Working of a Propane RV Fridge – Plus Tips To Keep It Cold

Are you planning to hit the road with a full fridge? Here’s how to keep your RV fridge cold while driving without constantly worrying about the food’s freshness and security. It clearly seems all difficult …

storage space in RV fridge
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Are you planning to hit the road with a full fridge? Here’s how to keep your RV fridge cold while driving without constantly worrying about the food’s freshness and security. It clearly seems all difficult and bewildering to find a sheer solution for this problem, but this blog might suffice your doubts, and you’ll be able to get on route hassle-free.

RV refrigerator

RV Refrigerator is said to be an absorbing refrigerator as it works when the gases mentioned below mix together and then gradually condense or cool down to give the desired result of keeping the refrigerator cool. A propane RV fridge uses the following gases and liquids –

  1. Ammonia
  2. Hydrogen gas
  3. Water

Even though most RV fridges are absorption fridges and work off propane or an electrical power source, it is not the same in all cases. It does seem confusing, but not to worry; your queries will be solved.

How An RV Refrigerator Works

Here, we can have a look at a detailed explanation of how a propane refrigerator works and the suitable one to choose for a particular RV. Refrigerators found in your homes use the compressor to cool down, but the RV refrigerator or absorption refrigerator uses the gases and liquids mentioned above and heats them up. Further, the gases and liquids are heated and transferred through tubes inside a refrigerator casing leading to evaporation. And with this, the heating from the refrigerator is pulled out.

fridge block diagram

The continuous evaporation process results in creating a cooling effect inside the refrigerator. Then the main challenge arises to keep the liquids and gases heated, which does require a flame or a heating element.

So, in light of keeping the refrigerator running, you must have a power source.

3 Power Sources Of RV Fridge

An RV refrigerator uses one the three power sources:

  • Electricity (AC Power)
  • Propane
  • Battery (12 Volt)

The RV Refrigerator works with a combination of the power sources mentioned above to produce sufficient energy.

A Visual Guide on How an Absorption Refrigerator Works

Types of RV Refrigerators

There are various types of refrigerators found today that are quite efficient and are also easily available in the market. Therefore it does make it tough to choose the best one for your RV. However, among all, the most popular RV refrigerator seems to be the dual-power electricity/propane refrigerator.

1. Dual Electricity/Propane Refrigerator

In order to have this refrigerator in your RV, one must install a spare propane tank in your RV.

As a matter of fact, these refrigerators come with an “auto mode,” which means the refrigerator itself moves from electricity to propane after disconnecting from a power source.

This makes it more accessible as all you have to do is to keep an eye that your tank is brimful.

Dual Electricity/Propane Refrigerator

2. Battery Powered Refrigerators

Battery-powered refrigerators can use a 12-volt battery.

For these refrigerators, you need to plug them into your RV. These types of refrigerators also happen to be known as compressor refrigerators. Because it runs off a 12-volt battery, these refrigerators are luckily on the smaller side, so they don’t consume too much energy from your battery. As a result, these may surprisingly look like traditional ice coolers.

Battery Powered Refrigerators

3. Mini-Fridge

These types of mini fridges are perfect to be installed in your garage or in the college dorm. However, they’re small and run excessively off on low power. Keeping that in mind, these refrigerators are used only in places where electric hook-ups are available, so you need to be more cautious than usual and plan accordingly if you are on the road for a long time.

mini fridge

Tips For Keeping Your fridge Cool

  1. Regarding Fridges, we always want to be double sure about food security. To ensure food safety, we can keep a thermometer for the fridge and refrigerator to check the temperature of the food at regular intervals, which will ultimately help us to sustain the food at optimum temperatures. For a fridge, this is 34-40ºF (3-5ºC ) and a freezer 0ºF (-18ºC).
  2. To help keep the refrigerator cool, you can invest in a small battery-operated fan to place inside the cabinet. This will help the cool air to circulate, keeping your items cooler and reducing your refrigerator’s workload.
  3. We can cut down the energy usage and burden on the refrigerator to help the refrigerator work more efficiently by putting pre-cooled and pre-frozen items in the fridge and freezer.
  4. Sometimes, the outside ambient temperature can also affect the functioning of your RV fridge. The reason for the same could possibly be the heat exchanger. So, to avoid such a setback or to maintain the state of equilibrium when there’s a more excellent outside, we can set the refrigerator in a warmer setting. Still, when it is warmer outside, we can set it at a cooler temperature.
  5. A word of caution, you should never forget to turn off your propane before entering a gas station. Open flames + fuel = Bad idea


It is safe to say that a propane refrigerator works on an electrical power supply as well and not just propane. So, it will be suitable for your Rv and will surely turn out to be your best companion while going on a road trip. Just do a little research before investing in any RV Refrigerator, and it will allow you to avail its benefits in the long run.

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