The new Helium way to keep your cool Pennsylvania RV owners

Atwood Heliem RV Refrigerator at Pennsylvania RV dealer

Atwood’s new helium-charged gas-absorption refrigerator

I recently saw my first Atwood ‘He’ RV Refrigerator in a new Keystone Passport.  It is a very sharp-looking RV refrigerator. The doors easily open and close, and the lay out of the shelving is nice.  With this being a brand new refrigerator technology that will be available in newer unit, I wanted to share with you this article from RV Business that I read a month ago or so.  The new Helium technology is quite interesting and should provide a stable product for many years to come.

The basic design of gas-absorption refrigerators — the type most often used in RV applications — hasn’t changed all that much since they first went into commercial use almost 90 years ago. Sure, they’ve been frequently upgraded with features that make them nearly the equivalent of compressor-driven residential units, and they’ve been restyled to today’s standards.

Operationally, however, they still employ the same original concept, using the same basic components — ammonia, hydrogen gas and water — in a closed system to create a chemical reaction that cools by way of evaporation.

That will change — to an extent — in August when Atwood Mobile Products plans a controlled roll-out of its new RV refrigerator because the new Atwood reefer incorporates helium instead of hydrogen.

According to Kip Ellis, vice president of sales and marketing for the Elkhart, Ind.-based supplier, the company wanted to focus on the technological side of it and what could be done to advance the refrigeration product that’s used in the RV segment today.

Helium, as Ellis explained, is a product that has been used for quite a long time in cooling — in hotel minibars, for example — and it has, from a cooling and gas-absorption standpoint, several similar properties to hydrogen.

“The challenge has been in how to adapt that technology effectively to the RV market,” he added. “The refrigerators are bigger units and they are subject to temperature swings and vibrations. Also, helium is a different element than hydrogen, so we had to reconfigure the system to accommodate the distinctions in helium versus hydrogen.”

Additionally, Atwood’s new reefer incorporates a state-of-the-art “anti-tilt system” built into the unit that shows the consumer on a lighted panel if the refrigerator is level. If it’s not level, it allows them to work to get to the point where it is. If they continue to operate it in an out-of-level position over the life of the unit, it has a counter built into it that will prevent the unit from getting to the point where it could fracture.

“If it’s used over and over in a manner that induces some sort of trauma to the system it will go into a lockout mode that requires the consumer to take it to a dealer for service work,” Ellis said.

Other aesthetic and functional features include two-way power system (AC and LP-gas), LED lighting, a door-ajar alarm, modern digital display and “cool crisper bins” that, Ellis noted, “use blue-hued light to further enhance the cooling aspect of the refrigerator in terms of a look and appearance for the consumer.”

Atwood is currently showing the refrigerator to RV OEMs — it will also be ultimately available as an aftermarket replacement — and plans are in the works to debut the unit with a “managed rollout” in mid-August. At least initially, the new reefer will be available in 6- and 8-cubic-foot models.

Pennsylvania RVers, do not loose your cool!

Your refrigerator is your most important appliance when it comes to your RV. Some of the advantages to having a refrigerator is not having to haul coolers around. Which means no more refilling the ice, emptying out water from melted ice, and lugging it place to place. These are the advantages to remember when it comes to keeping  your fridge working and not loosing its cool.

Dometic RV Refrigerator,RV Refer,Refer,RV cooler,RV service, Pennsylvania RV Service

There can be several reasons that refrigerators will fail to work correctly. With these various reasons, it is in the best interest of RV owners to know when to repair vs. replace. Typically, there are two brands of refrigerators located inside of RVs, Norcold or Dometic. Those brands run with the same concept. They operate by heating a closed cooling element with a gas flame or electric heating element. The cooling consists of ammonia-based liquid that is contained within a series of tubes. When the heat is added, the ammonia-based liquid will circulate through the closed cooling unit by releasing the heat out of the refrigerator.

When the fridge stops cooling as well as it should this means that the circulation of fluid is not working properly. One advantage to RV refrigerators is that there are no moving parts other than the heating liquid, making it easier to find the problem. Some common troubleshooting refrigerator Q & As are contained within this video.

 

Frequently the problem with RV refrigerators is time combined with lack of use. As the units age, the liquid will create a sediment that will settle at the bottom of the cooling unit. As this sediment builds up, the ability for your fridge to be cooled properly will decrease because the circulation will be hindered. When comparing a fridge that is used once or twice a year in a time frame of 5+ years, and a fridge that is in continual use, the fridge in continual use will be less likely to plug up. Any sediment build up that could occur will be delayed with the more frequent fluid movement.

The tall-tale of removing your RV refrigerator and turning it upside down for a time period to have it work again is questionable. The theory behind this is only somewhat explainable. When sediment occurs, it is possible to dislodge it for some time, but when it sits back in place again the sediment will settle and plug up the tubes once more.

Rebuilt cooling units are available for purchase but they are expensive and when added with the labor costs, it can be a pricey project that could have easily been spent on a brand new refrigerator.

** This information came from “The Fun Times Guide” on their article called “RV Refrigerator Stop Working? Tips For Repairing vs Replacing It”.

RV Refer Tips

If you travel in your RV often, you should ensure that all of your appliances are operating correctly. This is especially true of your refrigerator. After all it is one of the most important of your RV appliances. If your refrigerator is not operating properly, you need to repair it immediately. Feel free to contact your Central PA RV Dealer if you have any questions on the operation or maintenance of your RV Refrigerator. If you think you may have a problem, please call our service department to schedule an appointment. Safe Travels and Happy RVing!

The three steps below are a quick guide to make sure your RV refrigerator is working properly. You may have a Dometic or a Norcold refrigerator. Most, if not all, refrigerators found in all RVs are produced by one of those companies. The steps below will work on which ever make or model you have.

Step 1: Ensure the refrigerator is sitting level. All you need to do is set a level on the top of the refrigerator. Sometimes RV refrigerators will not work properly if they are not sitting level. If the level indicates that this refrigerator is not level, simply move your RV to flatter land. If it is sitting level, you can rule this out as the problem.

Step 2: Test the settings. If the refrigerator will only operate in 120-volt, make sure the on-board battery is operating correctly. If not you should replace it. If the refrigerator will only operate in gas mode, check the breaker to which it is connected. If it operates only in electrical mode, check the burner’s pilot light. Simply open the access panel and relight this pilot light.

Step 3: Check for ammonia leaks. If the refrigerator is leaking ammonia, you will smell ammonia or see the appearance of yellow stains on or around the cooling unit. If this is the case, shut off all electricity and gas to your refrigerator immediately. You will need to replace the cooling unit entirely before operating this refrigerator again. Ammonia is flammable and presents a potential fire hazard.

Take a quick look at the video below. This video gives us a great insight on the workings of an RV Refrigerator.

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!