Replacing our RV Fridge – Part 3: Making Room

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So far, I’m doing a pretty good job in getting these videos up in near-real-time, so here’s the third installment in the Fridge Replacement Video series:


This video is not nearly as dramatic as tearing things apart, but it needed to happen.  The new Nova Kool RFU 7300 will go all the way down to the floor of the van.  But in the previous design, there was about 6 inches (145 mm, actually) of dead space below the fridge that was filled with wires, cables, duct work, dropped screws, and sawdust.  This all needs to be cleared away so the new fridge can live there.

Not only does it need to be moved, it needs to be moved someplace that won’t restrict the cooling air flow to the new fridge.  The Nova Kool vents across the bottom and out the front.  This means I can’t just cram everything behind the fridge.  I need to keep a reasonable path for air to get down to the coils.  And this makes things… complicated.  The heavy welding cable for our inverter had to be disconnected, untangled, and reconnected.  the 120v Romex had to be moved and secured.  some 12v wires were so tangled, the only option was to cut them to untangle them, and then splice them back together.  It took almost a whole day to get it done to my satisfaction.

But I did, eventually, get it done.  With all of that out of the way, now I can turn my attention to building new cabinetry, which we’ll get to in Part 4.

See you later!

James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.

    19 thoughts on “Replacing our RV Fridge – Part 3: Making Room

    1. Brian

      Hi James,

      Love the build and all the great information. I’m turning a 16′ box truck into a camper with my girlfriend. I’m fabricating the cabinet for our fridge and would like to use some insulation that is similar to the one shown in the video. I know you stated that you threw out the bag but I was wondering if it was adhesive backed on one side and foil on the other face with a flexible foam center. Having trouble finding something so I thought to get a bit more info.

      Thanks in advance and be well!

      1. James - Post author

        I think you’re right about the flexible foam with adhesive and foil sides. Home center stuff.
        But that’s not all that’s in there. I got some other insulation behind that that I simply don’t remember what is back there.

    2. Roger Grant

      I see that these fridge are use in boat and they can take a 30 degree pitch. WOW.
      But, the prices are very high is that the main reason you do not see them in RV?
      Since it looks like the durability must be number in the design and the propane use is gone like you mention on the video. I would think that the insurance rates would go down.
      The fact that the freezer part is at a better location for wife that are only 5-2!!!.

    3. Richard Kilbride

      Though I understand your reasons to get rid of the greedy absorption fridge. I wonder if the noise that compressor fridges make will disturb you at night. I know a few here that have resorted to switching them off at night.
      It certainly looks like a hugely impressive project. Also glad to see I’m not the only one that bleeds on the most innocuous of contacts.

      1. James - Post author

        We previously had a compressor fridge. We could hear it, but it was nothing that kept anyone awake.
        And about the bleeding – gloves help, but then you lose a lot of sensitivity. So I can’t always wear them.

    4. Roger Ramirez

      James – Love your videos. I can’t seem to find the Nova Kool RFU 7300 unit online. Is that the right number? Thank you, Roger

      1. James - Post author

        Hi Roger –
        Yes, that’s the right number, but it isn’t generally available yet. They’re still getting ready to make it public. It’s coming!

    5. Tom

      James, do you expect a measurable increase in BTU heat load in the coach from cooling the two compressors and venting inside, as opposed to the external venting on the evap frig??

      1. James - Post author

        Perhaps, but I’m thinking it will be small. These fridges wouldn’t be commercially viable if you had to install a second air conditioner…
        Once the fridge is cold, the only heat added will be what needs to be removed from the fridge, plus any inefficiencies.
        I’m not worried.

    6. Tracy

      Ok so your putting in a bigger fridge. I’m looking to buy a RoadTrek once I can find one and my biggest complaint about the Chevy RoadTreks are the tiny fridge/freezers. I want a 2 door fridge/freezer. Hey if I let you boondock in my driveway and pay you can you put a bigger fridge/freezer in my RoadTrek when I get it? Please say yes!

    7. Michael

      Thanks for sharing your adventures in getting behind the cabinets of your RV. I’m currently doing my share of the same trying to install battery balancer in area other than recommended by Roadtrek in my etrek.

      What is the insulation you used? As I am discovering way too many areas that are under insulated and would like to add insulation.

      Thank you and keep the great content coming! I know how much work it is so definitely appreciate the work.

      1. James - Post author

        The insulation I used is a foil backed foam I got at the local home center. I’ve already thrown out the bag it came in, or I could give you a name.
        I used that mainly because I wanted to leave plenty of room for air circulation behind the fridge.
        Also, further into the body cavities that the fridge won’t see, I did stuff more “normal” fiberglass insulation (foil backed, because that’s all I could find on short notice in small quantities).

    8. Matt

      Super impressed. However I won’t be 100% impressed unless you have body work done to remove the exterior vents 😉

      1. James - Post author

        I would have had to remove an entire extra set of cabinets to get rid of those vents.
        I wanted to, believe me. But that would have put us off the road for longer than I wanted.
        Next van… no vents.

        1. Serge Dery

          You got guts! I will really be impressed, when you do a Mod for the Fit RV to go to ludicrous speed…!

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