Investing in an RV refrigerator can help you enjoy most of the conveniences that your home can provide even if you are on a trip outdoors while driving your vehicle. Note, however, that the refrigerator used in RVs is different when compared to household refrigerators.

Household refrigerators often make use of an electric pump as a means of powering them. RV refrigerators, on the other hand, are frequently used in those places without a source of electricity where they can draw power. However, these RV refrigerators do not cause the depletion of the battery in your vehicle to keep your food cold.

In fact, the units often make use of a different system known as gas absorption, which obtains power with the aid of a propane burner. If you want a more detailed look at how does an RV refrigerator work, then this article serves as your answer as it discusses how this important facility in an RV really functions.

So How Does the Refrigerator for RVs Function Exactly?


Just like what has been said earlier, electric refrigerators often used in homes work differently when compared to the ones used in recreational vehicles. If you are using propane as a source of power, then the fridge will most likely depend on chemical reactions to work.

A propane-powered RV refrigerator often features a sealed network composed of chambers and tubes designed to hold ammonia, hydrogen gas, and water. The propane flame that the device produces will then heat one of the chambers, which holds the water and ammonia solution until the liquid reaches its boiling point.

Once it boils, ammonia gas can then be expected to rise to a new chamber, called the condenser. It is where the gas will cool down and form a liquid again. The liquid will then flow into the evaporator. It is where it combines with the hydrogen gas.

The contact of ammonia with hydrogen gas causes a chemical reaction, which causes the absorption of heat, thereby causing the beginning of the refrigerator’s cooling action. It does such cooling action by ensuring that the heat is pulled out from the fridge’s interior to the mixture of hydrogen and ammonia.

While absorbing heat, you can expect the ammonia to return to being a gas once again. The hydrogen and ammonia gases can then be expected to mix with water, causing water and ammonia to create a new solution. Such a solution aids in releasing hydrogen gas, causing it to rise to the evaporator again.

Once that happens, the whole process begins again, causing chemical reactions that cause a cooling action inside the device.

How to Find the Best RV Refrigerator?


Now that you have an idea about how most RV refrigerators, especially propane-powered ones, work, it is the right time to start hunting for the one that suits your needs the most. Remember that the fridge is considered to be the biggest and one of the most commonly used appliances inside your recreational vehicle.

With that in mind, it is important to find the right one, which fits your personal needs the most. When making your choice, it is important to look into a lot of things and factors, including the following:

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Source of Power – You have to decide on the source of power for the fridge prior to buying. That way, you can narrow down your options to those that suit your requirements as far as the source of power is concerned. You can go for one powered by propane or gas.

However, note that although most RV refrigerators use propane or gas as its major source of power, it is still possible for you to power it up using electricity. You can expect the electricity-powered one to be a good choice for you if you have either a DC or AC power supply.

Capacity – Another factor that can greatly affect your decision is the capacity of the fridge. Find out what capacity you think can satisfy your needs the most when you are out on the road and driving your RV. If you’re just planning to replace an old unit, then ensure that you measure accurately the cut-out dimensions of the old one.

By doing that, you can pick a model, which perfectly suits your existing space. However, if you are investing in a new unit, then you can pick a capacity and size of fridge based on your preferences. Just make sure that you consider the amount of space in your RV that it can conveniently occupy.

Portability – If you have limited space in your RV, then it is crucial for you to look for a portable refrigerator. A portable type is also a great option for you if you have no plans for permanently installing the fridge. It is also beneficial to check the portability of the unit prior to buying as it helps you save space.

Note that you can find portable units capable of providing the same capacity as what the bigger ones provide. What’s good about them is that they are less expensive. If you choose a portable unit running on either an AC or DC power, then you can also expect it to be useful not only in your RV but also in almost all other areas where there is a source of power.

How it can Handle Travel – Ensure that you check the ability of the fridge to handle all the things that it might get exposed to when you are traveling in your RV. The best RV refrigerator, in this case, is that which can withstand acceleration, off-level conditions, and vibrations when traveling.

It should also be capable of adapting to fluctuating or changing temperatures. Such showcases how effective it is when used in a recreational vehicle.

Price – Another vital factor that will surely have a great contribution to your final decision is the price of the RV refrigerator. Note that this appliance is known to be a significant investment considering the fact that you can now find new models that start at around $1,000. Larger units even cost more than $3,000.

With that in mind, you really have to spend time shopping around and comparing prices. With thorough research, you have the chance of finding one, which perfectly suits your budget.

How to Make your RV Refrigerator Run Efficiently?

Considering the fact that an RV refrigerator is a major investment, it is no longer surprising if you really want to make sure that it runs in the most efficient way possible. Fortunately, you can achieve that goal with these tips:

Turn your fridge on a night before packing – You have to do this before you take your next trip. It is important to turn it on in advance as a means of ensuring that it cools off at the best temperature even if it does not have food in it yet.

Also, note that absorption refrigerators require a longer time to cool down. There’s even a chance that it will need at least six hours. In this case, it would be best to turn it on overnight before you pack and go on your trip.

Put already-cold items into the fridge – You can also make your fridge work more efficiently by putting only those items and foods that are already cold and frozen. Avoid putting warm foods inside as there’s a great possibility that your device will have to work two times as hard in cooling them down.

Avoid overloading – Make sure that you prevent yourself from putting too much in your fridge. You should never overload it. Your goal should be to make sure that air can still pass smoothly through the shelves as well as around the foods stored inside to cool them.

Ensure that the fridge is level – Note that it is really a requirement for your fridge to be level if you want it to operate efficiently and properly. Also, using one, which is not level, might only damage it sooner than expected. To determine how level it is, use a simple bubble level by putting it in your fridge.

Do not worry when you are traveling as the level won’t damage the unit. You can expect the liquids in there to move constantly. They won’t sit still for a long period of time, thereby ensuring that your fridge won’t get damaged when leveling it.

Do routine maintenance – It should involve cleaning up the unit regularly. Routine maintenance should also include checking the front and back vents of the fridge for all forms of obstruction.

Note that even cobwebs and leaves have the tendency of preventing the fridge from working at its best. Check the areas surrounding the connectors too and clean them up if needed.


An RV refrigerator is a great investment, so you really have to get an idea of how it works prior to buying. Also, learning some factors that can affect your decision and some tips on using it efficiently and economically can also help you pick the best one and ensure that you’ll enjoy using it for quite a long time.

Last update on 2023-05-06 at 08:29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API