed you cannot run on 12v with top down & I certainly would not run on gas with top down. the risk of fire would be very high
A12v compressor fridge is great IF YOU CAN KEEP THE POWER up to them NO GOOD FOR LONG TERM CAMPING unless you have a means of recharging bats ,ie genny or solar ,or go for loooong drives every day or so. how long your bat s last depends on a number of factors m. Many threads & posts on this issue , you should seek them out & then sort the wheat from the chaff.
AnswerID: 347574

Reply By: Best Off Road - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 22:00

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 22:00
The Standard RM2350 90 litre fridge is fitted to just about every mid sized van on the market.

It fails to keep cold above about 35 celsius.

Why Van Makers keep fitting them is a mystery to me.

3 way fridges can work well. My parents had an upmarket, big Jayco, with a "T" rated Dometic Fridge and it held 0 degrees, when our RM2350 was at 10 in 42 degree heat.


AnswerID: 347586

Follow Up By: Member - Tony S (WA) - Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 23:54

Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 23:54

The RM2350 is rated as ST. Sub Tropical. Ten degrees at 42 degrees heat aint bad
I have a 4401 and that couldn't freeze the whatnots off a brass monkey at 20 degrees. They are rated as SN. Sub Normal. Shouldn't even be allowed into Oz. They are designed for the Continent. Yet they are/were the most common fridge in medium sized c/vans.The one that has taken over from it is also rated SN !!!!.
My 4401 is coming out and the new RM2350 is being installed very shortly. They are still rated as ST.

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FollowupID: 615979

Reply By: Member - The Crow (QLD) - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 22:16

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 22:16
We have ordered a new Van and asked for a Large 2 door 12volt Vitrifrigo Fridge instead of the 3 way 2 door. I like my beer cold. We will have 2 x 120Watt solar panels and 3 x 110amp/hr Batteries.
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Thanks for the Rest Flying West and Flying Very Low along the track not coming back. The Crow

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AnswerID: 347590

Reply By: Dirk 32 - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 22:50

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 22:50
Thanks guys,

As always, great responses.

Seems like we will keep operating our 12 V car fridge as we have in the past. I will have a look at installing a small fan to run during the day and changing the ventilation.

I just find it hard to believe that they got away with such an ordinary product for so long... not enough choice and competition I guess.

Anyway, thanks again.
AnswerID: 347594

Follow Up By: donk - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 23:28

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 23:28
Was there a Dometic Installation/operating Manual supplied with your van & when you look at the back of your fridge (remove the top & botton vents ) has it been installed as per the instructions in the manual

A lot of van manufacturs don't install the fridge correctly (vent position,dead space above the top vent,distance of the back of the fridge to the van wall.etc) & the fridge performance suffers because of this

If it is obviously installed incorrectly i would talk to you dealer regarding rectifying this as it is important & if not done correctly the fridge will not be efficent

Also make sure there is correct voltage at the fridge 12 volt element when operation on 12 volts

Regards Don
FollowupID: 615794

Reply By: donk - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 23:38

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 23:38
Also when the van is parked & the fridge is on make sure that the van (fridge) is level in all directions (particually front to rear)

If you can check this with a spirit level each time you set up (in the fridge if possible) as it can cause the fridge to not cool efficently & cause blockages to occur in the cooling system that are not able to be rectified unless the cooling system (the back of the fridge) is replaced

These fridges are not a bad as some on the forum might have you believe but are generally slower to pull down to temperature when initally switched on than a compressor fridge would be

Regards Don

AnswerID: 347607

Follow Up By: Member - Teege (NSW) - Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 09:13

Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 09:13
I agree with Donk. They will work well in most conditions. The first thing to do is to run it on 240 for at least 24 hours (preferably longer) before you put anything in it. The first time I used the one in my camper on gas it created quite a smell, but after 12 hours that was gone. Obviously the number of times it is opened will have a huge effect on the cooling, given that as soon as you open the door all the cold air falls out.

FollowupID: 615814

Follow Up By: Member - Teege (NSW) - Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 09:16

Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 09:16
BTW, I forgot to mention. Don't get offside with your Jayco serviceman. You are likely to see an awful lot of him during the warranty period.

FollowupID: 615817

Reply By: Ray - Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 09:05

Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 09:05
I have an Electrolux/Dometic fridge in my caravan. What I have done is install a 4' fan in the top vent to extract hot air and completely sealed around the sides and top of the fridge so that the only air to pass goes over the fins. There is also a baffle that directs hot air straight out through the top vent, which is also sucked out by the fan.
In regards to 12v operation. Upon checking the voltage at the fridge I found that I only had 11+ volts (this power was being delivered by the caravan builders cabling) I have two 75 amphr batteries mounted on the draw bar of the caravan and I now supply the fridge through these and now have 13+ volts at the fridge. The old wiring is used to operate a relay which connects the fridge to the batteries but isolates them when the car ignition is turned off.
When on gas I can freeze a cup of water in the freezer compartment in two hours.
AnswerID: 347631

Follow Up By: Ray - Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 09:12

Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 09:12
To add to my previous comments, has anybody tried using a normal fridge (240v) in a caravan by way of an inverter. I do realise that these fridges are not so robust as caravan fridges and would not take as much shaking about? A lot cheaper than an Engle or a Wayco.
FollowupID: 615813

Follow Up By: ross - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 09:21

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 09:21
They are cheap enough to experiment with. I saw a bar firdge recently for $99 new

FollowupID: 616186

Reply By: HGMonaro - Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 11:21

Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 11:21
I have a few questions...

How do you power a compressor fridge for a week not connected to 240V? (please read next question before answering)

How do you carry/fix/install 2-3 solar panels and 3 AGM Batteries in a wind-up camper trailer?

Dirk, we have a similar fridge in our wind-up (non Jayco), and it goes fine on 240V and gas but average on 12V.The bench above ours gets warm but not hot. We always run it overnight on 240V before leaving home then on 12V while travelling (via car). The freezer works fine on 12V, ice cream even stays frozen. I've never recorded times and temp. I always use another method to cool beers as there's not enough room in the fridge for any anyway!

AnswerID: 347652

Follow Up By: DesF - Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 16:28

Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 16:28
Hi HG, I have a electrolux 3 way in my Jayco camper ( had for 8 years) and I do the same as you , on the power over night before we go, then travel with it on 12v , only just keeps it cold,
I also have installed a 240volt 150mm van in the top vent, only seem to have problem when the wind is from the door side when we are set up in the park, just plug the fan in on those odd days and solves the problem.
Have not really run it on gas , just tested it for emergencies. my brother has a newer one in his Bongo camper and he bush camps a lot and say's it is terrific on gas.
cheers Des.
FollowupID: 615894

Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 17:01

Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 17:01
There is not too much wrong with 3 way fridges. The only people who have problems with them are those who don't understand them. A lot of van manufacturers are incompetent when it comes to installing these fridges, they take scant notice of Dometic's instructions. Any fridge is just a heat pump. It does not matter how much heat you generate in the boiler of a 3 way fridge, if you do not vent the fridge properly then it will not pump the heat out of the cabinet.

To check the quality of the installation of your fridge digest the following links and compare what you learn with what the installation looks like.
Site Link
Site Link

Jayco are not noted for following the installation instructions carefully. Looks like agent attempted unstuffed the installers stuff up. Check the above links to see if to see if he did a complete job.

If you install a compressor fridge and solar/battery system, the extra weight you will add to your camper will consume half your loading allowance. You will probably have to get the chassis up rated so that you can again carry your food and clothes.

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AnswerID: 347698

Reply By: peegot - Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 19:01

Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 19:01
Hi dirk, I have a Jayco Penguin off roader2003 model & had trouble with fridge cooling, I wont bore you with details but this is what I did to rectify the problem.
1/ Bought a replacement gas jet $50 odd for that model which was a larger jet size.
2/ placed a baffle on top of the bottom vent to within 6mm of the fridge pipes & placed a bafflel at the bottom of the top side vent within 6 mm of the fridge baffles.
3/from Jaycar put a 150mm barrel fan on the bottom to push the air through the system, uses about 2.5m amps & operated via a switch inside the van it has an inbuilt operating light. I also plug in to 240v over night for initial cooling. Ihope this has been of some value to you.


AnswerID: 347715

Reply By: Member - Tony S (WA) - Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 23:56

Thursday, Feb 05, 2009 at 23:56

You dont't mention which model fridge it is.

The rig

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AnswerID: 347755

Reply By: PradOz - Friday, Feb 06, 2009 at 21:47

Friday, Feb 06, 2009 at 21:47
hi dirk

i also own a jayco camper - swan - and recently did some research on the fridges as i like you wasnt happy.

have a look at fridge venting and you will see why it wont work well the way it has been installed. from what you describe you need to do a few modifications to get it more effecient. some of the things you can do include any or all of these:

1. change cable size for 12V. ths alone can fix most 12V problems
2. fit a 240V and a 12V fan behind the top vent thats behind the fridge. fit a switch to them so you can turn on/off to suit your needs. fit 240V so it comes on/off with compressor timing. get good quality so its not noisy
3. fill in the gaps between the edge of the fridge and the surrounding cabinets and underside of benchtop. use insulation blanket if space permits or just seal the smaller gaps
4. fit some baffles above the bottom vent and below the top vent to force the air flow into and through the fins. you can also fill the space thats left between the two baffles if you want using sisalation, sarking etc pulled tight or something similar. most likely the space behind your fridge will be like mine was and was too large, about 40 to 50mm (or more?) between the outside van wall and the fridge fins. really easy to fit baffles - use 2x1 timber cut to width and glue into place if you cannot get in to screw it in, or use aluminium angle cut to the width which is what i used. i glued a piece of timber 20x20mm vertical next to outside wall in corners and glued the angle on top of that. a good glue to use is selleys All Fix which is available for cartridge guns or even in tubes. it drys very quickly and glues most things and is strong. another one which has consistency similar to PVA type glue is Weldbond but takes longer to dry. (All Fix is easier to use). if you look a the link above and the two lower diagrams your fridge install will probably be like the one on bottom right so it really isnt designed to work well. the top vent is probably too low, the bottom of the top vent should be in line with the top of fridge which is impossible in the camper vans due to canvas walls. that is why you often see a vent on top of the bench inside the van behind/beside the sink - it allows the airflow to draw up and out of space behind fridge but inside the van (good for extra winter heating though), and without a vent your sink can get warm/hot. when I fitted the top baffle i screwed in a 50x12mm piece of timber flat at the base of top vent, screwed into the vents bottom timber frame surround (allow for vent thickness or it wont be able to be refitted). I then screwed a length of 40x20mm aluminium angle (40mm up and 20mm was down flat like an L shape) so it was 5mm off back of fridge and covered bottom section of the vent opening. this forced the airflow up and over it and then outside through the vents with aid of 12V or 240V fans.

when i did the above it fixed my problems so recommend you give them a go. the baffles are really easy to do. just unscrew and remove the outside vents and you can see what needs to be done. just fill all the gaps in (3) above before you do baffles to give you more room to fit everything and dry fit all before gluing it all in. hope this of some help, good luck...

AnswerID: 347899

Reply By: WRVA - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 01:05

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 01:05
You have the best warranty in Australia, don't waste your time with the dealer contact customer care direct ,you gave the dealer the chance to rectify now go direct to the TOP
Any air vents ?
AnswerID: 347940

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