RV Refrigerators: How Level is Level Enough

One of the several topics being discussed yesterday on the RVbasics Yahoo Group was how level does an RV refrigerator have to be for proper operation and to avoid damaging the cooling unit.

It used to be that an RV refrigerator had to be near perfect level to avoid serious damage to the cooling unit. But modern-day RV refrigerators are no longer as susceptible to damage due to operation at less than perfect level. Unfortunately, the ‘old truth’ continues to be passed from the veteran RVers to the newbies.

To set the record straight, the text below was taken from a Dometic RV refrigerator owners manual.

In recent years Dometic has engineered a new type of cooling unit that utilizes an improved siphon pump tube design which drastically reduces the possibility of permanent damage to the coils if operated in an out-of-level condition, or too much heat is generated at the boiler section. The siphon pump tube is enclosed in the design and is surrounded by a weak ammonia solution, which will protect the pump tube from abnormally over-heating. This type of unit; however, does not eliminate the need for proper leveling. The unit still requires gravitational flow to provide the proper cooling process, and if leveling is outside the necessary limits, cooling will dramatically slow down or stop completely.

The cooling coils are not normally damaged in this fashion and once proper leveling is maintained, the cooling process will resume.

Spirit or bubble levels are no longer being supplied with the new style refrigerators as the RV or vehicle only needs to be leveled so it is comfortable to live in, with no noticeable sloping of the floor or walls. For diagnosis, the new style cooling units that incorporate the protection boiler system, can be differentiated from the older style coils by the shape and design of the outer boiler box cover on the rear of the cooling unit. These new units will incorporate a circular metal cover, while the older style refrigerator utilizes a square shaped boiler enclosure.

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4 Responses to "RV Refrigerators: How Level is Level Enough"

  1. Steve thanks for the tip. Do you know if the same is true on the Norcolds? We have had nothing but trouble with our small RV refrig. Within the first 18 months the cooling unit needed to be replaced. If the documentation doesn’t say anything similar to the dometic, then can I assume it requires more stringent leveling?

    Thanks… Sue Spahn

  2. Sue, this is from the Users’ Operating Guide Model 3163

    The Norcold refrigerator does not require critical leveling. Normal vehicle leveling to provide comfort for the vehicle occupants is satisfactory for refrigerator operation. or let door remain open longer than necessary.

    Operating in Transit
    While the refrigerator should be level when the vehicle is stationary, performance during transit is not normally affected.

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