By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Of all the RVing videos on the internet, perhaps the most frightening are the ones that show a rig burning up. You can practically hear the popping, smell the smoke, and feel your heart shudder when you think about how the owner is feeling as his rolling home turns into a pile of ash.
Far too often, the finger of cause is pointed at the refrigerator. Too many RVs have turned to smoke and ash because an RV refrigerator overheated, caught fire, then set the whole rig aflame, all in a what seems like the wink of an eye. If there was just some practical way to stop the problem before it ever started.
Enter Paul and Mao Unmack. With 60 years of RVing experience, the Unmacks know about the fun – and headaches – that can attend the lifestyle. They’ve engineered what may be one of the most significant pieces of equipment that can enhance safety and RV refrigerator longevity.
It’s called the Fridge Defend. Their brainchild is also called an ARP – for Absorption Refrigeration Protective Control. It’s not a complicated device – but it proves to be a lifesaver.
The ARP control is wired into the back of a Norcold or Dometic refrigerator, and it monitors the refrigerator’s boiler temperature. If the temperature begins to rise out of a safe limit, ARP shuts the refrigerator down. No excessive heat, no fire. “But where does that leave my fridge full of food?” you ask. ARP continuously monitors the temperature, and when the boiler temperature drops back down into the safe area, it turns the unit back on, and your refrigerator goes back to work cooling your food.
While Fridge Defend’s principal job is to ensure safety, there’s another great byproduct. Most RVers know that operating their RV refrigerator off-level can lead to expensive problems. Even with that knowledge, the number of failed cooling units each year probably puts a smile on many RV repair technicians’ faces. The biggest reason behind cooling unit failure is that off-level operation leads to a gradual deterioration of the unit’s effectiveness. Along with that off-level operation is the generation of excess boiler heat. Fridge Defend detects the heat and protects the cooling unit by shutting it down. No excessive heat – no cooling unit damage.
A brief video found here shows just how the Fridge Defend works. If you’ve got bandwidth and time, this 17-minute video (below) from an RV seminar goes into far more detail.
Prices for the Fridge Defend system start at less than $150. That might seem steep to some, but consider the cost of replacing just the cooling unit in your fridge; or worse, how much would you be out financially and emotionally if your rig burned up? It’s something worth considering.
We’re looking forward to bringing you our own experiences with installing and day-to-day operation of a Fridge Defend system. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, here is the website for the Fridge Defend.