Troubleshooting the Norcold N821 RV Refrigerator

We’ve been giving the fridge a serious workout the past few weeks as we have traveled through some record-breaking heat in Arizona and Utah. I’ve been meaning to post about how the fridge issues that began at Lake Francis RV Resort seem to be resolved. Then I noticed the ignition fault error this morning after our first night in the Rockies outside Steamboat Springs, CO.

It has been working fine without any fault codes ever since we had it checked out in Yuba City. Of course, it didn’t act up once at the shop. All the technician did was tighten a battery terminal cable and say “if everything’s workin’ I can’t fix it.”

The only thing we’ve noticed since then is that it seems to work much harder if operating in LP mode when boondocking. The freezer makes ice noticeably quicker when running on AC power. I could live with that, but I was surprised to when it failed to light this morning after working fine since we arrived.

After consulting the Norcold manual (numerous times) we discovered the small blurb about operating it in LP mode at altitude. It appears that when operating the fridge at altitudes above 5500 feet, users may experience burner outages. Norcold’s recommended solution? Use AC power at altitudes above 5500 feet… Not an option for those of us who go to such heights to reach places where power lines don’t.

Yes, we could run it off AC power using our solar power system’s inverter, but that will be the last resort as we’d rather not run down the batteries any quicker and have to run our generator more than absolutely necessary.

So… Thinking it might be a low voltage issue, I opened the rear compartment to access the fridge and tested the leads going into the control board with my multimeter. I got a reading of 12.6V — more than adequate for ignition. I then noticed a small brass dial on the gas line marked only with “on” at one side. The manual has no mention of any such dial, and says nothing about adjustments to the gas line.

I noted the position of the dial and turned it fully to the on position, which it nearly was. After a few failed attempts it finally caught and has remained lit. So far so good.

This leads me to believe that our issues have been due to using the fridge in LP mode at high altitude. But there is one other thing… we have pinpointed an other anomaly.

If we turn on the overhead fan in the kitchen quickly, the front panel display on the fridge will go blank. If we are very careful to turn the fan on slowly, and gradually ramp up the speed of the fan, it will usually not affect the display. This one I can’t figure out other than there is something funky going on with the wiring. Especially since I pulled fuses to determine that this fan and the fridge are on different circuits.

Additional Help

I have posted my two cents to an Arctic Fox user group forum thread where various people discuss their Norcold refrigerator trouble.

Below are a couple other discussions about RV fridge issues from …

Download the Norcold N-Series RV Refrigerator Owner’s Manual

51 thoughts on “Troubleshooting the Norcold N821 RV Refrigerator”

  1. Thank you for your post. We were able to determine that our Fantastic fan was doing the same thing. I now don’t know if I should just not use the fan or replace it hoping that it will work fine. Maybe move it to a different circuit if I could. What did you end up doing in the long run to solve your issue?

    • Good question! That was in our first rig more than 13 years ago. 🙂 And I’m not certain how our issue of the fridge having trouble lighting in LP mode might relate to a DC fan “doing the same thing”.

  2. i have a norcold model n621f .all the voltages are good but it will not get cold with ac power or lp source .what do i need to check now?

    • I was told to check and make sure all the vents are clear. When I blew out our fridge’s flue with compressed air a bunch of construction debris fell out, which not only can impact performance but is also a fire hazard. Hopefully others may have other suggestions for you, thanks for asking!

    • If it were my rig, I’d trace the line and check power at every outlet and connection on the circuit to begin with. I had issues with some outlets not working and found that one connection had come loose on one side of one outlet on that circuit. So be sure to check both outlets on each box! If the complete circuit tests fine, it’s something in the fridge. Good luck!


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