How Much Propane Does An RV Refrigerator Use?

Many times you just want to take a tour outdoors while driving in your motorhome without depleting your amenities. And you might be wondering how much propane does your RV refrigerator use?

Modern RVs typically have a built-in refrigerator with a volume of about 10 cubic feet. Most refrigerators consume about one pound of propane on a daily basis.

RV mobile homes usually have an in-built refrigerator unit that runs on propane or electricity, depending on the source of power you want to use.

The amount of propane your RV refrigerator uses depends on several factors like size and age. Nonetheless, you need to consider a few factors that will impact the built-in refrigerator’s overall performance.

Read on as we discuss how an RV refrigerator consumes propane and ways to improve its efficiency.

We shall also discuss tips on how you should maintain the RV fridge and alternative storage options to cool your perishable foods.

How your built-in RV cooling system works

Built-in RV refrigerator

If you want to maximize the RV’s refrigerator for improved efficiency, it is essential to first know how your refrigerator works. Essentially, an RV cooling system is quite different from the one you have at home.

Did you know that RV refrigerators can also be referred to as built-in ‘’absorption refrigerators? The fridge that you use at home typically makes use of compressed freon to cools the interior.

Conversely, your RV cooling system makes use of a mixture of hydrogen, ammonia, and water to create the desired evaporation effect.

Subsequently, the resulting solution is then heated by propane and moves through the built in percolator pump, and releases hot ammonia in the form of vapor.

The water is moved to the boiler system and vapor moves directly into the part known as the condenser. Heat is then transferred to the exterior surface through evaporation.

During this dynamic process, the liquid ammonia moves into an evaporator and combines with hydrogen. Liquid ammonia and hydrogen gas combine through a complex vaporization reaction.

This helps to extract the built-up heat energy from the interior, thereby keeping your food fresh and water cold.

Afterwards, the hydrogen-ammonia mixture moves into an absorber chamber. Ammonia then dissolves in the water once again.

While this happens, hydrogen gas moves into an evaporator and this process starts all over again.

This process enables your RV cooling system to generate propane heat that keeps your items cool.

If you are camping in woods on your customized RV, you should use propane as a power source so that you can conserve battery life. You don’t have to use your RV onboard generator if you have propane.

How much propane do RV refrigerators consume?


Modern RV cooling systems are often thermally efficient when compared to older units. But size increases the amount of power required.

Generally, a modern RV refrigerator has sufficient internal volume that can save enough propane to last you a few days without refilling.

Nonetheless, there are a few factors that can reduce or improve your built-in fridge performance.

For instance, newer RV models are efficient with regards to combustion and hence they are a safer option in reducing toxic discharges.

And for those who enjoy outdoor camping activities in their RV, they can even install a twofold fuel generator in their mobile home that makes use of propane.

Opening the door frequently can contribute to the amount of propane your RV refrigerator uses. Also, remember that other factors come to play to determine exactly the amount of energy that the RV consumes.

How can you reduce the quantity of propane the RV refrigerator consumes per day?

You can address energy efficiency in several simple ways. For beginners, If you realize that the RV refrigerator uses more propane than usual, you can try these steps.

1. Perform routine maintenance

Similar to your home appliances, an RV also needs regular maintenance to ensure everything runs smoothly. This can help to repair all the faulty areas and prevent them from becoming a much larger problem.

Ensure you check for corrosion, leak, and rust. Also, check for buildup of soot on the RVs exhaust vent.

Soot can show your RV refrigeration has inefficient combustion. Buildup of dust and spider webs can significantly affect system airflow if left unchecked.

2. Ensure the RV and refrigerator RV are leveled accordingly

RV refrigerators typically perform well if they are placed on a flat ground. This is important because gravity has an active role in feeding the refrigerator its cooling fluids.

If you park the RV on a sloped ground, the cycling procedure that mixes all the fluids internally is affected. When you leave the RV to run on an uneven ground, it will likely experience mechanical fault due to inefficiency.

Hence when in doubt, try and check your RV’s floor level to find out if the built in refrigerator is well aligned using a hand level.

3. Install fans inside the cooling system

The refrigerator you use at home usually has a cooling fan that keeps all your internal components cool and fresh.

But if you notice any issues with the RV refrigerator, then there might be problems with proper thermal functions.

You can place a fan inside your RV’s refrigerator to assist in cooling. Adding a fan in the RV’s fridge can help with good thermal exchange.

Basically, the fans work by expelling cool air from the refrigeration system, thereby minimizing the RVs cooling load.

4. Ensure there is proper ventilation

Absorption refrigerators often eliminate heat from the back. Subsequently, the lower ventilation brings in cool air and expels hot air.

But when something is blocking or obstructing the airflow,  this could interfere with the proper cooling process.

As a suggestion, you can store some of your basic items in a cooler as this will prevent you from opening your refrigerator multiple times, interfering with the RVs refrigerator efficiency.

Final Thought

The RV refrigerator is definitely an amazing innovation. And similar to most home appliances, it is essential to perform regular maintenance to maximize its efficiency.

Proper maintenance practices can improve its lifespan.

Allow the refrigerator to cool properly before loading. Avoid overpacking and always remember to keep it properly levelled.

With these invaluable instructions at your disposal, your RVs built in a cooler can minimize the consumption of propane and still keep your perishable items fresh and cool.

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