Getting the Most Out of Your RV Refrigerator
Tips on Refrigerator Maintenance and
getting more food and beverage space
All original content Copyright © 2008 by Alan and Barbara Lidstone. All Rights Reserved.
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Getting the Most Out of Your RV Refrigerator - RVers find a trip can become
difficult if they are having problems with their refrigerator or are running out of space to store food and
beverages.

Maintenance Considerations - RV refrigerators are generally very dependable and come with a small
LCD panel that displays error codes in the event of malfunction. The refrigerator operating instructions
will describe any malfunction codes that are displayed.

RVing with the refrigerator operating instructions in the RV on the road will help you provide the
appropriate corrective action to get the refrigerator back in operation or advise you to get have the unit
serviced by a qualified technician.  

It is also important to have your exhaust flue periodically checked and cleaned to remove any carbon
deposit buildup or insects for the 2-way or 3-way powered refrigerators that can use LP gas (propane)
when electrical power is not available.

Running Out of Refrigerator Space? - RVers would never turn down an affordable way to get more
refrigerator space for their RV. While the built-in RV refrigerators found in most RVs is adequate for
short trips, it’s easy to run out of refrigerator space on longer trips or when traveling with more than two
people.

Cost is a major concern with standard 6 - 9 cubic ft. propane-electric RV refrigerators costing $1000 -
$1600, and the large side by side versions costing $3500 - $4500.

Fortunately, a range of products can fit everyone’s budget. Solutions to more space include portable 12-
volt DC cooler/warmers, small 120-volt AC refrigerators, portable electric refrigerators and
refrigerator/freezers with three-way power, and portable and installed icemakers.

Cooler/Warmers - One of the most economical products is the portable electric 12-volt (DC)
cooler/warmer ranging in size from holding a beverage six-pack to a large picnic cooler.

Popular brand names are Igloo and Koolatron and prices range from $30 - $150 depending on size.
They are readily available at Camping World, RV and camping supply stores and websites, big box
stores, and discount stores.

The cooler/warmers plug into a 12-volt (DC) power source (i.e. cigarette lighter), and can be used as
either a cooler or a warmer by reversing the plug. Other advantages of the cooler/warmers are their
moderate cost and no requirement to use an inverter or other 120-volt (AC) source.

120-volt AC Refrigerators - Compact and inexpensive 120-volt (AC) refrigerator/freezers with 1.7 to 4.3
cubic feet of space are popular with seasonal and extended stay RVers.

Your refrigerator selection process should include checking the refrigerator dimensions for installation
fit, ease of installation and removal, adequate airflow and securing it for travel. You may need generator
or inverter power to cool the refrigerator while you are driving.

A variety of models is available with a cost range is from $80 -$125 for the 1.7 and 2.5 cubic models,
and from $150 - $270 for the 4.0 - 4.9 cubic foot models. They're readily available at all appliance
stores, discount stores and big-box stores such as Circuit City, K-Mart and WalMart.

Portable 3-way Cooling Products – These portable units can be used inside or outside the RV. The
Dometic portable refrigerator (approximately $400) runs on propane, 12-volt (DC), or 120-volt (AC)
power source.

If you would like a portable refrigerator/freezer, check out the 3-way Norcold refrigerator/freezers that
run on 12-volt (DC), 24-volt (DC), or 120-volt (AC) power. They are available in two sizes (75 pounds
capacity and 100 pounds capacity) from Camping World or other RV suppliers.

Standalone Icemakers – Using a separate icemaker can free up valuable freezer space. RVers who like
to have lots of ice have the option of compact, portable 120-volt AC icemakers for $200 - $300, ideal for
tailgating,

These units weight approximately 40 – 45 lbs. and sit easily on a countertop, picnic table or tailgate.
Other RVers opt for a larger installed icemaker unit that cost about $800 and up plus installation.

Fuel Savings Tip – If you have a favorite RV resort or campground you use frequently, check about
leaving the RV at the resort and travel back and forth in your personal vehicle. You will save on fuel
costs and reduce road RV wear and tear.

Fuel Savings Tip – If you have a favorite RV resort or campground you use frequently, check about
leaving the RV at the resort and travel back and forth in your personal vehicle. You will save on fuel
costs and reduce road RV wear and tear.

We have found that the 12-volt-DC cooler/warmer was an excellent choice that works well on all trips. On
the road, plugging the cooler into a dashboard outlet and placing it at the front of the RV between the
driver and passenger seats provides a convenient location for cold drinks, fresh fruit, and snacks.  

In the campground or RV resort, you can place it in front of the couch. With a large place mat on top, it
becomes a convenient coffee table.

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