How Does An RV Refrigerator Work?

Jun 28, '21
RV refrigerator

Traveling and taking a road trip in a motorhome means being able to be completely independent, especially when it comes to food. The fridge is an essential appliance in the kitchen during a vacation in a motorhome, van, RV, or converted van. The fridge allows you to keep your food( yogurts, cheeses, meats, fish) cool. So how does a fridge work in a motorhome or RV? What source of energy keeps food cold and preserves it? Almost all motorhome refrigerators work on a trimix system to keep them cold in all circumstances. They are easy to use and get started once you understand how they work. We explain in detail in this article how a fridge works in a motorhome.


The Principle of Operation of A Motorhome Fridge

To understand how a fridge works in a motorhome, you should know that there are several types of energy supply for a motorhome, van, or camper fridge. Each mode makes it possible to respond to a particular problem of life in a motorhome.

Absorption or Compression Motorhome Refrigerators

Motorhome fridges can be divided into absorption or compression ones.

Absorption Refrigerator

The absorption refrigerators are widely used in the camper, and basically, 95% of leisure vehicles are equipped with absorption refrigerators. The refrigeration of an absorption refrigerator is achieved by the ammonia stored in a tube, sending cold back to the fridge when heated to 180°.

The absorption fridge has many advantages:

  • Less noise generation: Absorption refrigerators generate very little noise during operation, particularly when in small spaces.

  • To adapt to various conditions, absorption refrigerators use a wide range of automated energy sources, such as gas, 12V, and 220V.

Compression Refrigerator

The compression fridges team very few recreational vehicles even if they tend to be democratized in recent motorhomes or RVs. Compression refrigerators only work with electricity on 12V or 220V. They are very efficient but consume a lot of electricity. It, therefore, requires a significant electrical installation with several auxiliary batteries and solar panels to recharge energy.

What Is The Difference between A Classic Fridge and A Motorhome Fridge?

To understand how a fridge works in a motorhome, you must realize that motorhome refrigerators must be more versatile than conventional refrigerators. They are installed in smaller spaces; they must withstand temperature changes, long journeys on sometimes rough roads, and keep food perfectly cool.

Unlike the house fridge, which operates on a conventional 220V outlet, the motorhome refrigerator works on three types of energy:

  • 12V: the fridge keeps food cool via a 12V connection to the motorhome, van, or converted van when the vehicle is running and rolling.

  • 220V: The fridge usually operates when the motorhome is connected to an electrical terminal.
  • Gas: the motorhome operates independently; the fridge is supplied with gas to avoid consuming too much electricity and draining the living area battery.

    This type of fridge is called a trimixte or trimix fridge and equips the majority of motorhomes, whether old or recent.

    The Operation of The Refrigerator in 12/24 Volt

    The trimix refrigerator operates on a 12V power supply. 12V mode is activated when the vehicle is moving. The 12V fridge is supplied with the engine battery. This mode of supply does not produce cold but maintains the temperature during the journey. The consumption of a 12V fridge is less so as not to place too much strain on the engine battery.

    The refrigerator which operates on 12V can be absorbed or compressed.

    Operation of The Fridge on 220 V

    The three-way refrigerator can also operate on 220V. The motorhome fridge works on 220V mode when connected to an electrical terminal at home, in a campsite, or a parking area. This is the power mode that offers the most power.

    A fridge that works on 220V can be absorbed or compressed.

    How Does The Gas Fridge Works?

    Absorption refrigerators for RVs can work on gas when the vehicle is stationary and not connected to 220 or 230V electrical terminals to save vehicle power and auxiliary battery's; otherwise, the energy autonomy of the RV would be very low.

    Most refrigerators light up the same way. Some details change depending on the age and brand of the fridge. The operating system is straightforward to understand and use.


    The fridge lets you keep your food(yogurts, cheeses, meats, fish) in cold condition. The refrigerators are most of the time equipped with a freezer, a real luxury! Many brands in the portable fridge market offer high-performance products. There are all types of fridges at all prices. It is essential to buy quality equipment that will last and be easy to repair.


    The best-known brand in the mini-fridge market is:


    BougeRV has achieved the technology of dual-zone. Like BougeRV 37 Quart (35L) Portable Refrigerator and BougeRV 48 Quart (45L) Portable Refrigerator.This 12v portable refrigerator has two compartments to control temp independently. It can be both a refrigerator and a freezer simultaneously, but it can also be a fridge/fridge, fridge/freezer, freezer/freezer so you can cool drinks and chill meat at the same time.

      BougeRV fridge