How to make an RV refrigerator colder when temperature rise

How to make an RV refrigerator colder when temperature rise


Preparing our RVs for the summer and getting ready to hit the road is an exciting time. One appliance we need to keep an eye on as the temperatures rise is our RV fridge. Its job is to carry precious cargo for camp meals and cold beverages to help cool us off after a long day of hiking. Besides just carrying the cargo it needs to keep it at a safe temperature. This is where many people find that their RV refrigerator is coming up short. If this has been an issue for you in the past, then keep reading as we talk about some tips on how to make an RV refrigerator colder.

Having the right refrigerator for you is the first step. If you are trying to decide what type will work best for you, we have a great article about what are my options for an RV refrigerator.

In this article, we are going to assume that you already have your refrigerator in place and you are searching for ways to keep your RV refrigerator colder.

How to make an RV refrigerator colder

What are we working with?

Traditional RV refrigerators operate using absorption technology. This requires a heat source as the driving energy. The heat can be powered by liquid propane gas, 12-volt DC house batteries, or 120-volt AC shore power. These units are appropriately called “3-Way Refrigerators,” and they’re generally found in all trailers and most motorhomes.

This is the type we will be focusing on since an electric residential refrigerator is more straightforward when it comes to keeping food cold. Either it is working or it needs to be repaired.

An absorption refrigerator takes a little more finesse and know-how.

Norcold RV refrigerator - how to make an RV refrigerator colder

How does an RV absorption refrigerator work?

An RV refrigerator works by absorption and a chemical reaction between ammonia, water, and hydrogen. The ammonia is heated and then goes through an evaporation and condensation process which causes the cooling effect of the fridge. The ammonia is heated either by a propane flame or an electric element.

Tips to keep an absorption refrigerator cold

Keep it level:

First and foremost, an absorption refrigerator needs to be level for it to work as intended. You have a little wiggle room, but most manufacturers say that today’s refrigerators operate well within 3 degrees off-level side-to-side and 6 degrees off-level front-to-back.

I have found that mine works fine and rarely have I ever had my class C perfectly leveled unless it was just luck.

Maintenance and Cleaning:

On the exterior of your RV, you will find a vent above your RV (side wall or on the roof) and a lower cover for maintenance. The upper vent should be free of dirt and debris as this lets the refrigerator heat disperse and needs the proper airflow. Check the lower door for any dirt, insect, or rodent nest they may have been built over time.

In the interior of the refrigerator, you will find cooling fins in the upper back part. These also need to be clean and free of debris to function properly.

Norcold RV refrigerator - how to make an RV refrigerator colder

Air circulation:

For an absorption refrigerator to cool more efficiently, the cool air needs to be able to circulate. If there is no fan, consider installing one. A refrigerator fan is a simple install that can vastly improve air movement, should it be required.

Do not overstock the top shelf so air can move and cool the whole unit.

51kWvaGcCuL. AC SL1000

Beech Lane 12V RV Fridge Ventilation Cooling Fan

The vent fan comes equipped with a custom remote giving you full control to choose between a manual and an auto, temperature sensing mode.

Use the shade:

Strategically set up your RV so the sun is not beating down on large windows or most importantly the refrigerator side of your RV. The sun can heat up your RV and make all your refrigeration units work double time, this includes your RV refrigerator.

A perfectly placed shade tree can do wonders when it comes to keeping everything cooler in the heat of summer.

24-hour notice:

Before you pack your RV refrigerator full of food let it get a 24-hour head start. Let your fridge cool before stocking full of food will help it maintain temperatures until you reach your destination.

Make sure it is sealed:

Be sure to regularly inspect the door seal for a tight, uniform fit. Any air leak will cause possible ice accumulation within the unit.

Leaks will also reduce the overall efficiency of your refrigerator.

You should replace the seal if any damage or excess wear is present.

While you camp:

How you use your RV refrigerator while you camp can be the difference in having lukewarm and cold contents.

  • Stock fridge with cold food and drinks whenever possible. This will help to keep your fridge from having to struggle to cool warm products.
  • Let leftovers cool as much as you can before throwing them into your fridge.
  • Know what you are going into the refrigerator to get before you open the door. Standing there with the door open puts unnecessary strain on the ability of the refrigerator to recool itself.
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SensorPush HT1 Wireless Thermometer

Use the sensor and your phone via Bluetooth or add a SensorPush G1 WiFi Gateway (sold separately) for data and alerts via the Internet. With a G1 Gateway, get updates and push notifications when conditions exceed min/max alarm settings anywhere, ask Alexa for updates, or view data on a computer in our web dashboard.

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Can I use my absorption refrigerator while driving?

Yes, it can be used while driving, but many suggest you should not use it in propane mode. Using propane while driving is a highly debated topic. I say why take the chance if you don’t need to do so?

  • Chance for leaks and explosions in an accident
  • Hassle of shutting off at gas stations or going through tunnels.

Your RV refrigerator can run fine using a 12V source, especially if it is precooled. There is also the option to kick your generator on and run off of 120V. Perfect if a little more cooling power is needed.

Helpful RV refrigerator devices

Camco 17″ RV Refrigerator Bar

61kBFJx48RL. AC SL1500

Camp’N RV Refrigerator Airing Clip

Help let the fridge air out when not in use

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