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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 1:53 pm 
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Location: Stacy, MN
I wanted to post this for folks who like the mountains, especially those who are planning on attending the Ouray, CO rally this summer.

I have, twice, had my Norcold referigerator in my 2005 BF26' fail to light on LP gas at altitudes in excess of 8000 feet.

Each time I ask about this, I am told (by service, BF and others) that there is no known reason why this would happen (and nobody else has ever reported such thing???)

Well, page 11 of the Norcold user's guide should settle it. Page 11 clearly says that at altitudes above 5,500 feet (my personal experience is more like over 7,500 feet), you will NOT be able to operate your refrigerator on LP. You have to use AC. Guess I should RTM once in a while.

So, to verify, I called Norcold. There's simply not enough oxygen at altitudes (they say above 5,500 ft) but in my experience it's usually more like 7,500 feet to adequatly operate the pilot light.

Usually, when one is at altitudes like this, one is also far enough into the wilderness where finding electricity is a problem. (In my experience). But the official Norcold word is, use AC power.

Just thought I'd offer this head's up for folks planning high altitude trips. Make sure you have AC available unless you don't plan to be up that high for long... or plan on having some backup to the frig. so you're not tossing away food. Don't load up that frig unless you're certain of being able to power it.

It wasn't the chimney after all. I will have to make sure I have a source of electricity before I spend significant time at my property. Please let all the folks planning the Ouray trip know.

Patricia

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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 2:54 pm 
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Location: Escondido. CA
Patricia:

Thanks for the heads-up! :shock: Ouray is at an elevation 7,700 ft., so it sounds like it is unlikely the fridge will work on LP there. :cry: Luckily, we'll have full hook-ups at the KOA. :D Otherwise, we'll transit quickly through the Rockies between campsites, lest we lose our food. :wink:

Bill

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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 6:33 pm 
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Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
we are heading to Yosemite tomorrow -- hope the ref.. works there -- I don't think the valley floor is very high -- BobN :lol:


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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 6:44 pm 
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robert newby wrote:
we are heading to Yosemite tomorrow -- hope the ref.. works there -- I don't think the valley floor is very high -- BobN :lol:


Bob:

Yosemite Park Elevations:

The elevation of Yosemite Valley is 4,000 feet above sea level. The roads leading outside of the Valley range from 3,000 feet to almost 8,600 feet in the Tuolumne Meadows area. The Tioga Pass Entrance, at the park’s easternmost approach, crosses the crest of the Sierra Nevada range at 9,945 feet. The Glacier Point overlook of Yosemite Valley is at 7,214 feet. Wawona is at 4,000 feet and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias reaches from 5,600 feet in the lower grove, to 6,600 feet in the upper grove.

Maximum elevation on roads leading into Yosemite Valley:

Approach Use Road Highest Road Elevation

From South Wawona Road via Hwy 41 N 6,039 ft at Chinquipin

From West Big Oak Flat Road via Hwy 120 E 6,192 ft at Crane Flat

From West El Portal Road via Hwy 140 E 4,000 ft at Yosemite Valley

From East (June to Nov) Tioga Road via Hwy 120 W 9,945 ft at Tioga Pass Entrance

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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 7:03 pm 
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Location: Sudbury MA
We've been to 10800' with our 1991 norcold 652 frig working perfectly on propane with the stock burner orifice. I know of others who have not had problems, so I don't think it's a fluke.

Several years ago, norcold offered a high-altitude orifice. Interestingly, I find no mention of it now on their website.

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PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 10:16 pm 
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Location: Klamath Falls, OR
The Generac dealer that installed our propane generator showed us an adjustment to the regulator we might have to make over 7000'. We spent a couple of days at Crater Lake last fall and stopped for lunch at a scenic overlook that is at 7700'. We had no problems with the refer or generator anywhere in the park. Just our experience - ymmv.

Mike

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Last edited by Mike & Jean Bandfield on Sat May 13, 2006 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Refrigerator on Propane
PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2006 10:09 am 
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Location: Laguna Beach, California
I have never had a problem running my refrigerator at high altitude on propane. Have stayed in Silverton, Colorado at 9300' with no problem, Durango at 7000' with never a problem and in the Eastern Sierras from
7000' to 9000' with no problem. I have traveled over high mountain passes in Colorado and refrigerator has never gone off. :lol:

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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2006 10:57 am 
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Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
thanks for all your input -- we leave in a couple of minutes for Yosimite- BobN


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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2006 8:48 pm 
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
We've had intermittant problems with our Norcold on propane at high altitudes ever since we got our coach in 2000. The problem seems worse when it's cold, for example at night. The solution we've found it to try to relight it by pushing the button a couple of times when the alarm goes off. Then if it doesn't relight, I push the button again and go out and open the access door and manually relight it with a butane stove lighting wand. Manual relighting has to be done while the auto ignition is clicking, because that's when gas is available.

When it goes off in the middle of the night and I don't feel like going outside to relight it, I just turn it off and relight it in the morning. It's cold enough then so that being off for a few hours isn't a big deal.

Ralph

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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 12:40 pm 
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Whether or not a person has ever had difficulty before does not change the fact that Norcold, in it's manual, on page 11, says that their refrig may not light above 5,500 feet.

If you've never had problems, great!

I have. Once the frig doesn't light, when it tries (clicking), it makes these really loud belching kind of noises. as I said, it isn't a problem under about 7,000 feet. I've stayed many nights many times at around that altitude without problem.

the other thread written by engineers etc. illustrate my point. there are the laws of physics and chemistry in action, and whether or not you've defied them doesn't mean we all can. I seem more bound by the laws of physics than some, I guess.

For those who don't have problems, like one person on the other thread said, maybe your regulator was installed and tuned at a higher altitude than mine was. I really don't know. but your experiences don't invalidate mine. Or the plain information in the manual.

when I called Norcold, they did not offer me any solutions.

As for temperature, in the eastern Rockies, it was near freezing at night but it was mid 70s during the day. that's typical of this time of year.

Whatever happens, the norcold manual says what it says, and your mileage may vary I guess.

Pat-trish

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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 7:42 am 
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Location: Sudbury MA
The intent of my post was to provide useful information.

To those going to the rally or others heading to high altitudes, different refrigerator models have different limits, and there appears variation even within models. It's certainly prudent to prepare for the frig not working on propane, it certainly can happen, and that's good to point out. But it is not a given that it will stop at 5500' or any other altitude. I thought that was useful information. But perhaps my words were poor, so I apologize.

To Trisha, my (perhaps failing) memory is that norcold offered high-altitude kits, at least on some of their older models, and perhaps they were available if you asked for them. I called norcold this week and they had no knowledge of this and only knew about the high-altitude kit for the 322/323, which is not your model. So I freely admit that my attempt at useful information failed.

The other thread I wanted to pursue is what's going on at norcold? My 1991 manual has no mention of altitude and no dire disclaimer. Has the company been taken over by lawyers? Or have their products changed and they no longer work as well as they used to? Or both? I don't know the answers to these questions...

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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 7:35 pm 
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
Trisha wrote:
Once the frig doesn't light, when it tries (clicking), it makes these really loud belching kind of noises.


Trish,

As I said above, you can light the fridge manually when that happens. Open the access door to the fridge and look for the little door on the back of the fridge itself that swivels to reveal an opening about the size of a nickel. Press the button on the fridge to start the lighting sequence and then stick a butane lighting wand through that hole to light the propane while the fridge is clicking.

The clicking is the auto-igniter trying to light and gas is available only while it's clicking, which is why you have to light it during that period. The belching sound is an incomplete ignition. Some gas is ignited, but it isn't sustaining combustion so it just produces a little explosiion, which you hear as the belch.

There was some discussion about this problem in Motorhome Magazine a while back that included and explanation of why some people have problems and others (particularly with older rigs) don't. The columist said that older refrigerators had adjustable air supplies and could also be fitted with high altitude orifices, but that somewhere along the line the manufacturers decided that giving consumers the ability to adjust the burners was a bad idea so those options were removed from newer models.

It's been my experience that manually lighting provides a usable workaround, in combination with leaving the fridge off during the night so I don't have to keep getting up and going outside in the dark to relight it. Keeping some blue ice in the freezer also adds some additional cold while it's off.

Ralph

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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 12:25 am 
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The manual lighting technique sounds viable...so long as it's not the middle of the night. Keepng blue ice in it during the meantime is also a good idea...

It is sad, however, that this makes boondocking at high altitude a real problem. I don't like getting up in the middle of the night and having to do any other manual things for longer stretches.

And woe to the unsuspecting one that gets hit with it and doesn't have a group like this to brainstorm with...and loses an entire frig full of food that cost real $ to buy, and gets no compensation to throw it all away.

Sounds like the older units are actually superior in some ways. Shame on Norcold for removing the customer adjustment option.

The information provided by everyone is helpful. I just had a feeling that whenever someone posted, only to say 'it never happens to me.' and offers nothing further...I felt as if I was being told maybe I'm inferior because it never happens to them. I felt like I was being invalidated. That's just how I felt. It really isn't because I'm an inferior, or less intelligent, or female, rver. It is becuase my particular unit does this. It's just not helpful to know it never happens to you, if you can't tell me what's different between our refrigerators...it only makes it seem as if it must be me. And Bill, it wasn't you that made me feel this way. Ok?

The refrig may not have anything to do with gender, but how people perceive communications does. I hope I've parsed this so that it makes sense. It really doesn't matter anymore. I'll just provide AC or stay under whatever feet it is that makes this thing stop lighting...unless it's for only a few hours.

Pat-trish

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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 12:27 am 
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Oh, and oddly enough...I did run the generator to use the frig on AC. Obviously, the generator worked. I thought I'd add that after I read the concerns about the generator. I also used my lpg hot water heater without trouble, and cooked using the lp stove. So it was only the frig.

Just thought I'd round out the experience. ymmv.

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PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 9:06 am 
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Trisha wrote:
I just had a feeling that whenever someone posted, only to say 'it never happens to me.' and offers nothing further...I felt as if I was being told maybe I'm inferior because it never happens to them. I felt like I was being invalidated.


Trish,

I see those kinds of postings frequently on computer-related lists. I don't think the intent is to invalidate the reported problem as much as it is to clarify that the problem is not universal. This can often be valuable trouble-shooting information. As you point out, though, it's more valuable if the no-problem poster provides more information about the nature of his system (fridge, in this case).

In my exeperience the lighting problem has not been a function of just altitude, btw, but of the combination of altitude and temperature. Even at high altitudes, the fridge tends to light during the day, when it's warmer, and to fail more often at night, when it's colder. And it sometimes fails in very cold weather even at 2500'.

When I got my BF I had them install a 3-way fridge to avoid the hazard of driving with the propane on. I initially ran the fridge on automatic, the default setting, so the first time it failed to light at night it just switched over to DC and drained my battery. Now I make sure to manually choose LP, so that can't happen.

Ralph

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