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How to Switch an RV Fridge From Electric to Propane: 6 Important Reasons to Consider

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Introduction to How to Switch an RV Fridge From Electric to Propane

We love travelling in our RV’s with the comfort of home. There are many things that we take for granted, but what about when you’re far away from the nearest electrical hookup, and you still need to keep your groceries chilled? That’s where the idea of converting your RV fridge from electric to propane comes in, opening a door to self-sufficiency that many travellers find appealing.

Why You Should Consider Learning How to Switch an RV Fridge From Electric to Propane

Why consider this switch? For starters, propane fridges offer independence from the grid, allowing you to camp in more remote locations without sacrificing the freshness of your food. They’re also known for their reliability; while electric fridges depend on a steady supply of power, propane units can run efficiently on a fuel that’s readily available and easy to store. Moreover, propane is often cheaper than electricity per unit of energy, potentially reducing your overall travel costs.

Understanding the Conversion Process

Before you grab your toolbox, you must learn what the conversion entails. A solid understanding will contribute to your safety and success. The process definitively requires technical know-how, but you also need to grasp the importance of following steps precisely, knowing the risks involved, and being prepared for a bit of troubleshooting. This knowledge is the key that unlocks the benefits of a propane-powered fridge.

Key Steps in the Conversion Process

Conversion from electric to propane is made up of several key steps. From assessing your current setup and gathering the necessary tools and materials and further on to installation and testing, each phase needs to be executed with care. In the upcoming sections, we’ll guide you through these stages in detail, offering practical advice to handle this DIY project with confidence.

How to Switch an RV Fridge From Electric to Propane: Understanding Power Sources

In the world of recreational vehicles, keeping your food fresh and drinks cold is a part of what makes the experience enjoyable. So, let’s dive into the heart of an RV — the fridge. Specifically, let’s explore the electric and propane-powered refrigerators that are commonly found in RVs.

How to Switch an RV Fridge From Electric to Propane: What’s the Difference?

First things first, let’s clarify the difference between electric and propane RV fridges. Electric refrigerators in RVs are quite similar to the ones you have at home, running on the electricity supplied by the RV’s battery or when plugged into an external power source. They use a compressor to cool the interior efficiently. On the flip side, propane fridges, also known as absorption fridges, operate on a closed-loop system that heats a mixture of ammonia, hydrogen gas, and water to cause a cooling reaction. They can run on propane gas and don’t require electrical input, although many models can switch between power sources as needed.

How to Switch an RV Fridge From Electric to Propane: Advantages and Limitations

Each power source has its own set of pros and cons. Electric fridges are generally more straightforward; they’re familiar, often have larger capacities, and maintain consistent temperatures well. However, they rely heavily on having a steady supply of electricity, which isn’t always available during long stints on the road or in remote locations.

Propane fridges, while they may not cool down as quickly as their electric counterparts, shine in their ability to operate off-grid. They’re perfect for boon-docking, where you’re parked without hookups, and allow for extended travel away from traditional campsites. That said, they do come with some limitations. Propane fridges typically have smaller capacities, are a bit less efficient in hot weather, and require level positioning to operate correctly.

Why Some RV Owners Opt For Propane

Understanding some of the the benefits and drawbacks of each fridge type, we can now start to understand why some RV owners make the switch to propane. The appeal of propane lies in its independence from electrical sources. This flexibility matters to adventurers who prefer the path less travelled and don’t want the worry of finding the next power hookup to dictate their journey. Additionally, propane is a widely available resource, and the cost to refill a tank is often lower than paying for electricity at a campsite. This makes it a cost-effective choice for many.

Another consideration is reliability. Propane fridges tend to have fewer moving parts than electric ones, reducing the risk of malfunctions. In remote areas, where repairs can be costly or not an option, this reliability is invaluable. Plus, for those who are environmentally conscious, propane burns cleaner than gasoline or diesel generators that are used to power electric fridges, offering a greener alternative.

As we wrap up this section, it’s important to keep in mind that whether you should convert your RV fridge from electric to propane depends on your travel habits, budget, and comfort with managing a propane system. Understanding these differences and the unique advantages of propane fridges will guide you in making an informed decision as we continue to explore the conversion process in the following sections.

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single propane tank mount” by dwstucke is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Learn How to Switch an RV Fridge From Electric to Propane

Taking the leap from a traditional electric refrigerator in your RV to a propane-powered one might seem daunting at first. But, let’s unpack the reasons for making this switch, starting with an important consideration: cost-efficiency. Switching to propane could mean waving goodbye to the anxiety that comes with finding your next power hook-up and hello to more money in your travel fund.

How to Switch an RV Fridge From Electric to Propane: Cost-Efficiency of a Propane

Propane fridges have a reputation for being remarkably energy efficient. When we examine the operational costs, propane often comes out on top as the more economical option, especially when considering long-term travel or life on the road. The initial setup might come with a price tag, but the ongoing expense of running a propane fridge is generally lower than its electric counterpart. With the ability to purchase propane in bulk and the fact that propane fridges use minimal gas, the cents per day can significantly undercut the cost of constant electric usage, especially in campgrounds where electricity fees can add up quickly.

How to Switch an RV Fridge From Electric to Propane: Propane in Off-Grid Situations

For those who dream of remote landscapes and untethered travels—affectionately known as boon-docking in the RV community—propane is a game-changer. Unlike electric fridges that rely on a consistent power source, propane fridges offer unparalleled freedom. They allow you to venture beyond the confines of the grid without sacrificing the comfort of chilled food and drinks. This autonomy is convenient, and for some it is essential.

How to Switch an RV Fridge From Electric to Propane: Environmental Impact

In weighing the reasons to convert your RV fridge to propane, consider these compelling points: the potential savings in your pocketbook, the freedom to explore beyond the reaches of electrical hookups, and a lighter environmental impact compared to conventional power sources. As we go through the conversion process, bear in mind these benefits that could enhance your RV lifestyle in ways you might not have imagined before.

How To Use Refrigerator Gas Propane Electric And Auto Setting On Rv

How to Switch an RV Fridge From Electric to Propane: A Step-by-Step Guide

As you’re learning how to switch an RV fridge from electric to propane, this guide will help you, leading you through each part of the process. But, before we roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty, let’s ensure we have all the necessary tools and materials at our disposal.

Tools and Materials Needed for the Conversion

  • Propane refrigerator unit compatible with your RV
  • Propane tanks and regulator
  • Gas lines and fittings
  • Venting system components (vent, flue, and roof cap)
  • Copper tubing cutter
  • Pipe wrenches
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Leak detector solution or soap water
  • Screwdrivers
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Sealant suitable for gas lines
  • Protective eye-wear and gloves

With these items in hand, you’re ready to tackle the conversion. Remember, safety is paramount when working with gas appliances, so don’t skip the protective gear!

Detailed Breakdown of Conversion Steps

  1. Preparation: Begin by securing your RV and ensuring it is level. Safety comes first; disconnect the power supply to avoid any electrical hazards.
  2. Remove the Existing Electric Fridge: Carefully take out the old fridge, taking care to not damage surrounding fixtures. It’s a good time to clean the space and prepare it for the new unit.
  3. Install the Propane Fridge: Slide the new propane fridge into place. Ensure it fits snugly and that there is adequate space for ventilation.
  4. Connect Gas Lines: Using wrenches, connect the copper tubing to the back of the fridge and run it to the propane source, applying sealant to prevent leaks.
  5. Set Up Venting System: Install the venting components according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Proper ventilation is crucial for safety and efficiency.
  6. Test for Leaks: Apply leak detector solution or soapy water along the gas lines and watch for bubbles that indicate a leak. Tighten any fittings as necessary.
  7. Light the Pilot: Following the manufacturer’s guidelines, light the pilot light on the fridge. Monitor the flame to ensure it’s steady and blue.
  8. Final Testing: Turn the fridge to its operating mode and allow it to cool down to the desired temperature. Check once more for proper venting and flame operation.

Each step should be approached with care and attention to detail. If at any point you feel uncertain, consulting a professional is advisable.

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Dometic refrigerator with propane mod” by safoocat is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Tips and Troubleshooting Advice

No adventure is without its hiccups, and converting your RV fridge is no exception. Here are some tips to keep you on track:

  • Read the Manual: Familiarize yourself with the new fridge’s manual before beginning. Knowledge is power when it comes to installation.
  • Check Local Regulations: Ensure you’re in compliance with any local codes or regulations regarding propane appliances in RVs.
  • Ventilation is Key: A well-ventilated area helps the fridge operate efficiently and safely. Never cut corners with your venting setup.
  • Regular Maintenance: Once installed, regular maintenance will help prevent issues and extend the life of your propane fridge.
I Converted My Camper Fridge To Propane For $100

Conclusion and Next Steps

As we wrap up our guide on how to switch an RV fridge from electric to propane, let’s revisit the compelling reasons why many adventurers choose this path. Propane fridges in RVs offer the freedom to camp away from traditional power sources, a boon for those who love to stray off the beaten path. They are often more energy-efficient, reducing the strain on your RV’s battery and generator. Plus, when it comes to long-term travel, propane can be a cost-effective solution compared to the steady consumption of electricity.

However, one must strike a balance between these benefits and the potential drawbacks. Converting to a propane-powered fridge involves a significant upfront investment, both in time and money. There’s also the added responsibility of ensuring proper ventilation and regular maintenance to prevent issues such as gas leaks. So, before you dive into this project, take a moment to weigh the advantages against the challenges. Consider factors like your travel habits, budget constraints, and comfort with routine maintenance.

If you’re leaning towards making the switch, or if you’re still on the fence and could use more information, remember that resources are available to guide you. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Online Forums and Communities: Tap into the wealth of knowledge found in RV enthusiast groups and online forums. Many members are happy to share their firsthand experiences and advice.
  • Manufacturers’ Manuals: Consult the user manual of your specific RV fridge model for guidelines on power conversions and requirements.
  • Professional Technicians: When in doubt, seek out a certified RV technician. These experts can provide insights into the conversion process and even handle the installation for you.
  • Instructional Videos: Visual learners may benefit from watching detailed how-to videos, which can often be found on platforms like YouTube.
  • In the end, learning how to switch an RV fridge from electric to propane is a decision that should be made with careful consideration of your individual needs and circumstances. Whether you’re an occasional camper or a full-time road warrior, the right choice will enhance your travel experience. With the right tools, knowledge, and maybe a bit of professional help, you can enjoy the autonomy and efficiency that a propane fridge brings to your mobile abode. So, take your time, do your research, and make the choice that best suits your adventurous spirit. Safe travels and happy camping!


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Nicole Mortimer
Nicole Mortimer
Meet Nicole Mortimer, an avid storyteller who loves the outdoors and can’t wait to plan her next camping adventure. Growing up in rural Northwestern Ontario, she spent her childhood learning on the land and reading a lot of books. Passionate about everything the natural world has to offer, Nicole enjoys gardening, hiking, being on the water, herbology, and learning about conservation practices. Nicole writes on a variety of topics, is an introvert and an artist. She has a budding interest in photography and works to combine her passions into cohesive projects. Growing into her love of the outdoors, she spends her free time planning a yearly camping trip, learning everything she can, and considering new destinations for her travel.
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