Monday, September 25, 2023


Do you run your RV refrigerator on propane when the RV is moving?

We’ve asked this question before but it’s been awhile, maybe a few years. It always promotes a lot of discussion. Some RVers report they run their refrigerators on propane while rolling down the highway and “have for years with no problems.” Others say, no way, they will not take the risk.

What risk? Well, use your imagination — you have a combustible gas flowing through a line beneath your RV’s floor and what if you crashed, or you blew a tire and it caused a spark, which ignited the ruptured LP line leading to the fridge? Both situations happen and have caused fires.

What do you think? Please leave a comment. Be nice.

Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.


  1. Holy Cow. I can’t believe so many people drive with their propane on. The propane tank valve should be off when driving, thus you should not run your refrigerator on propane while driving! So many bad things can happen driving with propane on. What if you got in even a minor accident and a gas line got a leak, boom & fire. Some tunnels won’t let you drive thru them with propane. Great Bill, you have the choice to drive with propane on and blow yourself up. Do not drive with your propane tank on.

  2. As I review the poll I am surprised at the results. There are 12% who have weighed the risks and have formed a hard and fast rule not to travel with propane running their refrigerator. On the other hand 83% have chosen to weigh the risks and have made a different choice. (with the other 5% having all electric) The point is we are free to make these choices. We are the ones who have been given the freedom and responsibility and have the right to choose either way.
    As we all have different camping rigs and styles we have different opinions on this topic as well.
    Yet we all enjoy our form of camping. Let us continue to allow each other our freedom of choice and not take the position that others are wrong if they do differently.

    • Agreed and let’s promise to share videos of all the RVs burning to the ground because the fridge faulted out and had a plentiful supply of propane to create said YouTube content.

  3. When I had an absorbtion fridge, I ran it on propane unless we had hookups, but when it died, I got a DC compressor fridge, a Norcold N2175, and that runs on DC all the time, and stays far colder in hot weather.

  4. 24 years running our Dometic refrigerator on propane while traveling. Now,… with that said, we do not operate the fridge off-level! If we traverse a 6+ degree grade, we turn it off. If we park off level, we turn it off.
    Be nice to your fridge, and it will take care of you.

  5. No need. Cold food can be food safety transport for 6 hours as long temperature can be maintained below 45 degrees. I rarely drive 4+ hrs. My norcold holds 35 to 45 without assistance. Do your research on food safety.

    Second the tanks on my class c are built in. It has built in safety which shuts off gas per specs for regulation.

    You got more things to worry about if you crashed hard enough to rupture tanks.

  6. I do on occasion leave the refrigerator running on propane while travelling. If the accident is serious enough to break the propane line to the refrigerator, it could also rupture the main propane tank. All it takes is a spark, not just a flame, to start a fire. So unless you don’t have any propane with you then you always have some risk of fire or explosion, even with the refrigerator off.

  7. We rarely use propane. We start the fridge several days before hitting the road, nothing goes in that isn’t already chilled or frozen, we fill excess space with frozen gel packs, and pack a lunch in our truck so there’s no need to open the fridge en route. No problems at all for normal travel, for us no more than 4 to 5 hours driving. We did use propane on a trip last summer when temps were consistently in the 90s, and a good thing, too, as we got stuck in several tieups.

  8. I run a freezer/fridge in my pickup and rotate ice packs between it and the RV fridge. The former is the size of a medium cooler and keeps everything frozen. You can defrost the next meal while traveling. I don’t run the RV fridge on propane while traveling. The freezer/fridge can be set above freezing when the frozen meals are used up.

  9. Since I got solar and LI batteries I use that when I’m traveling. If I’m in a campground I just plug in if I’m boondocking I switch to propane so it doesn’t drain the batteries for other things.

  10. I’d love not to need to run on LP on the road, in our 17′ TT. Our Dometic 6 cu ft fridge works great, but does not hold the temperature in a food safe (& frozen for that portion) for a travel day. We tried, multiple times. On a hot sunny day, when I turned it off at a rest area, in anticipation of stopping for gas, it was just below unsafe when I turned it back on a hour later. On a cloudy, cool day, it will hold longer, but not long enough for most of our driving days. (We live and camp in the wide-open spaces of the West.)
    Reverting to a cooler would reduce our food choices considerably, back to tenting and popup days. With an aging and problematic digestive system, I enjoy our trips much more now that we have a fridge that works, plus our food choices are just tastier than being limited to a cooler days. If we couldn’t use the LP on the road, we’d have an expensive, dry cupboard.

      • Just googled causes of RV fires, James is close!

        On average there are approximately 4000 RV fires per year. It is reported that the number two cause of a fire is the RV refrigerator. The number one cause of fire is reported to be within the RV engine compartment, often in the electrical system.

    • I think it may be true that RV refrigerators are the origin of a lot of RV fires, but that is mostly when they are sitting still. I think engines are the primary source of fires while driving.

    • Your propane tank should be valved off at the tank when travelling down the road. Not worth the risk. I installed an inverter to keep the fridge running off the alternator/battery since I only had a 2 way fridge. Works great!

  11. has anyone considered the fuel line going to the onboard generator. if an accident occurs serious enough to rupture the propane line then it just might also rupture the generator fuel line?? what am I missing?

    • What about removing your propane tanks? In a serious crash the tanks can rupture also. You can only do so much to be safe. Staying in your sticks and bricks can also be dangerous! We all take chances whatever we do.

  12. Drove with LP on for the fridge 1972 ’til 2014 when we changed to a residential fridge. Always turned LP off at fuel fill-ups and tunnels as required by law.
    The rocking motion while driving eliminates the off-level concerns of hilly roadways for absorption fridges.
    Risk cannot be eliminated totally only optimized. No sych thing as totally safe so I accept “safe enough” or “as safe as practical”.

  13. WOW – I just answered the poll (NO) and 58% have said “Yes.” That to me represents new RVers that have absolutely no knowledge of what RV safety means.


    • New RVer? Nope. I have run with refrigerator propane on for over 40 years. Why isn’t there the same concern over engine fires, the number 1 cause of RV fires. My Diesel engine produces up to 28,000 psi to the injectors in lines next to a hot engine supplied by a 34 gallon tank. The 7 gallon propane tank supplies regulated gas pressure of about 1/2 psi and has a excessive flow valve to reduce flow if a line breaks. I consider that much less risk than the engine fuel system and I consider the engine fuel system almost no risk. The fact that 58% (at least) run with propane on suggests the majority agree with that opinion.
      To suggest we have “ absolutely no knowledge of what RV safety means” is an assumption and everyone knows what happen when we assume.

  14. With the increasing amount of residential refrigerators in RVs, it’s becoming less of an issue. We do not have one of those but we do have a solar/battery/inverter system retrofitted into our fifth wheel and our Norcold can run on electric from our significant battery bank while traveling down the road.
    The issue I didn’t see mentioned is fueling up your rig at a gas station. If you are running your fridge on propane and pull into the pumps to fuel up, your open flame is just what the right mixture of gasoline fumes and oxygen needs to cause a news worthy event. The event will be on video and you’ll have some ‘splaining to do… Make sure you have enough insurance for that!

  15. FYI – Most RV’s use an electric ignition that can create a spark & trigger an explosion. Shutting off the propane, especially if there is a break in the propane line, does not allow any fuel to feed a fire, if one occurs.

  16. When I had the RV NotSoCold fridge it always switched over to LPG when disconnecting from shore power. That’s been gone for 10 years now as we have a residential now. Don’t miss it for one nanosecond!

  17. I would never. It is always one of our departure checks to assure the propane bottles are shut down and properly secured for travel.

  18. Have owned every type of RV from pop up to toy haulers to fifth wheels and ALWAYS leave fridge on while traveling. Modern propane tanks have safety device that shuts off flow if high discharge is encounters for rupture lines. Yes a small leak can still be dangerous but what are the odds?

  19. Got rid of my absorption fridge/freezer and replaced it with a compressor fridge and compressor freezer. Cools faster, cools better, no worries about it being level and no worries about propane. While it requires more power, with fast charge lithium, it’s never been a problem.

  20. I’m using propane stop. For the individual with the fridge fire, I think it would have happened anyway unless they flushed the lines before traveling. It would stop any fresh gas from feeding the fire.

  21. If traveling more than an hour to a campground, yes. Which means very often yes. We do have a couple of places we go to every summer though that are within an hour of home.

  22. We’ve gone to running our fridge on 120v ac when on the road. We have plenty of solar and lithium batteries so it works well. Propane when camped.

  23. I guess I’m living on borrowed time, I’ve been traveling with gas on since 1978, never had a problem, but I don’t do anything stupid when refueling.

  24. When we first started RVing we ran the fridge on propane while traveling, but after reading many articles on the subject, we have become convinced that it is too risky. We freeze a large plastic tub full of water, put it in the fridge and turn off the fridge before driving. We don’t open the fridge until we get somewhere we’ll be stopped for a while and can safely turn on the propane again.

    • You must have a massive fridge for “a large plastic tub full of water,”. And where do you freeze it to start with? At home? Okay. Then on day two where do you freeze it? In your RV freezer? Not likely with the size of RV freezers. AND to try and freeze “a large plastic tub full of water,” in your RV freezer then the thermal displacement would thaw everything else in the freezer. The logistics of this just doesn’t make sense.

  25. Of course I run my fridge on propane while moving, 50 or 1500 mile trip,money doesn’t grow on trees,and food is expensive..

      • Chuck, that’s a bit simplistic. I keep my fridge at 40 degrees to avoid freezing my lettuce. We drive with the propane off. When we stop for lunch, we use the fridge. When we stop for afternoon snack, we use the fridge. By the time we pull into camp, the fridge temp has risen above 45 degrees and now my food is in the danger zone.

        • Suka, in decades of RVing, I have gone all day hundreds of times with the fridge off, and the temp in the refrigerator and freezer has dropped only slightly. On a really long day of driving on an extremely hot day, I may pull a few little freezer packs from my freezer and put them in the fridge, just for a bit more protection from the fridge getting too hot. But I don’t know if that really makes a difference.

  26. Because we carry ice packs distributed thruout, we seldom drive so far as to concern ourselves with frig temperatures. On a long haul we will quick peek the frig temperature and if warranted we’ll run it on 12 volt. I don’t recall ever doing that, but it’s the plan. On a hilly drive, running an absorption refrigerator is not such a good idea using any source. Ice packs are the way to go.

    • Why? It doesn’t matter if you’re on a hill or flat land the movement of the RV on the road will keep the refrigerant moving. To the best of my knowledge there isn’t a road in the world as smooth as glass.

  27. We used to run ours off propane regularly. But we now have solar and lithium batteries and run the fridge on electric when traveling. Only use the propane on rainy/cloudy days or if the batteries are low.

  28. Nope! Residential. I love it. It stays cold during the entire trip and the freezer stays frozen. Plug it in when we get to the camp site. I will never buy a propane fridge for the RV.

  29. Of course I run my fridge while driving. I’d rather not risk having spoiled food and getting ill. Perhaps I should turn of the fuel line to the engine too since that could explode so can the fuel tank and the propane tank for that matter. Maybe I shouldn’t even drive the RV at all since people get killed and injured in driving accidents all the time. Maybe I’ll just stay home the world sounds to risky.

    • That’s probably the answer to everything, but then again there are so many things that can hurt you at home also. We could build impenetrable domes to hide under and sit there until we starve to death lol.

      • This is great. We’ve become a society of “no risk”. If there’s a risk we must legislate around it. Much like Covid, it’s THE FLUE people!

  30. I used to with the aid of a “propane stop” valve. Then we had a fridge fire due to poor workmanship as the propane fitting broke off. When the fridge called for a spark, up she went!
    Got the fire out, but now updated to a residential fridge and could not be happier!

  31. The propane lines in my Casita are interior of a double fiberglass shell, so I feel safe driving with the refrigerator on gas.

  32. My frig stays cold enough to keep everything frozen in the freezer and cold in the bottom for the typical 300 mile day. We do freeze water bottles in the top. And, do not open it while underway.


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