3 Way fridges (Dometic/Thetford/Electrolux)
Fridges come in several sizes and several different basic types. Which type is the best depends largely on how the owners plan to use the caravan. People who like staying in established caravan pitches, for example, do not need to rely on battery power, so they do not need to consider how their fridge affects battery life. Size and ease of use are also important considerations. The most modern fridges come with an LCD display panel but these do the same job as the older switches and dials.
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Fridge Power Type: The most common type of caravan fridge is the three-way absorption fridge. This fridge does not have a compressor and instead have evaporating ammonia as a cooler. The fridge can run on either 12V battery power, 240V electrical hook-up or liquid gas. The controls for selecting how to power the fridge are found on the fridge itself, with switches and a dial or, on newer fridges, a digital display panel. The quickest and most effective way to operate the fridge is on 230v mains although gas and 12v allows caravaners to operate a fridge where no hook up is available. Some three-way absorption fridges switch power supplies automatically. Remember never to run the fridge in gas mode while the caravan is in motion. it is common for older caravan fridges to not work on gas and this is usually because the previous owners never ran the fridge on gas. Although this is usually remedied by an engineer giving the gas flue and connections a thorough clean, you may decide that you will never use the firdge on gas anyway.
Fridge Size: Fridges in modern caravans vary in size but the most common size in a modern caravan is 107 litre. Almost all modern caravan fridges have freezer compartments for frozen food, which can be removed easily, to make the fridge capacity larger.
Maintaining Absorption Fridges: While absorption fridges do use more power than compressor fridges and take longer to cool down fully, they have the advantage of running silently. Silence is a definite advantage while the caravan users are trying to sleep. Absorption fridges also contain no freon or other ozone depleting chemicals. They are more popular as caravan fridges because they can use gas instead of electricity. If an absorption fridge stops working or does not work well, the first thing to try is to switch the power mode. Usually, the problem is specific to just one mode and switching modes helps isolate what has gone wrong. Often, the problem is that the gas system has plugged up or has developed a leak somewhere. The owner can clean the plugs, but more complex repair requires a licensed professional.
Top tip: Caravan fridges do not have the same airflow as in a domestic kitchen and the vent on the side of the caravan must be uncovered when running a fridge on gas. Never obstruct the vent with a washing line, wetsuits or towels! Also, when washing your caravan always direct water over the vents from above, never into the vents....you will end up with water soaking into the inside yof our caravan!
Caravan Fridges: Helpful Hints
1 The refrigerator door should be left ajar when not in use.
2 Liquid or items with a strong odour should be well packaged.
3 Ensure the ventilation openings are unobstructed, and that winter covers are not used in the summer (other than for storage).
4 The door should be secured by means of the travel catch when the caravan is on the move.
5 If the refrigerator fails to work on gas, check that:
a) the LPG cylinder is not empty
b) all LP gas valves are open
c) other gas appliances are working.
6 If the refrigerator fails to work on 12V check that:
a) the 12V supply is connected to the refrigerator
b) the fuse on the 12V supply is intact
c) the 12V switch is on
d) the car engine is switched on (if relays are fitted).
7 If the refrigerator fails to work on 240V check that:
a) the 240V supply is connected
b) the 240V isolating switch is on
c) all miniature circuit breakers/fuses are on in the RCD/fusebox
d) the fuse is intact in the refrigerator plug or spur socket.