How Much Propane Does an RV Refrigerator Use

Planning a recreational trip in your RV and worried you’d run out of propane? Wondering how you’d be able to continue without being able to preserve the food you plan on carrying? If so, this is the right place for you as here my focus will be on answering the question-” how much propane does an RV refrigerator use?”, to help you plan a perfect trip.  

Propane consumption of RV refrigerators depends upon several factors, and therefore, it is not possible to provide an exact quantity of consumption. However, focusing on the size of the refrigerator, an approximate value can be provided, that is, around 1lb for a 4 cubic feet refrigerator and 1.5lb per day for a 12 cubic feet refrigerator. 

In this article, I am going to talk about this more vividly for better understanding as there are still several things to go over regarding this topic. I will also try to present several ways of decreasing consumption to a minimum.

How Much Propane Do RV Refrigerators Consume?

In the earlier days, the RV refrigerators used to have a high consumption level of propane, due to which, people often have the misconception that the usage of propane for propane-powered fridges are quite high. But the fact is, over time, many improvements have been made to make these RV refrigerators more cost-effective by reducing their propane consumption level. 

Nowadays, RV refrigerators can be used for straight 24 hours without consuming a great amount of fuel to keep your food fresh and cold. It is also expected that a gas cylinder of 5lbs can serve you for three to four weeks. However, the amount of consumption also depends upon other factors like- how often the refrigerator door is being opened or closed, size, temperature, etc. 

The size of your refrigerator plays an important role in determining the consumption of propane because the greater the size, the more gas it’ll require. For example, if your RV refrigerator is small, let’s assume 4 cube feet, it will consume roughly 1lb. Whereas, if the refrigerator is 12 cubic feet, then it’ll require around 1.5lbs each day.  

Just like size, the temperature around your RV refrigerator also impacts the level of propane consumption. Because if the outside temperature is hot, the refrigerator will consume more propane in order to keep your food cold. So, the temperature of the area you are at is indirectly proportional to the level of propane consumption.  

Several factors impact propane consumption of RV refrigerators, and no specific number of consumptions can be provided. However, an approximation of consumption can be given according to the RV refrigerator’s size and by ignoring the other factors.  

Minimizing Propane Consumption by RV Refrigerators 

Even though modern RV refrigerators are more efficient and do not draw much propane, there are still some ways to make sure the level of propane consumption is as low as possible. Tips regarding this are given below so that you can ensure a reduction in your RV refrigerator’s daily consumption. 

Place on Balanced Ground 

Doesn’t matter if your RV refrigerator is old or modern, it needs to be placed on balanced ground because the cooling system of these refrigerators depends greatly upon gravity.

So, in order to properly and efficiently perform, your RV refrigerator needs to be placed in an even ground. This increases efficiency as gravity helps the flow of fluids of the cooling system. If you cannot provide a level ground, the cycling process of internal fluids will slow down. This can also cause a great mechanical fault if the machinery operates on uneven ground for a long time.  

Perform Regular Maintenance

No one can deny the importance of performing regular maintenance on appliances. Like any other appliance in your home, your RV refrigerator also needs to go through maintenance now and then make sure faulty areas are being identified and repaired for greater efficiency. Also, cleaning rust, dirt, and dust in your RV refrigerator will provide you with better performance.  

So, with proper maintenance, you can minimize consumption to a reasonable level.   

Adjust the Temperature 

Another way of decreasing your RV refrigerator’s propane consumption is by decreasing the temperature setting of the refrigerator if the outside temperature is low. Because of this way, the food gets cold easily in the refrigerator due to the cold environment. And therefore, less propane is used for this purpose. However, if the temperature outside is hot, then it’s not possible.

Purchase Battery-operated Fans

The RV refrigerators found in the markets are not usually attached with battery-operated fans. But they are essential for cold air circulation. Without these fans, efficient air circulation becomes very difficult. 

In order to keep the internal components of your RV refrigerator cool, you can get battery-operated cooling fans. This is especially a requirement if there’s an issue with air circulation in your RV. Because if so, the process of thermal exchange will be slowed down.   

So, to help with the thermal exchange, consider adding battery-operated cooling fans at the bottom part of the refrigerator. This will decrease the cooling load of the system and eventually minimize the RV refrigerator’s propane consumption.   

Pre-run the RV Refrigerator 

If you plan a trip in your RV and plan on using your RV refrigerator, you have to pre-run it. Because in order to cool all the way down, the refrigerator needs at least four to six hours. Therefore, before using your RV refrigerator to store food or other items that need cooling, make sure to pre-run it. This way, it will require less load while cooling and in turn use less propane. 

Keep the Rear Free 

The heat produced by the cooling process mostly vent through the rear of the fridge. If the rear somehow obstructs the heat flow, the cooling process will be slowed down, and the efficiency will be compromised. As a result, propane consumption will also increase. So, ensure the rear of the refrigerator is free for the heat to flow.

What Are the Risks of Running an RV Refrigerator on Propane?

There are risks like explosion and fire while towing with a running RV refrigerator. Because while being on the run, several things can go wrong. Your tire can blow out, or even an accident can occur, due to which leak or rupture can take place in the gas line. And as a result, an explosion or fire can be caused simply by an ignition source.  

Also, another thing that needs to be kept in mind is that gas appliances need to be turned off before driving into a gas station. In fact, the importance of this is so great that it has now become law in order to keep the people safe.  

So, make sure to turn off your RV refrigerator before entering a gas station, and you can turn it on again once you leave the station and feel you are at a safe place to turn it on. It is also suggested to turn it off before boarding a ferry or getting into tunnels.  


Propane powered refrigerators in RVs can be a real trick to keep track of. Your refrigerator giving up on you while on the long trip would be the worst possible scenario. But, if you calculate your propane consumption right, scenarios like this can definitely be avoided. And if you went through the entire article, I’m sure you know how to do that by now. 

I hope this article was of help to you and wish you the best of luck with your RV trip. Thanks for stopping by. 

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