How Does An RV Refrigerator Work

May 27, 2021 Randy Lancaster Comments Disabled
How Does An RV Refrigerator Work

The typical camper refrigerator is more expensive than similar-sized refrigerators. The RV refrigerator technology runs on a combination of electricity or propane. The multiple power sources provide cooling in a variety of different environments.

RV Refrigerator Basics

The RV refrigerator is designed to chill by utilizing heat. A combination of hydrogen gas, ammonia, and water is heated and creates evaporation points, which cools the refrigerator.

This technology is perfect for an RV traveler. If the RV is parked or boondocked, where there is no available electricity, the refrigerator can function on propane. Then when traveling to another site with available electricity, the propane can be turned off, and the refrigerator can run offshore power. As a bonus, typically, the switch over from one source to another is an automatic function.

Most RV refrigerators will automatically use either electricity or propane. Some camper refrigerators run on electricity only; however, these efficient appliances utilize 12-volt batteries and are energy efficient. Many RVs now have solar panels that charge batteries. This setup is very advantageous for DIY van conversions where transporting propane is not desirable but having a compact refrigerator is important. In this environment, the batteries may be continuously charged while traveling and assisted by the solar panels.

Three Basic Types of RV Refrigerators

Combination Propane/Electric

The most versatile and expensive RV refrigerator provides cooling by either propane or electricity. This refrigerator is at the higher end of the refrigerator and has many benefits. However, the RV must be parked level, or the refrigerator may be permanently damaged.

12-Volt Electric Combination

The 12-volt RV refrigerator runs on with the RV 12-volt system or a regular 120-volt house current. This refrigerator is typically very durable and may be more expensive than the electric/combination refrigerator.


The least expensive solution only runs on 120-volts by using a compressor. The compressor may have issues with the constant traveling typical of an RV trip. This type of refrigerator must be kept level for the coolant not to pool in the compressor.

RV refrigerators rely upon chemicals to cool and work differently than home refrigerators that use compressors. In addition, it can run off multiple power sources, which is ideal for the mobile RV camping life.

Visit our dealership and visit our RV experts to discover the right RV refrigerator for your camping requirements.

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