Saturday, June 10, 2023


The best ways to ensure your RV’s fridge works properly

“Hey, grab me a lukewarm beer from the fridge,” said no one ever! We rely on our RV fridges to keep our “cold ones” cold, right? Did you know that there are simple but important things you can do to ensure that your RV’s fridge works properly? It’s true. Read on and you’ll see.

Packing your RV refrigerator correctly

Wait! There’s a wrong way?! Yep. The mistake I’ve made is overpacking our RV fridge. There needs to be some space between foods and/or food containers. Why? For air circulation. That can’t happen if you cram too much into your fridge. Here are some additional tips so that you’ll avoid my mistake.

  • Keep sides clear. Instead of cramming food items up against the sides of the RV refrigerator, leave some space. That will allow air to move from top to bottom and the reverse for good circulation throughout the refrigerator.
  • Plan ahead. Get the most from your RV fridge by planning meals ahead of time. That way, you’ll buy only what you need, and the fridge won’t become overloaded. Many times, I’ll actually make our meals at home and freeze them. (Hint: Rectangular and square containers stack easier and take up less room than round ones.) Even if you plan to grill burgers, you can form patties ahead of time, slip them into a stackable container, and save some space in your fridge.
  • Repack certain foods. Some foods can be taken out of their original packaging and put into one that takes up less space in your fridge. Think: condiments. Who uses an entire 32 oz. bottle of ketchup in one weekend? Not me. Try these. I also separate some items (like a bag of onions) and take only the number needed.
  • Purchase smaller amounts. We use milk for breakfast cereal. That’s it. No need for us to get a whole gallon of it. Besides, a quart container takes up much less space.

Increase space in your RV fridge

  • Ditch the ice maker. A friend we know removed the ice maker from their RV refrigerator. We purchased a fridge without one. The ice maker takes up a lot of space that we’d rather use to store frozen foods. Depending on the amount of ice you use, this may be a good option for you, too. The old-time refillable ice tray will provide your ice and also allow room for quite a bit of food! Or you can opt to buy a standalone ice maker. Check out this article on the best portable ice makers for RVers.
  • Use bins or baskets. No one likes scrabbling around food items in search of that elusive olive jar! Your refrigerator doesn’t like it either. Every time the fridge door opens you lose cool air from inside. If the door hangs open for several minutes while you chase down the olives, the fridge will need to work to cool the warm air that’s streaming inside. You can avoid the “open door problem” with baskets or bins. I like to put grandkids’ snacks inside a clear, plastic refrigerator bin. When they want a snack, they just remove the “snack bin,” close the fridge door, select a snack, and quickly put the bin back inside the refrigerator. Hint: Measure carefully before you shop for a bin or basket.
  • Organize how you place food in the refrigerator. The trick here is to let others know about your organizational method. If you keep all of your fresh produce inside the left, bottom drawer, you’ll know exactly where to look and retrieve it. By keeping salad dressing inside the right fridge door, you can grab it quickly.


  • RV refrigerator/freezer temp monitors. We purchased this wireless temperature monitor. It allows us to read the inside temperature of the freezer and the refrigerator without opening either door. The built-in alarm is also a great feature. If the temp in either the freezer or fridge warms beyond our set temp, the alarm will sound.
  • Refrigerator fan. This fan really helps to keep the air circulating in our RV refrigerator. I like it because it takes up little space, can be powered on/off with a switch, and has an activated charcoal pack that helps absorb odors. The pack is replaceable, too.
  • Shelf braces. There are so many different types of shelf brackets and braces. Check them out at your local RV store or online. Be sure to have your exact measurements before making a purchase. The braces that came with our RV refrigerator do such a good job keeping food items in place that I haven’t had to buy any add-on brackets. It’s nice to know they’re available if the need arises.

How about you? Do you have some RV refrigerator tips and tricks to share? Please note your ideas in the comments below.



Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


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Leonard Rempel
1 year ago

Best way to keep your fridge cold and your freezer frozen? Have a “Norcold” fridge fire like we did!
So lucky that I extinguished the fire and only burnt some wiring and controls in the back.
Converted it to a DC residential fridge at JC Refrigeration in Shipshewana, IN. WOW! What a great install, and now the fridge is at perfect temperature and no longer a fire hazard.

1 year ago

“Hey, grab me a lukewarm beer from the fridge,” said no one ever!

I grew up next to a German family that escaped through the iron curtain (quite an inspiring story of bravery). Herman, the father, always said that Americans really don’t like beer because they drink it cold, which greatly diminishes the flavor. He said to really enjoy a beer’s full flavor, it can’t be cold.

While that may be true, I like mine ice cold!!! 🙂

We are fortunate to have a fridge like the one pictured…our first compressor fridge in an RV. Will never go back to a “no cold” again. Less maintenance and fire hazard and the RV can be unlevel without worry of ruining the fridge.

These are basic things missing from the above article which is about making sure it works properly. Be sure the back side of absorption models are cleaned at least annually and that they are virtually level in operation.

1 year ago

If you own a Dometic fridge be careful how cold your setting is. According to Dometic a fridge will ice up much faster on the coils if set to cold. A temperature monitor can be helpful.

David Ciummo
1 year ago
Reply to  John

I installed this and now I been turning my temp down, works fan”tastic. The same ones on Amazon but made better. Here’s a link to what I bought

Warren G
1 year ago

On warm and sunny days, if your refrigerator side of the trailer is exposed to the sun, it also helps to somehow shade the back of the refrigerator panel. I’ve seen several ways, but I made a collapsible shade with dowels, screw eyes and suction cups that we can attach a towel to with clothespins.

1 year ago
Reply to  Warren G

Have you got a picture of your setup on this modification?

Walt P Sinkhorn
1 year ago

Well! it would be nice to space our things in my refrigerator if I had a giant side by side residential refer. Problem is, most RVers don’t have these monsters in their trailers, which by my observations are the majority of RVers. So? how do I get all my stuff ln an 8 cu. ft. Norcold?

1 year ago

I hear you, Walt! Thanks for commenting. I wish the refrigerator in the article’s story was ours! It’s not.

I follow the points mentioned in my article. I’ve also learned to read packaging closely. If a product doesn’t say, “Keep refrigerated,” I store it in a cupboard–not the fridge. Also, I’ve been known to use restaurant-size ketchup and mustard packages instead of the squeeze bottles.

Have a great day!

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