RV Refrigerator: Buyers Guide

people sitting at gray table in recreational vehicle eating a meal

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The influx of RV refrigerators on the market is making it a task to find the best one that matches your tastes and preferences. Usually, RV fridges differ in terms of pricing, functionality, and features. The implication is that you need to be careful when shopping for an RV refrigerator. If you are not sure where to start, we got your back.

In this article, we provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to buy a refrigerator that will serve you as expected. Our buyer’s guide focuses on providing you with in-depth information on what RV refrigerators are, how they work, and why you need to have such a fridge.

In addition, we will look at some of the factors to consider when choosing the best RV refrigerators. We hope that this comprehensive buyer’s guide will help you make the right decision about buying an RV refrigerator.

What Is an RV Refrigerator?

An RV refrigerator is a type of fridge used in recreational vehicles (RV). Such vehicles are often self-sufficient, which calls for the need to have an onboard refrigerator. The refrigerators used in these vehicles differ from the normal ones in that their design has to withstand the conditions they are subjected to that are challenging. 

The difference between a home and RV refrigerator

The primary difference between these two refrigerators is in their operation and functionality. First, while an RV refrigerator does not depend on a compressor to function, the home refrigerator does. Second, home refrigerators have moving parts it depends on for operation while the RV fridge does not have or use such parts. 

Benefits of an RV refrigerator

Unlike the ordinary refrigerators, an RV refrigerator is highly beneficial. We’ve compiled a list a few of the advantages of these types of refrigerators.

Does not require power to run

Unlike a standard refrigerator which requires 120 volt AC of power to operate, you can use gas, direct, or alternating current to run your RV refrigerator. The implication is that you can use it in areas with no power. 

No compressor or moving parts

An RV fridge does not require a compressor or moving parts for it to operate. This implies that it can be used in areas with no proper air circulation and still operate effectively. 

Does not overheat easily

Unlike the standard home refrigerators, RV refrigerators do not overheat easily. This is attributable to the fact that such refrigerators do not rely on moving parts or compressors to operate. 

How it works

An RV refrigerator depends on heat and a mix of gases — hydrogen, ammonia, and water — to operate. The reaction between these chemicals enhances the evaporation and condensation processes making it possible for the refrigerator to cool. You can use L.P. gas or power to heat the gases and water to run the refrigerator. The vast majority of the brands have an automatic functionality that ensures that in case of no alternative electricity, the fridge switches to use LP gas automatically. 

Regular maintenance

Refrigerators, regardless of the model or type are delicate appliances that require much care and thorough maintenance. Such maintenance is necessary for an extended life and better functionality. How then do you maintain your RV refrigerator? 

First, you must ensure that the fridge remains on and maintains the right temperature. Such a strategy not only ensures that your items remain protected, but also that the fridge maintains the right smell. In addition, keeping the refrigerator turned on before the day of the travel or camp helps you minimize the amount of electricity you would need the following day. 

Second, install a fan in the refrigerator to improve the efficiency of the fridge. A muffin fan ensures that the food stored in the refrigerator remains at constant and equal temperatures. A similar fan is also necessary on the condenser coil. 

Check your refrigerator regularly just for preventive measures. Such regular checks are necessary for longevity and performance. Important areas to focus on during the preventive maintenance practices include the evaporator that is found on the inside of the refrigerator, the freezer, and the condenser coil. 

Make sure that the fridge is kept away from direct sunlight. This ensures that the condenser coil does not warm up and hence, the appliance works normally. The cooler the coil remains, the more efficient the fridge is in terms of keeping food at the required temperatures.

Is There a Need for RV Refrigerators?

Recreational vehicles, as mentioned above, are self-sufficient. The implication is that such vehicles are ideal for outdoor activities in that they have everything that you would find in a normal house. As such, it becomes necessary to have an RV refrigerator in the vehicle, since you do not have to worry about your perishables going to waste. 

An RV fridge can use power and LP gas. This means that you need such a refrigerator especially when you are in places that do not have electricity connectivity. With the right RV fridge, you are not limited in terms of where to go. The refrigerator makes it possible to engage in any outdoor activities such as long-distance traveling and camping comfortably.

Choosing the Right RV Refrigerator

A refrigerator is an important appliance in any recreational vehicle. The implication is that you need to choose the best RV refrigerator that matches your specific needs. It is important to consider a few factors to make sure that you buy the right refrigerator. Here are some of the factors you should consider as you choose the right RV refrigerator. 

Type of refrigerator

The type of refrigerator that you can have will depend on how the refrigerator works and the source of power. For example, you can opt for a gas absorption or an AC/DC refrigerator. A gas absorption fridge uses gas as the primary source of power. 

Other types of refrigerators include the AC/DC and the 2-way and 3-way models. The AC/DC refrigerators use alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC). This depends on which type of current is available. The 2-Way refrigerators can run on LP gas or AC power, while the 3-Way can use LP gas, DC, and AC. 

Source of power

The source of power that you plan to use is an important aspect that you should consider beforehand. This is attributable to the fact that some refrigerators are designed with ice makers, and others depend on either electricity or gas to operate. Other models combine these sources of power giving you the platform to decide which option is best for your situation. 

The gas-powered refrigerators are more common and have no moving parts, as it relies on ammonia to cool. Such refrigerators are ideal in an area where there is no electricity, or where electricity is not constant. 

The capacity of the refrigerator

How much the fridge can hold is a great factor to consider when deciding which refrigerator is the best for you. What you are planning to keep in the refrigerator can dictate the amount of space that you will require. Some of its elements, such as an ice maker, can affect the capacity of the refrigerator. It is advisable to choose an option that gives you the maximum space for your needs. 

Available space

It is important to factor in the available space in your recreational vehicle or wherever you have to place the refrigerator. However, in case you are making a replacement, it is important to have the exact measurements of the old unit before getting another one. What would be the use of a fridge that you have nowhere to place? 

There are portable units that you can consider in case you do not have enough space or in a case where you are only looking for a temporary refrigerator. However, in most of the cases, the portable units are useful where you have a smaller trailer. 


RV fridges differ significantly in terms of the cost. Usually, the difference in the price is attributable to the diversity in terms of the features of each model. Therefore, carry out a thorough search with the focus on the price and on your budget to make sure that you choose a refrigerator that you can afford. In addition, it is important to note that a high price does not translate to more features.

Get Ready to Get on the Road Again

Evidently, there are many benefits to having an RV refrigerator whether for home use or for outdoor activities. This is because such types of refrigerators have a diverse source of power implying that they can be used even in areas with no electricity. However, it can be challenging to find the appropriate RV fridge that matches your tastes and preferences. Once you know the size and features you are looking for, the final choice comes down to simple preference. 

It is important to give much consideration to a few aspects such as the size, price, availability of space, and the source of power, within your reach. In addition, do not forget to consider your budget when deciding which RV fridge is best for you.

Featured Image: Pixabay License, by inkflo, via Pixabay

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