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Old 11-07-2013, 07:39 PM   #1
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Norcold Fridge almost caused fire aboard

Have a near new (June of 2010) Norcold DE-0061, it is mounted just forward & under the lower helm. Today while out on the river I was running from the flybridge and alone on the boat except for my dog. After a half hour or so I went down to use the head & the boat was full of smoke, scared the hell out of me, 1st thing I did was kill the engines & shut off the battery switches, the generator was not running so it had to be something on the DC circuit. The smoke was coming from the air circulation grill on the fridge just above the freezer door, it was acrid & I couldn't hardly catch my breath. I opened windows in the Solon & galley, after the smoke & fumes cleared I removed the AC & the DC panels, made sure there was no fire. I then decided to turn the start battery switch back on & start the engines so that I wasn't just drifting down the river. After letting the engines run for a bit to be sure nothing was getting hot again I took the boat back to the slip & got the lines back on the cleats. Left the power cords off & turned the start battery switch off again. I pulled the panels up & found the culprit was the AC power cord was burned end to end, checked the other wiring on the AC and DC circuits & found all was ok that the burning cord had not messed any of them up. On top of the fridge is a small circuit & control box that the AC cord connects to, where it enters this box it has a plastic piece swagged on to it to stop any chaf. I think this piece had caused the wires to short together under it. That is where the damage either started or stopped. I can't figure out how the AC cord could of been energized without the generator running. I call Norcold & they were absolutely no help, I tried a couple of there service centers and they also could offer no help, the answer I got was my fridge was different than the ones in a RV. Norcold sucks & I've been very pleased with this fridge till now because if I hadn't of needed to take a piss when I did it probably would of burned my boat to the waterline. After removing the old cord I replaced it & the fridge is working on AC, I have not tried switching it to DC. I haven't decided yet if I'am going to replace it, I'am leaning towards that because I can't trust it, having I mentioned that NORCOLD CUSTOMER SERVICE IS THE WORST I'VE EVER SEEN, they make used car dealers look good. So if I do it won't be a Norcold.
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Old 11-07-2013, 08:02 PM   #2
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Any chance the fridge may have been running off an inverter?

Ted
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Old 11-07-2013, 08:08 PM   #3
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Any chance the fridge may have been running off an inverter? Ted
No I only have a gen to power any of the AC circuits when needed while away from the slip.
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Old 11-07-2013, 08:22 PM   #4
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So when you got back to the dock, you tested the fridge on AC and DC it works ok? So it doesn't sound like a problem in the fridge? Maybe it's in the wiring? Is that right?

The"AC Cord" you refer to, is that the Norcolds AC power cord or is this an extention cord or AC power circuit that your plugging it into??

Maybe some pictures would help explain what you're describing.
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Old 11-07-2013, 09:42 PM   #5
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Pictures would help, I would check the breaker and make sure it works.
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Old 11-07-2013, 09:48 PM   #6
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While not related to the fridge, I use networked smoke alarms bought on Amazon to alert me of smoke in the engine room, salon, or underneath the upper helm. They all communicate with each other. If one goes off then the others chime in. I know it works after the one at the upper helm went off after the alternator smoked itself in the engine room and set that one off.

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Old 11-07-2013, 10:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edelweiss View Post
So when you got back to the dock, you tested the fridge on AC and DC it works ok? So it doesn't sound like a problem in the fridge? Maybe it's in the wiring? Is that right? The"AC Cord" you refer to, is that the Norcolds AC power cord or is this an extention cord or AC power circuit that your plugging it into?? Maybe some pictures would help explain what you're describing.
After I replaced the cord, goes from fridge to dedicated outlet, about 6') it seems to work fine. The only pictures I have are of the fried cord. I just tried it on 12v DC & it seems ok on that also.
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Old 11-07-2013, 10:30 PM   #8
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Pictures would help, I would check the breaker and make sure it works.
The gen was not running so no 120v AC, the 12v DC wiring is fine & that breaker wasn't tripped.
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Old 11-07-2013, 10:32 PM   #9
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While not related to the fridge, I use networked smoke alarms bought on Amazon to alert me of smoke in the engine room, salon, or underneath the upper helm. They all communicate with each other. If one goes off then the others chime in. I know it works after the one at the upper helm went off after the alternator smoked itself in the engine room and set that one off. Tom
That is a great idea, I have a new project, thank you.
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Old 11-08-2013, 07:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
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The gen was not running so no 120v AC, the 12v DC wiring is fine & that breaker wasn't tripped.
Had a thought (it will probably die of loneliness), disconnect the ac power cord from the outlet. Make sure the fridge is running on 12 volts dc. Then take a multi meter and check the ac power cord, including the ground, for voltage. If the unit is back feeding current through a shorted power cord, that could be your problem.

Ted
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Old 11-08-2013, 08:28 PM   #11
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I would think maybe something was feeding through the ground wire. I would really take a look at your electrical system. I've seen more than one problem (not my boat Art) that melted wires because a ground was energized.
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Old 11-09-2013, 06:26 AM   #12
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This is a std problem , the boats feed circuit is protected by a CB that protects the boats wiring.

But the fuse or CB (IF there is one ) at the user does not protect the feed line from the boat wiring to the user.

An in line fuse cut into the fridge feed line , as close to the plug as you can would solve this hassle.

The other concept is to run the items power supply wiring in the same gauge as the boats feed wires , so if it goes it should pop the boats circuit breaker.

The inline fuse is better.

Most of the 12v 120v Norcolds have an inverter that takes the voltage of either power source and creates the internal voltage its compressor runs on.

So if 12V is avaliable its a better source than inverting 12V to 120V and using that as a feed.
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Old 11-09-2013, 11:55 AM   #13
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The fridge no longer runs on DC voltage, I tried it yesterday. I have a small inverter (400 watt), & tried using it but it wasn't big enough to carry the load continuously. I have a friend here at the marina that is a electrician & I'am going to have him troubleshoot it next spring & do a proper repair. Ted I think your right that is the only thing it could of been, the controller must of failed & caused it, I suspect the box full of electronic components will have to be replaced.
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