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How Much Propane Does an RV Fridge Use (Explained!)

How Much Propane Does an RV Fridge Use

Key Takeaways
● An RV fridge will use about two pounds of propane every day when it is running on low.
● Propane tends to be the best and most efficient source of energy for RV fridges.
● If you are using your RV fridge in an area where the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, then you will need to use more propane in order to keep the fridge running properly.

When you’re on an adventure in your RV, you need to make sure you have a good supply of food to keep you going. You never know where you might need to stop for a rest next, and being prepared is essential. This means having a fridge in your RV, and it will likely run on propane.

You can expect your RV fridge to use around 1.5lbs of propane per day. This is also known as 1,400 BTUs per hour. It might seem like a lot, but this is actually a pretty standard amount and isn’t much different from the kind of usage you would have at home.

In this guide, we take you through everything you could ever want to know about how much propane RV refrigerators use, how to cut down, and how the system works.

How Much Propane Will an RV Fridge Use?

How Much Propane Will an RV Fridge Use

An RV fridge with around 10-12 cubic feet of INTERNAL volume will, on average, consume 1.5 pounds of propane gas per day or roughly 1,400 BTUs per hour.

This means that if you’re using your RV fridge in an area where the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you will need to use MORE propane to keep the fridge running properly.

It’s important to remember that propane is a volatile gas, so you need to be sure that you have a GOOD supply before you set off on your journey.[1]

It’s also worth noting that propane is heavier than air, so if there is a leak, the propane will sink to the ground. This CAN be dangerous, so it’s important to know how to spot a propane leak and what to do if it occurs.

What Are BTUs?

BTUs are a unit of measurement that stands for British Thermal Units. It’s a way of measuring the AMOUNT of heat that is required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

Why Do RV Fridges Use Propane?

Why Do RV Fridges Use Propane

RV refrigerators use propane because it’s a clean-burning fuel that is READILY available. It’s also relatively cheap, so it won’t break the bank to keep your RV fridge running.

Propane is also a very VERSATILE fuel, so it can be used for other things like powering your RV’s stove or heater.

How Does an RV Refrigerator Work?

RV refrigerators work in a SIMILAR way to your fridge at home. They have a compressor that cools the air inside the fridge and circulates it. The compressor is powered by propane, and this is what keeps your food COOL.

The propane is stored in a tank, and this is where you need to be careful. If there is a LEAK, the propane can escape, and this can be very dangerous. You need to know how to spot a propane leak and what to do if it occurs.

What are the Signs of a Propane Leak?

There are a few signs that you might have a propane leak, and it’s IMPORTANT to know what they are so that you can take action quickly.

The first sign is a hissing or WHISTLING sound. This is the sound of propane escaping from a leak.

The second sign is the smell of propane. Propane has a very DISTINCT odor, so if you can smell it, there is likely a leak.

The third sign is dead or DYING batteries. If your batteries are dying for no apparent reason, it could be because propane is leaking and causing an electrical short.

Pro Tip: If you see any of these signs, taking action quickly is important. Propane is a very volatile gas that can be very dangerous if it leaks.

How Can You Reduce the Amount of Propane Your Fridge Uses?

How Can You Reduce the Amount of Propane Your Fridge Uses

If you want to cut down on the amount of fuel you are using to POWER your fridge, there are a few things you can do. Here is a quick list of the BEST tricks for reducing your propane usage.

Stay on Top of Maintenance

One of the best ways to reduce propane usage is to keep your RV fridge in good working order. This means regularly cleaning, defrosting, and keeping the seals tight.

A well-maintained fridge will run more efficiently and use LESS propane.

Keep the RV and the Fridge Level

If your RV is not level, it can affect the way your fridge runs. When the RV is not level, the compressor has to work harder to keep the fridge cold. This uses MORE propane and can shorten the life of your compressor.

So, if you want to save propane and prolong the life of your fridge, make sure to keep the RV level.

Install Cooling Fans (Battery-Operated)

If you live in a hot climate or plan to use your RV fridge in the summer, cooling fans can help. These battery-operated fans circulate the air inside the fridge and help to keep it cool.

They are especially helpful in hot weather because they make the fridge work LESS, which means it will use LESS propane.

Turn the Temperature Down When it’s Cold Outside

If you are using your RV fridge in an area where the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you will need to use more propane in order to keep the fridge running properly.

To save propane, turn the temperature down when it’s cold outside. This will help your fridge to run more efficiently and use LESS propane as the cold air helps keep the temperature down.

Let it Run Before You Fill it

If you will be using your RV fridge for a long time, it’s best to let it run for a FEW hours before you fill it up with food.

This will help the fridge reach its optimal temperature and PREVENT it from having to work harder (and use more propane) to cool down a lot of food at once.

Put Cold Food Inside First

If you are going to be using your RV fridge for a short period of time, put the COLD food inside first. This will help the fridge to stay cold and prevent the food from going bad.

Putting cold food inside FIRST will also help your fridge use LESS propane because it won’t have to work as hard to cool down the food.

Don’t Block the Back of the Fridge

If you block the back of the fridge, it will prevent air from circulating properly and make the fridge work HARDER to stay cold.

This will cause the fridge to use MORE propane and can also damage the compressor due to an increase in hot air. So, make sure to keep the back of the fridge clear.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an Electric or Propane Fridge Better for an RV?

There is no definitive answer to this question because it depends on a few factors. If you are mostly using your RV in areas where there are hookups, then an electric fridge might be a better option because you won’t have to worry about propane usage.

However, if you are using your RV in remote areas where there is no electricity, then a propane tank fridge is your only option.

How Long Will a Fridge Run on Propane?

This depends on a few factors, such as the size of the fridge, the outside temperature, and how often the door is opened.

Generally speaking, a fridge will use about two pounds of propane daily when running low.

To Conclude

To Conclude

Propane consumption is determined by a FEW factors, such as the size of your fridge, the outside temperature, and how often you open the door.

However, there are a few ways you can REDUCE propane usage, such as staying on top of maintenance, keeping the RV level, and installing cooling fans. Additionally, be sure not to block the back of the fridge so that AIR can circulate properly.

We hope this guide has been able to help you properly prepare for RV refrigerator use on your next trip on the open road.

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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