Baby, it’s too Cold in There - RV Enthusiast Magazine

Baby, it’s too Cold in There

by | May 17, 2023 | Cool Gadgets, RVEXPERT

Photos by author
Food freeze-ups are common when the air inside the refrigerator is not circulated evenly. Beech Lane’s Fridge Fan is a simple solution to an aggravating situation.
Almost two years ago, I switched out the factory LP-gas/120-volt AC refrigerator in my Grand Design Reflection fifth wheel for an Everchill 12-volt DC compressor model. The replacement provided freedom from using propane — and added a whopping 3 cubic feet of storage capability in the same dedicated space. It works beautifully, and storing additional foodstuffs reduced runs to the market.

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.

internal view of a full packed RV refrigerator's top shelf
Stored food in the back of many RV refrigerators tends to freeze, which can be frustrating — and in some cases, lead to food spoilage. Getting the air to circulate evenly was the job of the Beech Lane Fridge Fan.
the Fridge Fan is held in one hand in front of an RV refrigerator
The Fridge Fan is a little more than 3 inches, all around. It’s super light and the housing is attractive. The diminutive size makes it possible to place on any shelf, depending on the loading of foodstuffs. Beech Lane recommends setting it on the lower shelf but placing it on the other shelves seemed to work equally as well.

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.

close view of the Fridge Fan as a finger points to the red power button on one side
An On/Off rocker switch controls the three-blade fan that runs at 3,000 rpm, which is much faster than smaller fans on the market. Air vents are on two sides of the housing, plus the big one on top.
top view of the “spiderweb” top vent held in one hand
The “spiderweb” top vent is designed to increase airflow and proved to do the job, even though placing your hand over the vents gave a false sense of low velocity.
the Fridge Fan is held in hand with the bottom battery cover removed showing two D-cell batteries
Removing the bottom cover from the housing reveals the battery compartment; two D-cell batteries power the fan motor. According to my friend (who has used the fan for some time now), the batteries last for months; the jury is still out on full-time service. Even so, swapping out batteries once in a while is cheap insurance against possible food spoilage when you’re on the road.

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

I know exactly what you’re talking about. This has been a very common problem for many years. Dometic offered a resistor that could be installed on the eyebrow board to help alleviate this problem. Unfortunately, it really didn’t work as the company claimed.
an RV cooling exhaust fan
Here’s a better option: Dinosaur Electronics (dinosaurelectronics.com) offers a thermistor adjuster for fixed-temperature refrigerators. It’s designed to go in series with the thermistor and allows you to adjust the temperature up and down. Just make sure you actually have a fixed-temperature refrigerator since this product will not work with the Dometic refrigerators that have an adjustable thermostat.

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

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