We have ordered our new residential refrigerator from Best Buy. A number of places can get them, but Best Buy had the cheapest price. Unfortunately, it will be roughly July 12 before the refrigerator gets here for to pick up and install.
Our choice was pretty easy, but took a lot of researching. That is because there aren’t very many residential refrigerators that are small enough to work in some of the RV’s, especially if one is modifying the space of a regular RV refrigerator for a residential one. That one is the one I wrote about in RV Refrigerator Issues and Possible Solution earlier in the month.
Since a number of folks over on Suites Owners International Travel Club (SOITC) have been discussing the issue of replacing the RV fridge with a residential one, I’ve decided to post a prequel to the change over here. There have been at least three couples that have done the same modification to their Mobile Suites, so I’ll post some pictures of their refrigerator and include their comments as to how they did their modification.
This posting will be only about the experience of one couple, as I’ve not gotten permission yet from the other couple that have communicated with us and provided pictures. Once I get permission from the second couple, I’ll do a separate posting in regards to theirs. In one sense, the second couple’s information is intriguing me because they have managed to keep the drawer under their Samsung.
Ron and Libby Gordon’s comments and pictures are what I will put first. When I initially went looking for more information from the third couple that had done the modification, Ron and Libby were only considering theirs. But, the forum thread where they had stated that had been a year earlier, so I contacted them via private message at SOITC’s website and asked for information as to whether they had gone ahead and made the change.
Let me start with the initial comments from Ron, which were in his reply to my private message:
“Hey Terry & Jo, I did remove my Dometic 2 door side by side and replace with a counter size Samsung RF197ACRS, with French Doors and bottom freezer compt. It was fairly simple to change out; remove old fridge, had to remove bottom drawer & framing; side to side measurements were OK; installed 1/2" plywood for bottom allowing about 2 inches to stick out past framing to allow a 1" angle iron to go across to act as a stop so it would not roll out. The doors are the only thing sticking outside the frame and fits good and tight. I did have to make some brackets to secure doors while travelling. Best thing we have done and love it. I do have a built-in generator and I run it while enroute, so fridge stays cold & run the a/c unit also just so unit is cool when we arrive. We don't do lots of travelling since we snowbird in Florida winter. Also with the old fridge out you have lots of room to work from the outside vent covers & filled them foam board since I did not want cold air to enter. The Samsung fridge has a bottom vent below door that pulls air in on one side and vents on the other so no need for rear air intake. I do have about 1/4" on each side of the doors so the sides of the fridge can get cooling, since the condenser cools are built-in to the sides of the fridge. No rear coils!”
I found it especially interesting to hear that the Samsung’s ventilation is all done through the vents in the front of the refrigerator. That should be helpful in avoiding a “warm-up” in the present cavity for the refrigerators.
I replied with questions, which are these:
“Ron, thank you very much for the reply. Now, I just have to try to picture the way you did things, especially there in the front. So, if you don't mind, I'll ask some more questions now, and perhaps more as we get into this project. Jo is getting antsy since we've been having problems with the Dometic for about 3 weeks.
Did you anchor the refrigerator in any way other than the angle iron across the front?
Did you have to lower the floor that the fridge sits on? (Our 2010 38TKSB3 gives us a couple of challenges in that we may have to lower the floor that is the base for the fridge, and we'll have to work around the peninsula counter.)
Regarding this, "installed 1/2" plywood for bottom allowing about 2 inches to stick out past framing to allow a 1" angle iron to go across to act as a stop so it would not roll out." I guess I can't picture where that 1/2" plywood sticking out is actually done. Were you able to not have to cut into the area of the bottom drawer? (The way I see ours (without actually having the Dometic taken out), I may have to cut down about two inches into the area of the bottom drawer plus cut some out at the top and re-trim everything.)
Do you happen to have any pictures that were taken before, during, and after the installation? If so, I would appreciate it if you could send some to me via e-mail. Our e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
With our unit, when I take out the drawer below the refrigerator, I find two slide rollers in that cavity below the refrigerator compartment. I really hope I don't have to go so low that the rollers can't be worked on if necessary.
Would you have any objection with me asking you more questions as we go along? If not, could you provide me with your e-mail address so we can communicate directly instead of via private message. If you could continue to be a source of information for us, I would really appreciate it.
Jo has been researching as well into installing a residential and she commented today that nobody seemed to take pictures of a remodel process quite like I do. So, I guess if we get this done, I'll have to take pictures as we go along.
Then came Ron’s answer to my questions and some pictures:
I did have to go all the way to the bottom and then add additional support bracing so it would be solid. The finish trim between the fridge and drawer is just screwed in at each side so that is easy to remove. The plywood was cut to cover the entire bottom area and was allowed to protrude 2 inches out past the outside trim. Just drill large hole for the roller bolt head. This is covered by the plastic bottom vent cover of the fridge so the angle is not visible. I just drilled three holes in the angle and plywood so that I could bolt it in once the fridge is pushed in place. I did install some strapping at the top of fridge and ran it to the outside vent framing just to add some insurance on tipping, but was not needed. It is all hid on the inside. The water line had to be recessed back into the wall so the fridge would not be pushing against it. Connect water line and you already have two 110 volt receptacles to plug into before you make the final push. It just takes some measurements and patience, and is really an easy task. You will not regret it once you get finished.
Took some more pictures but sorry I did not take pictures while installing fridge, it would have slowed me down too much. I was on a mission to get finished and never looked up! LOL!
Pic 215 Shows angle blocking roller on fridge also see strap on each front side that attaches at back through lower outside vent cover.
Pic 216 Shows 1/2" plywood protruding out 2 inches also the angle that blocks fridge roller.
Pic 217 Shows vent cover from floor view & is not visible from above
Pic 218 Shows homemade bracket that holds upper doors while travelling using metal bracket & Velcro and can be removed if not travelling.
Pic 219 Shows bracket that holds freezer door, drilled hole for small screw or pin. Bracket stays on after screw is removed, not in way.
Pic 220 Shows how door handles miss the center counter (freezer door handle is under countertop.
As you can see the black shows everything and needs cleaning when we take it out of storage.
Note: The edge of the plywood could be trimmed out with molding if you want to really look professional. Just have not got that energetic yet! This was just my engineering and possibly could have been done differently. Once the Dometic is removed you just look at the opening and take lots of measurements, then it will come together. I will be glad to help in any way possible. The way I look at it, if I can do it anybody can. The Dometic has about 3 screws on each side on the inside and few on the outside from inside the vent covers. I just installed plug in the propane connector which is out of the way. One other thing; the slide rollers are under the fridge and drilling out large hole to allow roller adjustments, but would require rolling out fridge to get to it. Hopefully we will never have to do that. Hope this helps! Ron”
Now, with regards to the pictures and their “number,” the following are in the same order as he wrote above.
Lastly, two images of the finished remodel.