By Russ and Tiña De Maris
It’s a question a lot of new RVers ask, particularly when they plan on being away from utility sites. Should they worry that their refrigerator will lose its cool after a long weekend?
Sorry, there’s no “short answer” for this question. So many variables, so little time! First, how big is your fridge? It goes without saying, the bigger they are, the harder they cool. Next, what’s the ambient air temperature where you’ll do your camping? And how cold do you keep your chiller? Again, the hotter the outside air, or the colder you keep your food, the more gas you’ll burn. And a related factor — how often do you open the door? Remember, cold air falls, and the typical RV refrigerator is like the one back home — open the door, cold air falls out, warm air rushes in. The more you open the door, and the longer you keep it open, the harder your little reefer will have to work to keep up.
All that being said (deep breath), the “typical” view of most RVers is this: If your rig is equipped with 20-pound (five gallon) LP cylinders, you should easily get three to four weeks out of a cylinder. Again, though, what else do you use LP for? Fire up the water heater, the level in your “tank” will go down quickly. Fire up your furnace, your precious LP will vanish like a cat at a dog convention.
But here’s one thing most new RVers don’t even think about: Your RV refrigerator, even running on LP, needs electricity — battery power. Without that previous resource, the “smart board” that operates the fridge, telling the burner in back to turn off or on, gets really dumb, and your reefer will quickly warm up. So be sure to keep your RV batteries happy. A couple of cold nights can take the tuck out of your rig’s batteries if you use the factory-equipped forced-air furnace. Run the battery down, stop the refrigerator, and bad things happen. Take our word on it, a load of rotting food can actually ruin your refrigerator — a huge and costly mistake.
One more tip for newbies: When dry camping – Running the refrigerator on propane is ALWAYS more efficient then using your generator to run the refrigerator on electric.
Boy oh boy, did we find THAT out when we foolishly camped out at Nevada’s “Valley of Fire” campground last July. NOBODY goes there in July because the name tells it all. But, it was a rare opportunity to spend time with our son and daughter-in-law who were ‘passing through’. They picked the spot, not us. So with daytime temps at 115+ and nighttime temps in the high 90’s (with full hookups too!), we ended up tossing most of the veggies that spoiled in our 55 degree fridge, along with other stuff that went bad. The a/c was on the entire time, which kept us at a crisp 90 degrees. We won’t be back . . .