How Long Will an RV Refrigerator Run On Propane? RV Fridge Power Usage

How long will a RV refrigerator run on propane

Have you ever wondered how long will an RV refrigerator run on propane?

Well look no more. We got you covered.

If you have a recreational vehicle (RV), chances are you love the freedom and adventure they provide. With an RV you can travel the country and bring the comforts of your house with you.

The luxury of taking home on the road with you comes with some planning, though.

Many of the appliances in an RV run on propane, and you will need to plan when and/or how you will refuel your propane tank.

So how long will an RV refrigerator run on propane? On average with a 30 lbs propane tank, you can run your refrigerator for about 430 hours or 18 days.

What is Propane, Exactly?

Propane is a derivative of natural gas that is also called Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG).

It is clean and popular for fueling homes, RVs, motorhomes, barbecue grills, and more.

Propane is sold by either weight or by volume. You can buy filled propane tanks, or you can pay to have your propane tanks refilled. This is purely dependent on your personal needs.

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

Propane Tanks in RVs

Not every appliance in your RV is powered by propane, but many are. Some common appliances powered by propane include stoves, heaters, furnaces, water heaters, and refrigerators.

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

πŸ‘‰ Propane tanks come in various sizes, so when you ask yourself how long your refrigerator can run on propane, it is important to know the size of the propane tank in your RV.

Most RV propane tanks can hold either 20 or 30 pounds of propane.

20 lbs propane tanks are in some cases more widely available, but 30-pound propane tanks can go longer before needing to be refilled.

πŸ‘‰ 20 and 30-pound propane tanks are also made as removable options, so these would be the same sizes that you could use on your barbecue grill.

Another widely available option of thepropane tank is the built-in propane tank in many RVs. These can come in sizes up to 100-pounds.

πŸ‘‰ Most of the built-in tanks are called ASME tanks. ASME tanks have this name because they meet standards set by the American Society of Engineers.

ASME propane tanks are larger and heavier than their portable counterparts.

100 lbs, 30 lbs, and 20 lbs propane tanks are the most popular sizes in RVs. When asking how long an RV refrigerator can run on propane, it is important to know which size you have.

How Long Can an RV Refrigerator Run with Various Propane Tanks?

The average BTU rating for an RV fridge is about 1,500 BTU. Propane gas produces enough heat for about 91,500 BTU of heat per gallon.

This would convert to about 21,500 BTU per pound.

Let’s look at how many hours of burn time you can get if you are using your propane to power your RV refrigerator with various tank sizes.

Propane Tank Size (lbs)Tank will last (Hours)Tank will last (Days)
20 lbs28812
30 lbs43018
100 lbs140059

A 20-pound propane tank will give you the least amount of burn time. You will be able to power your refrigerator on this 20 lbs tank for approximately 288 hours.

It is important to remember with this, though, that likely your refrigerator will not be the only appliance using propane and your actual burn time may be less than expected.

A 30-pound propane tank is the next size of the common portable propane tank. With a 30-pound tank, you can run your refrigerator for about 430 hours.

If you are using a larger, ASME propane tank, you will have quite a lot of burn time. Assuming that you are using a 100 lbs tank, you will be able to use your refrigerator for about 1,400 hours.

Read also: Should I Leave My RV Refrigerator On All the Time?

British Thermal Units and Propane Usage

The power used by appliances can be measured in British Thermal Units, or BTU(s). Technically a BTU is a unit of heat.

It measures the amount of heat that it would take to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree (in Fahrenheit).

Most RV appliances have different BTU ratings. These ratings show approximately how many BTU(s) it will take to run that appliance for one hour.

There are propane burn time calculators you can use to find how long you can use an appliance before you will need to refuel your propane tank.

In order to use these calculators, you will need to know the BTU rating of your appliance and the size of your propane tank.

RV Refrigerator Power Usage

RV Refrigerator Power Usage >> Check out the video below:

What Other RV Appliances Use Propane?

Your RV refrigerator will not cause too much drain on your RV’s propane tank.

However, chances are you will be using other appliances as well, and the combined effect of these appliances may lead you to refuel more frequently.

RV Water Heater

Your RV water heater is crucial if you want to shower or wash your hands with warm water.

Water heaters use more energy (and thus more propane) than almost any other appliance in your RV.

The average RV water heater has a BTU rating of about 40,000. That is about 27 times higher than the RV refrigerator.

Take note that if you are going to regularly use your water heater in addition to your refrigerator, you will run out of propane much sooner.

RV Furnace

Your RV furnace will not require lots of use if you are camping in the summer.

However, if you are camping in the winter, you may want to use the furnace in order to stay warm throughout the day and night.

Average RV furnaces have a BTU rating of about 30,000. This can vary based on trailer size, so larger RVs and campers may require more power.

RV Oven and Stove

RV ovens and stoves are great if you want to cook from your RV. They use more propane than your refrigerator, but less than a furnace or water heater.

RV ovens and stoves have a Btu rating of about 7,000 (on average).

Conserving Propane

If you want to save propane to avoid needing to fill up part of the way through your trip, there are things that you can do.

  • Spread out your showers. The luxury of being able to shower on the road is great and can really increase the enjoyment of your camping. However, water heaters use a lot of propane. Showering less often will save you propane so that you can keep rolling along.
  • Take shorter or colder showers. If you still want to shower every day, or if you want to maximize the conservation of your propane while spacing out your showers, shorter and/or colder showers are the way to go. Less time in the shower or less heat will mean that your water heater will not need to run for as long.
  • Turn off your refrigerator while you drive. While refrigerators are not the main drains on the propane in your RV, you can still conserve energy by turning it off while you drive. RV refrigerators are specially designed to be turned off and on. As long as the refrigerator has had time to cool before you turn it off, it can stand to be off for several hours.


Your RV refrigerator is not the greatest drain on the propane reserves in your RV. If you have a propane gauge, you could run your refrigerator for days without even noticing a change.

πŸ‘‰ With a 20 lbs tank, you could run your refrigerator for about 288 hours (12 days).

πŸ‘‰ A 30 lbs tank could run a refrigerator for about 430 hours (18 days).

πŸ‘‰ A large, 100 lbs propane tank could fuel your refrigerator for about 1,400 hours (58 days).

While your refrigerator may not use much propane, it is still important to check the usage of your other devices if you want to conserve propane and get back on the road!


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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