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Traveling by RV doesn’t mean camping with rustic amenities. Today’s travelers can enjoy all the modern conveniences like cold beer, fresh meats and cheeses, and even ice cream thanks to the many RV refrigerator freezer options available. The trick is finding the right unit to meet your needs–both in terms of food storage and energy consumption. Here’s a look at the various types of RV fridges available and which ones is the best RV refrigerator for your rig.
What Kind of Refrigerators Work in an RV?
Any residential refrigerator can work in an RV as long as it is powered correctly. Some RV owners use 110-volt AC, some use propane, and some use 12-volt DC. Some RV owners have access to multiple types of power. The residential refrigerator you buy depends on what power sources you have available and which ones your use most often.
Types of RV Refrigerators
Residnetial refrigerators in RVs get their power supply from one of three sources–LP gas, 12-volt DC power from the batteries, or 110-volt AC power from shore power or a generator. You’ll find various combinations of these three power sources built into one fridge.
A common option is to have an new RV fridge that uses 110-volt shore power while hooked up but propane when boondocking. Another option is the solar fridge, which runs only on 12-volt battery power, replenished with solar power where there’s sunshine.
Two or Three-Way Absorption RV Refrigerators
Absorption refrigerators are either two-way or three-way. These fridges use heat to trigger an evaporative process that creates cold air. In RVs, propane or electricity powers the heat process that creates the chemical cooling process.
Two-way absorption refrigerators use propane or 110V AC to power the cooling process. Three-way absorption refrigerators use propane, 110V AC or 12V DC to power the cooling process.
Benefits of Absorption Refrigerators
If you have a propane gas system already installed in your RV, an absorption refrigerator makes a lot of sense. When plugged in, you can run your fridge with shore power or use propane when boondocking. If you have a three-way fridge, you can choose whichever power source is most abundant.
Absorption refrigerators take a while to cool off properly, but they are usually well insulated. As a result, they’ll keep their cool for hours.
Because most absorption refrigerators are purpose-built for RVs, they are made to be energy efficient and withstand the rigors of the road. In addition, they usually have locking doors, so a bump in the road won’t cause the doors to fly open.
Absorption Refrigerator Cons
Since these are RV fridges, they tend to be small. If you have a large family and like to stock up for long trips, dealing with a small RV refrigerator can be difficult.
A compression refrigerator will usually keep a fridge around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. However, absorption refrigerators usually only cool to 40 degrees below room temperature. So, if it’s 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside, your fridge’s temperature might rise to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, you can add fans to improve the fridge’s efficiency, but you might not want the constant worry on hot days.
In order to run an absorption fridge, the RV needs to be level. This usually isn’t a problem, but it might be considered if you are boondocking in a rustic spot.
110V AC Residential Fridge Style Options
110V AC refrigerators are also known as compressor refrigerators. They need constant 110V power just like the residential refrigerator in your home. You must have access to shore power, or sufficient battery power and an inverter to use a 110V fridge. Or, alternatively, you could run a generator.
These home-style fridges aren’t focused on conserving energy like 12V fridges are. Instead, because of their considerable power draw, they are best suited for RV owners who use shore power.
If you use your inventor to power the residential refrigerator, that converter that turns 12-volt DC electric into 110-volt AC power uses energy, too. If you plan on using battery power often, you’d be better off buying an efficient 12V fridge.
110V AC Refrigerator Pros
Compressor refrigerators keep consistently cold temperatures. These fridges are usually full-sized, which is excellent for large families or those who like to stock up on provisions.
Compressor refrigerators are frost-free, so you won’t have to defrost them all the time. In addition, fridges sold for home use are usually much more budget-friendly than those built specifically for RV use.
110V AC Refrigerator Cons
First, 110V RV refrigerators are large and spacious. This means they can be a challenge to fit into your RV. RV doorways are often relatively small, and you might not be able to fit a large fridge through the doorway. Even if you can fit a large home fridge into your entrance, you’ll have to maneuver it to its final location, which might be impossible.
110V AC RV refrigerators require constant 110V electricity. If you like to boondock without running a generator, you’ll need significant solar power, a large battery bank, and a large inverter.
If you drive from RV park to RV park, you’ll still need to have enough power to run your fridge in between RV parks.
110V AC refrigerators are built to be installed in non-moving houses. They don’t have locking doors, so they might swing open while underway. Also, the parts aren’t made to be as resilient as RV-specific brands are.
12-Volt DC Battery Power Refrigerators
Compressor refrigerators can also be run off 12-volt DC power. This is becoming more and more common, especially for use as a solar fridge or when used with the best batteries for your RV, like lithium power banks. With 12-volt power, you only need a battery to make it work. But, of course, a residential refrigerator can use a lot of power, especially when it’s hot outside. That means you’ll have to monitor your power usage and ensure your batteries always have adequate power.
Pros of 12-Volt RV Refrigerator/Freezer
A 12-volt fridge is simple. If you only have a deep-cycle battery and a simple electrical system, you can use it. Some of these fridges are portable chest-style units that look like a cooler. They can be plugged into your tow vehicle or used for your car out in the camping world. They’re perfect for small rigs like tear-drop campers or van-lifers–people who don’t have shore power or propane and don’t want all the complexity that comes with those systems.
But they aren’t just available in chest-style options. There are plenty of drawer and front-loading fridges and freezers available. These aren’t the cheap little coolers that only keep drinks cold for a car trip, these are real refrigerators that are indistinguishable from your residential refrigerator, except they’re usually found in smaller sizes.
Since they’re built small and portable, 12-volt refrigerators tend to be some of the most efficient options. They’re more expensive than household 110-volt models, but they’re built for life on the road and for working in portable power systems. If your camper has a battery charger or maintainer that runs when on shore power, you might not need 110-volt power to your fridge at all. The fridge will run on the battery, but the shore power will keep the battery topped thanks to the charger.
Cons of 12-Volt RV Refrigerators
A 12-volt RV refrigerator will likely be the most power-hungry consumer in your 12-volt electrical system. They’re efficient, but they still run constantly and draw between four and six amps. Most 12-volt-only fridges have a low-voltage cutoff to prevent you from completely draining your batteries.
Things to Look For When Shopping for a New RV Fridge
To ensure you purchase the best RV refrigerator for you, there are some things you should consider:
Size and Capacity
Size is a limiting factor on most RVs. Therefore, carefully measure your available space. For example, if you replace an old fridge on your RV, do you want the new fridge to go in the same space? Usually, this makes the most sense, but don’t be afraid to think out of the box.
Usually, you have two choices. You can find an RV refrigerator that perfectly fits in a defined space, or you can find a new space for your RV refrigerator.
You should carefully check each dimension to ensure your new fridge will fit. Even if you have ample space for a home-sized fridge, will it fit through the door and through your RV?
After confirming the exterior fit dimensions, consider your fridge’s capacity. The capacity refers to the interior volume of the fridge. Most of us look for the highest capacity fridge to easily store the most food. When considering capacity, check out the fridge’s reviews and think about how you will organize your food. Fridges that offer smart organization will improve how you store and access your food.
Cubic Feet Measurements
Most fridges measure internal capacity in cubic feet. However, that can be a hard measurement to translate into real-world usage. A home-sized large refrigerator tends to have 18 to 22 cubic feet of capacity. Buying guides usually recommend you plan on four to five cubic feet of RV refrigerator space for each adult, but this is entirely dependent on your usage.
If you only pack beer in your fridge and eat out, you can get away with a small one. If, on the other hand, you cook at home most of the time and are away from stores for weeks at a time, you’ll need an enormous fridge just for two people. If you are short of space and can’t fit a large-capacity fridge in your RV, you can get creative with food storage and just store the necessities in your fridge.
Fridges are expensive and should be seen as an investment item. Often, a higher-quality fridge with all the options will be more expensive than others. But, on the other hand, an RV refrigerator is something you’ll use all the time in your RV, so spending a few extra cents a day on getting the perfect fridge might be worth it to you.
It can be tempting to save money and get a standard household 110-volt fridge. This could be run off an inverter when you aren’t plugged in. This works fine for RVs that spend most of their time plugged in, but there is an additional investment you’ll need to make–in the power system and the inverter.
Most RV refrigerators use around four to five kWh (kilowatt-hours) a day. Larger fridges can use up to 10 or 12 kWh a day. Make sure you have enough power available to run your chosen fridge. Fridges that can run on propane usually use between one and two pounds of propane a day.
Modern RV refrigerators are becoming more and more efficient. However, they still require a fair amount of power to convert hot air into cold and keep your ice cream frozen. If you run an inverter to power your 110-volt fridge, you’ll be sacrificing some efficiency.
RV Fridge Features
You might seek out the simplest, most budget-friendly fridge. Or, you might want to invest in a fridge with snazzy options. Extra features include stainless steel construction, freezer compartments, and ice makers. Some models have adjustable shelves, so you can choose what height works best for you. Other models have crisper bins for produce.
RV-specific features include locking doors, low power alarms, and changeable panels. In addition, many RV fridges have the option to switch hinges, so you change the fridge from a right-hand side opening to a left-hand-sided opening.
RV Freezer Options
Some RV refrigerator models come with small freezer compartments, and some do not. It’s nice to have the freezer compartment to store ice, ice cream, meat, and quick meals like pizza. However, the freezer compartment adds complexity to the RV refrigerator, uses more power, and takes away space from the RV refrigerator.
If you want to have a simple fridge but like the idea of having a freezer, consider buying a chest-style freezer. These units run on 12V and can cool to fridge or freezer temperatures. With this setup, you can use your fridge space for constant-use items and use your large, separate freezer for ice cream and other frozen goods.
Solar RV Fridges
Boondocking is a great way to enjoy the RV lifestyle. When boondocking, you can truly get away from it all, enjoy stunning vistas, and experience remote campsites.
While you want to get away from the noise and bustle of a campsite, you might not want to get away from your favorite mod-cons like refrigerated chicken or summer sorbets.
Boondockers are rightly focused on conserving power so they can stay in their super-secret extra-perfect site for as long as possible without running a generator or needing to hook up to power. Luckily, fridges you can run on solar power are becoming more popular so that you can have it all.
How Solar Power Fridges Work
Solar fridges are low-energy-use fridges that run on 12-volt and use battery power. The batteries are then topped off with solar power. Solar power fridges don’t need generators or shore power to run.
If you want to run your fridge on solar power, you’ll need to have solar panels as well as reliable batteries that can store enough power to run your fridge. The best RV battery types for the jobs are those high-quality deep-cycle batteries that hold their power well under load. Most applications should use AGM lead-acid batteries, but heavy power users will be happier with lithium iron phosphate batteries.
Things to Consider in a New RV Fridge With Solar Power
When shopping for a 12V fridge, consider its size, shape, power usage, and where you plan to store it. In addition, think about how rugged it needs to be.
Size and Shape
A lot of fridges that are optimized for 12V use are smaller than regular home-size fridges. Many are chest-style and are similar to traditional coolers but have electrical cooling capacity.
However, you can also buy larger, standard-style fridges that run on 12V and will run on solar power. Usually larger fridges are most expensive than the smaller, simpler fridges.
Solar Power Fridge and Freezer Capabilities
Chest-style solar fridges have one large compartment like a cooler. However, many of these units can function as either a fridge or a freezer. So you can buy two and operate one as a fridge and one as a freezer.
Larger, home-style 12V units are also available. These usually have a separate freezer. However, these freezer spaces are often smaller than your home freezer. Freezers use a lot more power than RV refrigerators do.
Other Power Options
Many RV fridges offer other power options. For example, several of our favorite 12V fridges can run on 110 volts as well, and some fridges can run on 12V, 110 volts, or propane. Think about how you’ll use your fridge and what power sources you have access to before deciding on a fridge.
Before shopping for a 12V solar fridge, review your current power setup. How much power is available to use for your fridge? What is the fridge’s expected amperage? How long can your batteries last off-grid? What happens if you have cloudy days and limited solar power?
Choose an energy-efficient fridge to maximize the time you can spend off-the-grid.
Overall Power Needs
When researching your off-the-grid fridge choice, don’t forget to calculate your RV’s total power usage. You’ll probably be running lights, powering computers, and charging cell phones in addition to running an RV refrigerator. Therefore, you’ll need solar power and battery capacity to handle all your power needs.
Storing Your 12V Portable Fridge
If you buy a home-style fridge, it will likely stay in the same place. However, the chest-style fridges are portable, and you can store them wherever is most convenient. For example, you might store your fridge under a seat as you travel and pull it out as needed.
If you have a small tear-drop trailer and set up your cooking area outside, consider a more rugged fridge built for outdoor use. That way, you can easily use it outside, and it will be hardy enough to withstand being tossed around.
Pros and Cons of a New RV Fridge With Solar Power
Having a fridge that runs off solar power is perfect for boondocking. However, you’ll have to ensure you have enough solar panels and battery power. In addition, you’ll have to monitor your power use.
Pros of a 12V Solar Power Fridge
The biggest pro of a solar power fridge is its energy independence. If you spend an extended period away from powered campsites, a solar-powered fridge will help you keep your food cold without being plugged in.
Instead of needing a propane and 110V AC hookup, you just need one power source for your solar fridge. Instead of converting your 110V AC fridge to use 12V power, you can just run on the more energy-efficient 12V system without using an inverter.
If you don’t use propane for cooking or heating, you can eliminate the need for the entire LPG system.
The compressor system takes up less space than an absorption system so that you can get more fridge capacity in the same space.
12V fridges are specifically made for the hardships of the road. They have locking doors and high-quality resilient internal parts that stand up well to vibration and movement.
Like a 110V fridge, 12V fridges cool consistently. While an absorption fridge can’t cool well in super-high temperatures, a 12V compression fridge will keep your food constantly cold.
Solar fridges are usually compact and portable and can be stored wherever suits you and moved around for easy access. In addition, these simple fridges are easy to set up. Because you won’t have to think about installing a more complicated two or three-way system, you can just plug the fridge into your 12V system and head off to your remote site.
Cons of a Solar Power Fridge
After ensuring you have enough solar power and battery capacity, you’ll have to find a sunny spot to park your RV. Parking in the sun away from trees is excellent for your solar gains, but you might start to get uncomfortably hot in the sun.
If you experience multiple cloudy days in a row, your battery power may run low. If your fridge runs out of power, you risk spoiling your refrigerated food.
While a compact, energy-efficient fridge is easily stored and managed, you might find it too small for all your refrigeration needs. The largest 12V fridges are usually around ten cubic feet, smaller than most home-size fridges.
Another issue RV fridge buyers face is sticker shock. While budget fridges are available, many solar fridges seem pretty expensive for a glorified cooler.
Additional solar related articles:
- Best Solar Generator
- Windy Nation Solar Panel Kit Review
- Renogy 100 Watt Portable Solar Suitcase Review
- Renogy 200 Watt Solar Starter Kit Review
- ALLPOWERS Solar Panels Review
- Best Solar Charge Controllers for Your RV
- Best Solar Panels for RVs and Converted Vans
- How to Install Solar Panels on Your Van
Common RV Fridge Problems and How to Fix Them
Absorption fridges need to be taken care of properly to run well. If your RV fridge freezer isn’t running as efficiently as it should, there are several things you can check yourself.
If your fridge stops working, the first thing you should check is the fridge’s power supply. Next, if your fridge runs on propane, check your propane tank to ensure it isn’t empty. To fix a propane issue, make sure that the valve is on. Then, check the excess flow valve and the pressure regulator. Finally, check that the interior propane detector is on.
If it runs on electricity, check that you have power available. If you are plugged into shore power, reset your breakers.
The 12-volt compressor-type RV refrigerators are very sensitive to voltage drop. If the power at the compressor drops too low, which often happens as the compressor starts up, then the unit will not cool. Double-check that the wires are large enough and that the battery is getting a sufficient charge. Also, make sure there is no corrosion on the wire connections.
Cooling Unit Issues
Sometimes, absorption-style fridges develop coolant leaks. If you see yellow stains on the fridge’s coils or smell ammonia, you might have a leak. Turn the RV refrigerator off right away and open the windows to get rid of the smell. You might have to replace the cooling unit to fix this issue.
Fridge Burner Fail at High Altitudes
Above 5,500 feet elevation, oxygen levels drop, and your absorption fridge may burn out. If you are traveling in the mountains, remember to switch to electric power rather than propane. If the burner fails, switch to electric power or return to a lower altitude.
If you have an absorption fridge, you need to park on a level spot. If you park on an incline or in an uneven spot, the cooling fluid may pool up and not cycle properly. If you are on an incline and your fridge stops working, move to a flatter space.
Tips for Keeping Your Absorption Fridge Running
- Park in the shade to ensure cooling efficiency.
- Keep the fridge vent clear.
- Avoid putting hot food in your fridge.
- Don’t overfill your fridge.
- Keep cycling your fridge. If you leave your fridge in storage, ammonia sediment can build up.
- Keep the inside and outside surfaces clean.
What’s the Best RV Refrigerator for RV use?
The best RV refrigerator depends on many factors. First, consider your current power sources. For example, an absorption fridge might be perfect if you already have a propane system and don’t travel in the tropics.
If you always use shore power or have a large solar array with high-capacity batteries and a large inventor, a 110V AC fridge provides a lot of luxuries.
If you like boondocking, don’t mind having a smaller fridge, and have solar power, a 12V fridge will work well. The best RV refrigerator for your RV depends on your power setup, capacity needs, and off-the-grid plans.
Best for Small RV’s
A small RV needs to maximize its space. If you’re replacing the existing fridge in your RV or camper, find a replacement fridge that will fit that space and the cut-out. If you already use propane for cooking, you might look into getting an absorption fridge that runs on propane, 110V, or 12V.
You can store a chest-style fridge anywhere. Chest-style fridges often offer the ability to switch between fridge and freezer temperatures so that you can choose the setting based on your needs. Chest-style fridges are great if you are only spending a few days at a time on the road.
Best for Large RV’s
The best RV refrigerator for a large RV depends on your power supply. If you want the flexibility to run on propane, 110V, or 12V, an absorption-style fridge will work for you. However, most absorption-style fridges are smaller than home-style fridges.
If you have a large RV and want a home-size fridge, consider a 110-volt home refrigerator. A home refrigerator will be large enough to store your food easily. However, you’ll need to fit it into your RV’s entrance, fit it into your kitchen, and power it. If you are hooked up to shore power most of the time, a 110-volt home fridge is a great option.
Dometic focuses on refrigeration for mobile uses. Dometic fridges are popular in RVs, campers, and boats. Dometic makes innovative fridges that are quiet, rugged, and energy-efficient.
Norcold was founded in 1959 and is based in Ohio. They offer top-of-the-line RV fridges and freezers. Norcold focuses on producing reliable fridges with excellent performance.
Smeta is a newer company that was founded in 2006. They focus on RV appliances for small spaces like apartments and RVs. Smeta offers three-way, two-way, and 12V fridges and freezers. Smeta offers budget-friendly alternatives to the more established RV brands.
Top RV Fridge/Freezers
Before shopping for an RV refrigerator/freezer, you should write down the dimensions of the space your new unit will go. In addition, consider how many cubic feet of interior fridge space you want. Finally, decide on how to power your fridge.
If you are replacing an older fridge, you might want a direct replacement that uses the same power source. For example, if you want to get rid of propane, you might want a compression-style fridge that uses 110V or 12V.
In addition, you should consider your budget. Top-of-the-line absorption fridges tend to be the most expensive, whereas 110 volt-only fridges tend to be the most budget-friendly.
Three-Way Refrigerators – 12, 110-volt, and Gas
Three-way RV refrigerators offer maximum flexibility. You can use them with 110V, 12V, or propane. However, these absorption-style fridges aren’t as efficient as 12V fridges and can struggle to keep their temperatures down in high heat and high humidity.
Dometic RM 1350 Four-Door 13 cu ft Absorption Refrigerator
This massive RV refrigerator is the largest absorption-style fridge on our list. With 13 cubic feet of cooling capacity, it’s close in size to an average home refrigerator. Most home-style fridges are between 14 and 20 cubic feet. This Dometic refrigerator has nine cubic feet of storage, and the freezer has 3.47 cubic feet of storage space.
The Dometic RM 1350 is a three-way absorption fridge, so it can run on propane, 12V, or 110 volts. This fridge offers the ultimate in-home-style convenience while on the road.
The four doors swing out to offer easy access to all your food. The freezer compartment is divider-less for wall-to-wall cooling. This is one of the few RV freezers with the option for a built-in ice-maker. In addition, it offers an optional through-the-door cooled water feature for at-home luxury.
The Dometic offers the option to add an automatic locking system that will lock the doors whenever the RV’s ignition is turned. With this high-tech option, you won’t have to worry about your doors opening while underway.
The fridge compartment has adjustable shelves and three crisper drawers. The digital display is hidden and can be accessed by opening the freezer compartment. This design feature means that you can sleep in the living room without being annoyed by the fridge’s lights.
- Ice Maker
- Through-the-door water
- Locking System
- Extra-large capacity requires extra-large space
- Very expensive
- Cubic Feet: 13.5 Cubic Feet
- Unit Dimensions (inches): 26.16″W, 32.34″D, 63.16″H
- Cutout Dimensions (inches): 32.7″W, 27″D, 63.2″H
- Weight: 231 pounds
- Power: Propane, 12V DC or 110 volt AC
This Norcold three-way RV refrigerator offers RV owners flexibility. This eight cubic feet capacity fridge can run on propane, 12V or 110 volts.
The Norcold has an adjustable thermostat. The control panel is between the fridge and freezer sections and is conveniently at eye level. You can adjust the freezer and RV refrigerator temperatures separately.
The fridge features hidden hinges and recessed door handles. The powder-coated shelves are adjustable, so you can organize your fridge as needed. In addition, the fridge has two clear crispers, and the door offers additional food storage with clear door bins.
The Norcold has a separate freezer section with an optional ice maker. It has automatic frost limiting features to give you easy maintenance.
The Norcold is ready to blend in with your RV decor and accept door panels from previous Norcold models. Two MAGNA strips have magnets for photos and offer an easy way to add panels.
- Large capacity
- 3-way flexibility
- Recessed door handles
- Door panels are not included
- Cubic Feet: Eight cubic feet
- Unit Dimensions (inches): 26.3″W, 26.3″D, 61.8″H
- Cut-Out Dimensions (inches): 23.5″W, 24″D, 59.875″H
- Weight: 150 pounds
- Power: Propane, 12V DC or 110 volt AC
Dometic Americana Plus DM 2682
The Dometic Americana Plus can work on 110 volts, 12V, or propane. This absorption-style fridge converts between power sources at the touch of a button. It has six cubic feet of storage capacity, so it’s an excellent mid-size choice.
The fridge has 4.6 cubic feet of space, and the freezer has 1.7 cubic feet. The freezer compartment is handy for storing frozen pizzas, ice cream, and other groceries.
The Dometic Americana has a steel frame for rugged durability, and the handles have click locks. You’ll get a click to confirm that the doors are closed and locked.
The Americana has a climate control system to set the internal temperatures for the best efficiency. The electronic controls are at eye level for easy management and adjustments. The LED lights sip power, are cool, and offer perfect illumination. The premium seals and magnets help to minimize frost.
The Americana has two crispers for produce and has door shelving with bottle holders. All the fridge’s shelves and trays are adjustable and removable. So you can customize the fridge to suit your needs.
While the fridge has a standard right-hand side opening door, the hinges are reversible, so you can change it to be left-hand side if needed.
- Click-lock handles
- Three-way versatility
- Absorption-style cooling
- Cubic Feet: Six cubic feet
- Unit Dimensions (inches): 24.8″W, 26″D, 54.7″H
- Cut-out Dimernsions: 23.7″W, 24″D, 53.7″H
- Weight: 115 pounds
- Power: Propane, 12V DC or 110 volt AC
You can check out the Dometic on their website — Dometic Americana Plus Refrigerator
Smeta Three-Way with Freezer: Small Three-Way Choice
This small absorption fridge is quiet and efficient. It has a three cubic foot RV refrigerator and a .4 cubic foot freezer section. It can run on propane, 110 volts, or 12V. When running on propane, it uses about .6 pounds a day.
The main fridge has two adjustable slide-out shelves and a clear plastic crisper drawer. The door has three bins for beverage storage.
The Smeta fridge features a flame indicator and easy-to-use controls. While this fridge offers three-way flexibility and a freezer compartment, it is expensive for its size. Nevertheless, it’s a good choice for RV owners who want three-way options, a small unit, and a freezer compartment.
- Three-way flexibility
- Compact size
- Needs to remain level
- Cubic Feet: 3.4 cubic feet
- Unit Dimensions (inches): 20.6W, 23.2D, 32.2H
- Weight: 76 pounds
- Power: 12V, Propane, 110 volts, 150 watts
Smeta Three Way without Freezer
This three-way absorption fridge is small and economical. It doesn’t sacrifice any space for a freezer, making this a simple, no-fuss option. In addition, it has reversible doors, which are perfect for RV use.
This RV refrigerator runs silently and efficiently. A 40-pound propane tank will run it for about six weeks.
It has a control panel with an ignitor, safety valve button, thermostat knob, and battery switch. In addition, it has a flame indicator, so you’ll know if your propane goes out for any reason. Unfortunately, the control panel is located on the bottom of the unit, making it a little hard to access and monitor.
The interior offers two adjustable shelves in the main compartment and two door bins. The door bins are perfect for storing beverages.
This Smeta unit is a great choice if you don’t want a freezer compartment in your small RV refrigerator, you need a compact option and three-way flexibility.
- Three-way operation
- Small size
- Reversible door
- Control panel is inconveniently on the bottom of the fridge.
- Cubic Feet: 2.1 cubic feet
- Unit Dimensions (inches): 18″W, 18.7″D, 27.1″H
- Weight: 50 pounds
- Power: 12V, 110 volts, propane. Average power usage: 90 watts
Two-Way Refrigerators – 110V and Gas
Two-way RV refrigerators offer owners the option to use propane or 110V. These fridges are a great option if your RV is already set up with a propane system.
Smeta Electric 110V/Propane With Freezer: Large Two-Way Fridge
This 9.4 cubic foot RV refrigerator can switch between propane and 110V. The large RV refrigerator portion offers 7.3 cubic feet of storage, and the freezer has 2.1 cubic feet.
The door hinges are reversible, so you can set this fridge up for right-hand or left-hand use. A control panel lets you switch between electric and gas power and lets you choose refrigeration temperatures. Unfortunately, the control panel is on the bottom of the fridge near the floor, which is inconvenient.
An indicator light will warn you if the propane flame goes out. It uses about 1.6 pounds of propane a day when running on propane. It uses around 300 watts when running on electric power.
The Smeta has four interior RV refrigerator shelves and a crisper drawer. In addition, the door has four storage racks and can handle tall beverages.
It features powder-coated shelves and is easy to clean. The shelves are removable, and you can rearrange them to customize your storage space. In addition, the unit is very quiet.
- Large capacity
- Flame indicator light
- Plastic door
- Controls are on the fridge’s bottom
- Powder-coated shelves are less durable
- Cubic Feet: 9.4 Cubic Feet
- Unit Dimensions (inches): 23.6″W x 29.1″D x 64.2″H
- Weight: 167.6
- Power: Propane or 110 volt AC, 300 watts
Dometic RM 2551 Two-Way or Three-Way: Mid-Size RV Fridge
This Dometic absorption refrigerator features five cubic feet of food storage. It is offered with two-way or three-way power options. In addition, this RV refrigerator has the option to change the door panels so you can easily match your decor.
The Dometic has an auto LP ignition for quick starting. When it’s time to clean the fridge, it has a water drain system for easy cleaning.
The fridge has three adjustable shelves and four adjustable door bins for easy organization. The lower door bin can handle tall beverage containers. In addition, a cut-out on the main area’s lower shelf allows space for large beverages. Finally, this small Dometic has a crisper drawer to keep your produce fresh.
This Dometic fridge is a good option if you want a two or three-way fridge for maximum flexibility.
- Can be bought as a two-way or three-way
- Easy to clean
- Cubic Feet: Five cubic feet
- Unit Dimensions (inches): 24.9″W, 24.6″D, 43.4″H
- Weight: 98 pounds
- Power: Propane or 110 volts, 300 watts
You can see the Dometic on their website — Dometic RM 2551 Mid-Sized RV Fridge
Budget 110V Refrigerators
RV refrigerators can get expensive quickly. However, if you usually plug into shore power or run a generator, you can save money by buying a simple apartment-style RV refrigerator that only runs on 110 volts.
Everchill 18 Cubic Foot 110 Volt Large Budget Fridge
Everchill makes a variety of RV fridges, and this one is the largest fridge on our list. This fridge is great for families living in a large RV. It has an 18 cubic foot capacity similar to a regular household RV refrigerator. It runs on 110 volts, so if you are plugged into an RV site with power, you’ll have no problem running it.
The large capacity means that you can keep your regular shopping habits and have fresh produce and snacks available for your family. The RV refrigerator has 13.1 cubic feet of space, and the freezer has 5.1 cubic feet.
The freezer compartment has plenty of space for frozen pizza, meats, and ice cream. The freezer compartment also has an ice maker, a real luxury item for an RV fridge.
The Everchill has adjustable shelving in both the fridge and freezer sections.
There are two crisper bins for produce. Each bin has an adjustable humidity setting, so you can set it on high for leafy greens and low for fruits.
A dairy shelf stores dairy at the perfect temperature. A bonus utility drawer is perfect for snacks and small items. Door storage has plenty of space for large bottles and jugs.
The Everchill has LED lighting that is cool and energy-efficient. The turbo cool feature cools the fridge down in under an hour. It’s also frost-free, so you won’t have to worry about constant maintenance. The Everchill is a great fridge if you have the space for it, are looking for a budget option, and stay plugged into shore power.
- Largest fridge for RV use
- Only runs on 110 volts
- Cubic Feet: 18 cubic feet
- Unit Dimensions (inches): 29.9″W, 30.5″D, 66.6″H
- Weight: 207 pounds
- Power: 110 volts
You can see the details on the Way Inter Global website — Everchill 18 cu ft Fridge
Avanti RA7306WT RV Size Budget Fridge
This Avanti is great for RV use as it has reversible doors. You can easily switch the doors from right-handed to left-handed to suit your space.
This budget fridge has 7.4 cubic feet of space and features a top freezer. The fridge has four glass shelves that can be removed and adjusted to suit different organization requirements.
The door bins are also removable and are sized for different items. The fridge has two large crisper drawers with glass covers. The lower door rack fits two-liter bottles. The other door bins hold cans and condiments.
The freezer portion is big enough for ice cream and small pizzas. This RV refrigerator is designed for apartment use, so it may not be as rugged as fridges purpose-built for the road. However, it is affordable and offers reliable, fuss-free features.
- Top Freezer
- Reversible doors
- Not as rugged as others
- Cubic Feet: 7.4 cubic feet
- Unit Dimensions (inches): 21.75″W, 23.5″D, 55.75″H
- Weight: 92 pounds
- Power: 110 Volts
12 Volt RV Refrigerators
12 Volt RV refrigerators are preferred by RV owners who monitor their power consumption carefully. They are purpose-built for RVs and offer rugged reliability. 12 Volt RV refrigerators are perfect for boondockers who use solar power to keep their batteries topped off.
12 Volt RV refrigerators are simple and don’t need propane or ventilation. In addition, they don’t need to be level to run so that you can park on remote sites without worry. These reliable RV refrigerators are efficient, cool quickly, and are reliable.
Dometic DMC4101 Large Home-Style 12V RV Refrigerator
This Dometic compressor RV refrigerator offers attractive styling, large capacity, and excellent energy efficiency.
It features stainless steel doors with wrapped edges. The recessed handles have positive locking, so they will remain in place while on the road. The Dometic has low power consumption and an intelligent variable-speed compressor for ultimate efficiency. It also features a digital control panel and offers silent, eco, and performance cooling options.
The cooling unit is vibration-resistant and purpose-built for mobile use. It’s sturdy enough for worry-free use in your RV. The glass shelves are easy to clean, and the dual crisper drawers will keep your produce fresh. The Dometic has four shelves which you can arrange to suit your height preference.
This large, ten cubic foot storage capacity fridge fits in an eight-foot absorption fridge cut-out, so you can get more interior storage in the same size cut-out. The LED lighting is energy efficient and provides excellent illumination.
This Dometic model has a large freezer section so you can store ice, ice cream, and frozen meals. The unit has one fan for the fridge and one for the freezer.
Users report that while the fridge’s wiring should support 15 amps, it uses eight amps while pre-chilling with both fridge and freezer fans operating. Other users report that it uses about 700 watt hours a day. Of course, this is highly dependent on the ambient air temperature and how many times you open and close the fridge door.
You should be able to choose from a right or left hinge version when you buy the fridge, but the hinge can be reversed as an easy DIY project if needed.
- Energy efficient
- Large capacity
- Quiet running
- Cubic Feet: 10 cubic feet
- Unit Dimensions (inches): 23.6 wide, 27.5 deep, 59.6 high
- Cut-Out Dimensions (inches): 24 wide, 24 deep, 59.9 high
- Weight: 128 pounds
- Power: 12V, 13 amps, 156 watts
You can see the details on the Dometic website — Dometic 12-Volt Compressor Fridge
Dometic CRX 140S: Small Stainless 12V Fridge
This Dometic fridge offers 4.8 cubic feet of cooling capacity. It features a stylish stainless steel exterior. The fridge interior has flexible shelves that you can reorganize to suit your space. It also has a bottle holder, egg compartment, and crisper baskets.
The interior LED lighting is bright, cool, and energy-efficient. The control panel allows you to set the temperature easily. The patented Dometic Coolmatic CRX element regulates the compressor speed for up to 25% energy savings.
The compressor refrigerators fan is quiet, and the fan speed automatically adjusts to the ambient temperature. If you enjoy winter camping, you won’t need a winter kit for this fridge. It has a winter mode for operating at cold temperatures.
It has variable door mounts and hinges, so you can switch the door from the right-hand side to the left-hand side. The door locks so it won’t fly open while underway.
- Attractive design
- Quiet fan
- Cubic Feet: 4.8 cubic feet
- Unit Dimensions (inches): 20.67″W, 24.41″D, 31.97″H
- Weight: 68.36 pounds
- Power: 12V or 110 volts. 7.7 amps on 12V, .95 amps on 110 volts.
You can see the details on the Dometic website — Dometic CRX 140S Dual-Voltage Fridge
Smeta 12V or 110 volts: Compact Dorm Size
This small absorption RV refrigerator is perfect if you don’t have space for a full-size RV refrigerator. It will fit in most spaces at 15.8 inches wide, 17.9 inches deep, and 22 inches high.
The Smeta is high-efficiency and can run on 12V or 110 volts. It comes with a cigarette lighter-style connection and a plug for a 110-volt wall outlet. This unit is great if you like to use shore power and boondock. You can use it on shore power while at a campsite and switch to 12V without running an invertor.
This Smeta fridge runs silently and has a reversible door. While its small size means you won’t be provisioning ten people for six months, it can handle necessities like eggs, cheese, and drinks. It has a door lock to prevent the doors from swinging open on the road.
- Reversible door
- Door lock
- Compact size
- 12V or 110 volt
- Because it’s an absorption fridge, it must stand on a level surface
- Cubic Feet: 1.2 cubic feet
- Unit Dimensions (inches): 15.8″W x 17.9″D x 22″H
- Weight: 40 pounds
- Power: 12V or 110 volts, 65 watts
Chest-Style 12V Refrigerators
Chest-style 12V fridges are great for campers, vans, or those looking for a second unit. These fridges are durable and versatile. They can fit anywhere, are super energy-efficient, and can be used as a fridge or freezer.
Whynter 65 Quart Portable Fridge/Freezer
The Whynter can be set to temperatures between -8 degrees Farenheight and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use it as either a RV refrigerator or a freezer, and it has an LED display so you can easily see the unit’s current temperature.
This portable unit is durable and can be moved around your camper, truck, or small RV to find the best storage place.
It has an eight-foot AC power cord and an eight-foot DC power cord, so you can use it with 12V or 110-volt power. This portable unit features a low power indicator. In addition, it features a fast freeze setting which cools the unit down quickly.
The Whynter unit has two removable wire baskets for easy organization. In addition, it has two stainless steel side handles which make it easy to move.
- Fast freeze setting
- Well insulated
- Durable construction
- 12 V or 110 volts
- Can be used as an RV fridge or freezer
- Side handles
- Smaller than full-size RV refrigerator models
- Cubic Feet: 2.12 Cubic Feet, 65 quarts
- Unit Dimensions (inches): 28.1W, 18.25D, 21H
- Cut-Out Dimensions (inches):
- Weight: 57 pounds
- Power: 12V or 110 volts, 65 watts
Dometic 12V Fridge Freezer
This Dometic chest-style unit has unique, customizable cooling settings. It has two separate compartments that can be set to any desired combination. You can choose from freezer/freezer, freezer/fridge, or fridge/fridge.
The unit offers a decent amount of interior space. You can cool 113 cans at once or store a mixture of beverages, snacks, groceries, and frozen foods.
You can plug this energy-efficient unit into 12V or 110-volt power connections. In addition, it has a three-stage Dynamic Battery Protection System that automatically shuts off the unit to prevent a dead battery.
This modern RV refrigerator has a USB port so you can charge a speaker or your phone. It also has Wi-Fi connectivity, so you can monitor it or change its temperature settings from an app.
The hardy unit has rugged construction and handles. You can easily store it and move it around your van, camper, or RV. It has separate lids for each side for easy access and improved efficiency.
- Rugged construction
- Uses minimal power
- Separate compartments with fridge and freezer capabilities
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Capacity: 74 quarts
- Unit Dimensions (inches): 34.92W x 19.49D x 18.58H inches
- Weight: 68.3 pounds
- Power: 12V and 110 volt, 15.6 watts
Chill Out, Crack a Cold One, and Thank Your RV Fridge
An RV fridge freezer is one of the key parts of making a travel trailer your home away from home. There’s no other way to mimic the experience of cooking at home. A fridge gives you the ability to carry meats, cheeses, dairy, and delicate cheeses for weeks at a time. If you match the right fridge to the type of camping you do, you’ll have a fridge that’s just as reliable as the one at home with enough space to meet your needs on the road.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What type of refrigerator is best for an RV?
The best RV refrigerator depends on your current power setup. If you want to run your RV refrigerator while boondocking, a propane or 12V fridge will work for you. Compression-style fridges that work on 12V or 110 volts are the most reliable. 12V fridges are the most efficient.
Can you use a regular refrigerator in an RV?
You can install a standard house model in your RV. However, you’ll have to hook it up to 110 volt AC power. In addition, standard home models aren’t built for the wear and tear of the road and aren’t as energy-efficient.
How much does it cost to replace an RV refrigerator?
RV refrigerators are expensive and cost between $300 and $5,000. Consider a 110-volt home-style fridge to save money if you are on a budget.
What size is an RV refrigerator?
RV refrigerator sizes range. Most are around six cubic feet big and can store enough food for a couple for a week. The smallest fridges are chest-style fridges which are similar to a large cooler. The largest RV refrigerators rival standard fridges found in homes.