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Old 04-14-2024, 09:33 PM   #1
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Absorption Fridge replacement to 12V or 120V?

I have a 2020 Jayco RedHawk 31F that we use almost every weekend for horse shows.

We always have 30 amp power and or use the generator. We also have an onboard inverter.

Our NorCold (funny name considering) N8X absorption fridge that I think is 8cf in storage size.

Updating to a newer compressor fridge with the same external dimensions now provides about 10cf of storage.

Here is my question, with my inverter and the fact that we always use shore power which VOLTAGE should I go with?

A 12V new compressor RV fridge is about $1200-1400

A 120V new compressor college fridge is about $400

So is the RV 12V fridge really worth the extra $1000? Any Pros / Cons?

Thoughts?

Thanks from Will near Dallas Tx.
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Old 04-14-2024, 10:15 PM   #2
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If I knew for a fact I never went off grid I would do the 120v. I do not think it would be worth the extra cost in that case.
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Old 04-14-2024, 10:34 PM   #3
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Assuming that the reviews are equal in regards to quality, I would likely go with the 120v as with you always having shore power while parked, and inverter while traveling you shouldn't have any power issues.

I will add that my NorCold has been working great, and it is ~14 years old now. If I had problems with it ever then I would have a different opinion, but as it is I like it still as the best for me (as I do boondock sometimes) and it can run on propane for a very long time. So my thought is if yours is working fine, I would suggest to keep it. ~CA
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Old 04-15-2024, 07:06 AM   #4
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I had a 120v on my last trailer and a 12v on my new one. Operationally I can’t tell a difference aside from the fact the 12vs doesn’t make a sound. It’s quiet. So far works great….and now it’ll fail since I said that. lol

The nice thing with the 12v is you don’t need to have the inverter running to power it. The inverter grabs a little more power on top of what the fridge is using. I’ve got an inverter but I keep it off until needed which is never for the most part
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Old 04-15-2024, 07:44 AM   #5
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Yes, my Absorption has done well so far, but I dont have levelers and im often on unimproved grades, this weekend I think the fridge had enough and just was not calling on AC or Propane.

I just want to make a change...

Anyone replaced an N8X with aftermarket? Part numbers? How did you secure it?
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Old 04-15-2024, 10:05 AM   #6
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Buddy of mine is at a season site. His two way frig gave him some issues, and he replaced it with a large dorm frig that he bought at Walmart a couple years back. It was just a hair smaller than the OEM frig. He slipped it into the space. Not sure how he holds it in when he moves the trailer twice a year (he is on a flood plain and he has to pull the TT out at minimum every fall for spring floods).

One thing to note if you go with a Dorm frig, read the packet. Most of them want the side walls to be open to free air, as that is where the heat exchanger is located. So do not put insulation up against the sidewalls of the frig.

Good Luck.
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Old 04-15-2024, 10:39 AM   #7
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Air gap, that’s a good point for me to research
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Old 04-15-2024, 11:35 AM   #8
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yeah, two things that concern me about the "bestBuy" 120 volt option are...

#1. Your refrigerator is designed to be free standing and should not be recessed or built-in.
#2 Do not install your refrigerator in a garage or any other outside installation.

Now with this being said, I have had a college fridge outside in my patio area for over 7 years build into the counter top so it SHOULD work....
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Old 04-15-2024, 11:43 AM   #9
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I replaced just the cooling unit in my N8X with a 12V compressor style unit from JC Refrigeration (aka Amish) a little over 2 years ago. Has worked flawlessly since then and I'm very glad I did. (The N8X was very sensitive to level, had to be +/- 1 deg, and would stop cooling very easily) The compressor units don't care about level and happily plug away.

At the time that I made the switch, I wanted to keep the "stock" look of the fridge, so chose to replace just the cooling unit. The compressor units are much faster to cool down and have faster recovery when adding non-cooled items. So, if you don't need the propane capability, then I think they're definitely the way to go. I went with 12V just because I could eliminate the inverter. But, I know other folks that went 120V and used a smaller dedicated inverter and been just as happy with the result.
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Old 04-15-2024, 04:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by watchout View Post
I wanted to keep the "stock" look of the fridge, so chose to replace just the cooling unit.
I saw some videos of that kinda of conversion and looks like an option, but I think Im just going to swap the whole thing.
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Old 04-15-2024, 05:26 PM   #11
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Keep in mind, residential 120V fridges are not meant to be bounced around much.

I'm not so sure that one would last very well in an RV being constantly moved and bouncing.
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Old 04-15-2024, 08:08 PM   #12
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This is a very good point, I have noticed that "Selling point" on the 12v units, but do I just buy the $400 120V and the 5 year warranty for $100 and go with it?

Im just trying to better understand the $1000 difference.

Thanks for that thought though.

Will

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Keep in mind, residential 120V fridges are not meant to be bounced around much.

I'm not so sure that one would last very well in an RV being constantly moved and bouncing.
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Old 04-15-2024, 08:21 PM   #13
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Part of the problem Will, is putting it in an RV will probably void the warranty.
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Old 04-20-2024, 12:00 PM   #14
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I just purchased a 12 cu.ft. Hisense at Costco for $349 (Cdn) and installed in my 25.5 REOK 5'er yesterday. I was tired of the constantly fluctuating temps in the absorption fridge.
I also always have shore power available so the decision for me was, without question, the 120V.
If I ever am without shore power, I can run the fridge with my 2000W inverter generator. Or if I want to power the fridge while rolling down the road, I can use a 100 Ahr lithium battery and a 1500W inverter.
The cost of the 120V fridge, battery and inverter is still less than a 12V fridge.
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Old 04-20-2024, 12:02 PM   #15
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12CF! Im thinking that is too large to fit in mine. do you have a link to details on that one?


Quote:
Originally Posted by pjh3939 View Post
I just purchased a 12 cu.ft. Hisense at Costco for $349 (Cdn) and installed in my 25.5 REOK 5'er yesterday. I was tired of the constantly fluctuating temps in the absorption fridge.
I also always have shore power available so the decision for me was, without question, the 120V.
If I ever am without shore power, I can run the fridge with my 2000W inverter generator. Or if I want to power the fridge while rolling down the road, I can use a 100 Ahr lithium battery and a 1500W inverter.
The cost of the 120V fridge, battery and inverter is still less than a 12V fridge.
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Old 04-20-2024, 12:35 PM   #16
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I just went through this a month or so ago. I went with the MagicChef 10.1, which is 120V. We only take a few trips a year and right now, the 5er is acting as an apartment for my job and not moving at all. They're not as easily gotten as they used to be, but so far mine has been flawless. Again, i don't move much, normally only 3 or 4 trips a year. But, I also figured, even if they don't honor the warranty, I'm only out $400 vs $1400 for the 12v models.



Long story short, I just didn't trust the fridge anymore and wanted something I could trust.


If you go the 120V way, make sure to take out the insulation that was on the sides of the original fridge, as has been noted by others.



Good luck either way you go. I definitely enjoy the extra space in the fridge freezer now and that I no longer have to worry so much about the fluctuations/recovery that happened in the absorption fridge.
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Old 04-20-2024, 01:19 PM   #17
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I switched to a residential frig (120v) when my Norcold RV unit died and i have never regretted the switch. Note that i did rewire my inverter to power the frig. Works great.
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Old 04-20-2024, 01:44 PM   #18
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Here is the link to the Hisense.
https://tinyurl.com/bdcvn9fw

I did have to modify the cabinet to accommodate the extra height. In my fifth wheel there was plenty of extra space above the Dometic 8 cu.ft.
The width of the new fridge was a perfect fit.
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Old 04-21-2024, 06:43 AM   #19
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After 3 rigs with LP fridges, we had enough! Last one, we had to throw out food 3 times! And that’s after I threw a bunch of troubleshooting and parts at it. We went with a 12V GE for about $1,100. Fit perfectly in our 2019 Redhawk 25R’s old opening.

The one thing that worried me about those 120V, big box inexpensive ones, is their not made for RV’s. My GE is designed for the road. So far it’s been almost 2 seasons and we love it! Especially the extra interior space you gain inside the fridge compared to the LP!. I wired it straight to my battery with a switch and breaker fuse. This thing is awesome!

I highly recommend.
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Old 04-21-2024, 01:10 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by watchout View Post
I replaced just the cooling unit in my N8X with a 12V compressor style unit from JC Refrigeration (aka Amish) a little over 2 years ago. Has worked flawlessly since then and I'm very glad I did. (The N8X was very sensitive to level, had to be +/- 1 deg, and would stop cooling very easily) The compressor units don't care about level and happily plug away.

At the time that I made the switch, I wanted to keep the "stock" look of the fridge, so chose to replace just the cooling unit. The compressor units are much faster to cool down and have faster recovery when adding non-cooled items. So, if you don't need the propane capability, then I think they're definitely the way to go. I went with 12V just because I could eliminate the inverter. But, I know other folks that went 120V and used a smaller dedicated inverter and been just as happy with the result.

I did the same. They swapped out the back wall of the existing fridge with their own version. The rest of the fridge was the factory original. In my case, I opted for a dual compressor version. The fridge and freezer now operate off of their own compressor and have their own, separate thermostats so you can independently set the temperature of the fridge and freezer.

Pricey, but I'm not sorry that I made the change. The original Norcold unit was a POS.

Amazingly, The company was able to schedule the swap for only a few days into the future. I arrived the night before the repair date and parked overnight in their lot. They had me pull the trailer into their shop at about 6am. I went for breakfast. By the time I got back, the refrigerator had been pulled out of the wall, the new back was installed, and the refrigerator was in the wall, running, and the fridge/freezer were both cold enough to store food. I highly recommend this company.
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