/ Campervan Fridge Repair / Service

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Phil Anderson on 07 Mar 2019

The fridge in my van has been switching itself off intermittently for a while, but it's gradually getting worse and now it seems to be off more that it's on. It's a Vitrifrigo 12v electric one.

Can anyone recommend a place to take it to get it sorted? I'm in Surrey, but don't mind travelling a bit. Or I could incorporate getting it fixed into a Peak trip or something.

I'm going to pull it out at the weekend and double-check that it has decent uninterrupted power going to it just in case it's a simple electrical issue, but I'm pretty sure it isn't.

Fresh ingredients and cold drinks are two of the key benefits of having a van for me, so any advice / recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

richlan - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Phil Anderson:

Just a quick point on this which i'm sure you have checked, is you leisure battery OK or does it do this when it's on hookup too ?

Phil Anderson on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to richlan:

A good point to make, but yes... It's fine. I very rarely use hook-up so haven't tried that but it's a good idea so I'll give it a go at the weekend. Thanks.

Rigid Raider - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Phil Anderson:

The compressor will be wearing out and will need replacing. In this day and age you might find it's cheaper to throw away the otherwise perfectly good fridge and buy a new one but check Ebay for compressors for your model of fridge. 

richlan - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Phil Anderson:

How are you charging your battery, just with a split charge off the alternator ? If so my money is still on the leisure battery, most fridges will cut off if the battery voltage drops below a certain point to protect the battery.

The compressor in a camper is unlikely to be worn our with the time they are actually used, assuming you don't run it 24x7 obviously...

Hooo - on 07 Mar 2019
In reply to Phil Anderson:

I fixed the Waeco fridge in my van, so I now consider myself a van fridge expert Mine started going intermittent like yours, then failed completely.

I Googled Vitrifrigo and it appears that some models have the same Danfoss compressor as my Waeco. If you let me know the exact model of your fridge I may be able to give you some tips.

As others have said, first step is to check that it's not the battery getting too low. Is there any error indicator on the fridge? Mine has an LED that flashes a number of times to indicate the fault. 

whitebirdyman - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Phil Anderson:

I wonder if the apparent intermittent operation is related to ambient temperature rather than to an issue with the working of the fridge?

I have a 3-way fridge in mine, rather than compressor, and in cold(ish) conditions that needs the vents to be covered to get it to work. Thinking about a compressor fridge next time, I was reading reviews and it seems that many of them do not work properly if the temperature inside the camper is below 17C, so people have had issues with the fridge warming up as the temperature cools. If you were to keep the camper warm during the night, but then go out somewhere for the day in cool/cold conditions, not leaving the heat on, it might be that the fridge warms up and therefore appears intermittent in operation.

For that reason I am thinking of sticking with the 3-way (absorption) fridge, but not made a definite decision yet.

Hooo - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to whitebirdyman:

That can't be right, are you sure it wasn't 17F? My van is very rarely over 17C, at that temp I'd be opening​ the windows!

Phil Anderson on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to The Thread:

I don't think it's the leisure battery, as last time I checked the fridge was getting a decent voltage, however I will double check.

It could certainly be the compressor, although I'm hoping it's something cheaper! The thermostat maybe, or controller.

Phil Anderson on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Hooo:

> I Googled Vitrifrigo and it appears that some models have the same Danfoss compressor as my Waeco. If you let me know the exact model of your fridge I may be able to give you some tips.

Thanks Hooo. The model is a Vitrifrigo C42L.

johnwright - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Phil Anderson:

Your fridge is an absorbant fridge so it has no compressor. If the fridge works like a Electrolux then it has a heater element that does the stuff. It might be worth checking that it is OK.

regards John 

Phil Anderson on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to johnwright:

Thanks John. Are you sure about that though? Everything I google about it says it's a compressor fridge and it even sounds like one when it's running... Which is not as often as I'd like it too!

Hooo - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Phil Anderson:

Google says your fridge is a compressor type with a Danfoss BD35 compressor. This is the same one as I have. You might be lucky, when mine went it was a fault in the controller that I could fix myself.

I had a look at the manual, and it says there is an optional status LED that can be connected. Do you know if you have this? When the fridge shuts off, it will flash in bursts of 1 to 5 flashes to indicate the fault.

Hooo - on 08 Mar 2019
In reply to Phil Anderson:

How are you with electrics?

There's a fault finding guide here: https://www.vitrifrigofridges.co.uk/installation.htm

1. Start by checking it's definitely getting over 12V. Check it's not dropping below 12V when the motor runs. It could be a poor connection.

2. Short out the thermostat and see if it runs continuously. If it does, it's your thermostat.

3. Connect an LED as shown in the guide and read the error code.

Phil Anderson on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Hooo:

Brilliant! Thanks Hooo.

teh_mark on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Phil Anderson:

Just something to add on the electrical front (and apologies if I'm stating the obvious): you need to meter the fridge whilst it's running to get an idea of the state of the battery. A knackered battery might present a reasonable voltage without much draw, but drop significantly with a load attached.

Hooo - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Phil Anderson:

You're welcome. Post back or PM if you​ need any more help.


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