Man looking at refridgerator in RV

How Much Propane does an RV Refrigerator Use?

Keen RVers will know that sometimes, going to a campsite just won’t cut it.

Sometimes we just want to be out there in the thick of nature.

However, this often means looking at alternative ways of keeping our conveniences and appliances running as we will not be able to plug into the mains of an RV park.

Keeping food cool and safe to eat is one of the main concerns RV enthusiasts have.

Luckily RV refrigerators these days can be bought with the capability of running off of propane to keep cool as well as electricity.

You may well be thinking now ‘Awesome!...but how much propane is this going to take?’.

We get it. It’s a lot to think about and you may well be worried about bringing the right amount with you, and wondering what happens if you don’t have enough. There is a lot to consider.

We thought we would help out a little, easing your worries about how much propane and RV refrigerator uses.

Short answer: A 10-12 cubit foot RV refrigerator uses 1.5 lbs. of propane on average. 

But there are many factors at play, so keep on reading to find out more. 

Factors to Consider

For a question such as this, there cannot be a simple answer where we tell you exactly how much propane your refrigerator will use.

Of course, all refrigerator models will differ, and the conditions they are kept in, the age of them, and the size of them will all have a huge impact on how much propane they use.

In fact, it would not be surprising if two models of the same refrigerator used slightly different amounts of propane, especially if they are kept in different places in your RV or if one is slightly newer than the other which has already been used for a couple of months.

We wanted to tell you about some of the key considerations first for you to understand that the information we give you on how much propane an RV refrigerator may use is merely an estimate and should be used as a guide rather than the gospel truth. 

Age of the Refrigerator 

The first thing to note is that the exact amount of propane used by your refrigerator will depend on the age of the refrigerator. Older models will use more than newer models.

This is because newer models tend to run more efficiently in terms of how much gas they consume compared to older models which were not made to be so energy efficient.

If you are looking to cut down on how much propane you are using, it may be worth upgrading your RV refrigerator to a newer model which may save you money in the long run. 

Size of the Refrigerator 

As well as this, it should also be noted that there are many other factors that may affect how much propane your exact model uses, and so whatever figures we tell you can only be estimated to be used as guidance.

Your particular model may use more or it may use less. It also depends largely on how big your refrigerator is.

The bigger the refrigerator, the harder it will be to cool, and therefore, the more propane you will need to use to cool it.

If you have a small refrigerator just for some drinks and snacks, it is likely that it will not take much propane at all, but if you use it for all of your meals to keep cool, then it goes without saying that it will use more. 

The Environment Around the Refrigerator 

You need to also consider the environment around your refrigerator. By this, we mean both inside the RV and outside wherever you have set up camp. This is known as the ambient temperature.

If you are in a part of the country where it can get particularly warm and dry, then there is a chance that hot air is going to come into the RV through the day and that the inside temperature of the RV will be hot.

This will have a direct effect on the RV refrigerator as it will have to work that little bit harder to keep the contents of the fridge cold. This, in turn, will use more propane.

The Temperature of the Refrigerator Itself 

Another factor that is related to the ambient temperature around your RV refrigerator is the temperature that you have your fridge set to. 

If you like to keep your snacks and drinks ice cold, the refrigerator has to work even harder to keep at this temperature, using more propane in the process.

This means your RV refrigerator would use up far more propane gas than a fridge that was set at lower temperatures. 

General Guideline: How Much Propane an RV Refrigerator Uses 

To make this as general as possible, we are going to be looking in particular at an absorption refrigerator, as this is the most common refrigerator type for an RV.

The good news is that even with all the factors that we talked about in the section above, RV refrigerators that run on propane have been specially designed to try and keep fuel consumption low.

The size of the refrigerator that we are going to discuss is 12 cubic feet.

This is a great size for an RV and quite a common size that people choose. Provided the refrigerator is new, in good condition, and the environment around it supports energy efficiency, it is thought that 12 cubic feet refrigerators will use around 1.5 lbs of propane gas each day.

A 10 cubic feet capacity refrigerator uses around the same amount in a day.

If you are looking for the figure to be converted into BTUs per hour (this means British Thermal Units and it is a measure of energy, namely heat), the figure is around 1400.

Typically, propane canisters come in a variety of sizes.

A popular size of propane to buy is 20lbs. If you were to bring along a 20lb bottle of propane gas purely for the purpose of powering your 12 cubic feet capacity RV refrigerator, it would typically last you around 13 days.

Of course, we would recommend that you err on the side of caution and perhaps plan to bring extra propane if you plan to stay longer than 10 days, just to be on the safe side, especially if the weather is warm or your refrigerator is older. 

Final Word 

We hope you can see now that when it comes to finding out how much propane your RV refrigerator will use, the answer is not straightforward and depends on a number of factors.

Use our general guideline above to estimate how much propane you will need, but always err on the side of caution and take a little more than you think, just in case!

Remember, it is absolutely essential that you take into account the factors that can impact your refrigerator’s propane usage first.

Above all, we hope that this information has proved very helpful for you. Happy camping, RV enthusiasts! 

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