Buying RV Refrigerators

Buying RV Refrigerators

Whether you want to stock an existing fridge/freezer or add a portable one to your RV, there are many options available. Take some time to compare prices and consider buying a used model.

Keep in mind that refrigerators use a lot of energy. If you’re boondocking, an absorption style fridge that can run on propane will save you power and is quieter than compressor-based fridges.
Size

Whether you are camping alone as a single traveler or with a full RV family, a refrigerator is an essential item for keeping food and beverages chilled. The size of your fridge determines how much space you have for other essential items.

The refrigerator you choose will also depend on how much power and capacity you need. Some RVers opt for residential-style refrigerators designed for use in homes. Others prefer a more durable, RV-specific fridge like those made by Dometic or Norcold. These brands offer sleek residential styling, digital controls with “night mode” that lowers compressor and fan speeds to save on energy usage while helping you sleep, glass shelves, dual crisper drawers, and reversible stainless steel doors. Many models also include built-in door latches to keep your refrigerator securely shut during travel.
Storage capacity

If you camp with a lot of people or cook, consider a larger capacity “residential-style” refrigerator. Keep in mind that this type requires a good battery bank and solar capability to run off-grid.

This kind of fridge works with a process known as gas absorption. It uses ammonia and water to keep food cold using a series of chemical reactions that require heat to initiate. This heat can be supplied by a heating element when connected to shore power or a generator, or by burning propane.

RV fridges should be defrosted regularly. Also, make sure there is adequate airflow inside the fridge and that the fridge thermometer is in a spot where it will be accurate. Lastly, consider adding a 12-volt fridge fan to improve circulation and help cool your refrigerator faster.
Temperature control

Most RV refrigerators display a numerical scale or temperature range on their control panel. Move the knob or button up and down to select your desired temperature. Alternatively, you can add an internal fan to improve airflow and prevent your food from spoiling too quickly.

It’s important to know how your fridge works and how to troubleshoot if it has problems. This will help you save time and money while on the road!

Many of the same issues that can occur with residential refrigerators also affect RV absorption refrigerators. This is because they use heat to trigger the cooling process, and if your RV is not level, it may be difficult for the chemical coolant to travel throughout the system. If this happens, your refrigerator won’t be able to cool properly.
Energy efficiency

Most RV refrigerators go through about 3 amps in the course of a day. That might not sound like much, but when you’re camping off-grid with a limited amount of electricity available, every little bit counts.

You can increase the efficiency of your RV fridge by using a 12V thermostatically controlled refrigerator vent fan that helps keep air moving inside the fridge and reduces energy consumption. In addition, make sure that your refrigerator is level so that it won’t overwork and cause unnecessary power consumption.

Another way to improve the energy efficiency of your RV refrigerator is by using a compressor fridge instead of an absorption fridge. The compressor technology is more efficient and requires less insulation than an absorption refrigerator. The fridges also use significantly less power than a traditional propane refrigerator.
LP gas or electric

Modern RV refrigerators can be LP gas or electric. Absorption fridges are the most common types found in RVs today, and they’re also more flexible than compressor fridges. These fridges can switch between LP gas and electrical power through a simple switch, so you don’t have to remember to plug it back in after every use. They’re available in two-way models that only run on LP gas or three-way models that run on LP gas, AC electricity, and DC power (house batteries).

These refrigerators use heat to trigger an ammonia-based refrigerant to change from liquid to vapor and back again. They consume little energy and are ideal for boondocking. However, they don’t cool as quickly or evenly as compressor fridges. In addition, they don’t work well if you’re traveling over rough terrain.

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