Dometic RV Refrigerator – Norcold RV Fridge
There are two widely known brands of RV refrigerators in US: Dometic and Norcold (made by Thetford corporation).
Models offered by both companies are similar in size, price and quality.
There is, however one important difference: all Dometic RV refrigerators are of the absorption type, while Norcold RV fridges are offered as both absorption and compressor units. To help you decide which type best suits your needs here is a quick comparison of both types.
Pros and cons of Absorption and Compressor type Refrigerators:
Compressor refrigerators: these are the same type as your normal refrigerator at home
- better efficiency when driven electrically than absorption type
- safer due to no gas usage
- do not need yearly inspection of gas installation, burners, etc.
- can use solar power
- only two way power (12V or 24V DC and 110V AC)
- need either large battery bank or solar power to run without grid power, engine or genset running
- make same noise as your home refrigerator
Absorption refrigerators: these have no moving parts, can use gas or electricity
- three way power (12V or 24V DC, 110V AC, gas)
- can use gas for cheap, long term off grid operation
- very quiet operation
- no large battery, genset or solar power needed
- need yearly inspection of gas installation, burners, etc. for safe operation
- can become unsafe (deadly due to carbon monoxide buildup!) if not maintained properly
- poor efficiency (= large consumption) when running on electricity
- not suitable for long term 12V or 24V usage due to high power drain
Depending on your needs you should first decide which type best suits you. If you do not want to worry about power, the absorption RV refrigerator will simply run – as long as you have enough gas, regardless of being on the road, connected to AC or somewhere in the wild. If on the other hand you want to be energy independent and have a solar panel on your RV, are stationed where 110V AC is available most of the time, have a genset or large enough battery bank or do not want to keep buying gas, the compressor RV fridge is right for you.
Other important factors to consider
Size: if you are replacing your old RV fridge, you are constrained by it’s size (if you do not want to modify the cabinetry). Both Dometic and Norcold offer replacement charts, based on type and size of your current refrigerator.
Price: As with domestic units, RV refrigerators priced mostly according to size and features they have. If you are already size constrained, features are the factor that will influence price the most. Be prepared though: RV refrigerators are a specialized product of high quality, ruggedness and durability and are therefore priced accordingly – comparable to high end domestic refrigerators.