How to Keep an RV Fridge Cold While Driving

How to Keep an RV Fridge Cold While Driving

One of the best parts about buying an RV is that you get to bring along all of the luxuries of home living with you when you go out camping. You can pack along all of the food and treats that you and your family like! You hit the road on your way to your campsite with dinner safely stored inside your RV’s freezer and refrigerator. 

But what happens when you hit the road? Does your freezer and refrigerator stay on to keep your food nice and chilled? Take the guess factor out by following these easy tips on how to make sure your camp food arrives to your campsite as frozen as it was when you left!

10 Ways to Make Sure Your Freezer Keeps Cold When on the Road

10 Ways to Make Sure Your Freezer Keeps Cold When on the Road

Pre-Freeze Your Freezer

One of the simplest ways to makes sure that your food stays frozen from when you pack it to when you are ready to enjoy it at camp is to “pre-freeze” your freezer. Think about it like pre-heating an oven. It’s a necessary step to ensure that your equipment does what you expect it to do!

Since most RV freezers are left off when not in use, you’ll need to turn your freezer on at least 24 hours in advance of when you plan to leave. That way your freezer will be able to set the temperature to the optimal setting and your ice cream will stay nice and frozen for you when you arrive at camp!

Optimize the Insulation Inside the Freezer

After pre-freezing your freezer, inspecting your freezer to ensure that it doesn’t lose any of that precious cold air. Common areas that freezers tend to lose cold air are in the door cracks. Look at the inside of your freezer door and make sure that the gasket that seals the freezer when its shut is intact and isn’t loose in any places.

Over time, these gaskets can lose their integrity due to heavy use. If you notice that your freezer isn’t staying cold as long as it used to, look at the door gasket in case it needs to be replaced. 

Pack Freezer for Optimal Chill

This is one of the easiest things to overlook when you are packing for your camping trip. You stuff the freezer full of all of your frozen treats and dinner items, but they don’t stay cold. The reason that this happens has a lot to do with how cold air circulates through your freezer.

When the items in your freezer are too closely packed together, you lose out on the ability that your freezer has to push that cold air over all of the surfaces in your freezer. Have you ever wondered why penguins in Antarctica group together to survive the long, harsh winters? Aside from sharing body heat, penguins are also trying to limit how much cool air moves through the group by packing so close together!

Be smart and learn from the penguins when packing your freezer for your next trip. Leave space between your freezer items to make sure that the cold freezer air is able to circulate and keep every item you want frozen nice and cold. 

Use Icepacks

Sometimes it is helpful to incorporate icepacks when trying to help your freezer get cold and stay cold. Reusable icepacks are easy to buy from any big box store or from Amazon and they come in a variety of sizes.

Using reusable icepacks instead of a large block of ice serves a couple of purposes. When large ice blocks melt, there is no way to keep the ice from melting all over the inside of your freezer. If you do end up experiencing a bit of a warmup inside your freezer as you drive to your campsite for the weekend, the last thing you want to have to deal with is a slushy mess!

Reusable icepacks keep all of their contents in one, easy to manage spot. The size variety also serves well as it makes the icepacks easily movable around the freezer, which allows you to set them exactly where you want them. 

Additionally, reusable icepacks can be used in a variety of different ways. When you get to your destination and you have your RV plugged in to an electrical source, you can use your reusable icepacks to keep a portable cooler nice and cold. Or if someone ends up getting hurt and could use some ice to soothe a fresh bruise, you’ll be johnny on the spot with relief! 

Bring Frozen Food 

Now obviously you’re going to bring frozen food inside of your freezer, that’s why you’re reading this article in the first place! But the types of frozen food that you bring are important to consider, because certain foods stay frozen longer and can also help keep the temperature of your freezer low in the same way that reusable icepacks to.

Foods that are great to bring along with you in your freezer to keep it cool while you are driving are things like: 

  • Frozen Meat
  • Popsicles
  • Frozen Vegetables
  • Frozen Pre-Made Meals

Each one of these foods are great to take camping and they also serve the additional purpose of helping your freezer stay nice and cold as you drive to your campsite. Again, remember to allow for space between food items to encourage the cool air to circulate through the entire freezer and keep all of your food cold.

Frozen Water Bottles

Another pretty easy freezer hack is to use pre-frozen water bottles to keep your freezer cold while you are in transit. Think about it like this; if you would prefer to save money and not buy reusable icepacks, you could make your own with frozen water bottles!

These are great because you can use just about any bottle you have available to make this temperature lowering device. And even better, they serve the same purpose as reusable icepacks in that they can be used to cool down a portable cooler as well as for emergency ice packs.

And if the money savings and variety of uses that using frozen water bottles to keep your freezer cold didn’t convince you that they were a good idea, you have the added benefit of being able to use the water when it melts! If you’re in a pinch and need fresh water right away, you need not look further than one of the frozen bottles you packed along to keep your freezer cold.

Open the Door Sparingly

Now that you have optimized your freezer to be as cool as possible for your next camping adventure, it’s time to get out to your campsite for the weekend. One of the best things to keep in mind is to limit how often you open your freezer door.

RV freezers, as wonderful and amazing as they are, aren’t as powerful as household freezers. This is especially true for when you are away from an electrical source like a campground plug-in or you’re in transit and you need to turn off your propane that has been fueling your freezer.

This is especially helpful to remember if you are planning to move your camp. Remember the first tip in keeping your freezer frozen while you drive; pre-freezing the freezer. If you keep your freezer door closed in the 12-24 hours prior to when you plan to move your RV, you’ll be much more likely to arrive at your next destination with your frozen items frozen than if you were to constantly open your freezer.

Try to Camp in the Shade

Give yourself the best possible chance to keep the temperature inside of your RV as cool as possible by camping in the shade. If you are unable to find a spot that has large amounts of shade nearby, consider bringing your own shade to keep the inside of your RV as cool as possible through the day.

One idea to providing your own shade is to rig up a large tarp over top of your RV. You can either bring tall poles with you to rig your tarp to or you can use nearby trees to hang your tarp. By providing a bit of shade to your RV, you can help keep the inside of your RV cooler than if you didn’t. This will go a long way in making sure that your freezer stays nice and cool throughout your trip.

Try to Park in the Shade

Just like with camping in the shade, try your best to park your RV in the shade. Look for large overhangs or trees that cast enough shade to park your RV. This will help keep the inside cool as the sun isn’t shining directly onto your RV, heating everything inside up!

Use Your Battery

An excellent feature that most RVs have today is the ability to switch your freezer’s power source from propane to battery with ease. Look at the top of your freezer to see if you have the ability to manually switch between power sources.

 A lot of newer model RVs actually have an “auto” feature, which means that when the freezer is on, it will automatically switch between power sources as needed. If you’re traveling, you’ll want to make sure that the propane is switched off so as to not risk a gas leak while driving. 

Make sure the auto feature is lit up before assuming that your freezer will switch to the battery when your propane is turned off. If it’s lit, you can rest assured that your freezer will remain frozen when you arrive at your campsite!

What to do if Your Freezer Doesn’t Keep Cold While Driving

What to do if Your Freezer Doesn’t Keep Cold While Driving

If you find yourself in the emergency situation where your freezer has malfunctioned and it isn’t receiving any power, don’t panic! Remember the following so that you’ll be able to save your frozen food from spoiling.

Remember that you have optimized your freezer before you left

If you followed the 10 tips on how to help your RV freezer stay cold, you have got time to make a decision and figure out a solution. Take a deep breath and remember that all of those things you did before will help keep your freezer from completely thawing out.

Have a Large Cooler Ready to Go

It is always a great idea to bring a backup item with you in case your primary item malfunctions. This is why we bring extra batteries, spare tires, and maps with us when we go out camping. If the primary thing fails, you’re not completely sunk!

Large coolers serve the purpose of keeping your food from completely thawing and spoiling. Roto-mold coolers are some of the most effective coolers on the market. While they are a bit expensive, you get what you pay for. Roto-mold coolers are legendary for being able to keep ice frozen for days on end.

In addition to serving as an emergency backup freezer, you’re able to increase the space available to keep your food cool, which will only enhance your RV freezer’s performance, because you’ll be able to provide plenty of space between your freezer items!

Make Friends with Your Fellow RV Campers!

If your freezer fails at the beginning of your stay, please don’t crawl into your RV in a fit of shame that your once frozen kingdom is now a puddly mess! Talk to the people around you to see if you would be able to store some of your frozen items in their freezers or at the very least, see if someone has room in a cooler.

Sweeten the deal by inviting your newfound friend to enjoy one of the frozen treats you brought. Or maybe invite them to dinner and give them one of the best steaks you brought out of a large sense of gratitude to their willingness to help you out in your time of need!

Eat the Treats

If all of these options fail and you’re left with a quickly thawing RV freezer, eat your treats! Don’t let them go to waste! Consider cooking up the meat that you brought along with you so that it doesn’t end up going bad if it completely thaws.

Encourage your family to challenge each other to a popsicle eating contest and laugh about who gets the first brain freeze. Turn a catastrophic failure into memories that will last a lifetime!

Closing Thoughts

Closing Thoughts

As with most things in life, preparation is key to making sure that your RV freezer stays frozen from the start to the finish of your camping trip. 

  • Take the time to properly inspect your freezer to make sure that it is properly sealing when closed. 
  • Let it cool down at least 24 hours in advance of when you plan on going.
  • Pack your freezer to make sure that there is room between your frozen items.
  • Keep the door shut.
  • Use reusable icepacks or frozen water bottles to help keep temperatures low.
  • Park and camp in the shade.
  • If there is no shade, make your own shade

And if everything fails, bring a cooler, make friends, and try to eat all of the good stuff first before it thaws and spoils! 

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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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