Replacing an RV Fridge with a Marine Model
When we purchased our 1998 Foretravel U320, the fridge was the original Dometic model 7832 side by side unit, which uses ammonia, hydrogen gas and water for the absorption refrigeration cycle. Given what we’d read about the potential for this type of refrigerator on an RV to spontaneously catch on fire, we decided that replacing it would be a first order of business. Fortunately, or unfortunately for us, we had a cracked right windshield that had to be replaced, so we took advantage of the opportunity to save some labor and to have the fridge brought in through the front of the bus. By large men. With a lift.
We looked into a number of different potentials, including a Norcold which is the recommended replacement model for our Dometic, based on size and other specs. With this option, we would have had 12 cubic feet of space in the new unit, but we’d have to lose up to 5″ of space in height around the fridge cabinetry. We also considered a residential refrigerator replacement which would have more than doubled our refrigerator/freezer capacity, but would also have impinged upon not only our cabinetry around the fridge, but also into the limited aisle space, what with the handles sticking out and all.
Having lived aboard sailboats, we were excited to find mention of a stainless steel marine refrigerator made by Vitrifrigo, an Italian maker, which would meet our specs and would run directly off the battery when not hooked up to 110AC shore power. The smaller size would allow us to increase cabinetry around the refrigerator and would be flush with surrounding cabinets.
Before making the purchase and commitment to this schmancy new Italian marine refrigerator, we did a little research and calculation to see if we were going to be able to tolerate the somewhat smaller advertised interior space. Surprisingly, what we found was that although our existing Dometic is technically larger in overall dimensions, the Vitrifrigo’s 8.1 interior cubic feet vs. the 7.97 usable interior space inside the OEM Dometic, the Vitrifrigo has a better layout, more usable space and a more compact overall space requirement. The freezer at 2.3 cubic feet was actually larger than the 2.1 cubic feet of available space inside the Dometic due to the Dometic’s icemaker and fins. In addition, due to the wider shelves and spaces in the freezer over fridge configuration, we are finally able to overcome the frozen pizza dilemma! Whew.
Installing a Marine Fridge in an RV
Review of the Vitrifrigo DP2600iX
Overall, we are happy with our choice of replacement refrigerators for our RV for a number of reasons.
Pros – Beautiful stainless steel cleans up easily with Windex. Easy to clean interior has useful shelf with an opening to allow the user to store extra tall items easily. Compact size allows us to have additional storage around the refrigerator while still meeting our family (of four)’s needs.
Cons – Plastic shelf at bottom over top of produce drawer is flimsy and cracked within one week of installation. The shelves in the door are very narrow and limited; even the widest shelf space is not wide enough for a two-gallon bottle or container. Not frost-free. 🙁
We’d also like to see some alternative handles for this unit. The slide locks can be very difficult to lift and open (would not recommend for small children or adults with stiff joints, arthritis, or weak hands) and due to the vacuum suction, magnetic pull and the mechanism itself, I have broken many a nail. Grrr. Good thing it cleans up easy.