How Does A Fridge Work in An RV or Motorhome

Jun 28, '21
How Does A Fridge Work in An RV or Motorhome

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(yoghurts, cheeses, meats, fish) cool. The refrigerators are most of the time equipped with freezer, a real luxury! 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.


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

To understand how a fridge works in a motorhome, you have to understand 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 operates on 3 types of energy:

  • 12V: the refrigerator keeps food cool via a 12V connection to the motor of the motorhome, van or converted van when the vehicle is running and rolling.
  • 220V: the motorhome is connected to an electrical terminal, the fridge operates normally.
  • 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 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 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 absorption or compression.

The absorption refrigerators are the most used in the camper. They equip 95% of leisure vehicles. Absorption refrigerators work on the principle of a tube that runs through the refrigerator. These tubes are filled with ammonia which once heated to 180 ° sends cold back to the fridge. The absorption fridge has many advantages:

  • a very low noise level: in operation, absorption fridges make very little noise. It's a big advantage when you live in a small space
  • it works on several types of energy (gas, 12V and 220V) to adapt to all circumstances. The choice of the type of energy is generally automated and adapted to the conditions.
  • The compression fridges team very few recreational vehicle 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.


How The Gas Fridge Works

The absorption fridge of a motorhome can run on gas. The refrigerator operates on gas when the vehicle is stationary and it is not connected to a 220 or 230V electrical terminal. Gas operation saves vehicle electricity and the auxiliary battery. Without this gas operation, the motorhome would have a very low energy autonomy.

A motorhome fridge that works on gas must have absorption.


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 absorption or compression.


Operation of The Fridge on 220 V

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

A fridge that works on 220V can be absorption or compression.


How to Light A Motorhome Gas Fridge

Operating the fridge in a motorhome requires some basic knowledge. Most refrigerators light up the same way. Some details change depending on the age and brand of the fridge. The operating system is very easy to understand and use.


The Best Portable Refrigerator

There are many brands in the portable fridge market that offer high-performance products. There are all types of fridge at all prices. It is important to buy quality equipment that will last and be easy to repair.

The best known brand in the mini fridge market is:

BougeRV fridge

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