There are a few different brands of refrigerators that RVs come with.  One of the popular brands of fridges that RVs are built with is Norcold. These refrigerators will come in different sizes and styles, but the standard operation of a Norcold refrigerator is the same.

Norcold Refrigerator Operation

Refrigerator Control Panel

  • Your RVs Norcold fridge will have a control panel that could be LED or standard. Both versions will have power, mode, and temperature buttons.  There will also be an indicator light for standard versions, or a code display for LED versions. 
    • The Power Button will turn your refrigerator ON and OFF. 
    • The Mode Button allows you to switch between Electric, Propane, or Auto.  
    • The Temperature button will set the coolness of the refrigerator with 5 being the coldest.
The Green Light will indicate that the refrigerator is drawing power from the selected mode source. A Red Light will indicate that the refrigerator is not drawing power and not functioning properly. 

Automatic Mode

  • Auto is the most popular setting for RV refrigerators. This setting allows the refrigerator to automatically switch back and forth between electric and propane settings
  • When this setting is on, if shore or generator power is detected then the refrigerator will gain its power from those sources.
  • Should there be no presence of electricity then refrigerator will seek propane to power itself. 

Electric Mode

  • If you are plugged into shore power or using generator power consistently, you may opt to use Electric Mode. 
  • When set on Electric Mode and you lose power, the refrigerator will not continue to cool.
Should the red light be on in electric mode check to be sure that the breakers are on and that the power pole is on. 

Propane Mode

  • When using Propane Mode the refrigerator will draw its power from your LP Tanks.  
  • When set on Propane Mode the refrigerator will continue to cool as long as their is available propane. It will not switch back to electric should you run out of propane.
If the red light is on while in propane mode ensure that you have propane and that the tank valve is open. If neither is the case then you may need to bleed air out of your propane system. You can learn how to do that in this article: How To: Bleeding Air From Your RV's Propane System

Troubleshooting Power Sources

  • Should the steps above not resolve your issues with the refrigerator, you may need to check the power system located on the outside of your RV directly behind where your refrigerator is located. 
  • Remove the vent cover by turning the twist tabs that keep it locked in place.

Please use caution when executing the steps below as many of the components on the system will be hot to the touch. 

  • Pictured above is your 110 plug, controller, gas line for propane, gas valve, flue tube, heating elements, and cooling unit.
  • If you are concerned that your 110 outlet is not working, you can troubleshoot by unplugging and plugging in another electrical item such as a phone charger to see if it receives power. 
  • To verify propane power you will be able to see the flame burning and the area will be hot.  If you are having difficulty with propane and the red light is on, you will want to verify that you can hear a clicking nose near the component below. 

  • If you hear the clicking noise, then you will want to bleed your propane lines as mentioned above.  If bleeding the line does not resolve the problem, it is recommended that you should schedule service. 

Cooling Tips

  • Your refrigerator will take approximately 10-12 hours to fully cool once it is turned on and receiving power. 
  • The refrigerator is an absorption unit with no compressor to cool the unit.
  • It is best to cool your items prior to placing them in refrigerator.
  • Always leave a one inch gap between the back wall of the fridge and your items to allow air flow.

Storage Tips

  • When you are done camping and your refrigerator has been turned off, be sure to leave a gap in the door so moisture can evaporate out of the refrigerator
  • The freezer will need to be defrosted. It is important to remember that there is no drain and any water in the unit can leak out and damage surrounding wood.  Water damage that results from missing this step is not covered by warranty and any repair would be at owner's expense. 
  • Leave a gap in the freezer door to allow the moisture inside to dry, preventing the risk of mold or mildew inside the freezer.

For a better understanding of operating your Norcold refrigerator, check out this video:

This content is not a legal standard or regulation, and does not create any new legal obligation.  It is advisory in nature, informational in content, and is intended to assist and educate consumers in the use and enjoyment of their recreational vehicles.  Great American RV Superstores does not hereby make any warranty, express or implied, and does not assume any liability with respect to the use of, or damages resulting from the use of any information, method or process included in this content.