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Old 05-27-2017, 01:41 PM   #1
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Refrigerator search and questions.

Our 14 year old Norcold DE0061 is giving up the ghost. Freezer works great, but the refer is gasping to maintain 48 degrees. We've tried all the web fixes about fans, door seals, etc. and we are going to buy a new unit.
I can get a direct replacement Norcold, but also looking at a Isotherm 195. I can make it work with our cabinetry so that parts OK.
I can't find much info anywhere as to how the Isotherm's are liked, or not.
Does anybody out there have reviews, good or bad about the 195? It's pricier than the Norcold so I'm wondering if it's worth the extra bucks and how people like the brand.
Or, other brands in the 7 cubic foot size that run on both ac and dc.
Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-27-2017, 02:22 PM   #2
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Most of the hassles that I see come from reefers stuck into tight cabinets.

The air in the cabinet gets way above ambient , and folks wonder why it never gets cold and runs all the time.

At least one mfg has the vent in the front , to vent directly into the galley.

Better a bit of extra heat sometimes than soggy ice cream or warm beer.

The "smart" 12v units seem to use the least amp hours , as their computer slows the compressor to save Amps.
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Old 05-27-2017, 02:59 PM   #3
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FF is correct when he points out the importance of airflow over the fridge condenser/s. I'm going to guess that you haven't done anything to limit airflow to the area behind the unit? If you haven't changed anything then it may be the case that the unit is beginning to fail...
When we were in the process of ordering our American Tug, we looked hard at available options for refrigeration. Like your Norcold, the normal unit supplied with the American Tug has a single compressor for both the refrigerator and freezer sections. People with that single compressor Novakool unit in their American Tugs hated the performance of the unit in warm climates.
We ended up ordering the Vitrifrigo DW 250 unit. 2 Danfoss 35 compressors doubles the available cooling and more importantly makes for easy separate temperature regulation of the individual areas.
The Isotherm 195 also has 2 separate compressors and it appears to have a considerable amount of insulation around the freezer section. That extra insulation will pay dividends in energy use when things are warm outside...
We preferred the Vitrifrigo unit but the Isotherm was second on our list.
Just be sure that there is good airflow over the condenser or it will all be for nothing!
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Old 05-27-2017, 04:14 PM   #4
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I went Vitrifrigo to replace my Norcold....tough choice as the new Norcolds are probably on par and I like some of their design features better.


The main reason I didn't is not being able to eyeball one and check it out n person. So I opted Vitrifrigo based on recommendations but most of the negative I heard about Norcold were outdated and some people just BS because of frustration...not facts.
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Old 05-27-2017, 04:28 PM   #5
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I went Vitrifrigo to replace my Norcold....tough choice as the new Norcolds are probably on par and I like some of their design features better.


The main reason I didn't is not being able to eyeball one and check it out n person. So I opted Vitrifrigo based on recommendations but most of the negative I heard about Norcold were outdated and some people just BS because of frustration...not facts.
Well...here is a "fact" for you. The fridge he refers to is still made and carries the same model number.
DE-0061/EV-0061 | Products | Thetford
It uses a single compressor. It may be a fine unit but it would have not made my cut due to the single compressor.
I have no idea if the model has had any redesign in 14 years beyond what is necessary to make it compatible with today's compressors or controls.
I'm sure it works.
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Old 05-27-2017, 05:12 PM   #6
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1 compressor and the freezer works fine? The fridge gets its cold air from the freezer compartment, there is likely a coldair passage between the two that has iced up to restrict or entirely block off passage of cold air. We've had the same thing happen to our home refrigerator. Put all the stuff in another freezer/fridge and totally defrost yours. Trouble is that you won't be able to see the ice build-up because it is hidden inside an insulated tube buried in the depths of the unit. After everything was defrosted to my eye I used a heat gun, just like they tell you NOT to, to defrost the air passage from the bottom up. Your manual is very specific in the danger warnings to tell you NOT to use a heat gun or hair drier to defrost. The option is to wait for days for it to defrost naturally.

No problem with our home fridge after this. We were careful not to block any of the air vents in the freezer afterward.
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Old 05-27-2017, 05:23 PM   #7
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Well, the Vitrifrigo only has one compressor...works great. So did my more modern Norcold in my RV.

And I defrosted my Norcold and now Vitrifrigo with a fan in an hour or so, fast enough the fridge doesnt even get warm. And you can watch the frost and ice build from day one if you want. I have defrosted 2X in 7 months in humid conditions.

See, frustrated opinions, not facts.
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Old 05-27-2017, 05:56 PM   #8
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I did a similar job on a smaller Norcold failure about a year ago. I found a NovaKool model that was a perfect fit. These guys are right...pay attention to the air circulation requirements.

Here's a link to the thread...

Nova Kool Refrigerator Installation
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Old 05-27-2017, 08:38 PM   #9
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I gave up on so called marine refrigerators. I went with an 8.3 cuft apartment size that even features self defrost and interior light. Better still, I could have purchased 3 of them for the same cost as an, expensive marine fridge. It is powered by a true sine wave inverter when dock or gen your power is absent.
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Old 05-27-2017, 08:42 PM   #10
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I had the biggest, baddest 1988 Noricold with two compressors! But it was giving up the gost and it pulled 12 amp dc when it was on. I did research and comparisons. They may cosy a little more, but the Isotherm is the best you can buy. We are livaboards and on our second trip to Alaska and I have had no issues with it. I highly recommend them.
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Old 05-27-2017, 09:52 PM   #11
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I replaced our Norcold with the Cruise 195 and so far all is well.

The wife likes the freezer on the bottom and I like having 2 compressors.

It is slightly taller and a little narrower than the Norcold, therefore not an exact fit into the same hole. So a little cabinet massaging is required. I think it was well worth my effort even considering what I had to do to the cabinet above the fridge.

The cabinet above the fridge compartment required a shelf to go up about an inch to get a good fit and proper air circulation. The cabinet houses one of our A/C units on the shelf. Instead of de-installing and re-installing the A/C unit to move the shelf up, I moved it all up at once using a hydraulic jack.
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Old 05-27-2017, 10:02 PM   #12
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Thanks for the replies. Our installation has not changed and vents are clear and clean. No grime or dust on rear coils and fan is running below compressor section so I don't think a heat problem has suddenly appeared.
We have defrosted but will try one more time for longer before ordering a new unit.
Will also check vitrifrigo and Novakool units.
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Old 05-27-2017, 11:17 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jreekree View Post
Thanks for the replies. Our installation has not changed and vents are clear and clean. No grime or dust on rear coils and fan is running below compressor section so I don't think a heat problem has suddenly appeared.
We have defrosted but will try one more time for longer before ordering a new unit.
Will also check vitrifrigo and Novakool units.
It isn't the fridge that needs defrosting. It is the internal air passage that moves the cold from the freezer into the refrigerator space. You can't see it and ice that is insulated takes an enormous amount of time to melt.
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Old 05-28-2017, 06:23 AM   #14
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If it is like every older Norcold I have seen there are no "internal air passages"...just a "C" shaped condenser plate that is the freezer.

You take out the drip tray and you can see the bottom of it where the frost and ice build....

You can also reach up behind it where there is space and feel for any ice there, but if you have been defrosting for even a half hour, that usually slides down and can see it or just falls out if not caught on the temp sensor tube.

Just use a fan and the defrosting usually takes me about an hour even if heavily frosted.. I lay a towel in the bottom to catch the top water, then take it out so the fan works well on the bottom of the condenser plate and releases the big chunk on the bottom.
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Old 05-28-2017, 10:54 AM   #15
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We went a little different direction. We used a remote mounted compressor with a cold plate in the refer section. Works very well and has a very low duty cycle... The box is well built and heavily insulated. Marine Boat Refrigerators - Custom marine and boat refrigeration. Efficient deck freezers, custom boat refrigerators, DC conversion kits,
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Old 05-28-2017, 11:11 AM   #16
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Just use a fan and the defrosting usually takes me about an hour even if heavily frosted.. I lay a towel in the bottom to catch the top water, then take it out so the fan works well on the bottom of the condenser plate and releases the big chunk on the bottom.
Except for the use of a fan (I don't use one) my procedure is exactly the same and does take about an hour.
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Old 05-28-2017, 11:14 AM   #17
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Except for the use of a fan (I don't use one) my procedure is exactly the same and does take about an hour.
Speeds things up considerably..might use even a small one...the opposite of wind chill.
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Old 05-28-2017, 01:39 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by FOG View Post

The cabinet above the fridge compartment required a shelf to go up about an inch to get a good fit and proper air circulation. The cabinet houses one of our A/C units on the shelf. Instead of de-installing and re-installing the A/C unit to move the shelf up, I moved it all up at once using a hydraulic jack.
LOL! If you jack that up very slowly, you can stretch the wood to any custom size. Brilliant!
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Old 05-28-2017, 02:55 PM   #19
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To improve air circulation in the cabinet you can install a computer Muffin Fan blowing out of an upper vent, you may need to make the vent hole too, if none there. I did this on my Vitrifrigo I installed a couple of years ago it runs off of the compressor circuit, when the compressor runs.
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Old 05-28-2017, 05:28 PM   #20
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On my NovaKool installation, a NK engineer told me to remove the fan from the fridge, extend the two 12V wires and mount it into the side of the cabinet with a 4 inch hole and a vent cover. I did this into an empty space behind my oven and vented the countertop behind the stovetop.



I also insulated the box with additional foam board.

Works great and is very quiet.
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