best rv refrigerator

Best Refrigerators For RVs: Keeping Your Food Safe & Cold on the Road!

Chris Coleman

If you enjoy long trips, owning a solid and portable camper refrigerator is a must. With the best RV refrigerator, you would be able to whip up delicious meals with well-preserved ingredients and drink chilled beverages which undoubtedly helps optimize your outdoor experience. There is no reason to give up on comfort and convenience just because you’re on the road, plus travel trailer fridges are a long-term investment that will provide you with decades of good service. 

Whether the refrigerator that already comes with your recreational vehicles is not satisfactory in terms of performance or volume, you might need an extra small RV fridge for your needs, and you have headed to the right place. This ultimate guide to the best RV fridge is your shortcut to getting the best RV refrigerator for your budgets and needs.

If you know exactly what you’re looking for, dive right into our delicious handpicked list of the most well-rounded and durable models on the market, which includes a variety of types and features for different needs. Otherwise, if you’re not familiar with all the technicals, this article will teach you the difference between motorhome refrigerator and household units, the many different types of RV fridges, most important buying criteria, step-by-step installation guide as well as useful answers to frequently asked questions.

best rv refrigerator

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RV Refrigerator Basics

What is an RV refrigerator?

An RV refrigerator is a refrigerator that is specifically designed for use inside recreational vehicles. Among the many different types of RV fridges, you can also find ones that are built for other mobile environments like boats and trucks.

Compared to the residential models, fridges for RV have pretty small builds, while still adequately tailored for typical camping needs. In addition, they typically are much lighter in weights, therefore they tend to take up significantly less space in the limited dimensions of an RV, and also allow for easy transport and storage in off-seasons. 

Another key difference is that several refrigerators for recreational vehicles would work without compressors or even any moving parts at all. Furthermore, given that they have durable construction and are engineered to be able to effectively withstand shocks and vibrations while you’re on the move, RV fridges are less prone to wear and tear, and therefore are more ideal for RV environments. 

How does it work?

Unlike household fridges that use electricity to run a compressor and fan system to keep things cool, RV fridges provide cooling by heating water and ammonia. 

In a nutshell, the Ammonia gas gets to cool down and return to a liquid state, then it is combined with compressed hydrogen gas to evaporate into a very cold vapor. This cold vapor moves to cooling coils that are inside the refrigerator, cooling the interior of the refrigerator starting with the freezer. Finally this cold vapor gets mixed back in with the water and the whole process starts all over again.

Depending on the availability and user’s wish, the heating process could be sustained by either electricity or LP gas, or a combination of both. It’s worth noting that a lot of models automatically change between electricity and LP gas without requiring outside interactions. 

Benefits of having an RV refrigerator

Money saving and convenience: With fridges, keeping dish ingredients fresh is a walk in the park so RVers could prepare meals on their rig instead of eating out. Generally, by putting a high-quality RV fridge on your rig, you should have an easy time getting cold drinks as the weather gets hot. That is certainly a big plus if you often hit the road in the summer. 

Energy efficient:  Since refrigerators for campers don’t exactly consume too much power in use, they allow owners of recreational vehicles to keep utility bills under control. 

Portability: A camper refrigerator is light weight, thus you can move it around  without any hassles inside your small rig while figuring out the best layout or change the layout as per the circumstances. Some of them also have a trolley design that makes it easier to transport from your home to your vehicle, or from your RV to your truck or boat.

Durability: If you’re worried about your investment getting a rough treatment on bumpy roads and will die on you before long, worry not as the best RV refrigerators are built for the tough mobile environments and are made of heavy-duty components wil special features to withstand shock and vibration while you’re on the move.

Versatility: For the money that you pay for a camper refrigerator, you will get a lot of use out of one. Many models are ideal off-grid and solar applications, and you can also use it on boats, trucks and buses. Plus, they can be powered by propane or electric, or a combination of propane and electric.


Reviews Of The Best RV Refrigerators

Different enthusiasts of RVing have different preferences so there is no such thing as the best RV refrigerator for everyone. That being said, particular models still stand out from others.

If you’re well versed with the best RV refrigerator and know exactly what you’re looking for, grab a cold drink and sit back, below is our carefully selected list of the very best RV refrigerator models for camping on the market.

Otherwise, skip to the next section to learn more about important buying criteria that you must take into consideration in order to pick the best RV refrigerator for your specific budget and camping needs.  

Below are the most well-rounded products that boast solid construction and technical specifications, durability, convenient features and the highest ratings from professionals and full-time RVers a like on the market today. Each model will come with highlighted features and both pros and cons so that you can easily compare and pick out the one most suitable for your preferences.

NoTop-Rated RV RefrigeratorsPricesOur Ratings
1Midea WHD-113FB1$*****
2Black+Decker BCRK17B$*****
3hOmeLabs HME030210N$*****
4RecPro RP-2012$$$*****
5Kuppet 1022003000$****
6Avanti RA7316PST$$***
7Dometic RM3762RB$$$$$*****
8Smeta SDW-40$$***
9Smeta SCD-100$$$$*****
10Norcold N410.3UR$$$****
11Smad XC-40$$***
12Whynter FM-65G$$*****

1. Midea WHD-113FB1 – Best Of The Best 

Midea WHD-113FB1
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 3.1 Cubic Feet 
  • Dimensions: 18.5 x 19.3 x 33.0 Inches 
  • Weight: 52.5 Pounds
  • Reversible door 
  • Separate freezer
  • Shelves and racks 

Why This Is The Best: 

Dependable and reliable, Midea WHD-113FB1 never fails to meet the expectations of its owners in the course of operation. As it packs plenty of space, the refrigerator from Midea easily accommodates a wide range of items with relative ease. In addition to that, owing to the use of multiple shelves and racks, organizing foods and drinks with WHD-113FB1 is a piece of cake. A separate freezer is included as well, therefore, WHD-113FB1 of Midea is able to simultaneously handle all kinds of things with variable storage requirements.

WHD-113FB1 is a bit cumbersome but you don’t have to spend too much time and effort in order to move it into position. Boasting a space-saving design, the fridge made by Midea rarely gets in the way. Interestingly,  the door of Midea WHD-113FB1 is reversible so enthusiasts of RVing could determine the way it opens.  Naturally, people that value adaptability tend to regard WHD-113FB1 as the best RV refrigerator available for purchase on the market. 

About maintenance, the refrigerator of Midea only needs a thorough clean from time to time. The presence of the manual defrost setting also helps to facilitate the cleaning process and keeps it generally mess-free. 

Pros:

  • Economical 
  • Superb capacity 
  • No-nonsense installation 

Cons:

  • Several users complain about cooling fluctuations 
  • Temperature control needs some work 

2. Black+Decker BCRK17B – Editor’s Choice 

Black+Decker BCRK17B
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 1.7 Cubic Feet 
  • Dimensions: 17.5 x 18.5 x 19.7 Inches 
  • Weight: 33.1 Pounds
  • Adjustable leveling legs 
  • Recessed door handle
  • Optional colors 

Why It’s An Editor’s Choice:

Designed with compactness in mind, BCRK17B of Black+Decker is particularly well-suited for recreational vehicles with limited space. Thanks to the lightweight body, people could move BCRK17B around and set it up in whatever corners they like. Moreover, since the fridge from Black+Decker possesses adjustable leveling legs, balancing it is going to be child’s play. Overall, if you have a small rig, Black+Decker BCRK17B would be the best RV refrigerator for you nowadays. 

In use, being highly efficient and certified by Energy Star, the Black+Decker refrigerator consumes just a bit of power. As a result, BCRK17B is held in high esteem by owners of recreational vehicles that like to cut utility bills and save some bucks. Besides that, Black+Decker BCRK17B operates in a quiet manner which means it’s good at keeping the noise down. That is a big plus for those that need a tranquil experience while traveling.

Coming at a reasonable price, BCRK17B of Black+Decker suits the shopping budgets of the average enthusiast of RVing. Black+Decker willingly backs its fridge with a sublime manufacturer warranty: two years for parts and one year for labors.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive 
  • Noise level is low 
  • User-friendly handling 

Cons:

  • A number of units arrive damaged 
  • Certain parts loosen over time 

3. hOmeLabs HME030210N – Editor’s Choice 

hOmeLabs HME030210N
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 3.3 Cubic Feet 
  • Dimensions: 18.5 x 17.7 x 33.9 Inches 
  • Weight: 45.2 Pounds
  • Built-in thermostat
  • Removable drain tray
  • Stainless steel finish

Why It’s An Editor’s Choice:

Featuring a handy built-in thermostat, hOmeLabs HME030210N allows RVers to make necessary changes to temperature at short notice. With up to three temperature modes (Max, Med and Min), the refrigerator made by hOmeLabs could satisfy most cooling needs. Aside from that, with spacious interior and removable glass shelves, HME030210N is capable of organizing an assortment of items. Thus, HME030210N of hOmeLabs is known as one of the leading models at its price range for family travels. 

Since it employs a stylish stainless steel finish, HME030210N blends well inside recreational vehicles. Additionally, it’s worth pointing out that enthusiasts of RVing may write down notes on the surface of the fridge from hOmeLabs using wax crayons. When the time comes, all it takes to erase the notes is a piece of cloth and some warm water. Depending on vehicle layout and individual liking, the reversible door of HME030210N would open to the left or right.  

As proof of confidence, hOmeLabs offers everyone that decides to pick up its refrigerator a one-year manufacturer warranty and thirty-day money-back guarantee. For many that seek a sound insurance policy, HME030210N is the best RV refrigerator

Pros:

  • Fair cost 
  • Versatile and long-lasting
  • Setup process is a snap 

Cons:

  • Kind of loud 
  • Customer service should be overhauled 

4. RecPro RP-2012

RecPro RP-2012
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 4.5 Cubic Feet 
  • Dimensions: 19.0 x 21.5 x 43.5 Inches 
  • Weight: N/A
  • Frost-free 
  • Vibration dampening technology
  •  UL-listed

Why We Love It:

If you enjoy off-roading and need something that could tackle constant hardship, it’s advised that you take a close look at RecPro RP-2012. Packing vibration dampening technology, RP-2012 endures hocks as well as bumps superbly on the road. Furthermore, as a frost-free model, the fridge from RecPro needs simple maintenance which should permit you to focus your attention on more pressing matters. The incorporation of stainless steel in the body let  RecPro RP-2012 stay clean and in good condition for years too. 

Being a fridge with a top freezer and a capacity of four and a half cubic feet, the refrigerator of RecPro would preserve various foods and drinks for extended trips. Also, RP-2012 boasts a lot of shelves and racks so keeping the contents organized is a walk in the park. Since RP-2012 of RecPro contains adjustable leveling legs, it’s a breeze to achieve the ideal balance on numerous terrains. A robust lock is present in the design, hence, there is no need to worry too much about things spilling out of the RecPro fridge. 

Regarding power, RP-2012 runs on 12V and its consumption rate is reasonable compared to that of typical fridges for RV. That is why the RV refrigerator made by RecPro is reviewed positively by enthusiasts of RVing, novices and veterans alike. 

Pros:

  • Affordable 
  • Resilient construction  
  • Energy-efficient 

Cons: 

  • Tech support is mediocre 
  • Barely acceptable packaging 

5. Kuppet 1022003000

Kuppet Compact Refrigerator Mini Refrigerator for Camper
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 3.2 Cubic Feet 
  • Dimensions: 19.1 x 20.1 x 33.5 Inches 
  • Weight: 60.0 Pounds 
  • Freestanding 
  • LED lighting
  • R600A

Why We Love It:

With a slim and sleek build, 1022003000 of Kuppet occupies little space and its installation only lasts a couple of moments. Unsurprisingly, the fridge from Kuppet is the number one choice for those with constricted rigs and need a solid small camper refrigerator in a hurry. In terms of storage, 1022003000 features a rated capacity of three point two cubic feet and comes with two separate compartments: one fridge and one freezer. So you could put things you want to keep cool in the fridge and leave those that need to be kept frozen in the freezer.

By utilizing a combination of precise temperature control and adjustable thermostat, Kuppet 1022003000 smoothly brings temperature to the levels desired by RVers and keeps it there. As the ambient temperature fluctuates, the Kuppet refrigerator automatically applies compensations to maintain consistent cooling. Because of that, once it comes to the ability to preserve the freshness of stored contents, 1022003000 is often deemed to be the best RV refrigerator. In addition, with a low noise level, Kuppet 1022003000 is barely audible in use too.

For refrigerant, 1022003000 uses R600A with essentially zero ODP (Ozone Depletion Potential) and that makes it an environmentally friendly model. If you care about nature, you should add the fridge of Kuppet to your shortlist. 

Pros:

  • Adaptable 
  • Quiet operation 
  • Top-notch durability 

Cons:

  • Reports of units arriving damaged show up on occasions 
  • Loosed doors 

6. Avanti RA7316PST

Avanti RA7316PST 2-Door Apartment Size Refrigerator
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 7.4 Cubic Feet 
  • Dimensions: 21.7 x 22.5 x 55.5 Inches 
  • Weight: 92.0 Pounds 
  • Removable bins/shelves 
  • Ice cube tray included
  • See-through crisper 

Why We Love It:

You are about to embark on an extended trip that requires you to bring substantial amounts of foods and drinks? In that case, it’s highly likely that you would come to like Avanti RA7316PST. Boasting a capacity of seven point four cubic feet, RA7316PST could handle many things at the same time. Moreover, as the refrigerator made by Avanti integrates interior lighting and removable bins/shelves, organizing the contents is a cakewalk even in low-light conditions. 

Considering the weight and size of Avanti RA7316PST, the setup process may take a while but it’s uncomplicated. After the installation concludes, the Avanti fridge is going to work till the day if failed without requiring special treatments. By using the built-in leveling legs, you should be able to keep RA7316PST relatively steady regardless of loads. Last but not least, RA7316PST of Avanti happens to be an Energy Star model so its addition seldom causes spikes in the utility bills.

In order to reassure users, Avanti backs its fridge with a one-year manufacturer warranty. Therefore, if your RA7316PST breaks down due to defects within the warranty period, you could claim a free replacement. 

Pros:

  • Noiseless 
  • Timely shipping 
  • Storage capacity is outstanding 

Cons:

  • Quality control is less than ideal 
  • People complain about inconsistencies between units 

7. Dometic RM3762RB

Dometic RM3762RB
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 7.0 Cubic Feet 
  • Dimensions: 25.1 x 26.1 x 54.7 Inches 
  • Weight: 143.0 Pounds 
  • Steel front frame 
  • Self-locking handle 
  • Shelf guards

Why We Love It:

Engineered for today’s standards, Dometic RM3762RB is among the best-rated RV refrigerators of RVers who wish to keep a modern fridge onboard. Owing to the top-mounted operating control and LED display, it’s easy to monitor and adjust the temperature of the Dometic refrigerator. Additionally, RM3762RB is equipped with an rugged self-locking handle that keeps the door firmly sealed. Thus, Dometic RM3762RB excels at minimizing losses of cooling in the course of operation and that saves valuable power.

At seven cubic feet, the storage capacity of  RM3762RB is superior to that of typical fridges for recreational vehicles. As a result, the refrigerator made by Dometic is highly sought after by those that travel extensively and need to carry a lot of stuff. Besides that, furnished with up to four interior shelves, Dometic RM3762RB allows people to arrange and organize the contents. Finally, since RM3762RB packs a stylish residential appearance, matching it to specific themes is by all accounts a breeze.

Possessing a three-prong grounded plug, the refrigerator of Dometic is well-protected against a wide range of shock hazards. Naturally, compared to its competitors on the market, RM3762RB has a good safety record.

Pros:

  • Generous capacity
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Intuitive control interface 

Cons:

  • Steep price
  • Users notice dents on newly-purchased units

8. Smeta SDW-40

Smeta SDW-40
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 1.2 Cubic Feet 
  • Dimensions: 15.8 x 18.1 x 21.7 Inches 
  • Weight: 40.0 Pounds 
  • Automatic defrost 
  • AC and DC 
  • Interior light

Why We Love It:

Though its capacity seems to be unexceptional, Smeta SDW-40 still works well in plenty of applications, especially weekend trips. The absence of compressors and fans means the fridge made by Smeta is highly compact and operates in near-complete silence. For owners of recreational vehicles that really don’t want to be disturbed by noise, SDW-40 is certainly the best RV refrigerator money can buy. Furthermore, it’s noteworthy that SDW-40 of Smeta is a freestanding unit that could be set up pretty much anywhere. 

Capable of running on both AC and DC power, SDW-40 is versatile and keeping it running on the road should be a piece of cake. The consumption rate of the Smeta refrigerator is low as well so it’s simple to control the utility bills. Aside from that, as Smeta SDW-40 incorporates interior light, RVers would have no trouble recognizing and sorting out stored contents. Lastly, the fridge from Smeta comes with automatic defrost which greatly facilitates maintenance and cleaning.

Sold at a price that ordinary enthusiasts of RVing could accept, Smeta SDW-40 is going to fit most shopping budgets. In the case that your wallet is kind of tight, you should think about grabbing the RV fridge of Smeta. 

Pros:

  • Space-saving
  • Reasonable price 
  • Straightforward  operation 

Cons:

  • Storage capacity is limited 
  • People report losses of cooling now and then 

9.  Smeta SCD-100

SMETA Propane Refrigerator with Freezer 12V/110V/Gas LPG
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 3.5 Cubic Feet 
  • Dimensions: 120.6 x 23.2 x 32.2 Inches 
  • Weight: 76.0 Pounds 
  • Slide-out storage shelves
  • Clear plastic crisper drawer
  • Three-way 

Why We Love It:

Basic and practical, Smeta SCD-100 is a must-have for RVers that travel around the year and don’t have many opportunities to replace equipment. Being an adaptable three-way model, SCD-100 could run on propane, AC and DC power. Because of that, the refrigerator of Smeta is able to provide cooling to its contents in all kinds of settings. In addition, thanks to the sound space arrangement, SCD-100 of Smeta features a small build that takes negligible space but its storage capacity remains decent. 

Since it contains slide-out storage shelves and clear plastic crisper drawer, the fridge from Smeta permits RVing enthusiasts to freely organize and access stuff. Using the integrated thermostat, it’s possible to apply changes to the temperature of SCD-100 at a flash as well. Hence, with Smeta SCD-100 on your rig, pressing foods and drinks is child’s play. Similar to other refrigerators for recreational vehicles, the Smeta refrigerator boasts a reversible door hinge so you may change the way it opens at will. 

One interesting thing about SCD-100 of Smeta is that its operations don’t rely on compressors and that helps to keep the noise level low. Needless to say, the RV refrigerator made by Smeta hardly attracts the attention of people in the vicinity in use. 

Pros:

  • Consistent cooling 
  • Low-profile body 
  • Customer service is responsive 

Cons:

  • A bit pricey 
  • A couple of units appear damaged on arrival 

10. Norcold N410.3UR

Norcold N410.3UR RV Refrigerator
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 4.5 Cubic Feet 
  • Dimensions: 23.7 x 24.0 x 36.6 Inches 
  • Weight: 92.0 Pounds 
  • Built-in control diagnostics
  • Auto changeover
  • Reversible and self-latching door

Why We Love It:

Employing a design that emphasizes convenience and ease of use, Norcold N410.3UR earns compliments from countless RVing enthusiasts worldwide. Created with built-in control diagnostics, the fridge from Norcold provides key details of its operations to the users and substantially speeds up repairs, maintenance, … Moreover, since it possesses auto changeover, N410.3UR would switch between gas and electric on its own based on availability. For RVers that seek constant and comprehensive cooling, Norcold N410.3UR is second to none. 

N410.3UR comes with a decent number of shelves and door bins, therefore, people should have an easy time putting foods and drinks in order. At any time, you could check up on the status of the Norcold refrigerator and make adjustments if necessary using the eye-level control interface. The door of Norcold N410.3UR is also reversible and self-latching door so it’s compatible with numerous layouts. Owing to the automatic cycle, N410.3UR keeps the build-up of frost to the minimum and enhances cooling efficiency.

As for post-purchase support, Norcold backs its fridge with a three-year manufacturer warranty. So if your N410.3UR experiences issues that may be caused by defects, you would have something to count on.

Pros:

  • High endurance
  • Undemanding setup process 
  • Cleaning is hassle-free

Cons:

  • Delivery service could use some improvements 
  • Cooling fluctuates intermittently

11. Smad XC-40

Smad Small Propane Fridge 3 Way Refrigerator for RV Outdoor Camper
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 1.4 Cubic Feet 
  • Dimensions: 15.8 x 17.7 x 24.8 Inches 
  • Weight: 44.0 Pounds 
  • Absorption cooling technology
  • Piezo ignition
  • Safety valve

Why We Love It:

Despite its plain appearance, XC-40 of Smad is a solid fridge for RV that rarely lets enthusiasts of RVing down. Assembled with absorption cooling technology, XC-40 cools things quickly but still stays quiet which is why it’s an excellent companion for full-time RVers. Additionally, the refrigerator of Smad allows manual control of temperature so setting temperature to wanted levels is a simple matter and takes only a moment. Being a freestanding model, Smad XC-40 fits snugly in narrow corners of recreational vehicles too. 

Regarding installation, the fridge made by Smad could be set up in a blink of an eye and there is no need for specialized tools. Since Smad XC-40 is a three-way model, it accepts propane, AC and DC power. If you plan to primarily XC-40 on gas, it’s suggested that you select a well-ventilated spot for safety. In the course of operation, the Smad refrigerator lets its owners make quick and effortless changes to temperatures through the thermostat mounted near the bottom.

With a capacity of one point four cubic feet, XC-40 is not exactly spacious but it’s nevertheless capable of taking in plenty of items. The fridge from Smad is a breeze to clean as well so keeping it in working order is no sweat. 

Pros:

  • Fast cooling
  • Light and compact 
  • Commendable integrity 

Cons:

  • Owner’s manual is poorly written 
  • Sporadic complaints about shipping damages 

12. Whynter FM-65G

Whynter FM-65G 65 Quart Portable Refrigerator for Car, Home, Camping, RV
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Specifications And Features:

  • Capacity: 2.2 Cubic Feet 
  • Dimensions: 18.2 x 21.0 x 28.1 Inches 
  • Weight: 57.0 Pounds 
  • Coated steel housing
  • Drain plug
  • Insulated lid and walls

Why We Love It:

Since it’s built for endurance, Whynter FM-65G could take on virtually everything that the outdoors throws at it. Packing a powder-coated steel housing, the fridge made by Whynter competently handles element exposures as well as physical impacts. Also, FM-65G utilizes insulated lid and walls that maintain consistent cooling in multiple environments. That is why in case of power outages, Whynter FM-65G is able to preserve stored foods and drinks for an extended period of time. 

Weighing at nearly sixty pounds, FM-65G is light for its size and thanks to the side handles, moving it into position is a cakewalk. As a true refrigerator/freezer combo, Whynter FM-65G keeps things chilled and frozen depending on the needs of users. Boasting a fast freeze function, the Whynter refrigerator rapidly brings temperature below freezing if required. FM-65G is distributed with handy removable wire baskets, thus, it’s pretty easy to sort the contents stored inside

The electric RV refrigerator from Whynter is a dual voltage with the ability to work with AC and DC power. When plugged into AC and DC power at the same time, FM-65G is going to prioritize AC and switch to DC if AC fails. 

Pros:

  • Silent 
  • Enduring and portable 
  • Low power consumption 

Cons:

  • Particular units come with defective cords 
  • Tech support leaves something to be desired

Things To Consider When Buying A New Fridge

As shown above, there are many types of RV fridges, each with different advantages. In addition, the world of RV fridges is vast and diverse with models of wildly different price points, sizes, cooling capacity, energy efficiency, smart designs and convenient features.

Which model is the best RV refrigerator really depends on your budget and camping needs. That said, regardless of your top priorities, you must compare different models based on the following key characteristics, and make concessions when needed. This will help you shortlist the most well-rounded models which will provide you the highest value for your money. 

Size

All RVers from novices to veterans know that space is a rare commodity on recreational vehicles so prior to adding anything to the interior, it’s important to think about size. In order to avoid headaches, it’s suggested that you use the dimensions of the spot where you plan to place your refrigerator as references.

In addition, it is best to ensure you will be able to bring the unit in through the RV’s front door, which funny enough, many RVers have forgotten to do.

It is also important to make sure that there will be enough ventilation on all the sides of the appliance. Otherwise, you might have to do some carpentry modifications if needed if you can’t find a unit that fits your floor plan perfectly.

Storage Capacity

To put it plainly, the capacity of a refrigerator dictates how many things that it’s capable of keeping cool. In general, you could deduce the ideal capacity of your fridge by taking into account the aspects of your trips.

If you head out just by yourself and your trips only last a short period of time, feel free to settle for a standard model. On the other hand, if you embark on extended adventures alongside a lot of people, stick to high capacity refrigerators.  

Also, though it’s handy to own a high-capacity fridge, you need to remember that capacity is linked to size. That means as storage capacity grows, size also increases so you may experience a couple of space issues if you forget to make proper calculations. Therefore, you should take into account the planned position of your fridge and decide accordingly.

Power Source And Energy Efficiency

To perform as designed, fridges have to be supplied with a constant stream of power and that makes it important to give power source some thoughts.

Power Consumption

Since the average fridges for RV run on electricity, it’s strongly recommended that you keep power consumption in mind. When you’re off-grid camping, the best 12-volt refrigerator must be very energy efficient, since batteries and solar are both expensive.

While most best RV refrigerator models on the market use the exact same highly efficient, variable speed industry-standard compressor as mentioned above, a few brands use their own compressor, and some manufacturers are able to achieve greater energy efficiency due to better insulation, configuration, and compressor controls. 

To calculate a unit’s daily power consumption, you will need to look for the number of amps it consumes per hour from the nameplate ratings, which are typically somewhere on the inside of the refrigerator.  

The nameplate ratings list the appliance’s voltage and current demands. For example, a fridge may read 120 volts and 5 amps of current. Most models on the current market typically consume in between 1 amp and 6 amps an hour when running, with 2.5 amps being the market average.

Multiply these two quantities to calculate its power demand: 115 x 4.5 = 600 watts of power per hour. Alternatively, for example, if a fridge pulls 5 amps and has a 40-percent cycle, the power consumption is: 5 amps x 24 hours x 40% = 48 ampere hour per day.

Having a solid best RV refrigerator around is all but useless if you fail to provide it with enough energy. Hence, you should see how much power you could spare for a fridge and look for models that fit it. That is going to help you narrow down your shortlist.

Features And Designs

Refrigerators for RV come in all shapes and sizes but a few work better in certain arrangements than the rest. Thus, to properly gauge the suitability of specific models,  it’s key that you check out their features and designs. 

A couple of fridges contain user-friendly removable shelves and some integrate fully adjustable compartments. In addition, for your convenience, the best RV refrigerator should have dual zones or compartments to separate the items that need to be freezed and others that only need to be kept cold.

You will come across many models with a multitude of advanced features like digital controls, wifi apps control and additional accessories for effective space organization. Some units have adjustable hinges to allow you to more easily fit it into the available RV space. 

Another handy feature is some units can run on solar energy, so that you use it off-grid by hooking it to your solar-power setup. An additional important feature is battery protection, where the unit will automatically shut off  if it senses low battery power. 

The best RV refrigerator that offers the highest value for money should depend on your specific needs. In general, most models come with the following standard features:

  • LED lighting inside.
  • Dividers and lift-out organizer baskets.
  • Separate dairy compartment.
  • Can operate at up to a 30° incline.
  • Floor drain plug for easy cleaning.
  • Low voltage cut off to protect your batteries.

Insulation 

To prevent the cold temperature from escaping the unit, the best portable refrigerator should be well insulated. If necessary, get an insulating cover to keep your portable fridge extra cool when it gets hotter outside or when your fridge is directly exposed to the sun.

Materials

As RVing enthusiasts move between locations, recreational vehicles and appliances on them would be exposed to an assortment of vibration.

Because of that, as you assess RV fridges on the market, you have to examine their materials which influence durability.

Needless to say, for your own good, it’s essential that you steer clear of models constructed using flimsy materials.

Such refrigerators rarely hold together for long in use and need to be replaced frequently. 

Noise

Having a solid refrigerator is definitely nice but if that fridge proves too loud, people in the surroundings should have a hard time enjoying themselves.

So if you seek the best RV fridge for your rig, you have to keep the noise level in mind. Usually, by reading the owner’s manual, you could learn how noisy models may become.

However, since manufacturers of refrigerators for RV often play down the noise level of their products, it’s advised that you glance over customer reviews and see what they say. 

Warranty

Factory warranties is a somewhat reliable measure of how functional and durable a unit is; it expresses the manufacturer’s confidence in their products’ quality. You can expect to get warranties from 1 to 3 years, depending on the brands. For instance, ARB and Engel offer 3-year warranties, while Dometic and Norcold offer 2-year warranties. Truck Fridge and Whynter offer only 1-year warranties on their refrigerators for RV.

Price

The price tag of refrigerators for recreational vehicles varies between hundreds and thousands of dollars so it’s all about creating a sound shopping budget.

Unless you have advanced needs, it’s unnecessary to pick up a high-priced premium-grade fridge and wreck your upcoming spendings in the process.

The market is well-saturated with plenty of quality and affordable models so you don’t have to empty your wallet to get something decent.


RV Refrigerator Types

If you’re new to the quest of finding the best RV refrigerator, you must not skip this important section. There are many ways to categorize travel trailer refrigerators. Once you know how they operate and thus understand each type’s pros and cons, it’s easier to make an informed decision about which system is best for your off-grid needs.

They can be divided into two types depending on their power source, that is electricity, propane or a combination of both. Regarding the mechanism with which they operate, travel trailer fridges can be compressor, thermoelectric or absorption units. 

You will also come across the term “12-volt portable RV fridges” quite often, which is another variation with unique advantages. The models in this category can also be further categorized into gas-powered, electricity-powered, compressor, thermoelectric or absorption.

Electric Refrigerators vs Propane Refrigerators

In terms of power source, you might come across both RV gas refrigerator and electric refrigerator for campers, although most modern RV refrigerators can be powered by both. 

On most RV fridges nowadays there is a button labeled “Automatic”. When you press the automatic button, the RV refrigerator will automatically use electricity when it 

is available to run the cooling process, or use propane when electricity is not available.

In addition, regarding how they work, RV refrigerators could be divided into three types: absorption, compressor and thermoelectric. 

Absorption Refrigerators (Two-Way/ Three-Way Refrigerators)

Most refrigerators that come in RVs are absorption refrigerators. 

Absorption refrigerators are also referred to as two-way or three-way units. A 3 way RV refrigerator can run on either propane, 120-volt AC or 12-volt DC. A 2 way RV refrigerator for RV typically operates with propane & 120-volt AC.

RVers would opt for absorption units when propane is the main energy source and there is no solar energy available.

Pros

  • Quite efficient when using propane
  • Quiet

Cons

  • Power-consuming
  • Not efficient when in absorption mode (120-volt AC or 12-volt DC)
  • Efficiency dependant on room temperature 

How absorption refrigerators work

Absorption Fridges are sealed systems with no moving parts. The system uses a combination of ammonia and water that needs to get heated up to a boiling point. When the water and ammonia begins to boil, they pass into a Separator, where they will now start their separate journeys through the absorption system.

The water moves on to an Absorber. The ammonia has been boiled to a gas form, and now the ammonia gas is transferred to the Condenser, where it gets to cool down and return to a liquid state. 

The liquid ammonia then goes to an evaporator where it combines with compressed hydrogen gas and evaporates into a very cold vapor. This cold vapor circulates in the cooling coils, thereby cooling the interior of the refrigerator, starting from the freezer.

Finally the vapor goes to the Absorber where it mixes back in with the water and the whole process starts all over again.

The energy to boil this ammonia and water combo comes from either a small propane burner or heater powered by electricity. 

When propane is used, a propane flame heats a chamber holding a solution of water and ammonia until the liquid boils. When 120-volt AC or 12-volt DC is used, that is in the “absorption mode”, absorption refrigerators change the gas into a liquid by employing only heat instead of the compressor like their compressor counterparts. 

Compared to other types of RV fridges below, absorption refrigerators consume more power so they could exhaust your battery bank faster. These fridges tend to be dependent on ambient temperature too, thus their efficiency is not up to par compared to the other two types.

On the upside though, absorption refrigerators for RV doesn’t make any sounds because it doesn’t run off a compressor and doesn’t have any moving parts, like the compressor type below. 

Compressor Refrigerators

Pros

  • Highly efficient at keeping cold 
  • Low power consumption & does not run all the time but cycles on and off 
  • No DC-to-AC inverter required
  • Operates well on non-level ground

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not quiet: vibrates when running and can be quite loud when cycles on.

How compressor refrigerators work

Compressor refrigerators compress cooling agents/fluid refrigerants to regulate the temperature. The principle behind a compressor refrigerator for RV is, in a nutshell, the same as that of a regular household standard refrigerator.

A compressor refrigerator operates thanks to a special chemical substance. This “refrigerant” can turn from a liquid to a gas at fairly low temperatures, compared to, for instance, water. When it turns into a gas, the refrigerant is able to absorb heat from the air inside the fridge’s cabinet. 

The liquid refrigerant circulates through the coils inside the fridge. This circulation lowers the pressure and the liquid again evaporates into a gas. The gas absorbs the heat from the air inside the fridge cabinet. 

The gas refrigerant goes back to the compressor and is compressed by the compressor. As the gas’ pressure increases, its temperature also increases. The refrigerant then circulates through the coils in the back of the fridge, then cools down as heat is evacuated inside the fridge’s cabinet. At a certain temperature, the gas turns into a liquid. 

Now that the refrigerant is a cold liquid again, it’s ready to head back to pick up more heat and continue cooling your fridge, and the cycle starts all over again.

You can see that heat is absorbed from inside the fridge and is released inside the fridge’s cabinet. This is why proper ventilation in the fridge’s cabinet is important for the unit’s efficiency.

Why compressor refrigerators?

One difference between a compressor refrigerator for RV and other refrigerators for recreational vehicles is that models of the type operate normally on inclines as well as level grounds, which is ideal when you’re traveling off-road on uneven grounds.

Another plus is that compressor refrigerators run on low power as they don’t run constantly. Instead, they cycle as needed: a compressor refrigerator generally runs between 30%-40% of the time. When attached to a thermostat, compressors cycle on and off to keep temperatures within your desired range.

Compressor fridges are the most common type of fridge you’ll see on the road, and for good reason. These fridges are built with durability and efficiency in mind, and are the top choices for full-time RVers who are constantly on the road. Although they cost more, full-time campers swear by them and deem the initial investment well worth the benefits they get from these units. 

Thermoelectric Refrigerators

Pros

  • DC powered, such as the 12-volt sockets in your car
  • Can operate on uneven, non-level grounds
  • Cheaper than compressor refrigerators
  • Generally last longer than compressor refrigerators due to having less parts
  • Quieter than compressor refrigerators

Cons

  • Not as efficient as compressor refrigerators in keeping things cold

How thermoelectric refrigerators work

As their name suggests, thermoelectric refrigerators rely on electricity for cooling. More specifically, they rely on the Peltier effect, that is by creating a temperature difference by transferring heat between two “conductors” made from different materials by applying electrical current to them.

Thermoelectric cooling is also known as “solid-state” cooling, because there is no liquid refrigerant required for cooling the inside of the fridge. Instead, solid metals are used to transfer thermal energy.

When DC voltage is applied and direct current runs from one conductor to the other, there’s a change in temperature at the junction where the two conductors meet. The exact change in temperature will depend on the materials of the two different conductors. For instance, if you run electricity from a zinc wire to a copper wire, the temperature will drop at the joint where the wires meet. 

Although such thermoelectric effect is negligible, it can be multiplied in order to create a substantial enough cooling effect to properly keep your food and drinks cool.

Such multiplication of thermoelectric effect is typically done by multiplying the number of junctions between the two conductors. When electricity runs through the system, one conductor will exclusively become the cold side while the other becomes the hot side. The cold side goes inside the refrigerator, while the hot side connects to a “heat sink”. Here, metal fins will dissipate excess heat on the outside of the thermoelectric refrigerator.

Why thermoelectric refrigerators?

Thermoelectric refrigerators are used for smaller sized units, since the system takes up less space than compressor units. Though thermoelectric refrigerators cannot freeze and produce ices and generally are not as efficient as their compressor counterparts, they can keep the temperature of the contents tens of degrees below outside temperature. 

So if you go on a short trip and the climate of the destination is rather cool, you can settle for models of the type, as they are cheaper than their compressor type counterparts and can still offer good value for money.

Another advantage of this type of portable refrigerators is they have no moving parts, so they will generally last much longer than a compressor unit, which requires several fans and lengthy coils for the refrigerant to pass through and absorb/dissipate heat. 

In addition, while a compressor fridge vibrates when running and can be quite loud when it cycles on, the electric current required to run a thermoelectric unit is perfectly quiet, unless a fan is added to improve air circulation.

Finally, if you’re an environmentally conscious consumer, keep in mind that a thermoelectric fridge is greener than a compressor unit. The refrigerant can cause damage to the ozone layer if it leaks from a faulty unit.

12 Volt Portable Refrigerators

A 12 volt portable refrigerator is a mini fridge engineered and built for mobile environments like boats, trucks, and other recreational vehicles. 12 volt portable RV refrigerators could be divided into three types: compressor, thermoelectric and absorption, or they can be categorized by their power source: propane or electricity. 

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Versatile
  • Energy efficient
  • No inverter required when plugged into 120V

How 12-volt portable refrigerators work

In essence, a 12 volt portable refrigerator keeps your food and drink cool by absorbing heat from the inside of the unit and transferring it outside thanks to the vents on the sides of the unit to blow heat off. The cool air produced during the process is trapped inside and prevented from escaping with the insulated inside walls. In other words, in 12-volt RV fridges, the cool gases continue to circulate inside the coils instead of evaporating, allowing for enhanced efficiency.

Why 12-volt portable refrigerators?

12-volt refrigerators work similarly to standard household models as all of them use the aerosol principle. The key difference is this kind of portable refrigerator works with significantly lower power draw: They don’t work all the time but cycle as needed.

In addition to low power draw, another significant advantage of 12 volt RV fridges is most of them can also be powered from 120V AC, since they have a built-in inverter that converts 120V AC to 12V DC. In other words, even if plugged into 120V, the fridge still works with 12V DC.

Using an inverter is not very efficient due to efficiency loss associated with conversion to 120V AC, so no DC-to-AC inverter required is highly ideal while camping.

12 volt refrigerators offer great versatility. They can work on propane or electric, or a combination of propane and electric, based on the model selected and on the available power source. It is ideal for many applications, including off-grid and solar applications. Therefore, you will get a lot of use out of one.


How To Install Your New RV Fridge

You always have the option of hiring someone to handle the installation in your stead. Nonetheless, if you really like to cut back on non-essential expenses, you should set up your refrigerators by yourself.

In fact, you just need some basic skills and tools to get the average refrigerators for recreational vehicles nowadays operational. Think about the layout of your rig, location of power source, kitchen proximity and so on to decide how you could best install your refrigerator. 

Space Measuring

The very first step is measuring the space you have available to make sure you get an RV refrigerator that fits it. Apart from measuring the width, height, and depth, make sure there’s enough clearance for the doors of the fridge to open. Also, keep in mind that the hinges of some models stick out a bit to the side.

It is also important to leave some additional space on all sides, except the bottom, for the Styrofoam insulation that you will need to set up later on. 

Preparation

The first step of preparation is to vacuum and wipe the space dedicated to the unit. Perform any modifications to the panels now depending on your needs.

Now you can start measuring and cutting the Styrofoam or any other insulation material to fit around the space. Any insulation is better than none, so the thickness of the Styrofoam depends on the space available. 

Glue the Styrofoam to the panels using construction adhesive. Note that it is essential for the surfaces to be clean in order for the adhesive to be effective. Do not obstruct any vents and also plan ahead where you’ll pass the cable connecting the refrigerator to the outlet.

Now, take out your user manual and follow the instructions closely. You will need to install a number of parts and also come wiring, which is generally as follows:

Boiler Temperature Sensor Installation and Cooling Unit Wiring

These two steps are the most complicated, so you will need to follow the diagrams and photos in your manual very closely.

Vent Fan Installation 

The vent fan can easily be attached to the vent door with nylon wire ties. When mounting the fan on the vent door, use long power leads so that the door can be removed and set down on a table or the ground without removing the leads.

There are two methods for venting the top of the cooling unit compartment. One is a roof vent and the other is the side-vent. If your RV fridge has an upper side-vent, it’s recommended that you mount a second blower fan on the side-vent door. 

The fan is positioned so that the intake pulls the hot air from inside the cooling unit compartment and pushes it directly out the side-vent. This keeps the hot air away and maintains a moderate temperature inside your rig.

Vent Fan Sensor Attachment

The fan sensor can be attached to the absorber coil with a typical hose clamp, typically to the bottom absorber coil or the second coil from the bottom. If your fridge has two sets of absorber coils, mount the sensor on the one set of coils that feels hotter than the other.

Clamp the eyelet of the sensor under the hose clamp. Do not put the hose clamp around the part of the sensor where the temperature sensor is located. The advantage to a hose clamp is that the absorber coil temperature is averaged at the sensor due to the clamp being wrapped around the absorber coil.

Vent Fan Setting Adjustment

The temperature at which the fan will turn on is adjustable by using the Setup mode. Look into your user manual to find a table that shows the fan setting number within the setup mode and the corresponding temperatures at which the fans will kick on and off.

Securing The Unit Firmly In Place

Usually, there are some metal parts at the bottom that can be drilled through. We can then fasten the unit in place using appropriate bolts. To further prevent the refrigerator from rocking when the RV is in motion, we can fill any voids to the side of it with excess Styrofoam. We can get a better result using a couple of L brackets and more bolts.

We also want to prevent shelves from rattling while driving. Applying thin rubber strips on the grooves where the shelves slide in is a simple and effective way to mute the noise.

To stop the doors from opening while in motion, we can use Velcro or fridge door locks. There are locks designed specifically for refrigerators in motorhomes.


Camper Fridge Tips & Tricks

Camping Tips

Avoid putting in warm stuff: Warm foods and drinks take a lot of time as well as power to cool so they should sit out until they reach room temperature. Only pack cool or room-temperature things into your RV fridge.

Leave some spaces for airflows: Tightly packed contents obstruct airflows and lead to uneven cooling, thus, you need to arrange foods and drinks with a bit of space between them. 

Don’t open the fridge frequently: Every time you open your fridge, it requires time and power to bring temperature back to the set level. As a result, you must resist the temptation to open the fridge without valid reasons. 

Buy a thermostatic-controlled RV refrigerator vent fan

An RV refrigerator relies on a unique heat absorption system.  It needs convection, or air draft, to keep things cool. 

Over time, heat gets trapped behind or above the fridge in a dead space. This dead space restricts the flow of air, and without the RV refrigerator fan, leads to a burnt-out.   

This means the RV refrigerator fan is super important. When the temperature inside the fridge reaches a set point, an extra fan will kick in and push the hot air outside, allowing the fridge to work efficiently.  

That said, you can improve the efficiency of your RV fridge by mounting a thermostatic-controlled fan. They can decrease your cool down time by as much as 50%. If you want more control, wire a switch that allows you to manually override the system as needed.

Note that among the wide variety of RV refrigerator vent fans, battery-operated units are easy to install, but can be difficult to reach when it’s time to change batteries.  If you do opt for this type of RV refrigerator fan, remember to turn it off when not in use to save yourself troubles afterwards.  

How to keep your RV fridge cold while driving:

Running your RV fridge when you’re stationary is a no brainer, but when you are in motion, it may be dangerous to run your portable fridge, since these units use a lot of energy. So how do you keep your stuff cold while on a 8-hour long drive to your next destination? 

Since it is not recommended to keep your fridge running while driving, below are simple and easy tips to prepare for the long drive:

  • Crank the temperature down the night before or a few hours before departure to get the fridge to the lowest possible temperature before you have to turn it off. 
  • Fill open space with frozen beverages or ice packs. These won’t spoil as they thaw, and they won’t create much moisture either. 
  • Do not open the fridge on the road when it isn’t running. To avoid losing any precious cold air in your refrigerator, simply pack a small separate cooler with whatever food and drinks you will need to access during the drive. 
  • Last resort: If your drive is just too long for the above measures to work, then the last resort can be to run your generator while you stop to eat or for a short break and plug the fridge directly into the generator.

Maintenance Tips

Regular inspection and preventive maintenance is key to prolonging your unit’s lifespan. 

Maintenance requirements vary between models so it’s best that you check out the owner’s manual to learn how to care for your fridge. The average refrigerator for RV would only need to be cleansed from time to time with water and cloth.

Turn on the fridge periodically: “Use it or lose it” is applicable to many appliances including fridges for recreational vehicles. So even if you only travel a limited number of days in an entire year, you should still run your fridge once in a while.

Defrost your freezer regularly: Frost buildup can reduce your freezer space, plus your evaporator won’t be effective if its fins are covered in ice. Once or twice  a month, turn off the fridge completely and let it thaw. To speed up the process, use a hairdryer or simply put a bowl of hot water in your freezer.

Sun protection: A handy maintenance tip from pro RVers is to keep the side of your RV with the fridge vent out of the sun as much as possible. If the vent is exposed under direct sunlight or prolonged/excessive heat, the condenser coil will warm up. Since this area of the unit needs to stay cool to work more efficiently, sun exposure will reduce your fridge’s efficiency.

Level parking: Another tip is to use levelling blocks to keep your RV level when parking. Levelling is crucial to making sure your refrigerator works correctly and safely and for longer, even if you own a solid compressor fridge, which is designed to operate on non-level grounds. 

Inspect the coil and vents regularly: Regularly inspect the outside condenser coil and propane components at least once a year, especially if you haven’t used your refrigerator in awhile or if you’re experiencing problems. Remove the outside vent and check for any dust or general buildups. If necessary, use compressed air to blow it clean or simply brush or wipe it clean.


FAQs About Refrigerators For RV 

Can I replace my RV refrigerator with a standard refrigerator?

Even if your RV might have enough space for a standard household fridge, there are reasons for the invention of refrigerators designed specifically for camping. One reason is limited power supply: RV fridges are engineered to be more well-insulated and energy efficient, thus they typically draw much less power compared to your average household unit. 

This is especially important if you either like to camp in far-off places without access to electrical outlets at campgrounds, or if you travel with many companions in a big RV with high demand for power. 

The second major advantage of RV fridges is that they are built with extra durable construction in mind in order to withstand shocks and vibrations when your RV is in motion. In addition, many models are built without compressors or even any moving parts at all, thus further making them less prone to breakdown while you’re on the go, and over time less subject to wear and tear. A household unit might work well in your RV for a short while, only to die on you prematurely, which is a big waste of money and time on replacement. 

How much does a RV refrigerator cost?

The best RV refrigerators are indeed an investment. They start around $1,000 and go all the way up to $3,000 plus for the most reliable, durable luxury models.

The reason they cost this much is because RV fridges are made from stainless steel to deal with the constant beating on the road without breaking apart instead of plastic parts like a residential unit.

How long does a  RV refrigerator last?

RV refrigerators can last up to 15 years and the very best RV refrigerator can last much longer if you care for it properly. Most important maintenance tips include proper ventilation on all sides, level parking, parking in the shades so that the vent is not exposed to heat, letting it work periodically in off-seasons and regular inspection. 

Does an RV refrigerator work better on gas or electricity?

Hot water heats up faster with gas but electricity is more effective and energy efficient at maintaining the water’s temperature. Same goes with your RV fridge: getting all of your food and drinks cold is best done with gas power, but electric power keeps it cold more effectively.

Should I leave my RV refrigerator on all the time?

No, you do not have to leave your RV’s fridge running all the time. A good rule of thumb is to turn on your RV refrigerator 24 hours prior to going camping to give it enough time to cool down sufficiently.

Can I use an RV fridge while driving?

Running your RV fridge when you are in motion may be dangerous, since these units use a lot of energy. It is strictly not recommended, however there are ways to keep the food in your fridge fresh even if you’re heading for an 8-hour drive:

  • Crank the temperature down the night before or a few hours before departure to get the fridge to the lowest possible temperature before you have to turn it off. 
  • Fill open space with frozen beverages or ice packs. These won’t spoil as they thaw, and they won’t create much moisture either. 
  • Do not open the fridge on the road when it isn’t running. To avoid losing any precious cold air in your refrigerator, simply pack a small separate cooler with whatever food and drinks you will need to access during the drive. 
  • Last resort: If your drive is just too long for the above measures to work, then the last resort can be to run your generator while you stop to eat or for a short break and plug the fridge directly into the generator.

How much propane does an RV refrigerator use?

How much propane your RV refrigerator uses can vary widely depending on the size and age of your unit. In general, a new RV refrigerator with a storage capacity of around 10 to 12 cubic feet will consume around 1.5 pounds of propane per day. This translates into roughly 1,400 BTUs per hour.

Rest assured that in general, the amount of propane for the cooling process is quite minimal. Running your RV’s refrigerator on propane for 24 hours to get it cold will barely use any propane at all. In fact, full-time RVers report that they can run their RV fridge for several weeks before the propane gauge even shows any change.

Do RV refrigerators use a lot of electricity?

RV fridges vary widely in terms of their power consumption. For a rough reference, a small portable RV refrigerator uses about 5 kWh of power per day. The entire battery bank of an RV has about 24 kWh. This means that about 20- 25% of your usable battery power would need to go to powering the refrigerator daily, which is a lot.

RV fridges are engineered to be more well-insulated and energy efficient, thus they typically draw much less power compared to your average household unit. However, since the fridge is among the appliances that consumes the most power in an RV, it is essential that you take some time to estimate your average daily energy consumption, and ensure that you have enough power to operate all the appliances that you need. 

This is especially important if you travel with many companions, who might need to use power at the same time, or if your vehicle is a fifth wheel or a Class A motorhome. These are large and luxury RV classes typically full-equipped with energy-consuming household appliances.

If you have large demand for power and often travel off the beaten path, and thus would not always have access to the power outlets at RV campgrounds, it is recommended that you invest in a solid generator for RV so you wouldn’t have to worry about running out of power anymore.

To calculate a unit’s daily power consumption, you will need to look for the number of amps it consumes per hour from the nameplate ratings, which are typically somewhere on the inside of the refrigerator.  

The nameplate ratings list the appliance’s voltage and current demands. For example, a fridge may read 120 volts and 5 amps of current. Most models on the current market typically consume in between 1 amp and 6 amps an hour when running, with 2.5 amps being the market average.

Multiply these two quantities to calculate its power demand: 115 x 4.5 = 600 watts of power per hour. Alternatively, for example, if a fridge pulls 5 amps and has a 40-percent cycle, the power consumption is: 5 amps x 24 hours x 40% = 48 ampere hour per day.

Also in RV Appliances, we’re providing thorough reviews and buying guides which help RV campers have peace of minds choosing the best RV air conditioner, best RV heater, best RV microwave convection oven, best RV vacuum, best RV dehumidifier, pop-up camper air conditioner, best RV washer dryer combo, best 12V refrigerator, best RV refrigerator fan, best RV coffee maker, best RV vent fan on the market today.

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar Cheri Guire September 15, 2020
  2. Avatar Frank October 1, 2020

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