Setting up your gas refrigerator

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setting-up-propane-fridge

After you bring your new gas refrigerator home, it is time for the install. In order to ensure a safe and proper installation in your home, it is highly recommended that you hire a trained professional. If you decide to do the install yourself, Warehouse Appliance wants to make sure you get your new fridge up and running properly while staying safe.

Before you begin, it is important to note that any gas fumes should be dealt with quickly. If you smell gas, open all of the windows and doors in your home, do not turn any electrical switches off or on, and put out any open flames immediately. Call your gas provider right away.

Connect Gas Line
Before connecting the gas line, ensure you have enough flex line to move the fridge away from the wall. This will allow enough room in the event your fridge needs servicing and for cleaning. It is good practice to connect the flex line to an on/off valve.

Test for Leaks
You must test all connections for gas leaks before you ignite the gas unit. You can use a soapy water method or professional solutions such as a “Gas Leak Detector” to test the connection. This is accomplished by putting on the soapy or professional solution and looking for bubbles. Once you have ignited the unit, you should do a secondary test to ensure there are no leaks.

Check Gas Pressure
The design specifications for all EZ Freeze propane refrigerators state the proper pressure that the fridge operates on. The pressure can be checked by your gas supplier during installation. You can also use a manometer to check the pressure yourself.

Level
Because this type of gas refrigerator requires gravity to operate properly, it is important that the fridge remains level. If the refrigerator is not level, it may not run at peak efficiency.

Ventilate
It is important to position the refrigerator so there is enough space for heat to properly ventilate behind and above the unit. Without proper ventilation, the fridge could produce a heat buildup negatively affecting performance, or it may create a draft which could blow out the burner.

When properly installed, your gas refrigerator will run reliably and efficiently. If you would like a skilled technician to install your new fridge or if you experience any issues during setup, call Warehouse Appliance at 928-636-1955.

For additional set-up information, please see our article tilted “How to set up your new gas refrigerator for proper operation

How to set up your new gas refrigerator for proper operation

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Setting propane/gas pressure

It is very important that the gas pressure be set correctly. Too high or too low of gas pressure may lead to poor performance or permanent damage to your gas refrigerator. Proper gas pressure for a LPG propane system is 11 inches of water column. Your gas supplier will test and set the correct pressure for you. It is possible to do it yourself. Check out our “How to test gas pressure” page.

Burping the Propane Gas Refrigerator or Natural Gas Refrigerator
If your new Diamond gas refrigeratorsEZ Freeze gas refrigerators, or most other gas refrigerators, has been laid down during shipping or the unit is not cooling correctly within the first day or two of operation, it is possible that the unit may need to be burped. This process releases an air lock and allows the chemicals to return to the proper levels within the ammonia absorption unit. The process varies depending on the brand of gas refrigerator you own. For most models, turn the unit off and let the unit cool. Disconnect the gas supply line. Carefully rotate the unit upside down so it stands on it’s top. Rotate the gas refrigerator from side to side not front to back. Let the unit sit in this position for 15 minutes. Rotate back to it’s upright position standing on the legs. Let the unit sit in this position for another 15 minutes before lighting. Reconnect the gas supply and test for leaks.

Burping for Danby / Consul propane refrigerator models, turn the unit off and let the unit cool. Disconnect the gas supply line. Carefully rotate the unit counter clockwise to it’s left side. Let the unit sit in this position for 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate the unit counter clockwise upside down so it stands on it’s top. Let the unit sit in this position for 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate the unit counter clockwise to it’s right side. Let the unit sit in this position for 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate counter clockwise back to it’s upright position standing on the legs.

Tips for operating your Gas Refrigerator or Gas Freezer
Once the gas fridge / freezer is operating, let it chill down for approximately 12 hours before loading with food. You will notice the freezer will chill first. When the freezer portion is significantly chilled down, then the fridge section will start to get cold. This is the nature of the gravity operation built into the system. The refrigerator section is the first to be effected by any change to the thermostat, ambient air temperature, humidity, or change of door opening cycles. Load warm or room temperature foods in smaller portions a couple hours apart. Let the unit stabilize for a few days prior to making adjustments to the thermostat. Check the refrigerator compartment temperature first thing in the morning to get an accurate reading of the thermostat setting. We suggest to use an external thermometer to monitor the temperatures. Do not overload the unit with room temperature liquids such as large jugs of water. Load the freezer with Ice trays or objects to be frozen prior to bed time. This way the unit will have all night to recover. Aluminum Ice Cube Trays make ice much faster than plastic trays.

Be sure the gas fridge is level in both directions since the absorption system works from gravity, it is vital to the proper flow rate that the unit is level.

Be sure the gas refrigerator has proper ventilation an all sides. Most manufacturers will have recommendations within the owners manual. Minimums are usually 2″ left and right sides and 8″ above with 2″ at rear. Intake and exhaust ventilation is also recommended. Always turn the gas valve on slowly to protect the regulator and/or thermostat from a surge of pressure. Test for leaks with a solution of soapy water and brush around all gas connections before lighting the gas refrigerator.

If you still have questions about the set up of your propane refrigerator, please call one of our technicians at 928-636-1955 or contact us.

EZ Freeze Gas Refrigerator Controls – Lighting Instructions

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The controls of the EZ Freeze propane refrigerator are located on the front of the unit at the bottom. All are hidden by the door or a removable panel. The controls include the Thermostat Control (shown as “Temp” within the gas refrigerator parts image below) which controls the temperature of both the refrigerator and freezer compartment. It adjusts the amount of refrigerant running through the system by controlling the high and low flame of the burner. The refrigerant of the absorption system is an ammonia and water solution that flows via gravity from the top of the freezer to the refrigerator section below and absorbing all the hot air. The higher the temperature control is set the more the flame will stay on high and produce more refrigerant, therefore making the interior colder.

The Gas Safety Shut-Off Valve on the EZ Freeze propane refrigerator (shown as “Gas” in the image) is magnetically-controlled by an electromagnet that is feed millivolts via the thermocouple. The thermocouple is heated by the flame and produces the small amount of electricity to power the magnet. If the flame is extinguished and the thermocouple does not sense heat, then the electromagnet will release and shut-off the gas supply. This prevents any unburned gas from escaping into the room.

The Piezo Igniter of the EZ Freeze Propane Refrigerator (shown as “Spark” in the image) is a self-powered, non-electric spark generator. It’s very similar to what propane BBQ’s use. By pushing this button, the Piezo Igniter will produce a spark to light the flame.

 

Lighting An EZ Freeze Gas Refrigerator

The First Time After the set-up of the unit is complete, use the following procedure to light the burner. First time lighting may take longer than usual due to the air that may be in the gas lines.

Turn on the gas valve at the rear of the gas refrigerator

To start the gas refrigerator, turn the thermostat knob “Temp” (Thermostat) to the #2 setting

Push and hold “Gas” (Gas Safety Valve) button, and then…

Press the “Spark ” (Piezo Igniter) button continuously 5 to 10 times to light burner. Confirm the flame is lit by viewing through the flame “Viewer”. It should be possible to hear a slight turbulent noise from the flame. If the burner is lit, continue holding the “Gas ” button for 5-15 seconds. Release the “Gas” button and confirm the burner is still lit. If the burner does not light, repeat steps 1 through 4.

EZ Freeze Gas Refrigerators controls - Images by Warehouse Appliance, experts of off-grid appliances and gas fridge sales and service

We recommend that owners take a good look at the flame upon initial start up and note its size and color for future reference. It is good practice to visually check the flame for this size and color upon every start up.

Hand Lighting….

If for some reason the unit will not light with the piezo ignition or the igniter is failing to spark, it is possible to hand light the burner. This usually requires two people. Simply use the above procedure and replace “Spark ” Button with a person at the burner with a lighter.

This type of refrigerator uses manual operation. Setting the temperature information is here and the manual defrosting information is here.

The EZ Freeze Brand of gas refrigerators feature top performance and the best quality! Contact Warehouse Appliance for more information on our gas fridges or any of our off-grid appliances.

Adjusting the Temperature of Propane Gas Refrigerators

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How to adjust the temperature

Over the years we have sold thousands of Propane Gas Refrigerators and almost all of them have ended up in a remote location for use in a home or cabin that does not have electricity. Off-Grid owners seem to be more interested in adjusting their gas refrigerators to the proper temperatures than compared to owners of common electric refrigerators. The reasons for this can be;

Propane is usually trucked to the location or hand carried so it is safe to say that conserving of the gas usage is valued.

Most rural off grid homes, cabins, and cottages don’t have automatic climate control. This means the off grid refrigerator is subject to a wider range of ambient temperatures during the day as well as the seasonal changes.

Gas refrigerators are all manual temperature controlled. No digital thermostats or electronics whatsoever. This is what you would expect from a non-electric refrigerator.

For those seeking an education on setting the temperature, I’m going to split it up into two parts. Part Time Living and Full Time Living.

Part Time Living with a Propane Gas Refrigerator –
Since a fair number of our customers use the fridges at a weekend getaway or during a short vacation, they will typically turn the unit on upon arrival and shut it down when they leave. The largest propane refrigerator in the world made by EZ Freeze measures out to be 21 cubic feet. Chill down time for one of these units if it is empty will be 10 to 12 hours in 70 to 80 degree ambient air temperature. There are a few do’s and don’ts during this chill down time that is critical to operation during the next few days.

  • Do keep the door closed as much as possible.
  • Don’t load the fridge with any food or liquids that are not cold or frozen.
  • Do set the temperature setting to Maximum.

These are all common sense but you would be surprised at how many people overlook these rules. Especially rule #1. Guests and children that don’t understand absorption refrigeration will open the door to look inside by habit. It’s important to educate them.

After the chill down time is over, it is good practice to load the food goods in smaller amounts at timed intervals. Rule of thumb for ambient temperature food is 10 pounds every 2 hours. Loading frozen goods or cold foods will not have any adverse effects, so it’s OK to load your entire cache at this time. As for the ambient temp foods, if you load a high volume at one time, it is likely that the fridge will take 3 times longer to recover to safe food keeping temperatures than if you load only 10 pounds at a time over a longer period. Loading large amounts of ambient temperature liquids is also bad practice. Liquid is the most dense food and will take the most energy to cool. One way to cheat the process is to use smaller containers of liquids therefore increasing the air contact surface area. This helps greatly to get the drinks cold. 4 Quarts of water will chill or freeze faster than 1 gallon.

My advice to weekenders is to keep the thermostat set to maximum and replenish the ice trays or drinks at night right before bedtime. In some cases where a large party of guests are on hand, we suggest to not use the fridge for drinks. Using the fridge for drinks puts a huge strain on any type of fridge, gas (absorption) or electric (compressor). Using an ice chest for drinks keeps the fridge door closed more often and cuts down on the kitchen traffic too. Chefs love this idea.

Full Time Living with a Propane Gas Refrigerator –
For our “Full Timer” customers, your initial startup up rules are basically the same as the “Part Timer” rules. And you can also use these rules when you bring groceries home from the weekly shopping trip. 10 pounds every 2 hours still applies here. Beyond that, it is important to stabilize your temperature and thermostat setting. The most important area to monitor is the refrigerator interior temperatures. Due to the nature of how a gas refrigerator works, the thermostat setting will primarily affect the refrigerator compartment temperatures. There is no thermostat for the freezer. All the temperature setting is done by one thermostat located at the very bottom of the cabinet on the outside front near or behind the kick plate. This is true for all brands of gas powered home type refrigerators made by EZ Freeze, Diamond, Miller Refrigeration, Crystal Cold, Dometic, Sevel, Consul, Danby, and Unique. The control panel will be labeled with numbers that do not correspond with temperature. The numbers are simply a reference.

It is my belief that the best tool you can own when living full time with a gas fridge is a Remote Digital Thermometer. It allows the user to monitor the inside temperatures without opening the door. If an adjustment to the thermostat is needed, It will alert you either by the alarm or by what the display reads. In the case of the fridge stops working from a lack of gas supply, it may save you hundreds of dollars in groceries.

Stabilizing the temperature is fairly simple. It just takes a little time. Starting at the maximum setting as described in the initial startup, monitor the temperatures of the fridge compartment taking the “true” reading first thing in the morning before the door is opened. When this reading reaches freezing at 32 degrees, start to slightly move the dial toward the minimum setting by approximately 1/12 of a turn. Do this every morning until the temperature reaches your target. My target is usually 34 to 38 degrees.

Slight adjustments from this point can be made to compensate for seasonal changes and usage variations. We like to prejudge the high usage times and lower the temperatures in advance to get a head start on the recovery times. For instance, if you are planning a party or family get together, turn the thermostat toward maximum the night prior to the event.

Seasonal changes will usually demand an adjustment. Not only for temperature, but humidity levels will affect the settings more dramatically. High humidity will also produce more frost on the cooling fins and can reduce efficiency. Defrosting is another area of maintenance that can help with temperature stabilization.
One last note, a full refrigerator of cold food will be more temperature stable during the day than one with less food. It is due to the mass of food versus the mass of air. The food mass will retain the cold whereas the air mass will fall out when the door is opened.

 

How To Test Gas Pressure

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Manometer to test LPG pressure

Although most gas appliances are not sensitive to slight gas pressure variations, performance of a gas refrigerator is very dependent upon the correct gas pressure. Checking the gas pressure should always be a part of a any gas fridge maintenance program or gas refrigerator repair. We suggest to have your gas supplier check your gas pressure or do it yourself with the below instructions.

Parts needed;

Approximately 60″ of clear 3/8″ flexible plastic (vinyl) tubing.

Staples or tie straps to hold tubing to back plate.

6″ x 16″ wood board or sheet metal.

Ruler.

1.) Attach the plastic tubing to the back board using staples or tie straps in a “U” shape 12″ to 14″ in both directions as per the below drawing.

2.) At about the midway point of the tubing, mark the back board with a zero location.

3.) From the zero location, place marks every 1/2″ above and below. Number the marks every one inch. Place a target arrow mark at 5 1/2″ on top and bottom. This target will equal 11 inches of water column (W.C.).

To test gas pressure;

1.) Fill the Manometer “U” tubing with water until both sides reach zero.

2.) Connect free end of tubing to the gas supply line. A slip fit or hand held fit should be sufficient. Be sure it does not leak.

3.) Hold the Manometer vertical and slowly turn the gas supply on.

4.) The pressure will push the water down the input side and up the output side. The combined sum of both distances is the “inches of water column pressure”. The target is 5 1/2″ + 5 1/2″ = 11 inches of W.C.

5.) Most high quality regulators will have an adjustment screw usually covered with a plug or plastic screw cap. Turn the adjuster screw slightly and repeat steps 3 & 4 until 11″ W.C. is achieved.

Venting gas refrigerators

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One of the greatest concerns for those considering the purchase of a gas refrigerator is how it is vented. Is venting needed? What is the cost? Are there health concerns? Warehouse Appliance discusses venting gas refrigerators.  

Venting for refrigerators provides the flow of fresh air directly into the propane burner box and causes the carbon monoxide from the burned propane to exhaust outside. Here are some things you need to know:

  • Venting may not even be necessary if the refrigerator is in a large or open space room. In this situation there should be windows and doors to the outside that get opened often. This allows for plenty of fresh air to be exchanged. Venting may not be completely necessary.
  • Many opt for venting anyway, so they won’t have to think about opening windows or doors.
  • Venting offers more efficiency in a cooling system. This is because heat dissipates more quickly and does not get the chance to pool or linger in the immediate area. And there is always fresh air to draw into the propane burner box.
  • Although carbon monoxide emitted from the propane combustion is in quantities that fall well below safety levels, we suggest that our customers install a carbon monoxide alarm in the room for added safety. Don’t forget to change the batteries as needed!
  • An additional benefit of venting is that the heat from the exhaust is piped directly outside. During summer months, venting helps remove the increased temperature differential in the room that can be caused by the added heat source.

Warehouse Appliance wants you to be aware of the reasons to consider venting a gas refrigerator. If you are ready for a practical, affordable, reliable and quiet refrigerator, contact Warehouse Appliance today at 928-636-1955.