How many amps does an RV refrigerator draw

How many amps does an RV refrigerator draw

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Refrigerator is one appliance that will be there in almost every rv. When it comes to running a refrigerator while boondocking, i know how it is. I have been through over-utilizing the generator power and also fully draining out my rv battery on many occasions. I have also bought generator that wasn’t enough for my needs and ended up replacing it later on.

RV refrigerator consumes watts and draws amps similar to an air conditioner. It becomes critical to understand the refrigerator watt usage because you want it to run longer for you. Unlike air conditioner, you cant keep refrigerator off most of the time while camping. 

Since you are here, there is a great chance that you either want to check on the usage of your generator or see if “how you can put a check on overall watts utilization” in your rv, specially the refrigerator.  Let us see how much amps a rv refrigerator draws on an average.

Average amps drawn by a Camper refrigerator

To understand how many amps your rv refrigerator draws, you can check out the labels inside your rv refrigerator. You should ideally have one that will indicate the watts drawn and also the amps.

If you don’t see one, then check out the manual. Or, if the fridge is little bit old and you don’t have the manual with you now, then may be you can check out the ideal amps rating using the model number on the manufacturer site. If you are lucky enough to get that information online then its fine. Else, i assume you weren’t able to find the needed information and you are trying to understand the average amps it can draw.

A refrigerator normally will have amps listed out for different operations. There will be rating for starting up, idle condition, when the compressor is running and when the refrigerator is defrosting. All manufacturers may not list these amps though. If you have noticed, the values will be mostly in between 0.15 to 7 amps or so.

  • On an average a double door refrigerator; good enough for a rv will have a starting up amps of around 7-8 amps.
  • The other amps for the operation are much lesser then the starting amps drawn. On an average a running refrigerator will need around 2-4 amps.
  • When defrosting the amps drawn by the rv fridge will be around 1.20-2 amps. Where as the amps drawn by refrigerator when the evaporator fan is the only thing running would be less than 0.5 amps.

Well, that’s the, “on an average” story of how much amps the rv refrigerator draws. There will be exceptions, depending on the size of the fridge, how old your fridge is and the model and type. Also, the fridge could be operated on electricity supply 120 v or dc battery or even propane. The amps drawn also depends on the mode of supply. A refrigerator running on LP will need around 3-4 amps for running.

RV refrigerators watts consumption, size matter a lot. Thus getting a right RV refrigerator like this on amazon is very important.

Dometic, Narcold are the best manufacturers for RV refrigerators, they are really the ones to go for. Do check this two way operation refrigerator by Dometic on camping world (Camping world is the best online store when it comes to RV parts and accessories ).

How many watts does a camper refrigerator use

To understand how many watts the rv refrigerator use, you need to simply calculate using the amps drawn. The watts and amps are related to each other by the below formula,

                      Amps = Wattage/Volts

By understanding watts requirements of your rv fridge, you will be able to plan as to how many watts generator you need for your rv or how much propane requirements you have during camping. Lets try to use the formula, watt = amps * volts to see how much watts are needed for running the refrigerator and starting it up. The starting watts will be obviously much more than the running watts. If we go by the amp number that we put out, using the formula of volts and amps the average starting watts for a rv refrigerator comes to around 500-600 Watts.

And the average watts for running the fridge will be around 150-200 watts.

Refrigerator and air conditioner are the appliances that consume the most watts in a rv. Other smaller appliances like microwave, smaller television consume much lesser. Among smaller appliances, a coffee maker takes up similar to a refrigerator. A smaller coffee maker takes around 600 watts for running, but obviously it would be needed for a very short time.

Speaking about generators for RV, its not only about watts but also about its weight, noise and performance.

Price is also an important factor when buying generator, you can check price of this popular RV ready generator on Its good for the money, dual fuel, and most importantly it is ultra quite generator.

Why is it important to know the watts drawn by a rv refrigerator

Refrigerator is a must for you to camp. So, there is no question that you wont have one in your camper or rv. Unlike air conditioner or a television, refrigerator need to be working all the time. You cant keep it off, may be some people try that too. But, in order for your food to remain good the temperature has to remain low. Now, that’s a serious consumption when you talk about 200-300 watts. A rv when parked in campsite with a direct electrical connection will have no problem running the refrigerator.

The question is when you are dry camping or even when traveling. How do you utilize your generator or the dc battery plus inverter combo to fulfill the needs of a refrigerator. You will have limited supply and thus you need to be careful about how much power is being absorbed by this cooling machine.

We say on an average it would take up 200-300 watts, but what if your model is just not the one that fits for this average. Not all refrigerator would be working that efficiently. It depends on the make, model and age of the refrigerator. Also, the operation type of your refrigerator will determine the watts it consumes. For example, an absorption type refrigerator works on the principle of heat that uses flames or the heat from electrical elements to produce the cooling. This can be tough on your batteries(if you are using 12 v dc battery as source for your fridge). And thus, you would hardly find people using batteries to run the refrigerator.

An absorption type refrigerator is a one that can draw much higher watts, it can be more than 350 watts during running. Now that is crazy, your batteries will be loosing the power very quickly. Anything above 250 or 300 itself can be too much for batteries. Even with generator, you should be extremely calculative in terms of how much watts are being drawn by your refrigerator while running. A fair calculation is also needed if you are about to buy a new generator.

Your calculation will be mostly based on whats the starting watts requirements and number of appliances that will run in parallel. Basically, the calculation will be summation of all the watts required by all the appliances that would run at the same time (consider running watts for appliances like ac or fridge that have significant higher starting watts requirement). When i bought a generator for my rv first time, i wasn’t sure if i wanted a 2000 watts or higher. And thus, ended up buying a significant lower watts generator (which i replaced later on)

Comparison with watts drawn by other appliances in rv

As i said above, the refrigerator is by far the appliance that consumes more  wattage in any rv or camper. Air conditioner could be taking up little more for starting as well as for running.

Read : How many watts does RV air conditioner consume.

But remember, it will not run all the time. Also, with air conditioner you have times when it may not be needed at all (evenings for example, are normally cooler and you may not need AC that time).

Also, when you are outside of the rv, AC will remain off. But, with refrigerator it is not that way. It would be continuously drawing those 200 watts from your generator or inverter battery. Thus, i say refrigerator stays ahead in power or watts consumption when compared to air conditioner. What about other appliances? lets see how much on an average other smaller and not so significant appliances in camper will draw.

  • A coffee maker draws around 550-600 watts for starting as well as running.
  • Microwave takes higher watts of around 900-1000 watts for both starting and running.
  • Laptop would take around 200-300 watts.
  • Cooker draws around 150-200 watts.
  • Small television draws around 100-180 watts on an average.
  • A hair dryer takes up much more and you should be very careful when using it. It can take up to 1800-2000 watts.
  • Similarly, an electric grill too is costly on watts. It will wipe out 1500-1800 watts on an average.

Among all of these appliances, you obviously know which one is your priority and thus, planning is key with limited resources. A balance between the watts utilization is all you need when dry camping and without that, your camping experience would be bad.

RV Refrigerator power usage

Can a rv refrigerator run on battery

It can, but its not practical. A refrigerator can be supplied the voltage by a battery but that will simply drain the battery on a average usage of refrigerator, that is around 8-10 hours. Using a inverter in combo with battery can still power the refrigerator, but even that can be too much for battery to do; as a refrigerator would continuously keep running. And thus, your battery will be out of energy pretty soon.

If you are looking to add a DC battery to your RV then do check this one on amazon, its the best one out there.

In earlier days, the manufacturer would build rv’s that used batteries for refrigerator, but in recent years they have been manufacturing only the LP and electric run types. Even if you have a battery operated refrigerator, the battery will drain out well within in 4-5 hours, if you have a big refrigerator. If you have a 4 door refrigerator then you would need inverter, if at all you want to use battery as source.

Running rv refrigerator on propane

RV refrigerator running on propane are popular. A propane source should be sufficient enough for you to dry camp and run the refrigerator. One issue many people see with propane run refrigerator is the safety. A leak in propane supplying pipe could cause issues and fire. Also, many people are in doubt whether they should keep the propane run refrigerator “ON” or not while the rv is driven. The safe thing to do here, is to keep it off and do not worry about whether the fridge will remain cold or not.

With manufacturer trying many things in this area of development, the branded refrigerators do come with technology that keep it cold even when its off. A rv temperature would be higher, but still the fridge will remain cold for good 4-5 hours or even more. That is a very good thing, and if you place some ice bag or ice tray that should further increase that time.

One good thing with propane run refrigerators is, it will use it to the minimum. In most cases, the propane wouldn’t get utilized much and can give you even week or more. The main reason why less propane is utilized is because most rv’s have absorption type of refrigerators. They use very less propane to function. Same is not the case when you use battery as source.

Other interesting Reads related to RV Refrigerators:
Replacing RV refrigerator with standard
How long do RV Refrigerators last
How to keep Mold out of RV Refrigerator


Planning is key when you are dry camping or boondocking and thus, knowing how much exactly your rv refrigerator consumes can help a lot. Choosing a right source for your refrigerator is also important. A propane run refrigerator can be a great option if you often go dry camping. Many rvs give option of having both electricity as well as propane. That is an added advantage as you can switch the sources as per your conditions. Amps consumed or drawn by rv refrigerator are worth to be noted and tracked. An old rv refrigerator may consume more as it ages and hence its good to keep the track.

G. Yoganand

A RV enthusiast who spends countless hours researching and learning various things related to RV camping. He believes in spending time doing Outdoor activities.
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