When you go camping on weekends only or only get out every couple of weeks, you might not want to leave the refrigerator running throughout the rest of the week, especially if you remove all food from the RV after every trip. But especially if you live in hotter climates, or are in the midst of a heatwave, both getting the fridge in the RV cold initially, as well as keeping it cold, can sometimes feel more challenging than it needs to be.
There are many tips and tricks that seasoned RV’ers use to help with their fridge so here we are to share!
Getting the RV Refrigerator Cold
First, here are some tips and tricks to get your refrigerator colder quicker when you first start it up.
Turn it on early
Many new RVers don’t realize just how long it takes to get an RV refrigerator cold enough to keep food safe, especially in the summer months. It is best to turn it on the day before you will need to pack it, to ensure it is cold enough before you need to leave. Don’t wait until you are ready to pack it with perishables to turn it on, because many RV fridges take a full day to get completely cold, depending on the type of fridge and how old it is.
Frozen Water Jugs
Ahead of your trip, grab a couple of empty gallon jugs and fill with water, and pop them in the freezer. Be sure to take the caps off before freezing, but after the water has expanded once frozen, you can put the cap back on. When you turn on your refrigerator, put the two-gallon jugs of frozen water into the fridge to help it get cold faster. As it unfreezes, you can also use the water to drink, so you aren’t wasting any.
Switch to propane
If your fridge can run with propane, it will get the inside temperature of your fridge much colder faster if you swap to propane instead of electrical power. However, not all RVs have fridges that can run off propane, but it is a great solution for those with a propane fridge model.
Keeping the RV Refrigerator Cold
Adding a fan inside the Refrigerator
A small battery-operated fan in the fridge can help circulate the cold air better throughout the fridge. You can use a rechargeable one – it is easy to have one charging up while the other is being used. You want to aim the fan so it is hitting the cooling vents inside the fridge to circulate the air.
Here is the top of the line RV fridge fan:
If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, they also make a model with lower RPMs (how fast the fan blades spin).
Adding a fan by the outside vent
Adding a small fan near the external vent for the fridge can help it draw the hot air from the fridge motor which can really helps with the cooling process. You may need to hunt around for where your external vents are – sometimes they are inside, or they can be on the outside or on the roof.
Avoid opening the fridge as much as possible when it is hot outside, especially if you are not using air conditioning in the RV. While it sometimes feels great to cool down in front of an open fridge, you are sacrificing your food safety by doing it too frequently.
Never open when not running
If you aren’t running your fridge power for whatever reason, avoid opening it whatsoever so none of the cold air escapes. When it is not running, there is no way to replenish any of the escaped cold air, so your fridge and freezer will warm up much faster than it would if you didn’t open it.
Don’t fill with room temperature items
While this one is harder to do, try and avoid putting room temperature items into the fridge, especially when it is hotter out. And if you must, such as replenishing a supply to water or other drinks, try and do it last thing before bed, when the fridge door won’t be opened for many hours.
If you have overfilled your refrigerator, it can make it so the air can’t circulate well enough to keep everything at a safe cold temperature. If you are using every last bit of space, then the food that is trapped in the middle of other items might not be kept safely cold enough.
It is tempting to fill the fridge with everything you need for an entire trip, but if there are items that you don’t need to keep chilled right away that can be kept safely at room temperature, opt to keep those out of the fridge until you need to use them. For example, you don’t need to keep 24 cans of soda in the fridge if you only drink a few a day. Instead, replenish the supply each night before going to bed instead (when there is less impact of putting room temperature items in the fridge) and save the space for better cooling efficiency.
Ensure you are level
Depending on the type of RV refrigerator you have, being level might be the reason why your fridge isn’t as cool as you think it should be or why it won’t run at all. Your manual that came with the fridge should tell you if being level is required for your fridge to run efficiently.
Here is a simple RV level, which makes it obvious which corner of the RV needs to be adjusted to make it level.
- PROVIDES FAST & EASY RV LEVELING: This RV leveling system allows you...
If you want a more budget-friendly level option, this bubble level will show your RV is level when the air bubble is in the middle.
Use a cooler for drinks
If you open your fridge most often for cold drinks, consider using a cooler during super hot days with ice and drinks in it. This will mean people open the cooler for grabbing cold water or beverage rather than the fridge.
You don’t need something as expensive as a Yeti (although they are pretty great) if you are able to replenish the ice regularly.
If you want to splurge on a Yeti, this is the one that is perfect for holding ice and drinks – and it will even fit an entire bottle of wine upright for those who want to keep a cold bottle of wine at the ready in the campground.
- Made for the road and ready to go – The Roadie 24 Hard Cooler packs...
If you want a soft-sided cooler so you can store it away easier without taking up so much space when not being used, this is a perfect sized soft-sided cooler bag.
- STRUCTURED - Opens and closes in a SNAP thanks to the built in...
Do make sure you check the size of the cooler when purchasing, as there are a ton of lunch sized cooler bags that look cute but they don’t really have enough space to hold both ice and other items such as drinks or sandwiches.
Ice packs in fridge while unpowered
If you have longer periods of time where you fridge will be unpowered, such as while travelling or overnight to save on power usage, keep ice packs or ice in your freezer that you can place in the fridge before it is powered down, as this will also help keep the fridge temperature colder longer.
We recommend getting the long lasting ice packs, they come in a variety of sizes so if you are using them for both your fridge and your cooler, you can choose the sizes that work best for you.
- ARCTIC ICE COOLER ICE PACKS: The ARCTIC ICE Tundra Series reusable ice...
- Tundra series ice size is small
Set refrigerator temperature lower before turning it off
If you know you will have the fridge turned off, such as while driving or overnight while boondocking, for example, you can set the temperature a bit colder than normal a few hours beforehand. This will bring the temperature down colder than usual, without worrying about anything freezing.
Use a cooler when the fridge is turned off
Just like you can use a cooler for drinks or other frequently used items, you can also use a cooler to keep items in it while your fridge is powered off. That way you can have cold water without sacrificing the cold air that remains in the fridge.
Get a fridge thermometer
Using a thermometer in your fridge can give you peace of mind if you are concerned about whether the fridge is actually cold enough to store food safely. While there are metal ones that sit on the shelf, there are some that sit inside while there is a separate remote that you can magnet to the outside of the fridge to monitor the temperature.
This is the one I use, because I like the idea of not having to open the fridge or freezer to see if it is cold enough as well as the alarm feature, which will alert me if the temperature goes above a specific temperature, so I can check and see if there was an issue with the power supply the refrigerator itself.
- Digital Temperature Sensor Thermometers: Includes one refrigerator...
Here are two more basic ones, but the downside is that you need to open the fridge or freezer to be able to read it.
- BIG DIGITS LCD SCREEN: An easy-to-read extra-large LCD screen provides...
- ✅Package includes: you will receive set 2 of SuReady thermometer for...
Some people are very concerned about how cold their fridge is, but opening the door to check is counter-intuitive because every time you open the door, it releases colder air and the temperature actually goes up in the fridge. But the wireless temperature monitor is an ideal solution.