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Old 03-24-2015, 10:53 AM   #1
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Refrigerator running constantly

Yes, I know , I better catch it.

Anyhow, we have a Norcold. It runs pretty much constantly. Not 100% of the time, but its definitely running more than it is off. Everything in it is cold, but , still it runs a lot, like 90% off the time.
(outside temperature 70 degrees or so) This is the boats second refrigerator unit. Its a freezer over fridge unit. I am not sure if this is normal or not. It seems that if its normal, there is not very good insulation on it...

Any advice?
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Old 03-24-2015, 11:05 AM   #2
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My Norcold runs almost constantly when it's 90 or so, but not so much at 70. You might check that the airflow around the unit is not restricted. Some folks add a small computer type fan to help airflow, and it probably would help, I've never got around to it. According to my battery monitor when the unit runs it uses about 7 amps..

Another option may be to add a small battery operated fan on the inside. I might do that just to see if it helps.
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Old 03-24-2015, 12:04 PM   #3
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A little story. I had a Norcold that came with a previous boat. I always hated it because of its small capacity. I bought a new Tundra, which I don't believe is made anymore, and when I took out the Norcold and after it had been sitting outside I found about 2 inches of ice below the freezer compartment. No wonder it was running all the time! This ice was not noticeable while in use. Maybe this is your problem.
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Old 03-24-2015, 03:24 PM   #4
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Yes, I know , I better catch it.

Anyhow, we have a Norcold. It runs pretty much constantly. Not 100% of the time, but its definitely running more than it is off. Everything in it is cold, but , still it runs a lot, like 90% off the time.
I've gone through this twice now with Norcold's and the constant running has always been the beginning of the end for the fridge compressor. I purchased a new Norcold DE0061 last summer, this is #3, and was pleased to see they've switch from the old coffee can compressor to the Danfoss style. It seems to be quieter and much quicker to reach temperature.

To the point - I timed the compressor on/off cycling at different thermostat settings, with the fridge at operating temp in both compartments on a 70F'ish day. At the mid point setting "3" it freezes ice and cools sufficiently and the compressor ran 5 minutes on and 5 minutes off. If you advance the thermostat to "5", if runs close to 6 minutes, with 5 minutes between cycles. So not much difference. (If you want to keep ice cream, it needs to be in the "4" to "5" setting range.)

I considered other makes, but mine is built in and no one else builds a comparable size that wouldn't require a complete cabinet overhaul.
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Old 03-24-2015, 03:36 PM   #5
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....mine runs 100%. It is not a 12V unit, runs with inverter. Yet navigating, on a hook or tied at the pier it is always on. It is very hot here, we always need a cold one!

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Old 03-24-2015, 03:41 PM   #6
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I've gone through this twice now with Norcold's and the constant running has always been the beginning of the end for the fridge compressor. I purchased a new Norcold DE0061 last summer, this is #3, and was pleased to see they've switch from the old coffee can compressor to the Danfoss style. It seems to be quieter and much quicker to reach temperature.

To the point - I timed the compressor on/off cycling at different thermostat settings, with the fridge at operating temp in both compartments on a 70F'ish day. At the mid point setting "3" it freezes ice and cools sufficiently and the compressor ran 5 minutes on and 5 minutes off. If you advance the thermostat to "5", if runs close to 6 minutes, with 5 minutes between cycles. So not much difference. (If you want to keep ice cream, it needs to be in the "4" to "5" setting range.)

I considered other makes, but mine is built in and no one else builds a comparable size that wouldn't require a complete cabinet overhaul.
I am not opposed to replacing it. I have a DE-0061 as well. It is my understanding that the previous refrigerator was not a norcold, so I am hoping something else must fit in that space...
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Old 03-24-2015, 07:49 PM   #7
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Yes, I know , I better catch it.

Anyhow, we have a Norcold. It runs pretty much constantly. Not 100% of the time, but its definitely running more than it is off.
Our boat has an under-counter Norcold refrigerator/freezer. It was installed by the previous owner a year or two before we bought the boat. So this makes it 18 or 19 years old now.

Not long after acquiring the boat I felt the unit was running an abnormal amount of time. It woudl run for about five to seven minutes, then be off for that same amount of time, then be back on again.

So I contacted Norcold and asked them if this was normal or if they felt it had a problem. They replied that the times I gave them were normal for this model.

So basically, it's running half the time it's turned on. In our case, we turned it on when we got the boat to its new harbor in 1998 after having it trucked up from California, and we have not turned it off since other than the times the boat is being hauled for bottom paint or other work and it's between being in the water and being blocked in the boatyard where the boat is plugged back into ground power.

At one point some four or five years ago we thought the Norcold was dying as during a cruise it began cycling at very short intervals and at one point stopped running altogether. It started up again on its own the following day but we made plans to replace it when we got home.

We selected a replacement--- an Isotherm AC/DC refrigerator/freezer that would fit in exactly the same space and connect to the same wiring. We were about to order one when the Norcold "fixed" itself and began cycling normally. Apparently the thought of being removed and tossed into the dumpster scared it enough that it's been running correctly ever since.

We also changed out our battery system for a new system, replacing a pair of older 8Ds with six 6vdc golf cart batteries. Whether this new power source sparked the Norcold's "recovery' we don't know.

But as long as it continues to function correctly, we'll keep it even though compared to modern units it's not particulalry efficient. My wife defrosts the freezer periodically, and perhaps this plus the fact it's never turned off has contributed to its longevity.

I did cut several large holes in the divider under the counter between the refrigerator space and the under-sink part of the galley counter cabinet. This has improved the air circulation through the refrigerator space.

The Norcold, which is in essence and RV unit, does not have a lot of insulation, hence the frequent cycle times. It cycles less frequently in the winter than in the summer.

My wife really likes the shelf arrangement and flexibility of this particular unit. The Isotherm that's waiting in the wings in case it's needed is a much more efficient unit and uses a Danfoss compressor, but its interior arrangement is not nearly as nice as the Norcold's.
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Old 03-24-2015, 09:02 PM   #8
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All the refrigerators I've owned which began to run constantly, the refrigerant was running low and the unit's life was near "death." The solution was a new refrigerator.
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Old 03-24-2015, 09:24 PM   #9
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Have you pulled the unit out and cleaned the coil yet? Could be a dust mat thick enough to use as a sweater back there. Dirty coils kill compressors and by virtue fridges pdq.
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Old 03-24-2015, 09:34 PM   #10
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Have you pulled the unit out and cleaned the coil yet? Could be a dust mat thick enough to use as a sweater back there. Dirty coils kill compressors and by virtue fridges pdq.
FWIW when we pulled our Norcold out when it started acting up after it had been in place for some 14 years or so we expected to find what you describe. Much to our surprise the back of the unit and the space it was sitting in was clean as a whistle. The rear of the unit looked as though it was brand new. No dust, dirt, hair, or any other grunge whatsoever.
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Old 03-24-2015, 09:50 PM   #11
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FWIW when we pulled our Norcold out when it started acting up after it had been in place for some 14 years or so we expected to find what you describe. Much to our surprise the back of the unit and the space it was sitting in was clean as a whistle. The rear of the unit looked as though it was brand new. No dust, dirt, hair, or any other grunge whatsoever.

The PNW is a pretty clean place but admit to being a little surprised too. The Delta is big farm country and though I pride myself on having a clean boat it still amazes me the places this dirt seeks to accumulate.
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Old 03-24-2015, 10:19 PM   #12
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.... it still amazes me the places this dirt seeks to accumulate.
I agree. We leave the boat buttoned up when we go home after a weekend either out on it or on it, and when we return the following weekend, there is dust on everything. Not a lot, but it's on surfaces we cleaned the previous weekend. We have no idea where it comes from.

The outside of the boat gets dirty fairly quickly because of the relatively high volume of boat movements in the harbor, both recreational and commercial (seiners, gillnetters, crabbers and buy-boats). Also, there is a BNSF railyard running the length of the harbor and the railroad's main line from Seattle to Vancouver runs through this yard. I would guess there is a train with three or four locomotives on the head end and usually one or two helpers on the rear going one way or the other at least once an hour in addition to the switching activities of the two yard engines.

So between the boats and locomotives there is more than enough soot to go around.

But the dust on the inside of the boat remains a puzzle.
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Old 03-24-2015, 10:38 PM   #13
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I used an inline meter to measure Ah consumed over a 24 hour period rather than measure cycle times etc. My Norcold De 0061 uses 80 Ah for a 24 hour period, set between 4 and 5. That seems quite reasonable.

But in the pilothouse the smaller Norcold DE 400C was using 155 Ah. It must have been running almost continuously. I removed it, sold on eBay recently. In its place I put an Engel I that I bought in 1981. It has similar capacity to the 400C but uses just 55 Ah over a 24 hour period. If I run the Engel as a freezer rather than fridge then the 24 hour consumption doubles.
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Old 03-26-2015, 10:35 PM   #14
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Have you pulled the unit out and cleaned the coil yet? Could be a dust mat thick enough to use as a sweater back there. Dirty coils kill compressors and by virtue fridges pdq.
I dont have the faintest idea how to do that. Youll have to show me this weekend.
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Old 03-26-2015, 11:19 PM   #15
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I dont have the faintest idea how to do that. Youll have to show me this weekend.

In a generic sense cleaning the coil involves pulling the fridge to access the (typically) black grille on the back of the unit. This grille or "coil" is where the magic happens and your fridge deposits the heat the refrigerant has removed from inside the box. Not unlike a radiator on your car.

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The coil can collect dust and reduce the efficiency of the unit significantly. Often removing the dust (cleaning the coil) can increase the efficiency of heat transfer. Means your fridge won't run so long. Mild soapy water can typically do a good job.
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Old 03-27-2015, 06:53 AM   #16
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Look at the line coming out of the evaporator , the metal thing that gets cold in your fridge.

If there is frost on the return to the compressor line , your compressor and freon are fine.

If you have the option remove the unit and sand it in the sun for a weel .

This may dry out failed box insulation .
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Old 03-27-2015, 07:21 PM   #17
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I am not opposed to replacing it. I have a DE-0061 as well. It is my understanding that the previous refrigerator was not a norcold, so I am hoping something else must fit in that space...
The new DE-0061 is a little different than the old, other than the compressor, so I did have to modify the trim a little, but other than that it slid right in. Nova Kool, out of Vancouver, BC was about the closest, but it was a little narrower and several inches taller. But I liked their unit, wished I could have made it fit!!
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Old 03-28-2015, 09:19 AM   #18
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A little story. I had a Norcold that came with a previous boat. I always hated it because of its small capacity. I bought a new Tundra, which I don't believe is made anymore, and when I took out the Norcold and after it had been sitting outside I found about 2 inches of ice below the freezer compartment. No wonder it was running all the time! This ice was not noticeable while in use. Maybe this is your problem.

I had a 30 year old Tundra that was close to death. I did a bunch of research and found they were made by Vitrifrigo. I wanted to make the replacement Plug-N-Play as the cabinet vents and electrical did not want to be relocated so I purchased this model to replace my old T-80 Tundra.

seasteel-dp2600ix

Very pleased with it and it is exactly the same as the old unit in every dimension.

I does run about 40-50% of the time with use here in Fl. more with heavy use.
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