Does an RV Fridge Need a Battery to Run on Propane?
Having an RV fridge that runs on propane, you might be thinking that you don’t need a battery for it. This is not exactly true as propane fridges also need a battery. Modern RV propane fridges have control boards that require a battery in order to operate. However, there are particular upsides to having a fridge that runs on propane rather than just batteries.
For instance, a 20-pound tank of propane can last for around a month; that depends on several factors such as the size of the RV and, of course, the size of the fridge, as well as some other things that we will go into detail further on.
This article explains how propane fridges work, what you should consider if you have a propane fridge in your RV and some fridge models so you can start exploring options.
How do RV Propane Fridges Work?
RV propane fridges are quite different from the fridges you might currently have in your home, so here is a brief explanation of how they work. This information is essential for people looking to buy a propane fridge as well as current owners, as propane is flammable, and you need to be aware of the potential risks of having this type of fridge in your RV.
The fridge has five main parts: generator, water separator condenser, evaporator and absorber. Simply speaking, an absorption fridge works by heating a combination of ammonia, water, hydrogen and gas. The heat causes the chemicals to evaporate, and the condensation that subsequently occurs is what keeps the refrigerator cool.
The heating process happens differently depending on the source – whether you are plugged into shore power or using LP gas. Modern RV fridges switch automatically between these sources. As mentioned before, when the fridge is working on liquid propane, the propane creates a flame that heats up the chemicals.
There are a few other things you need to know about RV fridges aside from how they work; there are different types of fridges, namely 2-way and 3-way RV fridges. This article provides information on the differences between these two types, how they work, and lastly, some of the models currently on the market that might interest you as a buyer.
2-Way and 3-Way RV Refrigerators
The main difference between these two types of RV fridges is how many power sources you can use to run your fridge.
2- way refrigerators are the ones previously discussed, meaning you can use LP or shore power or generator to create the heating of the chemicals. This type of fridge cannot run on batteries without an inverter, and in some cases, depending on the RV model, this option might not be available at all.
A battery is still necessary for this type of fridge; however, its usage is significantly smaller. The battery is used for the thermostat and any LED panels and other added features.
3-way fridges are similar to 2-way fridges in the sense that they can also run on liquid propane and AC power. The difference is that they have an added feature and can also run on DC power. This makes them more efficient, and depending on the size of the fridge, you can get between 3 and 6 hours of usage on batteries.
One of the things to consider with this type of fridge is that you can easily have it running even when you are travelling, as you can shut off the propane entirely and just rely on the battery.
Depending on the type of fridge you choose, you have to consider the point made about running your fridge while driving. The option to do that is more likely with a 3-way fridge as it has the DC power.
2-way fridges, however, might not be able to do this. In any case, some travelers prefer to turn off their refrigerators entirely while travelling as most fridges can maintain the temperature cool enough for up to 6 hours.
So even if your fridge is off, your food won’t go bad. This only works; however, if you don’t open the fridge, or if you need something, you minimize the time you have to open it while it is off, as this can drastically change the temperature inside the fridge.
What Fridge to Get for Your RV?
There are a lot of choices when it comes to RV fridges; however, here, you can find a concise list of some of the best options currently on the market. There are many options depending on the fridge size you are looking for. One option that offers a great value is the Smad Gas Electric Fridge.
Another option you might consider is the Dometic CFX-28US Portable RV fridge. This fridge is great if you are looking for a small fridge. Dometic also has other options worth considering, such as the Dometic RM/ RMD 2-way Double Door RV Refrigerators.
There are also plenty of 3-way refrigerator options, including the Norcord Polar 3-way Refrigerator. These are just some of the RV fridges out there.
Hopefully, this list can give you an idea of the types of fridges on offer, or you might even find the fridge that you need within the selection presented.
Make sure you know what type of fridge you are getting and how it operates. Making sure you know what you are working with can help you use it as efficiently as possible.
Ways to Keep Your RV Fridge Efficient
Many things can contribute to your RV fridge’s efficiency, and some of the things mentioned are a must-know. Different types of fans can help you keep the temperature inside and outside of the fridge lower, subsequently reducing energy use.
These fans are designed to go inside of the fridge, helping the airflow within and by extend reducing the amount of propane your fridge requires to stay cool. Depending on the amount of food you have within your fridge and freezer, these fans can help you reduce energy consumption by up to 50%.
The vent fans are installed on the outside of the fridge. They can help reduce the amount of hot air around the fridge. This is beneficial because the higher the temperature around the fridge is, the more it needs to work to keep the inside temperature low. Therefore your fridge is using up propane faster to accommodate the high-temperature difference.
Ensure That Your RV is Leveled
Keeping your RV and fridge leveled is an essential part of its efficiency, as the absorption fridges rely on gravitation for their functioning. Therefore if the RV is parked on an uneven surface, the internal fluid cycle of the fridge can be slowed down.
The longer the RV and fridge stay on an uneven surface, this problem can become more extensive and even result in a mechanical meltdown. Considering this, always make sure that you park on even surfaces.
Editor’s note: When you are driving, the level of the RV changes, so make sure you always check that your fridge and RV are leveled to avoid issues
The article contains some important information about how RV fridges work and the types of refrigerators you can get for your RV. Furthermore, there is information about refrigerator models that might interest you.
To recap, no matter what type of refrigerator you choose, they all need a battery to work. The only question is how much of the fridge’s functions can the battery power.