RV Refrigerator Gas and Electric


What is an RV Refrigerator and the Types of RV Refrigerators?

An RV refrigerator is a fridge that manufacturers explicitly designed for use in RVs. There are two types of RV refrigerators: electric compressors and propane absorption fridges.

Electric (12v) refrigerators are increasingly becoming a more common type of RV refrigerator. They run off electricity from the RV’s battery or solar power, which is useable without being plugged into shore power. Also, some motorhomes, primarily in RV parks, have a residential RV fridge installed that runs off inverted power.

Propane refrigerators (absorption) are the most common type of fridge and a good option for RVs that do not have access to shore power or where electric hookups are unavailable. Also, gas-absorption refrigerators use a combination of heat and chemicals to cool the fridge.

All RV refrigerators do a very good job of keeping your food cold while you’re on the road. But if you’re doing a lot of boondocking, a gas model may be the better choice since it won’t put as much strain on your RV’s battery.

Each RV refrigerator type, gas or electric model, has its advantages and disadvantages.

What’s a 2-Way and 3-Way Refrigerator?

RV refrigerators are 2-way or the 3-way. The difference between the two is the power source. A 2-way refrigerator can run on propane or electricity, while a 3-way fridge can run on propane, electricity, or battery power.

If you’re considering an RV refrigerator, you’ll need to decide which type is right for you, propane or electric. If you choose a 2-way refrigerator, you’ll have your choice of propane or electricity. Propane is considered the more reliable option since it’s always available and doesn’t rely on a battery. Propane works well in high temperatures, making it especially useful during summer.

How Does an Electric RV Refrigerator Work?

Electric RV refrigerators work by using a heating element and a cooling element. The heating element or mechanism raises the temperature inside the fridge, while the cooling element lowers the temperature. This process is similar to how a standard home refrigerator works.

Electric RV refrigerators use either AC or DC power. The RV refrigerator uses or draws AC power when plugged into an electrical outlet, whereas DC power runs off the battery. These fridges may use either a 12v or 110v power source.

Battery or Solar power runs the fan and pump, which helps circulate the refrigerant or freon gas inside the fridge and changes the refrigerant from liquid to gas which cools the refrigerator’s air.

An electric RV refrigerator will use about 1/3 to 1/2 less power than a standard home fridge. Electric RV refrigerators can run off batteries, but they discharge them quickly, so it’s best to plug them into shore power or a generator.

It is highly recommended for electric RV refrigerators have adequate airflow and ventilation. The fridge needs ample ventilation to cool down properly, and poor ventilation can lead to food spoilage and potentially dangerous bacteria growth. Always make sure that there is plenty of airflow around your propane RV refrigerator.

How Does an RV Propane Refrigerator Work?

Propane RV refrigerators are the most popular type for boondockers because they are easier to use and do not require shore power. Here is how a propane refrigerator works:

The absorption cooling cycle has 3 phases, evaporation, absorption, and regeneration, comprising simple salt and water absorption, water spray absorption, and a single pressure absorption refrigeration system. A single-absorption refrigerator uses three substances: water, ammonia, and hydrogen gas, to enable cooling.

Propane gas cycling through a small tube mounted to the back helps cool the fridge, subsequently releasing the gas into the refrigerator, where it evaporates and cools the air.

The benefits of using a propane refrigerator over an electric one are that they are more energy-efficient and because of their versatility of use in places with no electricity available; generally speaking, the fridge works better on gas. Propane refrigerators also tend to be slightly more expensive than electric ones.

RV Refrigerator Gas and Electric: Pros and Cons

Both gas and electric RV refrigerators have pros and cons, so it’s important to know the exact one that is right for you before making a purchase.

Gas refrigerators are more expensive than electric ones but are also more durable and require less maintenance. However, gas fridges can be challenging to install and require a constant propane supply.

These refrigerators can also run on propane or natural gas, so you’ll need to ensure you have the proper hookups for your RV. Propane refrigerators take longer to reach cooling temperatures; it may take 3 to 6 hours for them to reach optimum temperature. They also need to be on a level surface to operate properly.

On the other hand, electric models are less energy efficient and draw electrical power continuously.  This place a strain on the battery systems, but a system upgrade to lithium batteries or supplemented with solar makes a good case for a 12v electric refrigerator.

Electric fridges are often cheaper to buy and easier to install than gas models. Still, electric RV refrigerators work better at cooling food quickly, so they’re ideal for use in hot weather. Also, some electric refrigerators don’t need special hookups and work with any standard household outlet.

Top 5 RV Refrigerators for Camping and Motorhomes

Dometic  2-Way

Are you looking for a reliable RV refrigerator with electric and propane capabilities? The Dometic Refrigerator is the ideal choice. This popular model features an adjustable thermostat, freezer shelf, and automatic energy selection to provide efficient cooling performance. Whether traveling cross-country or camping out on the beach, this dual-power refrigerator is designed to keep your food fresh and drinks cold. Plus, its adjustable shelving allows it to fit containers of all shapes and sizes so that you can easily store all your perishables. With a low power draw even when running off of 12V power, the Dometic Fridge is an economical solution for RV owners who need a reliable fridge that runs on gas or electricity.

SMETA Electric 110V/Propane

The SMETA Electric 110V Propane Refrigerator is an ideal choice for RV owners looking for a reliable, efficient fridge. This model was designed to provide dependable refrigeration performance that won’t break the bank. It features a heavy-duty insulation lining and a large capacity interior that can accommodate up to 120 liters of food and drinks.

The thermostat helps keep your food at the right temperature, while the adjustable shelves give added convenience when organizing items inside. Additionally, this refrigerator is equipped with a quiet running compressor and whisper-like operation making it one of the best propane refrigerators on the market today.

Propane models are known for their low energy consumption and eco-friendly design, but electric fridges offer more convenience in terms of power supply options.

Norcold® Polar 2-way

The Norcold® Polar 2-way Refrigerator is an excellent choice for a gas and electric RV refrigerator. With its innovative two-way design, this model allows you to easily switch between propane and electric power depending on your current needs. Its convenient size and sleek design make it the perfect fit for any vehicle.

At the same time, its energy-efficient cooling system ensures that your food stays fresh no matter the temperature outside. If you are on the road or at home, the Norcold® Polar is a great addition to your RV experience.

The Norcold® Polar also offers plenty of storage space with its eight cubic foot capacity, making it perfect for long trips or stocking up on groceries.

Norcold® Polar AC/LP/DC7

The Norcold® Polar AC LP DC 7 cubic ft. refrigerator is one of the leading RV refrigerators on the market. For those looking for reliable and efficient cooling solutions for their RV or camper, this product is an excellent choice. This refrigerator is designed to run on propane and electric power sources, allowing many uses in different environments.

It features a large capacity of seven cubic feet, making it ideal for larger households or travelers who need to store plenty of food and drinks while on the road. The exterior design is appealing and modern, with improved heating efficiency due to its low-profile design that reduces air loss inside the fridge. Additionally, this refrigerator comes with adjustable thermostat controls as well as an interior light that provides quick access to food items stored within it at night or in dark conditions.

Norcold® 3-Way

Overall, the Norcold N3104AGR 3-Way 3.7 cubic ft Refrigerator is a great choice for an RV fridge that provides both a propane and electric option. This refrigerator allows you to easily switch between the two power sources, making it an ideal solution for any camping trip or long-distance road trip. Its large capacity will provide users with plenty of storage space for food and beverages while on the go.

Additionally, this refrigerator uses advanced thermoelectric cooling technology to ensure that items remain at their optimal temperature no matter what type of power source. Finally, this model also offers adjustable shelves and bins to customize your storage area according to your needs. Overall, the Norcold N3104AGR 3-Way 3.

What Amount of Propane is Needed to Run the Camper Refrigerator?

Propane or electricity, how do you know which refrigerator is right for you?

Propane is the way to go if you’re using your RV refrigerator for long-term camping. Propane is a more efficient fuel source and will keep your fridge running longer than electricity. However, an electric refrigerator may be better if you only use your RV fridge for short-term camping trips.

To determine the amount of propane you’ll need to run your RV fridge, first determine the size of your fridge. A small fridge may use about 1-2 gallons of propane per day, while a larger fridge can use up to 4 gallons per day. Then, calculate how many days you’ll be using the refrigerator.

Safety of Electric RV Refrigerators vs Gas Ones?

Generally speaking, electric RV refrigerators are the better option safety-wise. They don’t produce harmful fumes, so there’s no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. They’re also less likely to cause a fire since there’s no open gas flame.

However, using propane refrigerators does have its advantages. They’re usually cheaper to operate than electric ones since propane is often cheaper than electricity. They operate silently because there are no moving parts and use very little propane or electrical power.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to use an electric or gas RV refrigerator is up to you. If you’re worried about safety, go with an electric model. It is more economical to go with a gas unit in the long run.

RV Fridge and Freezer Combo

RV fridge and freezer combo units are an excellent option for those looking for an all-in-one solution for their food storage needs. These units offer the convenience of both a fridge and freezer in one compact unit, perfect for small spaces. The main advantage of a combo unit is that it provides two separate areas for storing different kinds of food, such as keeping your meats and veggies separated.

The larger the fridge and freezer combo unit, the more space you’ll have for storage. RV Refrigerator Capacity; there are two main types of refrigerators for RVs: compact and standard. Compact models are smaller than standard sizes and great for those with small spaces or just looking to save cash.

What are the Sizes of RV Refrigerators?

When shopping for a refrigerator for your RV, start with the refrigerator size. How much space do you need? Do you want a compact fridge for a smaller rig or something more spacious for a larger one?

There are many different sizes of RV refrigerators on the market. Compact models can be as small as 3.3 cubic feet, while larger ones can be up to 21 cubic feet. Some models come with multiple compartments, giving you more space to store food and drinks.

Remember that you need to figure out what size fridge you need. You should have about one cubic foot of fridge space for every two people in your household is a decent guideline. So, if you have a family of four, you’ll need a fridge of at least two cubic feet.

No matter what size RV you have, there is sure to be a fridge that will fit your needs. Just be sure to measure the space you have available before making your purchase. That way, you can get the perfect fridge for your home on wheels.

What Are Alternatives to an RV Fridge?

One popular alternative to an RV fridge is a portable refrigerator. Portable fridges are smaller than most commonly used RV fridges, and either electricity or batteries can power them. They’re perfect for keeping your food and drinks cold while you’re on the move and easily transported from one location to another.

Another option is to use a cooler as your primary means of storing food and drinks. Coolers come in various sizes, so you can choose one that fits your needs. You can also find coolers powered by electricity, which can be helpful if you use them for long periods.

Finally, you can use some mini-fridges in your RV. Mini-fridges are much smaller than full-size RV fridges, but they still offer enough space to store food and drinks.

How long does an RV Fridge last?

An RV refrigerator can last for some time, perhaps reaching the 10 to 20-year mark, depending on how well it is maintained. However, you can expect a much shorter life cycle of around ten years if the unit isn’t maintained properly.

Have your refrigerator serviced routinely to keep it running for years to come. Keeping your RV fridge clean and free of debris will aid in extending its life. You should also ensure that the seals are tight and that there is no moisture or leaks inside the fridge.

What’s the Repair Cost for a RV Refrigerator?

The cost of repairing an RV refrigerator can vary depending on the type of fridge you have and the severity of the damage. Generally, gas fridges are less expensive to repair than electric ones.

Propane fridges typically cost between $100 and $200 to repair, while electric fridges can cost anywhere from $200 to $500. If your fridge is not working correctly, it is crucial to take it to a qualified technician for an inspection. Trying to fix it yourself could void your warranty and cost you more in the long run.

How Much Does an RV Fridge Cost?

RV refrigerators can cost anywhere from $500 to $2000, depending on the type, size, and features. Electric fridges are more expensive to operate but work well in extreme heat or cold. If you need help determining which type of fridge is best for your RV, research online before making a purchase.

What are the Best RV Refrigerators For Camping

Choosing an RV refrigerator for camping? Below are a couple of things to consider.

One consideration is the size of the refrigerator. If you cook a lot during your camping adventure, you’ll need a larger model, and a smaller model will suffice if you’re using it for storing drinks and snacks.

Also, think about what features you want in your RV refrigerator. Some modern RVs come with built-in ice makers, which can be handy for cold drinks on hot days. Others have adjustable shelves, which can be helpful if you need to store taller items.


You know that having a dependable refrigerator is crucial in making your RV trips an enjoyable experience. Your fridge keeps your food fresh and your drinks cold, so choosing the right type of RV refrigerator for your needs is essential.

When deciding whether to purchase an RV refrigerator that runs on propane or electricity, there are a few things to consider; cost, convenience, and ease of use are all critical factors.

Electric refrigerators may be less expensive, depending on the brand and features, than their propane counterparts. However, they offer the convenience of plugging into any standard household outlet. On the other hand, propane refrigerators require a tank and gas line and can be more challenging to operate.

Ultimately, deciding which type of refrigerator to purchase for your RV depends on your specific needs and preferences. If long-term cost is the most critical factor, then a propane fridge may be the way to go. But if you value convenience and ease of use above all else, then an electric model is probably the better choice.

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