RV refrigerator buyers guide

RV Refrigerator: Troubleshooting & Buyer’s Guide (Best RV Fridge 2019)

Looking for an RV fridge?

You've come to the right place!

In this article we discuss how an RV fridge works and how you can solve problems with your RV fridge …

We will also compare some of the
best RV refrigerators
and reveal our top choices.

We cover price, quality, sustainability, reviews and more!

Before we get started, here is a brief overview of the entire buying guide so you can start right away where you want to go:

quick navigation

How an RV fridge works
How to solve your RV refrigerator
Things to consider when buying a new refrigerator
4 Best RV fridges from 2019
Dometic DM2652RB Americana double door RV refrigerator
Norcold DE0061R 7 cu. ft.Refrigerator
Dometic DM2852RB Americana double door RV refrigerator
Norcold NR740BBCompact fridge
How to install your new RV refrigerator
Camper Refrigerator Tips & Tricks

Note: Some of the links in this article are affiliated links. This does not cost you more than normal. Read our denial For more information.

How an RV fridge works

Before we reveal the best camper fridge, it is useful to understand how an RV refrigerator really works.

Your RV refrigerator works very differently from a refrigerator in a living environment.

Your home refrigerator uses a compressor. An RV refrigerator has no compressor or uses no moving parts to cool things down.

This is becoming one absorption refrigerator.

This is how an absorption refrigerator works:

How an RV refrigerator works

In short, an absorption refrigerator uses a flame to heat a combination of ammonia, hydrogen gas and water.

The heat causes these chemicals to evaporate and cool the condensation out of the refrigerator.

When using shore power or a generator, the heat is produced by an element. If no electricity is available, the LPG gas is used to make a flame and to heat the chemicals.

Most modern RV refrigerators can be set to automatically switch between LPG or electricity depending on whether you are connected to a generator or used propane.

This way you do not have to remember to swap it and you do not have to process rotten spoiled food if you forget it. 🙂

If your RV refrigerator has this function, it probably looks like this:

RV refrigerator LP gas switch

You can switch the settings between "AUTO", "OFF" and "GAS".

Auto is the automatic switch, off is turned off (shocker, I know) and gas only works on LPG gas. This is useful if you boondock and do not want the refrigerator to run out of your generator or solar power.

Models are however divided into two "types": bidirectional and triplicate.

  • A 2-way is the most common type. It works on mains or LPG gas.
  • A 3-way route runs from alternating current, direct current and LPG.

Finally, there are today two major brands of camping refrigerators: Norcold and Dometic. But we come in the section about the best RV-fridges.

Let's see if we can save some money!

Read related: RV Water Pump Buyer's Guide

How to solve your RV refrigerator

If you buy a new RV refrigerator because yours is not working properly, you might be able to save some money simply by first clearing your fridge. It could be an easy solution!

Here is a short video about troubleshooting your RV or camper fridge by our friends on TrailorDayz:

Simply put, you have a thermistor problem, a problem with the control board or a problem with a heating element. They are not difficult to solve problems and he deals with the most common failure points in the video.

These are the products he mentioned:


What situation is it for


Thetford thermistor unit for RV refrigerator

Thetford (618548) Thermistor assembly

If your thermistor is connected to the interior light.

See Price on Amazon
Norcold 620528 Thermistor to solve problems with your RV-refrigerator

Norcold 620528 Thermistor

If your thermistor has no light connection.

See Price on Amazon
Dometic 3851210025 Thermistor Kit for camper fridge

Dometic 3851210025 Thermicorset

If your refrigerator is a Dometic model.

See Price on Amazon

If you need more help, click here to access the Norcold Thermistor Ohm card and the location guide.

Continue …

Things to consider when buying a new refrigerator

If you've tried to fix the problem and your fridge still does not work, or you just want a new fridge, we've found some of the best!

However, the right refrigerator for you will vary based on:

  • Size
  • Capacity
  • options
  • price

Let's discuss each.


Depending on the size of your rig, you have a refrigerator with a different size. You must measure the space to ensure that you purchase the correct unit of measurement.

If you are replacing an old Norcold refrigerator, click here to view their conversion table.

To find your replacement, press "Control + F" (or "Command + F" for Mac) on your keyboard and enter your model number. He shows you the size of your refrigerator to find a replacement.

Norcold Inc. warns however that some changes in the housing may be necessary, because replacement dimensions do not fit exactly in all cases.

Think of the golden rule: Measure twice, cut once!


Like household refrigerators, RV refrigerators have different storage capacities for food – even between refrigerators of the same size!

Find out how much you really needs, and then buy on that basis.

Pro Tip!

Compact refrigerator

If you need more deep-freeze or food storage space, consider purchasing a mini-refrigerator. Most of them run on AC or DC, and you can put them outside during camping so you do not have to go inside for a drink!

See Price on Amazon

They are especially useful if you have a small RV and do not want to buy a cool box or ice box that constantly needs fresh ice to store extra food.


Different RV refrigerators offer different options. Choosing the right options can save you a pretty penny!

For example, some people need ice machines and two-door refrigerators, and others have less of an ice machine. It is up to you to decide!


Good RV fridges are not cheap. They start around $ 1,100 and go all the way up to $ 3,000 plus for luxury models.

The reason they cost so much is because RV fridges, unlike a home refrigerator, made of plastic parts, are made of stainless steel to absorb the constant rumbling of the road without breaking.

If you are looking to save, consider buying refurbished. However, make sure you do not buy a blind person! Make sure you test the model before you buy it.

If you want to be safe, you can always buy the new models that we share below.

4 Best RV fridges from 2019

Finally, here are the best RV fridges we have found this year!



Amazon Rating


Dometic Americana Double By RV Refrigerator

Dometic DM2652RB Americana
Double door RV refrigerator


24 x 23 x 53.8 inches


123 pounds


2 roads

See Price on Amazon
Norcold Travel Trailer Refrigerator

Norcold DE0061R 7 cu. ft.


55 x 24 x 24 inches


114 pounds



See Price on Amazon
Dometic Americana Double Door RV Refrigerator 8 Cubic Feet

Dometic DM2852RB Americana
Double door RV refrigerator


28.5 x 143 x 63.5 inches


143 pounds


2 roads

See Price on Amazon
Norcold Compact Camper refrigerator

Norcold NR740BB
Compact refrigerator


22 x 18 x 23 inches


5 pounds


AC Power

See Price on Amazon

How to install your new RV refrigerator

Once you have bought a new refrigerator, you have to install it – which is not the easiest in the world, especially if you have to change the cupboards.

If you are not a handy person, it might be better to have a dealer install it for you.

But if you want to save some money, it is an option to install it yourself. Be careful – you work with LP gas lines and electric wires, so ensure safety!

Here is a video of RV Four Seasons about installing a new RV or travel trailer refrigerator:

The refrigerator in the video is the Dometic RM2620r. Unfortunately, it is currently unavailable. A similar model would be the Dometic DM2652RB Americana double door RV refrigerator.

Camper Refrigerator Tips & Tricks

You did it! Congratulations!

Before we go, here are some tips & tricks to keep your new refrigerator working efficiently and to make sure it lasts a long time:

  • Turn on the refrigerator the night before departure. This allows the refrigerator to warm up and be ready to store food.
  • Only place deep-frozen, cold or food at room temperature in your refrigerator. Hot food takes a lot more power (and time) to cool down.
  • Leave room between food. A packaged refrigerator restricts air flow, causing food to cool unevenly and the refrigerator to work harder.
  • Buy one battery operated RV refrigerator fan. These things are great – they can reduce your cool down time by as much as 50%!
  • Do not open your refrigerator too much. You must maintain a temperature of 34 to 36 degrees (or 0 to 10 degrees in the freezer) to keep food safe. Anything over 40 degrees can spoil food and that can happen quickly if you leave the door open.
  • Get a thermometer. If you store a thermometer in your refrigerator, you can be sure that your refrigerator works and is ready to store food!
  • Thaw your freezer once a month or two. Frost accumulation can reduce the freezer compartment and become annoying. Switch the refrigerator off completely and let it thaw. To speed up the process, place a pan of hot water in your freezer.
  • Your refrigerator must be level to work properly. If you use the refrigerator off-level, it will be damaged. Stick a bubble level on it to ensure that you can go well.
  • Let your refrigerator run occasionally, even if you are not RVing. There are sediments in the liquid chemicals and if your refrigerator does not run, they settle on the bottom and cause blockages that can damage the refrigerator and delay the cooling process.
  • Check the front and rear air vents before and after each ride. Routine maintenance can ensure that your rig (and your refrigerator) continues to run smoothly for a long time.
  • Park with your outdoor ventilation in the shade. The outside temperature can affect how well your refrigerator works. If the back of the refrigerator is in the shade, it stays cooler and does not have to work as hard.
  • Make sure the seals close properly. Like all seals on your rig, checking the door seals of the refrigerator after every trip (and putting baby powder on it every few months) can keep everything sealed and running smoothly.
  • Get something expandable refrigerator bars to keep things in place. There is nothing worse about setting up the camp just to find your food spilled through the fridge.

And that's all there is! I hope you found a great fridge for your camper, installed it correctly and are ready for your RV trips!

If you have any questions, comments or own tips, please leave a comment below!

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The RV Refrigerator: Troubleshooting & Buyer's Guide (Best RV Fridge 2019) first appeared on The Wandering RV.

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