How to Choose a Great Refrigerator for Your RV
Refrigerators for your recreational vehicle can be as different as night and day. Knowing what to look for in an RV refrigerator will make choosing one a quick and painless process. We’ve outlined some important points below that you can use as a reference during your search for an RV refrigerator.
When we talk about choosing a type, we mean choosing between an actual RV refrigerator or a mini-refrigerator (mini-fridge). Mini-fridges can make great RV refrigerators because they’re small, portable, and powerful. They cool better than RV refrigerators due to having a compressor to cool the fridge (this also makes them louder).
RV refrigerators are called absorption refrigerators because they’re cooled from the condensation that comes from heated chemicals cycling through the fridge. RV refrigerators also tend to be a little smaller than mini-refrigerators. Knowing these two facts, you may be wondering why everyone doesn’t just pick a mini-refrigerator to start with.
The reason is because of how they’re powered. Most RV refrigerators can be powered by AC if you are connected to shore power, DC power, and the RV’s LP hook up, giving you a choice of how you want to power your refrigerator. Mini-refrigerators can only be powered by AC power. This means that you’d better have a powerful battery if you plan to use a mini-refrigerator for an extended period. If something happens to the AC power, you’ll no longer have a running refrigerator. This makes people think twice about purchasing a mini-refrigerator over an RV refrigerator. However, if you’re confident in your battery or you have a great generator, then you may benefit from having a mini-refrigerator over the RV refrigerator.
Power consumption is an important consideration, especially in the case of mini-fridges. Your house battery or generator has a maximum number of watts it can handle. This includes the sum of all appliances’ watts that you are powering. You absolutely must make sure that a refrigerator won’t exceed this maximum, or you won’t be able to use it. Make sure you consider the starting or surge watts since this number will always be much higher than the running watts.
There isn’t a standard set of dimensions for RV refrigerators. You’ll need to measure your refrigerator compartment or whatever space you plan to put it in, so you’ll know what size refrigerator will fit. Even if you choose to go with a mini-fridge that won’t be put into a refrigerator compartment, you still want to make sure you’ll have room for it in your RV since space is already tight.
The overall dimensions of your RV refrigerator will somewhat determine the storage space of your refrigerator. However, it mostly has to do with the interior design of the fridge. Consider how much food you need to store as well as what kind of food. Maybe you need a freezer area. Perhaps you need a large freezer area.
Once you’ve figured out what you want to store in your refrigerator, it will be a lot easier to choose a refrigerator capacity. Capacity is measured in cubic feet (cu.ft.). RV refrigerators and mini-refrigerators often fall between one and eight cubic feet.
RV refrigerators and mini-fridges often have a plethora of accessories and features that make the fridge stand out from the rest. While many of these features and accessories are optional, knowing which ones you need can ensure that you get the maximum benefit out of the refrigerator that you choose. We’ve listed some of the more popular features and accessories below.
Two- or Three-Way Power
In the case of RV refrigerators, decide if you want a 2-way or a 3-way RV fridge. A two-way refrigerator can run from electricity or LP gas power sources. While a three-way RV refrigerator has the added ability to run from a DC power source.
One very helpful feature is the automatic switch feature. Some refrigerators can automatically switch from electricity to LP gas as a fuel source. That’s is one less thing you’ll have to worry about if you have this feature.
Shelving System, Door Bins and Drink Holders
Do you want your refrigerator to hold a lot of meat, a lot of beer, or a lot of both? Refrigerators often come with many different types of food space-to-drink holder ratios. Some refrigerators are geared more towards beers and sodas because they’ll have a ton of drink holder slots. Some of them may have a space for a 2-liter drink. Others may have multiple shelves and sections for you to arrange your food. Racks and drink holders don’t have anything to do with the quality of your product, but it has everything to do with what you need the fridge for.
Out of the two types, mini RV fridges make the most noise, but with the advancement of modern technology, even mini-refrigerators are more on the quiet side. Noise level is measured in decibels (dBa). For a frame of reference, 60 dBa is the level of a normal conversation. Thirty dBa is the level of a whisper, and 100 dBa is the level of a motorcycle. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a decibel level of 60 or lower.
An RV refrigerator or mini-fridge is an investment. You don’t want to possibly throw your money away by not having an excellent warranty to back you up if parts of the fridge go haywire. Refrigerators, no matter what kind they are, are intended to last for a very long time. A warranty should reflect this by being lengthy, as well. If the fridge has a guarantee of less than a year, steer clear of that product. We urge you to consider refrigerators with at least a two-year warranty.
The Best RV Refrigerators – The Results
SMAD Three-Way Compact RV Refrigerator
The SMAD Three-Way fridge is a very functional RV refrigerator. With the ability to use LP gas, AC or DC electrical power sources, you can rest assured that your unit will keep on working in any situation. It has a freestanding design, so you can put it anywhere that it will fit in your RV as long as you make sure it has adequate ventilation.
This model comes in two different capacities. These are the 1.4 – 2.1 cubic feet. It doesn’t have a freezer, but the interior of it is designed well so that you’ll benefit from the maximum use of its space. It measures 15.8 x 17.7 x 24.8 inches and weighs 44 pounds.
Both capacities are generally designed the same way inside. They have two wire shelves in the fridge and two racks in the door. One rack is made for tall bottle storage. The difference between the two is just a little bit of space, so only get the larger size if you think that storing three or four extra drinks is worth an additional $100 or so.
- Comes in multiple capacities.
- It’s extremely quiet, even when you first light it up.
- Complicated to ignite.
- When it’s hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the unit has difficulty staying cooler than 50 degrees.
Bottom-Line: The SMAD doesn’t have any frills about it, but it’s a good model that will keep things cold.
Dometic Americana Two-Way RV Refrigerator
Best RV Fridge Freezer
The Dometic Americana is a very spacious model with plenty of shelves to organize your food and drinks. The unit measures 24 x 23 x 53.8 inches and has six cubic feet of space. It’s cumbersome – weighing in at 123 pounds. This means that once you set it in place, you probably won’t be moving it around very much.
This RV refrigerator is a top-quality product. It’s constructed with an all-steel frame (which is why it’s so heavy) and has locks on the doors so that they stay closed when you’re driving. We were impressed with the two, 2-way crispers and the adjustable shelves. Even the freezer shelf can be adjusted to three different positions.
This is a fridge that was constructed with the user in mind. It’s a two-way model that runs from AC power or LP gas and has the automatic switch feature. It’s spacious, convenient, and the fridge works well. It would be hard not to be pleased with this purchase.
- The electronic controls are at eye level.
- Doors can be converted from right hinge to left hinge.
- Automatically controls temperature based on the surrounding temperature.
- Easy to Use
- High gas consumption (1501.28 BTU/h).
- It’s very expensive.
Bottom-Line: This is a budget breaker, but it is a top-performing model that makes an excellent investment.
Whynter 45-Quart Portable RV Fridge/Freezer
Best Camper Fridge Freezer
This chest-style freezer can also double as an RV fridge. It’s a two-way unit that runs from a DC or AC power supply, and it only uses 65 watts. It’s robust, powerful, and portable. If you require a lot of storage for food and drinks, this is an excellent choice. It has a 45-quart storage capacity, which is enough to hold 60 standard cans. With an adjustable temperature range of -8°F to 50°F, it’s going to keep your food fresh and frozen with no problems.
The product comes with two wire baskets to help separate your food. The walls and lid are insulated, so this helps with cold retention. To wrap it all up nicely, the unit has an LCD that gives you the temperature control at any given time.
The Whynter measures 23.5 x 16.5 x 20.5 inches and, surprisingly, only weighs about 45 pounds. It has a one-year warranty. While we wish the warranty was longer, it’s better than nothing. Despite this, this unit is great for people who need a ton of space for a lot of different items.
- Works even if it isn’t completely level.
- It has two metal handles to make carrying it easy.
- You can get it in beautiful camouflage color.
- Compressor makes it loud.
- The LCD is in an awkward spot.
Alpicool C15 Portable Refrigerator
Best Lightweight Refrigerator
If you need a genuinely portable fridge for your RV, this Alpicool is a phenomenal choice. It’s compact, sturdy, and works well. It’s also lightweight, so it’s easy to move around. You can even use it outdoors.
The Alpicool is a chest-style RV fridge that can freeze down to-4 degrees. It’s made of a lightweight plastic which we usually don’t like, but it’s constructed very well, and it works very well. It’s a 2-way refrigerator that can be powered by either a DC or AC power supply.
The unit only weighs 21 pounds. This makes it easy to move around, and it comes with handles to carry it. The handles are a little small, and you’ll probably only be able to fit your fingers instead of your whole hand, so this will cause all the weight to pull on your fingers, but since it’s so lightweight, it still should not be too difficult to pick it up and move it around.
- Comes in multiple capacities from 16 quarts to 53 quarts.
- Has a three-stage protection system to prevent the battery from draining.
- The unit works even if it’s not on a level surface.
- The temperature on display is inaccurate sometimes.
- The freezer can over freeze your food.
Midea Twin Door Mini-Fridge with Freezer
Best Budget Option
This mini-fridge looks and operates just like a full-size residential refrigerator you have in your home. It has a top freezer that .9 cu.ft. and freezes as cold as -11°F. The bottom is 2.2 cu.ft. and ranges from 32°F to 50°F. It even has an interior light just like a full-size fridge. The only difference between the Midea and a full-size fridge is the capacity.
The mini-fridge has a compressor, so it’s not whisper-quiet, but it’s quieter than a lot of compression refrigerators. The noise level is less than 45 dBa, which is only slightly louder than light rain. Another feature we are impressed with is the interior design. It features glass shelves, a fruit/vegetable crisper, and a drink holder.
The Midea mini-fridge measures 18.5 x 19.4 x 33 and weighs a little over 50 pounds. It’s a great, high-quality unit that comes with quite a few perks. It has a one-year warranty, which isn’t the ideal length that we’d want, but with the quality of the product, you most likely won’t need the warranty any time soon.
- Has an interior light.
- Has ample space for 2-liter drinks.
- Door hinges can be on the left or the right.
- May be some problems with condensation.
- The temperature can fluctuate.
Bottom-Line: This is a great, typical mini-fridge that’s affordable and has some very interesting features for the price.
Last update on 2021-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API