Refrigerator Hack

PointyCamper

Active Member
Nov 25, 2015
670
Cheap easy refrigerator hack I tested last weekend camping in Delaware heat:
Small (about 6”) Wallyworld electric/battery fan laid in bottom of compartment blowing up. Refrigerator stayed in the 30s-40s all weekend. You could feel the warm air blowing out the top vent.
I had electric so ran an extension cord to fan with bottom screen only fastened on one corner (wing nut mod). Would work with the rechargeable battery if needed. Happy to see it works because we boondock often and love our little 3way Dometic.
 

teejaywhy

Super Active Member
Jul 19, 2011
1,434
I just gutted a recently purchased 2007 Aliner. For my Dometic fridge, I was planning to isolate the outside access area and segregate the upper and lower sections (lower access is for propane lighting and control with a small channel for air passage duct from upper to lower section, and upper access panel is the electric switches and cooling fins). I planned on mounting double computer cooling tower fans with a second set stacked on them. I did this on numerous computers , and the fan acts as a doubler. You install a rheostat on the "outer fans" and run them slightly slower they will speed up due positive air pressure behind them. The reason to do this is to not over speed the outside ones losing efficiency.. You get 3 times the air movement without the electrical draw of 2 fans. The purpose of this will be to use the upper as an intake and lower as an exhaust. This will also keep out moisture at the floor / cabinet interface and exhaust all CO from the propane burner out of the camper.
I also plan on now incorporating the hinge proposed by Beech350guy - that is a really clever idea!!!!

While I suppose this would work given enough fan power, it goes against the basic principle of convection.

Hot air rises.

The design provides a top vent to exhaust the hot air, creating a chimney effect, pulling outside fresh air in the bottom, across the cooling fins and out the top vent.

Less effective in a pop-up where the distance between the two vents is small so the chimney is too short to get the best convection effect.

That's why a simple, low speed (and low current usage) fan in the top compartment EXHAUSTING hot air out the top vent helps the natural convection process tremendously.

Also, as others have pointed out, some baffling in the lower compartment to help direct incoming air across the cooling fins also helps these fridges.
 

bupkis

Howdy!
Mar 3, 2006
7,954
N. TX
the design only works when properly installed including the spacing between the top and bottom vent. Chimney effect works better when it is longer (taller)!
There is plenty of documentation on proper install but P Us may not have the room and modifications are needed for the poor install.
 

Jim Keeling

Active Member
Jul 22, 2021
163
Georgetown, Tx
Hi everyone! We just wanted to share a little hack that might help some in hotter climates. We used to own “Smart RV Products”, and used to manufacture the “Fridge-Fix” line of products for RV refrigerators. Trailer Life and Motorhome magazines featured the Fridge-Fix a couple times, and we are so thankful for their articles!. For roughly 8 years we helped RV’ers solve problems with their refrigerators. We have since moved on, as our family requires more time now, but we thought we would share a little hack.

If you look at how RV refrigerators are installed, the access panels are part of the problem in hot climates. There is a stupid amount of bad information online, some of it is even dangerous. Half of the battle in hot weather is getting the heated air out of the cooling unit area. If you look at the design of the access panel, heated air actually has to defy the laws of physics to leave the rear of the fridge. Meaning, heated air has to descend to leave the panel grates. When poor performance is experienced, the easiest thing to eliminate is the overheated rear compartment. Obviously, we have a high-wall product, but this technique can be used on any of the fridge installations.

I made these brackets out of old hangers, and needle nose pliers. Pay no attention to the water stained plywood in the pic, that was done by an enthusiastic 9 year old with a hose during a wash :). In a light rain, even with this little hack installed, the rain does not run into the compartment. That being said, if its going to storm hard, I usually reinstall the panels as normal, then put the brackets back in when the hot weather comers back.

It’s really simple: If the cooling unit fins are exposed to ambient air, the fridge will stay much cooler. Even if its 120 degrees outside, if there is ambient air at the cooling unit fins, your fridge will function much better. In our experience, even if the RV is in direct sunlight, it doesn’t matter. If the cooling unit has ambient air running through the cooling fins, your battle will be much easier.

Hope this helps!

Finished Product:
View attachment 69823
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Great idea. My 2000 coleman still does not cool very well. Anything else that could help??
 

Senor Mule

Member
Aug 16, 2022
23
Since I am doing a complete rebuild on my aliner (even have all floors out currently), I will have plenty of opportunity to mess around with the ducting and fan idea and incorporate the vent lift to see if the aging dometic fridge improves.
 

jonkquil

Super Active Member
Jul 20, 2009
891
Does any one a link to the directions on how to install a 12v fan, on the back of the fridge fins please? I noticed on my last 2 trips that my fridge wasn't keeping up with temps & I think the fan mod will help with that. I've seen several discussions over the years, but now I'm ready to do it, I can't find the links. I was hoping to buy this kit from Home Depot, unless anyone has any better recommendations?
 

Senor Mule

Member
Aug 16, 2022
23
If it is 12 volt - This is basically a hot wire (red) and a ground (black) for the battery,

Here is a video where a guy installing a some fans on his rv (same concept), except using zip ties instead of the brackets, like your kit. I personally would put on the brackets as it is far more secure.

I like the nice fan speed control in your kit.

These look like standard computer fans I was referencing prior.
 

teejaywhy

Super Active Member
Jul 19, 2011
1,434
Does any one a link to the directions on how to install a 12v fan, on the back of the fridge fins please? I noticed on my last 2 trips that my fridge wasn't keeping up with temps & I think the fan mod will help with that. I've seen several discussions over the years, but now I'm ready to do it, I can't find the links. I was hoping to buy this kit from Home Depot, unless anyone has any better recommendations?

I can't find instructions for that one, even on the Quick Products web page. As I mentioned in post #23, best solution is EXAUST fan(s) in the top vent. This kit could probably be installed in that manner. Not sure where the control switch is supposed to be located.
 

Senor Mule

Member
Aug 16, 2022
23
I can't find instructions for that one, even on the Quick Products web page. As I mentioned in post #23, best solution is EXAUST fan(s) in the top vent. This kit could probably be installed in that manner. Not sure where the control switch is supposed to be located.
I would route it up someplace convenient inside, as if the fans get noisy at night you have a means of turning them down or off.

If you hook the positive (red) to battery positive (like the terminal for your fridge) and the same for black, if the fans are spinning the wrong way, This particular setup is a basic computer fan frame, and you should be able to either swap the brackets to the other side, or somehow fasten them to the vent. I would hook them up reverse polarity (switch the wires) and see if the controller works that way as well. Most do, as it is essentially a variable resistor, but I cannot say with this particular make.

With something like this, I personally would make a removable frame or at least install a quick connect for the wires at the vent , as I would be removing the vents to operate my switches and not wanting to wrestle with a fan being the way. (all my controls are on the back of the unit).

I fully intend on making this modification and will post a how to when I get to that point, but currently my popup is gutted and I am laying epoxy on the new subfloor today. Lol , I have to get this trailer together as my wife is not a winter camper, and this trailer might turn into the proverbial "doghouse.
 
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John6239

Member
Aug 17, 2020
65
Ohio
I would route it up someplace convenient inside, as if the fans get noisy at night you have a means of turning them down or off.

If you hook the positive (red) to battery positive (like the terminal for your fridge) and the same for black, if the fans are spinning the wrong way, This particular setup is a basic computer fan frame, and you should be able to either swap the brackets to the other side, or somehow fasten them to the vent. I would hook them up reverse polarity (switch the wires) and see if the controller works that way as well. Most do, as it is essentially a variable resistor, but I cannot say with this particular make.

With something like this, I personally would make a removable frame or at least install a quick connect for the wires at the vent , as I would be removing the vents to operate my switches and not wanting to wrestle with a fan being the way. (all my controls are on the back of the unit).

I fully intend on making this modification and will post a how to when I get to that point, but currently my popup is gutted and I am laying epoxy on the new subfloor today. Lol , I have to get this trailer together as my wife is not a winter camper, and this trailer might turn into the proverbial "doghouse.
You can save some money if you just get a couple 12v computer fans on Amazon and a 12v switch too. Not the prettiest, but it's effective and cheap. Here's on my last camper, current one looks similar.
 

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Senor Mule

Member
Aug 16, 2022
23
There are some that have a 3 speed switch on them that are cheap (5-10 bucks), which was what I mentioned about stacking them in the earlier postings. I used to build a bunch of custom computer towers, and would use double stacked fans on all of them, then again, because of that, the towers would run about 80F less than everyone else's. I think this application would work in helping these fridges.

As for the RV fan, it is pricy , but has a nice controller and hardware already for ease of installation. The controller if inside would be great , if you had light sleepers and were bothered by the whirring noise of the fan.
With the fan exposed to outside, use some computer dust off spray (canned air) every so often to keep the motors clean and quiet.

on a side note:
I 100% plan on using the original posters idea of a prop - really a great idea.
I will most likely make hinged frame that locks open at 45 deg. as I will lose the wires, along with my phone and glasses several times in the course of an hour.
Now if we were to combine the vent frame on a hinge with an automatic, temperature sensitive louver with ducted fans - I think we might have a solution for heat dissipation, but then again, I often over engineer and design things.
 

Carl Schwarz

Member
Oct 13, 2020
11
I zip tied the fans to the cooling fins on the fridge to ensure the air moved through the fins, easier than doing a baffle in my case. I also added more fans on the coils leading down from the cooling fins which helped a lot. My fridge was installed terribly, it is very far set away from the outside of the van and with dead space pockets that store heat around the sides and top so I also added insulation around the fridge.
 
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