How Much Propane Does An RV Refrigerator Use?

If you’re beginner RVer planning to go dry camping or travel far away from utility sites, you’d want to know how much propane your RV refrigerator is going to use to keep your food cold and fresh for longer.

This will help ensure you bring with you enough propane to last your trip and make your camping enjoyable.

After gathering info from experienced Rvers and RVing forums and communities, we were able to put together this guide to help you determine how much propane you’ll need to run your RV fridge.

How Does The RV Refrigerator Use Propane Gas?

To understand how much propane your RV fridge is going to consume, it’s important to first understand exactly how it’s used in the refrigerator.

You see, your RV fridge is completely different from the standard fridge in terms of the working mechanism.


A typical RV refrigerator comes with a combination of ammonia, water, and hydrogen gas, all contained in a fully sealed piping system. These chemicals need to be heated up to trigger chemical reactions that lead to condensations and evaporations—which in turn enable the fridge to do its job of keeping your food cold.

The work of LP gas here is to heat the ammonia and water contained in a vessel known as the boiler to trigger.

So, we’re essentially looking at the amount of gas you’ll need to heat the water and ammonia solution inside the boiler.

How Much Propane Does RV Refrigerator Consume?

Contrary to what you might be thinking, RV refrigerators pretty low amounts of propane gas.

But this wasn’t always the case with these propane-powered fridges. The earlier models, introduced to the market in the 60s, had high LP gas consumption rates.

However, these fridges have undergone significant improvements since then and today’s models are designed to consume as low fuel as possible…they consume half of the propane used by the earlier models.

If you check the modern RV refrigerator reviews, you’ll notice that they don’t consume a lot of fuel to keep your foods cold and fresh, even if you run them for 24 hours.

Typically, you can expect a 20-pound (5lbs) LP gas cylinder to last for around 3-4 weeks.

However, keep in mind that how much propane is used will also depend on the size of your fridge. The bigger the model you have, the more gas it’ll use. For instance, a 12 cubic feet fridge can consume approx. 1.5lbs of propane gas a day, which means a 20lb gas cylinder will last you for approx. 2 weeks.

If you have a smaller RV fridge, say a 4 cubic feet mode, it will consume around 1lb.

Other than the size of the fridge, there are additional factors that might affect the amount of propane used.

One of these factors involves the ambient air temperature of the area you’re camping in. The hotter the outside temperatures, the more your gas is going to burn as the fridge will need to work harder to create cold air.

How you keep your food in the fridge can also affect the amount of propane used. The colder you keep the food, the more gas that will be burned.

Oh! Don’t forget that using your propane gas for other things around your RV like firing up the water heater, furnace, etc., will contribute to your propane gas level going down faster.

Can You Keep The Propane Consumption Low?

Even though we have already seen that your RV fridge won’t be drawing huge amounts of propane, you might still want to look for ways to keep the propane usage as low as possible and save some cash in the process.


Lucky for you, there are some measures you can take to bring down the consumption of propane by your RV fridge.

These measures include:

Keep your fridge level

As you already know, your RV fridge needs to be positioned on level ground for it to perform efficiently and properly. The older models require even more precise leveling.

For this reason, we highly encourage you to ensure your RV is on fairly level ground. When your fridge is operating efficiently and properly, it uses energy efficiently.

Use RV refrigerator fan

You might also consider supplementing your fridge with an RV refrigerator fan. The purpose of this fan is to help circulate air inside the fridge.

With excellent fresh air displacement, thanks to the fan, your fridge will not need to work harder, thus saving on the fuel.

You can easily find RV fans that run on batteries on the market; they’re inexpensive and quite helpful.

However, note that this trick works for fridges that don’t have a built-in fan. If your model already has one, then it makes no sense fitting an additional fan to it.

Be mindful of how you store foods in your fridge

Given that fridges take hours to cool down, being mindful of which foods your put inside is also crucial.

Ideally, you want to place cold food in the fridge first before you can out the warm ones. This trick will help the fridge cool faster, thus consuming less gas.

Also, avoid overfilling your refrigerator compartments. Leaving some space between your food items will help the cold air circulate more easily, enhancing your fridge efficiency.

Know how to adjust the fridge temperatures

You should also be mindful of the outside temperatures in the area you’re camping in if you want to keep your propane use low.

If the outside temperature is cold, we advise you to reduce the temperature of your fridge. And if the weather is hot, be sure to increase your fridge temperature.

Making these adjustments will help keep your gas levels in check as the fridge will only consume the necessary amounts in various weathers.

Conduct regular maintenance on your fridge

Doing routine maintenance on your fridge is also key to saving gas consumption.

When you keep your RV fridge clean and inspect all the parts to see if they’re working properly, you’ll be able to notice any faulty parts that need repair.

If these parts go unnoticed, they might end up consuming too much of your propane gas as a way of making up in their functionality.

Cleaning too helps remove any dirt, dust, and rust that affect the performance of your fridge.

Still, on the maintenance, we advise you to keep an eye on the back of your RV refrigerator. As you already know, a fridge dissipates excess heat through the back part. The presence of any foreign objects or obstructions at the back can, therefore, hinder smooth heat release. This can affect the efficiency of your fridge.

Quick Tip: Opening the fridge doors too frequently?

Opening the door of your fridge causes the cold air inside to fall and the outside warm air to get in. The more you do it (and the longer you keep it open), the harder your fridge will be forced to work to keep up.

Needless to mention, working hard means using more propane to produce cold air inside the fridge.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t open your fridge door…but only open them when necessary. And don’t keep them open for long. This is how you make your propane last longer.

Final Words

Wherever you travel with your RV, you’ll need the refrigerator to keep watch over your food and ensure they don’t go bad quickly.

But before you go out camping in remote areas, you’ll need to know how much propane your fridge is going to need to enable you to bring along enough gas for the length of time you plan to camp out there.

As we have explained in this guide, how much propane your fridge uses depends on its size and the outside temperature. Larger models tend to use more propane.

If you want your gas to last longer, be sure to put to practice the gas-saving tips and tricks we have outlined in this guide.

Happy RVing!

  • Updated January 29, 2020
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