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How to Run an RV Fridge on Propane

If you’re an avid RV enthusiast, you know how important it is to have a reliable and efficient refrigerator while on the road.

One of the most common questions that arise among RV owners is, “How to run an RV fridge on propane?”

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of operating your RV fridge using propane, ensuring you have a solid understanding of the process.

So let’s get started and make sure your perishables stay fresh throughout your adventures!

Understanding RV Fridges

Before we dive into the specifics of running an RV fridge on propane, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of how these refrigerators work.

RV fridges, also known as absorption refrigerators, work differently from their residential counterparts.

Instead of relying on compressors and coolants, they use a combination of heat, chemicals, and a reliable source of energy, such as propane.

Benefits of Running an RV Fridge on Propane

Running your RV fridge on propane offers several advantages:

  1. Energy Efficiency: Propane-powered refrigerators are highly energy-efficient, allowing you to conserve power while camping off-grid.
  2. Versatility: Propane can be easily stored and transported, making it an ideal choice for RV owners who frequently travel to remote locations.
  3. Silent Operation: Unlike residential refrigerators that emit a constant humming sound, propane fridges operate silently, ensuring a peaceful camping experience.
  4. Independence from Electrical Hookups: By running your fridge on propane, you eliminate the need for a constant electrical connection, providing you with more freedom and flexibility during your travels.

Safety Measures

While operating your RV fridge on propane, it’s crucial to prioritize safety.

Here are a few safety measures to keep in mind:

  1. Ventilation: Ensure your RV has proper ventilation to allow any potentially harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide, to dissipate effectively.
  2. Regular Inspections: Regularly inspect your propane lines, connections, and burners for any leaks or blockages.
  3. Fire Extinguisher: Always keep a fully functional fire extinguisher in your RV, easily accessible in case of emergencies.

Preparing Your RV Fridge for Propane Usage

Before you start running your RV fridge on propane, follow these steps to ensure it’s ready for operation:

  1. Clean the Fridge: Remove all items from your fridge and clean the interior thoroughly using a mild detergent and warm water. Wipe dry before proceeding.
  2. Inspect the Vent: Check the exterior vent of your RV fridge for any debris or obstructions that could hinder proper airflow. Clean if necessary.
  3. Verify Propane Supply: Ensure your RV’s propane tanks are adequately filled and there are no leaks in the propane lines or connections.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Run an RV Fridge on Propane

Now that you’ve prepared your RV fridge for propane usage, let’s walk through the step-by-step process of running it on propane:

  1. Turn Off Electrical Power: If your RV fridge is currently running on electricity, switch it off and disconnect the power source.
  2. Locate the Gas Valve: On the back of your fridge, locate the gas valve. It’s usually a small lever or knob labeled “Gas” or “Propane.”
  3. Open the Gas Valve: Turn the gas valve to the “On” position. You might hear a faint hissing sound, indicating that propane is flowing to the fridge.
  4. Ignite the Pilot Light: Refer to your fridge’s user manual for the exact instructions on igniting the pilot light. Most fridges require you to press and hold a specific button or knob while using a long-reach lighter to ignite the flame.
  5. Monitor the Pilot Flame: Once the pilot flame is lit, continue holding the button or knob for a few seconds to allow the flame to stabilize. Release the button or knob, and the pilot light should remain lit.
  6. Switch to Propane Mode: Locate the temperature control knob inside your fridge and switch it to the desired cooling level. Your RV fridge is now running on propane!

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

Despite their reliability, RV fridges may encounter occasional issues.

Here are some common problems and troubleshooting tips:

  1. Weak Cooling: If your fridge isn’t cooling adequately, check if the burner assembly is clean and free from blockages. Additionally, ensure proper ventilation around the fridge.
  2. Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit: If the pilot light keeps going out, it may be due to a faulty thermocouple. Contact a professional technician to replace it.
  3. Gas Smell: If you smell gas around your fridge, turn off the gas supply immediately and ventilate the area. Contact a professional to inspect and repair the gas line.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I run my RV fridge on propane while driving?

Yes, you can run your RV fridge on propane while driving. However, some states and countries have regulations regarding the use of propane appliances while in motion. Ensure you comply with local laws and exercise caution.

How long will propane last in my RV fridge?

The duration propane lasts in your RV fridge depends on factors such as ambient temperature, fridge size, cooling settings, and propane tank capacity. On average, a 20-pound propane tank can last between 10 and 14 days.

Can I run my RV fridge on propane indefinitely?

While it’s possible to run your RV fridge on propane for extended periods, it’s essential to regularly monitor your propane levels and refill as needed.

Should I turn off my RV fridge when not in use?

It’s recommended to turn off your RV fridge when not in use for an extended period or when you’re storing your RV. This helps conserve propane and prevent any potential hazards.

Can I switch between propane and electricity for my RV fridge?

Most RV fridges offer the flexibility to switch between propane and electricity based on your power source availability. Refer to your fridge’s user manual for specific instructions on switching between modes.

Are RV fridges more efficient than residential fridges?

RV fridges are designed to be highly efficient and optimized for off-grid usage. While they may have a smaller capacity compared to residential fridges, their energy consumption is significantly lower.


Operating your RV fridge on propane is a convenient and efficient way to keep your food fresh and cool during your RV adventures.

By following the step-by-step guide provided in this article and adhering to necessary safety measures, you can enjoy the benefits of running your fridge on propane while exploring the great outdoors.

Remember to stay vigilant and perform regular maintenance to ensure your RV fridge operates smoothly.

Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge on how to run an RV fridge on propane, it’s time to hit the road and enjoy your next camping trip!