Adding fans to upper outside refrigerator side vent

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Adding fans to upper outside refrigerator side vent

Postby Mgittrich » Sat Jun 14, 2014 6:15 pm

As I'm sure many of you know from first hand experience our 20 year old dometic refrigerator doesn't operate so well in warm/hot climates. In general this is not a problem for me since I tend to confine my summer adventures to the west coast or mountains where the daytime highs are in the 60-70 degree range and lows are 35-55 degrees. In these conditions the refrigerator works great and if anything my biggest problem is keeping it from freezing everything n the lower compartment. Right now on the Oregon coast the outside temp is about 65 degrees and the fridge is reading -2 in the freezer and 39 in the refrigerator on a setting of "2" which is awesome.

However since I live in the Midwest, I have to traverse long stretches of hot climates in June and August when traveling to an from home. And during these periods the refrigerator struggles and I end up having to use an ice chest to keep the food from spoiling.

So I'm hoping that someone here has added one or more fans to the upper outside refrigerator vent. If you have, I'd love to know what specific components you used and where you obtained a constant 12v power source for this purpose. Pictures of course would be extremely helpful. I'd also be interested in knowing if this helped and whether it made a big enough difference to warrant the time and expense versus buying a new refrigerator like the Norcold 300,3 that seems to get high marks here.

I appreciate any help with this and if you know of other sites that have relevant information I'd appreciate knowing that as well. Right now this is strictly a research and planning project as I will not tackle it until I rerun home at the end of summer.

Mike
Mgittrich
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Re: Adding fans to upper outside refrigerator side vent

Postby EricZ » Sat Jun 14, 2014 9:34 pm

I keep a variety of 12v DC fans on hand for things like this. Mostly these are computer fans; some from computer power supplies, some computer case fans, and some CPU fans (in all cases, though, make sure they're 12v DC).

Many years ago, before replacing the original Dometic RM2310 refrigerator in my 1993 Airstream 190, I installed two box fans (I think they were 3" computer fans) just above the refrigerator coils. I believe I pulled the power from the cigarette lighter socket above the refrigerator and ran the wire on some awkward route to the back of the fridge.

I also put a tiny fan (probably a computer CPU fan) inside the fridge, also powered from the same cigarette lighter socket. I just ran the wire through the hinge side of the refrigerator door.

I had considered doing a better wiring job for the coil fans, adding a shutoff switch (why run the fans in cold weather?), and perhaps even a thermostatic control (to automatically run them in hot weather).

Since replacing my Dometic RM2310 with an RM2354, however, I find the refrigerator to work well even in hot weather, so I haven't yet reinstalled either the coil fans or the inside fan. I still should reinstall these fans, however, to make the fridge more efficient and reduce the load on its cooling unit.

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

Pluses I saw for the N300:
The N300 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 did find that the RM2354 had a control box that bumped against a plumbing drain pipe. I considered modifying the drain pipe, but ended up relocating the control box instead.
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Re: Adding fans to upper outside refrigerator side vent

Postby Mgittrich » Sun Jun 15, 2014 11:33 am

Eric, thanks for the reply. Good information.

I was afraid you would say that getting 12v power to the vent area might be a little challenging. I'll have To spend some time looking at the wiring used to connect the 12v plug above the refrigerator. I'm also going to look at the wiring in the compartment under the closet that connects the heater, and water pump..

Mike
Mgittrich
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Re: Adding fans to upper outside refrigerator side vent

Postby URStruly » Thu Jun 19, 2014 9:44 am

In hot weather when the refrig has a problem keeping things cool enough one way to help it is to fill 1 qt ziplock bags with crushed ice and put them in empty spaces in the refrigerator. It will insure that the temperature stay cold. A plus is you have ice for drinks.URS.
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