How Much Propane Does an RV Fridge Use?

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There will be times where you may decide to take your RV for a spin and travel to a remote destination like the mountains. In that case, you’ll need to eat while being out there, and the food you carry along will need to be preserved. Your best option is to invest in an RV refrigerator that uses propane. Still, how much propane does an RV fridge use?

How Much Propane Does an RV Fridge Use? 

Smad 3 way caravan propane fridge 120v 12v lpg gas refrigerator for motorhome rv campervan, black, 2. 1 cu. Ft.

Size and newer options can increase the overall energy demand of an RV fridge. An RV fridge will consume around 1½ lbs of propane a day if it’s newer with about 10-12 cubic feet of internal volume. That’s at least 1400 BTUs an hour. 

How Long Will an RV Fridge Run on Propane?

A single 20-pound propane tank will last at least a month while powering things like your cooking tools, refrigerator and water heater. 

How Does a Propane RV Refrigerator Work?

RV refrigerators are not like your standard home refrigerators. Home refrigerators utilize compressors and fans for the cooling of objects. RV refrigerators are different and considered absorption refrigerators. Absorption refrigerators have no moving parts, and instead, utilize ammonia and water to cool objects. 

The ammonia and water are heated in a generator to the boiling point where they’re separated when passing through the separator. Afterward, they start to separately move through the refrigerator. As the water is moving to an absorber, the ammonia proceeds to a condenser. 

Also Read: How To Check the Ammonia Level in an RV Fridge?

This is where it begins to cool down into a liquid state, then continues into an evaporator where it’ll combine with compressed hydrogen gas. It subsequently evaporates as an extremely cold vapor that moves to the cooling coils inside the refrigerator, which is how it gets cold. The vapor then turns back into the absorber and combines with the water. 

The process repeats itself. Propane is used to run this process of the fridge and, without it, ammonia will fail to move to the hydrogen gas. Therefore, cooling will not occur.

What’s the Actual Amount of Propane an RV Refrigerator Can Use?

Techomey propane refrigerator 2. 1 cu. Ft, 12 v/110v/gas lpg, mini fridge 3 way, quiet compact camping fridge for caravan, motorhome, cabin, boat, apartment, office, kitchen, black

If your RV fridge is 12 cubic feet, then it can use 1 ½ lb or so of propane on a regular basis, with 1400 BTUs produced by the hour. With a small, 4 cubic foot RV refrigerator, it’ll use less than a pound of propane per day. There are even larger fridges that use about 2lbs of propane a day.

How Can I Decrease the Amount of Propane My RV Refrigerator Consumes?

1. Stay Up to Date With Routine Maintenance

Routine maintenance can help run the unit much smoother, along with any other appliances in your RV. It’ll also allow you to catch any faulty areas so that you can attack them before they worsen into a bigger problem.

2. Make Sure the RV and Refrigerator are Properly Level

RV fridges work their best when they’re on level ground, due greatly to the gravity feed of the cooling system’s fluids. If the RV fridge isn’t level in its mounting position then the internal fluid cycling process slows down. 

3. Add Some Battery-Operated Cooling Fans

If there’s a problem with air circulation around your RV fridge then the thermal exchange process can slow down. Your fridge’s compressor has a fan which helps in keeping the internal components cool.

4. Turn Down the Temperature Setting When External Temperatures Are Low

RV refrigerators are more affected by outdoor air temperatures than kitchen refrigerators. Let’s say the ambient air temperature in your RV is lower than average, and you’re camping in the winter, spring or fall. In this case, you can lower the fridge’s setting with hardly any impact on internal temperature.

5. Run the RV’s Refrigerator Before Packing It

It takes time for RV fridges to cool down all the way. When traveling, wait at least 4-6 hours before packing your refrigerator with cold items and food. 

6. Pack Cold Foods in the Refrigerator First

It helps to place your colder items in the fridge first when packing, even after the refrigerator is prechilled. This reduces the thermal load on the system even more. 

7. Make Sure the Rear of the RV Refrigerator Isn’t Blocked

The majority of the RV fridges vent the heat energy out the back. The lower vent subsequently brings cold air in, as hot air evacuates from the fridge at the same time. If anything blocks the airflow in the rear end of the refrigerator, it may hamper the cooling process significantly. 

Do I Need a Battery to Run My Refrigerator on Propane? 

It’s common to believe that your refrigerator doesn’t require a battery since it runs on propane. Well, it does. All modern RV refrigerators contain a control board that acts as the unit’s brain. So, it requires a battery in order to run the control board. 


The amount of propane an RV fridge uses depends on several factors. Follow the tips above to get your RV refrigerator to use less propane than usual. For more information, visit our website or contact us today.

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