My Norcold NA8LX Problems Rant

According to some people, the end of COVID-19 is within sight. But our Norcold NA8LX problems are a sure sign that pandemic effects on the RV industry are here to stay.

Norcold NA8LX: Avoid it, if you can

RV Product Flaws are Jamming Service Centers

Early this summer, we stopped into Apache RV in Portland to buy a furnace part. While we were there, we got into an interesting conversation with the service manager. He explained how today’s RVs are coming off the assembly line with tons of appliance defects, big and small. As a result, RV service centers are overloaded with warranty repair jobs. Many centers are limiting their repairs to RVs 10 years or newer. Some aren’t even taking new service center customers unless the person bought their RV from them.

Nobody in the RV repair industry is happy.

In response to the skyrocketing RV appliance defect warranty claims, RV manufacturers are fighting every single one on their end. Dealers aren’t getting paid. Customers are waiting months for warranty repairs, and they are taking it out on service center staff. Nobody who works on the dealer and service center end is happy right now. And new RV owners are even more pissed. All you need to do is call an RV repair shop to request service, and you can instantly hear the effects of shoddy RV appliance workmanship in the voice of the poor soul who answers the phone.

This is why we aren’t going to bother getting to the bottom of our Norcold refrigerator issues anytime soon.

Our $3000 Norcold NA8LX Problems Reflect Poor RV Appliance Quality

Boondocking makes the Norcold NA8LX problems quite obvious.

We didn’t have a choice about the type of refrigerator to install when our old Norcold replacement happened. In this era of low inventory and staff shortages in RV service centers, you take what you can get. I didn’t have time to research potential Norcold NA8LX problems, and in the middle of a triple-digit temperature heatwave, I was just grateful that we could get any refrigerator at all.

In the end, Blue Dog RV in Redding did an acceptable job with installation. No, it wasn’t great. But it’s as good as things get in this era.

The refrigerator ran fine when we were connected to shore power. But now that we are boondocking and running the Norcold NA8LX on propane, we are seeing what a poorly designed and shoddy RV refrigerator this really is. Can we do anything about this annoying Norcold propane problem? Nope, don’t even want to go there right now, because trying to get any kind of warranty work done would mean leaving our RV somewhere for who knows how long. This is not an option when your primary home is on wheels.

A List of Annoying Norcold NA8LX Problems

Experienced RVers learn the hard way that all gas absorption refrigerators are a pain in the ass, especially when you are powering one with propane. These RV refrigerators that come default with most rigs are notoriously inefficient. Their internal operation temperature is affected by outdoor temperatures, so RV refrigerators either don’t keep food cold enough, or freeze the hell out of it. Gas absorption RV freezers generate excess frost build-up, too.

Notice the freezer frost build-up (less than one month after installation)

Norcold NA8LX Problems with Freezer Frost
Freezer build up so soon? Yep!

The Norcold NA8LX Design is terrible.

Instead of an old-school trip tray that spans the width of the refrigerator cooling fans, our new Norcold came with this thoughtlessly designed drip ledge.

Norcold NA8LX Drip Channel
What idiot eliminated the condensation tray?

Cooling fans condensation is theoretically supposed to drip into the hole instead. But the only way for that to happen is if you happen to be parked perfectly level. And as every RVer knows, the odds of a perfectly level campsite are slim. If your RV is even a tiny bit off-kilter, water drips down the back of the refrigerator. Then water runs all over your food, too.

Water condenses in these stupid mini produce bins.

Condensation has to go somewhere, right? Wiping out the produce bins at least once a day is our new normal.

Norcold NA8LX excessive condensation
Condensation build up is crazy!

What product design flunkie designed the Norcold NA8LX? Who thought that removing the drip pan and dividing up the produce drawer was a good idea? If I ever meet them, I’ll kick them in the shins.

Meanwhile, Our Norcold NA8LX Problems on Propane Keep Us Up at Night

During our first year on the road we learned that RV gas absorption refrigerators do not work well at high altitudes above 5500′. That’s about the same altitude as Denver, Colorado. We often camp at altitudes much higher than Denver. And eventually we just accepted that our old Norcold would inevitably shut off during the coldest part of the night. We wouldn’t know that the flame was out until we woke up. That’s when we saw the “F” error message on the read out. Then we would manually light the fridge ourselves. No big deal.

Norcold NA8LX problems with alarm
An obnoxious alarm alerts multiple times in one night when boondocking.

But now, some idiot RV appliance designer wanted to make a shoddy product better. How? By including a loud, ear-splitting beep to let RVers know their refrigerator is out. Clearly that person never camped above sea level. We’ve been boondocking at about 5,000-feet altitude for the last two weeks. And we’re losing a lot of sleep because our Norcold NA8LX alarm is screeching multiple times a night. The only solution is to shut the damn thing off until morning.

Our Brand New Norcold RV Gas Absorption Refrigerator Gets an “F”

Paying close to $3,000 for a new RV refrigerator does not guarantee quality. The old saying “you get what you pay for” is no longer applicable in a post-pandemic world. This is especially true about new RV appliances.

I’m grateful that we even had the money at all to get this fridge. And I’m even more thankful that it’s running as well as any other gas absorption model. But am I happy about the Norcold NA8LX problems? Not a chance. Can I do anything about it? No, not unless it completely fails while it’s still under the factory or extended warranty I’m reluctantly buying.

It’s just too bad that the Norcold company (and probably all other RV appliance manufacturers) don’t seem to care what the customer wants, needs, or thinks about their substandard products coming out of the factory right now.

1 thought on “My Norcold NA8LX Problems Rant”

  1. Dear Jim and Rene,
    As a boat owner our gripes can peg the needle, that said, I suspect all that you’re saying is true but let me remind you of some sage advice I offered some years back: If you dance naked on the Internet you can make some good money! So what do I mean by that? Start looking at boating supply shops rather than RV. Yes, it costs more but it costs more because as you state, “you get what you pay for”. We have a Sub-Zero on our boat, fancy? Yes! Snooty? Yes! Works? You betcha!
    Take care you two and don’t forget to dance naked on the Internet, there’s big money waiting to be had.


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