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marshmallow 08-15-2018 01:31 AM

Fridge makes countertop hot, is this normal?
Hello, we just purchased a new Viking 16FB travel trailer which comes with a small Dometic 2 way fridge. During our maiden voyage the fridge cooled nicely but I noticed the countertop over the fridge gets hot to the touch. Is this normal and expected, or should I ask the dealer to look at it since I'm still under warranty? I'm new at this RV thing.

Splitshaft 08-15-2018 02:42 AM

I believe some others on this forum have reported noticing the same warmth on their counter tops. Absorption Refrigerators require quite a bit of heat energy to work. Much more energy than compressor driven refrigerators. Most RV Absorption Refrigerators vent heat out the roof of the RV. When installed under the counter top, some heat may rise under the counter near the wall. However, the Absorption section on the back of the refrigerator should be isolated from the interior of the RV, otherwise combustion gases could enter the living space. Some owners have installed small 12V computer fans to push the heat out and improve refrigerator efficiency. However, I would not make any modification like that until out of warranty. Maybe see if the combustion gases and heat from the back of the refrigerator is not isolated from the interior the RV, and if not, seek to have the dealer make it that way. Not that the dealer will. I know propane burns clean and we have CO and propane detectors in our RVís to keep us safe. But really, they need to be made as safe as possible without cutting corners. Doubtful there is anything wrong with the refrigerator if it is cooling OK.

russhd1997 08-15-2018 05:28 AM

Heat is a normal byproduct of the refrigeration process so yes the countertop getting warm would be normal. RV fridges use a propane flame or electric heating element to circulate the refrigerant which adds to the heat that the fridge emits. Verify that the fridge is properly vented and don't worry about it.

marshmallow 08-15-2018 11:12 PM

Thanks for your help, I agree making sure itís properly vented would be good. I do smell the heat produced by the fridge and donít want the extra heat inside during the summer. I find the heat it gives off is noticeable on a warm day with no ac running.
I was thinking of putting some of that silver foil bubble wrap between the fridge and the counter but didnít know if that was a good idea? Might just make the fridge hotter?

russhd1997 08-16-2018 05:10 AM


Originally Posted by marshmallow (Post 1901453)
I was thinking of putting some of that silver foil bubble wrap between the fridge and the counter but didnít know if that was a good idea? Might just make the fridge hotter?

The air gap needs to be there to let the fridge breathe. Filling it will cut down on the it's efficiency.

larrytbm 08-16-2018 06:14 AM

The rear of the frig. may be sealed from the trailer interior, but it is rarely insulated. Meaning heat generated in the back will also heat up the side walls and anything above the frig. It will be noticeable in the summer and also in the winter.

There will be insulation around the frig. box, but it helps keep heat away from the box, not the trailer walls.

On my last trailer, the thermostat was located beside the frig. and it never worked right. In the summer, that wall might be 100 degrees while the rest of the trailer interior was 75. On winter nights, when the frig. heater was off, cold air moving thru the vents would keep that wall much colder than the rest of the trailer and keep the furnace running too much.

I pulled the frig. out and glued 3/4" rigid foam board on the inside of the walls and in my case, the cabinet above the frig. None of this restricted air flow because it was away from the vents and heater coils. Finally the thermostat worked properly.

What makes an absorption frig. work is good air flow and heat on the coils. Air flow is achieved thru the chimney effect or 12v fans. And better insulation that keeps heat out of the trailer interior can help insure the chimney effect/fans are more efficient and the frig. will need less energy to work properly.

I don't know how much of a gap you have under the counter, but I would not use the silver bubble wrap (Reflectix). It is not really insulation, but a reflective barrier. Since it uses aluminum foil it is actually a good conductor of heat and needs a dead air space to work effectively. If the back of the frig. is well ventilated, you won't have a dead air space.

marshmallow 08-17-2018 04:31 AM

Thank you this is very helpful. I’ll hold off on the reflectix, but a small fan mod like I’ve seen mentioned here may help with air flow. I would rather try that first than to do insulation of the walls, although that does make sense and sounds like the best fix. Unfortunately work commitments will prevent me from taking on such a project any time soon.
Our thermostat is also located right above the fridge so should be interesting to see if it’s affected by the heat and outer wall like yours was.

tgarson 10-09-2018 12:17 AM

Hi Marshmellow,
Read my post here:

It will probably answer more questions about your fridge than you ever want to ask, but its stuff you should at least have a general understanding of. RVers on the road who don't understand how their rig, and its equipment, works are easy pickings........


pgandw 10-13-2018 10:20 AM

3 Attachment(s)
Download the Dometic installation instructions for your fridge, and see how much Forest River deviated from the instructions. The sides and top (and bottom) of the fridge box are supposed to be sealed off from the back where the heat producing items are. If the install is anything like my A-frame fridge install, the installer pushed some insulation into the gaps on the sides, but that was it.

I just finished filling the gaps with batt insulation and then installing Reflectix to cover the outside of the gap and the insulation. This should have the effect of keeping the air flow around the back components and out the top where it is supposed to go. I also lined the back compartment, especially the upper portion, with Reflectix to "duct" the hot air to the top vent.

Finally (actually first), the chimney deflector was lower than the plywood baffle. I attached a pipe to move the chimney exhaust above the baffle, and added a 45 degree elbow to bring the exhaust closer to the upper vent.

The top of the plywood baffle is low according to Dometic instructions and does no have the top plate between the baffle and the vent shown in Dometic diagrams. Fixing the baffle is work I still have to do to get the fridge efficiency where it should be.

The install came with a single fan mounted at the bottom of the baffle. I have 2 low RPM computer case fans ready to mount on the top grill if I still have issues.

Below are some pics of the chimney exhaust work. First picture is before, 2nd pic shows the pipe attachment I made. The third shows the new exhaust pipe and the extra insulation I put in. It does not show the Reflectix duct and cover over the insulation. This forum rotates my pictures - I can't seem to stop it. Just look sideways.

I learned how far from Dometic installation instructions Forest River deviated on my previous A122 A-frame. After bringing it up to standards, I no longer had an issue with hot/warm countertops and cabinet dividers. Adding a computer case fan directly on the top grill guaranteed the fridge would cool very well in any weather whatsoever.

Fred W
then 2014 Rockwood A122 A-frame
now 2019 Flagstaff T21TBHW (same as Rockwood A213) A-frame
camping Colorado and adjacent states one weekend at a time

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