What Is The Best Rv Fridge, A Propane Or An Electric One?

RVs nowadays come equipped with modern amenities, including fridges. Refrigerators in RVs aren’t always the same as those in our homes. Some run on propane. What’s the better option? Here are some pros and cons of RV fridges powered by propane and electricity.

The most popular type of RV fridge is propane-powered because it is low maintenance and has no moving parts, making it much longer-lasting. Unlike gas-powered fridges, electric ones are safer and do not require you to watch out for leaks.

If your kids love eating ice cream after dinner, keeping your food fresh is a huge plus. Meat can be stored safely in an RV fridge for a longer period of time as well.

Comparing propane and electric models is essential when considering a new RV fridge.

To choose the right option, you will need to carefully examine each product’s features, maintenance, costs, and usability.

In the same way, you would compare RVs and motorhomes to see which one suits your needs best.

The propane RV refrigerators are the ones I’ve had the most experience with, and I prefer them more than the electric ones. In terms of safety and optimal performance, electric RV fridges also have their benefits.

How Efficient Is A Propane Fridge Versus An Electric Fridge?

On just 20lbs of propane, propane fridges can operate continuously for over a week, which is much more efficient than electric ones. Not having moving parts inside the fridge requires less maintenance since it wears out less often. 

A propane fridge’s efficiency depends on several factors, not all of which are easy to determine.

Your Surroundings’ Air Temperature

A propane fridge works more like an air conditioner than a regular electric refrigerator.

During the summer, expect your fridge to take a few minutes to cool down if you are driving around in Arizona. Propane fridges usually cool down in six to ten hours. Turning it on at night when the temperature is cooler is recommended.

Flow of air

Propane refrigerators require airflow to operate efficiently. You should ensure proper airflow for optimal operation, as well as to avoid unnecessary heat buildup.


Keeping the fridge level is also crucial. There is a risk of the propane fridge not working efficiently if it is not completely flat. Turning off the fridge when driving on an incline is best to save fuel.

On the other hand, electric RV refrigerators operate on 120V AC or 12V DC and provide faster and more consistent cooling.

While they are not as efficient in the long run as propane RV refrigerators, they offer a quick cooling cycle and consistent performance wherever you travel. An electric RV fridge is better if you plan a trip to a natural hot area.

Do Propane Refrigerators Cost Less Than Electric Refrigerators?

Refrigerators powered by propane tend to be more expensive than those powered by electricity. In addition to low fuel consumption, low maintenance costs, and long lifespan, propane RV fridges offer a great return on investment.

Refrigerators powered by propane have no moving parts or compressors.

This reduces the chances of mechanical or electrical failures. Thus, the refrigerator lasts a long time without any problems. A number of technological advances have also made Propane RV fridges more fuel efficient. In the long run, you save money because they have lower emissions and better fuel economy.

You can even save more by following these tips from our other articles!

How Much Propane Does An Rv Refrigerator Use?

An average refrigerator can run for approximately 61 hours on a gallon of propane. Using simple math, we can estimate that a 20lb tank can power a fridge for 12 days. Motorhomes can have propane tanks as heavy as 80-100 pounds, which can run a refrigerator continuously for 48-60 days.

Size and age determine how much propane a refrigerator uses.

Fuel consumption increases with the size of the machine. Also, older refrigerators may use more propane because they are less efficient. The capacity of a 20lb propane tank is 4.6 gallons.

Propane won’t be used much by an RV refrigerator.

Is It Necessary To Have Electricity For An Rv Propane Fridge?

A propane RV fridge requires a battery with a voltage of at least 10.5 volts. The purpose of this is to ignite the gas as well as open the gas valve. If a front control panel is available on an RV refrigerator, the battery can also be used to power it.

Rest assured, you won’t have to strain your RV’s main battery.

Propane refrigerators don’t require a lot of electricity to run. There is no need to worry about interruptions when storing medicine and food inside.

My (propane) unit has run off battery power for hours plenty of times.

Using A Propane Refrigerator In A Camper: How Does It Work?

Ammonia is heated up to a boiling point in propane-powered RV refrigerators. Ammonia steam returns to liquid form in the condenser as it boils. During the cooling process, liquid ammonia combines with hydrogen gas, causing it to become gas again.

It’s also important to level the camper to make it work with a propane refrigerator.

You’ll have to level your camper to ensure your fridge works properly. Ensure the fridge is flat by placing the level on it or a shelf/counter.

Using your leveling jacks will ensure your refrigerator works properly when camping on an uneven site.

It’s important to note that even though propane powers your fridge, an electrical source is still needed.

There will be a need for shore power, generators, or inverters for the house batteries.

Here is a recommended article to help you understand how other type of RV fridges work so you can get to know more about the needs of your Rv refrigerator:

Can I Run An RV Fridge Without Batteries? (Fully Explained)


In contrast to gas-powered RVs, electric refrigerators can keep their contents colder for longer. External factors do not influence the costs of maintaining them, but they can add up over time. A generator and inverter are also required, which can wear over time.

However, propane RV fridges’ performance depends on optimal conditions.

When their air is already hot, they cannot cool efficiently. Although this fridge doesn’t provide super-frozen ice cream, it will run for longer periods without needing maintenance. In addition to being cost-effective, propane RV refrigerators will not leave you with a large propane bill.

Propane and electric fridges both have their advantages and disadvantages.

A propane refrigerator is a great option if camping in a remote area without electric outlets or fuel stations. 

A portable electric fridge, however, might be a better option if you are traveling short distances and require chilled beverages regardless of steep inclines.



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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