How Long Does it take for an RV Fridge to Get Cold?

If you’re planning to purchase an RV fridge, or coming home from vacation after few days, eating bacteria-free items from your fridge is necessary. To avoid eating unhygienic food, you should let your RV fridge get cold. But, how long does it take for an RV fridge to get cold and how long to wait?

On average, it takes a total of twenty-four hours for an RV fridge to get cold. It takes an additional twelve to twenty-one hours to cool down compared to regular fridges. It is because they are absorption fridges; they take more time to convert the heat energy. It may require a little less than twenty-four hours if the fridge is empty.

However, these are just estimations. The number of hours it needs to cool down depends on many factors, such as environmental factors. Thus, it is possible to make it colder using some tricks. But first, it is necessary to know how it works. Let’s start by looking into it. 

How Does an RV Fridge Work To Cool Items Inside It?

An electric RV fridge heats ammonia, hydrogen gas, and water. It converts them into energy to cook items inside the fridge. It does this using different components.

Unlike most refrigerators, an absorption RV fridge does not use a compressor to cool items inside it. It mainly explains why it takes longer to cool down. Ammonia and water inside the fridge mixes and heat until they boil. Then they react with hydrogen to condense into a liquid form. 

The liquids pass through different tubes inside the RV fridge to create evaporation. Then, it is mixed with water vapor. It trickles into a water and ammonia solution. As a result, it pushes the heat away from the fridge, which allows the fridge to cool down. 

Other RV fridges use a small compressor unit to cool the items inside them. It is better than absorption RV fridges as they make the fridge colder than that. The cooling system includes a mechanical compression of gas that helps pressurize the vapor to create pressure. The hot pressurized vapor then condenses into a highly pressurized liquid.

Eventually, the liquid enters an expansion valve, which reduces its pressure to its boiling point. At this point, the liquid, also known as the refrigerant, has low temperatures of -15 °F (-26 °C) to -20 °F (-29 °C). This liquid makes the fridge colder in the first place. 

How to Make an RV Fridge Cool Faster?

It is possible to make an RV fridge colder quickly. It is because the temperature inside the fridge also depends on how the person uses it. Sometimes, it is the user who is responsible for the RV fridge to cool slower than usual. 

Here are some tips to make an RV fridge cool faster without any significant mechanical changes:

1. Remove all the items from the fridge

When cooling an RV fridge initially, removing all the items inside the fridge will allow easy circulation of the cold airflow. The air circulating inside will cool down the atmosphere instead of cooling the items. It makes the process faster than usual.

The vents inside an RV fridge play a vital role in making the fridge cold. Sometimes, the items in it stand as an obstacle. Removing such an obstacle will clear the vents and let them cool the RV fridge. 

2. Load the RV fridge with ice

As an RV fridge runs on fewer wattages, it may require an external cooler. The cheapest method is to load some ices inside it. It is especially beneficial on summer days where the temperature outside the fridge is relatively high. 

Besides the ice quickly cooling the RV fridge, it may also benefit the fridge in the long run. As the RV fridge will consume less wattage this way, it may last longer. 

3. Install an external circulating fan

Installing a refrigerator circulating fan behind the RV fridge’s wall will make it cold faster. You may as well check with a remote temperature sensor to notice the temperature changes.

Attaching this component might save up to eighteen hours. It is because it may take only six hours to make the RV fridge colder. 

4. Maintain some distance between the fridge items

Sometimes, we may have to store some food while making the RV fridge colder. It is not possible to remove all the food. Thus, keeping a gap between the foods will aid a faster cooling process. 

By keeping some gap between the foods inside, it will let air flow more easily. The refrigerant will find it easier to occupy a large RV fridge in this way. 

Why Is My RV Fridge Running But Not Cooling?

When an RV fridge is running but not cooling, it indicates that its components are not working properly. There should be coordination of all the components to make the fridge cold. The RV fridge stops cooling when one of the components stops working. 

RV fridges are also known as absorption fridges. They use less wattage than usual as they convert gases and liquids into energy. When it does not have a stable source of energy, it only keeps running without cooling the fridge. Low levels of water, ammonia, and hydrogen could significantly affect the cooling system of the RV fridge. In such a case, recharge your RV fridge.

As a result of depreciation, many components in an RV fridge fail to work. For example, there are vacuum panes that use vacuum-sealed foam to add insulation. Failure of this component will not stop the RV fridge from running, but it will also not let it get cold. 

Another reason can be its magnetic seals that are placed around the door. It helps seal the RV fridge and holds the cold air inside it. If these are weak, it lets the cold air out. Eventually, the refrigerator is left running but does not stay cold. 

Does An RV Fridge Cool Faster On Propane?

Relative to other RV fridges that run on electricity, RV fridges that run on propane cools faster. It completes the evaporation and condensation cycle faster than any other gas. 

RV fridges mix gases and liquids to heat and boil them. According to the properties of propane, it heats water and ammonia faster than other RV fridges. Then, it quickly evaporates the mixture of the gases and liquids. As a result, such RV fridges cool faster on propane. 

When using RV fridges that run on propane, there is a short wait time for the fridge to cool. It is also because they do not require sockets. Generally, you need to wait for about four to six hours before loading the fridge with items. Thus, it takes half the time other RV refrigerators need. 

However, there are some conditions for the RV fridge to cool faster on propane. It is necessary to maintain and check it regularly. For example, you need to check if there’s any leakage. Propane leaks are easy to detect, which makes detecting other issues like corrosion and rust easy. Such issues will directly affect the cooling system.


As you can see, the mechanism of RV fridges can be complicated when it comes to cooling quickly. So, how long does it take for an RV fridge to get cold? You should be able to answer it immediately. 

It is recommended to keep check of your fridge when making it cool faster using tips. Thank you for reading the whole article. Have a good day!

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