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Old 07-10-2017, 03:25 AM   #1
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THOR #7468
Fridge won't stay lit at altitude on LP

My brand new Norcold fridge (24.1 Vegas 2017) won't stay lit at altitude on LP. It will run fine for 30 minutes to 4-5 hours - but then it will shut off and I get the error lights flashing. When I try to flip it back on I can hear the tick-tick-tick of the automatic igniter but either nothing happens, or I hear a huge "poof" like too much gas got lit and it blows itself out. Sometimes I can try turning it off and on 2-3 times and it will get itself together and light, sometimes I give up after 10-12 tries. I have now gotten in the habit of trying twice and then just going out with my lighter and having my kid flip it on - lights like a champ and we are good to go for another 30minutes to 4 hours. I took it in for warranty work and "it works as expected, no problems found" - because the warranty shop is below 5500 feet altitude. I have very little technical skill, but I did take the lighting cover off and verified all parts are clean and the chimney is clear - I even used a little toothbrush to make sure. Has anyone else had this problem, or a thought about how to fix it?
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Old 07-10-2017, 09:13 PM   #2
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We experienced the same problem with a Dometic Refrigerator. We would find the "Check" light on at random intervals, particularly at 8000 ft plus. We'd also get the problem parked at home (6200 ft). Got the same story from the dealer when we took it in.

I ended up ordering a new spark element, but never installed it as I first tried cleaning the electrode with emery cloth and then reset the spark gap to the value in the manual. Problem seemed to go away for a trip to Tetons and Glacier. We traded the trailer shortly afterwards for a Class A that has a Dometic refrigerator. We were in RMNP at 8500 ft a couple of weeks ago and had no problems.

I think you can get a kit with a high altitude orifice, but then you may have a problem at low altitudes. I never got that far though.
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Old 07-11-2017, 11:50 PM   #3
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Norco does not have a high altitude kit Dometic does.
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Old 07-12-2017, 12:12 AM   #4
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Strange our furnace did the same thing while in Camping for 3 days in Yellowstone a few weeks ago. Never had an issue before that and have not used since. I will go to my storage place tomorrow and see if it is now working.
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Old 07-13-2017, 10:50 PM   #5
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THOR #6831
l/p gas

at altitude you can have to much LP pressure, and the flame is blowing past the sensor. the l/p pressure will not be easily adjustable but you can bend the nozzle to hit the sensor.
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Old 07-14-2017, 12:08 AM   #6
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The Norcold N641 instructions state than the frig may not operate on propane above 4,000 ft. Norcold recommends starting the generator and operating the frig on electricity if you need to keep the frig cold. The problem is not the propane pressure but the lack of oxygen in the atmosphere for fixed orifice devices and the relative increase in propane pressure as compared to sea level air pressure. Adding more propane will make the problem worse.
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Old 07-14-2017, 06:40 AM   #7
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I had the same problem camped at ~9000ft. Here's what I did to fix it (YMMV): I opened the little view hole and unscrewed the sheet metal casing around the igniter. Got it lit and then screwed the casing back on leaving the view hole open. My theory is that the lack of oxygen would make it hard to light and stay lit - the open hole allowed more air. I ran it this way for a week.
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Old 07-18-2017, 09:30 PM   #8
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THOR #7468
Last weekend out I left the cover off and the view window open. Was very excited to wake the first morning to a lit fridge! Unfortunately it went out mid morning and the relight game was on again for the remainder of the trip.

I am thinking I could move the igniter further away from the propane source, but I'm not 100% sure about that.

Can someone tell me - should these fridges stay lit the entire time they are on? Or should they cycle on/off to maintain the temp it has been set at?
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Old 07-18-2017, 09:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeonineThor View Post
Last weekend out I left the cover off and the view window open. Was very excited to wake the first morning to a lit fridge! Unfortunately it went out mid morning and the relight game was on again for the remainder of the trip.

I am thinking I could move the igniter further away from the propane source, but I'm not 100% sure about that.

Can someone tell me - should these fridges stay lit the entire time they are on? Or should they cycle on/off to maintain the temp it has been set at?
Cycle.
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Old 07-18-2017, 11:11 PM   #10
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Norco lbs don't like altitudes 0ver about 6k ft
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Old 07-04-2018, 03:56 PM   #11
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Norcold high altitude fix

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cosmo View Post
I had the same problem camped at ~9000ft. Here's what I did to fix it (YMMV): I opened the little view hole and unscrewed the sheet metal casing around the igniter. Got it lit and then screwed the casing back on leaving the view hole open. My theory is that the lack of oxygen would make it hard to light and stay lit - the open hole allowed more air. I ran it this way for a week.
Cosmo, has this fix given you problems with too much air at low altitudes? And does it continue to work consistently at the high altitudes?
Thanx
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Old 07-04-2018, 05:45 PM   #12
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THOR #8860
Anything that you can do to get more air to it will help!
Alternately: reducing the amount of propane flow might also be useful... if it is possible!
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Old 07-04-2018, 06:02 PM   #13
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THOR #8249
I looked into the fridge "inner workings" and find that the "window" that Cosmo mentioned is now a "tab" with only one rivet that can be moved to adjust the air getting into the combustion chamber. I opened it a little more than it was. It lit and stayed lit. So I'll just need to keep an eye on it and mark this position for altitude.
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Old 07-04-2018, 06:06 PM   #14
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Thanx, Bob.
I think maybe Norcold thought about for these later models. However, their manual doesn't read any different than "Suggest using refrigerator on AC at altitudes higher than 5500 ft.
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Old 07-04-2018, 07:31 PM   #15
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just did yellowstone an then big horn national forest 9800ft no problems with fridge on propane
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Old 07-04-2018, 07:42 PM   #16
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Capmetal,
we're at Toms Place, CA, and it started. Intermittent, mostly at night. Assumption is that it stays burning more during the day, and cycles off more at night, but no impirical data other than waking up in middle of night and seeing lights flashing. At those times the piloting/first light up blows itself out.

I'm going to continue watching it and see what happens. This Was our first high altitude boondocking, so it was a new wrinkle .
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