How To Keep RV Fridge Cold While Driving

For those of you who are always on the move but enjoy the convenience of bringing your refrigerator along, an RV fridge is your best bet. An RV fridge is designed for campers since they can easily be transported from one place to another.

Before we get into how to keep an RV fridge cold while driving, let us first take a look at what an RV fridge is, how it differs from a residential refrigerator, and its features.

RV Refrigerators Vs. Home Refrigerators

An RV fridge functions differently than a refrigerator. Unlike the fridge you have at home, an RV fridge does not have a compressor. Though compressor-driven RV refrigerators exist, most of them are absorption-driven.

An RV fridge uses substances such as ammonia, hydrogen gas, and water to maintain cold temperatures which keep food cold and fresh. The refrigerator uses heat to circulate these fluids to different tubes which in turn cause chemical reactions. These chemical reactions lead to condensation and evaporation which bring about cold temperatures.

Keeping Your RV Refrigerator Cool

A common question campers have is how to keep their RV fridge cold while driving. There are various factors to keep in mind such as not packing the refrigerator with too much food, lowering the temperature, not opening it as you drive, and using a generator.

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Let us take a look at each of these in detail.

#1. Pack Your Fridge Properly and Fill Empty Spaces

The first and foremost step in ensuring that your RV fridge remains cold while you drive is to pack it properly.

Packing your refrigerator properly means that it shouldn’t be too full nor too empty. Keep a sufficient number of food items in it to reduce movement inside and chances of spillage.

Use Cold Items Strategically

Store as many cold items as you can to keep your refrigerator’s temperature low. If there are extra spaces between food items, fill the gaps with ice packs, cold beverage cans, or water and juice bottles.

At the same time, make sure you don’t have too many packets of frozen food or ice as they can create moisture inside the refrigerator and cause food and other items to spoil.

#2. Lower the Temperature Before You Leave

An easy way to keep your RV fridge cold as you drive is to lower its temperature to the lowest setting. It’s best to set your fridge’s temperature to the lowest point during the evening before your trip. However, there are certain things that you need to keep in mind before taking this step.

If your RV refrigerator tends to freeze food items at the lowest setting, select the lowest temperature possible that doesn’t cause freezing. If you’re worried that all your food will freeze by morning, try adjusting the temperature a few hours earlier before your trip instead of the night before.

Ideal Temperatures for Food

How do you know what the appropriate setting is for your RV fridge? To answer your question, you need to know what temperature your food items need to remain fresh.

Typically, meat and poultry items stay fresh at temperatures ranging between 33 and 36 degrees Fahrenheit while dairy is best stored between 34 and 38 degrees. Fruits and vegetables on the other hand are at their best between 34 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If your refrigerator’s temperature exceeds 40 degrees, there is a high probability that the items in your fridge will spoil.

When it comes to your freezer, try and keep the temperature as close as possible to 0 degrees.

#3. Don’t Open the Fridge on the Road

A common mistake people make is opening their fridge while driving. This is a big no-no when you are on the road as it leads to your RV refrigerator losing its cold air quickly. If you want to preserve the cold temperature inside your refrigerator, avoid opening the door to your RV refrigerator. If you can go without opening it at all, then do so.

An easy way to avoid opening your fridge is by bringing along a portable cooler that has snacks, drinks, and anything else you might need while traveling. By doing so, you can eat and drink normally without worrying about the temperature in your RV’s refrigerator.

Don’t forget to remind any family members or friends who are traveling with you not to open the door.

#4. Use a Generator

If, for any reason, you were unable to lower your RV fridge’s temperature before leaving or keep it cold while traveling, use a generator as your last resort. Of course, you won’t be able to run your generator as you drive, but you can use it during pit stops. Use these short breaks to lower the temperature accordingly.

If you’re planning to use your generator as you stop for gas or food, keep in mind that you should park your trailer some distance away from people. Generators not only make a lot of noise, but they also emit fumes like carbon monoxide which is toxic.

#5. Why You Should Not Use Propane While Driving

Many RV fridge owners wonder how much propane their devices consume. Propane is a hydrocarbon gas that is used in refrigerators for maintaining the freshness of food items. It is converted into a liquid form before being pressurized for use.

While the consumption of propane varies based on the size and capacity of your RV fridge, the average RV refrigerator requires 1.5 pounds of propane per day.

Propane: Some Words of Caution

You should never use propane while driving because it is a highly flammable chemical. There are US states that have made driving while running propane illegal because of its dangers.

Should your RV fridge be malfunctioning or if there are any leaks, propane will quickly catch fire and can even cause an explosion. This can lead to substantial damage and potentially lethal consequences for yourself and anyone in the immediate area.

How Long Can a Fridge Stay Cold While Driving?

Most RV refrigerators can stay cold for ten to 12 hours when you’re on the road. If you can conserve your refrigerator’s energy by maintaining an appropriate temperature and not opening it frequently, then you might be able to keep your food cold for longer than that.

RV refrigerators can lose four degrees or more every hour which is why it is necessary to set their temperature to the lowest setting before driving.

There are other practical ways to keep your RV’s fridge cool. You can make sure that it’s on level ground while increasing the circulation of cold air inside it.

Keep the Refrigerator Level

An RV refrigerator is meant to be on level ground so it can work efficiently. A refrigerator operating on slanted ground will not only cool less efficiently but can also sustain expensive and permanent damage to its components.

Some people will tilt their RV refrigerator by one or two degrees to drain moisture from rainwater and dew. This usually won’t result in any problems. However, if you generally run your refrigerator while it’s tilted by more than three degrees, you may be damaging your appliance’s cooling unit.

Get the Air Circulating

The proper circulation of air inside your refrigerator allows the cold air to be properly and more evenly distributed within. You can boost circulation by purchasing and installing a small battery-operated fan inside your RV fridge.

Additionally, keep in mind that you should avoid overcrowding your fridge and packing it with too many hot food items. This will not only reduce air circulation but also heat your fridge. Hot items in your refrigerator will reduce its cooling capacity and can potentially lead to spoiled food.

Lastly, do not forget to close the refrigerator door immediately whenever you take something out or put something in. Just like your refrigerator at home, leaving the fridge door open for too long will lead to it losing cold air.

How Long Can I Expect My RV Refrigerator to Last?

Most RV fridges are either two-way or three-way refrigerators with an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years. Two-way RV refrigerators provide users the option of using either AC/DC power or liquified petroleum gas (LPG). A three-way refrigerator on the other hand provides users the choice of using DC power from in-house batteries along with the other two options.

Today, many companies are also building electric-only RV refrigerators for residential purposes.

Bon Voyage

To ensure your RV fridge requires the least maintenance possible and has a long lifespan, make sure you’re aware of how to operate and use it properly.

You should also keep in mind that your RV fridge will run optimally if you keep some basic tips in mind such as not leaving the door open for too long, not using it while driving, keeping sufficient space between your food items, and adjusting its temperature to an appropriate level so your food does not perish.

Follow these steps so you can enjoy fresh food and cold beverages wherever your journey takes you.

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