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Old 06-12-2014, 09:54 PM   #1
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Default Frustrated at Atwood HE-0601 fridge

Hello. First time poster, first time Fun Finder Owner, 16 years RVing. I bought a 2014 242BDS this spring. Love almost everything about it. But ran into an issue with our Atwood HE-0601 Helium fridge. It won't stay running on propane. I had it to my dealer but they ran it for 18 hours on propane and no issues at all. My only guess is elevation. I live at 7850 and the dealer is around 5200.

Here are the symptoms. Our first time dry camping it started to beep and the gas light started to blink after around 2 hours of use. User manual states that this means its not getting gas. Started it back up and repeated that cycle. One time it only ran for 1.5 hours and another time it went 6 hours. That was at about 9000 feet and I left the campground and drove 1 hour to get propane tanks re-filled. No difference. Oh, no wind either. Bottom line is we spent a 3 day weekend with the fridge beeping at us every 2-6 hours.

Came home, plugged into shore power and forced fridge to propane. Still shut off after 2-3 hours. Figured that ruled out a power issue. Checked flame. Nice and blue. Not dirty. Took it to dealer. They said its fine. Came back home and adjusted propane flow in regulator to increase flow. I thought I had it! 10.5 hours. But at 10.5 hours is when it shut off again.

Sorry for writing war and peace. I'm at a loss.

Thanks for any help/suggestions.
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Old 06-13-2014, 06:09 AM   #2
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Contact Atwood and see if they have a solution for higher altitudes or if they know what the issue may be.
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Old 06-13-2014, 11:42 AM   #3
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Yep. Spoke to the service manager at the RV dealer today and that's his next step. Rather have them do the legwork on a 3 month old RV. We'll see what happens. Thanks!
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Old 06-30-2015, 11:15 AM   #4
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Same issue, new year. Have been out 3 times all above 9000 feet. Fridge goes off on propane at night mostly. Sort of like waking up every 2 hours to feed an infant my wife and I now take turns to re-start the fridge. Ugh. Figure maybe a year has passed and others have experienced this?
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Old 07-21-2015, 12:24 PM   #5
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I bought a brand new 2015 189FDS (took delivery in April 2014). Fridge would not automatically switch from electric to gas. Atwood helium fridge has been replaced once, 2 Atwood service techs supposedly came to my dealer's shop and worked on the problem for 2 days. And there's a lot more "fixing" in between.

Ultimately spoke with some management woman at Atwood who said that "one of their suppliers had changed specs without telling Atwood" on some board. They (Atwood) now had the fix. I had the "fix" installed on 2nd fridge. Still hasn't worked properly since.

On a 2-month trip from which I just returned Sunday afternoon, a fuse (hidden behind a bunch of sheet metal) blew for the 2nd time, so fridge wouldn't work on electric. Kept it running on gas. After fridge quit cooling on gas (no flashing lights or beeps) I finally figured out how to change the outside fuse (in 100 degrees) and it worked again on propane. Figured perhaps the high outside temps were the cause of no cooling?? ?

Came home Sunday (2 days ago), put the trailer in its new garage, plugged it into electric, and took the fridge off gas and put it on electric. Left the fridge alone until this morning. Inside temps (I have remote sensors) were 68 and 36! I had to throw everything in both compartments out.

The Atwood Helium fridge is junk. No one will convince me otherwise.

ON EDIT: My home is approximately 500' above sea level...not an altitude problem...
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Old 07-21-2015, 04:04 PM   #6
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Well, at least you are home safely -- that's good news! What a hassle, though, that the whole trip was plagued with this problem.
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Old 07-21-2015, 04:13 PM   #7
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Ok ..... so now your next step to resolve this issue with Atwood is what?

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Old 07-21-2015, 05:25 PM   #8
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If you're talking to me (and not the OP), I will discuss it with my dealer when I take the trailer in early next week.

I HOPE they (Atwood) will still honor their offer to replace my fridge with one from another manufacturer.

I am leaning toward selling the POS (trailer, not just the fridge).
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Old 07-21-2015, 06:47 PM   #9
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It would be great if Atwood upheld their offer of a different frig.
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Old 07-23-2015, 06:53 AM   #10
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I have luckily have not had the problems described above and hopefully will luck out. But the altitude issues persist. I did however discover that 7100 feet is ok as I was in Laramie Wyoming last week and no issues. So somewhere between 7100 feet and 7850 (home altitude) the problems crop up. Thinking an orifice adjustment.
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Old 08-06-2015, 01:29 PM   #11
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Atwood Helium Fridge Update - Atwood is paying for my dealer to install a Dometic (Model 2662).

Any experience with this model?
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Old 08-06-2015, 02:51 PM   #12
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Michelle, that is a nice unit! Six cubic feet?? Ours is the baby brother -- three cubic feet. All of the installation manuals and owners manuals are available online. As I have mentioned before, it is a good idea to "backfill" the recesses around the unit with fiberglass insulation, which not only insulates the fridge but also forces the airflow in at the bottom and out at the top. Much easier to do this job during the installation than later. Good luck, and let us know how it is going!
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Old 08-06-2015, 02:59 PM   #13
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Dan, I plan to look at your stuffing instructions when I get the trailer back. I don't know why, (haha), but I think the dealer is rather tired of me, so, I would hate to ask him to do something when I don't know what I'm talking about.

My dealer said that they will have to add the fan, which is required because the fridge is in the slide out. I will take some pics when I get it back and maybe you can tell me where to shove it - the insulation, that is...

Wonder if both the top and bottom each need a fan?

It is 6 cu. ft. I will be losing 1 cu. ft.

PS: Is there some wording you could give me for me to say to the dealer about the insulation?
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Old 08-06-2015, 04:51 PM   #14
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Too bad about the fan -- it could run down your battery when boondocking. Not sure how much power it draws. Is there a cutoff switch? What happens if you run it without the fan?

And the purpose of the insulation is this -- the fridge depends on a good flow of air over the coils. The air comes in the bottom and out the top vent. The vent system is designed to create a draft due to convection, just like a chimney. If there are large pockets of dead air next to the fridge and on top, the draft can't work as efficiently. The flow of air is turbulent, rather than smooth.

The other advantage of the insulation is that it keeps the inside of the trailer much cooler -- the heat does not get trapped under the cabinets or shelves (whatever is surrounding the fridge).
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Old 08-06-2015, 04:59 PM   #15
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On the outside of my trailer, there are two slatted cut-outs - one for the fridge; the other for the freezer.

Does your adding insulation hold true for this two-door fridge? I have never looked to see if the compartments are connected behind the outside doors.
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Old 08-07-2015, 08:50 AM   #16
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You do need the fan! Those vents actually aren't set up as one for the freezer and one for the fridge. They are designed so that air comes in from the bottom one and exits the top one. It's supposed to create a draft like Dan said. In reality though this design doesn't work nearly as well as when the fridge is not in slide and the top vent is installed in the roof. So that's why the fan is needed. It forces the draft. If you disable it the fridge won't cool very well. Typically these are on a thermostat so it should only run when needed. I would think your old Atwood would have had one as well.
One thing you should check though is if your Dometic has what they call the 'climate control' feature. It heats the edge of the door frame to keep condensation from forming. When it is turned on it runs continuously and will drain your battery when boondocking. On mine there is a switch recessed into the bottom edge of the control panel to turn it off. The switch is tiny. It took me quite a while, but eventually I found it.
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Old 08-07-2015, 12:50 PM   #17
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Our second camper had the fridge installed as you guys are describing. It sat beneath the counter in the kitchen area and had the two plastic vents on the side (intake and exhaust). We bought the camper new and after bringing it home discovered that the fridge would not get below 50 degrees. Contacting the dealer was futile as he insisted his work backlog was at least 3 months before he could look at it. What I discovered was that the manufacturer really could care less if the fridge worked or not. Looking at the picture below, you can see the large cavity of air above the fridge which when heated would allow you to fry an egg on the countertop inside.



A tech at a different dealer told me what was happening and what I needed to do (they wouldn't touch this job at any price). I ended up buying sheets of 1 inch thick insulation board and gluing reflective heat insulation material to it. As everyone here has stated, the evaporator coils need air movement across it not just stagnent air. By cutting and fitting these pieces I was able to isolate the space occupied by the evaporator coils (see below0





Doing this, I managed to get my fridge temps down to about 44 degrees on a cold day. When the outside temps got hotter, I added a 110 volt fan I got at WalMart for $8 that I could turn on and off as needed. Obviously, we had to be connected to shore power for this but at least we had cold food while we camped in RV parks with power.

These experiences with 3 different trailers from 3 different manufacturers and 3 different dealers all convinced me that the RV industry as a whole simply doesn't deserve my business and I find them all to be more trouble than they're worth (my personal subjective opinion here). Nothing will please me more than delivering our Fun Finder to it's new owner tomorrow



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Old 08-07-2015, 12:53 PM   #18
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Why wouldn't that second dealer "touch it at any cost"?
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Old 08-07-2015, 12:59 PM   #19
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Neil, that was a well done job! My method is not as neat as yours, but it might be cheaper and easier -- just get fiberglass batting at any hardware store, put on a mask and a pair of gloves (the longer the cuff, the better), and start stuffing the fiberglass into the cavities. Before "stuffing the turkey," I ripped the fiberglass off of the paper backing -- I was not sure if the paper was fireproof, but I know the fiberglass is.

Your description of the goal -- to "isolate" the coils -- is a very precise and useful term. That is exactly what I was trying to achieve.

And Michelle, this project is going to be child's play for you, compared to some of the other projects you have done (like some of your wiring jobs).
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Old 08-07-2015, 01:03 PM   #20
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"Why wouldn't that second dealer "touch it at any cost"?"

It took me about 8 hours of actual labor, not counting the time to source materials etc at Home Depot. The dealer simply didn't think I would want to spend that kind of money ($600+) when he couldn't guarantee it's relative effectiveness. Also, at the time he didn't know what it would take to fix it.



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