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Faulty Fridge - Do Not Worry

Ajspicer

Ajspicer

VIP Member
VIP Trade Partner
Messages
542
Vehicle
T5 SE 180
Having woken up the weekend before last to the disappointment of warm milk and and melted butter from the fridge, this was the least of my worries having read some of the posts on here about the work involved to remove the fridge and the cost for a replacement from VW!!

Having carried out numerous electrical tests I confirmed the fridge had failed but then thought why replace a whole fridge, surely not required.

The Cali fridge is made up essentially of 3 parts, the food storage box, the compressor and associated pipes and an electronic control unit to run the compressor on demand from the thermostat.

Compressors such as the one in the California are pretty much bomb proof, and there is nothing to go wrong with the storage box, therefore, that leaves the Danfoss 101N0220 controller. On first attempt it appeared that the whole fridge would need to be removed to get the controller out, however, after careful manoeuvring the controller did come out through the inspection cover by the waste water drain tap. Just a few scratches on my hands.

VW will not supply individual parts for the fridge, therefore, my search started for a UK supplier of the controller.

Penguin Refrigeration who specialise in mobile and marine applications of this type provided me with probably the best customer service I have ever received. Prior to the removal of the unit, they gave me fantastic telephone support where a number of checks were carried out to establish that it was almost certainly the controller at fault.

The controller was sent to them on Thursday afternoon for checking and by Friday lunch time I received a call to say the controller was dead. I ordered a new one there and then and to my surprise it arrived first thing Saturday morning!

The installation of the controller was a bit of a tight squeeze but within the hour of it arriving the fridge sprung back into life as quiet as ever and was down to 4 degrees within no time. I know the exact temperature on my fridge as I have installed an electronic controller with external temp display for reassurance that the fridge is operating smoothly.

So to summarise, if your fridge does fail:

Do not despair,
Do not go to VW,
Do not remortgage your house,
Just contact the fantastic staff at Penguin Refrigeration and you will be pouring ice cold milk on your cornflakes again in no time!

Thanks so much to Zeb and others at Penguin, fantastic service throughout, just wish I knew about you the minute I found out the fridge failed. Sorry to Polly and Ismay for being so moody all day on our weekend away!

If any one needs advice on this, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Andrew.
 
Thanks Andrew very informative post very useful. Top work :thumb
 
Worth noting that they also do units suitable for Westfalias.

dan
 
Very useful indeed.. Thanks.

Spot on.
 
The controller is a Danfoss 101N0220 or a 101N0210, only difference is the aluminium housing apparently.
 
Great info - many thanks. My fridge is inconsistent to say the least. We have just been away for a few days and with hight temperatures in the van when parked up, the fridge is struggling to make 15 degrees. The vehicle has been back to SMG under warentee and they have checked it and insist all is well. It's now out of warentee!

Stephen
 
StevieJ

After fitting my new controller on Saturday (Very hot) before switching it on the internal food cabinet temp displayed was 36.5 Celcius! Within 40 minutes the internal temp was showing 4.5 degrees.

I am away for 5 days starting tonight on a trip to the inlaws in Cornwall but will be camping throughout, I will report back this weekend with fridge performance.

Andrew.
 
steviej said:
Great info - many thanks. My fridge is inconsistent to say the least. We have just been away for a few days and with hight temperatures in the van when parked up, the fridge is struggling to make 15 degrees. The vehicle has been back to SMG under warentee and they have checked it and insist all is well. It's now out of warentee!

Stephen

Were you running off electric hook up or on the leisure battery?
 
steviej said:
Great info - many thanks. My fridge is inconsistent to say the least. We have just been away for a few days and with hight temperatures in the van when parked up, the fridge is struggling to make 15 degrees. The vehicle has been back to SMG under warentee and they have checked it and insist all is well. It's now out of warentee!

Stephen

Stephen,

Simple thing, but have you checked/adjusted the fridge offset?

Might be worth moving by 6 to 10 degs
 
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Thanks SimplyDubs - but what is a "fridge offset" and how do I adjust it? can't see anything about it in the owners manual but sounds like its worth a try. I have of course changed the temperature setting on the control panel and find I need to run the fridge at 6 or max.

Stephen
 
I had problems with the fridge draining the leisure batteries. After a day on the fridge no longer worked. This was fixed by changing the control panel (above your head) which had old software in it and re earthing the Earth under the fridge.
 
Fridge update,

Having camped from Wednesday night through to Sunday evening with no hook up and minimal driving around the Gwithian Area I can report back the following.

With outside temps in the high 20's the fridge maintained the preset temp of 6 degrees with no problems, however, late on Saturday, the fridge did stop. Checking the voltage at the terminals it was down to 11.3volts hence the reason for non start if the internal cabinet temp went above the preset 6. This was of no surprise given it had been running off the leisure battery for 72 hours.

I did find that if you started the engine for 10secs the fridge would kick in again and run until the desired temp was reached even on 11.3v after start up.

We parked the van in full sun for over 12 hours and on returning the internal van temp was in the 40's so I was we'll impressed that the milk was frozen and beers were so cold I couldn't drink them straight from the fridge.

So to summarise, the fridge seems to be performing superbly in this current hot spell and for my expected timescale given the type of leisure battery I am using.

I would be interested to see if it would operate at a lower temp but given the frozen milk and brain freeze when having a beer, probably not worth it.

Work to follow: We don't really ever go for hook up at campsites so I may consider a solar panel on the pop up roof to keep the fridge running for longer and prolong the life of the leisure battery.
 
72 hours in this weather is fine

Re solars whcih i have, try to get the VW fitted ones that are flush with the roof, otherwise you are raising the height of the roof, relevant on ferries ( always declared as a car !) and in car parks - also for fuel consumption
 
Hi all, first time here in this forum, hope you don't mind me publishing my fridge problem here to see if anyone could shed some light on the it.

Basically the fridge was working fine until recently, when it started to switch itself off and display a blinking fridge icon in the control panel. The error message I get is the 3011 ‘interrupt or fuse input icebox "actual temperature"’ (not sure what this error message means) once I clear the error message I can switch the fridge on, but it doesn’t work at all. Even though the icon displays.

We’re off to France in it next wee so it couldn’t have happened at a worst time. Perhaps a clue to the problem is that I had the earth shunt replaced about 6 months ago as the interior lights kept shorting out.

Any help would be much appreciated. PS I live in Spain so the company you mentioned in England isn’t really an option.
 
Hi, may I make some suggestions

1. Check all of the fuses - look at the manual to find location and sequence

2. Put it on hookup charge for 24 hours until 100% is showing

3. Reset the control unit or turn it off and on again

Put the fridge on and time how long it takes to run down and cut out from full

It should last or up to 72 hours on about 8C

Possible fridge problems can be related to

a. wrong software in control unit

b. fuse under fridge but you say this was fixed

c. faulty fridge - unlikely

d. faulty leisure battery ( batteries )

e. blown 50A fuse connecting two leisure batteries

More importantly do you have a garage with an expert on the T5 near you?
 
Hi, firstly thanks for such a quick reply!
As the VW is 2006 I can't imagine that the software is incorrect as it was working correctly. I will check the fuses tonight, one question how do I reset the control panel?
I have checked both leisure batteries and they are both fine.
Thanks
 
To reset the control panel press the lower button on the right hand side of the control panel for 5 seconds, it should then re-boot
 
Hi. I have used that button to clear the error message. I didn't realise that it reset the control panel as well.

One thing which is strange about this error is that it has gradually been getting worse and now the light comes on but the fridge doesn't work at all?
 
is the display showing 100% when the fridge does not come on?
Have you checked the fuses?
 
I haven't had a chance to check the fuses. I will have a look tonight.

The batteries are 100% charged and I have been trying the fridge all weekend as I have been in a campsite hooked up to the mains. So it can't be a problem of low batteries or faulty as the heating and all the lights roof etc is working fine.
 
Hi Bernie,
I checked the fuses and all are fine, including the large one under the drivers seat for the battery. So I held the bottom right button on for 5 seconds and the switched the fridge on to 7º fridge, it worked fine for 30 minutes more or less and started cooling down as normal. But then it switched itself off?

I turned it on again as there was no error message to clear, the light came on but the fridge didn't work?

So I held the bottom button on for 5 seconds and the fridge started working again??

Help!? Any ideas?
 
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