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How to Improve RV Refrigerator Cooling & Make It More Efficient

Want to know how to improve RV refrigerator cooling and efficiency? Check out this guide to discover simple tips to get the most out of your recreational vehicle’s cooling system.

After a day full of activities, there’s nothing better than settling down with something cold and refreshing to help you unwind. Whether it’s an ice-cold soda or a refreshing beer, it’s the perfect way to enjoy the evening.

RV fridges are essential for keeping your food and beverages cold while you’re on the go. They do a great job of maintaining optimal temperatures.

But, there are ways to help them be even more effective.

Simple steps such:

  • as ensuring air can flow freely around the refrigerator,
  • maintaining an appropriate temperature setting according to what you are storing, and
  • occasionally defrosting the refrigerator

can help extend its life and efficiency.

From checking gaskets and seals, swapping fan motors, and improving insulation, we’ll show you how easy it is to keep your food fresh while on the go! Make sure that your next camping trip isn’t ruined by warm beer with our helpful advice.

Let’s learn more about how to improve RV refrigerator cooling!

How to Improve RV Refrigerator Cooling cover

13 Ways To Improve RV Refrigerator Cooling

1. Level Your RV When Parking

RV absorption refrigerators use a chemical process to cool.

They don’t need a motor to push the refrigerant throughout the refrigerator.

The process has one drawback. The cooling process isn’t as effective if the refrigerator isn’t level.

This means you must always have a perfect level on your camper. But, of course, that’s easier said than done unless, by some miracle, you park on a camping site that is already perfectly leveled.

In reality, you’re more likely to get an uneven surface with debris and bumps.

It would help to check your bubble level at many places inside the RV when you put up your leveling jacks. This will help the refrigerator deliver better cooling.

Read More: The Best RV Leveling Blocks This Year

 Level Your RV When Parking

2. Turn On the Fridge A Day Before Leaving

If your RV refrigerator is in a storage shed or garage, you should turn it on at least one day before you leave. This allows the cooling unit to reach its optimal temperature.

When you’re ready to take off for your trip, it will work at full capacity. That eliminates the need for the pre-cooling time when you stock up on supplies.

Stocking the fridge while it’s pre-cooling will help it cool even faster.

Turn On the Fridge A Day Before Leaving

3. Don’t Leave The Door Open Longer Than Necessary

Refrigerators are designed to seal in the cold air. If you keep opening the door every few minutes and leave it open for a long time while you search for what you need, the temperature will rise.

The fridge will then need to work to bring the temperature back down again.

Before opening the fridge door, ensure you know what you need and where it’s stored. Then, reach in and grab what you want, and close the door without much loitering.

Organizing the fridge is an art you must learn when living in your RV.

It helps if you choose trays for your meats, vegetables, and leftovers and always use them for their specific purpose.

Over time, you’ll get used to where things are and your organizational style. Eventually, you won’t even think before reaching in and grabbing what you want.

Don’t Leave The Door Open Longer Than Necessary

4. Shade The Fridge Side Of The RV

Most RV fridges cool less effectively when the ambient temperatures are higher. Hence, parking in the shade is a good idea if you want your refrigerator to cool to its best capacity.

Make sure that you park in a way that the refrigerator wall gets as little sun as possible. Using an awning over the side with the refrigerator also helps.

This will keep the RV wall on the refrigerator side cooler, improving efficiency.

Shade The Fridge Side Of The RV

5. Keep Your House Batteries Charged

Most RV refrigerators work on the house battery directly or through an inverter.

The fridge will stop cooling if the house battery runs out of charge. So make sure your RV batteries are well charged, even if connected to shore power.

We recently thought we had a problem with our fridge. After a few minutes of investigation, we realized that our old AGM batteries were finally at the end of their life. We expected them to fail any time, so it wasn’t a huge surprise.

A faulty fridge isn’t always the reason for ineffective cooling.

Read more: How To Charge An RV Battery

Keep Your House Batteries Charged

6. Restock With Cold Items

When resupplying, try to stock up on food items and drinks already pre-cooled. The refrigerator doesn’t have to work so hard to cool them down if they are cooled already.

Your refrigerator will be more efficient when you restock with pre-cooled items.

It’s also a good idea to avoid packing the fridge too tightly. This allows for better air circulation and will help to keep the temperature uniform.

Restock With Cold Items

7. Avoid Using the Ice Maker

Many RV residential refrigerators come equipped with an in-door ice maker. We recommend avoiding this as it uses a lot of energy and can cause your fridge to become less efficient.

You can get ice at your campground or from nearby stores. So instead of using the ice maker in your refrigerator, consider buying it as needed.

If you love readily available ice, consider investing in one of these portable ice makers.

Avoid Using the Ice Maker

8. Use A Fridge Thermometer

Get a fridge thermometer to ensure your refrigerator is working at its best, and the food inside remains safe.

It will allow you to track the temperature of your RV’s refrigerator when it’s turned on and off. This way, you’ll know if there are any problems with your cooling system or if it needs any adjustments.

These thermometers are relatively cheap, and it’s a small investment to get the best out of your appliance.

You can get temperature gauges for some of the RV power management systems.

Use A Fridge Thermometer

9. Don’t Put Warm Leftovers Into The Refrigerator

Sticking hot food or warm drinks directly into the RV refrigerator will cause its temperature to increase.

This could cause your fridge to work too hard and use more energy. If you have warm leftovers, let them cool off before refrigerating them.

This will help keep your fridge running efficiently and at the optimal temperature.

Don’t Put Warm Leftovers Into The Refrigerator

10. Defrost The Fridge Regularly

Your RV refrigerator will become less efficient if it isn’t defrosted regularly. This is because the frost accumulates on the walls of the fridge and affects its efficiency.

Defrosting your RV fridge is simple, but you need to to do it regularly. This way, you can maintain good cooling performance.

If you notice ice building up on the condenser coil, defrost the refrigerator as soon as possible.

Defrost The Fridge Regularly

11. Maintain the Door Seals In Good Order

A good door seal is essential to keep cool air inside your refrigerator and warm air outside. But, over time, and with wear and tear, the seals can become loose.

With a torn or deformed gasket, cold air could escape leading to poor performance and higher energy consumption.

You can inspect the door seals by putting a small piece of paper between the door and the fridge and then closing the door. When you pull out the paper, a good door seal will make it hard to pull it out.

You need to replace the door seal if you can pull out the paper easily.

Maintain the Door Seals In Good Order

12. Keep The Exterior Air Vents Clean & Clear

Another important tip for maintaining your refrigerator is keeping exterior air vents clean and clear. This allows for better air circulation, and the fridge won’t have to work as hard.

Check the vents regularly to ensure no debris or dirt is clogging them up. The vents are vital. They expel the hot air generated during the cooling process, bringing the temperature of the refrigerant down.

Since the vents face the outside, you will notice dirt and grime building up in them every few months.

So remove them as part of your regular maintenance routine. Inspect them for dust buildup and clean them thoroughly with a good air compressor and a cloth wipe.

Keep The Exterior Air Vents Clean & Clear

13. Install 12V Fans Near The Fridge Mechanics

A 12V RV refrigerator fan helps keep the refrigerator’s mechanics cool. They circulate the air around the compressor, condenser, and other parts of the fridge. That helps improve performance.

You can install these fans at different locations inside your RV refrigerator or mount them externally near the back of the fridge.

It’s also recommended that you periodically check if the fans are working correctly and replace them when needed. This will help keep your refrigerator running efficiently for longer.

Read more: The Best 12v RV Refrigerator Fans

Install 12V Fans Near The Fridge Mechanics

Frequently Asked Questions

Which RV refrigerators cool better – gas or electric?

Electric refrigerators cool better – the food remains colder for longer. But, gas refrigerators cool faster.

Here are some more differences between the two:

1. Gas fridges don’t cool as well when the ambient temperature is high. Omit, electric fridges can cool evenly whatever the external temperature

2. Gas-based refrigerators are less efficient when the RV isn’t level. Electric refrigerators don’t have such problems.

3. Gas-based refrigerators can be a fire hazard if you use them while traveling. Electric refrigerators don’t have this problem.

How long does it take for an RV fridge to cool down?

The answer is: it depends. While some RV fridges can get to optimal cooling temperature in just 5 – 6 hours, others may take up to 24 hours. Typically, gas/propane-based fridges take longer.

My RV refrigerator is not cooling properly. What could be the reason?

There could be several reasons why your refrigerator isn’t cooling as well as you would like it to:

Install your temperature sensors properly

If your temperature sensors are loose, they may give a false reading. Check they’re accurate before investing too much time trying to find a problem that doesn’t exist.

Install a fan behind the refrigerator

An absorption refrigerator won’t cool as effectively when the ambient temperature is high.

Installing a high RPM fan in the opening behind your RV fridge will help maintain a colder temperature.

Install your temperature sensors properly

If your temperature sensors are installed loosely, they may give a false reading.

Check they’re accurate before investing too much time trying to find a problem that doesn’t exist.

Check Your Thermistors

A thermistor is a device that helps track and regulates your refrigerator temperature.

Thermistors become less effective when the ambient temperatures are higher. They can cause your fridge to over-cool the freezer and reduce the refrigerator cooling.

Check and replace the thermistor, but don’t remove the thermistor without replacing it because it can harm the fridge.

Are Your RV Refrigerator Exhausts Blocked

Absorption RV fridges have ventilation and exhaust. The exhaust helps the refrigerator vent out heat and so improves cooling efficiency.

If the vents are clogged with dust, sand, debris, cobwebs, and other things, it will affect the fridge’s cooling ability.

So it’s essential to regularly check for such obstructions in the vents and clean them out.

Empty Ammonia Tank

Most RV refrigerators use ammonia solution as the coolant inside the fridge. But, when the ammonia solution dries up, the fridge continues to work without a coolant, which can cause it not to cool properly.

Make sure you turn off the cooling unit, defrost the fridge and replace the ammonia solution if this happens.

Faulty Electrical Connection

Sometimes, the fault may not lie with the refrigerator but instead with the electrical input supply.

We recently thought we had a problem with our 12v refrigerator. Our AGM batteries were at the end of their life and needed to be replaced. Once we sorted that problem, the fridge went back to working perfectly.

It’s a good idea to get your RV refrigerator serviced by an RV fridge technician. She can do a complete systems check and prevent problems before they happen.

In Conclusion

Making sure your RV fridge runs as well as possible requires regular maintenance.

From checking the thermistors to ensuring that the exhaust vents are not obstructed. These simple steps help maintain the fridge without any unnecessary stress or hassle.

Furthermore, some less obvious but more straightforward solutions are always worth considering. Like checking if the electrical system is working or the ammonia tank is empty.

With proper care and attention to detail, you should have no problem keeping your food fresh for longer on those long road trips!

Have you ever struggled to keep your RV refrigerator at the ideal cooling temperature? Join the conversation and share your tips and tricks! Help others improve their RV experience by commenting – what do you know about optimizing RV refrigerator cooling?