RV Refrigerators and Its Propane Usage

Traveling to remote areas such as oceans, mountains, and lakes require you to ensure that your foods always stay cold during the trip. While having a cooler will aid you with that, making ice can be a bit difficult especially when there is no fridge around.

Of course, you can have a stopover somewhere and buy some ice, but it is costly and time-consuming. To make your life easier while traveling, you should invest in a propane-using RV refrigerator. The best thing about a propane refrigerator is that you can use it anywhere. No need to find an electrical socket, its battery, and propane gas will provide you convenience even in remote locations.

How Does It Work?

  • In case you don’t know, a propane refrigerator is operated by its sealed piping system. Inside this pipe are a combination of water, hydrogen, and ammonia. The flame generated from the propane provides heat to the boiler that contains a solution of water and ammonia.
  • Once heated, it bubbles up via a percolator pump. Hot ammonia vapor was then released when this happens and it brings the water back to the boiler. Vapor rises into a condenser which transfers heat into the room air and then turns back to liquid thereafter.
  • This ammonia liquid will be drained down into an evaporator that contains hydrogen gas. The gas vaporizes the ammonia again and draws heat energy from the interiors.
  • After that, the hydrogen and ammonia mixture will be absorbed by the absorber chamber. In here, the ammonia will be dissolved again as water. This will lead to the release of hydrogen gas which will then goes back up to the evaporator once again.
  • The water and ammonia solution drains down to the boiler and will continue the cycle vice versa. Keep in mind that propane refrigerators are already available back in the 1930s. It became popular because of its easy convenience and for it being a great alternative when electric power is out of sight.

Propane Consumption of an RV Refrigerator

  • When it comes to propane consumption, you don’t need to worry about energy deficiency because most propane-made products are built with low emissions and fuel economy in mind. Propane refrigerators back from the 70s consume as half of the propane that’s used by refrigerators dated back in the 60s and earlier.
  • A 12 cubic feet of propane fridge consumes up to 1.5-lb. of propane gas when being used daily. Converting it into energy you get around 1,400 British thermal units every hour. However, if you opt for a smaller propane fridge, it will only consume less than 1-lb. of propane daily.
  • Larger units, however, consume more than 2-lb. of propane. While this is mostly true, it will also depend on the brand of the fridge.

Lowering the Propane Consumption of an RV Fridge

  • Can you actually lower its propane consumption? Probably! Below are some useful tips to make your RV fridge more efficient to use.
  • Level the fridge and the RV – leveling your fridge with your RV is the first thing you should do to make it operate more efficiently. Have an older model? A more precise modeling is fairly needed. However, newer models these days also need to be leveled properly to make it perform better. Using the fridge without it being properly leveled will result in permanent damage.

  • Cold foods come first – Fridge’s initial cooling down process often takes 4-6 hours. Best thing to do is let the fridge on for a day before putting all foods inside. When it comes to putting foods inside, make sure that cold foods come first. Cold foods play a vital role once they’re inside the fridge. Putting them first will make the unit work less, thus meaning less consumption for propane. You should also make it a habit not to overload your fridge too. Make some spaces in between each food to let the air circulate freely.

  • Use battery-operated fans for RV fridges – Most RV fridges today doesn’t come with built-in fans that can help circulate cold air inside. So investing in a battery-operated fan can be a big help when it comes to that. Put these fans at the bottom part of the fridge to let cold air circulate inside. Having proper air circulation also leads to reducing cool-down period up to 50%

  • Check the back of the fridge for obstructions – All of the work to make the fridge run is always found at the back of the fridge. So it’s always a good idea to check the back of the fridge from time to time and check for obstructions.

  • Do some routine maintenance – Doing routine maintenance ensures that your RV fridge will perform efficiently. Keep in mind that a properly maintained fridge is the key for a lower propane consumption. Take time to check your fridge if there are soot, rust, and any other items or hindrance that can affect its performance.

  • Keep its temperature low when it’s cold – In case you don’t know, the temperature outside the fridge also plays a vital role for its performance. So if it’s cold outside, turn down your RV fridge’s temperature level to make it consume less propane gas.


  • Having an RV refrigerator needs proper tending to make it perform more efficiently and effectively. Educating yourself and by following the tips above will get you ready for your road trip without worrying about RV fridge issues.

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