How a Norcold Refrigerator Keeps Your Food and Drinks Cold


Located in Sidney, Ohio, Norcold has been making RV gas/electric absorption refrigerators since 1959. They’re known for their quiet, dependable and innovative designs that are ideal for vanlife.

Norcold fridges use propane and electricity to cool, switching automatically between the two. They also look more like coolers than residential fridges, making them easy to move and store.

Norcold fridges use a bit of science and technology to keep your food and drinks cold. They start with a boiler that uses propane gas to heat up tanks of water and ammonia. The mixture turns into a gas and then circulates through metal coils to absorb the heat and cool the fridge. The refrigerant then turns back into a liquid and repeats the process to keep your food and drink cold.

RV refrigerators can be powered by either propane or electricity. They often switch between the two depending on which source is available. Some fridges, like this Polar DC/12V Series, run solely on 12V power from your house battery and look more like a residential fridge.

Most RV refrigerators will have a power, mode and temperature button on their control panel. The temperature button will set your refrigerator to its desired setting and the mode button will let you choose between electric, propane, or auto.
Temperature Control

Norcold refrigerators are built to be durable and energy efficient. They use gas absorption units that work with either propane or electricity as their primary energy source.

The fridge has a dial that you can turn to determine how quickly, not cold, it will cool. Setting the dial to the highest position may allow for a quicker cooling.

There is a high temperature sensor that can shut the refrigerator down if it senses that the cooling unit has overheated. However, this is a band-aid and has been found to fail quite often. If the fridge does trip out due to this issue it would need to be replaced or a new fridge purchased.

You can help the fridge cool more efficiently by ensuring that the vents are not blocked and not overpacking the refrigerator. It can also be helpful to use a fridge fan to speed up circulation and airflow. The thermistor can be tested by disconnecting it from the connector, measuring its resistance using the table below and then comparing it to the readings in the fridge.
Energy Efficiency

As you can imagine, a Norcold refrigerator does use some electricity to work. It does this by using the 12v connection that is also used for your battery system in your RV. However, the fridge can also be powered by propane so it can remain cool even when the battery power is low.

One of the best features about this fridge is that it is very energy efficient and uses less power than other similar refrigerators. This helps to reduce your electric bill and keeps you from running out of propane.

The fridge is easy to operate and can be operated in either propane or electricity mode. There is no need to worry about the propane tank because the fridge will automatically switch over when it is running on propane. This is a great feature when you are out camping and don’t want to run out of propane. This fridge is a great choice for people who are looking for an affordable way to keep their food and beverages cool.

Keeping your refrigerator running at optimal performance requires proper maintenance. Ensure that your fridge is level (it must be within 3 degrees off level side-to-side and 6 degrees off level front-to-back) to allow for proper air flow along the cooling fins. Blocking these fins with bags of food or other items can reduce cooling efficiency.

Also, make sure that your fridge has adequate ventilation. This is easy to do by not blocking the vent grills or overcrowding it. Absorption refrigerators also need a little time to cool after they are powered on.

If your fridge is still having trouble cooling, check the fuses and circuit breakers in the RV panel. Then, verify that 12 Volt DC is present at the fridge’s back outlet by using a multimeter or by plugging in something like a blow dryer to test it. Lastly, check the temperature sensor in the refrigeration compartment to see if it is working properly. If it is reading closed (infinite ohms), the heating element is probably bad and needs to be replaced.

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