Propane RV Fridge and RV Driving: How Dangerous Is It? (Explained)

There are a lot of questions that arise when you are getting to know a new RV or one that is new to you. While driving an RV with a built-in refrigerator, you might wonder if it is safe to run the refrigerator on propane. 

You shouldn’t operate your RV refrigerator while driving, even though there are no laws prohibiting it.

Here are some tips on how to make the most out of RV refrigerators while driving down the road.

RV Refrigerator Types: What Are They?

RV Refrigerator Types: What Are They?

“Absorption” refrigerators are traditional RV refrigerators. In RV refrigerators, evaporation is replicated by using a blend of special gases instead of compressed freon.

By doing this, you can keep your food cool by removing heat energy from inside the appliance.

In order to choose the right absorption refrigerator for your RV or personal needs, you have to consider how it will be powered.

Combination refrigerator with electricity and propane

A dual-fuel refrigerator, or “Two Way” refrigerator, is most commonly found in medium to large RVs.

You can run this type of refrigerator off electricity if your RV doesn’t have a propane line currently.

Nonetheless, propane is the fuel of choice for the majority of these units.

It is recommended that you have a propane line professionally installed in your RV regardless of whether it already has one.

This can be done at a very reasonable price by many RV service and repair shops.

A couple of popular two-way refrigerators on the RV market today are the Norcold 5.5 RM3762 Two-Way Refrigerator without Ice Maker and the Dometic “New Generation” RM3762. With large interior storage spaces and efficient cooling, they typically cost between $900 and $1,500.

Running the refrigerator on propane while driving might not be the best idea depending on your RV or motorhome.

The situation is particularly critical for camper trailers and fifth wheels, which you cannot ride in while moving forward.

As far as I am concerned, I don’t always feel comfortable letting propane run without someone watching it.

While driving, you should avoid using the onboard or secondary generator.

The RV’s 12 Volt batteries can be used in a situation like this.

It is still possible for these batteries to run flat, even though most motorhomes do not tie them into the engine battery.

Besides decreasing battery life, this can lead to other complications, as well as not having enough electrical power when you reach your destination.

Natural gas-powered RV appliances and refrigerators are available?

Alternatives to propane such as natural gas continue to grow in popularity. In terms of developing new energy technologies, the United States has vast natural gas reserves.

The energy density of natural gas, however, is lower than that of propane. Municipal gas lines are the primary source of this energy.

Although some cities have natural gas buses, this new technology hasn’t made its mark on RV appliances.

Is it okay to run a propane-powered RV refrigerator while driving?

Is it okay to run a propane-powered RV refrigerator while driving?

If you install your propane lines and RV refrigerator according to code, then there is no law prohibiting you from driving with your RV propane refrigerator on. It is important to keep one thing in mind, however. It is mandatory in most states to turn off all gas appliances and sources of flame when refueling.

While you are at the gas pumps, if law enforcement finds your propane system or RV fridge running, you could get fined heftily. This is a serious danger, to say nothing of the fact that it is indeed dangerous.

Your RV refrigerator might need to be turned off before you come up to a gas pump if it’s still running on propane.

If you’re still running on propane, your RV refrigerator might need to be turned off before you reach the gas pump.

Make sure the gas cap is off before even thinking about touching it!

Propane As A Driving Fuel: Pros And Cons

While driving, propane can be used to power your RV refrigerator. However, there are some advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your personal preferences, some of these factors can be considered.

You will have to decide based on your personal preferences. In most cases, propane is used. I will, however, discuss this method’s pros and cons.


  • In the fridge, the propane keeps the food cold without draining the batteries
  • Water heaters will also be kept hot by propane.
  • Traveling in cold weather requires the use of propane for the on-board heater.


  • It is common for onboard appliances to move around while driving. Particularly on bumpy roads, this can be a problem. This will eventually lead to a propane leak or crack in the propane line, if the propane tank is not properly secured.
  • The gas from a propane leak only needs a small spark to ignite, since propane is an energy-dense hydrocarbon.
  • An instantaneous fire can occur if a propane line is damaged under the wrong circumstances.

Propane use while driving poses a number of safety concerns, including fire hazards and the possibility of explosions.

Make sure all tanks are tightly secured and inspect the propane lines periodically.

In addition, you should have a professional inspection performed once a year to make sure everything is working properly.

When you smell a leak on the road, you shouldn’t run the system until it has been diagnosed and repaired properly.

What are the pros and cons of using a generator while driving an RV?

Electricity is provided by generators in some larger RVs.

Many camper trailers and smaller RVs require you to install an aftermarket generator.

There is usually a range of 2,000 to 3,000 watts of power available from an inexpensive and modest generator.

5,000 Watts can be generated by some inexpensive two-stroke generators.

Using a generator while driving has its pros and cons, just like propane.


  • It is possible to power the RV refrigerator and other appliances with the electricity generated by the generator.
  • Onboard battery systems can be charged by the current produced by an onboard generator.
  • During a power outage or other emergency, you can power your home with an aftermarket generator.


  • The exhaust gases from generators must be able to be vented efficiently.
  • The air circulation in some generators can cause them to get hot.
  • In enclosed spaces, two-stroke generators can even be loud enough to require hearing protection!
  • A generator can take up a lot of space in a smaller RV.

Which RV generators are the best aftermarket ones?

An average RV refrigerator requires more electricity than the Champion 3400-watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator.

In terms of affordability and ease of use, the Generac GP3300 Portable Generator is a great choice.

A powerful and reliable Briggs & Stratton 30545 P3000 Power Smart Series engine is available. As a result, there is the potential to power a number of onboard electric appliances simultaneously.

How Can I Power My RV Refrigerator in a Green Way?

The technology of solar panels and consumer-grade wind generators continues to advance. At the retail level, there are a number of units available today.

They are available at truck and RV accessory stores, or in large hardware stores’ electrical departments.

What Is The Best Way To Keep An RV Fridge Cold While Driving?

There are some things you can do to keep your RV refrigerator cold while driving if you don’t want to run your refrigerator on propane or a generator.

It can also reduce the overall battery drain by using one or more of them.

1. Turn off the refrigerator

Thermal efficiency is an important feature of quality RV refrigerators today. If you keep the door closed, your home will only lose about 4 degrees Fahrenheit every eight hours.

2. Place ice packs on the top shelf

Keeping the interior of the refrigerator cool when it isn’t running is easier with a block of ice in a zip-top bag.

In spite of the lower shelves pooling cold air, the thermostat will draw less power from the batteries even if it is running.

3. The coldest setting on your refrigerator should be used at night

You should be able to keep things cold on your own as long as you don’t open and close the door a lot during the day.

A small side cooler is perfect for keeping small items on hand, such as cold drinks, throughout the day.

4. The contents of your refrigerator should be carefully chosen

During the day, opening and closing the refrigerator door increases the rate at which it warms.

Side coolers will also give you more space for things that must stay cold like ketchup packets and condiments.


Propane systems and generators cannot be operated while driving, but there are some common sense considerations.

When approaching the fuel pumps, make sure the propane is turned off if you plan to run it.

Make sure that you vent the exhaust gasses properly if you want to run the generator while driving.

While you explore the great open road, you can keep your refrigerator cool with the help of a side cooler for drinks and other frequently used items.



Hey there! I'm Shawn. We were traveling full-time in our travel trailer with our 7 kids. We had to learn a lot to make that lifestyle work, and we wanted to pass some of that experience to you! Our goal is to help save you time, frustration, and money!

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Hey there! I'm Shawn. We were traveling full-time in our travel trailer with our 7 kids. We had to learn a lot to make that lifestyle work, and we wanted to pass some of that experience to you! Our goal is to help save you time, frustration, and money!

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