RV Refrigerators Buying Guide – Know This Before Buying
Refrigerator is the most important appliance in an RV or motorhome. Also, it is one of the most used pieces of equipment for keeping foods safe. Therefore having the right refrigerator to fit your personal needs is a big must. Choosing a refrigerator/fridge for your RV may seem a little overwhelming, so we’ve created this buying guide to help you make the best choice.
RV Refrigerator Basics:
Residential and RV refrigerators operate differently. Most RV refrigerators work on the principle of absorption, they use heat, and a combination of ammonia, hydrogen gas, and water. These chemicals react and go through various tubes, and the evaporation and condensation process of these chemicals are what cools the refrigerator. They require no mechanical moving parts to make the cooling happen.
Most modern refrigerators have this automatic feature: when there is no longer any AC electricity, it will switch automatically over to using LP Gas (or DC) to run. This way you do not have to remember to flip the switch, and your food stays constantly cold.
Video: How Absorption Refrigeration Works
RV Refrigerator Types:
There are two main types of refrigerators available. You have the choice between powering your refrigerator using gas or electric. There are also combination models available that will give you a choice between one or more power sources. A portable electric fridge is another option if an RV refrigerator breaks down and is too expensive to repair or replace.
Here are 4 common types that you should be familiar with when searching for your refrigerator:
- 3-way Refrigerator: This refrigerator can run on any AC, DC, or LP gas supply and it is one of the most popular choices for use as a camping refrigerator.
- 2-way Refrigerator: This refrigerator is designed to run on AC power or LP gas.
- AC/DC Refrigerator: This unit can run on either AC or DC power depending on which is available.
- Propane/Gas Refrigerator: This unit will operate on LP gas as its power supply.
RV Refrigerator Price:
Refrigerators are also quite an investment, with new models starting out around $600, they can easily reach over $1500 for larger units. If you are looking for ways to save, rather than pay retail prices, it is essential to shop around and compare prices. You could even talk to your RV dealer for closeout models, as well as refurbished ones.
What Is The Best Brand of RV Refrigerator:
There are two major brands that are installed in RVs today. They are Norcold and Dometic. Both are made to withstand the demands of being on the road in an RV. Both companies manufacture high-quality products, and both have been around for a while, in the RV world.
Choosing The Right RV Refrigerator Size And Capacity:
Choosing the right size and capacity of a refrigerator for your RV can be instrumental in the success and enjoyability of future camping trips.
A refrigerator that is too small for the number of people in the RV can make it difficult to carry enough perishable goods. Very large refrigerators can also cut into storage space because big double door units often take up room that would otherwise contain a pantry or closet in similar floor plans.
Another alternative option for those that have limited space or do not wish to permanently install a refrigerator is a portable unit. Portable units can save a lot of space if you have a pop-up or another smaller trailer where there is no room for a large refrigerator. These units are typically electric, and most space saver fridges run on AC power. Some portable coolers run on DC, which can be useful when camping away from utilities. They can give you the same amount of storage space at a more affordable price.
Best 3-Way RV Refrigerators
Norcold NXA841.3R 3 Way Gas Absorption Refrigerator (7.5 cu.ft.)
This “Best In Class” flush mount refrigerator leads the field in being roomy, convenient and user-friendly. Features more storage space than any other brand.
The Norcold NXA841.3R is a 3-way gas absorption refrigerator with 7.5 cubic feet of space. These refrigerators are flush mounted and while being easy to use, convenient and spacious. The large volume provides more storage space than other leading brands. It features three white powder-coated shelves and four storage bins in the doors that can be adjusted or removed. Storage includes a one-gallon shelf bin and two crispers. When the RV is in motion, positive lock door handles and storage latches keep the doors from coming open.Check Amazon Price
Dometic RV Refrigerator 9 Series
RV refrigerators are getting ever more compact, and every millimeter counts when it comes to designing the onboard interior, and the need for ample refrigerator space with compact dimensions continues to be a goal for the market leaders in RV fridge freezers. Dometic has introduced a new line of solutions, with a width of just 468 millimeters.
These large and attractively designed refrigerators within the Series 9 range are the most adaptable yet. Like their predecessor, they have a silent 3-way operation, a removable freezer compartment and shelving and an extremely spacious interior, yet they are cleverly slim-line.Find it on Amazon
Dometic RM2193 (1.9 cu.ft.) – Best Mini Compact 3-Way Refrigerators
Dometic RM2193 features a reliable, silent absorption cooling system that keeps foods at proper temperatures. Made from sturdy and steel frames ensure that these refrigerators can withstand the stresses and strains of travel. Adjustable shelves give optimum storage flexibility and keep everything within quick reach.Check Amazon Price
Best 2-Way RV Refrigerators
Dometic DM2652RB Americana Double Door RV Refrigerator (6 cu.ft.)
The Dometic DM2652RB Americana Double Door Refrigerator is at the head of the Dometic double-door family of RV refrigerators. It automatically controls the cooling unit based on the surrounding ambient temperature. Its solid steel frame construction and improved electronic controls help make this one of the best built and best backed RV refrigerators on the road. It has an affordable price.
This Dometic refrigerator comes with many features and benefits including its adjustable shelving system and three-position freezer shelf. Electronic controls are conveniently located at eye-level and the doors can be securely locked for bumpy rides!Check Amazon Price
The new N1095R offers RV enthusiasts 9.5 cubic feet of space, the most available for its cutout, achieved through the use of a special super insulated cabinet. The premium refrigerator also features an eye-level LED control panel with built-in diagnostics said to simplify servicing and speed repairs. An adjustable thermostat allows interior temperature to be set to individual preference.Check Amazon Price
Best AC/DC RV Refrigerators/Fridges
Koolatron KCR40B AC/DC Hybrid Heat Pipe Refrigerator (1.7 cu.ft)
This is the ideal compact fridge for use in trucks, RVs or boats. This compact fridge works on 12 V AC or 110 AC power and uses just 6A of current when operating on your vehicle’s 12 volt power.
The compact flush-back design makes it an easy fit in small spaces. The Koolatron AC/DC Heat Pipe Fridge use thermoelectric heat pipe technology to cool the contents of the fridge up to 54 F or 30C below the ambient temperature. The solid state thermoelectric module acts as a heat pump to remove heat away from the fridge. The heat from the thermoelectric module is absorbed by the heat pipe, vaporizing the liquid refrigerant and rapidly moving heat away from the source, allowing for faster temperature drop. This technology has been widely used by the military, aerospace and computer industries primarily for rapid heat transfer.Check Amazon Price
NORCOLD DE-0061 AC/DC Refrigerator/Freezer (7 cu.ft)
The Norcold DE-0061 features a flush-mount self-venting design, improved cooling efficiency resulting in a low amp draw, an exceptionally quiet, hermetically sealed compressor, top-mounted controls and the addition of an interior light. The dual voltage design runs on 120V AC shore power at the dock and automatically switches to 12V or 24V DC when the RV is underway.Check Amazon Price
Best Portable Cooler Refrigerator/Freezer for RV
Dometic CFX-50US Portable Electric Cooler Refrigerator/Freezer
The go-anywhere Dometic CFX-50US Portable Electric Cooler Refrigerator/Freezer offers rugged construction, innovative technology, and powerful yet efficient cooling. In addition, the CFX 50 is remarkably lightweight and easy to transport with a quiet operation that avoids disturbance! Great for adding refrigerator or freezer space to any RV, car, truck, or boat. Never use bagged ice again. Great for camping, tailgating, road trips or picnics.
It has some seriously impressive features:
Firstly, there’s the CFX Special Electronics which include an intelligent automatic turbo cooler and memory function. Then not only is it suitable for deep freezing down to –22 °C but it can also operate on solar power. Plus, regardless of the outside temperature, this cooler will provide a first class, superbly quiet cooling performance. The USB charging port won’t be needed too often as the CFX-50US is amazingly efficient too!
You can take this amazing cooler and freezer wherever you go! Fitted with heavy-duty details like reinforced corners, stainless steel hinges and a robust lid lining, the hi tech coolers in the CFX-50US can withstand the most demanding of loads.Check Amazon Price
Whynter 62 Quart Dual Zone Portable Fridge/ Freezer
This Whynter Dual Zone Portable Fridge / Freezer offers premium quality and innovative design to your frozen/ refrigerated needs. With two separately controlled temperature zones, you can set either zone as a freezer and the other as a refrigerator or at any temperature for your specific requirements.
All you need is either a standard household 110 Volt outlet or a 12 Volt power source, like an automotive battery. The internal LED lights also allow for easier, more convenient access in low-light conditions. The Whynter portable freezers should not be confused with less effective 12V novelty and beverage type “coolers”, it is a true freezer/refrigerator which cools between -6°F to 50°F. A cost effective and mobile solution for your recreational and critical freezing requirements.Check Amazon Price