How To Run An RV Fridge On Propane: The Perfect Step-By-Step Guide

Imagine this: You’re miles away from the nearest town, surrounded by towering pines and crisp mountain air. Your RV is parked at the perfect campsite, the tent is pitched nearby, and the campfire is crackling. But as you reach into the RV refrigerator for a cold drink after setting up camp, you realize it’s not running. Uh oh! 

Having a reliable way to keep foods fresh is crucial for unstressing and enjoying outdoor living to the fullest on an RV trip. That’s where knowing how to run your RV fridge on propane becomes invaluable. With this guide, you’ll learn the straightforward steps for tapping into propane power to keep refrigerator contents safely chilled, no matter how far off-the-grid your caravanning adventures take you.

Are you an RV owner or camper who is looking to find out how to run your RV fridge on propane?

Look here! Discover the ultimate roadmap to effortlessly mastering your camping adventure. Eliminate any worries or discomfort with our foolproof, step-by-step instructions. Learn the ins and outs of operating an RV fridge on propane like a pro, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable experience. 

From initial setup to propane ignition, we’ve got you covered. Our comprehensive guide guarantees you’ll handle your RV fridge with confidence, keeping your provisions chilled throughout your outdoor excursions.

Step 1: Make Sure Your Propane Tank is Full

Step 1: Make Sure Your Propane Tank is Full

Before hitting the road, the first crucial step is ensuring your RV’s propane tank is topped off. You don’t want to run low or, even worse, run out of this energy source halfway through your trip. Trust me; I’ve been there, and it’s not fun rummaging through warm food with no cold beverages in sight!

Here’s a checklist to follow:

  • Inspect the tank – Look for any cracks, dents, rusting or other damage that could cause a leak. Don’t take any chances with propane safety.
  • Check the levels – An empty tank means no propane, so give it a quick check. Most tanks have a gauge to see how much fuel is left.
  • Secure connections – Ensure the hose connecting the tank to your RV is tightly fastened at both ends with no cracks, holes or brittleness in the hose itself.
  • Test the regulator – The regulator controls the flow of propane into the RV’s lines. Most have a small plastic window that displays the operating status light.

Taking these simple preventative steps saves major headaches and food spoilage disasters down the road.

Read More Post: Do You Need a CDL to Drive an RV? State Licensing Requirements Explained

Step 2: How to Turn On The Propane

With a full, secure propane tank confirmed, it’s time to start the flow of gas power by turning on the main propane supply. The exact location of the on/off valve varies between RV models, but it’s usually pretty accessible and clearly marked.

Some common places to look:

  • At or near the propane tank itself
  • In a exterior propane compartment
  • Near the refrigerator
  • Inside a cupboard/cabinet

Consult your specific RV’s manual if you can’t locate it, as the manufacturer’s guide will show the exact ON/OFF switch or valve.

Note: Don’t forget to relight the refrigerator’s pilot light if needed for the propane-powered cooling unit.

Step 3: How to Switch Your Fridge to Propane Setting

This vital step diverts the refrigerator’s power from electric over to propane. Forgetting to switch modes is a common mistake that leaves RVers wondering why the fridge isn’t working properly. Newer RV refrigerator models make this pretty easy with a simple button, knob or lever to switch between modes. 

Older models may require a few more steps. Always refer to your specific fridge’s manual for the process if you’re unsure. Once you’ve located the propane setting, I recommend taking a picture of it with your phone. That way, when it’s time to switch back at the next site with electrical hookups, you have a quick reference guide.

Step 4: Monitor Your Propane Levels

Monitor Your Propane Levels

With the RV refrigerator happily humming along on propane power, it’s important to keep an eye on those fuel levels. Unlike with electricity, you have a limited propane supply that will eventually be consumed and need refilling.

Check the gauges frequently and be aware of any performance issues that could indicate low propane levels. The last thing you want is for the refrigerator to conk out unexpectedly. Generally, a 20 lb propane tank properly supplying just the refrigerator may last anywhere from 1-4 weeks, depending on:

  • Size of the tank
  • BTU rating of your fridge
  • How often the fridge cycles on
  • Outdoor ambient temperatures

Running other propane appliances like the stove, water heater or furnace will also impact consumption rates. Monitoring and practicing conservation methods like minimizing door openings can extend propane life as well.

So keep those propane levels top of mind for stress-free camping with guaranteed cold snacks and beverages!

RV Propane Fridge FAQs

Can I Run My Rv Fridge On Propane Only?

Yes, absolutely! One of the great advantages of most RV refrigerators is their flexibility to run on propane, electric power or both. This allows you to choose the most convenient energy source for any situation.

When dry camping with no electrical hookups, running solely on propane is often the best option. This self-contained operation maintains refrigerator functionality without needing to burn through battery reserves.

How Do I Switch My Rv Refrigerator From Electric To Propane?

The process for shifting an RV refrigerator from AC power to propane mode varies between models. In general:

1) Locate the power source selector switch/knob/lever (refer to manual if needed)

2) Switch from electric setting to propane setting

3) May need to relight pilot light on older models

4) Give it 10-15 minutes for the cooling unit to reset and start chilling

Remember, double check your fridge’s specific instructions, as there could be additional steps required depending on the particular make and model.

Does An Rv Fridge Need A Battery To Run On Propane?

Does An Rv Fridge Need A Battery To Run On Propane?

No, an RV refrigerator does not require any battery power when running on propane. The combustion process creating the cooling power comes directly from the propane itself.

However, some RV fridge models do utilize a small amount of 12V battery power to operate the control panel and igniters when in propane mode. But you won’t find the battery drained solely from refrigerator operation.

How Long Will A 20lb Propane Tank Last On An Rv Refrigerator?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, as RV refrigerator propane consumption depends on several variable factors. But here’s a general estimate:

With a standard 20lb propane tank supplying only the refrigerator in an RV, you can expect it to last:

  • 1-2 weeks of extremely frequent use in hot weather
  • 2-3 weeks of moderate use in mild temperatures
  • 3-4 weeks of conservative use in cooler conditions

Larger tanks will extend that duration, while running other propane appliances simultaneously will decrease it. Monitoring your particular usage rates is advisable.

Will An Rv Fridge Run Off The Battery While Driving?

Yes, many RV refrigerators can run off the house battery bank while the vehicle is in transit and the engine is running. The alternator recharges the batteries to power systems like the fridge.

This does drain batteries quicker, so it’s not recommended to rely on battery power for fridge operation when parked for extended dry camping periods. Use propane or electric hookups whenever possible during longer stationary stays.

Conclusion: How To Run An RV Fridge On Propane

There you have it, fellow RV enthusiasts! By following these straightforward steps, you’ll free yourself from solely relying on electrical hookups to keep refrigerator items nicely chilled. The ability to harness propane power offers fantastic flexibility for dry camping adventures.

An RV fridge running on propane is a camper’s freedom pass for cold drinks and fresh foods anywhere. With a full propane tank, properly switched refrigerator setting, and routine monitoring, you can camp confidently with cooling power aplenty. No more getting stuck in the wilderness with spoiled food!

So get out there in your RV withoutrange anxiety. As long as that propane tank is full, your refrigerator is ready to keep things frosty no matter how far off-grid your outdoor living takes you. Happy camping!


Can I run my fridge on propane while traveling?

Yes, you can run your fridge on propane while traveling, but ensure proper ventilation and safety measures.

How long will a 30 lb propane tank run an RV refrigerator?

A 30 lb propane tank can typically run an RV refrigerator for about 2-3 weeks, depending on usage and efficiency.

How long will a fridge run on propane?

The duration a fridge will run on propane varies based on factors like tank size, fridge size, and usage patterns, but it can last for weeks to months on a standard tank.

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