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Old 09-26-2014, 09:20 AM   #1
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Another idea on the Fridge issues....

It crossed my mind this morning while closing the Escape door how airtight the trailer seems to be particularly when the vents and windows are closed. Then I thought about towing with the MaxxFan vent open and what possible effects it may have on creating a negative air pressure inside the trailer and if (1) this can cause the refer to blowout while on propane under tow and (2) cause air to infiltrate the refer and cause it to cool ineffectively. Any thoughts on this happening.....
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Old 09-26-2014, 09:38 AM   #2
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I think those are valid considerations. We tow with our MaxxFan vent closed, but it doesn't seal perfectly. Something like that can probably contribute to cool air being pulled from the fridge, providing there is a place for air to come in elsewhere to replace it, like the drain line or any other small openings on the back of the fridge. That's part of recent efforts to provide better sealing and plug up holes in the fridge door (going back to Alf's discovery). Gaps around the entry doorway could also generate low pressure inside the Escape. On the flip side, we don't really know what kind of pressure exists on the backside of the fridge while towing. What if the Dometic roof vent actually acts as an air inlet while towing and diminishes or even reverses the desired chimney effect? What makes us think the air is dutifully going up and out at 65 mph on the highway? We need some real measurements and some real data, which as usual, points right back to Dometic.
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Old 09-26-2014, 09:48 AM   #3
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My basic physics knowledge recalls that air blowing over an opening will tend to suck air out from within the opening so it should help draw warm air out thru the top refer chimney via the lower refer vent chamber in the rear. Whereas with the vent air is pulling from within the trailer. What effect this has on the flame or refer is not known and as you say further development is needed.
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Old 09-26-2014, 09:51 AM   #4
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I haven't had problems leaving the vent open while towing, but I did find that if I accidentally left the fan in the automatic mode where it speeds up as the trailer warms, when it reached the higher speeds with all the windows closed, cold air blew out of the bottom of the refrigerator & the interior temperature climbed.
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Old 09-26-2014, 10:19 AM   #5
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If the fridge blew out while driving I believe you would get an error code on the panel. After 3 retries it should lock out and give you a error you need to reset. It could relight then go out again and you would not get an error code so long as it relights within 3 tries.

I have experimented with both 12 volt and propane while driving. I actually get better cooling when running 12 volt but as we all know 12 volt brings on its own problems. My thoughts are that when running on propane while driving air is pushed up the burner tube at a must faster rate. The boiler is cooled down some by this air pushing up the boiler flue. The result is less cooling. On my last trip my fridge temp went up 7 degrees in 3 hours of driving while on propane. When I got home I left the fridge running and it dropped 5 degrees in 2 hours sitting in the driveway. When running on 120 or 12 volt the unit is just warming a heater strapped to the the boiler and it really don't matter how much air goes up the flue. I have pulled the fridge and sealed any possiable leaks on the back side so I dont thing air is being sucked in from the back as has been discussed in other threads.

On another trip returning from Florida we had been on propane for about 8 hours with the fridge up to 46 degrees. The last 3 hours of the trip I switched to 12 volt and the temp dropped to 41 by the time we got home.

I have made a baffle to try on our next trip to protect the burner area some so the air does not get forced up the flue to see if it makes a difference. We will be going on a long trip so I will have time to experiment with it more and play with the 12 volt some too.

I am fairly convinced that since the fridge works on 12 volt while driving and works on propane while parked that due to the design and location of the boiler flue, air is pushing up the flue at a faster rate causing to boiler to cool down resulting in reduced cooling. Air would enter the side vent and exit the roof vent at a much higher rate then when parked. The design of the boiler would certainly allow air to be forced up it at a much faster rate reducing the cooling capacity.
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Old 09-26-2014, 10:23 AM   #6
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Some good observations Tom and Cheryl, thanks for expressing them...I'd like to use 12v and would if I had gotten the newer and larger ETI solar panel and the dual 6'ers. But with the 95 watt and single battery 2-3 hours is my max. on battery.
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Old 09-26-2014, 10:29 AM   #7
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I have to be careful with 12 volt on mine and watch the voltage close so I don't kill the battery. The truck will keep it going some while driving. So long as I end up somewhere I can plug in and charge the battery and watch the battery voltage and don't let it get to low I think i can use 12 volt for quit a while. I have done 3 hours without a problem and will try to see how long I can go on the next trip. We don't have solar and have a single battery. We do have HD charging on the Tundra but the problem as always is getting it back into the trailer battery.
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Old 09-26-2014, 11:08 AM   #8
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Good topic to try and understand better.

Our 19 was picked up in August 2014 and it has a baffle with sealing foam around the bottom edge of the refer box. It has never blown out and I keep the max fan vent open a bit.

Could this be an issue of baffled and sealed vs not baffled and sealed installations? Sealing is critical.

The Dometic installation manual recommends they are all baffled and sealed to optimize airflow up and out for max refrig cooling capability.

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Old 09-26-2014, 11:38 AM   #9
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Will get to join the experimenting when we take our new 21 our for the maiden voyage next week - since I have the 160W solar and am headed for a campground with elec to recover, I think I'll try 12V on the way there and see how it goes. Picked up a wireless thermometer that I can clear to log the min/max temps on the way........
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Old 09-26-2014, 02:00 PM   #10
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My 17 has the 5 cu ft fridge, which does not have a 12V mode. The 5 cu ft is pretty much a manual refrigerator - no electronics board, etc. When mechanically switched to propane, it uses a push button to fire a piezoelectric sparker. There is a neon indicator lamp that flashes in time with the spark. Once the gas is ignited, the sparker shuts off. There is a flame sensor that immediately restarts the sparker if the flame blows out (I've blown out the flame while the trailer was stopped to see this happen).

I had many problems with running on propane while driving in the past. I have a remote thermometer readout in the RAV4 & could watch the refrigerator interior temperature climb any time I drove over 40MPH. I don't think the flame was blowing out since it immediately began to cool down when ever I stopped (without pushing the reignition button on the fridge). While I have no way of telling for sure (since I can't ride in the trailer while pulling it over 40MPH to watch the spark indicator) I have to assume that the flame is still on, but not providing heat to the system. If the flame actually blew out, I find it hard to believe that the gas valve was still open & spark igniter trying to light it while driving down the road.

Finally got tired of the problem & did a number of additions & modifications that fixed it. I'm not sure which solved the problem (or which combination) but I added a furnace filter to the lower grill, added 2 baffles, one at the bottom to direct incoming air away from the fiberglass shell & onto the cooling fins, and a second at the top that is curved & directs the air flow to the top grill. The instructions for the baffles are at this Dometic Vent Installation PDF.

I also insulated the area around the outsides & top of the refrigerator & sealed the edges with aluminum tape. The last modification was to add a 12V box fan to the upper grill. It only helps when the outside temperature is over 90F.

All this probably doesn't help with the new refrigerators, but might be helpful to those having problems with the older 5 cu ft model.
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Old 09-26-2014, 02:29 PM   #11
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Fridge-Fix

There is an excellent article in the November 2014 issue of MotorHome regarding an add on fan box from Smart RV Products which might of some help to someone.
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Old 09-26-2014, 02:33 PM   #12
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I think we've been there, done that.
If it is the same fan, Reace has tested it and found it to be of no or little value.
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Old 09-26-2014, 04:18 PM   #13
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I've been playing with the 12v on our curent trip. On lpg the temp went up to the mid 50's with ambient in the mid 80's. So far running on 12v the temp will rise up to the mid 40's, same ambient, same 7 hours on the road.

Have at 160w panel, battery monitor shows about 6A from the panel at about noon and about 10A from the truck. Heading out about 8 am I end up with about a 20A deficit by the time we pull off the road around 3. This in bright sun.

Have a few more days of travel to go, will try a couple on 12v and 1 on lpg when the milk is gone.
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Old 09-26-2014, 04:30 PM   #14
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Hi Bob

Have you plugged the hole in the bottom of the door on your fridge yet?

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Old 09-26-2014, 04:34 PM   #15
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Yes, on the day the fridge went up to 54 4 weeks ago and we tossed the dairy. Have not had a repeat of those temps but then we have not been back in the same conditions till the last 3 days. Forcast looks like the same as we approch the east coast.
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Old 09-26-2014, 06:07 PM   #16
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Is it possible the reduction in performance on propane is related to a pressure drop caused by the venturi effect of air moving over both the top and side vents at highway speeds ? The problem may be exacerbated on the Escapes because of the aerodynamic design and tight construction. The pressure drop would likely have the same effect as a pressure drop due to increased altitude. I believe the manual says the units may have issues operating on propane at higher altitudes.
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Old 09-26-2014, 06:18 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
I think we've been there, done that.
If it is the same fan, Reace has tested it and found it to be of no or little value.
Yelp, same fan that is sitting on my work bench now.
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Old 09-26-2014, 08:08 PM   #18
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Hi Bob

Some other things to try. How about putting a piece of tape over the inside drain hole at the rear of the fridge. See if this will make a difference while travelling.

Another user taped his thermistor to the side of the fridge wall rather than in the fins.

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Old 09-26-2014, 09:32 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
I think we've been there, done that.
If it is the same fan, Reace has tested it and found it to be of no or little value.
It does help keep the fridge defrosted.
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Old 09-27-2014, 07:34 AM   #20
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Here is what I resorted to to keep the refrigerator cold when on the highway. It does work.

Tom, the information about the refrigerator lock out after three tries is interesting,
Where did you find that?

The furnace filter is an 12x16 and I stripped off the cardboard. Not very elegant.

I had the refrigerator into a service center and they installed a Dometic flame guard, a curved piece of sheet metal that covered the flame area. That did not work.

I have run the candle test and as a result filled the hole in the bottom right of the door. The testing did not show issues around the drain hole so that is open. Temperatures still rose with hole filled.
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