Have you recently purchased a second-hand RV and want to replace the fridge inside? Did your current one break down and you’d like to replace it instead of having it fixed (since sometimes fixing an RV cooler is more expensive than buying a new one)? Whatever the reason, if you are on the lookout for a new camper fridge, worry not I’ve got you covered.
When purchasing the best RV refrigerator, you should arm yourself with the proper information. It’s not enough to find one that fits the space; you have to find one that uses the correct power source that is available for a fridge, as well as the proper power rating. Here is a shortlist of the best ones in my opinion.
Table of Contents
- List of 12 Top-Rated RV Refrigerator Reviews
- 1. Midea WHD-113FSS1 Stainless Steel Compact Refrigerator
- 2. Avanti RA7316PST 2-Door Apartment Size Refrigerator
- 3. ICECO JP42 Pro 3-in-1 Portable Fridge Freezer Cooler
- 4. Dometic CFX 75DZW 12v Electric Powered Portable Fridge
- 5. SMETA Propane Refrigerator with Freezer
- 6. Whynter FM-65G 65-Quart Portable Refrigerator
- 7. SMETA Mini 12V/110V Gas Refrigerator
- 8. Dometic DM2862RB 2 Way Americana Plus RV Refrigerator
- 9. ICECO VL45 RV Portable Refrigerator
- 10. Norcold 4 N410.3UR RV Refrigerator
- 11. Norcold 3.7 cu. ft N3150AGR 5.3 Cf Refrigerator
- 12. Dometic DM2652RB Americana Double Door RV Refrigerator
- What to Look for When Buying an RV Refrigerator
- Other Important Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
List of 12 Top-Rated RV Refrigerator Reviews
1. Midea WHD-113FSS1 Stainless Steel Compact Refrigerator
Most people do not consider Midea one of the most recognized RV fridge brands. However, a closer look at the WHD-113FSS1 might change their views. This refrigerator has all the makings of a versatile food and beverage cooling system, making it ideal for home, office, and outdoor applications.
I like this refrigerator’s two-door design because it separates the freezer from the refrigerator compartment. Other options only have one section, requiring people to use them either as a cooler or a freezer, but not simultaneously. This refrigerator for RV is not any different from the one I have at home, only more compact.
I also appreciate the separate thermostats, one for the freezer and another for the refrigerator. Like I always say, I love appliances that allow me excellent control of settable parameters.
I can dial the freezer temperature to as low as minus 11.2 degrees Fahrenheit and the refrigerator to as high as 50 degrees Fahrenheit. RV owners will never have problems making popsicles and slushies for kids during summer.
I am also surprised by this RV refrigerator’s reversible doors. I can open it left or right, ensuring a more convenient installation in the motorhome. It also maintains its stability because of its height-adjustable legs.
Unlike other RV refrigerators, this product is exceptionally quiet. It produces a faint hum, enough to tell people that the fridge is running. Its 18.5 by 32.95 by 19.37-inch dimension is also more compact than other brands, enabling RV owners to install it in a tight space.
2. Avanti RA7316PST 2-Door Apartment Size Refrigerator
When searching for an RV refrigerator, the best feature that you should be constantly looking for is flexibility. This is what the Avanti RA7316PST 2-Door Apartment Size Refrigerator aims to provide.
Not all RV refrigerators have reversible doors. This is the kind of luxury that I’m currently enjoying about this product. This camper fridge from Avanti really made movement inside the camper easier. I was able to maximize the space by transferring the door that was originally located on the right side to the left side.
The adjustable leveling leg is another impressive feature of this magnificent RV refrigerator. I can level the fridge without using extra cardboard or a tiny piece of rock. I also like how lightweight this refrigerator is. This only weighs 99 pounds; a feature that my shock absorbers really appreciate. With this, I don’t need to worry about the GVW anymore.
The interior of the refrigerator is another splendid part of the product. The light is not glaring. The shelves can be adjusted to accommodate the contents securely. This additional security feature prevents the contents from shifting while the vehicle is moving. Also, everything is easily accessible as there are no hidden rooms made for special items.
What I don’t like about this product is how too cold this refrigerator can be. We bought carrots in one of our road trips and froze even though it was stored on the lowest shelf. I had to adjust the temperature to its lowest setting and kept the door shut overnight just to maintain the rest of the food fresh.
3. ICECO JP42 Pro 3-in-1 Portable Fridge Freezer Cooler
RV owners might underestimate this small RV refrigerator, but the ICECO JP42 Pro can outclass higher-end units and some residential refrigerators. Built for the toughest conditions, this RV refrigerator delivers exceptional performance at RV parks, campgrounds, the mountains, and anywhere the family decides to have an adventure.
I love this 12 volt compressor refrigerator for RV because of its powerful and efficient SECO compressor. I can tilt it up to 40 degrees, and this unit will not stop functioning. It can freeze my delis and other food items, perfect for preserving food on the road.
I will also never worry about where to plug this appliance. People can connect it to a 110-volt electrical outlet or use their 12-volt cigarette adaptor port to power up the device. There is no fretting about damaging the RV batteries, either. It has a three-stage battery protection system that automatically shuts off power draw from the battery upon reaching a set voltage.
I am also surprised by this refrigerator’s versatility. People can use it as a cooler for tailgating parties or picnics or utilize it as a refrigerator in the bedroom or home office. My favorite is the freezer mode, which allows me to enjoy homemade ice cream wherever we go.
This AC DC RV refrigerator is perfect for boondocking and other outdoor activities. Its small size also makes it an ideal refrigeration solution for people with tiny camper vans. One can fit this refrigerator in a tight space measuring at least 18 by 16 by 28.5 inches.
4. Dometic CFX 75DZW 12v Electric Powered Portable Fridge
If you are looking for the perfect refrigerator for your off-road adventures, there is no product that can match the performance of Dometic CFX 75DZW CFX 75DZW 12v Electric Powered Portable Cooler.
The first thing that impressed me is how unit is built to last. The exterior is made from tough materials. It can survive a rough and bumpy road. The interior, on the other hand, is really sophisticated. The contents inside are secured because the compartments hold the items properly.
When it comes to energy efficiency, nothing beats this product. This one is an RV fridge for solar power, AC and DC, too. It also shuts down automatically in order to save the car battery’s power level. It cools fast no matter the power source. It can freeze and refrigerate simultaneously. In addition, this fridge works quietly. It doesn’t produce loud noise or buzz. Because of this, I get a full night’s rest without any kind of disturbance.
Another thing that I really love about this RV refrigerator is it can be monitored and controlled via a mobile app. So far, I don’t know any RV refrigerator products on the market that can do that. This feature is particularly convenient because I don’t need to open the fridge to see the condition of the contents anymore. Just a few swipes on the smartphone and I will be fully informed.
While this product is amazing, there is one minor disappointment that I feel whenever I’m using this. Because this fridge is small, I always find it difficult to stoop down just to get a cold drink. Moreover, this one is quite heavy. It takes two people to load and unload this into my RV.
5. SMETA Propane Refrigerator with Freezer
A dependable RV refrigerator is a requirement for better mobile living. If you need the best motorhome refrigerator that will ensure that your food and drinks are always fresh, the product that should be included in your shopping list is SMETA Propane Refrigerator with Freezer.
For me, the best feature of this RV refrigerator is its huge storage space. I can store lots of food and drinks. With the measurement of 20.6×23.2×32.2 inches, this product is indeed built to accommodate voluminous items inside. This makes it ideal to store plenty of food and drinks to enjoy long drives ahead. Finally, it doesn’t cramp the space of my RV. My family and I can move comfortably.
Another positive feature that I really enjoy the most is the refrigerator’s quiet operation. This is beneficial particularly at night time when we are sleeping or simply just want to enjoy the quietness of the environment. The humming and buzzing of the machine are very minimal.
One disappointing feature of this product is the lack of hose and regulator. I thought that once the package arrived, all I had to do was to set it up. Clearly, I was wrong. I had to purchase it separately. Because of this minor setback, I had to wait three days before I was able to put this 12v refrigerator.
6. Whynter FM-65G 65-Quart Portable Refrigerator
Are you looking for a nice fridge for your RV? If you haven’t decided yet, you can always try this awesome refrigerator/freezer made by Whynter.
I like that this product is very compact. It can be easily loaded at the back of a pickup truck, RV, camper, or trailer. Also, it doesn’t take too much space. All it needs is one safe corner with access to electricity and it will do its job.
Another positive feature of this unit is it can be powered using solar energy. It doesn’t consume too much energy, which is good, especially during the days when sunlight is rather limited. When hooked on a car battery, it shuts down automatically in order to conserve battery. Even with its fast freeze mode, this unit does not consume too much energy.
Its LED display is another fantastic feature of this RV refrigerator. It tells me the current temperature, the power level, and other basic information about the refrigerator. This is something that I really appreciate because I can determine the condition of the unit without opening it.
One thing that I consider a letdown is how this unit shudders all of a sudden. It woke me up in the middle of the night and it got me really stressed. I’m still looking for a reason why it suddenly happened. But other than that minor issue, I really have nothing bad to say about this RV refrigerator.
7. SMETA Mini 12V/110V Gas Refrigerator
A small fridge is the perfect appliance item to keep food and drinks cool and fresh during a road trip. However, not all RV refrigerators perform within expectations. If you want the best small fridge to provide you the best service, only SMETA Mini 12V/110V/Gas Refrigerator will keep you happy on your off-road adventures.
In my opinion, the best trait of this product is its energy efficiency feature. I can run this mini refrigerator using 12V, 110V, or propane. I usually get the best results through 12V using solar energy and propane. With this, I can truly enjoy driving around the country.
I also like that this small fridge has a reversible door. This way, I can fully maximize the space inside my RV without sacrificing movement. In addition, this unit is absolutely compact. I can even place it near the driver’s seat or near my bed. In any case, it doesn’t take too much space. Meanwhile, the interior looks very promising. It is spacious enough to accommodate food and drinks for up to three days.
One major disappointment that I have with this unit is the fact that it has no freezer. I have to purchase ice packs along the way. This kind of hassle could be avoided if only there is a freezer included in this RV refrigerator.
8. Dometic DM2862RB 2 Way Americana Plus RV Refrigerator
A good refrigerator is a must if you are planning to have a long road trip with your friends or family. Of all the available RV refrigerators in the market today, only Dometic DM2862RB Americana Plus RV Refrigerator-2-Way can provide you the kind of service that you need for a comfortable road trip.
I like so many things about this RV refrigerator. First of which is the design. It has 2 doors – one for the refrigerator and one for the freezer. This conveniently divides the space for chilling the drinks and preserving food for the long trip ahead. Speaking of doors, I like that this fridge has a magic finger feature which prevents the items inside the refrigerator from moving while the RV is moving. With this feature, I am confident that the contents of the fridge won’t shift unnecessarily while I’m driving.
Meanwhile, I also like that this 2 way RV refrigerator has its own water drain system. This is one of the common problems that RV owners face when draining the water from their RV fridge. This one, however, conveniently removes any standing water out of the unit. This way, molds, and other bad organisms won’t build inside the fridge. Another feature that I like is the climate control system. This prevents unwanted condensation inside the RV. I have some electronics that I use inside the RV such as two-way radio, solar power systems, and other appliances. If the moisture is allowed to come out, it could certainly compromise the performance of these precious electronics.
One thing that really disappoints me is this unit really consumes a lot of power in order to function. It completely drained my newly installed solar battery in just two hours. Good thing it’s only 11 am so I was able to recharge it for the rest of the day.
9. ICECO VL45 RV Portable Refrigerator
This small RV fridge is an awesome portable appliance – it runs quietly, keeps food and drinks cold for longer, and is quite durable that it can withstand long-haul trips.
At first look, you’d know that this portable fridge is heavy-duty – to me, it sort of looks like a weapon-carrying case used by the army (and yeah, this is my way of saying it looks really cool) – it even has the metal latch that reminds me of my dad’s fishing toolbox from when I was a kid.
When we’re not using the RV, I would plug it in my garage so it serves as extra fridge space for our family – and it’s ready to go any time.
Although it can hold a lot of drinks with its 45-liter capacity (I think it could hold more than 70 cans of beer), I didn’t like that it doesn’t have a temperature divider for different drinks. I like cold beer while my wife is very particular with her wine temperature – usually, her wines should be at 65 degrees Fahrenheit, I like my beer at 44 degrees. We came to a compromise of setting the ICECO portable refrigerator to 45 degrees, so I just get her wine that is still good at that temperature.
It is also heavy when full (of course), so I think it would have been better if it had rollers at the bottom, so I don’t have to carry it when loading it from the garage to the RV.
10. Norcold 4 N410.3UR RV Refrigerator
A small fridge for your RV is probably a good idea if you want to maximize your overall RV operating costs. If you want what’s best for your RV and your budget, then perhaps it is time for you to experience the performance of Norcold 4 N410.3UR RV Refrigerator.
I like so many things about this RV refrigerator. In my opinion, I think this is one of the top-tier Norcold RV refrigerators in the market these days. It is compact, lightweight, and most of all – spacious. It can store food and drinks enough to keep three people satisfied for at least three days.
Another important feature that I like so much is the built-in control diagnostics. This provides important information about the condition of the refrigerator. This simplifies the repairing procedure because the service technician will know exactly what is going on with the refrigerator.
Because this product has an auto changeover between gas and electric, the thermal fuse does not break easily. I can switch between electric and gas without worrying about compromising the performance of the refrigerator. Finally, this product comes with a 3-year limited warranty. I know I won’t break this unit but really set my mind at ease knowing I can rely on the warranty in case this unit fails to work within that time period.
What I don’t like about this product is how I need to stoop down just to access this fridge. It really hurts my back every time I have to get a drink. I still have to make a special platform to place this refrigerator securely inside my RV.
11. Norcold 3.7 cu. ft N3150AGR 5.3 Cf Refrigerator
Setting up a refrigerator in an RV, camper, or trailer is not an easy undertaking. You need the perfect product in order to provide total convenience for anyone inside. If you want to have a pleasant experience inside your RV, the best refrigerator that you need to get is the Norcold 3.7 cu. ft N3150AGR 5.3 Cf Refrigerator.
What I like about this refrigerator is the design. Standing at 5.3 cu ft., this unit does not cramp the space inside my RV at all. There is an LED display that tells me the real-time condition of the energy intake and the temperature of the refrigerator. The refrigerator is easy to use. Its ergonomic design allows me to navigate inside and outside easily. Also, the adjustable food fence allows me to accommodate food and drinks of any shape and size.
In addition, I can move comfortably inside the RV even with this refrigerator around. Also, weighing 100 pounds, this refrigerator I feel that this won’t become a burden on my RVs shock absorbers.
I can also say that this RV refrigerator freezer really delivers a top-notch performance. It cools within minutes. Moreover, its dedicated freezer can make ice without any problems. Food and drinks stay fresh even after a long drive. Also, I commend its energy-efficient feature because I can keep my food fresh without costing a great deal of LPG.
One thing that I don’t really appreciate about this product is how flimsy the outer body is. A broom accidentally fell on the front side and it got banged up deeply. The resulting dent is truly ugly. I wish there is a way to repair this damage.
12. Dometic DM2652RB Americana Double Door RV Refrigerator
Most RV owners usually don’t come across a reliable RV refrigerator that will make their road trips a whole lot convenient. If you want to get the best experience road trip on your RV, better replace your old refrigerator with Dometic DM2652RB Americana Double Door RV Refrigerator.
This product has so many praiseworthy features, the first of which is the design. It has a flexible shelf design, which I think is very important especially if I want to prevent the contents from unnecessarily shifting inside while the RV is moving. I also find the door lock feature of this RV refrigerator absolutely amazing. This is beneficial if you are passing through a bumpy road. The lock will properly secure the refrigerator door in order to prevent the contents from spilling.
Another noteworthy feature of this refrigerator is its efficiency in energy consumption. It only consumes 1501.28 BTU/h of gas, which I think is very important especially if I want to stay off the grid for a long time. It also runs on electricity. If your RV has an excellent solar panel to run RV refrigerator, your food will remain chilled and fresh at all times.
One thing that I don’t particularly like about this travel trailer refrigerator is the thermal fuse is not included in the warranty provision. I did not see a fluctuation in the power switch between propane and electricity. The resulting scenario did not end well. According to the repairman I hired, I need to replace the thermal fuse, but the problem is that it is not covered by the warranty, which is a disappointment.
What to Look for When Buying an RV Refrigerator
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who choose to stay at home and chill out, and those who just cannot shake of this need to get out there and explore the great outdoors. However, with the arrival of the modern RV (or for those unfamiliar with the term, recreational vehicle), these two types can be merged in one. Now, with the help of the RV by your side, you are now able to take the road less traveled without the urgency to pack up and go home as soon as it gets dark because lo and behold, you are at your home away from home! Indeed, the RV is the modern-day steed that helps the weary traveler’s journey go smoother and safer!
The RV combines two of the most sought after aspects in a modern vehicle. With its enormous size and space, it brings about the promise of comfort for you, your family, and your friends as the RV makes it possible to accommodate a great number of people, even greater than the average pick-up truck you used to drive around with.
Aside from this, it also holds a promise of item storage within its hulking body. It takes care of your family and buddies, enough to provide them with sleeping quarters, a kitchen, a comfort room, and a homey receiving area where you guys can just hang out and have fun, while also being able to bring along all these other stuff and items needed in your trip!
Aside from the size, the RV is also quite the beast when it comes to matters under the hood. It has the proper strength and durability to last your travels between great distances. Even as you are taking a gander at the beaten path, or you just want to take the forgotten country roads, the RV can help you through it with incredible strength and space!
Now that you know what an RV is and what it can do, it should be clear then that as an owner, you should choose the options that benefit both you and the RV itself, especially with choosing the items and appliances you are to place within it. For example, when choosing the best RV refrigerator. What are the factors to look for, the things to consider before buying an RV ref? As a longtime RV enthusiast, I will share with you some of the knowledge I have learned over the years.
The Right Size
When buying a refrigerator for your RV, one of the first things you should consider is the size of the actual refrigerator. Why? Because as spacious as your RV might be, you would need to familiarize yourself with its spots and corners in order to fully maximize it. Find the designated area for a refrigerator, or create one. Be sure to provide enough space for the ref’s actual dimensions, so that it will fit seamlessly.
After finding the right size of the fridge that will fit your RV, try and find out what size you need for the storage. If you are planning on stocking up a huge pile of food for a longer journey, or a road trip with a big number of people, or if you are just going solo most of the time. Find the actual size that you will utilize most of the time, so space would not be wasted.
The Right Capacity
As we have discussed, you first must choose the right RV size depending on the rate of usage you are planning to have. After that, the next factor you should consider is the capacity.
Now, capacity does not only mean the capacity to store food and items, although those are very important factors. Capacity, also speaks of the different uses and features the RV ref can have that would be available for you all the time. As the RV becomes popular globally, and with the recent advancements in the field of technology, different variations of the RV ref comes with different enticing features that can help your travels a huge deal.
For example, there are advantages like the two-door option and the reversible door feature, both to be utilized differently depending on your available space. There are also features like the ice maker, which provides you with a cold addition to your beverages. The temperature control and the automatic defrosting eases your experience with the manual operations needed from time to time. Electronic controls make the processes faster for you and your preference.
There are also numerous RV ref options for you should you choose to have an effective thermostat, as well as the coveted flame indicator which keeps you, your passengers, and the RV itself safe from potential threats and hazards. Separate freezer compartments are also available in the market should you run out of ref space. There are also RV ref variations that can give you both gas and electric option, which is pretty handy when you are outdoors.
The Right Materials
Before finally choosing the next RV ref for you, try and consider the ref’s materials first. What kinds of materials were used in manufacturing the ref? Could it potentially damage the RV in the future with the materials and the processes it influences? Consider if it is compatible with the RV itself. The materials influence the kind of processes it creates, as well as the overall weight of the ref. Always remember to ask about it.
The Right Price
After carefully evaluating everything from the make, the size, the placement, and the features, you are nearing the end steps, considering the price.
As most of us have different experiences with different brands, we would always have a brand that we favor. However, it is not so bad to review the brand again, as well as other brands, when buying an RV ref since it is a longtime commitment and investment for you as an RV owner. Also consider if the product has a warranty, since it will affect the final cost.
Other Important Factors to Consider
What is an RV refrigerator?
To answer this, you must learn and understand the basic functions of the RV first.
The modern RV, or recreational vehicle for those unfamiliar with its common nickname, is this behemoth of a vehicle that is famous both here and abroad. There are two main reasons for such popularity across the globe.
First, it is well known because of its massive size. Granted, there are small RVs and big RVs, but that does not change the fact that your standard RV comes with more space than your average car or vehicle in general. It is because of this massive size that more and more travelers and families across the road choose the RV as their travel companion. In it, you can have decent sleeping quarters, a functional kitchen, a small comfort room, and a homey receiving area where all your families and friends can hang out and relax while ticking miles off your list until you reach your destination. With its hulking size, it brings a promise of great space with potential for carrying multiple passengers as well as numerous travel and household items that are to be used in your road trip. Simply put, the RV can be your very own home away from home. With wheels, that is.
The second reason for its popularity is the strength it carries under the hood. RVs are made for traveling; while still providing a built-in camp once you decide to stay awhile and chill out, cook barbecue and crack open a cold one with your friends. As a seasoned RV owner, I cannot count how many times I have been able to take forgotten country roads and a number of beaten paths just to satisfy my hunger for outdoor adventures! And I could not have done any of that without the strength of the RV to travel between great distances.
Keeping in mind the size of the RV, and its ability to travel different terrains and roads, it has now become clearer why choosing RV upgrades, tools and appliances are matters of great importance. Choosing such requires consideration since it will be an investment spanning a long time, something that will affect the RV for years and years. The size, the weight, and the make of the specific RV ref can and will affect the RV’s own performance.
Now, an RV refrigerator is a refrigerator specifically designed to withstand and bear the function and process of the whole RV. The ref’s power source, its dimensions, weight, capabilities, and features, are factors that can affect the RV for a long time. This is why choosing a ref that is specifically made for RVs is significantly different from choosing a home refrigerator.
How Does It Work?
As a longtime RV owner, I have noticed that even a number of both seasoned hobbyists and new owners are still confused about how different a standard refrigerator and an RV refrigerator differ. Basically, it boils down not just in size, but also in process function.
With a standard refrigerator, the vapor compression cycle is applied. The refrigerator’s pressure and the temperature are raised when the refrigerant vapor is constricted. As the cool temperature of the refrigerator’s environment meets its coil (which has hot gas), it then becomes a liquid. The said liquid, which is formerly the refrigerant vapor, now flows down the expansion valve and then the evaporator coils inside the refrigerator’s body. It is then that the refrigerant absorbs the heat which cools the inside of the refrigerator. As the temperature rises, the refrigerant again evaporates into a gas, flows back into the compressor, and repeats the cycle again. Quite tricky, right?
However, the RV refrigerator mostly works differently than this. To adapt to this new and moving environment, the RV refrigerator has cut-off some processes and parts in favor of lighter weight and a speedier process. Most RV refrigerators utilize the absorption refrigeration process. The RV refrigerator has removed the compressor motor in the process of cooling, opting instead for a gravity-fueled chemical cycle that involves water, hydrogen gas, sodium chromate, and ammonia. This is the mixture that goes through the pipes and creates the cool of the refrigerator.
What Are The Different RV Ref Types?
Most RV ref types differ in a number of ways, so there is no easy way to classify them into actual refrigerator types. For example, there are two main types when it comes to power supply. A number of RV refrigerators are available as two-way power refrigerators, which gives you the option of choosing either a 110v electric power supply or a propane gas to power the refrigerator itself. There is also an option for a three-way power RV refrigerator, which can also utilize 12v power from the vehicle’s batteries or even solar power.
Aside from this, the features themselves tend to differentiate on RV refrigerator from another. When thinking about space, there are reversible door options and double door options available, depending on the owner’s preference. Features such as ice making, temperature control, and automatic defrosting make it easier for a number of owners to maintain the refrigerator’s upkeep while cutting off all those extra manual work. Electric controls make it easier for owners to manage and navigate through the refrigerator’s system, while versatile storage spacing makes gathering supplies more effective for long drives. There are also options for a specifically more effective thermostat, as well as advantages like flame indicators, and multiple power supply options.
Why Do You Need An RV Refrigerator?
As was discussed earlier, it is more beneficial to an RV owner to choose a refrigerator that is specifically made for RVs rather than opting for a residential refrigerator. The difference lies mainly in the power supply option, the processes it carries, as well as the compatibility with the environment.
The dimensions of the refrigerator itself, the materials used in its manufacturing, the numerous features and options, and ultimately the height and the weight, these are all factors that can affect the whole RV and in turn, the traveling experience you will have with the vehicle. In order to maximize the RV’s capabilities, you must choose appliances and tools that will not hinder its functions and will make them even better.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use a regular refrigerator in an RV?
Yes, it is possible to use a regular refrigerator in an RV. However, there are two considerations one must address before turning a household fridge into a travel trailer refrigerator.
- The first and most crucial factor is the refrigerator’s size. RVs have more compact living spaces than ordinary homes. Even mammoth Class A RVs cannot compare to the floor space of a tiny apartment.
Hence, it would be best to measure the motorhome’s available space for a refrigerator before determining if it is sensible to repurpose a residential refrigerator for RV.
- Second, one must also consider the refrigerator’s power requirements. Residential refrigerators run exclusively on electricity. On the other hand, RV refrigerators can run on 110-volt power or propane gas. Some brands also offer RV refrigerators operable by 12-volt batteries.
One must remember that companies design RV refrigerators for outdoor adventures, off-grid living, and other outside-the-home activities. Hence, they have features suitable for the mobile family one might not expect in a residential refrigerator.
What is the standard size of an RV refrigerator?
A fridge for RV can have a standard size of four to 12 cubic feet. Some RV refrigerator brands might offer more compact units for smaller-sized RVs, such as camper vans. For example, some RV refrigerators are 1.5 cubic feet.
Unfortunately, these sizes only reflect the refrigerator’s interior space, excluding the exterior dimensions. RV owners must measure their RV’s refrigerator floor space to determine the minimum length, width, and height dimensions they must look for in an RV refrigerator.
What are good RV refrigerator brands?
If you want to base your choice of best RV fridge on the brand, here are some I would recommend:
- Norcold – this company has been producing RV freezers and RV refrigerators since 1959. Their refrigerators are top of the line, made with high-quality materials, and are user-friendly.
- Dometic – this is one of the most popular manufacturers of mobile home related products such as Dometic RV coolers, Dometic RV air conditioners, Dometic 3 way RV refrigerator, mobile home toilets and more. Since their products are really meant for RVs, you can be sure that they have a refrigerator that will fit your space and can be powered by your camper easily. If you want to get refurbished Dometic RV refrigerators, make sure to purchase from qualified sellers.
- Whynter – efficiency is what this company focuses on in their lines of air conditioners, refrigerators, and humidifiers. They specialize in portable cooling appliances that you can use in your backyard, on the campsite, or inside your RV.
If you purchase any RV freezer from these brands, you can be confident of the quality. Or choose any from my recommended products above for the best ones.
How does an RV refrigerator work on propane?
This is actually a technical detail that RVers such as us need not concern ourselves. If there is something wrong with your travel trailer refridgerator, you must always consult a professional fridge technician.
But for the curious, here’s how a propane fridge works technically:
- A propane fridge contains three essential elements within its tubes, and these are water, ammonia, and hydrogen.
- In the beginning, ammonia is in liquid form. When the propane is turned on, it fuels the fire that heats up the ammonia and water. This then turns into vapor.
- The heated vapor rises up to the evaporator, where the hydrogen absorbs the heat.
- This heat absorption causes the cooling effect. The cooled ammonia turns back into its liquid form and sinks back down.
- The process is then repeated until the desired low temperature has been achieved.
How to make RV refrigerators colder?
Some RV coolers don’t cool down as expected. If this happens to you, check if you have been performing the required maintenance tasks. If it still doesn’t cool down enough, use any of these two options:
- Fridge Vent Fan – this will prevent the fridge from working too hard in pushing the hot air out. You just need to place this on the camper fridge’s vent. This can either be plugged into your RV electric system, or be powered by a small battery inside.
- RV Fridge Fan – this will help the cool air inside the refrigerator to cycle up quickly and easily, especially at the bottom portion. This one is powered by a small battery placed inside the fan, so no connections necessary.
If you know how to install a muffin fan, you can use it for creating both a vent fan and a fridge fan. Here is a list of 10 most trusted RV fridge fans if you want to consult more about it.
Will RV fridge run off battery while driving?
Yes, an RV fridge will run off the battery while driving. However, one must set up the refrigerator properly.
The next logical question one might ask is how long will the RV fridge run? The answer depends on what type of refrigerator is present in the motorhome. For example, an RV compressor refrigerator can operate continuously on batteries for 12 hours. On the other hand, an absorption refrigerator might only run for about three hours.
There is also the question of battery type. Deep cycle batteries allow RV owners to power their RV refrigerators with up to 80% of the battery capacity, although it is not wise to drain the battery beyond 50%. Other batteries might have a lower depth of discharge, preventing RV owners from running their refrigerators longer.
One must also consider the battery’s amperage rating vis-à-vis the RV refrigerator’s power requirements. A 100Ah battery will keep an RV refrigerator running longer than a 50Ah power unit.
How to replace RV refrigerator?
First things first, you must remove the old one installed in your trailer van. It’s not as simple as just unplugging, though. This is especially true if your fridge is a propane one or a mixed type.
Here are the steps to removing an RV fridge:
- Turn off the refrigerator’s switch.
- Switch off the propane tank as well.
- Make sure your engine is switched off.
- Search for the RV refrigerator’s access panel on the side of your RV. This will help you find what connections are attached to your refrigerator. Disconnect wires from the back of the fridge, as well as the propane line if it’s a propane-powered cooler.
- Go back inside and search the sides of the freezer for screws that hold the fridge down to the RV. There are usually four or more screws. Remove them.
- Now you can remove the freezer from the camper.
Once you get a new refrigerator, follow the steps above in reverse order. Be careful with the propane fuel connections though.
How to setup & use?
Setting up will depend on the type of refrigerator that you purchase. However, the steps are mostly the same, except for the number and type of connections. The connections could be electric or propane. Check the answer above on how to replace an RV refrigerator regarding the steps to installation.
Make sure to follow the instructions provided with your RV cooler to prevent malfunction and unfortunate accidents. When you have installed the fridge properly, turn it on and check if it works as expected.
How to care and clean?
When using your RV, make sure to follow the steps below to prevent your portable fridge from getting broken easily.
- Make sure you level your RV when parking. This prevents the coolant from dripping out or going to the evaporator while in liquid form. Use a leveler when parking on an incline.
- Make sure the side of the RV where the refrigerator is on is not exposed to direct sunlight.
- Clean regularly, not just when you’re using it. This prevents the mold from building up inside and affecting your food.
- Double-check that the door gasket still seals properly to prevent warm air from getting inside. Make sure that there are no cracks or holes. If you notice any of these, quickly purchase a replacement from the manufacturer.
- Use a thermostat to monitor your cooler’s temperature. This will also tell you if your fridge is no longer performing as expected.
How to fix an RV refrigerator?
Fixing an RV refrigerator on your own is not recommended, especially if you have a propane-powered cooler. You might end up causing an accident while trying to fix the refrigerator or during your trip. If there are any issues with your fridge, whether what you have are new or refurbished RV refrigerators, contact a professional.
To know if there is something wrong, first see if there is any weird smell coming from inside. If you smell ammonia, then it might be that the liquid ammonia is leaking. Contact your product’s customer service for assistance.
The second thing to do is to check the temperature. If it’s not getting cold as it should be, try to use an RV fridge fan or a vent fan.
If that still doesn’t work, check if your freezer works on other power sources (if it can be used on multiple power types). If it works on the other power type, then it’s only the other power source that’s the problem. If it doesn’t work with the other power source, then there is an issue with the fridge. Again, contact your product’s customer service for assistance.
For this reason alone, purchasing a product from a brand warranty and with good customer service is very important.
Where to buy?
The best places to buy camper fridges are at RV accessories stores in your area. Sometimes they are available in home improvement stores, under the camping and outdoor gear section of Lowe’s, Home Depot or Wal-Mart. But they don’t always have a lot of choices in stock. If you want to be able to choose the one you want, simply order from Amazon.com. This way, your order can be delivered quickly and hassle-free.
A refrigerator or cooler is an essential component in any household, even a mobile one. It keeps your food fresh and your drinks cool, and your trip to wherever more enjoyable. If you have a defective fridge, or if you don’t have one at all, how do you expect to store your meat, vegetables, and drinks? There isn’t always a convenience store nearby when you go camping. This may seem petty while sitting at home, but it’s a serious concern when you’re already out on the road.
If you are in need of a replacement cooler, make sure to look into the best RV refrigerator available today. Many of those I’ve tried are reliable and my top choices are listed above. If you are going to purchase one, have a run through my reviews and see which one best fits your needs.