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Upgrading Your Caravan Refrigerator: A Guide to Dometic's RMD and RCD Series

Article by Henry Smith - Nov 2023 - Caravans Plus
Read Time: 6 mins

Dometic- Mobile Living Made Easy

Caravanning offers a sense of freedom, but it also comes with its set of challenges, especially when it's time to upgrade or replace essential appliances like our trusty refrigerators. It's not just about the cost or the brand; the constraints of installation space in a caravan play a significant role in the decision-making process.

Size Does Matter

My trusted Dometic RMD Fridge began showing signs of wear and tear, nudging me towards the market for a replacement. Initially, my priority was finding a fridge with dimensions compatible with my van's layout, ensuring I wouldn't have to undertake any significant modifications. The Dometic RMD10.5XS 3-Way Fridge seemed like the perfect fit - not only was it dimensionally compatible, but it also boasted of updated specifications.

Dometic RMD10.5XS Fridge Replacement Table
Dometic 175-190L 3-Way Fridge Replacement Chart

But just as I was ready to finalize my decision, I stumbled upon another offering from Dometic: The RCD10.5XES Compressor Fridge designed with the same dimensions. This discovery opened up a broader choice for me, between the traditional absorption fridge and the newly introduced compressor variant.

Dometic RCD10.5XES Cutout Dimensions
Dometic RCD10.5XES Cutout Dimensions - Exact Match For RMD Fridges

Absorption vs. Compressor: The Great Debate

The caravan community is divided when it comes to choosing between these two types, each having its merits. With the growing popularity and advances in solar technology and lithium batteries, the appeal of compressor fridges is evident. Their advantages lie in cost-efficiency, superior cooling, and the increasing accessibility of DC power sources. The continuous improvements in solar panels and lithium batteries have made them more efficient and affordable, enhancing the allure of compressor refrigerators.

On the other hand, absorption fridges still hold their ground, especially for those who venture off-grid frequently. These units can operate on alternate fuel sources, preserving the caravan's battery power for other essential appliances that solely rely on electricity. For instance, if you're someone who relies heavily on air conditioning units (especially those traveling in the northern regions during warmer months), an absorption fridge might make more sense as it allows you to allocate battery power elsewhere.

My Selection

Given my travel habits - typically spending a few days in one location before moving - I found the compressor model more suited to my needs. My DC to DC charger efficiently replenishes my batteries on travel days, bridging the gap between powered sites. Plus, with my avoidance of extreme northern temperatures during peak summer, the air conditioning demand isn't as pressing.

The Swap Over

My personal experience with the installation was relatively hassle-free. The advantage of having the Dometic RCD10.5XES designed with the same dimensions as my old RMD8551 played a significant role in this. The caravan's fridge cavity was already a perfect fit. Moreover, having two rear vents in the right positions meant that ventilation, a crucial factor in fridge efficiency, was taken care of. The only hiccup in this entire process was managing the old gas connection. Since the new compressor fridge doesn't use gas, I had to call in a gas plumber to cap off the gas line and safely remove the redundant copper pipe. While this was a minor inconvenience, it is a vital step to ensure no gas leaks and potential hazards in the future.

For those who are thinking of installing a fridge in your caravan for the first time, your journey might be a bit more intricate. To give you a head start, here's a quick overview for a fresh installation with the preferred 2 rear vent setup.

RCD10.5XES Installation Instructions

Tools & Materials You'll Need:

  • Measuring tape.
  • Drill.
  • Screwdriver set.
  • Waterproof and durable sealant: Specifically designed for external caravan use.
  • Fuses: A 15 A fuse for a 12 V power source and a 7.5 A fuse for a 24 V system.

    Step 1: Prepare Your Caravan

    Ensure your caravan's interior is clean and free of any unnecessary obstructions. Proper lighting is essential, so ensure your workspace is well-lit. Keep all your tools and materials within easy reach.

    Step 2: Determine the Right Location

    Identify a flat and sturdy spot within your caravan. This location should be close to both a 12v wiring and a 240V AC GPO. Additionally, there must be room on the caravan's exterior wall for the placement of two ventilation grilles.

    Step 3: Ventilation Grille Placement, Cutout, and Installation

  • Choosing the Right Location for Vents: The lower air inlet vent (LS300) should be positioned flush to the caravan floor. The upper air outlet vent (LS300) should be no lower than the refrigerator's top. A position higher than the refrigerator is also acceptable.

    Fridge Vent Location

  • Measuring and Marking the Grille Cutout: The grille's dimensions are 490 x 249mm (WxH). Mark out this rectangle on your caravan's exterior where you plan to place the vents.
  • Cutting the Grille Cutout: Drill a hole at each corner of your rectangle. Then, using safety goggles for protection, cut out the marked rectangle.
  • Sealing and Installing the Vent Frame: Generously apply your waterproof sealant to the vent frame. Position this frame onto the cutout, pressing firmly to ensure a tight bond between the sealant and the caravan wall. Screw the frame securely in place, using all the fixing holes provided.
  • Attaching the Ventilation Grille: Once the frame is securely in place, attach the ventilation grille.

    Fridge Vent Installation

    Dometic Large Wall Vent (White) For Fridges Over 100 Litres (490x249mm)Special Price

    Dometic Large Wall Vent (White) For Fridges Over 100 Litres (490x249mm)

    8 In Stock Now.
    Dometic Large Wall Vent (Black) For Fridges Over 100 Litres (490x249mm)Special Price

    Dometic Large Wall Vent (Black) For Fridges Over 100 Litres (490x249mm)

    41 In Stock Now.

    Step 4: Drain Water Hose Installation

    Choose a spot beneath the caravan for the hose to drain. Drill a hole that's a snug fit for the hose and insert it, ensuring it remains kink-free. Do NOT shorten the hose; its excess length can be useful for partial refrigerator extraction during services.

    Step 5: Electrical Connections

    Ensure your power sources are switched off. Connect the fridge to the 12v wiring and the 240V AC GPO. Depending on your electrical setup, employ a 15 A fuse (for 12 V) or a 7.5 A fuse (for 24 V). When unsure, it's always wise to consult an electrical professional.

    RCD10.5XES DC Connection

    Step 6: Secure the Refrigerator

    Aim for a sealed fridge installation to inhibit dust and heat from entering the caravan. Apply the sealing strip (provided with the fridge) to its bottom surface front. This action aids in sealing the space behind the fridge from the vehicle's interior. For the fridge's remaining sides, use non-flammable sealing materials. Then, firmly slide the fridge into its position and secure it with screws.

    RCD10.5XES DC fitment

    Step 7: Power On & Test

    Finally, switch on your power sources. Activate the refrigerator, allowing it to run for several hours to ensure it's cooling efficiently.

    Always remember: If any step feels overwhelming, it's best to engage a professional or someone experienced in caravan modifications. Your safety and the proper functioning of your appliances are paramount. Safe and happy travels!

    Dometic RCD10.5XES Compressor Fridge & Freezer - 200 Litre - 12V/24V/240V (526w x 1246h)Free Shipping

    Dometic RCD10.5XES Compressor Fridge & Freezer - 200 Litre - 12V/24V/240V (526w x 1246h)

    2 In Stock Now. Free Shipping.
    Dometic RMD10.5XS 3-Way Fridge & Freezer - 173 Litre (526w x 1246h)Free Shipping

    Dometic RMD10.5XS 3-Way Fridge & Freezer - 173 Litre (526w x 1246h)

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