The RV Refrigerator: Tips from a Dallas RV Repair Shop
At home you never think about your refrigerator until it is broken. Same thing goes for your RV. The only problem is when RV’s go bad you are usually out on the road, or camped out in an RV park.
The RV fridge is one of the most misunderstood and often talked about RV appliances. Today we at Coach Specialists of Texas are going to shed some light on the subject and perhaps
RV Refrigerator Models
RV refrigerators come in 2 configurations:
3-way RV refrigerators – which will operate on 12-volt DC, 110-volt AC, and propane gas.
2-way RV refrigerators – which are more common and operate on 110-volt AC and propane.
Leveling Your RV Is The First thing to do
Even before you leave, when you are still packing for your trip, your first priority should be leveling your RV. RV refrigerators will not cool unless they are close to perfectly level.
If you are having trouble getting your RV fridge cool, and are relying on the RV leveling system, you might want to consider using a small carpenters level with a bubble to ensure that your RV fridge is level.
This is important because the RV refrigerator needs to allow the solution inside the cooling unit to percolate. This is how it transfers heat out of the interior. The solution consists of Sodium Chromate, mixed with ammonia, hydrogen and water.
When you’re plugged in and operating off household 110-volt AC electricity, a heating element inside the fridge heats the fluid and creates circulation. While at home and prepping for your trip, if you have a 30-amp receptacle available with the same prong configuration as your RV power cord, you can use that this source of power to operate your refrigerator.
However if you are struggling to get the right amperage to your rv fridge through an extension cord, you will definitely need to use the propane unit to cool to fridge.
Starting An RV Refrigerator On Propane
To start your refrigerator on propane, on many models it’s as easy as flipping the switch to GAS.
However, if your RV has been shut down and stored for any length of time, that means the gas lines are empty and your refrigerator is not going to light the first time you flip the switch. In fact, you might have to flip the switch from OFF to GAS and back for quite some time before it will actually light.
If this happens, Light a burner on the stove
The easiest way to purge a good portion of the air out of the gas line once you opened the valve on your propane tank, is to light a burner on the stove. The burner may take a minute or two to bleed off the air, but once it’s burning you have brought the gas supply much closer to the refrigerator.
Now, you can cycle the switch on the refrigerator to the GAS position, and after 3 or 4 tries it should light. It may still take more attempts, but this will definitely help you get it lit quicker.
If your refrigerator doesn’t have an electronic ignition, you will need to hold in the pilot knob until you have ignited the flame. Once you have a flame, continue to hold the button in for 30 seconds until the thermocouple senses the flame.
Refrigerators with the 12-volt DC feature can be operated in this mode when driving to conserve propane and avoid any danger that operating on propane may present while traveling.
PLEASE NOTE, The drain on your RV battery will be pretty high when operating on 12-volt DC only. If you turn off your motor to go shopping or sightseeing for a couple hours, you’re likely to have a dead battery when you return.
You can travel with your refrigerator running on propane without any problems. In most cases, you will find your refrigerator will operate better and cool much more efficiently on propane too.
The initial cool-down process can take four to six hours. You should turn the refrigerator on the day before you plan to leave, and before you put any food in it. When you do load the refrigerator the food you put in should already be cold, and the food put in the freezer should already be frozen. Putting cold food in the refrigerator, rather than adding warm food, lets the refrigerator work less to cool down.
One common mistake is to over pack the refrigerator. There has to be space between the foods to allow for air to circulate throughout the compartment. In most situations you will have access to a store where you can buy food. A two- to three-day supply should be enough.
The heat created by the cooling process is vented behind the refrigerator. Air enters through the outside lower refrigerator vent and helps to draft the hot air out through the roof vent. Periodically, inspect the back of the refrigerator and the roof vent for any obstructions like bird nests, leaves or other debris that might prevent the excess heat from escaping.
To keep the refrigerator operating efficiently in the LP-gas mode, there is some routine maintenance you can perform. Remove the outside lower vent cover to access the back of the refrigerator. With the refrigerator turned off, ensure that all connections are clean and tight.
Turn the refrigerator on in the LP-gas mode and a look at the flame. If the flame is burning poorly, if you see a yellow flame, or if the refrigerator isn’t operating properly in the gas mode it’s possible that the baffle inside the flue is covered with soot. Soot, rust and other debris can fall down and obstruct the burner assembly. When this happens it will be necessary to clean the flue and the burner assembly.
Turn the refrigerator off again and locate the burner. Directly above the burner is the flue. The baffle is inside the flue. Wear a pair of safety glasses and use an air compressor to blow air up into the flue. After the flue is clean, use the compressed air to remove any debris from the outside refrigerator compartment.
Now, turn the refrigerator on in the LP-gas mode to make sure it is working properly. Look for the bright blue flame. For a thorough cleaning of the flue and baffle it will be necessary to have your RV dealer do it for you. While there, have them to do an LP-gas pressure test, too.
If you are still having problems with your RV refrigerator and need to have it serviced or replaced under warranty, you can always take it to us at Coach Specialist of Texas. Simple click the button below to schedule an appointment.