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The Story of the Fridge

For the past year we have been having challenges with our RV refrigerator. For those who don’t know, An RV fridge runs on both 120V and propane. Older ones also run on 12V.

RV fridges are widely known to be inefficient. When it gets hot, it warms up, sometimes in the middle to high 40’s, which spoils food in a short time. When it gets cold, it often freezes the food. In average temperatures, rarely does your ice cream stay hard. In addition, this fridge uses 10-12 KW/day, or a 30# bottle of propane every 5-7 days. It’s a real energy sucker!!!

We planned to replace this fridge with a residential fridge eventually, but our timeline was changed when we discovered that there was a fire in the fridge! The photos show where the wires melted, and the fire burned through the metal floor. Thankfully, the fire did not spread, so there was no other damage.

This happened just as we were about to start boondocking again. We were in Priest River, ID at the time, parked on a farm owned by a young couple who are good friends. Our week stay turned into a month!

The RV fridge manufacturer said they would replace the unit at no cost, but that would take 8-10 weeks, which would be mid to late November. Uh, no way! Winter was coming.

We decided to get a residential unit. I had already been doing extensive research on various models that would fit our fifth wheel. The night before going to Post Falls to buy, I found a brand new model just being released by Whirlpool. I was excited because I would have to make almost no adjustments to make it fit, and it was 12# lighter than the old fridge.

Unfortunately, this model was so new, that the nearest one available was in Wenatchee, WA, 200 miles away. That’s what we did, and saved $500 in the process.

The install required making a 1/2” cut to make it fit, removing all the doors, loading it on a lift, then putting it on its side to get it inside. Some tense moments ensued, but all was successful.

Then we hit a snag as we arrived in Ogden, UT to visit family. The freezer worked perfect, but the fridge stayed between 39-43, which is not satisfactory. We submitted a standard trouble ticket on the Whirlpool website. The next day, two amazing things happened. First, Whirlpool called us and set up a service call a couple days later. Okay, that's a normal process. In the afternoon, the senior engineer that led the team that designed this model called. Wow! Ryan asked some questions and found that I had precise kept temp logs on temps. He promised to get his team of engineers on this ASAP.

As a result, his team made modifications to the control unit. This took some time because temperature controls have very tight parameters to work efficiently. Calibrating the exact temperature set points and range of acceptable variances is not a quick fix. I'm sure they had to go through multiple programming steps to get it just right. For two weeks I’m sure they worked overtime on this fix. Changing set points on the fridge section could affect the freezer set points, so this is a delicate "dance" they went through.

Just before we left St. George, a repair tech from a local company showed up to switch out the control unit. The switch is usually easy to access, but not on an RV! While I pulled the unit forward a foot, and then tilted it at a 30 degree angle so he could get full access, this heroic young man somehow leaned backward into a small access hatch on the outside, then reached at arms length up into the back of the unit to reach the control unit. What a contortionist! Fortunately, he was successful!

Within an hour, our Whirlpool fridge started working perfectly within the target parameters. Through this whole adventure, Ryan kept me up to date on every development, even texting me after hours and on the weekend. Wow! He and his team are my heroes!

If you are looking to replace your current refrigerator, I highly recommend Whirlpool. This model works perfectly and only uses 1.25 KW/day. This is a brand new technology that I'm told is the future of refrigerators. Whirlpool customer and technical support is 10 stars!

Thus ends the fridge story. This was a long and sometimes frustrating adventure, but Ryan and his Whirlpool team made it all end well. And now, time for ice cream!

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