Norcold N300.3 refrigerator

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Re: Norcold N300.3 refrigerator

Postby Mark » Thu Jun 19, 2014 10:14 am

So I'm thinking of replacing the fridge in my rig. The Norcold is the one to get?
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Re: Norcold N300.3 refrigerator

Postby EricZ » Thu Jun 19, 2014 12:10 pm

To replace my Dometic RM2310, I chose the Dometic RM2354 over the Norcold N300.3. Both looked like they'd fit okay (though see note below); both had top-mounted controls (which seemed an improvement over the RM2310).

First, some model info (please verify, but this is my understanding):

Norcold (now part of Thetford Corporation):
N300: runs on 110v AC or propane, white trim
N302: runs on 110v AC or propane, black trim
N300.3: runs on 12v DC, 110v AC, or propane, white trim
N302.3: runs on 12v DC, 110v AC, or propane, black trim

RM 2351 Americana: runs on 110v AC or propane (though presumably still needs 12v DC for control system)
RM 2354 Americana: runs on 12v DC, 110v AC, or propane

Pluses I saw for the N300.3 (actually, the entire N300 series):
The N300.3 has the advantage that it can run on propane without the need for 12v power.
The RM2354 requires 12v power even when running on propane; this could theoretically drain the house battery if left unattended for long periods. (A small solar cell could address this nicely, however.)

Pluses I saw for the RM2354:
The RM2354, on the other hand, can be set to automatically switch from propane to AC power when AC power is available. This saves me the trouble of manually switching, eliminates the possibility of forgetting to switch back to propane when I unplug the van, and makes regular trips to refill the propane tank unnecessary (I leave the fridge running year-round).

The RM2354 also has an automatic door latch (the N300 might as well, I don't know). Unlike the RM2310, no action is needed on the user's part to latch the RM2354 door closed. I thus can't forget to activate the latch and have the door open when I turn a corner (dumping a bottle of orange juice out of the fridge, which then spilled on the carpet... perhaps you can see why I like this automatic latch).

I did find that the RM2354 had a control box (containing a circuit board) that bumped against a plumbing drain pipe in my 1993 Airstream 190 (other years might route that drain pipe differently; even another 1993 Airstream 190 might be different enough that it would work without an issue). I considered modifying the drain pipe, but ended up relocating the control box instead. Despite this issue, I'd still choose the RM2354 if I were starting from scratch.

The RM2354 does not include the decorative front door panel. Though Dometic told me I could simply reuse the one from my RM2310, that door panel didn't fit the RM2354. It was easy, however, to get a piece of 1/8" mahogany plywood (my notes show I had the lumberyard cut it to 26.25" x 19.625", but measure your refrigerator to be sure), spray it with clear acrylic sealant, then lightly sand the surface (I repeated the spray-sand process a few times). Total cost (including sealant): $4.13. (I'd intended this as a cheap temporary solution, planning to later replace it with a nicer piece of oak plywood with a better finish; however it looks okay, so I've never done anything further.)

In case it matters to others, I found that the RM2354 did not have a cutout for tall bottles in one of the interior shelves (despite all the marketing photos showing it did), and that the door shelves were slightly narrower (but deeper, I think) than those in the RM2310.

Lastly, I noted that in my 1993 Airstream 190, the sides and top of the fridge are exposed to the hot air from the coils and burner chamber on the back of the fridge. This is contrary to the manufacturer's installation instructions; it might reduce the ability of the fridge to function well in hot weather. I'm considering using very carefully cut sheets of polyisocyanurate rigid foam insulation (i.e., Thermax, R-max, etc.) to fill these gaps at the top, left, and right of the fridge. This would keep the hot air from surrounding the fridge and also significantly increase the unit's insulation value.
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Re: Norcold N300.3 refrigerator

Postby skater » Thu Jun 19, 2014 10:04 pm

The Norcold not switching automatically to electric surprises me, because our Norcold does. There are two settings: Auto, which uses electricity if available and propane if not, and propane only mode. The auto mode will switch back to AC when the power is restored. But we likely have a different model, too.

Of course ours also requires 12 volt power for the electronics when its running.
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