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.
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 long will a propane-powered RV refrigerator last?
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. The BTUs in a gallon of propane are 91,502. 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 normal 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.
On a 20-pound gas tank, how long can a refrigerator run?
- 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 better to use propane or electricity to power an RV refrigerator?
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.
What is the average amount of propane used by RV appliances?
Propane is used sparingly by RV burners. A gallon of propane has about 92,000 BTUs on average. And the average RV stove has one main burner with a BTU rating of 9000 and two neighboring burners with a BTU rating of 6500. Even if all three burners were used every day, it would take months for the average RV to require a refill.
To figure out how much propane is used, divide this by the BTU rating of the stove.
It’s impossible to establish an accurate statistic that represents actual propane usage because there are so many variables. However, a very near estimate may always be obtained, and that is sufficient.
Is it possible to leave the RV freezer running on propane while driving?
Yes, to put it succinctly. While driving, an RV fridge can be used. Keep in mind that running propane while driving poses a safety risk.
You may also use your RV inverter to power your fridge, which should last you till you get at your destination.
Since it is possible to run your RV fridge while driving, here is some additional information so you are aware of any potential risks.
Lower the Fridge Temp Before Leaving
Set your refrigerator to the lowest feasible temperature to avoid freezing any things. To put it another way, get it to the lowest temperature possible before turning it off. The longer you have before it heats up, the colder it is. This can be done the night before or several hours before departure. Refrigerators in RVs are designed to be energy efficient and keep food cold for 10 to 12 hours.
Refrigerate Items at Home Before Loading Them into Your Fridge
The temperature of your fridge will rise if you put warm liquids or food in it. Before putting drinks in the refrigerator, make sure they’re cooled. Frozen liquids, such as water or juice, can also assist to keep the heat at bay.
Consider what you pack in your fridge
It’s not necessary to keep everything in your RV refrigerator. In a side cooler, you can keep condiments, drinks, and snacks that you want to be accessible to reach. If these goods get a bit warm, they are unlikely to spoil.
Place Ice Packs in Your Fridge
What you pack in your refrigerator and how you pack it will make a big difference in how cold it is when you get at your destination. Make sure your belongings are packed tightly so they don’t shift about. Between each item, place ice packs. When replacing ice packs, avoid using frozen food or ice cubes. Frozen food, especially meats, can deteriorate or drip juices, while ice crystals create water in the refrigerator. Bottled water or juice are excellent for keeping your fridge cool.
Avoid Opening the Fridge While Traveling
You lose chilly air every time you open the refrigerator. Put everything you’ll need for drinks and snacks in a cooler you’ll have access to. During breaks, you can also utilize the generator to assist keep the temperature down.
Keep in mind that you may not be able to access the refrigerator if you have a travel trailer or fifth wheel with slides. If you close the door, it will only lose roughly 4 degrees Fahrenheit every eight hours.
Use a Fridge Fan Inside Your RV Fridge
Using a fan inside your RV fridge to circulate air might also help keep food chilled. While driving, a tiny battery-powered fan can be placed in your refrigerator.
How long can a 12 volt battery power a refrigerator in an RV?
In general, a 12V-50Ah battery can power a 2 cubic foot 12V refrigerator for 35 to 50 hours until it runs out of juice. A 10 cubic foot RV refrigerator can only run for 10 to 15 hours on the same battery.
- Discharge depths that are permitted for different battery chemistries are variable (DoD).
A 100Ah lead-acid battery, for example, can only provide roughly 50 Ah of energy without diminishing battery life. A 100Ah lithium battery, on the other hand, can provide 80Ah.
The chart below shows how long different types and sizes of freezers may run without causing damage to the battery:
Will a propane-powered RV refrigerator work without a battery?
An RV fridge does not require battery power to run on propane (LP), but it does require battery power to open the gas valve and fire the igniter. RV batteries also power the front panel LEDs and thermostat.
A gas absorption cooling system is often used in RV refrigerators. This means that an electric heating element heats the gas inside the fridge’s cooling unit.
The gas valve must be opened, and at least 10.5 volts of power must be applied to the igniter. This essentially means that you must ensure that your refrigerator’s battery is not drained and that it receives the necessary voltage to start up.
An electronic control board is standard on all current RV refrigerators. The opening of a gas valve is “in charge” of this control board.
The valve will never be opened if the control board in your propane refrigerator has failed or does not have a 12-volt power source from your batteries, therefore no propane will flow through the burner. The refrigerator will not cool down and the burner will not light.
If your gas isn’t turning on, make sure you have adequate electricity to start the burner and power your control board. If there isn’t a power issue, the next step is to inspect the igniter and burner itself.
The flame should be a continuous blue color and the igniter should be free of debris. Give it around 24 hours to cool down if everything appears to be in order.
Keep in mind that an empty refrigerator takes a long time to cool down. It may simply take a little longer to cool down if you haven’t used it in a while or if it’s especially hot outside.
What is the gas consumption of a Dometic refrigerator?
In an ambient temperature of 25 degrees Celsius, a super fridge freezer installed in some TAs, such as the Dometic RMD 8555, will utilize 380 grams in 24 hours. At 25 degrees Celsius, a smaller, more common device will use 187 to 257 grams every 24 hours. The greater usage rate assumes that the refrigerator is set to its full cooling capacity.