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Old 05-19-2014, 04:54 PM   #1
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Camco solar fridge vent fan install

I bought the Camco solar fridge vent fan and the extra solar panel + fan kit. I've installed the extra solar panel onto the new vent cover and now have 2 fans to install behind the fridge.

The optimal location is between the freezer and fridge coils, but I won't be able to get there so I was going to mount them in their 2nd option location which is right above the top coils with the fans blowing up. (the last location is at the bottom below all the coils but there is absolutely no room for that).

These fans aren't the most quiet things and I've been looking for the best way to mount them. I'm planning on removing the lower vent section for this install (seemed much easier than removing the fridge) and it seems like I can either screw the fans into the back of the fridge or to the outside insulation foam.

Mounting with screws to the back of the fridge sheetmetal looks the most secure, but into only sheetmetal it seems like they might rattle loose. I was figuring to use Loctite to keep them from coming out, but wasn't sure that was sufficient. Also, is it safe to drill and screw into the sheetmetal in the back of the freezer above the coils? Or are there things I could hit and cause problems?

I was thinking of putting grommets into the fan mounting holes to try to reduce the vibration noise into the fridge. Any other ideas for how to reduce the noise?

I'm afraid double sided sticky tape will not stick when it gets hot and I don't want to pull the vent off all the time. Is it safe to zip tie the fans to the top of the finned coils? would I put the rubber grommets between the fins and the fans to reduce noise or do the fins get too hot and will melt the rubber?

Any other ideas for mounting the fans and keeping the vibration to a minimum? Thanks!
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Old 05-20-2014, 10:52 PM   #2
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OK, I've looked at it again and think I could actually fit the fans down near the main access panel. It may not be quite as good for airflow, but it will be a lot easier install and easier to fix if the fans come loose or I need to make modifications.

However, the only way I can see to secure them is to use the provided screws and screw them into the foil backed foam insulation on the back of the fridge. Is this ok? Or do I need to out in a piece of sheet metal and screw into that? How would I attach the sheet metal then? Double sided sticky tape the sheet metal to the foam and then screw the fans into that?
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Old 05-21-2014, 12:06 AM   #3
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The more I consider this, the more I think I need to mount the fans to a piece if sheet metal and then attach the sheet metal somehow. I think the screws would just pull out of the insulation.

But what should I use to mount the sheet metal to the foam? I was thinking to use contact cement and then screw the fans to the sheet metal. Any better ideas?
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Old 05-28-2014, 01:58 PM   #4
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Well, I did part of the install this past weekend. I decided to use the small space down by the main access hatch for the fridge to mount the fans. I fabricated a piece of aluminum that fit against the back of the fridge and drilled mounting holes for the 2 fans. I then used 2 of these on each bolt to mount the fans to the plate:
Amazon.com: Isolate It!: Sorbothane Vibration Isolation Bushing 50 Duro (.28" ID - .72" OD - .22" Thick) - 12 Pack: Home Improvement

These really are very soft, sticky rubber and seemed to do a pretty good job of isolating the vibrations, but the fans just generate noise on their own without passing on the vibrations so the system is not completely silent, but I think it's livable. I then used contact cement to glue the plate to the foam back of the fridge and it seemed to stick OK over our 3 hour drive.

I plugged the solar panels in and just left them on the ground for a while to see how things worked. When the sun was directly on the panels the fans run fast and create an interesting amount of noise, but it's steady and quieter than the DC converter fan (which kicks on if I turn on 3 interior lights). Much of the time the solar panels were shaded from direct sunlight but still had plenty of ambient light. The fans were totally silent at this point and while they didn't move nearly as much air as at high speed, they were definitely consistently moving air across the coils and I expect/hope it will be sufficient to make the needed difference. If the fridge is getting hit by direct sun they will be on high and when shaded, hopefully the lower speed is sufficient.

I'll do the install of the solar panels in a week or two and keep an eye on how things go with the fridge over the rest of the summer. Hopefully it all works well. Let me know if you have any ideas.
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Old 05-30-2014, 08:26 AM   #5
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Thank you for documenting this mod. Please include pictures and a link to the Camco solar fans. I am planning to install fans of some type eventually.
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Old 05-30-2014, 08:45 AM   #6
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Mine fit nicely in this panel that was removable.

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Old 05-30-2014, 11:01 AM   #7
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Thanks TURBs. That's a nice looking setup, but unfortunately mine doesn't have that shelf like space. The fridge has the minimum clearance to the outside wall of the trailer so there is very little space to work with.

Paul, I'll try to get some pics of the fans in place this weekend and post them. I still need to do the install of the solar panel vent cover thing and that may not happen until next weekend.

Here are some links to the camco solar fan things so you can check them out and see what I'm talking about:

One fan/panel combo with the vent cover: Amazon.com: Camco 42165 Refrigerator Solar Roof Vent System: Automotive

Second fan/panel that installs in the "spare" location on the vent cover: Amazon.com: Camco 42162 Solar Panel and Fan for Refrigerator Vent: Automotive
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Old 06-02-2014, 04:04 PM   #8
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Here are a couple of shots of the fans installed. It's hard to see anything because it's so cramped in there. I fabricated a sheet metal piece that you can see just a few edges of in these shots. The fans are bolted to this sheet metal with the isolating rubber washers on each side of the fan mounts. Then the sheet metal is glued to the back of the fridge with contact cement.

I glued it in place while out camping and it stayed in place over the 3 hour drive home. Due to the soft rubber isolating washers the fans can actually flop around a bit, but it doesn't seem to have caused any problems. I put some lock-tite on the mounting bolts hoping that it would help keep them mounted firmly to the metal and I'm hoping that the contact cement keeps the metal stuck to the back of the fridge.

With just the foam insulation to mount into, I wanted to distribute the leverage of the fan mounts which is why I went with the piece of sheet metal. I think it will work well. Now I just need to get on top and install the vent cover with the solar panels and route the wiring and switch. That will be quite challenging to do and make look good, but I'll post pictures of my solution.
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Old 06-09-2014, 05:34 PM   #9
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I executed another phase of the install this past weekend. I still don't have the switch (should arrive this week) but I was able to get up top and run the wire down behind the fridge and mount the camco vent cover.

The generic vent cover comes with little indentations demarking the location for the screws based on "Dometic" vs. some other brand (forget which). I put the screws through the Dometic holes and the long spacing matched perfectly with where the vent base had screw holes. Unfortunately the width between the holes was not sufficient to match up with the vent base I had. The screws still landed on the plastic edge of the vent base, but just not where there was the extra plastic and indentation for the vent cover mounting.

I went ahead and screwed these through the rim plastic of the vent base and it really seems very strong. I called up camco and their help line said that's the correct way to install it if the designated screw holes don't line up.

Next weekend I'll use some coat hanger wire to fish the wire out to right above the fridge on the inside and wire in the switches so I can leave the fans plugged in all the time and just use the switch. After that I'll take pictures and post them for others to see.

In general it seems like a nice setup, but the install is far from simple.
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Old 06-17-2014, 01:58 PM   #10
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Well I finished the install this past weekend. The most difficult part was getting the wires run into the front of the fridge for a switch without taking everything apart. I started by running the wires down the back of the fridge from the top using a fish tape. Following the instructions I cut a very small hole in the screen in the vent at the top and ran the wires through that (with a nice rubber grommet). Getting the wires down the back of the fridge to the fans wasn't bad.

But then I wanted to put a switch on the front of the fridge on the inside of the trailer. I started by drilling a hole the right size for the switch right above the fridge and then used the fish tape with a hook on it to reach through and pull the wires into the cabin side. The description was easy, but doing it required 1.5 hours and the help of my teenage son :-). Anyway, once the wires were on the inside I soldered in the switch and mounted the switch. A few zip ties on the wires in back and screwing the solar panel cover in place with some extra caulking and it was done.

On the vent cover holes I did call Camco and they said as long as the screws mounted into the plastic and not the screen it should be fine. I tested it out and I agree that it seems quite secure.

I thought about snapping a few more pictures, but I don't think they would've had any more information. Good luck if you try to do this. it was a very difficult install, but I like the results.
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