Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo? Or NovaKool?

Refrigerator, stove, furnace, water pump, air conditioner, microwave, water heater, fans, lighting
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Millennial Falcon
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Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo? Or NovaKool?

Post by Millennial Falcon »

The stock Dometic fridge on my 1994 that I just purchased is not cooling. Not on AC, not on DC, and not on Propane. I've watched all the troubleshooting videos on youtube, and can't figure it out. The heating elements on the back get hot... I can hear liquids trickling... but no cooling.

So, I'm looking to just replace the unit, it's kind of rusty/ugly anyway.

In my research I came across this link: (http://www.truckcamperadventure.com/201 ... -few-tips/) which makes a compressor style seem pretty attractive. I plan to operate mostly on 12-volt through a solar set-up and battery bank... Boondocking, and not wanting to worry about running out of propane. So the idea of having a two-way AC/DC fridge and capping off the propane system doesn't bother me.

I called Dometic, and they patched me through to a truck vendor who sells compressor style fridges. Going off the measurements from the Dometic replacement chart (http://w2.distone.com/bradstrailer/down ... cement.pdf), and the nice gentlemen on the phone, he recommended the closest fit to be a Vitrifrigo model, which he says is very high quality. Specifically, he recommended the viafo-c115ibd4-f-1 http://www.vitrifrigo.com/us/us/c115ibd ... ing-unit_3 as the nearest dimensional fit.

The Dometic is in the literature as being: 29.75" High x 20.5" Wide x 21.375" Deep.
The Vitrifrigo is shown as being 31.625"High x 23.125"Wide x 21.875" Deep.

I don't think I'm going to be able to shoehorn that Vitrigo in to the hole the Dometic leaves without some MAJOR cabinet-work/carpentry. Has anyone replaced their stock Dometic with something more efficient and better at cooling? I'm just looking at my options here, since I need to replace the thing anyway. May as well make the best choice now while I can.

[UPDATE: on 23AUG2019, after almost a year of research... I purchased a NovaKool R4500 and replaced the stock Dometic with it. It was a near perfect fit, just requiring a 1.5" space beneath it. No cabinet widening required!]
Last edited by Millennial Falcon on Fri Aug 23, 2019 6:35 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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skater
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Re: Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo?

Post by skater »

First, to answer your question, no, I haven't. But now you have me interested in it!

There's not much room to go higher or lower for a taller fridge, unless - as you said - you want to do some carpentry. In mine, there's a cabinet under the fridge that I wouldn't mind losing, but I'm not sure I feel strongly enough about it to permanently modify the cabinets.

Normally I don't like compressor fridges for RVs, but in this case I could make an exception. The last one you linked only draws 45 watts, so the Group 24 Lifeline I have in mine will run it for ~17.4 hours. To further expand that time, throw a 100 watt solar panel on the roof, and on a sunny day it'll run the fridge no problem without drawing from the battery at all.

Given the airflow problems in the older B190s with the two side vents, a compressor fridge could be a good choice. And it's probably a lot less sensitive to being run off-level, so if it's sitting in a sloped parking lot all day, no big deal. Hmmm!

There are a couple fridges from that company that are ~25" high, so you'd only have to cut a spacer for the difference in height and width - much easier than making it a larger compartment.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

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Millennial Falcon
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Re: Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo?

Post by Millennial Falcon »

Continuing my brainstorm here, in a public place... looking for input, or just witness my search if you like:

BASED ON TRYING TO REPLACE THE DOMETIC AT: 29.75" High x 20.5" Wide x 21.375" Deep.

The Nova Kool 4500 is 4.3 cu.ft. and would fit inside the pre-existing hole for the Dometic that came stock.
Dimensions of the Nova Kool are: 28.375" High x 20.25" Wide x 21.0" Deep.
Runs at 110AC or 12VDC and 4.4 Amps. Cost: $1,090
http://www.novakool.com/products/single ... 0_4500.htm

The Isotherm Cruise 100 Classic is 3.5 cu.ft. and would fit inside the pre-existing hole for the Dometic that came stock.
Dimensions of the Isotherm are: 29.3" High x 19.1" Wide x 18.9" Deep.
Runs at 110AC or 12VDC and power consumption listed as 400 per 24hours. Cost: $1,200
http://www.isotherm-parts.com/index.php ... ts_id=2169
Full Product specs: http://www.marinewarehouse.net/images/i ... og-USA.pdf

The Dometic Coolmatic CRX 110s is 2.6 cu.ft. and would fit inside the pre-existing hole for the 3-way Dometic that came stock.
Dimensions of the CRX 110s are: 29.33" High x 20.47" Wide x 21.97" Deep.
Runs at 110AC or 12VDC and 6.2 Amps. Cost: $1,100
https://www.dometic.com/en-us/us/produc ... ifications

The NorthernFridge TF130ACDC is 4.5 cu.ft. and would fit inside the pre-existing hole for the Dometic that came stock.
Dimensions of the NorthernFridge are: 29.50" High x 20.75" Wide x 20.25" Deep.
Runs at 110AC or 12VDC and 2 to 5 Amps. Cost: $1,500
https://www.northernfridge.ca/collectio ... /tf130acdc

The Norcold 0788 is 3.1 cu.ft. and is just slightly too tall to fit in the Dometic hole.
Dimensions of the Norcold are: 30.0" High x 20.5" Wide x 20.125" Deep.
Runs at 110AC or 12VDC and 3.0 Amps. Cost: $1,079
https://www.thetford.com/product/0788/

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usachris
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Re: Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo?

Post by usachris »

Yes! We did and love it.

It was easy to install and much quieter than we expected. The model we went with was the Vitrifrigo C130RBD4-F By far, the best upgrade we made!

I think the refrigerator hole in my ‘99 is bigger that your ‘94 so I needed to trim less but you might want to measure the inside of the cabinet once you have that old refrigerator out, because it might be worth the trouble to widen the hole for the new Vitrifrigo. :D

I uploaded several pics of the install in my gallery.

Also- we did not lose the cabinet under the refrigerator, nor was their any “major” cabinet remodeling needed.

This is the guy who gave us the inspiration and confidence to do this upgrade. Be sure to check it out:

https://b190exp.com/2017/03/17/refrigerator/
Christopher Salazar
1999 B190 #301352
WBCCI #01422 Region 12, Unit 19

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Millennial Falcon
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Re: Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo?

Post by Millennial Falcon »

usachris wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 6:47 pm
This is the guy who gave us the inspiration and confidence to do this upgrade. Be sure to check it out:

https://b190exp.com/2017/03/17/refrigerator/
According to Tim at https://B190exp.com, he successfully slid the Vitrifrigo C130RBD4-F right into where his stock Dometic fridge was (Specs: http://www.vitrifrigo.com/ww/en/c130_en).

Did his 1996 B190 have the same size hole as my 1994? Or did Airstream modify the opening at all? I plan to order the new fridge and try and fit it in!!

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usachris
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Re: Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo?

Post by usachris »

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage “measure twice - cut once.” I’d remove your old refrigerator and measure the heck out of the opening. Pay extra attention to the depth and height. The walls of the b190 are curved and you want to be sure there is adequate space at the top/rear for the refrigerator to fit.

Also, confirm there is enough room for the external compressor to sit behind the refrigerator.

You may not have to move a vent pipe like I did, but taking the measurements beforehand showed me I had to and gave me a few days before the new refrigerator arrived to get the prep work done.
Installed and ready to rip off that plastic and fire her up!
Installed and ready to rip off that plastic and fire her up!
58C7157F-7B8F-4FE1-BB39-95BBF40318CB.jpeg (690.93 KiB) Viewed 2956 times
Christopher Salazar
1999 B190 #301352
WBCCI #01422 Region 12, Unit 19

Jersey747
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Re: Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo?

Post by Jersey747 »

Thanks for all that great information .....having just ripped mine out it was great that my research had been done by all of you !! Truly grateful . When you’re passing thru the Garden State Give me a heads up and I’ll pop some beers in that new fridge and get em nice and cold for you🤪😀
Anyone know where I can locate a new shower tub insert ??
Thx Paul

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usachris
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Re: Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo?

Post by usachris »

Jersey747 wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:46 pm
Thanks for all that great information .....having just ripped mine out it was great that my research had been done by all of you !! Truly grateful.
Post some pics!
Christopher Salazar
1999 B190 #301352
WBCCI #01422 Region 12, Unit 19

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Millennial Falcon
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Re: Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo?

Post by Millennial Falcon »

For anyone following this, it appears that the NovaKool R3800 (operates as 2.2ah) or the NovaKool R4500 (operates at 4.4ah) will fit in the hole from the Dometic 2310 or Dometic 2351.

You can see a really great in depth video of how to simply and easily swap a NovaKool R3800 going into the slot on a B190 (with a small spacer at the bottom) at this link: https://youtu.be/RfSRsoxON_w

I'm fairly certain he could have easily gone with the Novakool R4500, as my size comparisons from spec-sheets show it is nearly a direct drop-in fit for the stock Dometics that came with our B190s. I will be ordering a R4500 soon, and will report back with my fit findings.

The fridge your B190 came with (the Dometic RM2310/RM2351) has an official footprint of:
Height: 29.750"
Width: 20.500"
Depth: 21.375"
Internal: 3.0 cu.ft.

The NovaKool R3800 footprint is:
Height: 28.375"
Width: 20.250"
Depth: 18.000"
Internal: 3.5 cu.ft.

The NovaKool R4500 footprint is:
Height: 28.375"
Width: 20.250"
Depth: 21.000"
Internal: 4.3 cu.ft.

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Millennial Falcon
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Re: Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo?

Post by Millennial Falcon »

UPDATE:
Today, I purchased a NovaKool R4500 ($1347 after all fees/taxes).

It took only about half the morning to install it, following the directions from Patricks Video: https://youtu.be/RfSRsoxON_w

It was a super easy install, and fit nearly perfectly. I tried to get the rubber-grometing to fit, but it was just kinda too tight. So, I have no rubber grommeting like in Patrick's video. I did make a near identical 1.5" spacer for the bottom of the cabinet, and I painted mine black to match the fridge, and it's nearly invisible!

The R4500 fit just fine in the space, no widening or cutting of the stock cabinetry at all. Here's what the fridge looks like installed:
Image

And, here is a shot of the rear of the fridge after it was installed. You can see the two wooden beams from the frame I built, and you can see there's still a respectable gap between the compressor and the plumbing pipe installed in the rear of the space on B190s with the fridge on the passenger side:
Image

You can also see I capped my propane line with the same type of 1/4" plug that Patrick uses in the video... though I did add some silicone tape to make sure of a good seal. I then zip-tied the propane line to the black plumbing pipe, just to prevent it from rattling.

The fridge has been running all day in the 97 degree Florida heat, and it has gotten COLD! I can put my hand on the condenser, it's hot... but not... too hot. I do not think those of us with the passenger-side mount fridges have to worry about adding a fan or extra ventilation. The space seems to be adequately ventilated, and I'm very happy with the outcome!! Running a fridge on just 4amps an hour!!

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Re: Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo? Or NovaKool?

Post by MarkP »

So are those the factory 12v wires hooked up to your new Nova Kool? Do you get power to it only when the engine is running (which is how I thought that wiring worked)?

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Millennial Falcon
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Re: Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo? Or NovaKool?

Post by Millennial Falcon »

MarkP wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 5:31 pm
So are those the factory 12v wires hooked up to your new Nova Kool? Do you get power to it only when the engine is running (which is how I thought that wiring worked)?
Yes, I used the factory wires. They're set up reversed in the above photo... I've since corrected the polarity issue and put a good solder-join connection there, as well as a switch zip-tied to the sewer pipe (so I can disconnect the 12volt feed to the fridge should I want to).

As for your wiring, the Green wire should feed to a relay behind your fuse-panel under the couch. It should look like this:
Image

The black wire should be hot with the engine off. The green wire runs to the fridge compartment, with the ignition OFF this wire is not powered (and the relay turns this green wire to HOT when the ignition/engine is on). The Yellow wire is hot when the ignition is in the ON position, this is how the relay knows to activate the fridge power on the green wire. The white wire is just a grounding wire for the relay.

I snipped the green wire and capped the end that comes off the relay for it. I'm just leaving the relay there since it's not hurting anything (unless someone can give me a good reason to fully amputate it?).

Then I fed the green wire through into my couch fuse panel and screwed it into one of the unused terminals. I put a 15amp fuse in there, and now the green wire will ALWAYS be hot when the coach 12 volt system is online. This is why I wired in a switch between the green-wire and the fridge in the fridge compartment, in case I want to totally isolate it and turn the unit off.

I know some people have just cut the green and black wires and pigtailed them together. This would give the same effect, but I wanted to put a fuse in the system, and figured it was cleaner to just use the fuse panel, especially since it was right there and didn't even require me splicing in any extra wire to reach it.

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Re: Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo? Or NovaKool?

Post by skater »

Millennial Falcon wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 9:30 pm
I know some people have just cut the green and black wires and pigtailed them together. This would give the same effect, but I wanted to put a fuse in the system, and figured it was cleaner to just use the fuse panel, especially since it was right there and didn't even require me splicing in any extra wire to reach it.
Interesting. In mine, it's just two white wires - one may have a green stripe, IIRC. But they probably follow similar routing.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

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Re: Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo? Or NovaKool?

Post by skater »

Is there an advantage to the 120 volt mode over the 12 volt mode?

I'd be tempted to get the 12 volt only model...when I'm plugged in or running the generator, the power for it would come from the converter. Or the engine would be charging the 12 volt system.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

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Millennial Falcon
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Re: Has anyone replaced the fridge with a compressor-type? Like Vitrifrigo? Or NovaKool?

Post by Millennial Falcon »

skater wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:25 pm
Is there an advantage to the 120 volt mode over the 12 volt mode?

I'd be tempted to get the 12 volt only model...when I'm plugged in or running the generator, the power for it would come from the converter. Or the engine would be charging the 12 volt system.
I don't know exactly? I guess a 12-volt only would have worked fine. I don;t know if the NovaKool 4500 comes in 12-volt only?

After months of use, I can tell you it works REALLY well on either power source. I've accidentally exploded a few sodas and beers... I notice no difference in temperature or efficiency if it's on 12-volt or 110shorepower.

This is seriously the best upgrade I've ever done and cannot recommend this fridge strongly enough.

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