Category Archives: RV Appliances

RV Kitchen – Questions & Answers

Question from a reader:

We purchased a new rig and have never owned a convection/microwave oven before. So on our first trip, my husband and I decided to cook 3 different recipes and the results were all consistent – BAD! I don’t think it is getting hot enough. What am I doing wrong?    Signed – Carol P.

Carol – The day our manufacturers decided to include convection/microwave ovens in today’s RVs – was truly a wonderful day! Having cooked with convection ovens for many years and loving the results from that appliance, this is an area that I enjoy helping people with because it really will make your RV cooking experience even better.

Here are a few pointers …based upon the information you provided.

  • #1 – Read the manuals that came with your unit – manufacturers have different products which can operate differently (even though they are basically the same). I also suggest getting online (if you have access to the internet) to search for videos by folks that have a convection/microwave like the model you have or similar. You can learn a lot of great information this way just listening to other’s experiences.
  • #2 – You stated that you think your unit is not getting hot enough. – Buy an oven thermometer to test the temperature.  Sometimes, we will find that the temps are off as much as 25 degrees.  Of course, we would like it to be perfectly set, but if you know that your unit is off, you can compensate by setting the temperature higher so you can achieve the desired results.   Should you find that your temperatures are 50, 75 to 100 degrees cooler….then I would say that your unit should be checked out by a service technician – it could be a faulty thermostat which would require that part to be replaced.
  • #3 – Traditionally – convection ovens in our bricks & sticks homes operate having access to strong/clean electricity.  RVs are not the case.  We are limited in how much electricity is fed to our rigs and sometimes that electricity is not strong nor clean. The wattage that this oven requires is not very high so the heating and cooking process is slower.  Sometimes, a recipe that requires 25 minutes at 325 degrees will actually need 30 minutes at a higher degree – like 350.  This will be something that you will need to tweak with your own unit to find the ‘sweet spot’ in regards to length of cooking time and right temperature.

UPDATE:  From Carol – I took you’re suggestion about purchasing an oven thermometer and found our convection oven was 100 degrees off.  So, I called the RV dealer and they arranged for a service technician to check it out. He found that the thermostat needed to be replaced. All problems resolved and we love using this appliance. Thank you for your helpful suggestions.

I LOVE a happy ending!   Happy RVing – Lady E Cooper

RV Kitchen – Questions & Answers

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RV Kitchen Appliances

RV Kitchen Appliances

Must Have List vs. Wish List

Equates to: 30 Amps vs. 50 Amps

How much electrical power is needed for those small appliances planned for your RV kitchen?

  1. Make two lists – Label one ‘Must Have’ and the other ‘Wish’ list.  Coffee pot, crockpot, electric skillet, hand mixer, toaster – you’ll find these lists will add up quickly.
  2. Things to know – There are two measurements of power for RVs.

–          30 amps delivers 3600 watts of power

–          50 amps delivers 12,000 watts of power

3. Located on the back of each appliance is an electrical data plate. This information is telling us of the amount of power (electricity) required.

4. To measure the complete electrical requirement need’s for an RV – we will allocate watts for one air conditioner (2400 watts on startup) and the water heater element (1500 watts).  Both of these appliances will cycle on and off which means the demand on the watts are not constant.  Watts total – 3900.

When adding the watts needed from our lists, the 3600 watts of power given by a 30 amp power cord is depleted, even before getting started.

Ask yourself – What is my lifestyle?  A minimalist will require less and the 30 amps could be sufficient. Are the ‘must have’ and ‘wish’ lists vital to you? 50 amps power is probably the way to go.

Your perfect RV kitchen should be able to handle the electrical power needs of your small appliance ‘must haves’ and ‘wish’ lists, so shop wise.

 


RV Refrigerator Facts

We just finishing up the CrossRoads RV Rally in Shipshewana, Indiana, we had a great time giving educational seminars and just hRV Refrigeratoranging out with a great group of folks. 

As I reflect on all the questions that we were asked during our seminars – the Absorption RV Refrigerator is still the number one topic of all.  So, I thought I would provide more information on how to help this appliance work more efficiently with providing some great facts that you may not be aware of.

  • ·         Compressor vs. Absorption type refrigerators – there is a big different. The compressor (residential-type) is an electric motor with a refrigerant pump, whereas, absorption (RV) is done through chemicals and heat.

 

  • ·         Recovery time is vastly different from our residential units. For every minute the door is left open – it will take one hour to recover the cold air lost.

 

  • ·         RV refrigerators cool better when there are a fair amount of items being stored. However, over packing is a bad thing – temps will go up because of lack of airflow. Try to keep your refrigerator stocked well without over packing.

 

  • ·         For cooling properly these 3 things are needed:  Is it level? Is there proper ventilation? Do you have a heat source ( i.e. propane or electric)?

 

  • ·         It is not critical to have the refrigerator level while traveling. The rolling and pitching movement of the RV helps the refrigerator operate efficiently.

 

  • ·         To check for proper temperature, place a cup of water with a thermometer inside the cup. Wait 2 to 3 hours to check if the unit is already cooled down. If hot (unplugged), turn on and wait to check after 8 to 24 hours.

 

  • ·         Most refrigerators will have at least one auxiliary fan on the back side, check to make sure it is working properly.  If more air flow is needed – add an additional fan(s).

 

  • ·         If the odor of ammonia is present with a yellow film coating on the back side of the refrigerator, the cooling coil seal is broken.  This means the coils will need to be replaced.

 

  • ·         8 cubic foot and larger units should be at least 43 degrees F. or less at 110 degrees F.

 

  • ·         Proper temperature for the freezer is 0 degrees F. and inside the main cooling box is 37 – 42 degrees F.

 

  • ·         Place ice cream at the coldest part of the freezer which is the lower left side.  

I do hope you now have a better understanding of the Absorption RV Refrigerator.  Happy RVing!

Convection Microwave Oven for RV

Baking with convection ovens all 15 years that I had my restaurant  in my hometown of Rockdale, TX  ….I found I enjoyed this type of baking because of its appearance that this was a professional type of baking. With a fan mounted on the side or back of these huge ovens…air circulated around the food and the results were wonderful. Tops and bottoms of the cookies, bread pudding, cakes, pies and sorted breads…all were evenly brown and cooked to perfection.  Now that we find them these types of ovens in our RVs today…..I am over joyed!!!

 convection-built-in-microwave-oven-9722-1822283

What is  the definition of a  convection oven?  (from Widipedia) A convection oven (or fan-assist oven, fan oven) is an oven that has fans to circulate air around food.[1] Conventional ovens, which do not have fans, rely primarily on radiation from the oven walls, and to a lesser extent, on natural convection caused by temperature differences within the oven, to transfer heat to food. In contrast, the fans in convection ovens allow more heat to be transferred via convective heat transfer. Fans help distribute heat evenly around the food, removing the blanket of cool air that surrounds food in an oven, allowing food to cook more evenly in less time and at a lower temperature than in a conventional oven.

I believe  for the most part, people have trouble with convection cooking because of how they are now connected to our microwaves. We basically have used the microwave for heating purposes  or at least very little cooking, never being able to use any types of metal cookware inside and if  you did…horrible things would happen!!!  Today we can throw that type of thinking out the window, for the convection microwave oven will allow you to use most any type of cookware that can withstand high heat.

Important: Just like before… when using a low wattage microwave…slower heating or cooking would occur, the same holds true with this new RV convection microwave oven design we have today.  Take a look at the data plate located on the inside around the door opening.  I find that convection microwaves start at 900 watts and run up to about 1500 watts.  Higher wattage means faster and more energy efficient cooking.

Convection microwaves will brown and cook the outside of your foods penetrating to the center vs. regular microwaves emit waves that bounce around until they come in contact with the food causing water molecules to excite and generate heat which then cooks the food.

Now for the inside convection micropreparation of using a convection microwave; I know from what I have learned that the lower sided dishes, pans, etc. …..are ‘best’ to use.  For example, casserole rounds or squares.  However, I have used my bundt pan for cakes…and they turn out fine. You will have to experiment with your own unit to see how it works best for you.

Remember, you should always use the circular metal lift tray (that will come with the unit) placing your dish on top of it so complete circulation of air will occur.  If your unit is used and you did not get a lift tray then you will need to purchase one online or at a specialty store. I have found them online for around $20- $25.  Some of you may have a metal tray that reaches from side to side that hangs on plastic hooks. This is for double dish baking and/or using those 9×13 dishes or some other size that prevents you from using the circular lift tray. When you using the lift that fits from side to side, know that you will need to stop your unit half way through the cooking process and rotate because it is imperative to allow the air to transfer over the item evenly. (Note: if you don’t turn the dish…. there is a good possibility that your food will burn.)IMAG0310

All convection/microwaves are real good about just allowing you to plug in the baking information it requires. First, preheating is a must. With good clean electricity, preheat time should be around 10 to 13 minutes.  Place the lift tray inside during the preheat stage.  Once it beeps letting you know the preheat is complete, place the dish inside and set the cooking time. Higher wattage will require less time (about 25% less) or the drop in temperature used (about 25%).  Lower wattage units will remain the same and in some cases require more time than what is stated on the recipe. Again, you will have to experiment with your unit to see what works best.

You can use aluminum foil inside your unit on convection settings.   I suggest not to use in very high temps (over 400 degrees) and pass this information on to others as a ‘safe’ procedure.

This unit will do combination cooking also, where you can use convection cooking for a time and then cook with the microwave, as well.  70% of the power comes from the convection baking…..and 30% comes from the microwave.  Use this setting when your recipes calls for an hour or more of cooking time. Using this feature will reduce your cooking time by about 25%.  If the cooking time is 45 minutes or less….just use the convection baking only.

There is so much to learn about convection baking that I will have to continue to write about in the future.  I do hope that you will use your RV

Convection Microwave Oven RV – learn to use it to the fullest capabilities because it does do a beautiful job and is a wonderful alternative to the propane oven.

Happy RVing!

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Understanding Your RV Refrigerator

There are many ways to keep your RV refrigerator up and working smoothly through this upcoming HOT summer. Even if you aren’t a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ person  you can still save yourself a lot of hard earned cash by doing preventative maintenance on the RV appliance to keep the serious issues at bay. There really is a lot of things know and way too much to put into this newsletter, however, we can cover a few critical points on just helping your unit run more efficiently.

Norcold 1200 series- My RV Refrigerator

My RV Refrigerator
Norcold 1200 series

 

  • Remember that for every minute the refrigerator door is left open it takes 1 hour for it to completely recover that cool temperature. If you have an ice chest or one of the new thermo electric ice coolers that can plug into the 12 volt cigarette lighter, this will provide access to beverages and other items needed on a regular basis.
  • To keep the food inside your RV refrigerator safe you will need to maintain the temperature inside the lower compartment between 34 degrees F. to 43 degree F.  Having a simple refrigerator thermometer hanging from one of the shelves will help you monitor that temperature. Know that once that degree hits 37 and lower, some items will start to freeze (veggies,fruits, eggs and more) My favorite degree span is 38 to 41 F.
  • If placing a lot of foods, beverages, etc. into your refrigerator – chill it down before doing so. Using an ice chest with ice would be a good way to do that. However, if you are placing a 6 pack of drinks (etc) in your already cooled refrigerator, place one bottle or can between those that are already cooled. This will remedy the heat transfer more readily.
  • You can increase the cool down time inside your refrigerator by50% and then help maintain that cool temperature by having a battery operated circulating fan sitting on the bottom shelf  of your unit. Since cool air settles to the bottom of your refrigerator, a circulating fan will pick up this cool air and throw it upward so it can be reused.
  • If you find that the temperature inside of your RV Refrigerator going up as the temperature outside of your RV goes up above 85 degrees F., you have what is known as a “refrigerator that is chasing the outside temperature”. This chasing is caused by poor air flow across the cooling coils that are mounted on the back of the refrigerator. Heat is not being pulled from these cooling coils so heat cannot be pulled out of the inside of  the refrigerator.
  • These RV refrigerators are vented and cooled one of two ways

a.) Air enters the lower vent that is mounted on the side of the RV  and vented across the cooling coils and out of the roof vent or

b.) If the refrigerator is mounted in a slide out you will have 2 sidewall vents. The cooling air is drawn into the lower vent then across the cooling coils and exhausted out the upper vent.

  •  Start by inspecting the rear refrigerator coils or upper vent for a birds nest, wasp nests or some other obstruction that could be restricting the cooling air flow.   If no obstructions are found, you will need to install a 12 volt or  solar powered vent fan on the back of the refrigerator just above the coils. This vent fan draws in air through the lower vent and pushes it across the coils and out the roof vent or the upper sidewall vent taking the unwanted heat with it.

 

RV Propane Ovens

pizza stone

The RV propane oven, although it has been around for a long time…certainly does not mean that we can’t improve on its efficiency.  We applaud the designers of this appliance because now we can cook successfully while hitting the roads in our RV.  However, I believe that we can improve its cooking ability so let’s talk about ways we can make this appliance even better.

Did you know that ‘baking stones’ have been around for many thousands of years and have been helping us achieve success in all the many different kinds of kitchens inside or out.  Here is a quick history lesson on ‘baking stones’ from (article source:  http://EzineArticles.com/7001991 ):

The humble baking stone has made a revival in the modern kitchen, but did you know that this piece of cooking equipment has been used for centuries? Perhaps one of the oldest cooking techniques known to man, the history of it can be traced back as far as the Early Paleolithic Age, or between 45,000 and 9,000 years before the arrival of Christ. Archaeologists have found evidence that Stone Age man used stones for grinding starches into fine powder before using the stone to bake food on in a fire pit, the precursor to today’s modern ovens. Read more about this topic at the link above. 

Using our modern day baking stone is a perfect way we can improve our baking in today’s RV Oven.

You can find ‘baking stones’ at any number of commercial outlets but once placed inside your RV oven, you will find that this will allow for better heat distribution which means – baking more evenly. Without this stone, you could be seeing over browning or burning on the bottoms of your baked goods and possibly… not completely baked on the inside.

My recommendations are to place this stone on top of the thin metal shelf directly above the open flame. Do not block the vent holes running down each outer side of the metal shelf for these holes does allow for air circulation.  Also, do not place your baking dish directly on top of this stone because this is now your heat transfer conductor and will cause it to burn…so continue to place your dish on the wire racks, as before. However, you can purchase a second stone to bake cookies, pizza, etc. if you desire but there again, place that second stone on the wire rack above the heat distribution stone.

Unglazed tiles

One other option is to purchase unglazed tiles from a big box store like Home Depot or Lowe’s. Having the tiles touching one another will work as a great conductor of heat… as well as the one large stone as pictured above. The big difference between the two is the price. These individual tiles will cost you under $10 total, whereas the single large stone can cost around $30 or mnore as found in Pampered Chef, for example.  So you do have options.

Another important point I would like to make is….in many of our seasoned (older models) RVs….the metal tray above the flame has an indention…about ¼ of an inch deep. In the newer rigs the RV propane ovens probably will not have that indention. Please make sure that your stone lies completely on the metal shelf and not have it so large that it sits on the outer ledge (where those vent holes are located). It is imperative that your stone/tile(s) be in contact with the metal from side to side. It’s a good idea to measure your indented area before purchasing to prevent the hassle of taking it back for an exchange. Whether round or square is not a problem but we are trying to cover as much of that indented metal area as possible.

While traveling, some RV owners will wrap their baking stone in a towel to prevent possible breaking.  However, should your stone break, do not worry because as long as the pieces are touching …the conduction of heat process is successful.

ARTICLE UPDATE:  I have had two individuals contact me telling me that their Pampered Chef stone did break when put on the metal shelf above the flame.  I know that 2 is not a lot, however, I wanted to pass this info on to you letting you know that it is a possibility, so be aware!


Defrosting RV Refrigerator / Freezer

Are you like me and decided to start my new month off  by taking a good look at my RV Refrigerator/Freezer and making the decision it was time to defrost?  Well,  let’s get right to it…and spend a little time talking about how the defrosting process is done properly. Defrosting RV refrigerator can be done with ease.

It doesn’t matter if you have a Norcold (like mine) or the Dometic brand. These steps will be the same.
Steps for defrosting the RV freezer:

  • Push the ON/OFF button to the OFF position. (You may have a switch that turns, regardless, turn to the off position)
  • Remove all foods.

 

  • Note: If you have a buildup of frost on the fins inside the refrigerator….this will defrost also and you will need to have a large bowl ready outside at the back of your unit to catch the water as it drains out. (you will need to remove the access panel)Backside of RV Refrigerator
  • The Norcold drain tube (top right side photo) rest inside a small drain pan but the water will need to go in a large bowl because the drain pan is too small to hold a significant amount of water.

    Backside  - drain tube

    Dometic backside – drain tube

  •  Dometic has a drain tube (middle right photo) but not a drain pan. The water will go through the tube and out the grill on the back side of the refrigerator.  Make sure that the tube is resting through the grill at all times to
  • avoid water seeping down behind the appliance and causing damage. (bottomphoto)

    Dometic drain hose

    Dometic drain hose

  • Place dry towels inside (on the floor) of the empty freezer for soaking up melted frost.
  •  Placing bowls of warm tap water (not boiling) in the bottom of the freezer (photo on the right) will speed up the defrosting process. Caution: never use high temperature water – warping/melting can occur of the inside walls. Never use a hair blow dryer, any source of fire or sharp tools during defrosting.My RV Refrigerator
  • Once all frost has melted use dry towels to remove all water. Clean inside with warm moist towel with a mild soap. Avoid harsh cleansers of any kind.
  •  Replace all foods and restart your RV refrigerator.
  •  Don’t forget to place the drain tube back into the drain pan on the back side of the unit. (Norcold brand)