My refer takes hours to get cold when first plugged in. If I start it the night before on propane about how much propane would it use?
ANSWER: Hi Glen, I am happy to tell you that running your RV's refrigerator on propane for 24 hours to get it cold will barely use any propane. In fact you can run your RV's fridge for several weeks before you will even see the propane gauge show any change.
Most Refrigerators that come in RVs are Absorption Refrigerators. They are not like the fridges in your home that use electricity to run a compressor and fan system to keep your fridge cold.
I will try not to get too technical here; Absorption Fridges are sealed systems with no moving parts. The system uses a combination of Ammonia and water that needs to get heated up to a boiling point in what is known as the generator in the sealed system. When the water and ammonia begins to boil they pass into a Separator which separates the water from the ammonia.
The water and ammonia now start their separate journeys through the absorption system. The water moves on to an Absorber. The ammonia takes a trip to the Condenser, where the Ammonia gets to cool down and return to a liquid state. The ammonia then goes to an evaporator where it combines with some compressed hydrogen gas and evaporates into a very cold vapor. This cold vapor moves to cooling coils that are inside the refrigerator, cooling the interior of the refrigerator starting with the freezer.
Finally the vapor goes to the Abosorber where it mixes back in with the water and the whole process starts all over again.
The heat to boil this ammonia/water combo is provided by either a small propane burner or heater powered by electric. On most RV fridges there are buttons that are labeled "Automatic". When you press the automatic button the refrigerator will automatically use electric when it is available and propane when electric is not available to run the the cooling process.
The amount of propane needed to run this absorption process is minimal, so you will not see a large amount of propane being used by your fridge. In fact most RVers start their fridges the night before they are going to start their trip, as an Absorption Fridge takes a good 24 hours to get cold. In most cases the freezer section of the fridge is the first part of the fridge to start cooling down. Also the hotter it is outside the longer it will take for the fridge to get cold.
Below are some steps you can take to help your fridge get colder sooner and how to keep it cold during your travels.
1. Make sure that the refrigerator is level. The cooling process of the fridge depends on gravity and if your refrigerator is not level it will not perform efficiently.
2. Most RV refrigerators do not have fans inside to circulate the cold air around the food in the freezer and refrigerator section. You should purchase a couple of battery operated RV Refrigerator Fans. These fans should be placed in the bottom of both the freezer and fridge section of your fridge. The fans normally run on D Cell batteries and do a good job of circulating the air in the compartments. The batteries usually last over a month.
3. Don't over fill the compartments in the fridge. You need to leave some space between the food items so that the cold air from the fridge can circulate.
4. A properly maintained refrigerator will work more efficiently. Take a look at the video below for some tips on how how to maintain your fridge.
I hope that this information has been helpful to you.
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