Recharging a Norcorld Refrigeration Unit - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 5 Old 10-10-2003 Thread Starter
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Recharging a Norcorld Refrigeration Unit

You would think Norcold would make it easy to recharge one of their refigeration units with R-134a, but why give us customers the option of spending $10 on a bottle of R-134a at our local auto parts store when they can make us pay $600 or more for a whole new unit.

I have the ice box conversion unit SCQT4407. According to Norcold, it is a "closed system" and you cannot recharge the system if the refrigerant is low. Supposedly some service centers will recharge them, but the one guy I finally found that said he knew how said he doesn''t recommend it because even though they can get the right amount of R-134a into the unit at the shop, some of the refrigerant is lost during installation. The problem is at the "refrigerant quick connect couplings." If they aren''t connected, then refrigerant slowly escapes and eventually all the refrigerant will be lost (which was the case with mine).

So, I am left with the always enjoyable option of spending $600 on a new system or try to figure out how to recharge my old system myself. Since according to Norcold, my old system is just a bulky paperweight at this point, I might as well try to figure out if it''s possible to recharge it.

I''ve talked with automotive and appliance repairmen and here''s is my yet untest plan:

I can install a copper tee (available at Home Depot) into one of the copper lines and then attach an R-134a low-side connector (available at auto parts stores) to that tee. I will then have a standard low-side automotive connector installed which can be used to vacuum out any moisture or air that has gotten into the lines and then used to recharge the system with a bottle of R-134a (found at auto parts stores).

The only unknown at this point is how much refrigerant to add, which is fine because I can install the system into the boat, then keep adding a little bit of refrigerant until the cooling plate in the ice box keeps the ice box cold.

The major advantage of this learning experience (assuming that it will work as planned) is that I can service the system out at sea. Well that and not having to spend $600 on another refrigeration unit!

If anybody has had any similar experience, I would appreciate any advice or suggestions you might have.
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post #2 of 5 Old 10-10-2003
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Recharging a Norcorld Refrigeration Unit

skibum, I have the same system (bought used at a fleamarket) after I installed it, called the local Norcold dealer to recharge was told the same thing. A freind gave me the # of his ac guy. He came out, checked for leaks, charged with 134a then charged me $30.00. Said no problem with charging can only take so much freon.I ask if I ever need to recharge can I use the hose kits from the autoparts store, nooo problem... has worked fine for 3 years now hasn''t needed a recharge and will freeze beer...

Dave R.
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post #3 of 5 Old 05-24-2016
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Re: Recharging a Norcorld Refrigeration Unit

I too have a Norcold system that needed charging. The former owner already had a screw on type service port installed onto it (not the quick connect auto type). A local RV dealer was listed as a Norcold service rep and he started by telling me that they are closed units and couldn't be recharged and I'd have to buy a new one. I said it did indeed have a service port and he then gave me some line about there being special chemicals in there and it couldn't be done. I suspected bull$%^t and located a marine AC guy, wo came down and recharged it no problem with standard 134a and its working like a charm and chilling my drinks as I write this!
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post #4 of 5 Old 05-24-2016
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Re: Recharging a Norcorld Refrigeration Unit

I have made my living in the commercial refrigeration world for about 35 years so take my advice for what you think it is worth.
You can access the system in a number of ways, including using a clamp on piercing valve with a 1/4" flare fitting, an automotive type fitting so you can use an auto A/C charging setup, or any other common form of refrigeration or A/C access fitting available to you. However, you do need to consider a filter drier in the system, you MUST do some type of evacuation if you want your system to work efficiently, and there is definitely a finite charge for any given system at any given condition. YOU CANNOT ADD REFRIGERANT AS LONG AS THE SYSTEM TAKES IT!!!! Anyone who tells you such nonsense is a fool and a danger to those around his advice. To properly charge a capillary system with a fan coil you must have a pressure temperature and an accurate thermometer. With a cold wall system you may come close to a proper charge by watching the frost line but that only works under specific conditions. Refrigerants will kill you faster than smoking, alcohol, asbestos, or any of the other modern "known by the State of California to cause cancer" warnings so please know what you are doing or hire someone who does......
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post #5 of 5 Old 05-24-2016
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Re: Recharging a Norcorld Refrigeration Unit

ANY unit can be recharged. the reason they are sealed is to make sure there are no ports that can leak, and to control warranty claims by tampering., After warrenty is up no one cares but most of us know very few people are trained in this area.

Those that charge by gauge just got lucky, that model norcold uses around 5oz. most people are clueless and cause more problems then they fix, since just the hoses hold more refrigerant then the unit! Very few people have electronic charging scales and almost always grossly overcharge the units.
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