Monday, February 6, 2023


Should you keep your RV freezer full?

By Chris Dougherty
Chris Dougherty is a certified RV technician. Here is a letter he received from a reader while he was serving as’s technical editor.

Dear Chris,
I know you should keep your fridge full but leave space around items. But what about the freezer? Does the same apply – keep it full but the food spaced? I know in the home fridge it’s good to keep the freezer fully packed. Thanks! —Nancy

Hi, Nancy,
The freezer is different, and it doesn’t matter whether it is packed or not. Here’s why: The cooling unit section that serves the freezer attaches to an aluminum plate that sits on the back and floor of the freezer box. So, there is direct thermal transfer to the freezer contents.

The fresh food box only contacts the cooling unit via the fins. Because of its size, there needs to be air circulation so the air in the compartment can be “cooled” by the fins. Some newer refrigerators have been redesigned to allow better circulation around the fins without the food contents being pushed up against it.

Hope this helps!



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1 year ago

After not having luck with the battery operated RV fans (ineffective and poor quality control), I installed a fan like this. (Not sure if it’s the exact same one.)

Since installing it, I haven’t had any problems with uneven temperatures in the refrigerator section and we pack it fairly full of already cold items when starting a trip. (Before the install, some things froze.)

1 year ago

Refrigerator/ Freezer:
Another comment about absorption refrigerators.
Because of the slow initial cool down we will put a dozen or so frozen milk cartons in our home freezer and then load them in the RV’s freezer and refrigerator to speed up the initial cool down. Replacing the frozen water as we load the refrigerator and freezer with “cold” foods and beverages.
Try not to put things in the RV refrigerator unless they are already cool, specially when we’re packing for our initial departure.

California Travel Videos
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim

Genius idea – many thanks! Shucks,if only we had a home freezer.

1 year ago

Freezer’s and Refrigerators:
We have a remote thermometer in our freezer that continually tracks and records the interior temperatures in our absorption refrigerator that runs in gas or electric.
The recording thermometer “Always” shows that when the freezer is full of frozen packages
that it maintains much more steady temperatures…..especially when you open the refrigerator and freezer doors.

Next, I attached a watt meter to the refrigerators 120 volt heating element and found that with the similar ambient temperatures the refrigerator ran between 30 to 40% less with the full freezer.
How much it runs depends of course on ambient temperatures and how often you open the refrigerator and freezer doors.

With a refrigerator and freezer full of cold food the recovery time with our absorption refrigerator/ freezer is almost twice as fast as when it’s only half full!
I would expect that a compressor refrigerator would be similar.

David Telenko
1 year ago

Hi Chris, I was wondering if this applies to residential & absorption also the Danfoss 12VDC type refrigerators? When we are packing for a trip, we pre-freeze everything going into the freezer, also everything going into the refer part if from our in home refer, already cold. Sure makes it easier on the RV refer!

Sharon Boehmer
1 year ago

I find that when I keep the freezer packed full, especially the bottom and pushed to the back, I have less ice/frost build up and don’t have to defrost often. (We are fulltime)

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