Forced to change the way I motorhome!!!

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Livingthedream, May 17, 2012.

  1. Livingthedream

    Livingthedream Read Only Funster

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    Absorption Refrigerator working or not working? Only work on level ground!!

    I've had problems with the fridge working or not working when parked on a gradual slope. It works fine on level ground, so no problems when parking for overnight sleeping. The problem is when you park on a slope to visit the shops, a village, town, castle or whatever, it may or may not work. The fridge display unit shows that the fridge is working fine, gas light is lit and you can hear it working hard with heat coming out of the vents. So it looks like it is working, but it isn't and you won't know it's not refrigerating until your food has defrosted (that's what happened to me on several occasions). There is also the possibility of defrosting and re-freezing cycles occurring which could be a health and safety issue if you don't realise. My last fridge worked on my drive, the new fridge does not. I was hoping that I wasn't alone and others are experiencing similar issues. I have since contacted Thetford and Dometic requesting advice on how level these new absorption fridges should be to work. Both companies products are the same, and they both require us (motorhomers) to park level with a maximum tolerance of 3%. Sadly I've had to change the way I motorhome and the fridge has become the deciding factor of where I am able to park. Not how it used to be, where I went where I wanted and even parked on 30% slopes and never gave the fridge a thought. Car parks, layby's, road cambers and even hardstanding superpitches are built with gradual slopes so that rain water will drain away. In 80% of these situations an absorption fridge won't work.
    This is a real and serious problem and I'm surprised few people have noticed this problem. You may of course have the problem but not noticed that your food has gone warm, then rechilled, or defrosted and refrozen especially in this recent cold weather. Remember that there is no visual warning on your fridge that it is not working. My advice is, if you own an absorption fridge buy a fridge thermometer and keep a close look out for defrosting. Before I forget, the advice from both of the manufacturers was 'park on level ground'.

    If you own a compression fridge then this thread does not concern you. They're designed to work with 40 degree slopes so hang on to it. I wish I did.
     
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  2. jonandshell

    jonandshell Funster

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    Hi Welcome to the site!

    Sorry to say, all this is common knowledge!

    Fridges have had to be kept level for ages.

    Having said that, many handovers at purchase aren't very comprehensive and less experienced Funsters will find your warnings useful.
     
  3. Livingthedream

    Livingthedream Read Only Funster

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    Yes, you're absolutely right. There was no warning signs on the fridge, nothing in the literature/brochures and nothing mentioned at handover. If I had known then what I know now, I would not have changed the motorhome. Even the 3 degrees tolerance can be lost in the grand scheme of things. For example, if the base van unit is not level to start with, or if the floor is not quite straight, if the housing unit is not level or if the fridge feet are not levelled. It goes on!!! That aside, the fridge works fine if I park on the level. Just in case I had inherited a faulty fridge, I had another brand new replacement fridge swapped over and it's just the same.
     
  4. JJ

    JJ Funster

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    I seem to remember some time ago that there was a fridge that was more "tilt tolerant" than normal fridges...

    I don't know if they are still around or even if they worked well...

    JJ :Cool:
     
  5. jonandshell

    jonandshell Funster

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    This might be useful!:thumb:

    Eg a 3 degree slope is a 1 in 19 or 5.24%


    Slope Gradient % grade
    degrees

    y in x
    0.1 1 573.0 0.17
    0.2 1 286.5 0.35
    0.3 1 191.0 0.52
    0.4 1 143.2 0.70
    0.5 1 114.6 0.87
    0.6 1 95.49 1.05
    0.7 1 81.85 1.22
    0.8 1 71.62 1.40
    0.9 1 63.66 1.57
    1 1 57.29 1.75
    2 1 28.64 3.49
    3 1 19.08 5.24
    4 1 14.30 6.99
    5 1 11.43 8.75
    6 1 9.514 10.5
     
  6. GJH

    GJH Funster Life Member

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    In nearly 6 years (2 vans, 2 different fridges) I can honestly say we've never encountered "a real and serious problem". Absorption fridges are designed for use in leisure vehicles which are normally used on camp sites which have reasonably level pitches, which matches the usage of the vast majority of owners.

    As with anything else, if we want to use a product outside its design norm then it is up to us to do appropriate research and/or make appropriate usage preparations. We don't go to anywhere near extreme lengths to ensure that we are level when pitched, just "close enough" based on spirit level indications, but haven't encountered a problem yet.
     
  7. Livingthedream

    Livingthedream Read Only Funster

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    But have you never parked on a hill or slope to visit somewhere? I did it all the time with my previous mh and never gave the (compressor) fridge a thought. Now I have to judge the slope, consider the fridge and then risk leaving it for the day.
     
  8. GJH

    GJH Funster Life Member

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    Yes, many times. With the fridge properly packed, though, it should stay plenty cold enough for a couple of hours. If it is going to be longer than that then the obvious action to take is to park somewhere within the fridge's operating limits.

    I don't wish to offend but the time to check that the components of a motorhome (or any other item) suit intended usage is before purchase.
     
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  9. callumwa

    callumwa Read Only Funster

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    This is common knowledge re the operation of these fridges, nothing new, they do not like significant slopes..
    I don't like to sleep on a slope so always park somewhere reasonably level or use levelling blocks when parking up. (I guess that's why they sell levelling blocks)..:Wink:

    Even on mountains roads in the Alps and Pyrenees I've always managed to get parked "reasonably" level.

    If I park up to shop, visit somewhere etc, I will look for somewhere flat. If I have to park on a slope. I always switch the fridge off. If it is going to be for a few hours I put a couple of ice packs from the freezer into the fridge to help maintain the low temperature. Then it will be fine for several hours as the fridge is well insulated.

    Simples......:thumb:
     
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  10. Snowbird

    Snowbird Funster Life Member

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    Having been the victim of previous owners parking off level with 2 motorhomes I am always wary of parking level. Have had to replace the fridge in an RV and in the present camper. The RV fridge was £1300 and the European was £700.
    Deterioration happens over a period of time and is irreversible.You can take the fridge out and tip it upside down and on its side but unfortunately by then the damage is done. Its only a temp fix.
    The gasses separate over time and that's the fridge goosed am afraid. They work OK when travelling up and down hill as they are moving between equal planes,but when left for any length of time that's when the damage gets done. Its better to switch it off for a couple of hours than leave it on whilst unlevel.
     
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  11. Gooney

    Gooney Funster

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    This sounds like a project for Chris Green, he could probably design a Gimbal mounting for fridges to be fixed in!!
     
  12. Ridgeway

    Ridgeway Funster

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    Glad I read this thread and as a new motor homer it was useful to know this. Would never hav crossed my mind and at least now I can avoid or manage these constraints

    Thanks
     
  13. Welsh girl

    Welsh girl Funster Life Member

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    Its quite xifficult to avoid these fridges. We have been lookk.v at motorhomes with a view to change ours and they all have these fridges in now. Thats the thetford not the dometic. We too have had the issue of it defrosting and ruining all the food and we have got paranoid about getting the van level or wighin the recommended 3%.. How daft is tbat to make tbem like it in the first place for a motorbome.
     
  14. GJH

    GJH Funster Life Member

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    If you're having problems when the van is within tolerances for level then it would seem to point to a faulty appliance.

    As regards general usage of absorption fridges in motorhomes/caravans, though, I wouldn't agree that it is daft. If there was a major problem for the majority of owners (which would give rise to masses of complaints) manufacturers would soon stop making them and converters would soon stop installing them.
     
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  15. Snowbird

    Snowbird Funster Life Member

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    I think that most people do have problems with absorption fridges at some time. There is a huge amount of sensible posts to confirm this. I have yet to speak to anyone that has owned a motorhome and taken it to a warm country that has never had a problem with there fridge. The problem is that we all expect a MH fridge problem at some point which we don't with a domestic fridge.
     
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  16. Welsh girl

    Welsh girl Funster Life Member

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    Even in this country, we were in chichester in a heat wave last year and the fridge stopped working as we were parked with the sun on the fridge wall we had to shade it with a sheet placed over the door and habitation, ( we didnt have fiamma roll out shade at the time )we rang the makers and dealers and they said that it needs a fan to keep it cool!!!! how daft is that as well??
    And it defrosted when we were at loch ness last year and we couldnt get level ( not a heat wave there)!!!
    We have learned since to get level or face the consequences!!
     
  17. Snowbird

    Snowbird Funster Life Member

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    I do have a small 12volt fan wired via a thermo switch fitted. Its the type fitted to cool computers. It does help when its really hot but I always park up level. What MH builders seem to do is put the fridge on the same wall as the habitation door, which is the door that's always facing the sun. Stupidity in the extreme.:Doh:
     
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  18. GJH

    GJH Funster Life Member

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    Another reason to stay here on the level, Dave :Laughing:
     
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  19. Geo

    Geo Trader - Funster

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    Tip

    Safe Food Tip

    Take a small shots glass and half fill with water then freeze
    After its frozen place a marble on top of the frozen water and add a drop more water to cover marble and freeze again effectively suspending marble in ice and keep it in the freezer compartment
    If you later find Marble at the bottom of the glass then your fridge/food has thawed and re frozen:thumb:
    Geo
     
  20. Geo

    Geo Trader - Funster

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    Another tip Pammy uses
    Keep your ice cubes in a tupperware type container, if you find just one big ice cube then you know they melted and re froze
     
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