How Does An RV Refrigerator Work Top Full Guide 2023

How Does An RV Refrigerator Work Top Full Guide 2023

Own an RV refrigerator and still don’t know how does an RV refrigerator work? Is it really useful that you can take it with you when you go on a picnic or go out? The answer is yes. The use of an RV refrigerator to preserve food is not too strange for those of you who often travel and camp.

So, how to better understand how RV refrigerator works in a short period. The best way is to read this article by Publican Anker. Here you can find answers to your questions about this type of device. Stay tuned to the end of the post for more details.

How Does an RV Work: The Simple Answer

An RV fridge can cool your food to the same safe temperature as your refrigerator at home. It is often smaller than a regular fridge and can be fitted into an RV.

The RV fridge, just like your refrigerator at home, is a heat pump. It moves heat from the inside to the outside.

An RV’s refrigerators vent outside, meaning that “outside” can also mean outside. These refrigerators can also keep food cool or frozen while stationary and when traveling down the road.

The Full Cooling Process

An absorption is made up of five parts: the generator, separator, and condenser, as well as an evaporator and a filter.

Start with ammonia and water in the generator. The solution is heated to boiling point.

Now, the ammonia solution flows into the separator. The ammonia evaporates and is separated from the water.

The absorber will let the water down, while the ammonia will rise to the condenser. The heating element is dissipated, and the ammonia becomes a liquid again.

The liquid ammonia is then put into the evaporator, where it will be mixed with gas. The ammonia is evaporated again, but this time the heat inside the fridge is removed by the evaporator. This causes the refrigerator box to cool down.

The gas and ammonia are absorbed into the absorber, where they reform into a solution with water. Now the hydrogen gas can flow back to its original destination.

The generator returns the ammonia and the water solution to continue the process.

During cooling, you will notice that heat is applied to the generator’s ammonia/water solution to cause it to boil and then evaporate. The heating element is produced either by propane or electricity.

A propane heat source will allow you to heat the chemicals with an open flame. It is produced by an electrical element if it is an electric heat source.

Two Way vs. Three Way RV Fridge

There are two kinds of RV fridges: a two-way or a three-way absorption refrigerator.

Two-way fridges allow your unit to be run on either L.P. (propane) or 120VAC. When the setting is set to “Auto”, your unit will switch between propane and 120VAC power when it is plugged in and back to propane when unplugged.

A three-way refrigerator is similar to a 2-way but can also be run on 12VDC power. However, the downside of 12VDC power is that it would require a high current draw to keep your icebox cool.

A small igniter coil signals to lighten, and the regulating valve opens to let fuel into the coil. The igniter ignites the fuel and produces the flame.

The regulating valve closes automatically when you switch back to AC electric power (shore power), suffocating the flame.

Keeping Your Fridge Cool

Fridge safety is an important consideration. To ensure that your food stays at the right temperature, I recommend purchasing an Amazon Link thermometer. This is for a fridge: 34-40oF (3- 5oC) and a freezer: 0oF (18oC).

You will need to allow your freezer and fridge to reach the right temperature before setting out on the road. It usually takes around 24 hours for your fridge and freezer to reach the proper temperature.

A small, battery-operated fan (Amazon Link) can be placed inside your fridge cabinet to keep it cool. The cool air will circulate, keeping your items cool and reducing the refrigerator’s workload.

Pre-cooled and frozen items should be kept in the fridge and freezer as much as possible. Precooling or cooling down hot items takes less energy than keeping them cool in your fridge.

You may also notice that the temperature of your fridge can rise if it is too hot. This is not a good situation. It’s not always possible, but it is worth letting leftovers cool down to room temperature before placing them in the refrigerator.

Ambient Temperature and Your Fridge

Your RV fridge’s performance can be affected by the outside temperature. This is due to your heat exchanger.

Heat exchangers are used to vent the heat from the absorption process outwards so it can evaporate. When it is already hot outside, this becomes an issue.

It’s possible to position your RV in a way that the sidewall of the fridge is shaded. This will provide some relief for your fridge when it’s hot. The cooler air intake for fridge ventilation is located at the lower fridge access panel. To keep the area well ventilated, you’ll need to clear it of any debris or blockages.

You can turn your fridge on a warmer setting when it is cooler. You will want to choose a cooler setting if it is hotter.

The setting of our fridges ranges between 1 and 5, with five being the coldest and one being the warmest. The thermometer is useful for monitoring whether your fridge needs to be adjusted.

Keeping Your RV and Fridge Level

Your RV’s leveling is more than just for your comfort. Your fridge’s cooling system is heavily dependent on gravity, so being too low can cause problems. If the fridge is tilted, the chemicals could stop flowing. This will make the fridge less efficient.

How far off the level can you go? You can go up to 3 degrees or half a bubble. Your fridge could be damaged if it is not leveled for more than 30 minutes. Would you please read our article Why your RV fridge must be level?

You can read my article Why your RV should be level and How to determine your level.

Driving With Your Fridge Running

You might be concerned about driving down the road while burning open flames. While I won’t say it’s safe, many RVers keep their propane-powered fridges running. Some people choose to shut off the fridge while driving.

Our fridge has always been fueled with propane when we travel, and we have never had to worry about it.

Problem solved if you have a 3-way fridge. Could you set it to 12VDC while driving?

Driving can be dangerous because of the level mentioned above problem. The RV’s motion keeps the chemicals moving parts, allowing the fridge to continue working efficiently even while traveling.

It’s fine to leave your fridge on while driving. In 8 hours, you’ll lose 4oF. It’s best to get your fridge very cold before you set it out. Keep your fridge closed until it is running again.

Be aware that propane should be turned off before entering a gas station. Fuel + open flames = bad idea

Ferries will require you to turn off your propane tanks before you board the ferry.

8 Tips For Your RV Refrigerator

8 Tips For Your RV Refrigerator

A refrigerator for an RV requires more planning and thought than a fridge for your kitchen.

These tips will help you prolong the life of your fridge.

These are just a few of the things you should be taking into account:

  • Your refrigerator should be turned on at least an hour before you intend to use it.
  • To speed up cooling, place an ice block inside the refrigerator.
  • Keep the fridge at room temperature.
  • You might consider buying a battery-operated refrigerator fan.
  • Check that the vents of your refrigerator are free from dust and debris.
  • Place your vehicle so that the vent outside is shaded.
  • Allow airflow to circulate between food items – don’t pack too tightly.
  • Regularly defrost

You can extend the life of your refrigerator by taking preventive steps like the ones listed above.

RV Refrigerator vs. Home Refrigerator

RV Refrigerator vs Home Refrigerator

While some RVs are equipped with residential fridge, there is little to no difference in their functionality. Most RVs, however, have an fridge that either DC or propane can power.

The size and weight of an RV fridge are another obvious difference. An RV fridge is usually smaller than a regular refrigerator. Newer RV models have larger refrigerators and are pushing the boundaries. The RV fridges are built to withstand bumps and have latches that prevent the doors from opening.

Alternative RV Refrigerators

Here are some options if your RV does not have a fridge or a working refrigerator or if you need more storage space to store your belongings for the next trip.


A small refrigerator can be easily added to an RV. It would help if you plugged it in at your campsite. You can also use solar power to run your fridge while you are on the road.

A mini-fridge can take up more space in your vehicle, but they are also available in different sizes and have zero installation. To avoid any mishaps, make sure it is stored somewhere safe while on the move.

Portable Fridge/Cooler

A portable fridge/cooler is another option to increase cooling space. A cooler could be used to add ice, but the best coolers will melt quickly, and your food will soon soak in water.

You don’t need to worry if you choose a portable fridge/electric cooler. Many models come with an optional freezer. These units can also be used as a power source.

Dometic CFX coolers have advanced compressor electronics, which allow for low power consumption by using solar power, 100-240V AC, 12/24V DC, and solar power. Digital temperature control is possible to ensure the coolest temperatures all day.

Residential-Style Refrigerator

Many people choose to convert their RV refrigerator to a residential fridge. The larger fridge will require some modifications to fit the heavier weight and size. You’ll enjoy the luxury for many years to come once it’s completed.

Maybe you also like:

How Much Propane Does an RV Fridge Use?

The use of propane in RV refrigerators is very efficient. The amount of propane required to heat the ammonia solution in the absorption process is very low because it is a closed-loop.

The brand and model of propane used will also vary. The smaller the unit, the less fuel it will consume. The efficiency of newer units is also higher.

An RV fridge of the average size is 6 feet in volume. This will consume approximately 1 lb propane per day. Referring to the standard BBQ tank, it weighs in at around 20 lbs.

One RVer said they used propane for 40 days (one) in the summer, costing them 8 gallons. This is just more than two propane BBQ tanks. This is a good deal considering that you will probably use more propane during summer.


Can I replace my RV fridge with a standard mini-fridge?

It is possible to convert your RV absorption fridge into a mini compressor refrigerator. However, you will need to install a 120VAC plug and ensure adequate airflow around it (as recommended). You will also be restricted to using your fridge only on shore power or generator power.

Should I leave my RV refrigerator on all the time?

ANSWER Dear Dale, prolong your RV’s refrigerator life, and you don’t have to keep it running. It is a good idea to turn your RV Refrigerator on 24 hours before you go camping. This allows the refrigerator to cool off sufficiently.

Search for:

Do I need electricity to run my RV fridge on propane?

Your fridge will still require power from the 12VDC system even if it is running on propane. You will not be able to run your fridge if your house batteries have gone bad.

Does an RV propane fridge need electricity?

An RV Propane Fridge Will Need Electricity. The majority of RV propane refrigerators require a small amount of DC battery power to function. This could light the pilot, power a control panel, and control the gas valve.


Does RV work better on gas or electricity?

Electric RV refrigerators work better than gas. The popularity of electric RV refrigerators is growing for other reasons than just performance. They are safer, more user-friendly, more efficient, and allow for greater spontaneity and flexibility when traveling.

Read on:

Will my RV fridge run off the battery?

If your RV fridge is set up to run on batteries or use propane, an RV refrigerator can be charged with the battery. An absorption fridge can run on batteries for only 3 hours, but it can last weeks if it uses propane. An RV refrigerator for residential use will last about 12 hours with batteries.

Click here:


The RV refrigerator is just as reliable and stable as a full-sized refrigerator. An RV refrigerator can make your picnic even more enjoyable.

You can be confident that you have the right equipment for your trip after doing your research. Good luck choosing a fridge!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *