rv refrigeration is one of the most important appliances in your RV, especially when camping. There are three primary types of RV refrigerators – absorption, compressor and residential – so understanding how they work is critical to making the most out of your fridge when camping.

Absorption Refrigerators

The most common type of RV refrigerator is the absorption style. These utilize a very complex, but effective cooling process. They use heat to produce the cooling action, which is why they take longer than compressor style fridges to cool down. Absorption fridges also need to work harder to keep food cold when it’s hot outside or at higher altitudes. A refrigerator fan can help to improve the air circulation in an absorption fridge, but it’s still not as efficient as a compressor-style RV fridge.

A standard absorption refrigerator has a control setting that automatically switches between an electricity and LP gas reserve. When hooked up to a power source, the electric heating element boils the ammonia/water solution to create the cooling action. When disconnected from electricity, the LP gas flame heats up to replace it.

The best way to prevent ice from building up in an absorption fridge is to make sure it’s well-insulated, and to always turn it on early — it takes up to 6 hours for the fridge to cool down when turned on for the first time. Also, never over stuff your fridge (especially the freezer) as it can restrict air flow and cause ice to build up in low points.

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