Why Your RV Fridge Isn’t Cooling Properly

For families who want a residential fridge for their RVs, this Dometic fridge is the perfect choice. It has plenty of storage space and includes handy door bins for larger items like milk jugs.

Before you remove the refrigerator, be sure to shut off the propane line and cap it. Then place something protective on the floor (a furniture dolly might work) and slowly pull it out.
Gas Absorption

The cooling unit in an absorption fridge creates cold using a combination of heat and chemical reactions between water, ammonia, and hydrogen gas. Like residential refrigerators, absorption RV fridges can be powered by propane, electric (via a 120V AC heating element), or battery power.

Propane is the most efficient way to run an absorption fridge, as it provides the most heat and initiates the cooling cycle quickly. But, if you don’t have a large solar system or generator to power your RV when boondocking, an electric fridge is the next best option.

Make sure to defrost your refrigerator regularly and avoid overstuffing it. This can reduce its efficiency and cause food to spoil faster. Also, clean the burner tube and flue/vent on a regular basis to remove insect nests or debris that may impact its performance. Also, if the boiler or absorber is very hot to the touch or emits an ammonia odor, this can be a sign of a leak and requires a service call.
Compressor Style

Many RVers prefer a compressor style fridge due to their powerful cooling abilities. These refrigerators operate on AC or DC current. If designed for AC, they can run off shore power or your RV inverter. If designed for DC, they will run off your battery.

If you go with a residential-style fridge, make sure you have a beefy battery bank and solar power system to keep it running off the grid. These RV fridges will also require frequent defrosting and a thorough cleaning of the flue gases to maintain proper performance.

If you like to boondock or camp in developed campgrounds with electric hook-ups, a residential fridge will be your best option. These RV fridges are less expensive than the absorption models and can be powered by either electricity or LP gas.
Door Seals

The door seals, or gaskets, on an RV refrigerator help keep cool air in and warm air out. If the seals wear out, the fridge will work harder to maintain a proper temperature which can increase energy usage. Food and medications that require refrigeration may also spoil faster.

RV refrigerators use magnetic door seals that can be difficult to replace once they start to wear out. It’s often possible to purchase a replacement from the manufacturer of your fridge or you can try a nonmagnetic seal.

Nonmagnetic seals are essentially thick foam that can be compressed to create an airtight seal between the fridge and the door. There are several online retailers that make custom-fitting foam door seals. You’ll need to find one with a profile that matches your fridge. Ordering a sample ring can help you determine which type of seal will work best for your refrigerator. A common way to test the condition of an RV refrigerator’s door seal is to use a dollar bill.
Temperature Settings

When the RV fridge isn’t cooling properly, it can ruin your food and make you sick. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to prevent this.

First, avoid overcrowding the refrigerator. This hinders airflow and reduces cooling efficiency. Also, make sure the vents are clear and unobstructed. Finally, keep your fridge out of direct sunlight and park it in a shaded area.

Ideally, the temperature should be between 34 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal food preservation. This will help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and protect you and your travel companions from foodborne illness.

Optimized thermostat settings can improve the fridge’s performance and reduce energy consumption. Other tips include avoiding frequent door openings and minimizing the amount of items stored in the refrigerator. Also, ensure that the thermistor is properly placed in the refrigerator. If it is positioned incorrectly, it can cause the fridge to overcool and stop working.

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