Ignoring the Barking Dogs

Residential Refrigerator Install Finished – Lessons Learned

On Saturday, July 21, we finished the installation of our residential refrigerator replacing the Dometic RM1350 that came standard with the Mobile Suites. Jo and I had the benefit of help from out two sons, Kevin and Eric. While Kevin is married with 4 kids, he had to leave shortly after the needed help if getting a heavy refrigerator into the cavity in the cabinet where it needed to be. Eric was able to stay with us all day and help with the final touch-ups and tweaks.

Lessons Learned from Error or Shortsightedness

First of all, I want to point out a few things that we did wrong, with the hope that others that are considering the same kind of modification to their RV’s that we did. What we learned came about partially because we didn’t have the refrigerator on hand when we did the removal of the Dometic and the modifications of lowering the floor for the refrigerator and cutting out at the top to allow for the height of the Samsung.

BE SQUARE – When we did our lowering and placement of the floor for the fridge, we did “kind of” insure that we were level. What we didn’t do was make sure that the floor was “square: with the front framing trim of the refrigerator cavity. Thus, when we went in with our Samsung, the top of the refrigerator at the front trim was further in than the bottom was.

In order to correct this, I had to go outside and push the top forward while Jo inserted two boards back under the rear wheels for the refrigerator. As it turned out, I had kept the three boards that made up the sides and back of the bottom drawer, and two of those are what we used. To further add insult to my ignorance/stupidity, we also then had to raise the front just a wee bit to compensate. We used two of those square “roller pads” that one puts under a piece of furniture when one doesn’t want them to roll.

MEASURE, MEASURE, MEASURE – While we measured a lot of things, some things I overlooked, and in our case that was some method of anchoring the refrigerator to prevent its ability to move from side to side when traveling. If one has the refrigerator on hand, one could measure to allow for something to fasten to the floor that would be just inside or outside of the necessary track for the refrigerator’s wheels so that sideways movement was reduced. Otherwise, something would have to be put on the side walls to brace on both sides.

In one respect, we got lucky after failing to consider an aspect of the installation. Our thoughts all along were that the handle on the freezer drawer would be just fractions of an inch from contacting the cabinet below the counter top. Well, I didn’t consider for the height from the coach floor to the floor of the refrigerator cavity.

As it turned out, we had to lower our fridge floor down to 9 ½ inches above the coach floor, so we had to raise the refrigerator that amount.. Thus, our freezer’s handle is just above the top of the counter, not below. Had we decided to lower our fridge’s floor a bit more to allow for something at the top, that handle would likely have hit the countertop.

DON’T ASSUME – I made the comment in an earlier posting that with an access panel being at the bottom of the back of the refrigerator, one could access the compressor and other parts through the outside access panel in the kitchen slide. There are two things wrong with that idea.

One is that the access panel on the refrigerator is much wider than the access panel on the outside of the slide. Unless one could remove that whole assembly of access panel door and sides, once couldn’t even begin to get the access panel on the refrigerator off. The second wrong thing is that the back of the refrigerator will be too close to the outside wall of the slide to allow one to remove the panel and work from the outside.

So, in our case, we will be keeping the furniture dolly and the insert I made to put the bottom of the refrigerator at the same level as the refrigerator’s cavity floor. That way, if one does have to work on the refrigerator one could move the refrigerator forward to allow access. (Now, that depends on the agility of the technician.)

ALLOW FOR THE WEATHER – In our case, we did our modification in mid-July and it got up over 100 degrees the day we did the installation of the Samsung. Since one has to have the door open for some time to allow for bringing in the new refrigerator, all cool air will be gone, and the air conditioners will work overtime to try to get the coach cool again.

Partly because of the heat and partly because everyone in our family can possess just a wee bit of stubbornness, our tempers flared a few times during this process. What one would think was a good idea might not be accepted as the best idea by the others. That can occur even without the heat of summer, but July temperatures didn’t help the situation.

SOME POSITIVES – My assumption that with the use of the furniture dolly to raise the refrigerator up to the proper height for the refrigerator cavity was good, because rolling the refrigerator around that corner and putting the left side in a bit ahead of the right side worked very well. (Take off all the doors to make it easier for removing the RV refrigerator and installing the residential. In our case that allowed the corner of the peninsula counter to go inside the freezer compartment for final alignment to insert the refrigerator into the cavity.)

I have to believe that deciding to replace the Dometic with the Samsung will be a good idea in the end. After hooking up to electricity and turning things on, the freezer was down to -2 degrees and the refrigerator down to 38 degrees within 4 or 5 hours. While Samsung says to allow 24 hours for the ice maker to start working, I heard it dump ice in the wee hours of the morning. So, the wife is definitely happy and a happy wife makes for a happy family.

However, since Jo is about 5’4” tall, she will have to have a step stool to be able to reach the top shelf easily. Ironically, she will also need that step stool to get her up high enough to reach down to the bottom of the freezer section.

With the choice of the Stainless Platinum finish, we will again be able to use refrigerator magnets, which isn’t possible on a Stainless Steel refrigerator.

Sorry for the lack of photos in this blog entry, but those will be coming after I upload the pictures to our Photobucket account for everyone to be able to view easier. There are a number of new pictures that I will add to the Photobucket folder with the refrigerator modification photos. There were already a lot of photos in the previous posting about the modifications. The latest ones were taken just after we picked up the refrigerator from the store and during the installation process.

Sorry also for the fact that I didn’t get any pictures of the actual placing of the refrigerator. As hot as it was, we just wanted to get things done and close up the coach to find some relief from the heat. Besides, we were at the stage that two of us were lifting and the third was holding up higher to help stabilize the refrigerator during those stages. That left no one to take pictures of the “hard work.”

However, I will leave a more tranquil photo than what would have been taken during all the work.


Silver Falls near Pagosa Springs, Colorado; August 2009

This entry was published on July 22, 2012 at 10:44 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

10 thoughts on “Residential Refrigerator Install Finished – Lessons Learned

  1. Great job. I am sure you will enjoy the effort out in to get this task done.I will most likely do the same thing to our fiver when we get back to Texas for the winter. I have access to muscles there.

  2. Michael and Janet Root on said:

    Still happy wife? Is the Samsung frig still working. We are going to replace our Norcold with a residential. Want some feedback please!

    • Michael and Janet,
      Yes, the Samsung is working quite well. In addition to being colder and more reliable with regards to operation and temperature, it gives us a lot more space for food. 18 cubic feet is way better than the old Dometic 1350. We are approximately a week away from moving from Oklahoma City and working our way up to Colorado Springs. That trip will no doubt give us a real “shake-down” with respect to moving with the coach. So far, we’ve been static, living in one place in OKC for the last three years.

  3. Carol Galyean on said:

    I would like to know how you secured your Samsung so it would stay in place during travel. We have just installed the same refrigerator in our 5th wheel and are thinking of the best ways to secure it. Any ideas?

    • Carol,

      We took a length of strap metal about 1″ wide and as long as necessary to go clear across the front of the cavity where the refrigerator sits. Then, pushing that up against the base of the fridge, we took a few “L” brackets and fastened to the floor of the refrigerator cavity to hold that in place. Since our refrigerator fits so snugly top to bottom, meaning very little, if any, play at the top of the slide, that method has worked for at least a couple of moves of our trailer, the last being the 700+ miles from Oklahoma City to where we are now.

      See an image of the strap iron and “L” brackets in the photo below that is at my Photobucket account:

      • Leigh Anna Williams on said:

        Which Samsung model did you replace your dometic 1350?

      • Ours is a Samsung RF197. There were different suffixes to the model number, based on what the external finish of the refrigerator would be. In the case of the Stainless Platinum finish that suffix was ACPN. So, the full model number would have been RF197ACPN. Black had a suffix of ACBP, and the stainless steel model had a suffix of ACRS.


  4. Frank Isaac on said:

    I’ve been reading your blog. I can’t seem to find the samsung model number you used as a replacement. We are replacing the never cold 4 door in our 5th. Wheel. ? Thx.

    • Frank,

      I think that Samsung has discontinued that model line. I seem to remember reading somewhere that there was a newer model number, but when I looked on Samsung’s website, I saw nothing as small as the 18 cu ft one we have.

  5. The wife & I just got through tackling the Dometic/Samsung swap in our 2010 36′ Mobile Suite. We did a lot of researching & were able to locate the newer model number, in Platinum Stainless, at Home Depot. Link: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Samsung-33-in-W-17-5-cu-ft-French-Door-Refrigerator-in-Stainless-Platinum-Counter-Depth-RF18HFENBSP/205532593

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