How Long Will An RV Refrigerator Run On Battery Power

If you have to dry camp, you may have questioned whether your RV refrigerator would operate only on batteries for lengthy periods. But, how long you have depends on a variety of factors. We've gathered and studied the information from reliable sources to provide you with the most definite answers.

If your RV refrigerator is set up for it or utilizes propane, it may operate off the battery. An absorption fridge only lasts three hours on batteries but weeks on propane. Batteries can run a domestic RV fridge for 12 hours.

Understanding your setup can assist you in determining how much time you have to operate your refrigerator. As you continue reading, we'll also take a look at which RV refrigerator is best. If you ask if an RV fridge can run while driving or if it needs a battery to run on propane, we have answers and discuss more relevant aspects and alternatives you need to know.

Modern Camper Van 12V Refrigerator, How Long Will An RV Refrigerator Run On Battery Power

Factors Affecting the Lifespan of Your Battery-powered Refrigerator

Several factors determine the longevity of your refrigerator on batteries, and you'll want to know the answer before you go dry camping or boondocking.

Compression Vs. Absorption Fridge

The kind of refrigerator -compression or absorption- will have the most influence. The compression fridges can operate for up to 12 hours on batteries, compared to three hours for traditional absorption-type fridges.

Battery Type

Consider also your battery type. Others use four 6-volt batteries instead of a single 12-volt battery. Some heavy-duty batteries may be depleted to 20%. How long your refrigerator will operate depends on the kind and rating of your RV's battery.

Assume you're working with a 12-volt, 100-amp-hour battery. It indicates that at five amps, the battery will last 20 hours before being entirely exhausted. To calculate the amps per hour required to connect a 240-watt inverter to this battery, divide the watts by the voltages (240W/12V = 20A). The battery will barely last five hours since it is being utilized four times as much as usual.

With the setup above, you would have 2.5 hours to use your fridge if you didn't deplete the battery beyond 50%. So how long will a battery-powered RV fridge last? The key is to know your RV's setup!

What Are 2-Way RV Fridges?

A 2-way refrigerator is an absorption fridge that may operate on LP gas or electricity. Because all batteries are DC, you'll need an inverter to run these fridges on batteries. As a result, specific RV setups may not allow it due to battery use.

Due to the use of LP gas, these freezers use very little battery power and last weeks rather than hours. You may wonder whether RV fridges function without batteries, and the answer is no.

How Long Will RV Refrigerator Run On the Inverter?

Refrigerator Replacing Inside Camper RV Motorhome by Caucasian Appliances Technician

Your battery should last three hours if you have a 2-way fridge with an inverter. The amount of time your fridge can operate on battery alone depends on several variables.

Find out how much electricity your fridge needs, how many batteries you have, and how efficient your inverter is (if you can't find it, most inverters are 90% efficient).

To calculate the total electricity used for your fridge, you must divide 400 watts by 0.90. Substitute 444W/12V for 37A to get amps. That's 4.86 hours (180Ah/37A) when you split your battery's amp hours by its current.

You don't need to deplete your batteries completely. Battery life is limited to 2.5 hours for lead-acid batteries.

What Are 3-Way RV Fridges?

This kind of absorption fridge can operate on both LP gas and AC electricity like 2-way fridges, but it can also function on DC power. Thus, it eliminates the requirement for a power inverter and improves total refrigerator efficiency.

They are the most frequent refrigerator type in modern RV models and perform virtually precisely like 2-way fridges in power consumption.

We discovered a six cubic foot 2-way absorption fridge that utilized roughly 324 watts less electricity than the existing fridge. Because the inverter is not in the loop, our computation is more straightforward but the same procedure.

So, if your fridge takes 324 watts, you divide that by 12 to get 27 amps. Then divide the battery's amp hours by the current to obtain the battery life of the fridge: 180Ah/27A = 6.66 hours.

As stated before, you need to entirely discharge lead-acid batteries to achieve 3.5 hours of fridge use.

Which RV Fridge Is Best?

It would be best to choose a 3-way fridge rather than a 2-way when shopping for an RV refrigerator concerning battery utilization. The increased battery life is impressive, and you don't need an inverter.

Whether you should acquire an absorption or compression residential fridge depends on your camping style. If you do a lot of boondocking, you may want to consider a compression fridge.

They offer larger room, a longer battery life (10-12h), and more even chilling on the road. However, compression fridges are more extensive, so the space you have available may not fit one.

Should an RV Fridge Run While Driving?

Seasonal Camper Van Maintenance. RV Refrigerator Check by Caucasian Motorhome Owner

While driving, you can use your RV fridge. Keep in mind that running propane while driving poses a safety risk. You may also use your RV inverter to power your fridge until you reach your destination.

Propane-Running Fridge

Most owners utilize propane in their RV. Although opinions vary, here are some of the expected benefits and drawbacks of using propane while driving with an RV refrigerator running:


  • Your fridge runs on gas.
  • Propane keeps your water in the heater hot.
  • The propane fuels your RV's heating system, which is useful when traveling in a cold climate.


  • Driving may cause appliance movement, breaking the propane line and allowing the gas to escape.
  • A tiny spark is all it takes to ignite propane gas fully.
  • A faulty line may start a fire in an instant.

The main disadvantage of using your propane while driving is the risk of a fire. Yes, if anything goes wrong, like the line breaks, your RV is vulnerable; there may be a big explosion.

But if you're careful and keep an eye on the propane, you'll be alright. After all, most people drive with propane and survive.

Always switch off your propane before entering a gas station. Others require you to shut off your gas upon entering a tunnel.

Does RV Fridge Need a Battery To Run on Propane?

While propane refrigeration does not need electricity, it does require at least 10.5 V battery power to start. The fridge won't work until you open and spark the ignitor of the gas base.

How Much Propane Does an RV Fridge Use?

The amount of propane your RV refrigerator uses depends on its size and age. In comparison to earlier versions, modern RV refrigerators use less energy. Of course, larger equals higher energy use.

A modern RV refrigerator with a capacity of 10-12 cubic feet requires around 1.5 pounds of propane daily. It equates to approximately 1,400 BTUs per hour of use.

Powering Your RV Fridge Using a Generator

Another alternative is using a generator while driving. However, you must note that wattage varies among generators. When buying a generator, check for the initial watts. It will guarantee that your fridge has adequate electricity.

You may also utilize a generator for your RV's heating and cooling. A typical generator starts at 2000-2500 watts; it is required to withstand power surges.

To make things simpler, We've compiled a list of the top generators for your requirements.

4250-watt Champion Dual Fuel RV Generator

It has more wattage than your fridge requires, which is good, and runs on either gasoline or propane.

Click here to see the 4250-watt Champion RV Generator on Amazon.

Generac Portable Generator

Compared to other generators, this one is reasonably priced. It's also simple to use.

Click here to see the Generac Portable Generator on Amazon.

Briggs & Stratton Inverter Generator

This generator is substantial since it can handle many appliances.

Click here to see the Briggs & Stratton Inverter Generator on Amazon.

One disadvantage of having a generator is its size. If your RV is small, a vast, bulky generator may not be appropriate. However, smaller versions with less power are available.

These generators are excellent solutions for folks who do not want to use propane. All of these generators have enough power to run your refrigerator. They are also significantly safer than propane. Using a generator poses no risk of fire.

How Long Will RV Refrigerator Stay Cold?

Modern Camper Van 12V Refrigerator, How Long Will An RV Refrigerator Run On Battery Power

A 12-volt RV fridge can remain cool for up to 12 hours, but running it as low as possible before turning it off may add more cold air within.

Final Words

While operating a refrigerator on batteries is feasible, you will need to know how long this will take to keep your food fresh while camping. No matter what refrigerator or configuration you have, you can calculate your battery life in hours per day and determine your RV battery's capacity.

Before you go, we think that these articles will also be of great help:

How To Clean An RV Generator?

How To Transport A Portable RV Waste Tank?


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