Does RV Refrigerator Work Better on Gas or Electricity

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RVs are one of the most popular ways to camp. You get the comfort of home and get to travel at the same time.

One of the devices that offer you that comfort is the RV refrigerator. Many people prefer to use a fridge in their RV to keep food and drinks cold while they’re traveling.

RV refrigerators work both on gas and electric. You can shift between the two or use one continuously. This begs the question, does RV refrigerator work better on gas or electric?

Both gas and electricity have their pros and cons. Read further to find out which one is better for you!


Does RV Refrigerator Work Better on Gas or Electric? 

RV refrigerators work nicely on both gas and electric sources. You can also use both sources together to increase efficiency.  If you have a long journey where you can’t have access to plug-in connections, gas is the better option. However, electricity tends to cool faster and for a long time. 

RV refrigerators are useful devices that can run on gas, electricity, batteries, and many other products. Gas was used in the past for all RV refrigerators, but electric refrigerators are being favored nowadays.

Generally, most RVs are furnished with absorption refrigerators. These refrigerators can run on propane gas and electricity.

There’s another type of RV refrigerator that runs on electricity only, and it’s called the compression-driven fridge.

Since each refrigerator has its own benefits and shortcomings, it’s essential to know in-depth about them before making your decision.


Absorption Refrigerator

It is the most popular type of RV refrigerator as many RVs come equipped with it. It is a versatile product as you can use both LP gas and electricity to run it.

There’s variation in this refrigerator as well. The “2-way fridge” is an absorption refrigerator run by both LP gas and AC (Alternative Current) power.

On the other hand, in the “3-way fridge” you can use LP gas, AC power, and DC (Direct Current) power. This type of refrigerator also runs on house batteries.

Absorption refrigerators are flexible as you can switch around the power source from gas to electricity and vice versa. They need time before they start cooling correctly.

Does RV refrigerator work better on gas or electric when it comes to this type of fridge? You can use gas and electricity at the same time if you prefer or you can use just one power source.


Compressordriven refrigerator 

This sort of RV refrigerator is run by AC power and DC power. You can power it through shore power as well by plugging in your RV. If the RV isn’t plugged in, you can use camper batteries.

This means that you can only use electricity or charged batteries to run this product. You can’t use propane or any other gas.

Residential refrigerators, another common type of RV refrigerator, fall under the compressor-driven category, but they need constant plugging in power.

They are run through AC power when plugged in. Still, if you plan on going far away without shore power or generator connection, you need an inverter to keep it running.

Compressor-driven refrigerators cool faster and have more functionality. Altitude isn’t a factor in its working capabilities.


How Does RV Refrigerator Work? 

Before discussing does RV refrigerator work better on gas or electric, it’s essential to know how RV fridges work.

We will talk about how an absorption refrigerator works because its mechanism is very different from the compressor refrigerator which works like a house refrigerator.

An absorption refrigerator utilizes flame to warm up a mixture of ammonia, water, and hydrogen gas. The chemicals evaporate due to the heat, leading to condensation, which in turn chills the refrigerator.

Gas or electricity is used to produce heat. Generators or shore powers use an element to create warmth.

Most RV refrigerators automatically shift between LP gas and electric based on your power source (generator, plugged in, propane gas).

This takes a burden off your shoulder, and you can drive without worrying about your food getting spoiled.

You also have the option to choose which mode you want your fridge to be in. There are three choices- AUTO, OFF, and GAS. If you select the AUTO choice, the switching happens automatically.

The OFF button is when you want to manually transition your fridge’s mode. If you wish your RV refrigerator to only run on gas, you can pick the GAS option.

Using gas as a power source for RV refrigerators was very popular in the past. Currently, most people use gas most of the time but switch to electricity after driving to maintain efficiency.

At present, using electricity to run RV refrigerators has become increasingly popular. You can change from gas to electricity and vice versa, or you can just use electricity to power the fridge.


Perks of GasPowered Refrigerators:

No Electricity Source: Gas run fridges don’t need an electricity source to run. They are self-efficient and don’t require to be plugged in while working. This is a massive benefit for people traveling for an extended period at a time.

Cools Perfectly in Level Altitude: Some people still use gas only for their RV refrigerators. They feel it can keep the fridge remain cold for a long time. You can use a fan to manage the temperature.

Boondocking: This term refers to camping away from standard camping services. You go off-grid and stay in your vehicle to spend the night.

RV is highly used for boondocking camping trips. Since general utility isn’t available, most people use gas to power their RV refrigerators. This way, your generator isn’t drained.

No Battery Draining: Gas RV refrigerators are useful because they won’t drain your RV battery while driving. If you’re taking a long trip and want your battery to last, gas is a better option.


Perks of ElectricityPowered Refrigerators:

Versatile: RV refrigerators powered by electricity can run on both AC and DC power. It’s perfect for 120-volt AC and 12-volt DC power. They also provide more consistent performance in temperature management and need less energy to function.

No Early Preparation: Unlike gas run refrigerators, there’s no need to plug in the fridge a day before your journey to warm it up.

Cools Quicker: Gas takes time to heat up, but electricity doesn’t need the waiting period. It cools the fridge faster and provides a more proficient experience. However, it doesn’t mean that it cools off quicker as electricity-powered fridges remain chill longer than gas ones. So, you don’t have to worry about your raw food products getting warm.

Safety: Since there’s no gas line connection, you don’t have to fear a gas leak and ventilation issues. This much safer approach for running RV fridges has become a favorite among new campers.

Solar Energy: A huge plus point of electric power is the choice of solar energy. If you can’t find an electricity source and have solar panels, you can use that to power your RV fridge.


Disadvantages of GasPowered Refrigerators:

Cooling Time: Gas run RV fridges take time to start chilling as the gas needs to heat up. You need to turn it on a day before your trip to ensure condensation that cools the refrigerator.

Battery Restriction: You can only use a 12-volt battery; however, gas fridges tend to drain the battery much quicker than electricity fridges. The battery needs frequent replacement.

Bad Temperature Management: If you travel in hot weather for a while, your fridge’s temperature will be just a tad higher than the outside temperature. It can’t provide maximum coolness.

Safety Concern: Gas run fridges take some prior knowledge to use and manage. While you can just plug-in electric ones and use them, gas fridges aren’t relatively so easy.

Moreover, vibration and heavy motion can lead to sparking and flames as propane is a flammable gas. Plus, there’s always a concern about gas leaks.


Disadvantages of ElectricityPowered Refrigerators:

Fuse: You need to know which amperage your fridge runs on. Some refrigerators use 30 amps, 50 amps, and so on. Otherwise, you may accidentally operate beyond its limit and blow a fuse.

Needs Plugin: Electricity run refrigerators need to be plugged-in to work. If you don’t have a plug source, you need to use a battery or generator.

This is a setback since a connection isn’t always going to be available, especially in faraway trips, and generators can’t keep powering fridges without pause.

Expensive: There’s no doubt that a good electricity run fridge is more costly than a gas-powered refrigerator.



I hope you’ve got the answer if RV refrigerator works better on gas or electric. Your journey distance and destination can help you to determine which source to use.

It’s crucial that you know the RV refrigerator mechanism and understands that both gas and electric fridges have their benefits.

Whether you prefer gas or electric run refrigerator depends on your trip plan and personal choices. Gas is perfect for more extended off-grid camping, while electric ones will provide a cooler and flexible experience.

Knowing whether or not you’ll have access to power connections is also vital as it can impact your choice.