Can I run an RV Refrigerator on Battery?

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One of the important devices you need while driving long for camping is the refrigerator. You may wish to go on road trips and drink cold coffee and drinks as well as fresh food without spending a lot. This need is fulfilled by RV refrigerators.

A recreational vehicle refrigerator fits in your RV and works with various power sources, providing you the feel of a normal residential refrigerator. But buying an RV refrigerator means making a big investment as they are very expensive. Hence, you should have complete knowledge of the RV refrigerator.

As there will be no power supply, the power source you will think of will be the battery. And with these thoughts, many questions pop into your mind. This article is an answer to all your questions.

So, can you run an RV refrigerator on battery power alone?  The answer is yes, it’s definitely possible to run your RV refrigerator on battery power alone.  It’s not recommended for any length of time, read on to find out more.

Can I run an RV fridge on batteries?

You can run RV refrigerators on batteries, but practically, it is not the best. A refrigerator requires lots of power. So the battery will drain out quickly. Your refrigerator will run for 8 – 10 hours with the batteries on. This time is less for a long road trip.

You can also use an inverter along with the batteries to keep the fridge operating for a longer period of time. But that too will not last long. Using batteries as the main source of power supply is a traditional way. Nowadays, manufacturers use propane and LPG. It becomes compulsory to use an inverter if your refrigerator is big or 4 doors.

When you use DC electricity, your battery will last only for 3 hours. But if you are using the batteries along with the propane gas then it will last for weeks. This is because propane generates a current that accelerates the control panel providing power draw to the refrigerator.

Even if you use batteries for a residential refrigerator, it will last for almost 12 hours. The power consumed by a refrigerator depends on the type of fridge being used. It can be a residential fridge using AC supply, 3-way fridge using propane, AC as well as DC supply, and a power fridge with Propane and DC supply.

The standard power source used with batteries is the propane gas. In this case, the propane is the main source and the batteries are used to power the control panel and the front panel LED.

The standard RVs come with 4 6V batteries. This will drive the power of 200 amp-hours. It is just usable for 20 hours rating when fully charged.

The RV refrigerator needs an AC power supply. Batteries provide DC power supply. Hence, there is a need for the inverter for converting this DC source to the AC source.

What is an RV refrigerator?

RV refrigerators are efficient and compact and can be taken during RV road trips, thus saving your money on food and drinks. The residential fridges work with compressor and other moving parts, whereas an RV (recreational vehicle) refrigerator does not have any moving parts or compressor.

They are specially designed to take on road trips. They are also called an absorption refrigerator. They use different methods like batteries, inverters, propane gas, or L.P.G as a source of power.

The condensing and evaporation of a liquid agent known as a refrigerant keep the fridge cool.

Advantages of using an RV refrigerator

Many people prefer to keep a normal fridge at the highest cooling temperature, a night or two, before going on the road trip. On the day of the road trip, the power supply is taken off and the refrigerator is taken on a road trip. But this will not keep your food fresh for a long time.

The residential fridges are heavy to carry and will spoil the food items in it with a few hours. For this purpose, the RV refrigerators are suitable. Following are the benefits and perks of using an RV refrigerator.

  • RV refrigerators save space, as they are not bulky
  • The parts of RV refrigerators are not movable, hence they are less likely to require repair
  • RV refrigerators support multiple power sources. To ensure that the food always remains fresh and cold, these fridges also switch between different power sources automatically
  • These fridges can handle extreme temperatures, vibrations, bumps, thus, they are more durable.

Can I run an RV fridge on batteries?

You can run RV refrigerators on batteries, but practically, it is not the best. A refrigerator requires lots of power. So the battery will drain out quickly. Your refrigerator will run for 8 – 10 hours with the batteries on. This time is less for a long road trip.

You can also use an inverter along with the batteries to keep the fridge operating for a longer period of time. But that too will not last long. Using batteries as the main source of power supply is a traditional way. Nowadays, manufacturers use propane and LPG. It becomes compulsory to use an inverter if your refrigerator is big or 4 doors.

When you use DC electricity, your battery will last only for 3 hours. But if you are using the batteries along with the propane gas then it will last for weeks. This is because propane generates a current that accelerates the control panel providing power draw to the refrigerator.

Even if you use batteries for a residential refrigerator, it will last for almost 12 hours. The power consumed by a refrigerator depends on the type of fridge being used. It can be a residential fridge using AC supply, 3-way fridge using propane, AC as well as DC supply, and a power fridge with Propane and DC supply.

The standard power source used with batteries is the propane gas. In this case, the propane is the main source and the batteries are used to power the control panel and the front panel LED.

The standard RVs come with 4 6V batteries. This will drive the power of 200 amp-hours. It is just usable for 20 hours rating when fully charged.

The RV refrigerator needs an AC power supply. Batteries provide DC power supply. Hence, there is a need for the inverter for converting this DC source to the AC source.

A suitable alternative to battery operated RV refrigerator.

Using propane as the primary supply and AC power supply when at home or camping site. The one problem with propane is that if an accident occurs and the propane leaks, it can result in serious blasts or hazardous conditions.

Battery ratings

The amount of power a battery can provide when it is fully charged in Amp-hours. Usually, the standard power provided by RV batteries is 20 hours when fully charged

Assume you have a battery which is fully charged, it has 12V and 200Ah rating, it will give you 10 Amps current for 20 hours.

Planning your battery capacity

To plan the usage of your RV refrigerator, you must have enough knowledge about the power that your fridge consumes. It determines the load on your battery.

Suppose we have our battery of 12V connected to the 100W inverter. The battery provides 200Ah at a rating of 20 hours. Now divide the Watt of power consumed by Voltage supplied. This will give you the current required. That is 120/12=10.

As said earlier, 20 hours of battery life is provided if fully charged. To maintain the health of the battery and improve the life and capacity of the battery, you must always keep the battery above 50% of charge. That means 10 hours of battery life should be used.

Sources of gaining more power for the batteries

There are a few things that you should follow in order to gain more life for your batteries.

Try upgrading your batteries. Always remember to charge them once in a day. You can either buy many batteries or a few high-quality batteries. Also, don’t let the charge reduce to less than 20%. You can also use deep charge batteries which can be heavily used at times.

You can also install solar panels if you want to use the batteries for your residential refrigerator. It can be used in more sunlight zones. Solar panels have ratings of 100W. As a result, the batteries will last longer. You can get the power of 30 hours by placing the solar panels in sunlight for 5 hours.

Reducing the power consumption of your RV fridge

The RV fridge’s power consumption can be reduced by several methods. In this way, your battery will last longer. One of the ways is to use a fan for cooling purposes. When using a propane-electric fridge in which the circulation of air in the fridge is not proper.

The fan will not take much space and give good air circulation. This lowers the temperature quickly. More power need not be consumed by the fridge to keep the temperature cool. This makes the fridge more efficient. Fan are inexpensive and will work for 6 weeks on a single battery.

You must not overstock the fridge, as it blocks air circulation. As a result, the refrigerator has to consume more power in order to keep things cool. So keep the minimum number of food items in your RV refrigerator.

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If you keep your RV refrigerator off for a few hours, it will not spoil your food. If you keep the door closed and the fridge off, you might lose less than 4-degree Fahrenheit. That will not spoil your food. You can also put a couple of ice blocks, that will keep the food fresh and cool for the longest time.

Last, but not least, if there is no option left, then you should opt for propane. This is not the recommended option as it can lead to a fatal situation if accidents occur. There have been few incidents where the accidents led to serious situations because the van involved in the accident has a propane burner which was kept on.

Conclusion

For a residential fridge, you can use deep charge batteries. To support these batteries, you can install solar panels and use a generator in case you do not have a favorable sunlight condition.

If you are using an RV refrigerator, then using it with the combination of propane, as well as, RV batteries is the best solution. It is one of the efficient solutions you can have.

Planning the power consumption of your refrigerator on the basis of its usage and RV trip will help you efficiently. Determining the type of road trips like dry camping or boondocking will influence the power consumption and type of power source to be used. For dry camping, a propane source of power is a suitable option.

Today, most of the RVs support the options of having electricity as well as propane. You can switch between this source as and when needed. You should also keep a track of the rating of your battery and Amps consumed. It helps you plan the usage accordingly.

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