The Best RV Refrigerator Reviews 2018
Comparisons and Ultimate Buyers Guide
Imagine you are on a long-planned trip. You are in the middle of nowhere, and then your refrigerator breaks down. This misfortune is preventable by getting value for your money when buying your RV refrigerator. RV refrigerators vary significantly and essentially from the ordinary refrigerators. Various specifications and features determine if an RV refrigerator can be relied upon or not. This guide that will help you buy a refrigerator that will meet if not exceed your expectations.
What is an RV Refrigerator?
An RV is a recreational vehicle. If it should have a refrigerator, then it should be reliable and suitable for use in remote vehicles. That is why there are unique refrigerators designed specifically for Recreational Vehicles (RV). To make it clear, an RV Refrigerator is a special refrigerator that operates within the technical capacity of a vehicle and meets the refrigeration needs of someone who is planning on staying outside for long.
Make no mistake; RV refrigerators operate differently from the residential refrigerators. Most of the RV refrigerators use the principle of absorption utilizing heat, and a mixture of ammonia, hydrogen, and water to cool the refrigerators as they evaporate and condense. The process is free of mechanical moving parts and does not need a compressor as your residential refrigerator does.
Often, the RV does not come with most of the amenities especially the refrigerator. For this reason, you need to know the best ones. You should select an RV refrigerator that suits your RV and its performance specification. There are various types of RV refrigerators. The common types that you will probably find include;
- The 3-way refrigerator or the 2-way refrigerator
- The propane/ gas refrigerator or AC/DC refrigerator.
The variations affect the performance. Most important is the suitability for installation in the specific RV that you have. The decision made on the type of refrigerator often relies primarily on the ability of the chosen RV for installation and the needs of the user.
Before you go shopping, know your recreational vehicle. Nevertheless, there is always something in the market for your vehicle, but you need to make the right decision. Moreover, the selected refrigerator must be able to fit within the RV with other amenities installed.
Types of RV refrigerator
The RV refrigerators come in two main categories determined by the power source. It can either be electric powered or gas. However, the market also offers a hybrid of the two types of power supply. The combination models give the user a choice to switch between the two power sources. Some people use portable electric fridges in their RV.
However, these refrigerators may disappoint especially if the recreation is long distant. Here the main types of refrigerators that is in the market for your RV. They constitute 90% of the available RV refrigerators in the market.
A. 3-Way refrigerator
The prefix 3 in the refrigerator refers to the possible power supply that the refrigerator can run on. The 3-way refrigerator can run on AC, DC, or LP gas supply. This makes it the most preferred RV generator in the market with mozaw.com rating its popularity at 60% meaning 60%of the buyers choose this option, especially for camping expeditions.
B. 2-way Refrigerator
The 2-way refrigerate is what you would call an AC or LP gas-powered refrigerator. The refrigerator runs on either AC power or LP gas. Most of these refrigerators switch to LP gas when there is no AC power automatically.
This means you get to enjoy the benefits of running on an LP gas-powered refrigerator as much as the AC powered refrigerator. If you do not get a 3-way refrigerator for your long recreation, then this option will come in handy for you. Its two may refrigeration makes it last longer than other refrigerators.
C. Propane/Gas Refrigerator
As you may have expected, the propane/gas refrigerator is propane or gas powered. It comes without the moving parts as expected of any RV refrigerator. The refrigerator takes advantage of ammonia as the coolant in the system. With water and hydrogen, the created cycle ensures that refrigeration is continuous.
It relies on the generator that creates the ammonia gas and the separator that separates the ammonia from water. Liquid ammonia created at the condenser transfers to the evaporator that converts the liquid to gas creating the necessary cold temperature.
D. AC/DC Refrigerator
You may be familiar with the AC refrigerator as it is what you usually have in your home. However, the RV runs on the normal car battery. Having a refrigerator that runs solely as AC will not be reliable in the recreational and mobile situation that is the purpose of an RV.
An AC/DC refrigerator is a refrigerator that alternates its power source from AC or DC.
Benefits of RV refrigerators
Before we discuss the benefits of RV refrigerators, it is essential to highlight that recreational vehicles are tiny homes. They are small, compact, and they are the spaces that you will occupy for a fun experience. You can deal with a small sink, a narrower mattress, and tinier bathroom, but as statistics from RVIA shows, 53% of the RV owners would not relent on an unreliable refrigerator.
These findings lead to the discussion on the benefits of RV refrigerators in comparison to having your residential refrigerator on board.
01. Size is essential
As earlier indicates, an RV is a tiny home that allows you the luxury to move comfortably. They are small and compact compared to a typical home. Moreover, they can carry less weight than what you can have in your home. Having a small refrigerator is a benefit cherished under these circumstances.
You may consider carrying the small refrigerators often installed in dormitories and hotel rooms to enjoy this advantage, but it will not match the RV refrigerator. As Ron Scarberry who is the lead team member of Heartland RVs customer service puts it, the RV refrigerator designed for a smaller house.
This means that you should enjoy the benefits of a larger refrigerator in a small, unlike the small residential refrigerators that compromise on the performance.
02. More features and functionality
Statistics from brandongaille.com on RV industry trends show that younger people of the ages of 35 to 54 years are rapidly embracing RVs. According to the research, this new market segment is pushing for better and modernized features in the RVs.
The gap between residential fridges and RV fridges is continually narrowing with most of the RV refrigerators coming up with modern and more features than residential refrigerators. It is common to find an RV refrigerator with French doors, built-in ice makers, through the door water and ice dispensers, and even bigger capacities.
Simply put, expect more from an RV refrigerator than you would for an equivalent residential refrigerator.
03. The power count
The main difference between the residential refrigerator and the RV refrigerator is the power consumption. The power count is in favour of the RV refrigerator. According to consumer watch, the refrigerator is one of the most expensive appliances because of its energy consumption that has to be continuous.
The advantage in RV refrigerators come is that a standard RV refrigerator operates on liquid propane or 110 volts compared to the ordinary residential refrigerator that comes with a compressor and consumes more power.
The RV refrigerators especially the 2-way and the 3-way operate on a 12v power source. These two options give you versatility in the power options and ensure continuous operation which is not available with residential refrigerators.
04. It will always keep running
What you are probably thinking is that the refrigerator will always be running when you are on recreation because of its ability to switch power sources. However, in addition, keep running under these circumstances, the RV refrigerators are for the tough times.
The design withstands the difficulties that come from the discomfort of travel. The materials used to make the refrigerators last longer than the ordinary refrigerator.
Expect little maintenance, and you sure will not need repairs as you would for the residential refrigerators.
05. You get to enjoy better temperature precision and cooling accuracy
If there is one thing that you will enjoy in RV refrigerators, is their ability to deliver what you expected and desired. It all boils down to the cooling technology and the features installed. The designers and developers of RV refrigerators know that they are making products for discerning customers.
This means that the temperature is precise. If you set it right, you will get the predicted accuracy because the refrigerators can switch power sources, unlike the residential refrigerators.
06. More interior space for the contents
The capacity of the fridge matters. The thing with RV refrigerators is that for a small physical size you will get a large interior space. To make it clear, if you fit an RV refrigerator in your RV within a particular space, you will store more food in the refrigerator than you would in a residential refrigerator that would fit the same space.
You get to enjoy all this without compromising on the quality of service and the efficiency that you get from the refrigerator.
07. You do not need any modification
If you select the right RV refrigerator for your RV, then you will not need to do any modification. The advantage of RV refrigerators is that they fit within the small spaces and have the stability that is necessary to be on the road.
Moreover, the power supply is based on the understanding that you will need less power consumption but the right delivery.
Things to Consider before Buying the Perfect RV Refrigerator
Everybody has their preferences in most consumer products. What informs the preference may be the brand, the looks, or even some sentimental attachment.
However, if you are looking for what works, then you should consider these things to get the perfect RV refrigerator.
Anyone who walks into a shop to buy an RV refrigerator gets it for its use. The purpose is obviously to refrigerate, but if you walk into a shop with just that, you will not get the perfect RV refrigerator.
You should ask yourself, what you want from the refrigerator. This decision often goes with the RV that you have. It is more about the type of recreation that you are going to have. If you are going for long journeys in a hot place for a long time, then you will need a refrigerator is efficient and has enough energy to go that long.
The 3-way may come in handy. If you are the guy, who needs an RV to go fishing in the afternoon, a small refrigerator that can match the short term power supply will work.
The question of size always comes up. You should ask yourself, how much food you need to store in the refrigerator. Other than that, you should have an idea where you will fix the refrigerator within your RV.
You might not know precisely the amount of food that you will be stored in the refrigerator, but you can always approximate by the number of people. It is always safe to have a bigger refrigerator, but you must consider whether it will fit the refrigerator spot of the RV.
Best advice, measure the dimensions of the space you have twice before you go shopping.
03. RVs layout
There are different types of RVs. The motorhomes blog list seven popular RVs that differ significantly. Some are Travel trailers while other are class A RVs. Some RVs come with sports utility trailers while others have 5th wheel trailers. These variations mean difference in design, space size, and layout.
Moreover, you may even have the same type of RVs but with varied layout. You may get the smallest RV refrigerator in the market, but it fails to fit into the design.
On the other hand, the design of the RV refrigerator may not match the layout of your RV. It is therefore important to assess the space that the RV refrigerator is to fit before making a purchase.
The process will involve a measurement of the dimensions, the shape of the refrigerator, and other general physical issues such as the ability to open the door on the installed refrigerator.
04. The source of the power
According to RV refrigerator Review, the power sources determine the category of the RV refrigerator. The source of power influences their area of suitable use and the performance that is to be expected.
The first step when deciding to buy the RV refrigerator begins with research. You will find terms such as two-way, three-way, and gas or propane. These terms define the source of power.
It is important that your RV matches the required power for the RV refrigerator to operate. Your RV will largely determine the type of refrigerator that you will have installed in it based on its power requirement.
How much food do you want stored in the RV refrigerator? If you need more space, you will have to purchase a refrigerator that has a larger capacity. There is a distinct difference between the size of the refrigerator and the capacity that it hosts. If you have to carry a lot of food in your refrigerator, then you will need a larger capacity.
Your salesman will advise you on the capacity of the refrigerator. Cubic feet measure the capacity. However, the size of the RV limits the extent to which you can expand the capacity.
The truth is sometimes you will not be able to buy the RV refrigerator that you want or like simply because it does not match your RV. It may have all the features that you desire in an RV refrigerator but fails either to fit, or its power supply fails to be compatible with your RV. This is where you have to make the hard decisions.
A good salesperson will always tell you the other options for your RV. The design, type, and class of your RV will determine the options available for you. You may find yourself starting the process again, only this time you will have a specific limited option to choose from.
Also, You will need to pay attention to the options that you may need and those that you do not need. You may add a portable standing refrigerator to complement the refrigerator that you have chosen.
Moreover, if the option that you are forced to have is not efficient in power utilization, you may keep your food in the external freezer.
07. Extra Features
The extra features give you the advantage that you may be looking for. Always watch out for the extra features that the RV refrigerator that you are just about to purchase offers you. Let us start with the power supply. The 3-way refrigerator runs off DC power, AC power, and LP gas. You can set it to run off LP gas alone or take the auto option such that it switches from electricity to gas when electricity is unavailable.
You should know that the improvements in the RV refrigerators have been significant in the past five years. Various improvements made to these machines require your attention and should influence your decision making. A stainless steel cover ensures that the outer look remains pristine and it is easy to clean.
Other features such as LCD control panels that give it a stylish look are an added advantage. If you want more features, then you should consider one that has an ice and water dispenser.
The refrigerators are quite an investment. A sizable latest model with modern features from a strong brand goes for around USD 1000. Larger units can cost up to USD 3000. It is therefore important that you make the right decision with regards to price.
You can get a significant bargain if you do your proper research and get the quality you need. Walk around and window shop before you makes the decision. If you are tight on cash, you may consider getting refurbished refrigerators from a repair shop.
Although the quality is not guaranteed, the price difference will certainly make a difference in your bank account.
Here are the Top 9 Best RV Refrigerator Full Reviews
Now that you understand the basics regarding purchasing the best RV refrigerator, it is time to know more about the specific products in the market to make the right decision.
This product review focuses on reviewing the specific products based on the features that they come with and the pros and cons that you will experience with every purchase of an individual product.
The review focuses on the user experience, the expert opinion on the product, the manufacturer description, and research on what the product offers.
01) Midea WHD-113FB1 Compact Reversible Double Door Refrigerator and Freezer
Editor Rating: 4.6
This 3.1 cubic feet refrigerator is designed specifically for RVs. It operates within the adjustable temperatures of 32 to 50 Fahrenheit for the refrigerator compartment and -11 to 5 Fahrenheit for the freezer compartment.
The product does not come with a battery, and it does not require a battery. The refrigerator is designed to keep foods and drinks in the right temperature while maintaining the electrical cost at the minimum.
The refrigerator is compact. It comes with a detachable freezer section to fit in various spaces. Its door swing can be reversed to fit comfortably within any layout.
However, it does not come with a defrost unit but has adjustable legs. Its actual dimensions are 18.5×19.4×33 inches.
The refrigerator compartments measure 2.2 cubic feet for the fresh section and 0.9 cubic feet for the freezer section. It has separated fruit and vegetable drawers with the internal walls of the primary compartment slightly tapered towards the back.
The doubled door refrigerator has lighted interior and shelving systems that help it look perfect. The power source matters a lot. This refrigerator operates on a 115 volts battery. It has a water connector type that operates on a water line.
It is important to note that the RV refrigerator has received an energy star meaning that it meets the energy required to operate in an environmentally friendly way.
The RV refrigerator has a free-standing design that makes it ideal for any space. The streamlined design holds the refrigerator in place.
The refrigerator has a larger than the normal freezer. If it does not fit perfectly into your VR as a unit, you can separate the freezer and tuck it under any counter.
02) Avanti RA7316PST 2-Door Apartment Size Refrigerator
Editor Rating: 4.5/5
This refrigerator will surprise you with its performance. The freezer gets to 32 while its high may reach the 86F mark.
The refrigerator draws around 70 watts, but it will not keep running all the time. At an ambient temperature of 176 F or 80 degrees, it will run in less than half of the switch on time and still keep the food chilled.
This 92-pound refrigerator is made of steel covering and comes with custom panels.
It does not need a battery to operate but needs to be installed in a freestanding fashion meaning that you place it on your RV and take advantage of the leveling legs that it has.
The product measures 23x21.5x56 inches meaning that you need to have a larger RV for it to fit perfectly within the vehicle.
The interior of the refrigerators come installed with removable glass shelves and removable door bins. One door can hold two ordinary litre bottles. The interior light and the see-through glass cover make it possible to see clearly. It has a 0.74 cubic feet capacity to accommodate all your food needs.
The refrigerator is an AC/DC 120 volts powered appliance. To understand its power consumption better, the refrigerator uses 64 watts or 0.75 amps during its operation. It consumes this level of energy within seven hours which translates to be less than a 32 watt light bulb that is switched on continuously over the same period.
The refrigerator has CFC free refrigerant meaning that even as you will be using it, your negative effect on the environment will be reduced adversely. It gives you a full range of temperature controls. You can run it at different temperature levels depending on your preferences and the existing conditions.
03) Dometic DM2652RB Americana Double Door RV Refrigerator - 2-Way
Editor Rating: 4.4/5
The performance of a refrigerator depends on a number of factors. What stands out for this 2-way refrigerator are its electronics controls that enable you to control the temperature requirement within accurately and with precision.
The six cubic feet refrigerator is designed to sustain the roughness of a moving terrain through the specially designed interior and exterior to match the demands.
The refrigerator comes with a versatile racking system that has three position freezer shelf allowing various foods to be shelved in a separate compartment.
The door storage has a capacity of the ½ gallon with the door bins that are removable able to accommodate 2 litres. It also has a juice rack on the freezer door, and a contain shelf storage that holds one gallon.
The first feature is the sturdy frame, and the secure locking door handles. When you hit a bump, the door will not open. However, when you are opening the doors, the double doors open in either right or left swing depending on your preference, and they go all the way to 180 degrees.
The system operates on a 2-way system that has its sources power from AC and LP gas. The refrigerator has the effect of automatically controlling the cooling unit. The controls rely on the surrounding ambient temperature ensuring that your food remains in the right condition even when unsupervised and efficient consumption of energy.
The refrigerator comes installed with an automatic ice maker that ensures that you have ice on demand. It is the ideal refrigerator for the users changing needs while in transit. It also comes with optional insert door panels to allow the refrigerator to match any desired interior decor demands.
04) Whynter FM-45G 45-Quart Portable Refrigerator/Freezer
Editor Rating: 4.3/5
When you use this refrigerator, you will agree that size is not an issue. This refrigerator is designed to be portable without compromise on the efficiency and quality of performance.
The refrigerator that comes with a freezer cools between -6F and 50F making it as effective as any other refrigerator.
However, it can only operate as a freezer or a refrigerator but not both at once. Nevertheless, you will get value for your money. The refrigerator can still operate even if tilted at an angle of 30 degrees.
To explain the capacity of the Refrigerator/Freezer, you can fit in 60 cans within. It operates on a compressor cooling system and has a LED temperature display that shows the temperature levels.
Within the inside compartment are two removable wire baskets that are intended to accommodate whatever contents. The refrigerator can cool and warm rapidly within a short time.
Among the features that are visible in the exterior are LED indicators that show when the power is low. This refrigerator cannot change power supply but relies on the user to adjust when prompted. However, the outer is tough and resilient to impact.
The refrigerator is powered by an AC power supply of 115V/ 60 Hz. This operates within a 65 watts supply system. If you choose to use DC, then 12V or 24V power supply will do. You can use a car cigarette lighter.
It is essential to note that the refrigerator is ETA approved meaning that it meets the environmental conservation performance levels. It also comes with side handles that come in handy during its movement.
05) SMAD AC/DC/LPG Compact Refrigerator Propane Gas RV Fridge
Editor Rating: 4.2/5
This is a single door refrigerator that is specially designed for trucks. While the product come with gas and electric thermostat you will not buy the product with a regulator and the hose that you may need.
It is a small refrigerator with a capacity of 1.4 cubic feet. The refrigerator temperature ranges from 32F to 50F.
The refrigerator comes with adjustable, removable shaves that make it versatile and able to fit different kinds of foods. It has tall container storage spaces.
These shelves are made of glass while the door is made of plastic. The refrigeration has an automatic defrost system.
The refrigerator is compact. It is an idea for a small RV that is not generously spaced. It can also fit in any layout.
The refrigerator is black and is designed to stand alone. It is a free-standing refrigerator meaning that you do not need to install it in the RV for it to operate.
The refrigerator runs on propane or electric AC system of 110V or DC 12V. This is to say a 3-way refrigerator ensures it operates on either power continuously. It comes installed with a piezo ignition system that ensures improved performance.
At the bottom of the unit, the refrigerator has a safety valve that prevents damage and controls performance.
06) Whynter FM-62DZ Dual Zone Portable Refrigerator/Freezer
Editor Rating: 4.1/5
This refrigerator despite its size will cool between the temperatures of -8F to 50F. It operates on a compressor system. It also has two separately controlled temperature areas.
With this feature, you can transform one of the areas to be a freezer while the other remains as a refrigerator.
As indicated, the refrigerator has two partitions with independent temperature controls.
It has LED lights that facilitate easy access in an environment that is not well lit.
The refrigerator can accommodate up to 2.07 cubic feet volume of foods.
The above refrigerator is made from an aluminium cover material making it light. The design of the refrigerator is one of its outstanding features that not only allow it to fit into any space but also enables it to hold a higher capacity.
Its design and size make it easily portable. It weights 62lbs only. If you are worried about what would optimally power the refrigerator, a standard household 110 volt will work.
In your RV, you can connect it to the 12 Volts DC supply meaning an automotive battery will serve as a reliable power supply.
07) Norcold N1095R 10 cu. ft. 2 Door Refrigerators
Editor Rating: 4.0/5
If you want to have the best experience with a reliable refrigerator, then this equipment will take you all the way. It operates on AC or LP gas and comes with an automatic frost limiting to relieve you from the challenges of dealing with frost.
It has an adjustable thermostat that serves to meet your specific ambient temperature needs.
The interior features an ultra-thin insulating layer made of high tech materials. It does not compromise on the efficiency with improvement in capacity. It has a built-in diagnostics to facilitate the 9.2 cubic feet capacity.
You cannot find a better option in the market than the physical features that you will find in this refrigerator.
It is made of an embedded steel frame that assures you of long life and the ability to withstand corrosion, scratching, and even bending on impact. It also has a door open alarm that notifies you when the door is left open.
The refrigerator operates in an AC and LP gas power source. It will, however, activate the LP gas only if there is no AC power supply. It is a 2-way refrigerator.
08) Dometic CFX-50US Portable Electric Cooler Refrigerator/Freezer
Editor Rating: 4.1/5
With this refrigerator, you have the option of operating it to temperatures between -8 degrees F and 50 degrees F.
This refrigerator operates in an efficient way of cooling with limited energy consumption. It is an idea for small RVs due to its compact size. The Dometic CFX has cooling compartments that are fitted with removable wire baskets. It has a capacity of 0.9 cubic feet fitting 31 cans.
The baskets are removable including the divider thus having a versatile interior space that can be expended with need. It has interior LED lighting.
The above refrigerator comes in a rugged construction that makes it stand out for outdoor use. It is compact and fitted with heavy duty stainless steel hinges that are used to carry it.
The lids are detachable. It has an electronic thermostat that is easy to control through its LED display.
The refrigerator operates on a 120 volt AC power supply. The DC power supply operates on a 24 volt. You can easily move it from your home to your RV without changes in the power supply.
09) Koolatron KCR40B AC/DC Hybrid Heat Pipe Refrigerator
Editor Rating: 4.1/5
This refrigerator cools by 54F below the ambient temperature in its optimum operation, designed for use in an RV or any other smaller recreational events. It has adjustable temperature controls that can be manipulated to derive the ideal desired temperature.
The refrigerator has a capacity of 1.7 cubic feet. It is powered by a heat pipe that has a thermoelectric cooling system.
The interior shelves are removable, therefore; you can create more space to accommodate the contents of different shapes and sizes.
The refrigerator weighs 25 pounds making it one of the lightest refrigerators that you will find in the market. Its compact size makes it fit in any location of your RV without occupying a lot of free space. It comes in a flush back design that fits well in any layout.
The refrigerator does not have a compressor. It uses the heat pipe and thermoelectric effect cooling system to absorb energy from the coolant. It can be powered by a 12v DC or 110 v AC with a 6 amp current for the 12v.
Frequently Asked Questions About RV Refrigerators
01. What Is The Best Brand of RV Refrigerator?
The overall best brand for RV refrigerator is Norcold; you are assured of quality and performance with this brand. With years of experience in RV refrigerators, the manufacturer exploits the latest technology to deliver efficient refrigerators.
However, they cost more than the ordinary brands.
02. How long will it last?
Ideally assuming that the refrigerator is used in the right way, it is designed to last for more than 80 years according to research by ARPRV.
However, you would visit your first repair or service store after 15 years. It is important to note that the RV refrigerators are designed to withstanding varied extreme conditions.
03. How to maintain an RV refrigerator?
You should replace the door gasket seal. The door gasket seal is made of magnetic vinyl that seals the doors completely. You may be straining your refrigerator if the seal is perforated. It is important to replace the seal after every five years.
Preventive maintenance is important to keep the refrigerator working perfectly for long. Ensure the evaporator operates well, perform regular defrost, and always check the outside condenser and propane at least annually.
04. What Type Of Refrigerator Should I Use In Your RV?
Use the RV refrigerator that fits in your vehicle. Ensure its power supply and physical size fits including the weight. Avoid using residential refrigerators.
05. Can I Use a Residential Refrigerator in Your RV?
Yes, you can, but it will face a number of challenges such as power supply. It is not advisable.
06. Can my RV’s batteries power it?
Yes, your battery can power it especially those that are powered with DC current from the cigarette lighter
07. What about my GVWR?
The GVWR matters a lot because it determines the weight that you can carry. However, RVs have a higher GVWR. You might not worry much if the refrigerator fits unless you have other additional weighty cargo.
There is no fits-all when it comes to RV refrigerators. A number of factors will determine the suitable RV refrigerator for your RV such as size. However, you should always go for a 3-way RV refrigerator because it has multiple power sources. If it is versatile with regards to its interior space and assures to last longer based on the quality of the exterior material, then the choice is right.
However, you may also need to consider the price. Considering all these factors, the Norcold N1095R 10 cu. Ft. 2 Door Refrigerator is the best refrigerator that will certainly not disappoint.