As most seasoned RV’s know, our propane refrigerators actually cool our food with heat. Yup, crazy ideal, but if you heat up certain gasses, they get wicked cold. No kidding.
Our refrigerators need to get rid of this heat and they do so with a vent that exits the roof of most RVs. If you park in such a way that the back of your refrigerator is facing the sun, this vent heats up and can’t get rid of the heat fast enough. These refrigerators will work much better if we help this process with a small 12V fan and a thermal switch.
I purchased a thermal switch that closes a contact at 130 defrees F.
You can search Ebay for ….Norcold Fan Switch +Fuse Refrigerator Cooling Fan Thermostat RV Camper +Instruct and that should bring you to this little kit
I had a small, 12V computer fan in my junk drawer. But you can buy one for just a few $$ on ebay. To accomplish what I did you will also need a simple SPST toggle switch and a 12v LED indicator light.
To start, I needed some way to mount the fan. There are two schools of thought here. One subscribes to using the fan to exhaust the air out of the refrigerator compartment by simply blowing through the vent. Some campers do not have a “chimney” and a roof top vent and this is the only method available.
My camper has a roof top vent system so I wanted to mount the fan to blow the hot air up and out of the vent.
A bracket had to be made to facilitate this.
A couple thin strips of steel were bent into the letter “Z” and holes drilled for mounting the fan and securing it to the floor of the refrigerator compartment.
This assembly was screwed down in an area of the compartment that won’t interfere with any of the existing wiring or plumbing.
Next I wanted a way to shut the fan off without opening the compartment. A small aluminum plate was fabricated to hold the toggle switch and be wire tied and double sided taped to the compartment door;
The temperature sensing switch needed a mount fabricated. A simple piece of aluminum with a few holes drilled and a couple sheet metal screws completed this action:
The sensor switch was now screwed into the upper frame of the access door;
So that we could see when the fan was running, a small 12V LED was mounted inside, above the refrigerator
(sawdust was removed after picture was taken….)
So I could remove the refrigerator access door, I mounted a set of quick disconnects to the wires leading to the toggle switch.
At some point in the future I’ll bring this switch inside and mount it next to the LED so I won’t need to go outside. The only reason I want to shut the fan off is to concerve battery voltage when boondocking.
Wiring wasn’t very complicated. I found a constant 12V lead going to the refrigerator and tapped into this for my power.
Here is a quick drawing showing how it is wired. I used 16ga wiring for everything.
The kit came with a simple glass tube fuse. I didn’t use this as I wanted to keep all the fuses in the trailer the same type. I went with an ATO fuse holder I had in my junk drawer
In the future I will add another fan at the top of the chimney to really draw the heat out of the compartment.
I hope this helps anyone else thinking about improving the efficiency of their refrigerator.
Be sure to check out more RV “Farkling” articles here: