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fridge replacement projects - post here
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madspaniard
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 11:07 am    Post subject: fridge replacement projects - post here Reply with quote

OK so I'd like to open this post to gather all the good info and tips on fridge replacement projects, you know, replacing the factory Dometic 3-way unit with a 12v-only or 12v/110v Truckfridge, Vitrifrigo, Norcold or Isotherm unit. The info about these mods seems to be lost in various different posts so maybe it's beter to compile new posts here and maybe create a sticky if we get enough info here.

It looks like there are a bunch of people doing this at the same time, getting ready for the summer and camping with ice cream I guess. I'm one of them.

Westyventures (thanks Karl) http://www.westyventures.com/parts.html has great info and pics.

My first question is related to what kind of battery setup people have selected to hook up the fridge. It looks like you can go with a 3rd battery in the rear bench only dedicated to the fridge, others have opted to just hook up the fridge to the aux battery behind the driver's seat.

Also, please share your tips on how to create drawers above or below the fridge, how to bypass the stock relay that doesn't allow the fridge to work on 12v when the engine is off, or any other cool upgrades/improvements that can be done while we are doing the fridge install.

Please post coments and pictures!

.


Last edited by madspaniard on Fri May 29, 2009 11:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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rockfish
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

At mad's request, I'm re-posting from the TF AC/DC thread:

My TF installation below. Two tasks left to do - put a piece of the old back panel in under the fridge to cover the exposed insulation; make a blank to cover the opening, fasten with magnets (drawer magnets from HDepot). For time being, I'm going to try and find a plastic storage container that will fit in the space - long term I hope to make a pull-out box/drawer.

I can't wait to try the "Bill Wilson Test" --- see how long it takes to freeze Otter Pops...

My wife is on a biz trip this week - I forwarded the photos to her. The first thing she noticed was how much more storage room that's available in the TF vs. our old "cooler" (i.e., not a fridge) Dometic. The second thing she noticed and remarked - so when are you going to finish off the storage underneath!!! d'oh! Doh!

I said it was a perfect place for flat items like the Bentley, etc. She said frying pans and serving platters/trays --- who am I to argue??!!

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


In about a week or so I'll post pictures of the complete set up, including batteries (3 batteries: 1 under driver seat and 2 in cabinet under sink). Total 132AH + 50w (removable) solar panel on roof.
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randywebb
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I bet you could paint the panel on the door to match the Westy panels...
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woggs1
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

seen this?


Link


Found this on the 'net, this guy used metal flange instead of wood

http://jones.colorado.edu/VW/Vitrifrigo/

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Last edited by woggs1 on Fri May 29, 2009 1:17 pm; edited 2 times in total
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madspaniard
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

randywebb wrote:
I bet you could paint the panel on the door to match the Westy panels...


Actually, thanks to GoWesty laminates you can cover the door panel with the matching brown or gray laminate. That is what I'm doing.

http://www.gowesty.com/ec_view_details.php?id=4336&category_id=&category_parent_id=


Last edited by madspaniard on Fri May 29, 2009 2:41 pm; edited 4 times in total
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woggs1
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

madspaniard wrote:
randywebb wrote:
I bet you could paint the panel on the door to match the Westy panels...


Actually, thanks to GoWesty laminates you can replace the door panel with the matching brown or gray laminate. That is what I'm doing.


Are you going to change the color of the metal trim? Maybe some powder coating?
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billwilson
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have the same Truck Fridge installed on Wilson as shown in the above pics

I have had it running since i hooked up the solar panel
(see my sig for date)

I have 210 amp hours of batteries
a Karl Special UB 4 pack under the driver
and a 110 amphr under the bench
solar is a 130 watt kycoera

just spend 4 days in the fog and rain camping
barely 2 amp hours charging

fridge cranked on 6
wife in and out all day

3 full lenght dvds per day
(one for me, two Thai movies for the wife Smile

3 hours on my laptop

keeping both iPhones fully charged

running one of two florecent lites @ 2 hours

batteries read this morning: 10.87 volts

thats my story and i am sticking to it!!
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rockfish
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you see his temperature data ... very impressive performance:

Vitrifrigo Thermostat Test


Setting++ Fridge Freezer

5:00 35 30
6:00 35 25
8:00 34 12
10:00 32 5

++ position of the temperature setting knob. 6:00
is straight down; 10:00 is max on my dial.

Two gallon jugs in fridge and three Blue Ice
boxes in freezer. 24 hours to stabalize temps.

4/26/2009
RAJ
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madspaniard
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

woggs1 wrote:
madspaniard wrote:
randywebb wrote:
I bet you could paint the panel on the door to match the Westy panels...


Actually, thanks to GoWesty laminates you can replace the door panel with the matching brown or gray laminate. That is what I'm doing.


Are you going to change the color of the metal trim? Maybe some powder coating?


yes, we can do that. I haven't received my fridge yet but if the front frame/trim can be removed it would be cheap to take it to powdercoat it at the same place we did the interior powdercoating...


Last edited by madspaniard on Fri May 29, 2009 1:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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woggs1
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rockfish wrote:
Did you see his temperature data ... very impressive performance:

Vitrifrigo Thermostat Test


Setting++ Fridge Freezer

5:00 35 30
6:00 35 25
8:00 34 12
10:00 32 5

++ position of the temperature setting knob. 6:00
is straight down; 10:00 is max on my dial.

Two gallon jugs in fridge and three Blue Ice
boxes in freezer. 24 hours to stabalize temps.

4/26/2009
RAJ


Wow, that is pretty impressive, you could have rock hard ice cream in the blazing desert. My fridge arrives Tuesday.
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madspaniard
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

billwilson wrote:
I have the same Truck Fridge installed on Wilson as shown in the above pics

I have had it running since i hooked up the solar panel
(see my sig for date)

I have 210 amp hours of batteries
a Karl Special UB 4 pack under the driver
and a 110 amphr under the bench
solar is a 130 watt kycoera

just spend 4 days in the fog and rain camping
barely 2 amp hours charging

fridge cranked on 6
wife in and out all day

3 full lenght dvds per day
(one for me, two Thai movies for the wife Smile

3 hours on my laptop

keeping both iPhones fully charged

running one of two florecent lites @ 2 hours

batteries read this morning: 10.87 volts

thats my story and i am sticking to it!!



bill, which battery you fridge is sucking power from? and, does the solar panel recharge both UB 4 pack and 110Amp/hr batteries?
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scottjk
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 4:37 pm    Post subject: Vitrifrigo Install Reply with quote

http://s724.photobucket.com/albums/ww245/scottjk_photos/Vanagon/Vitrifrigo/

Here are some of my current photos on my ongoing install. Very tight fit all the way around. OEM style face frame that fits perfectly. Just enough room for the Xantrex to sit on top and have about 1/2 inch off the bottom for ventilation.

I'm curious why most guys are not thinking about bottom ventilation. For the fridge to be as efficient as possible it has to draw air over the coils just like a regular fridge. With the Xantrex as well as the fridge fans sitting in the same space I wanted some type of bottom vent to help keep some type of circular flow going.

Scott
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 4:42 pm    Post subject: Fridge Latch Reply with quote

BTW, I really do not like the latching system that comes with the Vitrifrigo. It is just a straight pin that slides through the door. I would much rather have the auto latching system. I can guarantee that this season I will forget to put he pin in and I'll spew stuff all over the van during the first hard left turn. Shocked

Scott
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madspaniard
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 5:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Fridge Latch Reply with quote

scottjk wrote:
BTW, I really do not like the latching system that comes with the Vitrifrigo. It is just a straight pin that slides through the door. I would much rather have the auto latching system. I can guarantee that this season I will forget to put he pin in and I'll spew stuff all over the van during the first hard left turn. Shocked

Scott


hum, that is one of the reasons why I went with the Isotherm model, a real latch, and also the ASU option, which is a cooling plate that gets cool-charged when the alternator is running or shorepower is on. Once the engine is off or there is no shorepower, the fridge pulls from the cooling plates, the compressor is off until more cooling power is needed, this saves a bunch of battery juice.

The con is the price. A brand new Isotherm fridge is more expensive than the Truckfridge or Vitrifrigo model. It looks like Truckfriddge and Vitrifrigo cater to the "on-wheels" industry whereas Isotherm is more of a marine/boat type of supplier, hence more $$s
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wbx
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 5:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Vitrifrigo Install Reply with quote

scottjk wrote:
http://s724.photobucket.com/albums/ww245/scottjk_photos/Vanagon/Vitrifrigo/

Here are some of my current photos on my ongoing install.


Umm... why is Uber Cat's butt talking?
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madspaniard
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 5:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Vitrifrigo Install Reply with quote

scottjk wrote:


I'm curious why most guys are not thinking about bottom ventilation. For the fridge to be as efficient as possible it has to draw air over the coils just like a regular fridge.
Scott


I also wonder about this. Most pics I see have a drawer taking the space left available after the new fridge is installed leaving no space for ventilation in the front. We always have the back vent grate below the window and the vent facing back towards the closet cabinet. Maybe that is enough
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ohlott
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Getting ready to install the new truck fridge. What are you guys doing with your vent to the out side. Blocking it off?
thanks
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madspaniard
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ohlott wrote:
Getting ready to install the new truck fridge. What are you guys doing with your vent to the out side. Blocking it off?
thanks


yeap, GoWesty sells the fridge elimination kit that includes an aluminum plate to block off the flue vent. It also includes a laminated shelf. I figured I could use the shelf to separate the fridge from the space left available either on top or at the bottom, depending on how you install the fridge.

I guess you can come up with your own plate, shouldn't be difficult but yeah, you do want to block it off and maybe use a piece of closed cell foam or similar on the inside to insulate that area.
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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 10:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Fridge Latch Reply with quote

madspaniard wrote:

hum, that is one of the reasons why I went with the Isotherm model, a real latch, and also the ASU option, which is a cooling plate that gets cool-charged when the alternator is running or shorepower is on. Once the engine is off or there is no shorepower, the fridge pulls from the cooling plates, the compressor is off until more cooling power is needed, this saves a bunch of battery juice.


MadSpaniard,

That ASU cooling plate feature is a slick idea. That should make a significant difference in energy savings, though I'm really interested in comparing it to the standard non-ASU compressor run times. Thanks for pointing this out to us.
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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2009 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, I'll post again. I did the Norcold. I did a complete rebuild of the kitchen unit so it would accommodate the Norcold and a microwave. I wanted more drawer space, so I remade the drawers. I run an Odyssey 1200 battery and have a 70 watt solar panel for extended stays. I blocked off the old vent with heavy aluminum tape from both sides, but kept the outside parts for appearances sake, that and I have the original set up for collection purposes. I re-insulated behind the entire kitchen with sound deadening insulation. I don't find the Norcold any louder than the Dometec with its legion of fans. I think the insulation made a difference in the noise level.

I have been really, really happy with the Norcold. It keeps everything as cold as a normal refrigerator. The latching system keeps the door closed off road. The Norcold can run on '3' for a couple of days before it will drain the battery. I did get the AC/DC model. I like to plug it in the night before.

So for complete run down, my little web posting:

http://homepage.mac.com/greystoke.eng/PhotoAlbum12.html
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