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What Are the Best Tips for Choosing an RV Refrigerator?

Jeremy Laukkonen
Jeremy Laukkonen

Choosing the right refrigerator can affect the decision making process when buying a new recreational vehicle (RV). These devices can also be replaced or upgraded in older trailers and motorhomes, though a replacement RV refrigerator often comes with less options. Some factors to examine when looking at RV refrigerators include the power supply, size, and extra features, such as ice makers. An RV refrigerator can run on electricity, gas, or both, so choosing the right one can rely on how and where it will be used. A portable electric fridge is another option if an RV refrigerator breaks down and is too expensive to repair or replace.

Most RV refrigerators work on the principle of absorption, and ammonia is heated up and subsequently condensed to extract heat from the interior of the fridge and freezer. The two ways that this is commonly accomplished are with an electrical heating element or by burning liquid petroleum gas (LPG). Some RV refrigerators only operate on propane, while others work only on electricity. If a motorhome is going to be used in a variety of different conditions, a two way or three way RV refrigerator is typically the right choice. These units can operate on LPG, alternating current (AC), or direct current (DC), and are often able to switch back and forth automatically.

An RV.
An RV.

Choosing the right refrigerator can be instrumental in the success and enjoyability of future camping trips. A refrigerator that is too small for the number of people in the RV can make it difficult to carry enough perishable goods. Very large refrigerators can also cut into storage space because big double door units often take up room that would otherwise contain a pantry or closet in similar floor plans.

A Class A RV.
A Class A RV.

When choosing a replacement RV refrigerator for an existing motorhome or trailer, the most important factor to consider can be space. It is sometimes possible to obtain a more spacious or fully featured unit that will fit into the same space as the old fridge, though careful measurements should be taken. A substantially larger unit can sometimes be installed in a different location, though this may require installing new gas and electrical lines.

Portable cooler units and fridges are another option that can add capacity or substitute for a broken RV refrigerator. These units are typically electric, and most space saver fridges run on AC power. Some portable coolers run on DC, which can be useful when camping away from utilities. A DC powered cooler can drain a battery fairly quickly, which is why it is usually a good idea to have a built-in LPG fridge when dry camping.

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