Types of RV Refrigerators

To keep the food and drinks in your RV refrigerator cool, air must circulate through it. That’s why an RV refrigerator fan is important.

The refrigerators found in most RVs use a combination of propane and electricity. They use electricity when you are driving and propane when parked to avoid draining the battery.
Absorption Refrigerators

Absorption refrigerators work by evaporating ammonia into water. They’re best used when the ambient air temperature is cool. However, they don’t perform as well in hot weather and at higher altitudes.

The first step is supplying heat to the refrigerator using either a propane burner flame or an electric heating element. This causes the mixture of water and ammonia to boil. The vapor then moves through the cooling coils to cool the fridge’s interior. It then returns to the absorber and the cycle begins again.

RV absorption refrigerators can be powered by shore power, propane, or 12-volt DC battery power. However, they’re less efficient when run on 12-volt power and will drain batteries much quicker than compressor refrigerators.
Compressor Refrigerators

This type of fridge does not use a compressor, but instead a series of chemical reactions that evaporate and condense the liquid. A compressor fridge is less expensive than absorption refrigerators, but they still use a fair amount of electricity to operate, so you will need to monitor your power consumption.

RV compressor refrigerators work on either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC). If your RV is hooked up to AC, it will run off an electrical hook-up or an inverter. If you are using it on DC, it will run off your batteries.

These refrigerators need to be level to work, so make sure you aren’t parked on an incline. They also need some empty space for air to circulate, so you may want to add a fan. Like residential fridges, they tend to consume more energy than other RV fridge options. They are more powerful and have a larger food storage capacity, though.
Electric Refrigerators

This type of RV refrigerator doesn’t use gas to cool — it uses electrical power. Unlike residential fridges that run exclusively off of AC power, RV electric refrigerators can only operate when plugged into an electrical hook-up.

The fridge is powered by a generator or an inverter that converts DC electricity from the RV battery into AC electricity to power the fridge. Alternatively, an RVer can use solar panels to generate electricity to power their fridge on the road.

A compressor fridge is the most popular option for RVers. It is more energy efficient than an absorption fridge, and can be operated on either 120-volt or propane power. However, they require more maintenance to keep them functioning properly (such as defrosting). They are also the most expensive upfront. However, a new, high-efficiency compressor refrigerator may pay for itself in reduced fuel costs over time. This is especially true if you travel long distances and stay in campgrounds with electric hookups.
Energy Efficiency

These RV refrigerators use heat from an electric heating element or an LP gas flame to start a chemical reaction, which creates cold by evaporation. They’re also called “residential-style” fridges because they’re commonly found in home kitchens, and they’re typically the most flexible option for long-term or full-time RVers.

To run a residential-style fridge off solar power, you’ll need six AGM batteries in total, plus a pure sine wave inverter to convert 12v DC into 120v AC. This requires a lot of power, so it’s important to carefully consider your RV power supply capabilities before choosing this type of fridge.

To improve the efficiency of your fridge, regularly check for obstructions that could block the flow of air. Make sure that there’s space between all food and drink items inside, and add a fridge vent fan (available at most RV stores) to remove excess heat from the back of your fridge. This can help your fridge cool up to 40 percent faster.rv refrigeration

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