If you own an RV, you want comfort, whether you park your RV in one place or you use it for camping trips. And one sure way to ensure comfort is to have an RV refrigerator that serves you well.
From keeping your food fresh to your fruits and drinks, and wine, an RV refrigerator is a necessary component if you seek a comfortable RV experience.
In this post, we would be unboxing what an RV refrigerator is, the different types of RV refrigerators; how to maintain an RV refrigerator, and the things you should look out for when getting an RV refrigerator as well as the best five RV refrigerators of 2020.
What Is an RV Fridge
An RV refrigerator is a small refrigerator used in a Recreational vehicle. These refrigerators aren’t like the usual refrigerators we find at homes. RV refrigerators are designed to withstand constant and turbulent movements. These refrigerators are also designed with a different cooling mechanism; separate from the ones most of us are familiar with.
What Cooling Mechanism Does An RV Refrigerator Use?
If you are observant, you must have seen the refrigerator you have in your house have something that looks like a cylinder at the back of the fridge. This cylinder is called a compressor. With our regular refrigerators, the cooling system is through a compressor.
But with most RV fridges, there is no compressor. Instead, the fridge’s cooling mechanism is through an absorption mechanism.
It is imperative to note that some RV refrigerators use Compressors and other traveling fridges that use a combination of compression and absorption mechanism. RV compressor refrigerators aren’t as popular as absorption refrigerators. Still, they exist. And for good reasons.
But before we go into all of those…
How does this absorption mechanism thing work? You ask.
How RV Refrigerators Work
The RV fridge uses hydrogen gas, ammonia, and water to keep your fruits and food, and wine cold. The refrigerator uses electricity or propane to heat the fluids, sending them through a series of tubes, and then condensation happens. Condensation leads to cooling in the fridge.
The heat produced by propane or electric energy heats the ammonia, hydrogen gas, and water. And this leads to evaporation. The evaporated gases pass through a series of tubes that cools them down through condensation.
This process of cooling, the absorption process, is the most common with RVs and travel trailers because it uses less energy and is relatively safer than the standard compressor mechanism.
The height of an RV Fridge measures around four and twelve cubic feet.
When it comes to types of RV fridges, we have many camping fridge reviews sites that classify RV fridges into two distinct types. The classifications could be either based on the cooling mechanisms or the power sources of the RV fridges.
Types of RV Refrigerators Based On Cooling Mechanism
- Compressor Type Refrigerators: AC/DC power powers these fridges. With these refrigerators, you can use them off of shore if they are plugged, or you can use your coach batteries to power them. However, unlike residential refrigerators that also use compressors, RV compressor refrigerators use both Direct Current and Alternate current. One significant advantage of RV compressor refrigerators is that they cool faster.
- Absorption Refrigerators: Absorption refrigerators use LP (Liquified petroleum) gas to heat the gases and liquid. Absorption RV fridges are more stable and can withstand the roughshod of driving.
Types of RV Refrigerators Based On Power Source
When it comes to the power source, we classify RV fridges into two categories:
- Two-Way RV Refrigerator: Refrigerators in this category are powered by LP gas or AC. The batteries of the RV coach power the Fridges.
- Three-Way RV Refrigerator: While the two-way fridge uses LP gas and AC to power the refrigerator, the 3-way fridge has an additional power source: DC.
Another type of refrigerator used in RVs is the ‘Residential-Style’ refrigerators. Residential-style fridges cool faster and evenly, but they are heavier than regular RV fridges.
Please, take note that some designers use ‘residential refrigerators’ to refer to bigger RV refrigerators. So, be careful not to get a two-way fridge when you intended to buy a three-way RV refrigerator.
Now that you know the types of RV refrigerators to buy, what are the things you should look out for before you buy an RV refrigerator?
Things to Consider Before Buying An RV Refrigerator
- Size/Capacity: Knowing the size of the fridge you want to buy would help you in making the right choice when you get to the showroom. The number question on your mind when thinking about RV fridge size be: what do I want to keep in the refrigerator? Do you want to keep drinks, food, or fruits in the fridge? Which would be saving more food than drinks? Or more drinks than fruits? Knowing what it is you want to in the refrigerator helps you choose a good RV fridge. Also, knowing the capacity you want and the things you want to keep fresh would help you select the type of refrigerator, based on the power source and weight. Moreso, before you get the fridge, measure the space you plan on placing the refrigerator. Measure the space several times, probably three to four times. When you have done this, you will know which size of refrigerator you are going for. A quick tip: give extra free inches in your calculations. The extra inches ensures you don’t buy a fridge that is too big to fit into the designated space.
- Price: RV fridges can be pretty expensive. Know your budget and what refrigerator fits that budget. The cost of RV fridges ranges from $1,000 to $3,000. these fridges may look costly, but these fridges can last you a long time, especially if you bought brand new ones. However, you can buy fairly used for a fair price.
- Brands: There are two significant brands RVers trust wholly. They are Norcold and Dometic. Whichever brand meets your preference, go for it!
Some other things to look out for before buying a new fridge are:
- Would you like to refill propane less: People don’t like refilling their propane. For this set of people, a compressor fridge would work best for them.
- Does your RV have an inverter: If your RV fridge is an AC-powered, you would need an inverter to help power the fridge when you are off-grid.
- Are you always perfectly level: Moving with your propane on is dangerous for your safety. There is a high possibility that your constant movement might cause the propane cylinder to burst.
- Is your battery Bank easily accessible?
Some RV fridges use only electric power. These refrigerators are set to run off 12-volt batteries and do not consume a lot of energy. Also, people using solar power to run their fridges would love these camper refrigerators.
Some camper Fridge options include:
- Propane/Electric combination
- 12-volt/Electric combination
How To Make Your Rv Refrigerator Work Better
- Install A Muffin Fan Inside Your Refrigerator: Installing a fan will help circulate the cold air throughout the fridge. When the air flows properly, the food gets cold equally, and there is a consistently cold temperature in the refrigerator. Fixing a 12-volt DC muffin fan will do the job well. And it is not very expensive.
- Install A Muffin Fan On The Condenser Coil: It increases the efficiency of the RV fridge. Remove the outside cover. Look for the condenser coil and mount the muffin fan.
- Replace The Door Gasket Seal:
It can be difficult maintaining your RV refrigerator. Here are some maintenance tips:
- Turn it on early
- Check the seals regularly
- Don’t overload it
- Thaw the fridge from time to time
- Don’t allow your refrigerator to sit for too long without running it.
- Keep it shut
- The first set of food and fruits you keep in the fridge should be cold ones.
There are no hard and fast rules in choosing the Best RV refrigerators. It all depends on what you want to do with your fridge and how often you decide to move around,
Best RV Refrigerators
This camp fridge is one of the best out there. They are lightweight, easy to clean, and has a beautiful LED display. It also has a dedicated freezer that is energy efficient. The negative side of this RV fridge is the flimsy outer body part.
Avanti 2-Door Apartment Size Refrigerator
This is one of the most flexible fridges in the market. It has an adjustable leveling leg and a reversible door. The lightweight of this fridge, as well as the flexible door bin, makes it a prime choice for many campers. It freezes fast, and this could be a disadvantage for persons who leaves their fridge on.
Norcold 4 RV Refrigerator
If you are looking for a small RV refrigerator for your RV, the Narcold 4 N410.3UR RV Refrigerator is your best choice. The compact, lightweight camper fridge, makes it one of the best Norcold fridges in the market. The inside is spacious, and it can keep the food cold even after three days without a constant power supply.
It also has built-in diagnostics. One significant advantage of this RV fridge is the auto changeover. It can switch over between gas and electric without the fuse breaking. For those who don’t like cleaning their RV fridges regularly, this refrigerator is easy to clean.
Camping fridges are a necessity for your RVs, no matter the class of the RV you own. RV fridges come in different types and have their specifications. Whether you prefer a 2-way RV fridge or a 3-way fridge, or a compressor or absorption fridge, it all rests on your shoulders. There are genuinely no ‘BEST’ RV fridges; your need determines what is best for you.