26 February 2013

Refrigerator 12v Fan Installation

As most of you know, RV absorption refrigerators can sometimes be finicky. One common problem with them is poor performance on summer days when ambient temperatures are very high. My little two-way, 2.7 cu Norcold refrigerator was having a difficult time keeping up in the Arizona heat. Fortunately, solving this problem was fairly simple. All I needed to do was to install a 12 volt mini fan to provide some much needed air flow behind the refrigerator. 

Why is a mini fan needed and how does it work? Well, the heat source for the refrigerator--either the propane flame or the electrical heating element--is used to "elevate" the ammonia/water mixture up to the top of the refrigerator's cooling unit. Once the mixture is there gravity and a chemical reaction begins and cooling is accomplished. Air flow is needed to dissipate the heat collected on the refrigerator's evaporator fins and from the refrigerator's cooling unit. A 12 volt fan helps to accomplish this by circulating the cooler fresh air received from the side vent and across these fins. 

Mini fans can be purchased at any RV parts store or on any online computer repair store. You can buy mini fans that are either battery operated or come with 12 volt power leads to tie into your RV's 12 volt system. I went the latter route. Connecting the fan to the power source was the easy part, the more difficult problem was finding a place to attach the mounting bracket. There was no place. After looking at all the options, I decided to screw a small block of wood to the floor. You can see in the picture below how I was able to attach the bracket to it. Pretty simple! Oh, a quick note. When you install the fan ensure it's facing the right direction and pushes air up when you install it on the motor. I've come across some guys on the Open Roads Forum who installed their fans backwards and wondered why no cooling was taking place.




I performed this installation last spring and was able to use my refrigerator during the hot summer months with no cooling issues whatsoever. So if your refrigerator isn't cooling so well in the summer you might want to give this modification a try. It's cheap and easy and well worth the time and effort.

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for the reminder was gonna do this with our new fridge, but slipped my mind,it does work great too!

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  2. nice, youll have to post later in the summer how the mod worked for you. im sure it will work very well.

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    1. I actually performed the mod last spring the new fan worked great over the summer.

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    2. oh, right on! thats great to hear.

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  3. Mike - Thanks for the info on this, I am going to check out how I might do the same on ours.

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  4. Keep up the great work passing on your experience to other RVers. As a long-time working outdoor writer, I especially appreciate your candor and the quality of your writing.

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    1. Thanks, Bernie. I appreciate the compliments.

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  5. Mike I also put a computer power supply fan in the inside wired to the power supply lead to the door light switch, the fan runs whenever the fridge is on and moves the air around the fins on the inside doing the same job as the out side one. Again it cools even during the 100 degree spells. Sam & Donna..

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    1. Thanks, Sam. Yes, that works just as well too. I elected to not go that route as my fridge is very small and there simply wasn't that much room on the inside.

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  6. Great tip. We will look into it. So far, we have managed to avoid such warm temps. by heading north.

    Thanks for joining us at good-times-rollin. I have added you to our blog list and look forward to more posts!

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  7. Thanks ... I added this to my project list!

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  8. I notice an on/off switch. Have you considered installing a thermostat and letting the fan turn on/off automatically?

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    1. I haven't, but that's a good idea. Thanks.

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