By Cheri Sicard
Thinking of changing out your RV refrigerator? What kind of RV fridge is best? The video below from Big Truck Big RV will help you explore your options so you can evaluate which type of refrigerator will best meet your needs and match your particular RV lifestyle.
The video explores both the pros and the cons of the three options in RV refrigerators:
Refrigerators that run on propane gas or on shore power electricity are the most common and most popular. Undoubtedly this style works best for those who travel frequently in their RVs, and especially for those who like boondock.
I definitely fit into this category. I am constantly amazed at how long my RV refrigerator can run on a tank of propane. It’s incredibly fuel efficient.
Gas-electric refrigerators use battery power to start, then run off of propane.
On the downside, they can take 3-6 hours to cool down once you start them. They must also be level in order for the fridge to work properly. Over-stuffing can reduce efficiency. Also, these refrigerators overall can have trouble running as cold on propane as they do when plugged into electric. Anyone who has ever tried to keep ice cream in the freezer that is running on propane already knows this.
12-volt RV refrigerators
12-volt refrigerators run directly off your RV batteries.
One advantage is that they are more efficient, more so than even residential-style refrigerators.
On the downside, in order for them to be efficient, they need to be relatively small.
Then again, most RV refrigerators are small, and I did say relatively. The fact is that a large 12-volt fridge is larger than many gas-electric models. About a 10-cubic-foot refrigerator-freezer is about as large as you can expect to get and have it run well in your RV.
Another downside is that unless you have an enhanced RV battery system, a 12-volt refrigerator can drain your power rather quickly.
But if you have a solar system that is continually charging your house batteries, a 12-volt refrigerator might be an excellent choice for you.
Using a residential refrigerator in an RV
A lot of people have switched over to a full residential refrigerator in their RVs.
Of course, you can get these in larger sizes. They are inexpensive to operate and are less expensive to buy than gas-electric refrigerators, which are VERY expensive. And they work exceptionally well. They are potentially safer, too, as no fire or pilot lights are involved at all.
Things can get challenging if you have to remove a big refrigerator from an RV if it was built in.
It also requires a large inverter to operate. That’s an extra component that could potentially go out.
A residential refrigerator might be the best option for those who primarily stay parked in RV parks connected to 30- or 50-amp power … unless you have a SUPER-enhanced battery system. But even then, if you run into a string of cloudy days where the solar can’t charge much, a residential refrigerator is going to drain your house batteries fairly quickly.
The video offers some ideas on how to have enough power to keep your residential refrigerator running when off-grid. But they may not be practical for most people.
Check out this invaluable overview of the pros and cons of each type of RV refrigerator. Which is best for you?