Friday, February 06, 2015

Residential Refrigerator Installation


Wesley Chapel, Florida  (high 65, low 42)


Stratton Mobile Rv arrived about 9am Tuesday to begin the installation of our new residential refrigerator.

We didn’t have much choice in refrigerators that would fit into the space previously occupied by the Norcold, which was sitting on top of a compartment that housed the furnace and a few wiring harnesses.


This is the old Norcold.  It turns out those wood front panels were custom made for our coach and are the same walnut  that the rest of our cabinets are made from.  We kept them thinking maybe they will be useful in trimming out the new refrigerator.


We had to find a refrigerator that was no taller than 64 inches high.  Most are a minimum of 66 inches.

We had about 3 choices and the only real differences we could find on those three were the handles.  Since our refrigerator is located in the hall to the bedroom, and would extend further than the Norcold, we decided recessed door handles would be better.

Here is a the new Hotpoint.   Someone asked the model number.  This is from Home Depot.  We bought it on “sale” for $449, but afterwards they had it on “sale” for $430.  Now it’s on “sale” again but for $478 this time.  

Product Comparison Page


The first step was to remove the living room window, being careful not to drop it.

They covered the floors with canvas and put boards on top of the canvas to protect the floor.  The furniture and window sill was covered with blankets, as well as the side of the coach.

refrigarator install

He had a lift gadget to raise and lower the refrigerators.  It was pretty handy.

The next picture is the Norcold leaving.


Good riddance Norcold.  In the picture below you can see the yellow/green powdery substance that leaked.  The Norcold was cooling perfectly fine one day, and then it just quit.  Tim said part that went bad would have cost about $2400.  I’m not sure it that was with labor or not.  A new Norcold like we had was over $4000.  


This is the Norcold without the custom wood door panels.


I took a few pictures of the empty spot.  I didn’t realize there was wiring running down both sides of the walls. 


The next step was to bring the Hotpoint inside.  Tim was doing some measuring on the Hotpoint and doing a little head scratching.  Uh oh.  Did we measure wrong?  Was the Hotpoint  going to fit through the side window?  We certainly didn’t want to have to remove the front windshield.  

Fortunately, his measurement was right on and the Hotpoint slipped right in.


The problem with the installation is that the Norcold is about 4-5 inches wider than the Hotpoint.   So now with the Hotpoint installed, we have a gap wide enough for a nosy kitty to get where he isn’t supposed to be!

We found a friend of a friend who owns a cabinet shop and has been highly recommended.  We were hoping to have him build us a pull out pantry/spice shelf in the gap left by the Norcold, but unfortunately after measuring it and figuring out how much space he would need to install brackets and shelves, we would have less than 3 inches of shelf space and at a cost of $300, we decided to skip it. There is a a gap on the top and both sides that need to be covered and trimmed out.  He took the measurements and one refrigerator panel to help him match the color of the rest of the cabinets.

In the meantime, I had to stuff pillows on the side of the Hotpoint to keep Mr. Nosey out of trouble.



I think we’re going to be happy with the new refrigerator. It’s nice and cold and we even bought ice cream just so that we could actually have hard ice cream for a change!

So, if you have a Rv refrigerator, I recommend you do some research as to your options if it should fail.  Like I said, we got absolutely no warning that ours was failing.  I’m glad it didn’t wait until we got down to the Keys.

There are other options if your Rv refrigerator fails, besides  a residential refrigerator.  Some people choose to have an Amish Cooling Unit installed. Your rv refrigerator will still run on propane just like the Norcold or Dometic, but they are supposed to be safer and better made.  I’ve also heard that there have been some early failures on them too, so do your research.  They aren’t particularly cheap either.

Many of you are happy with their Rv refrigerators and have had many years of good service from them.  I’ve heard the older Norcolds were better than the newer ones.  That may be true because ours was only 3 1/2 years old.  All I know is that ours was working fine one day and the next day it died.

The installation labor cost to remove the Norcold and install the Hotpoint was $516. Part of that was the mobile service charge.  Nothing is cheap with rv repairs.   The cost to reframe the new one is supposed to be about $100.  I’m sure we could have framed it ourselves, but we wanted it to look nice.  :)


Now that the refrigerator is installed, we are concentrating on wrapping things up here and hopefully we’ll be down in the Keys soon.


  1. Are you going to show us what the finished product looks like when you get the trim in?

  2. Yep, our 19 year old Norcold is still working fine along with regular maintenance. We've replaced just about everything that is replaceable though in the seven years we've owned it. If ours bit the dust, we would look into the 12v cooling units like the one we used in Namibia. They're made by Engel and they're super efficient. I know our needs are different than yours though, so you probably made the right choice for your situation.

  3. Good job on the install, much less expensive solution for you, am sure it will do the job for you.

  4. We are also looking into a residential refrigerator. Our Norcold is like the one you removed. We need to just add one more solar panel and battery then we will be boondocking and having our ice cream too! Whoot whoot!

  5. I think you'll love the residential refrigerator! Don't know of anyone who has said, "I wish we had kept the old one..."

  6. You will love it. Make sure to give us photos of the finished product.

  7. The office manager in the park here is going through this now too. I'll give her your blog address to read. Glad it went well except for the kitty gaps :)

  8. I replaced a Dometic single wide with a residential refrigerator that I ordered from Home Depot. It is almost a perfect fit. Only about a 1/2 inch short. It's an apartment size but actually has more room inside than the Dometic. My only concern is how it's going to hold up to bouncing down the road. I have had it less than a year so we will see.

  9. Kudos to the installation team..looks like it was a fairly easy job! onwards to 'hard' ice cream!

  10. I am certain you will be happy with the change to residential refrigerator. I agree with your assessment about older Norcold units. Our 04 Winnebago has the original Norcold that works much better than the Dometic we had in our 08 fifth wheel. When the Norcold fails, I will also install a residential unit. Great capture of this RV mod.

  11. Nice write up. With all the trouble you went through, hard ice cream is a wonderful reward. Ice cream is made to be eaten with a spoon and not a straw! ;c)

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