Baby, it’s too Cold in There
That said, while the inside temperature never budged more than 1-2 degrees F during 24/7 full-time service, there were a few cold spots in the back of the refrigerator that tended to freeze food, even in 100-degree F weather with the temperature button never set past the second of five levels.
A friend experienced the same situation in his identical refrigerator and suggested I try a fan to help circulate the air. As an old-timer, I was familiar with the inexpensive, blue fridge fans that run on a single D-cell battery. Back then it did help a little, but I was leery of once again purchasing this fan — which, incidentally, has been around for more than 40 years — for use in the larger refrigerator. But I was intrigued with the Beech Lane RV Fridge Fan my friend found on Amazon for only $24.99.
Beech Lane’s version is much heftier and, according to my friend, it works surprisingly well; subsequent testing on my part proved it does help keep box temperatures more constant. The three-blade fan moves air at 3,000 rpm, which is much more forceful than the earlier product I was familiar with, and is mounted in a nice-looking plastic housing that has a “spiderweb” top and side openings for increased airflow. It’s just a little larger than 3 inches square and only weighs 6.4 ounces, though that increases a bit when you add the paired D-cell batteries needed for operation.
While Beech Lane also markets a version of this fan that can be hardwired to a 12-volt DC connection, my friend noted that he’s used his battery-powered unit for a number of months now without having to change the batteries. Then, too, it can be switched off when not in use to further extend battery life. And while he swears by it, I can also attest, via initial testing, that food placed in the back of our refrigerator is much more resistant to freezing. And while it’s not “silent running” — you can certainly hear it with the refrigerator door open —there’s virtually no fan noise with the refrigerator door closed. Interestingly, when you put your hand over the vents the airflow is barely detectable, giving you a false sense that it’s not doing much.
Beech Lane recommends placing the fan — which the company is in the midst of patenting, and backs it with a lifetime warranty — on the bottom shelf to enable recirculation of falling cool air, which makes sense. I moved it around to accommodate food placement on various shelves and it seemed to be equally effective.
Granted, given the choice between a refrigerator that may cool contents more than it should and one that doesn’t cool down enough, I’ll always choose the former — but foodstuffs can be ruined by freezing, too. Reducing the chances that your food will freeze is certainly worth the small investment and minimal effort.
Freezing Fridge Fixes
While the Beech Lane fan is designed to circulate air inside an RV refrigerator, if everything in your refrigerator is freezing the problem is probably more involved than a need to improve air circulation. As RV Enthusiast Technical Director Bill Gehr outlines below in response to a reader malady concerning his fixed-temperature Dometic refrigerator, a bit of parts swapping may be in order to rectify such situations.
Fluctuating Refrigerator Temperature
My Dometic refrigerator has a fixed temperature level and there is no way to raise or lower the setting. Regardless of the outside temperature, warm or cold, everything inside is freezing. I searched online and I checked the location of the temperature sensor on the fins inside the refrigerator compartment and it is in the correct position. The Internet has so much conflicting information I don’t know what to do next.
– Robert Floren
If you install this device and still have a problem, you will need to test the thermistor (a common snafu with many RV refrigerators, not just fixed-temperature versions). To do this, disconnect the thermistor (located under a white cover and typically clipped on one of the cooling fins at the back of the refrigerator compartment) from the plug and connect the wires to a high-quality ohmmeter. Insert the end of the thermistor into ice water (ideally, 32 to 38 degrees). The ohmmeter should read in the vicinity of 30 ohms.
Remove the thermistor from the water and wrap the end with your hand, holding it tightly for a few minutes to warm it to about 80 degrees. The reading on the ohmmeter for this should be somewhere around 8 to 10 ohms. If the thermistor passes these tests, check the wiring harness from the thermistor to the control board. If you have continuity and you believe that the wiring harness is in good condition, the problem may be in the control board. There’s no way to test it at this point; however, it is not common for this control board to fail. — Bill Gehr