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A refrigerator is an essential part of your camping experience. Unless you are hard core camping person, you would definitely need a good refrigerator while you are camping in your RV. With residential refrigerators making their way into RV’s, the original rv refrigerator have also evolved with more space and features.
With refrigerator inside a moving vehicle, the life of the refrigerator could be a factor to ponder upon. Its a known fact that appliance like refrigerator need to operate on a flat surface without much vibrations. And, for the same fact; RV’s need to be leveled while at camping sites.
So, how long do they really last and when you may have to go for either repair or replacement.
RV refrigerators from known and better brands like Dometic will on an average last for 12-15 years or even more. That’s like age of a motorhome. Having said this, it does not mean the refrigerator will surely go bad at those many years.
I can show you rvers saying they have a refrigerator in their RV running well even at 25 years. And also opposite could be the case for some of us, that the refrigerator needed a major repair or replacement at 5 years or early.
Its an appliance made up of components that may fail due to various reasons. There are probably thousand of reason why a refrigerator may fail at an early stage. And specially when you have it inside a moving vehicle chances are more.
But, the specially manufactured refrigerators for RV or motorhomes are well capable of handling such conditions. And thus, on average the life could be more than 12 years.
RV refrigerator – how can it last long
Replacing a recently bought refrigerator inside rv could be annoying. And, you don’t want the extra cost too. With the kind of life that a rv refrigerator gets on an average, looks to be a life long partner for your motorhome or trailer. As, they too have similar life of around 15-20 years on average.
So, what is that (apart from the manufacturing quality) can lead to the early failure. Any appliance if not handled with care has a tendency to fail at an early stage. Lets check out some of the important factors that are responsible for this and what you can do to increase the life expectancy of rv refrigerators.
1. Level the RV properly
A refrigerator that is on a surface that isn’t leveled will lead to its failure at an early stage. Using the refrigerator on uneven surfaces continuously will result in malfunctioning of the refrigerator and may break down later.
For this, you need to make sure the rv or motorhome is leveled to great extent. A RV can be leveled using leveling blocks or if your motorhome has hydraulic leveling system.
Automatic hydraulic leveling system works great and is also easy using a push button. People do use leveling blocks but that may not be a perfect way to level the RV.
Also, it is a tedious job ad needs patience. Camping with an RV needs basic setup at campgrounds and leveling the RV is one of the most important step of this. It is also necessary that you get a parking slot that itself is leveled.
Its not only about refrigerator, not leveling the rv could create other issues as well. In case, your RV does no have automatic levelers then have a look at this manual way to level motorhome or trailer.
2. Keeping it ON or OFF
Not all people RV all the time. Some will go once in month, some on every weekends while some will hardly take the RV out in six months. With the kind of frequency you have in rving, the refrigerator will remain ON or OFF.
Keeping the refrigerator OFF for more period of time can actually may not be great for its operation. Although, the RV refrigerators are made in such a way that this does not affect them much. But, an appliance will always function well if it is continuously used.
Compare it with the refrigerator in your house, do you turn it off often Or keep it off for many days? If you were to do that, definitely it would have a bad impact on its overall life expectancy.
It may not start to malfunction immediately but it will for sure reduce the overall life. If you go rving very frequently then at-least keep the refrigerator ON for a while when the RV is kept inside.
3. Closing the door
A refrigerator when in running condition should have its door closed properly. Just like how you do in a home refrigerator, the same applies here too.
A not so properly closed door of the RV refrigerator will lead not only to using more energy to cool down but also the functioning may get impacted. And, this will result in behaviors that will reduce the cooling over a period of time and ultimately lead to the reduced life.
Opening the refrigerator door again and again is also another habit that is considered bad for the refrigerator health. This may seem a little thing, but it does have an impact. It is only logical to understand this.
4. Defrosting the freezer
The ice section or the deep freezer may accumulate ice. And, if it stays that way for a long period then that can be problematic. Defrost the refrigerator at least once in while so that such accumulation of ice gets away.
5. Running the refrigerator while traveling
When you are traveling long distance you may want to keep the refrigerator ON while on road. But, that may not be the best for your refrigerator.
As we already saw, the RV refrigerator works best when it is leveled. When on road the RV will obviously shake and through turns, steep slopes the surface will tilt at times. This will not be ideal conditions for the refrigerator and will lead to at least some impact in its overall well being.
Running propane sourced refrigerator has other concerns related to safety as well. So, how do you keep the food in good cooling then? Well there are lots of options that can be practiced to keep the food good. Here is a post that lists out options to keep refrigerator cool while traveling.
6. Setting correct temperature
With varying weather conditions you will need the refrigerator to function ate different temperature levels. Setting the correct temperature is a good practice not many people follow.
During temperatures that are extremely low, the refrigerator should be set at temperature which aren’t that low. Keeping the lowest temperature at all times is another setting that can lead to malfunctioning with prolonged faulty setting.
Should you repair it or replace it
A RV refrigerator lasting for so many years is great. So, what do you do when it breaks down? Repair it or just replace it.
It will make less sense in repairing a 15 year old rv refrigerator.
One, the refrigerator parts may not be available and second the old refrigerator may not be sufficient for you now. Also, the cost of repairing could actually be high and with that the new refrigerator itself make sense.
Yes, if the refrigerator fails at an early stage like 2 or 5 years then it definitely need to be repaired. But, with 10 years or more i would suggest to go for a new better one according to your needs.
Some of the problems that people face in RV rerigerators.
- Refrigerator does not cool. This is one of the common issue with many. The refrigerator wouldn’t cool no matter what. You would see the light inside it but it would not cool at all or cool very less. Such malfunctioning makes you irritated as you dot know if it has failed or not. Show it to the technician as this could be due to many reasons.
- Deep freezer does not make ice. Another problem rver face is the deep freezer does not make ice for you or keep the food frozen enough.
- The deep freezer unit ice accumulation. This can happen if the freezer has air leakage or the door is not closing properly or broken. Resulting in too much ice creation in lesser time. This can be solved by fixing the door issue or defrosting. But, defrosting often will increase the energy consumption.
- RV refrigerator wouldn’t turn on at all. This can be due to various reasons like fuse failure, or electric failures. Doing some basic check can help in getting it started but if it does not happen then it could be a major issue with the fridge.
- Issues while switching between electric or gas. One of the issue that many rvers face is when the refrigerator would not work at all when switching from electric to gas or propane. Or face it as intermittent issue, a refrigerator professional who deals in repairing should be able to get you to the root cause.
Keeping the Refrigerator ON all the time
This is a question that comes to the mind of those who don’t go rving often. RV refrigerators work on the principle of absorption and they do not include moving compressors. This gives them an edge on residential one’s. This, in common words means that a RV refrigerators may not be impacted much even if its kept off when not in use.
Here is a post that explains about keeping the refrigerator ON or OFF. Below is the summary,
A person going camping only once in a while wouldn’t find any better reason to keep it ON apart from the worry that it may break. You wouldn’t keep the food that long and camp with it next time.
Keeping the RV refrigerator OFF if it is going to stay inside for month or long will make sense. It will cost you around $20 to $40 if the refrigerator was kept On without using it. So, that means a bill even when you actually didn’t use it.
If you were to take the RV out every week then it will make sense to keep it ON continuously as you would have food that can be used during the next trip.
So, what about long duration? Your RV is inside for 6 months and you kept it OFF. Will it impact the life of refrigerator? It will. Remember its an appliance and need to be in use at-least once in while else it will start malfunctioning at an early stage.
So, moral of the story is use the RV at-least once in while so that appliances specially, the refrigerator gets running.
Another thing with keeping the refrigerator OFF is the chances of getting molds inside. A warmer refrigerator will develop mold if it was kept closed fully. Keeping the door open may help is getting away with molds.