Unlike residential refrigerators that use electricity to keep cool, rv refrigeration uses propane. The cooling process requires a complex chemical reaction, and it takes about 24 hours for the fridge to become cold. To speed things up, start the fridge the night before you plan to use it. Also, load the fridge with lots of cold food; it will help it to cool more quickly.
The simplest RV refrigerators (the ones used in tent trailers and campers) work on the same principle as Michael Faraday’s salt and moonshine experiment. They use a mixture of water and ammonia, and when the mixture is heated by the flame in the RV’s refrigerator, the gasses separate and the ammonia evaporates into cold vapor.
This vapor then travels to the evaporator, where it combines with hydrogen gas and becomes cool liquid again. The cooled liquid then flows back to the absorber, where it is absorbed into the water in the boiler. The process is repeated over and over again.
Some smaller RV fridges add a 120V AC-powered heating element to the mix, so they can cool using either propane or electric power. These are sometimes called 3-way refrigerators.
Like any appliance, RV refrigerators can be subject to a variety of problems. One common problem is not leveling the RV correctly; this causes ammonia crystals to build up in low points, which can block air flow and prevent the cooling process from working properly. Also, if the fridge is side vented rather than being venting out through the roof, this can cause airflow issues and make the fridge less efficient. norcold refrigerator parts