Norcold Replacement Cooling Unit Upgrade

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If you have a Norcold fridge in your RV that doesn’t cool or has a yellow residue behind it or an ammonia smell, this is the refrigerator cooling unit upgrade for you.

These gas absorption refrigerators are American made and designed to endure the rigors of traveling with an RV. They are very quiet, too.
1. Replace the Evaporator

The cooling unit is the heart of your Norcold gas absorption refrigerator. If it fails, your refrigerator will not cool. If you notice yellow residue behind your refrigerator or a strong ammonia smell, it is time to replace the cooling unit.

To remove the old one, shut off the refrigerator and disconnect both 120VAC and 12VDC power sources. Then unscrew the rear mounting screws and remove the tape that holds the cooling unit to the evaporator foam pack pocket (see photo). Then pry the cooling unit loose by jiggling it, lifting, or pulling. Sometimes the unit can get stuck in this pocket, and it will need to be removed by using a section of 2×4.

After the new evaporator is installed, we recommend coating the inside of the pocket with low-expansion spray foam. This will help prevent water from entering the evaporator tubes and damaging them. Also, place a bead of thermal mastic around the area where the cooling unit mates to the refrigerator to improve the seal.
2. Replace the Compressor

If your refrigerator is not cooling and has that tell-tale yellow residue behind it or an ammonia smell, then the cooling unit has failed. It’s time to replace it with a new one.

JC Refrigeration has a new product that fits directly into the same mounting space as the original Norcold refrigeration unit and converts it to a freon compressor system similar to residential units. These use an internal ARP fan that is powered by a 12VDC circuit and don’t require the clean AC power required by the absorption refrigeration units.

The JC Refrigeration unit also has a sheet-metal wind baffle to help disperse the flue gases and doesn’t have the Norcold heater tube that often fractures under thermal stress (look for that tell-tale yellow residue around the burner area). It comes with all new insulation, expanding foam sealant, and thermal mastic. And it includes a new Universal Control system and LP gas plug. A lot cheaper than replacing your fridge!
3. Install the ARP Control

This is a simple part. It is a power wire that goes from the fridge control board to the cooling unit, when it sees that the fridge is heating up instead of cooling it shuts off the refrigerator.

This prevents the ammonia from boiling over and destroying your RV fridge. It also has a sensor that mounts right above the boiler to watch temperature. If it gets too hot the ARP shuts off the refrigerator power, stopping the fridge and saving your rig.

It also allows the two rear fans to turn on hours sooner than the Norcold fans do, creating a draft to move heat out of the refrigerator faster. This conversion from an ammonia to Freon system is made by JC Refrigeration and installs directly into the existing mounting area of your Norcold 1210 refrigerator. It can be powered with your modified or full sine wave inverter. It is very energy efficient requiring less than 1 amp of power.
4. Reinstall the Refrigerator

After the cooling unit has been assembled, the evaporator tubes and freezer tubes should be sealed with a silicone caulking. Also check the insulation for any water stains or dampness. If there is, let the insulation dry for a day or two.

The assembler at the Norcold factory normally applies a tube of expanding foam to seal and secure the cooling unit in place on the back of the fridge box. If this is misapplied it will allow air and moisture to leak in that area. This can lead to corrosion, cooling problems and that tell-tale ammonia smell.

Before applying the transfer mastic, run tape around the periphery of the foam pack to help prevent it from sticking to the refrigerator fins during installation. With the transfer mastic applied, carefully set the refrigerator fins in place on the new cooling unit. Check that the LP gas plug and freezer/fin screws are lined up and fastened in properly.Norcold replacement cooling unit

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