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RV Refrigerator Tips & Tricks


An RV refrigerator works differently than a residential refrigerator. An RV refrigerator works by absorption, which means it heats a liquid refrigerant that evaporates in a low partial pressure environment, extracting heat from its surroundings. A residential refrigerator works off a compressor that constricts the refrigerant vapor. If you’re confused, that’s ok. Just know that they are different and there are few tricks to getting your RV refrigerator cold and keeping it what way.

  1. Allow 8-12 hours of run time for your RV refrigerator to get cool, around 36-40°F for the fridge and -10-0°F for the freezer.
  2. Wait until your refrigerator is at the desired temperature before you fill it up. Putting warm or even room-temperature groceries in the fridge will slow down the cooling off process.  
  3. RV refrigerators and freezers are designed to keep items cold, not cool them down. Ideally, items going into the fridge will already be cold or at least at room temperature.
  4. Space out your items in the fridge. If your groceries are packed against the back vents or clustered in the middle, cold air won’t circulate as well.
  5. The refrigerator will be coldest on the bottom shelf. (Cold air sinks, warm air rises -- just like they taught us in third grade.) Some customers purchase a battery operated refrigerator fan and place it on the bottom shelf to increase circulation.
  6. Keep the door shut. Standing in front of your RV fridge on a hot day is not a good way to cool down. Know what you’re looking for before you open up the door and dive in. You might even keep beverages in a cooler to limit the number of times you open the fridge door during the day.

Once your camping trip is over, make sure the refrigerator is shut down and has reached room temperature before putting it back into storage. There may be some moisture inside the fridge or freezer. Make sure to dry these out and wipe down both compartments, letting water sit can cause mold. Also, never store the unit with the doors fully closed, many refrigerators have handle catches to keep the doors partially open when in storage. If they yours doesn’t you can hang a clean dry towel over each door so they will not shut all the way. Remember before moving the unit to remove the towels and latch the doors shut to avoid damaging the doors.