Your RV Could Be a Ticking Time Bomb

Your RV Could Be a Ticking Time Bomb

Many RV refrigerators run on both electricity and propane. Some RVers run their refrigerators on propane while driving, but this choice may be riskier than it’s worth. A refrigerator makes camping more comfortable and convenient, but is it safe to use while driving? Let’s take a closer look at the risks. 

Is It Dangerous to Run Your Camper Fridge While Driving? 

This question has divided the RV community. On the one hand, you have seasoned RVers in forums and Facebook groups saying they’ve never had a single problem while running their RV fridge while driving. But all it takes is one time to potentially lose your RV or worse. 

On the other hand, many seasoned RVers never drive with their RV fridge on propane and would never dream of it. We tend to agree. Let’s look at the reasons why.

Why Keeping Your Propane on While Driving Is a Bad Idea

When an RV fridge is running on propane, it uses a flame. You are driving with that flame lit when you leave your fridge on. And sometimes, accidents happen. 

If your RV is running on propane while you’re driving and you get into an accident, the chances of a propane line rupture and explosion are much greater than if you have your propane shut off. You could also develop a leak simply by hitting a bump. Even a tiny amount of propane leaking to the pilot light or flame can trigger an explosion.

Lastly, many RVers choose to turn off their propane and put out their pilot lights when driving to reduce the risk of igniting fumes while filling up at a gas station. 

How to Safely Use Your Propane RV Fridge 

Having a fridge that runs on propane and electricity brings you many advantages. You can save energy while boondocking while using an efficient power source for your refrigerator. And you can choose to run it off your batteries. 

Two- and three-way RV refrigerators rely on absorption coils to keep them operating properly. This type of refrigerator uses heat to produce a chemical reaction between the water, hydrogen gas, and ammonia in the coils. Because of the chemicals in the coils, you must take special care with this type of RV fridge. Here are some tips.

Keep Your RV Level

First, keep your RV level, even while in storage. If your RV isn’t level, the chemicals will pool together in one area of the coils. This can cause excessive heat when you have the refrigerator on and is the number two cause of RV fires. It’s important to keep your RV level when it’s running on electric or propane and when the fridge is off. 

Vent Your RV Fridge

Absorption refrigerators have vents outside the RV to help keep the area cool and allow exhaust to escape when running your fridge on propane. Sometimes, RV absorption refrigerators have trouble cooling properly, especially in warmer weather. 

If your RV fridge needs a little help with ventilation, try an RV refrigerator vent fan. RV refrigerator vent fans help keep air moving over the coils, so your refrigerator operates more smoothly.

Plug It into Your Generator or Battery

If you don’t want to run your RV refrigerator on propane but aren’t near shore power, you can run your fridge using a generator. Alternatively, you can run your three-way RV refrigerator off your DC power system that pulls electricity from your house batteries. 

How to Keep Your Food from Spoiling When Traveling 

Most RVers don’t travel long enough for food to spoil while traveling. If you keep your refrigerator and freezer doors shut, the contents will remain cool for several hours, even without power. If you have a long travel day coming up, here are some tips to keep your food from spoiling. 

Keep the Doors Shut

First thing’s first, keep your refrigerator and freezer doors shut while the power is off. Even opening the door for a split second will allow most of the cold air to escape, and this can cause food to spoil faster. 

Plan Ahead

If you know you’ll need access to certain foods and beverages during travel day, get them out the day (or several hours) before and put them in their own cooler with some ice for easy access. 

Freeze Water Jugs

For long travel days, freeze water jugs (or bottles) and keep some in your freezer and some in your fridge. Frozen water jugs are big blocks of ice and help keep your refrigerator, and freezer cold like ice does in a cooler. 

Use DC Power

If you have a three-way RV refrigerator, you can run it on DC power while driving. This pulls power from your RV house batteries instead of propane to cool your refrigerator. 

Why Use Propane for Your Refrigerator If It’s Dangerous? 

The beauty of having an RV refrigerator that can also run off of propane is that you have options. If you don’t have an adequate power source, you can run your fridge on propane. 

RV propane fridges use very little propane, so it’s an efficient way to keep your food cold. A propane refrigerator only becomes dangerous when used improperly, such as if you aren’t level, don’t ventilate, or use the fridge while driving.

Use at Your Own Risk 

Now that you know the risks of using propane for your RV fridge while driving, we hope you’ll consider other options. Turning off your propane while driving not only keeps you safe, it can also prevent catastrophic accidents. With so many other options to keep your food cold, there really isn’t a need to run your propane while driving, especially on short travel days. How do you keep food cold on travel days?

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