Thursday, January 18, 2018

Winnebago Fuse Compressor Refrigerators

This biggest change for the 2018.5 model year for the Winnebago Fuse is the change to a compressor refrigerator.

23T Compressor Refrigerator

This is a big deal!  The refrigerator now operates the same way as the one in your house.  A compressor circulates refrigerant around the refrigerator to keep it cool.  The main advantage to this is that the refrigerator no longer has to be level to operate.  It will also cool down much faster so you no longer have to turn the refrigerator on the night before you leave to have it usable.  It is also more or less maintenance free (at least as maintenance free as the one at home, keep the dust bunnies away).   But this is not a residential refrigerator.  It uses much less electricity.

Fuse 23a Outside refrigerator vents
Fuse 23A Refrigerator Vents
The older absorption refrigerator used ammonia as a refrigerant and if the unit was not level (or bouncing about) it would break.  On the positive side it would run off of LP gas.  The LP gas creates the heat to cause the ammonia to circulate.  Since there is a flame involved it has to be vented to the outside.  Another hole in side of the Fuse that could let hot and cold air into the motorhome.  You will not see the customary refrigerator vents on the outside of the new Fuse 2018.5.

Compressor refrigerators need electricity to operate.  Some people have expressed concerns about  this thinking that the Fuse does not have enough battery capacity to make this work for several days.   They are right to a certain extent, but Winnebago has gone to some lengths to alleviate these concerns.

Winnebago Fuse Batteries

First off,  2 Group 24 batteries are now standard.  That should provide enough power to run the refrigerator for a day or more sitting still.  They are also making 2-100w solar panels standard as well.  These will add juice to the batteries as the refrigerator sucks it out.  But what if the sun is not out?  Well if you are travelers like Sonya and I, if you drive down the road for an hour or two you will fully charge the batteries.  And if all else fails, if your batteries are getting low you can run the generator and charge them up.   For those that are really going out in the boondocks and staying for a while, Winnebago has made the battery trays bigger and they now can accommodate Group 31 batteries so you can store even more amp hours.  Not that I think it would be necessary for the way I use the Fuse, but it is always good to have the option.

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23T refrigerator2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23T refrigerator control

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23T freezer2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23T refrigerator open

The 23T has a Norcold/NovaCool model DE0061R.  It looks like a normal everyday refrigerator.  Freezer on top, refrigerator on bottom.  It runs on 12 or 110v automatically switching as necessary.  It is nice and large.  There should be no intimidation with this appliance.

One thing to note that this is not a frost free refrigerator.  If/when ice builds up you will need to defrost the unit.  

The manufacturer information for the refrigerator is at

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23A refrigerator2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23A refrigerator open

The Fuse 23A has a Nova Kool model RFU6209 DC.   This one is 12v only.  It really does not matter since if you are plugged into 110v current, the converter in the Fuse will convert to 12v anyhow simplifying everything.  I like this since it keeps with the approach of keeping everything DC powered for efficiency.

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23A freezer

The different thing about this refrigerator is that the freezer is on bottom instead of on top.  Why would Winnebago do this?  Easy, with the 23A drivers side bed extension out for a tall person the refrigerator door is blocked.  By putting the freezer on bottom, the bed can be made out and you can still have access to the refrigerator.   A pretty decent design tradeoff if you ask me.

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse 23A refrigerator vent

Compressor refrigerators still have to vent the heat that they remove from the inside.  For the new refrigerator they vent the heat to the inside.  On the 23A, the vent is next to the couch.  

Both of these refrigerators use 4-5 amps when running (from Nova Cool manual).  Even in hot weather they should run about half the time.  This means these refrigerators will use 2-3 amp hours of electricity per hour.  Assuming 3 amp hours that is 72 amp hours/day which is pretty much worse case.    The capacity of the 2 type 24 batteries is about 160 amp hours which 80-100 is usable.  So you should be good for a day.  Now if you drive for an hour down the road your batteries will recharge.  The 200w solar should add back in 10 amps/hour if you are in a sunny spot which should mean you are better than even.  Upgrade your battery bank to Group 31s and you should be fine to boondock.

2018.5 Winnebago Fuse Refrigerator Measurements2018.5 Winnebago Fuse Refrigerator Measurements width

Now for the last question that is out there.  Can I retrofit my older Fuse with one of these compressor refrigerators.   I can only measure the 2017 23A vs the 2018.5 23A.   The refrigerator in the 2018.5 is 50" x 20".   The 2017 is 49.5 x 20.5.   It is close enough so it probably will but I would measure twice and use the refrigerators installation guide for exact measurements.   You would need to cap off the LP gas supply as well and re-do the 12v supply since on the 2017 the 12v supply is only active when the ignition for the Transit portion is on.


  1. One advantage to a compressor fridge is the ability to park off level and it will not damage the fridge . My name is Stan and I thank you for your blog .

  2. Complete stupidity. What is up with motorhome builders and non-gas appliances? Another builder has an electric/heat exchanger style water heater. All this stuff fails if you dry camp for several days. I was initially attracted to the Fuse by its innovative floorplan, but with this revelation, I'll move on in my motorhome quest. Hard pass.