Of course, we all already know what it is and what it is designed to do but do we really think about it right? If you are like me you unconsciously think of “cold” as a substance when we know that in reality, it is an absence of heat. Heat is a reality, cold is not. Elementary, I know.
A refrigerator, for example, does not put any cold air into the interior of the box. It is designed to remove heat from whatever is inside and deposit that heat outside the box. If one keeps that in mind it will make you more conscious of doing the things that make your refrigerator (or air conditioner) do a better job for you.
RV refrigerators work differently than house type refrigerators in that they don’t have a compressor but instead rely on a source of heat heating a mixture of chemicals and as that chemical cools it absorbs heat. In this case from the inside of the box. The main operating difference is that this absorption process takes longer to do the job than a compressor unit (and it relies on gravity, so it must remain relatively level to function efficiently. If it gets too far out of level it will not cool at all.)
Some extra considerations should be made because it takes longer to absorb heat from the contents of an RV refrigerator. Remember that the air that’s in the box contains heat too and as we know, heat rises and colder air falls. Once the unit has removed the heat from the air inside, every time you open the door, that cold air “falls” out the bottom of the opening and in the process creates a partial vacuum that draws in replacement air at the upper levels Now your unit has to cool that new batch of air.
Ok, so you have to open the door occasionally, right? Well if you fill the interior of the box with stuff, there will be less air to fall out each time you open the door. The stuff will replace the air and the stuff will not absorb much new heat from outside the box from briefly opening the door. If you don’t have that much food to take with you, fill the inside with empty water jugs or bottles. It will take a little longer to initially bring the interior temperature down but overall your refrigerator will work a lot less to keep food at the desired temperature and the unit will last longer. A full refrigerator will work better than an empty one as long as air can still circulate between the items inside.
Editors Note: The Camco RV Fridge Airator (Pictured Above) will circulate air in your RV's Fridge to help keep it cool, in addition, it filters out odors. Take a look at the video below to find out how it works.
It is also critical that the doors seal properly and you let hot food cool before placing it in the unit.
These same principles apply to your house refrigerator but because of the speed at which it can recover, it’s just not as critical.
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