Thetford fridge on 2007 swift kontiki 665p

Discussion in 'Fridges & Ovens' started by Weekend Warrior, Aug 17, 2009.

  1. Weekend Warrior

    Weekend Warrior Deleted User

    I recently took delivery of a Swift Kontiki 665P on an '07 plate. The fridge is a Thetford Model REFRN180.

    After a couple of weeks using it we noticed that when travelling and the fridge on 12v it did not maintain a cool temperature and when we arrived at our destination we would open the door to a pool of water. Our dealers (Cleveland Motorhomes) contacted Thetford and a new PCB and thermistor were installed. Thetford informed that they were aware the original parts would not cope when on 12v.

    We have just returned from a holiday abroad and I noticed that when on gas the fridge would never shut down i.e. the burner was constantly on. We were level and I did the age old trick of removing the high and low level vents but to no avail. The fridge could be set on min or max but the burner just stayed alight. Although we experienced extreme temps it did get cool during the night and I would have expected the burner to shut down.

    Can anyone offer any advice?
    Does anyone out there experience similar problems and what have they done about it?


    Weekend Warrior
  2. Johns_Cross_Motorhomes

    Johns_Cross_Motorhomes Trader - Motorhome & Accessory Sales

    Jan 5, 2008
    East Sussex 01-580-881288
    Not being technical! I would have thought that when on gas, the pilot light will always be on for safety reasons.

  3. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

    Aug 26, 2007
    YO11 2BD
    hi weekend warrior and welcome to the madhouse::bigsmile:

    got to agree with peter, the pilot will stay lit as long as its on gas.
    i dont know the ins and outs of the thetford but on my dometic/elecrolux you can only see the pilot light through the spyhole...not the burners.

    i have frozen the 'fridge' contents while on gas in the past....had it turned up far too high.

    and just been emptying the fridge after this weekend away and the freezer compartment, empty all but a couple of freezer icepacks, and they were still frozen after a 5 hours trip on 12v.
  4. dshague

    dshague Funster

    Aug 22, 2007
    sth yorks
    had the same fridge in my lunar .it worked ok in spain this year on 12v.
    i would be back to dealers asking for it to be sorted with a new fridge ,don't let them fob you off .good luck
  5. Lincolnshire Rover

    Lincolnshire Rover

    Feb 12, 2009
    South Lincolnshire
    On the Swift Owners web page there is an article on how to fit a cooling fan to the top of the fridge , on our 1st trip out in Normandy the fridge seemed to be constantly burning away and the area above the fridge got very hot although the weather was extreamly hot as well .When we returned home I fitted a 12v cooling fan from an old computer above the fridge behind the top vent to draw the warm air away from the fridge rear , this seems to certainly make a difference to the fridge settings and also the amount of gas used as the fridge seems to be more efficient being allowed to run on a lower setting.
    There is a kit available to do the same job which retails around £35 , certainly worth a try.
  6. ingram


    Aug 9, 2008
    It seems from what you wrote that the '12volt' problem is fixed and that you are just concerned about the gas burner being on. Well, as others have mentioned I would expect the gas to be burning all the time: I have an Electrolux / Dometic, not a Thetford but I think they probably work in much the same way.

    If your fridge is maintaining a correct temperature then I doubt that you have a problem.

  7. Agilityman


    Aug 23, 2009
    Kidderminster, Worcs.
    Sorry for the long reply, but the following may explain about how Thetford fridges generally work.

    I've got a five year old Thetford N80 (Electric ignition). Last weekend I smelt a nasty burnt plastic smell and discovered it was coming from the Fridge outside vent. I took the vent off to investigate and found the fridge exhaust tube terminal very hot and part of the plastic vent trim melted and the inner insect frame distorted from partially melting! I was using Gas as I was on a rally field.
    I tried changing the thermostat setting via the front panel knob from low to high. The flame size (about 15mm high and blue in colour) did not change. It appears that the fridge is on full output at all times. How does it all work? I found out via some web sites that I have a single thermostat model. Does the thermostat change the gas flow and hence flame height or does it switch the flame from pilot to full for varying periods depending on how the control knob is set? I decided to get the fridge out next day to see if the control knob has somehow got detached from the gas valve spindle?

    I got the fridge out of it’s housing by about 100mm to check the spindle was turning and it was. I arranged for the fridge to be repaired by an authorised Thetford engineer at a local Caravan Centre. Their conclusion after discussing the problem with an office based Thetford engineer was that there was no problem and the fridge was working ok. The Caravan Centre could see that I was not happy with the conclusion and gave me Thetford’s Customer Service number to ring. They told me that the plastic vent trim melting and the inner insect frame distorting was normal! Apparently a well known problem! The good news from the Caravan Centre – no charge, which I am truly thankful for.

    I rang Thetford and got the same answer with helpful advice (not) that I should get the fridge inspected every year by an authorised agent. Although it appears that this would not have stopped the vent melting! After much probing I finally got the information that the burner worked in a digital fashion i.e. either full on or pilot lamp. There is in fact a temperature sensor buried in the fridge underneath the gas valve assembly. This is not mentioned in any user manual or parts list/diagram. The burner is full on until the sensor senses that the fridge is down to temperature, and then the burner goes to pilot light. As far and the human eye is concerned the burner has four rectangular slots. When full on, four distinct flames can be seen as they emerge from the burner and the sound is a distinct roar. When on pilot light, one flame seems to sit over all four slots and looks a gentle affair with no discernable sound. I tested the fridge with flame enclosure removed. From a standing start at an ambient temperature of 200C I set the thermostat at 6 (dial dots corresponding from 0, fully anticlockwise to 15, fully clockwise – dot missing at noon due to space constraints).
    I also put an ice cube tray (filled with water) in the freezer. The burner then burnt:-
    on full for 2hr 54mins
    then pilot for 27mins
    then full on for 27mins
    then pilot for 27mins
    then full on for 21mins
    then pilot for 24mins
    before returning to full on and the end of the test. The water in the ice cube tray had turned to ice.

    So after all that, the fridge works, but I have no idea why the vent trim and insect screen melted. I’ve learnt that due to the total lack of information on how the fridge works in the user manual, I assumed the fridge was not working properly when the control knob did not control the burner flame.

    Why do manufactures no longer treat the customer as being intelligent and insist on not giving information on how the fridge works. So that we provide annual service work for their agents? In this instant that back-fired, their agent wasted their time to find out the fridge was working ok.

    What will I do next? I will remove all un-necessary plastic from the upper vent frame and fit an extra piece of aluminium deflector to ensure that the upper vent frame is protected from the exhaust. I will also do what Thetford now apparently advise (I didn’t know, I wonder how many others don’t) that the insect screens be removed when the fridge is in operation!

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