problems with 3-way Norcold refrigerator in 2018 320S

Bought this [email protected] last year in Sept and only used it one time.  Refrigerator was working at that time on AC electric - didn't try it on gas.  This year, can't get it to cool either on AC or gas.  Getting ready to go on a short trip, I did something, not thinking - with the trailer in front of my house, I connected to house power and turned on the refrigerator AC power option (selected the AC option and set AC temp to the highest setting) and the key point here is that my house is on a bit of a hill so trailer was not level front to back. Let it set there with the AC option on for a few hours and it didn't cool.  Realized the error of my ways, so got the trailer level in a different location and tried to get refrigerator going on AC first - it actually, at one point started to cool - the fins inside were cold - but then it didn't continue to be cold.  Then with trailer level, again, I tried gas option and refrigerator would not cool.  For the AC option, I confirmed power to outlet under the sink and made sure no problem with breaker and that GFI not tripped.  I haven't checked the fuse on top under the cook top yet but thought, since it's not working on either AC or gas, that's not likely the problem.  Norcold manual says, if try to run refrigerator when not level, damage to cooling system cold result.  Is it likely that's what has happened?  Other thoughts?

Comments

  • jalars8jalars8 Member Posts: 7
    additional fact: when I set the refrigerator to run on AC, the green plug indicator light does not light up - but, as indicated, there is power at the outlet under the sink.
  • jalars8jalars8 Member Posts: 7
    Another additional fact: when I set the refrigerator to run on gas, it did ignite. The indicator went into the green range and was in the green range when I checked it about 6 hours after starting it but no cooling.  
  • webers3webers3 Member Posts: 255
    Maybe the refrigerant (Ammonia) leaked out?
    2017 [email protected] 320S   2019 Jeep Cherokee - Southern Connecticut
  • MuttonChopsMuttonChops Member Posts: 986
    @jalars8Welcome to the [email protected] Family, sorry to hear you start with a problem.

    Expect no one has jumped in with answers/solutions as there are so many unknowns . . . I don't think there will be a clear answer, just ideas & guesses. Some of the unknowns include:

      -  Just how steep is the driveway. Most Norcold Fridges can operate safely with as much as a 6-degrees front-2-rear.

      -  Believe this is a  new to you 'used' [email protected] so how the last owner used or abused the Fridge is unknown.  In general web-articles state operating the Fridge out-of-safe-level results in a slow death of the Fridge.  You don't know if your driveway event was the first or typical for your Fridge.

    Fridge temperature.  Do you have a thermometer in the fridge?  The 3-way Fridge takes forever to
    get cold . . . like overnight operation.  Checking a thermometer every few hours is better than just opening the door and touching the inside.

    No 'AC on' indicator.  The little lamp is known to burn-out.  As you know there are also fuses under the stove top, one of those [3A] is for AC operation.
    '18 320 Spitched axle, 3020HE; PNW based
    TV: '17 Colorado V6 Z71 4x4, Tow Package, GM Brake Controller
    Adventures:  36   Nights:  204 
  • jalars8jalars8 Member Posts: 7
    I certainly appreciate your taking the time to respond.  I will get a thermometer.  When I started the fridge at my house, I would say the slope is probably about 6%.  Started another test of AC mode yesterday afternoon.  After about 4 hours there was a fair amount of heat at the upper outside vent but in checking the fridge (by touching the fins) didn’t seem to be any cooling happening.  Checked it again early this morning and some heat at the vent and some minimal cooling in the fridge.  I’ve seen some ask in the forum whether outside heat is a factor but haven’t seen an answer - daytime temperatures here have in the mid 90’s.  Thanks again.

  • jalars8jalars8 Member Posts: 7
    If refrigerant has leaked out, how/why would that happen?  If that is what has happened, can it be confirmed by RV dealer service people, and replenished?
  • Mellow_YellowMellow_Yellow Member Posts: 276
    edited July 21
    The green light on the 3-way Norcold only illuminates when the fridge is set to propane and has been successfully started. 
    I’m not the best at searching this forum, but there are many tips posted on getting the Norcold to run. 
    My 2013 Norcold is still very reliable but the trailer needs to be near 100% level, front and back for the fridge to run, especially to light the fridge on propane. I don’t find that it runs on house power at all, but my driveway is not level side to side.  It runs great on AC power. 
    You could do more research and keep trying or just take your [email protected] to an RV repair shop to get the fridge serviced. They will tell you pretty quickly if the fridge is dead or alive!
    2014 [email protected] 320 S "Sunny" - 2015 Toyota Sienna LE - British Columbia, Canada
  • rcuomorcuomo Member Posts: 259
    The green light is the AC indicator light on the 2018 Norcold 3-way, it does not light when on propane. The propane gauge meter is the only gas indicator. And as previously mentioned, the indicator light is a common bulb failure. I replaced mine with an LED. 
    ‘18 Tab 320S- mfg’d 4/17, acquired 9/17
    Spare & bike rack on tongue, Renogy suitcase connection, cargo & door nets, sway bar, wired rear camera, Norcold aux fan, front window protection, frame mounted sewer & water hose storage. 
    ‘17 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E- 5000# tow cap, 600# tongue cap
    ‘20 Honda Pilot Elite- 5000# tow cap, 500# tongue cap
    Huntington LI
  • rcuomorcuomo Member Posts: 259
    ‘18 Tab 320S- mfg’d 4/17, acquired 9/17
    Spare & bike rack on tongue, Renogy suitcase connection, cargo & door nets, sway bar, wired rear camera, Norcold aux fan, front window protection, frame mounted sewer & water hose storage. 
    ‘17 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E- 5000# tow cap, 600# tongue cap
    ‘20 Honda Pilot Elite- 5000# tow cap, 500# tongue cap
    Huntington LI
  • MuttonChopsMuttonChops Member Posts: 986
    Mellow_Yellow said:
    . . . The green light on the 3-way Norcold only illuminates when the fridge is set to propane and has been successfully started.
    @Mellow_Yellow; You are correct for the 3-way model 3136 in your yr-2014 [email protected]
    @jalars8 yr-2018 [email protected] has the 3-way model N180 which replaced the 'green light' with a gauge.


    '18 320 Spitched axle, 3020HE; PNW based
    TV: '17 Colorado V6 Z71 4x4, Tow Package, GM Brake Controller
    Adventures:  36   Nights:  204 
  • webers3webers3 Member Posts: 255
    @jalars8 you mentioned temp in the 90s, here is my experience with the 3 way fridge last summer, BTW I do not have A/C so the temp inside the trailer was also in the 90s which I am sure didn't help:

     September 2020 edited September 2020
    Living out of my 320s the whole summer I can say from experience that the 3 way, on propane or AC,  would not cool more than 30-35 degrees below ambient so when for 2 weeks the temps were in the high 80s and mid 90s I could not get the fridge below 45 and consequently had to buy cheap dorm fridge from Wal-Mart to continue my stay. As soon as the temps dropped to 70s the fridge worked great. 

    The issue could be that it is just too hot to cool down, or there is no refrigerant. The lack of indicator lights or trailer not being leveled is of no consequence because you indicated you feel heat coming out of the upper vent so your fridge is operating on propane or AC, ie: it is heating up the ammonia.
    2017 [email protected] 320S   2019 Jeep Cherokee - Southern Connecticut
  • ChanWChanW Member Posts: 2,978
    If you ran it at too much of an angle for a period of time, you may have boiled the refrigerant and it may need to 'recover'.  Be sure you've given the refrigerant time to cool, and settle down (a day or two, maybe), before trying it again. This from someone who also made that mistake. Just a guess.
    Chan  -  Buffalo NY (Beau Fleuve)
    2014 S Maxx - 2011 Tacoma 4cyl 
     [email protected]'ll_Do_Ya
  • webers3webers3 Member Posts: 255
    edited July 21
    @ChanW how would too much of an angle “boiled” the refrigerant?
    2017 [email protected] 320S   2019 Jeep Cherokee - Southern Connecticut
  • ChanWChanW Member Posts: 2,978
    edited July 21
    Heh, I admit that's more a description of my understanding of it.

    I think it's more a case of overheating the evaporation chamber where the refrigerant should be, but isn't because of the angle.

    Here's a discussion about it: https://www.rvforum.net/threads/how-long-is-safe-to-leave-fridge-out-of-level.106056/

    I expect someone with a better understanding of absorption refrigerators can explain it more accurately, but my experience was that it recovered after I let it completely cool down and leveled it.
    Chan  -  Buffalo NY (Beau Fleuve)
    2014 S Maxx - 2011 Tacoma 4cyl 
     [email protected]'ll_Do_Ya
  • FreespiritFreespirit Member Posts: 39
    @jalars8, after reading numerous comments related to the 3-way model N180 it seems each refrigerator has its own nuances. For our N180 as with most, if the outside  temperature is below 75 during the day and 30-40 at night temperature seems to have little effect, cool refrigerator temps are the norm. Hotter temps (as most have stated) are the hardest to deal with. 
    During our last outing we experienced many days when outside temps were over 100 degree and refrigerator temps hit 50 plus (on battery, AC, DC)
    I noticed the counter top above the refrigerator would get extremely hot even though there seemed to be large amounts of hot air escaping thru the top air vent on the side of the trailer. 
    Since our return, I purchased two USB fans and placed them in the top vent space and they have exceeded my expectations. There are many discussions related to exhaust fans as well as inside refrigerator fans. I decided to go with the most cost effective and simplest install for me. I like to proceed slowly and do nothing that cannot be easily undone. 
    On 97 degree days, 80% humidity and inside trailer temperature at or above 100 I have been able to keep refrigerator temperatures as low as 23 or a more appropriate 35-41 by adjusting the temp setting. 
    Over the past 3 weeks I have been testing the fans using battery, AC, and propane with the same results. 
    There are numerous iterations of testing you can do, but for me the simplest was: one fan on, temp set on high (AC and propane), two fans when on DC. 
    At night, fans turned off. 
    All this testing was done when parked at home, will update on real world experience, driving 8+ hours in 100+ temps with our [email protected] shut tight. 




    Cheers
    2020 TAB 320 U
    TV 2020 4Runner
  • MuttonChopsMuttonChops Member Posts: 986
    Freespirit said:
    . . . outside  temperature is below 75 during the day and 30-40 at night temperature seems to have little effect, cool refrigerator temps are the norm.
    . . . when outside temps were over 100 degree and refrigerator temps hit 50 plus

    . . . purchased two USB fans and placed them in the top vent space and they have exceeded my expectations.

    Have you posted any additional details on your fan in installation?

    '18 320 Spitched axle, 3020HE; PNW based
    TV: '17 Colorado V6 Z71 4x4, Tow Package, GM Brake Controller
    Adventures:  36   Nights:  204 
  • FreespiritFreespirit Member Posts: 39
    I have not. The fan install is pretty simple. The pictures pretty much show how the fans are secured in place. One string top and bottom around fan guard, with the string loosely wrapped around a screw top and bottom. Tighten the screw, leave enough slack in the string to allow the cover to slip in place. 

    I used a USB splitter to join the fans and connected the splitter to a USB extension which I ran thru the front window into the Jensen USB port. 



    2020 TAB 320 U
    TV 2020 4Runner
  • rcuomorcuomo Member Posts: 259
    ‘18 Tab 320S- mfg’d 4/17, acquired 9/17
    Spare & bike rack on tongue, Renogy suitcase connection, cargo & door nets, sway bar, wired rear camera, Norcold aux fan, front window protection, frame mounted sewer & water hose storage. 
    ‘17 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E- 5000# tow cap, 600# tongue cap
    ‘20 Honda Pilot Elite- 5000# tow cap, 500# tongue cap
    Huntington LI
  • jalars8jalars8 Member Posts: 7
    I really appreciate this information and would like to try using the fans.  I have a couple questions.  With the fans joined with the splitter, how would you run just one fan in your tests of AC and propane function?  How could you do DC tests with trailer parked at home? Thanks.
  • FreespiritFreespirit Member Posts: 39
    @jalars8, I have attached a picture of the splitter I uses. When I was testing one fan I just connected the fan USB  to my USB extension, I could have used the splitter and just one of the pigtails. 
    For DC I just switched the refrigerator to battery mode. I have a 120Ah lithium ion battery and 2 120 watt solar panels that kept the battery charged. 
    I know very little about the wiring of [email protected],s and even less about mine, but I did make the leap that even if the [email protected] is plugged into 120AC and you had the refrigerator mode set to battery that it was using battery power to cool the refrigerator. There are many knowledge readers on this forum that can answer that question. Almost certain the answer would involve many additional questions. 
    At any rate, I did perform several test with the refrigerator set on battery mode and not plugged into 120AC


    2020 TAB 320 U
    TV 2020 4Runner
  • jalars8jalars8 Member Posts: 7
    Thanks for the explanations.  I don't have great tech knowledge, esp. as to electrical issues but what you are saying makes sense to me.  Again, I appreciate your willingness to share this information.  
  • FreespiritFreespirit Member Posts: 39
    @jalars8 if you are interested, below is a list of what I purchased:

    ELUTENG 120mm Fan Cooling Transparent USB Desk Fan with Blue LED Light 5V Ventilation Fan Clear Compatible for Receiver,


    Poyiccot USB 3.0 Splitter Cable, USB3.0 Male to USB 2.0 Female & USB3.0 Female Y Splitter Charger Cable Power Cord Extension Hub Adapter for Car / Laptop / LED

    My intent was to attach the fans to the inside  of the upper exhaust cover but in my haste to order the fans, I measure the length of the exhaust opening but not the height of the exhaust opening. When I attached the fans to the inside of the exhaust cover it turned out the fans were about 1/4 inch to tall. Rather than send them back I searched for the next best option, and ended up with what you see. It works. 
    2020 TAB 320 U
    TV 2020 4Runner
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