RV Refrigerator Gas And Electric – Which One Is Better?

RV refrigerators are considered an ideal choice for camping adventures. Such a refrigerator lets you travel the state without compromising the comfort of being at home.

A refrigerator is an essential appliance you require in your recreational vehicles while camping at your favorite destinations. These refrigerators are super-efficient and work at their best even when tested to their limits in extreme conditions.

RV refrigerators are of two types, which include gas and electricity refrigerators. When you have to take an RV refrigerator with you, you need to decide whether to choose one that runs on gas or electricity. It mostly comes down to personal preference, as both options have their pros and cons.

You can use them together or just one, depending on convenience and availability. This article will compare gas and electric refrigerators to help you decide which one will be ideal for your perfect camping experience.

Consider every point from convenience to safety to flexibility before investing your money in buying an RV refrigerator. Read the article to learn about important aspects regarding gas and electric refrigerators.

How Does An RV Gas Refrigerator Work?

The RV gas refrigerator uses ammonia gas as the coolant and hydrogen gas and water to make a cycle for ammonia production. The gas refrigerator comes with five main components.

It has a generator that makes the ammonia gas and a separator to separate water and ammonia gas. A condenser cools the hot ammonia gas and condenses it to form the liquid ammonia.

Then an evaporator transforms the liquid ammonia to gas developing a cold temperature within the refrigerator. Lastly, an absorber is also set in there that allows the absorption of ammonia gas into water.

The working of a gas refrigerator is relatively easy to understand. The ammonia and water in the generator are heated, and the heat comes from kerosene or propane.

Once the solution reaches the boiling point, it is moved towards the separator. Ammonia gas rises towards the condenser, releases heat, and returns to a liquid state.

The liquid ammonia then runs into the evaporator, mixes with hydrogen gas, and evaporates. This evaporation produces a cooling effect in the cold box of the refrigerator.

Then hydrogen gas and ammonia move towards the absorber and mix with water from the separator. Ammonia mixes with water and forms a solution while hydrogen gas goes back to the evaporator.

This cycle keeps repeating, and the gas refrigerator stays cold.

How Do Electric And Solar RV Refrigerators Work?

An electric run RV refrigerator uses a 12-V battery to operate. Once you reach the campsite, the electric RV refrigerator has to be attached to an electrical power supply.

You connect this refrigerator to your RV’s existing battery. Unlike the gas refrigerator found in RVs, these types of fridges are normally compressor refrigerators.

These refrigerators are usually small in size since they work on a 12-volt battery to not drain your battery excessively. You can also install some movable solar panels or a small windmill on your RV to provide power for the 12-volt battery that powers your refrigerator.

Portable solar panels could be a reasonable option for carrying instead of a backup generator in this instance. You won’t have to drain your RV battery to operate your refrigerator with these.

You place the solar panels above your RV to get it charged by the sunlight. You attach the solar panels to your battery, and if there is no supply of electric power, the battery will take power from the panels and keep running.

Key Differences Between Electric And Gas RV Refrigerator

Safety Standards

Regarding safety, gas refrigerate is considered dangerous when you travel in hotter areas. Gases used are very volatile and can cause a fire rapidly.

Electric refrigerator is very safe and will not cause any problem if maintained according to the mentioned guidelines.

Battery Usage

Gas run refrigerator requires a battery with 12- or 230-volt power and gases like kerosene and propane. This type of fridge will drain the batteries at a fast rate.

While the electric refrigerator also needs 12- or 230-volt power, it also requires electricity to operate. However, to run this type of fridge, a solar panel is the best option when there is no electricity.


The gas-operated refrigerator will cool up rapidly, but the outside temperature can easily affect it. It does not create any noise when operating. The fridge will stop working if it remains at an unleveled place.

The electric refrigerator takes a longer time to cool, but it will stay cold for a long time once the temperature is set. The food placed in it will remain fresh and cold for a longer period. It is ideal for compact and small RVs.


Gas refrigerator is quite bothering in terms of flexibility, and you will constantly need to add gas into the fridge.

Whereas an electric refrigerator is very flexible, a solar panel will be a great alternative when you don’t have a power supply. You will not have to worry about your refrigerator dying because of no power supply.


The gas-run fridge will only work when placed in a leveled position.

On the other hand, an electric refrigerator won’t cause any problem if slightly tilted and will keep working because of the electric power supply.

Pros And Cons Of Electric And Gas RV Refrigerator

Gas RV Refrigerator


  1. Best for Boondocking

For boondocking camping trips, Gas refrigerators are very popular. Because there is no electricity, most individuals use gas to operate their RV fridges. This will not exhaust your generator.

  1. Electricity is not needed

The refrigerator that runs on gas does not require electricity to operate. They are self-contained and do not need to be switched on when in use. This is a huge advantage for individuals who travel for long periods.

  1. No Drainage of Battery

Gas RV fridges are convenient since they don’t deplete your RV’s battery when you’re on the road. Gas is a good option if you’re going on a long trip and need the battery to last longer.

  1. A Perfect Temperature at Leveled Altitude

Many campers to this day prefer using gas RV refrigerators. They believe that they can maintain the gas fridge at a cold temperature for an extended time. A fan is a great idea for keeping an optimum temperature.


  1. Safety

The first drawback of using a gas RV refrigerator is that it is not the safest. Using a gas fridge requires prior knowledge about managing and running it. Unlike an electric fridge, you can’t just plug it in, and it will start to work.

Furthermore, constant movement and vibration can lead to sparking, and the propane gas used in the fridge can be highly flammable. There are high chances of gas leakage within your RV.

  1. Restriction of Battery

In both gas and electric fridges, you use 12 volts of battery to supply energy. But in the gas fridge, the battery drains quickly. Therefore, you have to change the battery frequently, which can often be costly and time-consuming.

  1. Cooling Time

The gas-run refrigerator will take a lot of time to cool, as the gas in the fridge needs a while to heat up and complete the cycle. You will probably have to turn the fridge on a day before you plan to travel to allow the condensation to happen at the right time.

Electric RV Refrigerator


  1. Safety

You won’t have to worry about gas leakage or ventilation concerns because there isn’t a gas line hookup. This safer method of powering RV refrigerators has grown popular among several young campers.

  1. No Prior Preparation

You wouldn’t have to keep the electric refrigerator plugged in overnight or ensure to give it sufficient time to recharge after removing it, as you would with a gas refrigerator.

  1. Fast Cooling

While gas needs time to heat up, electricity does not require such a delay. It starts to cool the refrigerator quicker and gives you a better experience. As a result, you wouldn’t have to be concerned about your uncooked foodstuffs becoming hot or losing their freshness.

  1. Flexible

Electric fridges in RVs may operate both on AC and DC. It works well with both 12-volt DC and 120-volt AC power sources. They have a more constant temperature-regulating capability and use little power to operate.

  1. Solar Energy

The option of solar energy is a big advantage of electrical refrigerators. If you don’t have access to electricity but have solar paneling, you can utilize them to run your RV refrigerator.


  1. Requires Plug-in

A refrigerator that runs on electricity must be plugged in to operate. If you don’t have access to a power outlet, you’ll need to rely on batteries or solar panels.

This is a drawback because connectivity isn’t always accessible, particularly on long journeys to distant places.

  1. Pricey

If you intend to buy a good electric refrigerator that lasts longer and performs better, be prepared to spend some extra money. There is no doubt that a good electric refrigerator will cost you a lot compared to a gas-run refrigerator.

  1. Fuse

You must know the current that your refrigerator uses. A certain fridge uses 30 amps, 50 amps, and so on. Alternatively, you risk blowing a fuse by mistakenly operating over the fuse’s threshold.

Some Final Words

RV refrigerators are of various types, including gas, electric, and even renewable power options like solar. The objective of a fridge is to preserve food in its best condition for an extended period and this is something that all types of RV refrigerators can easily manage.  

Now, the sort of RV refrigerator you select will be determined by your requirements, the regularity with which you will travel in your RV, and the number of people in your family.

Do your careful evaluation and choose the one that best suits your needs.


How Cold Should You Let Your Refrigerator Be?

The refrigerator should be maintained at a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, somewhere near 35 degrees Fahrenheit. However, setting the right temperature for the refrigerator also depends on the brand and environment.

The best way to monitor the temperature is to add a thermometer, and it is generally cheap. You get to keep track of the temperature and check it periodically.

How Dangerous Is The Gas Produced By A Gas RV Refrigerator?

Gas used in the RV refrigerator is quite dangerous. If you travel in extremely hot regions, there are high chances the gas will cause a fire. The gases are highly flammable and you must be careful when using gas refrigerators.

How Does an RV Refrigerator Work?

Like a refrigerator at home, an RV fridge helps cool your foodstuff to an appropriate temperature for preservation. It’s usually compacted to fit into the RV’s area and has unique characteristics like small doors and the capacity to function on various power sources.

As it distributes heat from within the fridge to the outside, the RV fridge is termed a heat pump, much like your conventional fridge. But, because these fridges vent “outside” in the case of an RV can mean “outside of the RV.” They can also maintain food fresh or frozen when parked or moving.

What Are the Costs of Gas and Electric RV Refrigerators?

Both gas and electric RV refrigerators are expensive because their design ensures they must work safely on the road. Since the fridge will constantly be moving, the companies have to ensure they make every part correctly, which costs them a lot.

Depending on features, functioning, model, and brands, the refrigerator will cost you somewhere between $1,000 to $4,000.

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