This Is Why I Leave My RV Refrigerator On (You Should Too!)

Should I Leave My RV Refrigerator On All the Time

Have you ever wondered if you should leave your RV refrigerator on all the time? Look no more.

We´ve got you covered.

Recreational Vehicles (RVs) are fantastic for taking your vacation and your family on the road. Since they became popular, they have revolutionized the road trip experience.

If you have recently purchased an RV, you may have a lot of questions about how to maximize your experience while saving money, time, and difficulty.

One question may be: should I run my RV refrigerator all the time? Yes, if the refrigerator is not being turned off and on repeatedly, it will run more efficiently. However, RV refrigerators have been specially designed to withstand being turned off and on repeatedly.

There are pros and cons to running your refrigerator all of the time, and ultimately the choice you make will depend on which priorities you have.

The Case for Turning Letting Your RV Refrigerator Run

Some people claim that it will extend the life of your RV refrigerator if you let it run, even when you are not using it.

The primary reason for this claim is that if the refrigerator is not being turned off and on repeatedly, it will run more efficiently.

The thinking behind this is that the inner workings of the refrigerator will not need to be flushed through the system and left stagnant for weeks or months at a time.

However, this particular reason for leaving your RV refrigerator on even during its “off-season,” may not even be necessary.

RV refrigerators are designed differently than the refrigerator you use in your house or apartment.

Because RVs are designed to move and drive and sometimes go to remote places, the refrigerators have been specially designed to withstand being turned off and on repeatedly.

With that being said, while actively using your RV refrigerator, you should absolutely leave it running to keep food from spoiling.

Also, if you are using your RV frequently, particularly doing the summer, it may just be easier to leave the refrigerator running.

When taking your RV out that frequently, leaving your refrigerator running will prevent issues that may happen if you forget to turn your refrigerator back on after its “rest” period.

The last argument for leaving your RV refrigerator running is to help prevent mold and mildew.

If you turn your refrigerator off and the moisture within the refrigerator comes to room temperature, mold and mildew become very likely.

Read on to see how to tackle this issue, if it is one of your concerns!

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

The Case for Turning Your Refrigerator Off Between Uses

The primary reason to not leave your refrigerator running is to save energy.

Leaving an RV refrigerator running for days, weeks, and months on end can take a ton of propane or electricity (whichever your RV refrigerator uses).

This means you will need to ensure your electrical plug-in is used properly, and if you use propane, you will likely need to buy more propane while your RV rests.

Using that much power has negative impacts on the environment and hugely negative effects on your wallet. Beyond that, it is fairly unnecessary to put that strain on your finances.

Your RV refrigerator can be turned off and on without destroying its longevity.

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

The Cost of Running Your Refrigerator All Year

To put it into perspective, let’s look at roughly how much propane or electricity you could use and how much that might end up costing you. Take note that most RV refrigerators range in size from about 4 cubic feet to approximately 12 cubic feet.

If you are using a 12 cubic feet RV refrigerator and running it on propane, you will use approximately 1.5 pounds of propane daily. After 365 days of constant usage, you will have used about 547.5 pounds of propane. After refilling your propane, this could end up costing around 438 dollars per year.

If you are instead using a 4 cubic feet RV refrigerator and running it on propane, you will use less than one pound of propane per day.

After 365 days of constant usage, you will have used about 300 pounds of propane. This would create an annual cost of about 240 dollars per year.

Refrigerator sizeCost Running on propane / yearCost running on Electricity / year
4 cubic feet (small)$240$130
8 cubic feet (mid)$220
12 cubic feet (large)$438$440

Let’s now explore what would happen if you used electricity instead of propane to power running your RV refrigerator at all times.

If you are using a medium-sized refrigerator in your RV (around 8 cubic feet), you will use approximately 5 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day.

That would mean about 1,825 kilowatt-hours of electricity would be spent on your refrigerator per year. While the cost of electricity varies based on location, the average cost to run your medium-sized refrigerator would be around 220 dollars per year.

A smaller refrigerator would use less electricity, more like 3 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day, adding to a total of approximately 1,095 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. The cost would therefore be around 130 dollars per year.

As can be expected, a larger refrigerator would use even more electricity, around 10 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day. This would take approximately 3,650 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. Your total cost would be around 440 dollars per year.

If all of those calculations have not convinced you to turn your RV refrigerator off when not in use, also consider the impact on the environment when using that much power and not even using the refrigerator.

Another benefit to turning your RV refrigerator off when you are not using it is that you will be able to dissolve yourself of the need to refill propane throughout the year.

How to Prepare Your RV Refrigerator for Periods of Cessation

If you are planning on turning off your RV refrigerator while you are not actively storing food in it, you will want to make sure to prepare it in order to save yourself from difficulties when you turn it back on.

One of the most important things you will want to do is make sure that your refrigerator is clean before you turn it off for extended periods of time. Spilled foods and beverages left for weeks or months can create a nightmare when you turn your refrigerator back on.

Be sure to clean everything out of your refrigerator. Spray it with a cleaner and wipe it clean or use a cleaning wipe that will also help clear out any remaining bacteria.

If anything that spilled has dried or become stuck to the refrigerator, use warm water to help remove it.

After your refrigerator is clean, do not close the door. Leave it open for at least 24 hours to make sure everything has dried. It is best to avoid sealing the door while your refrigerator sits unused to avoid letting any remaining moisture turning into mold or mildew.

When you prepare for your next RV adventure, remember to turn on your RV refrigerator at least 24 hours before you will need to use it.

This will give it plenty of time to start running again. It will be already cooled when you go to put food in. it. Beyond that, once you turn it on again, you are ready to roll!

But What About Mold and Mildew?

If things do not go according to plan, as they occasionally do, and you find that you do have mold or mildew in your RV refrigerator, all is not lost! First, scrub the refrigerator with warm, soapy water and a washcloth.

Next, sanitize the refrigerator to prevent any mold you may have missed from popping up again. You can use a household cleaner with alcohol, or you can use a bleach and water solution.

If you would like to use a bleach and water solution to sanitize, use about ¼ cup of bleach and mix it with one gallon of water.

Let the refrigerator dry from any water/cleaning solution left and turn it on so it can be ready to go when you want to use it.

Maximizing Your RV Refrigerator’s Longevity and Efficiency

If you are looking for other ways to help your RV refrigerator last as long as possible and running at its maximum efficiency, there are options.

FridgeCool and other fridge aerators that run on battery power will help circulate the air in your refrigerator and make sure that all of the pieces inside stay cool.

These are not expensive and can greatly extend the lifespan and efficiency of your refrigerator.

You can actually turn off your RV refrigerator while driving. Be sure to have it running for at least 24 hours before you use it.

Add cool drinks to help keep everything inside your refrigerator while you drive. Keep the door closed as much as possible to preserve cool air. Once you get to the campsite, start the refrigerator up again so it does not heat up.

Read also: Does RV Refrigerator Work Better on Gas or Electric? [Gas vs DC Fridge]


Cases can be made for running your RV refrigerator year-round or for turning it off. You will save more time, energy, and money by turning your refrigerator off when you are not using your RV.

Furthermore, RV refrigerators are designed to withstand being turned on and off without sustaining damage.

If you turn your RV refrigerator off, remember to clean it. You will also need to turn it back on 24 hours before hitting the road again.


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.

Recent Posts

error: Content is protected !!