How Long Will A Propane Refrigerator Run On A Tank?

Propane refrigerators are becoming increasingly popular in recreational vehicles, cabins, lake cottages, and other locations where electricity is not readily available. These units are cost-effective and do not require external power. So, how long can a propane fridge last? On a regular 20-pound propane tank, most can run nonstop for 11 days. Depending on the outside temperature, how often the refrigerator is visited, and the goods inside the refrigerator, users frequently experience extended run times. In the worst-case situation, a propane refrigerator might run continuously for a year with only 33 regular propane tank refills.

A propane fridge is an excellent choice for tourists or those who live in places without electricity or who experience regular power outages. Propane is used by RV owners to keep their refrigerators running on the road, and it is more reliable and effective than battery-powered refrigerators. Similarly, anyone who lives “off the grid” or in highly distant places will find propane to be superior than solar panel electricity for meeting continuing refrigeration needs.

How long can a 20-pound propane tank keep a refrigerator running?

The amount of propane used by your RV refrigerator is determined by its age and size. The efficiency of older models is lower. And, in general, the larger the refrigerator, the more propane you’ll need to keep it running.

Let’s take a look at a real-life scenario utilizing the Dometic Americana 8 Cu. Ft. RV Propane Refrigerator as an example.

With 8 cubic feet of internal space, the Dometic RV fridge is rated at 1500 BTUs (British thermal units) per hour. One gallon of propane has 91,502 BTUs. So, with 1 gallon of propane, you could run your refrigerator for about 61 hours.

The length of time an RV fridge can run on propane is determined on the tank capacity. A typical 20-pound propane tank has a capacity of 4.6 gallons.

Using the aforementioned example, multiply 4.6 (gallons in a 20 lb. tank) by 61. (the hours our fridge will run off 1 gallon). A 20-pound propane tank can power an RV fridge for 280 hours, or slightly over 11 days.

Tip: In our popular guide How Long Does Propane Last in an RV?, we provide a free propane usage calculator. can quickly calculate the propane consumption of all your appliances

Let’s take a quick look at how an RV fridge works, and then we’ll speak about how to get the most out of it. Because, while we like the notion of using our RV in remote locations, we don’t want to carry or consume more propane than we have to.

Is it true that propane refrigerators consume a lot of propane?

A typical 12 cubic foot propane refrigerator uses 1.5 pounds of propane per day, which translates to 1,400 British thermal units per hour or 32,225 BTU per day. Refrigerators made of propane range in size from 4 cubic feet to 18 cubic feet. Small devices may use less than 1 pound of propane per day, while larger units may use nearly 2 pounds. The amount of food consumed varies depending on the brand.

Is it possible to drive an RV when the propane refrigerator is turned on?

When traveling, remember to turn off any appliances. Most employ an electronic ignition, which can cause a spark and an explosion if the propane line is broken. If you are an RV owner who prioritizes safety, traveling with your propane refrigerator turned off is the obvious decision.

How much propane is required to keep an RV refrigerator running?

A 10 to 12 cubic foot RV refrigerator will typically use 1.5 pounds of propane each day.

The amount of propane used by an RV fridge, on the other hand, is determined by its age, size, and ambient temperature.

Absorption RV fridges

Absorption system refrigerators are propane-powered RV refrigerators. In addition to propane power, these fridges include an air conditioning option. Some RV refrigerators are also capable of running on DC power. Absorption refrigerators, unlike compression system refrigerators, have no moving parts.

A tiny pilot light heats a boiling chamber filled with ammonia and water in RV refrigerators.

The water and ammonia mixture is pumped through a series of tubes, where the ammonia is eventually converted to a gas.

The ammonia gas continues to rise, while the water returns to the boiling chamber.

The ammonia begins to cool and travels down tubes, taking heat from the refrigerator’s interior as it goes, resulting in a cold interior. RV refrigerators must be level to work at maximum efficiency, and they must be cared for and maintained.

Maintenance tips

With a little care and maintenance, an RV fridge will use less gas and last longer. Here’s what you’ll need to do to take care of it.

  • Maintain the level of your RV refrigerator. Parking your RV on a flat surface will help keep your fridge from overheating. When RV refrigerators aren’t level, water and ammonia can’t flow as efficiently through the tubes, making chilling more difficult. This can cause not only your RV fridge to burn more propane, but also your RV to catch fire. Unlevel RV parking can lead to fires in RV freezers, which can be disastrous.
  • By not blocking the coils at the rear of the fridge, you may allow air to circulate.
  • Don’t overfill the refrigerator.
  • Place the refrigerator on the shaded side of the RV. The refrigerator will have to work harder to cool the air inside the RV if it is on the sunny side. Place the RV in such a way that the side with the fridge is on the coolest side.
  • Never use propane to power your RV refrigerator while driving.
  • The leading cause of RV fires on highways is this.

How do you keep a refrigerator running in an RV while driving?

You may not need to power your refrigerator at all while driving if you’re prepared to get creative and restrict your fridge usage while your RV is in motion. Temperatures should not rise more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit during six to eight hours if your fridge is running properly, all gaskets are in place, and it is already at its proper temperature when you hit the road.

Although cooling an RV fridge isn’t the most efficient method, these fridges are designed to compensate by maintaining a consistent temperature as long as the door is kept shut. Consider keeping an ice-filled cooler in your RV and stocking it with the food and drinks you want to consume while on the road each day. You’ll be able to keep the fridge door shut until you’re ready to turn it back on.

By getting your fridge as cold as possible before leaving, you can help it maintain its temperature throughout the journey. Set the thermostat to the lowest setting possible and cover any empty spaces with ice-cold beverages, freezer packs, or ice bags the colder the better!

Because hot air rises, the bottom of the refrigerator will remain colder than the top. Put the most perishable foods on the bottom shelves, such as meat and dairy products, and the least perishable items, such as soda cans and fruits, on the top shelf.

You should be able to drive for up to eight hours without using your refrigerator if you follow these tips and tactics. Even if you plan to power your RV fridge while on the road, if you take a few simple steps to limit your usage and plan ahead, you may not need to do so for the entire journey. After all, RV living is all about efficiency, and there’s no better place to start than your refrigerator.

Is it true that a propane-powered RV fridge works better?

Modern RVs come with modern amenities, such as a refrigerator. However, RV refrigerators are not necessarily the same as those we have at home. Some are powered by propane. So, which is the best option? Let’s look at the pros and cons of using propane vs. electricity in an RV fridge.

In general, propane-powered RV fridges are favored since they require less maintenance and last longer due to the lack of moving parts. An electric fridge, on the other hand, is a little safer because you don’t have to worry about gas leaks.

How much does a propane refrigerator cost to run?

When living off the grid, a propane refrigerator is an efficient way to keep food cool. Purchasing a propane refrigerator has numerous advantages. A propane refrigerator has no moving parts, thus there are no parts to wear out. In warmer climes, a refrigerator will cost around $0.60 per day to operate, based on the current propane price of $1.859 per gallon. A refrigerator will operate at approximately $0.45 per day in cooler locations such as northern CANADA, higher elevations, and so on. A person should be able to get 20 days of use out of a 20# propane cylinder with this quantity of propane gas usage. This is far superior to bringing a cooler and ice packs to your cabin every time you visit.

A propane gas refrigerator can be more expensive to buy than an electric refrigerator, but it is often less expensive than a 12VDC refrigerator. However, comparing an electric refrigerator to a propane refrigerator is not an apples-to-apples comparison. A compressor pump and Freon are used in an electric or 12VDC refrigerator. A propane refrigerator uses a propane gas flame to heat the ammonia and distilled water, then circulates steam vapor and liquid ammonia to cool it down. The refrigerator can be powered without the use of electricity, inverters, or generators.

To feed the gas, all propane gas refrigerators are connected to a 3/8″ copper or flexible gas line.

Many people who live in off-grid cottages part-time use a hose and regulator to connect their propane refrigerator to a BBQ tank.

Many people ask me which type of refrigerator I would select if I had to buy one: electric, 12VDC, or propane.

Most individuals believe that the answer is conditional on the application. Given this, my family and I have a propane-powered refrigerator at home. The reason for this is that, in order to live in an off-grid residence, I still believe that operating a propane refrigerator is the most cost-effective option in the long run. This is based on how much maintenance a gas refrigerator requires compared to a 12VDC solar refrigerator. Remember that a propane refrigerator has no moving components, requires no maintenance, and has a considerably longer guarantee than other refrigeration units. A gas refrigerator only needs to be cleaned twice a year, and that is by cleaning the burner area and flue tube. There is no compressor unit to fail. There are no batteries to charge. There’s no need to be concerned about the sun. Please see our EZ Freeze propane refrigerators for a recommendation on the best propane refrigerator for sale.

Is it cost-effective to use propane refrigerators?

  • A 20-pound propane tank holds 4.7 gallons of propane, or 4.7*91000 = 427,000 BTU.

That’s all there is to it. You should expect a regular 20-pound propane tank to last roughly 11 days (nonstop) before you need to replace or refill it.

Note that the numbers above are simply a rough estimate. In actuality, many propane fridge owners report that their tanks last for weeks. Especially when they aren’t in use all of the time. In most circumstances, a drop in the level of gas in the tank after a day will be scarcely noticeable. As a result, I’d consider these figures to be a ‘worst-case’ scenario.

Is it necessary to vent a propane refrigerator?

Two air vents on the back of the refrigerator are visible from the outside. Unlike electric refrigerators, propane refrigerators in RVs and mobile homes require outdoor ventilation. The temperature differential between the lower and top vents is used by absorption style propane refrigerators. Furthermore, propane combustion produces carbon monoxide, which must be vented outside the cabin.

The frigid winter air is sneaking in behind the refrigerator and cooling it down beyond the 40 or so degrees you want a refrigerator to be, according to my first thought on why the refrigerator is freezing. And, because it only has the equipment to cool itself (rather than heat itself), it freezes solid in the winter. As it turns out, I was only partially correct (more on that later).

Both propane and electricity may be used to power the refrigerator I bought. I reasoned that since the refrigerator was running on electricity, it wouldn’t require the same amount of air ventilation as when it was running on propane. I was mistaken. Last month, I contacted with a technician at Pete’s RV and realized that running the refrigerator in electric mode does not eliminate the requirement for ventilation. The electricity simply powers a heating element that takes the place of the propane’s heat. Regardless of whether the refrigerator is powered by gas or electricity, the temperature differential and airflow are still required.

“During a normal cycle, either an electric heating element or a propane burner provides heat. The water and liquid ammonia are boiled and evaporated, then condensed back into a liquid over and over throughout the process of eliminating the heat from within the refrigerator and freezer (the absence of heat is cold). And since water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s easy to see how extremely low temperatures, just like excessively hot temperatures, might affect absorption refrigeration.” RVDoctor

So I started looking into what other RVers do throughout the winter. What I’ve discovered isn’t great.

I’ve seen suggestions on RV blogs about using insulation to block *some* of the airflow to your refrigerator vents, but that advice comes with a caveat “At your own risk,” as well as the manufacturer’s recommendations (and will apparently void your warranty).

How long does a refrigerator in an RV keep cold?

Planning ahead is one of the simplest methods to keep your fridge at a lower temperature when driving your RV. Consider when you’ll be leaving on your RV journey.

Set your refrigerator to the coldest setting possible a few hours before you depart. Some refrigerators may require a full day of chilling.

It’s critical to have a good understanding of how long you’ll need to run your fridge at its lowest setting, because doing so for too long will cause it to ice over, while not doing so for long enough won’t help.

Consider how your fridge cools when it’s running at full capacity while you’re preparing your vacation so you can account for it in your preparations.

How long will your refrigerator keep its cool? A 12v RV fridge that has been running for up to twelve hours can often stay cool, but running it as low as possible before shutting it off can add a lot more long-lasting, cold air within.