Does RV Fridge Cool Faster On Propane? [The Truth]

Does RV Fridge Cool Faster On Propane

RV fridges can run with electricity, propane, or with both at the same time. Unlike the usual household refrigerators, they don’t use compressors; instead, they work by heating up a mixture of gases and water, which make a cycle of condensation for cooling.

Does RV fridge cool faster on propane? Yes, an RV fridge cools faster on propane because propane rapidly heats the water and carries out the evaporation cycle quickly to establish a cold environment in the fridge as compared to electricity.

An electric element takes slightly longer and requires an electrical connection. For a propane unit, there is no wait time to chill the fridge, which is ideal for a busy work or home environment.

Propane gas for RV refrigerators is a perfect choice for people looking for eco-friendly and cheap options for refrigerators and other household appliances.

The benefits of using this gas are quite many and make it a competitive choice as compared to electric appliances.

Advantages of Refrigerators Fuelled by Propane Gas

Propane appliances last longer than those powered by electricity. Their performance is also comparatively better.

A refrigerator working on propane can be portable and taken off-grid. Propane gas has many advantages and is a good option for RV fridges.

  • It is believed that burning fuel and gas, especially fossil fuels, is unsuitable for the environment. However, propane gas is a clean-burning fuel. It is non-toxic and lead-free. It is a light hydrocarbon that is environmentally friendly and will also not demand a lot of cleaning of your RV fridge, unlike carbon emissions.
  • It is a cheap option to choose and can save on energy costs because it isn’t a costly fuel.
  • Propane is a safe gas. If it is released from its container, it vaporizes and diffuses into the air; therefore, it cannot be ingested. The leaks are easy to detect because of the strong and pungent smell of propane.
  • It is more versatile and accessible than other fuel and gas types.
  • It does not contaminate water or soil; hence leaks, in this case, are also harmless.
  • It cools the fridge quickly because it carries out the heating cycle rapidly.
  • It can be taken on picnics and camping or to remote areas where electricity isn’t available.
  • Propane has low flammability, and the risk of blowing off is minimal in case of this fuel.

These advantages combined make propane refrigerators a valuable appliance.

However, it is important to note that any appliance or technical product requires maintenance and careful handling to ensure longevity.

Related: RV Propane Refill Near Me – Stations & Locations [UPDATED]

How To Make Your RV Fridge Efficiently Consume Propane

Because propane is an efficient, clean-burning fuel, it is often bought and used in large quantities.

However, like every other appliance and energy source, it is important to handle these wisely and with care in order for them to last longer.

There are various ways to maximize the efficiency of an RV fridge powered by propane.

1. Routine Maintenance, Checks, and Blockages

Annual or semiannual routine maintenance should be carried out even if the fridge works perfectly, alright.

This will help minimize risk of having big problems with the fridge because minor faults may be detected, which are otherwise unnoticeable.

Soot buildup can cause problems with combustion and blockage of air. Keeping the fridge and ventilation area of the fridge clean can help reduce propane usage.

Any blockages or obstructions at the back or beneath the fridge should be removed to smooth out the airflow. Otherwise, these can hamper the cooling process.

2. Assure Proper Ventilation Using Cooling Fans

If you have placed your fridge in a place where ventilation and air circulation is compromised, then it is good to install cooling fans under the RV fridge to keep internal components cool because otherwise, the thermal exchange process will be disturbed.

With cooling fans, the system will also take up less load to keep the fridge cold.

3. Pre-cool the Fridge before Taking for a Trip

Running the fridge for around 5 hours before packing will also keep the fridge in a better condition because it takes some time to cool completely.

4. Keep on a Lookout for Leaks

Since it is easy to detect propane leaks, it is sensible to keep a lookout for them along with rust, corrosion, and soot buildup.

These are signs of a problematic combustion system that can affect airflow and the overall cooling process of the fridge.

5. Keep the Fridge on Level Ground

An absorption fridge works best when it is placed on plain ground. If it is placed on an uneven area, then it will affect the cooling cycle, which can also lead to a mechanical fault.

6. Cold Things Should be Placed in the Fridge First

It will keep the load off the fridge if cold things are placed in it before warmer ones. Therefore, when packing for a trip, it is wise to place the cooler things in the fridge.

It is good to place bags or big chunks of ice inside the fridge as opposed to ice cubes. The larger surface area of the ice will keep the fridge cool, along with taking more time to melt.


7. Avoid Shutting and Opening the Fridge too often

Being mindful of opening and closing the fridge`s door can have an impact on propane usage as well.

Frequent opening may lead to the insides warming up and more usage of propane to run the cooling cycle to bring the temperature down.

Pros and Cons of Electric Powered RV Fridge


Even though propane can heat water faster and carry out the cooling process of a fridge quickly, electric elements in an RV fridge also have some advantages that propane heaters may lack.

  • With electric RV fridges, one does not have to worry about the pilot light going out.
  • These fridges maintain water temperature better than propane gas heating systems.
  • The heating element turns on and off automatically, and therefore one doesn’t have to turn it off when not in use themselves.
  • There is lesser maintenance required to keep electric elements clean as compared to gas elements in a fridge because combustion calls for some cleaning to be done.

With these advantages, electric refrigerators do come neck to neck in competition with propane-powered fridges.

Related reading: RV Propane Refill Near Me – Stations & Locations [UPDATED]


Electric fridges also come with some minor setbacks. They require a good amount of electricity, and that can be a problem when power is limited.

These refrigerators cannot be taken off-grid because they require a supply of electricity to work, so that limits their use according to place.

Two Way RV Fridge

Nowadays, most RV fridges have a two-way power system that uses both electricity and gas to work. These appliances are able to switch to completely electric or gas as well.

In case you are off-grid and can only operate your RV fridge using gas, you can do so. Similarly, if you have a good source of electricity and using gas is not wise, then the fridge can be operated on electricity alone as well.

Water heats up faster with gas and also recovers faster after gas usage; however, electricity helps maintain water heat better.

Hence a two-way fridge can help in this situation where both heating up to cool the fridge and maintaining the cold environment is required for optimal refrigerator function.

Related: Can I Plug My 50 Amp RV into 110V or 220V? ( All You Need To Know)

Does RV Fridge Need Battery To Run On Propane?

Does RV fridge or Refrigerator need battry to run on prane? No, RV frigde do not need electricity or battery to run on propane. However, most gas refrigerator have the option to use electric power or battery.

RVs are the most common users of propane refrigerators and while staying in a park most owners opt to use the available electric plug and save propane.

The propane refrigerators are expensive and not really all that great but they are nice in a pinch.

Related reading: RV Propane Refill Near Me – Stations & Locations [UPDATED]


An RV absorption fridge with a propane gas heater is a good piece of technology which requires basic care and thoughtful usage to maximize its lifespan.

Giving it the proper time to cool, keeping it on level ground, and being mindful of its cleanliness and airflow can give an efficient working fridge for off-grid and home usage.

Nowadays, two-way RV fridges are taking control over the market, and they are a good option to choose if your use of the fridge is both in and outdoors.

In places with no electrical supply, for instance, while camping, you will be able to power your fridge using propane.


Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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