RV Tips: Help Your Refrigerator Keep its Cool
The refrigerator is a feature in your RV that you tend to take for granted until you open the door and find that it’s not keeping your food as cold as you’d expected. Fortunately, modern RV refrigerators are well-built and efficient. In most cases, where something goes wrong, it’s something the owner does or doesn’t do that caused the issue to happen.
One thing to keep in mind is that your motorhome’s refrigerator is different from the one you have at home. Your RV refrigerator doesn’t use a compressor or any moving parts – it works off of the principle of absorption. Instead of applying cold directly, the heat is drawn out, or absorbed. Ironically, it’s heat from an electric heating element or an LP-gas flame that makes it happen. The heat starts a chemical reaction, and evaporation and condensation causes the refrigerator to cool.
Here are several things you can do to help you refrigerator do its job more efficiently.
On the Level
The most important factor in having your refrigerator operate properly is making sure it’s level. Due to the dynamics of the absorption process, the evaporator coils inside the cooling unit must permit the gravity flow of liquid ammonia through a portion of the system. Liquids don’t flow uphill – so before beginning a trip, mount a circular bubble level either on the center of the shelf or squarely to the door, and level the coach so that the bubble is in the exact center of the level. Traveling with the refrigerator on will not cause problems because the liquids and gases in the cooling unit are constantly moving around and don’t collect and stay in areas of the cooling unit like they can in a stationary, out of level refrigerator.
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 stock the refrigerator, it helps if the food is already be cold. Putting cold food in the refrigerator or freezer lets the unit work less to reach the most efficient operating temperature. And don’t over pack the space – there needs to be space between the foods to allow for air to circulate throughout the compartment.
To help with air circulation, you can purchase an inexpensive, battery-operated refrigerator fan from the Clickit RV Part Department. Placing the fan in the front of the refrigerator compartment blowing upwards (remember – cold air drops and warm air rises) will reduce the initial cool down time by as much as 50 percent.
Another good idea is to install a 12-volt, thermostatically-controlled vent fan at the back of the refrigerator, or at the top of the roof vent, to assist with drafting the hot air away from the refrigerator. The Clickit RV Service Department can easily take care of this upgrade which can improve refrigerator performance by up to 40 percent.