How to Run an RV Fridge on Propane (4 Easy Steps)

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Many RV refrigerators are able to run off propane or electricity. If your RV has an absorption refrigerator (most RVs do), it can easily be switched between propane and AC power with the simple press of a button.

In this guide, we detail the types of RV refrigerators and how to run an RV fridge on propane.

Types of RV Refrigerators

Before diving into how to run an RV fridge on propane, it’s important to understand what type of fridge is in your RV.

There are three types of refrigerators found in RVs: absorption, compressor and residential. Only absorption RV fridges can be run off of propane.

Absorption RV Fridges

Interior of RV including TV, kitchen and refrigerator.
Absorption RV Fridges Can Run on Propane

Absorption refrigerators are the most common type of fridge found in modern RVs. Two-way absorption fridges can run on shore (or AC) power or propane. Three-way absorption fridges can run on shore power, propane or DC power from the house battery.

As noted in the next section running an absorption RV fridge on propone is very simple. Most models simply require you to open your propane tank and press a switch on the refrigerator.

Compressor RV Fridges

Power pole outside RV campsite.
Compressor RV Fridges Require AC or DC Power

Compressor fridges are less popular in RVs than absorption fridges, but are the standard equipment in some RVs, such as Bowlus travel trailers. These fridges are designed to run off either DC or AC power, but cannot be run with propane.

Although compressor RV fridges cannot be run off of propane, they do have some advantages over absorption fridges. The biggest advantage is they cool down faster. They also do not need to be completely level to work properly.

Residential Fridges in RVs

Residential refrigerator and kitchen inside RV.
Some RVs Have Residential Refrigerators

Some manufacturers have replaced RV fridges with residential refrigerators. These refrigerators, designed to be used in homes, can only be run on AC power, which makes them impractical for boondocking or dry camping.

How to Run an RV Fridge on Propane

How to Run an RV Fridge on Propane: Don't Forget to Turn on the Propane
How to Run an RV Fridge on Propane: Don’t Forget to Turn on the Propane

If your RV has a two-way or three-way absorption refrigerator, follow these simple steps to run it on propane.

Step 1: Level the RV

Absorption RV fridges are designed to work when the RV is level. Before running your RV fridge on propane, ensure the RV is level.

Step 2: Turn on House Battery

RV refrigerators running on propane still require a small amount of DC power to turn on and run. Ensure the house battery is connected and charged before turning on the refrigerator.

Step 3: Open Propane Tank

Next, open the valve on your RV’s propane tank.

Step 4: Change Fridge Power Setting

Finally, locate the power settings for your RV fridge. The power setting is typically changed using a button on the front of the fridge.

Some RV fridges have a “mode” button. For these fridges, simply change the mode to “LP.” Other fridges have a switch that toggles between “Gas” and “Auto.” Change the setting to “Gas” to run the fridge on propane.

Most RVs, also have a temperature setting between 1 and 5 or 1 and 10. When running the RV fridge on propane, check that the fridge is set to an appropriate temperature.

Propane RV Refrigerator FAQ

Woman Chopping Food in RV Kitchen
Email Me Your Questions About How to Run an RV Fridge on Propane

Still have questions about how to run an RV fridge on propane. See our FAQ below or email us with any other questions.

Does an RV propane fridge need electricity?

Yes. When, 2-way and 3-way RV fridges are set to run on propane they still require DC (house battery) power to turn on and run the control panel.

Can you leave your RV propane fridge on while driving?

RV owners should consult the owner’s manual for their RV fridge to determine safe operation during travel.

How long can an RV fridge run on propane?

Generally speaking, a modern RV absorption fridge will use around 1.5 pounds of propane per day. However, the size and age of the RV fridge will impact propane usage.

Thanks for reading our guide on how to run an RV fridge on propane. We hope your food is cooling down now!

If you are interested in additional food storage options for your RV, check out our list of the best RV refrigerator alternatives.

Happy Camping!

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