How Long Does it Take for a Propane Fridge to Get Cold?

It will depend on several factors such as how frequent do you open the fridge door, and the model of the fridge since different fridges attain stable temperature at varying hours. So knowing the exact behavior of your fridge is essential.

So, how long does it take for a propane fridge to get cold? Majority of the latest fridge models take about 8-12 hrs. to attain a stable cold temperature but after about 5 to 6 hours the fridge should be cold enough for you to put food.

However, some old models may even take 1 whole day to be stable at the set cold temperatures.  

Besides, you can be more creative in helping your fridge attain its cold temperature fast especially if you are traversing hot areas or the weather is quite hot.

Using a fan to cool off the outside the fridge enhances overall cooling and your fridge will consume less propane to reach cold. The fan cools of the fridge coils.

As a result, more cold air moves across the condenser coil and reaches the freezer faster. That is how the fans enhance the cooling making the fridge running in either propane or electric attain its set cold temperature fast.

This guide further seeks to shade more light on

  • Possible reasons the fridge does not get cold
  • Duration to wait before putting food in fridge
  • Empty fridge getting cold
  • Durability of a propane fridge when running
  • How to reset your fridge to clear errors
  • Whether or not you need battery to run propane fridge
  • Fridge technical errors and ways to solve the problems
  • How to make your RV fridge more efficient (video)

Why Is My RV Refrigerator not Getting Cold?

Having a non-functional refrigerator is one of the worst experience while on the road with no access to a dealer, or a repair service.

It further hurts to know that your food stored in the refrigerator is at the risk of going bad making you run out of food supplies easily if you travelling over a long journey.

Once you notice that the fridge is no longer cooling, you need to troubleshoot. I will provide you with some hints of going about with troubleshooting:

Hint 1

For either electric or propane refrigerator, verify using a thermometer to know whether or not it is working. If you do not have a thermometer you can use your bare hands with caution.

 For electric, place a thermometer (suitable for refrigerators) or your hand near the heating element and see whether it is warm or hot. Do not touch you will get burn. It should not be cold.

For gas refrigerator, check back side of refrigerator and see if there is a flame if it is on the gas setting.

Hint 2

Confirm the presence of airflow. At the rear compartment of the refrigerator you ought to feel the cooling effect. A reduced or no airflow even in the freezer implies the fridge has malfunctioned.

So try find out if the fan is working. Listen for some noise, a running evaporator in the freezer make some noise when making the cyles.

Besides, when opening the fridge door the fan switches off and when you lock the door the fan turns on. If completely no noise, then the fan is not working.

Next, try view the diffuser duct. If clogged with ice it will prevent normal operation. If further no cooling, use your nose to sniff around refrigerator, a smell of ammonia would imply possible leakages in the absorption tubes. Notify the dealer to get it fixed.

Hint 3

Try run the fridge on both LP gas and electricity. If it does not run on either source, then cooling unit is faulty. If it works on either LP gas or electricity and not the other then cooling unit is intact.

How Long Should I Wait to Put Food in a New Fridge?

It is important to note that a new fridge inside compartment temperatures are likely to be room temperature.

As a result, if you immediately place food or medicine especially those highly perishable then it may spoil even before cooling starts especially if that item requires freezing conditions.

So, how long after plugging in a fridge can it be used?

To be safe, for a new fridge put it on. Allow 2hrs to 4hrs cooling before placing any item inside. The freezer temperature should also be below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Allowing the fridge to cool first makes its inner compartment cold enough and when food is placed the fridge will now start cooling the food immediately.

Furthermore, before switching on the new fridge that has just been delivered to your place, let it rest on a flat ground for about 4 hours with no interference.

It is because while it was being transported the fluids (lubricant and gas) in the tubes were moving about since the fridge was not in a leveled ground during the trip.

Allow the fluids and everything to settle makes them easily attain their optimum operation capability once switched on. Besides, it also prevents damages that could be costly yet the fridge is new.

Always keep this in mind that a fridge needs to rest before being switched on for a new fridge and a fridge should be placed in a leveled ground as much as possible.

Will an Empty Fridge Get Cold?

Yes. In fact, it will get cold much faster than when having food. Since no food are present in the fridge, less energy is needed to bring a cooling effect as there is basically nothing to cool inside the fridge.

However, an empty fridge cannot maintain the cold for long especially when power source is off or perhaps when you frequently open the fridge door since the cold air simply spills off to the outside.

Cooled food items can make the fridge stay cooler much longer since they rate of heat loss would also be much slow especially is the fridge door remains closed with minimal opening if need be.

How Long Will a Propane Fridge Run?

It is important to have an estimate on how long the fridge would be powered by propane in a trip. Otherwise, if you run out of propane in the middle of your trip and you are nowhere near a refilling station, or in a camp ground then you are likely to incur wastage due to food spoilage.

On average, assuming the propane is only used to power the fridge then expect to last about 30 days or more with 24hr/day use. However, the duration will be affected with several factors that may lower or increase the duration.

Expect a reduced duration is you are camping in a hot place since more energy would be used to power the fridge. Besides, if you unnecessarily open the fridge door more often and even leave it open then more propane would be used.

Furthermore, it depends with the settings you have adjusted like if you really need extreme cold temperatures then more power would be used.

In addition, if it is the same propane tank that you are using to cook then overall duration would be much less. Nevertheless, the propane tank should be able to last you weeks and even more than a month.

You can also check how long the car batteries will take to run your fridge in case you run out of propane as long as the model can also run on battery.

How Do I Reset My RV Refrigerator?

You can simply reset your refrigerator by shutting down the fridge and allow it to settle for some minutes before you power it on. However, sometimes even after shutting and powering the fridge you still experience the fault code “no co” on the optical assembly.

To clear the “no co” error code, follow the following steps:

Step 1

Power of the refrigerator.

Step 2

On the power board, disconnect the positive and negative wires from the 12V DC. Remove the AC power code. Disconnect the solenoid coil wires, and disconnect sense/spark electrode assembly wires.

Step 3

Remove the cover of the power board.

Step 4

Reconnect all items that were disconnected in step 2 above.

Step 5

Power on the refrigerator

Step 6

Repeat step 1 to 5 again if the error still persists. It ought to clear off. Seek further technical assistance if need be.

Does RV Fridge need Battery to Run on Propane?

No, you do not need a battery. Most RV fridges have been designed to work on either propane or electricity or both and a few run on battery.That is why RV fridges tend to be much more expensive than a normal home fridge due to its flexibility in operation.

However, you can also run your fridge on you car battery but it is not recommended. It is because a fridge consumes too much power to run and will quickly drain your batter perhaps within 10hrs or continuous running and your trip may be cut short due to lack of power.

Although you can use a car battery to power an RV fridge for a model that has been designed to run on a battery as well as electricity or with propane. Be sure to understand your fridge power source.

So with electricity or propane, you easily switch power source such as using electricity while on campsite and using propane while on the road. In fact, if your fridge is designed to work in either electricity or propane you simply plug in with no complex procedures to follow.

You will often have to choose the most suitable fridge to meet your needs and ability to maintain while on a trip depending with convenience to power source.

Types of Fridge Based on Power Sources

So, you can have to choose based on power source and there are 3 types:

1 Electric and propane combination

The fridge run using either electricity or propane. Note that the fridge is costly to purchase as well as repair in case something gets damaged. Besides, ensure it is on a leveled ground before using.

Common examples of electric/propane RV fridge include:

  • Norcold 2-way refridgerator without ice maker 5.5
  • Dometic new generation RM3762-2 Way refridgerator with double doors

2. Electric and battery (12-volt) combination

The fridge runs on either a 12 volt battery or a 120 volt AC power (electricity similar to a house outlet). It is costly compared to electricity/propane fridges. Durable.

Common examples include:

  • Domestic CoolFreeze CFX portable compressor dual zone and freezer, 85L
  • Whynter 65 quart portable fridge

3. Mini-fridge

The cheapest compared to the latter 2 types. Is less durable since it cannot withstand too much movement by the camper. It only runs on 120 volt AC power. It must be leveled when in use.

Example of Mini-fridge include:

  • Frigidaire 3.3 Cu. Ft. mini fridge
  • Insignia 2.6 Cu. Ft. mini fridge

Common Fridge Technical Errors and Possible Solutions

RV fridge are not always perfect and once in a while you are likely to incur some technical hitches that may or may not directly affect the normal operation of the fridge but can also raise a concern.

I will discuss challenging issues including RV fridge shutting off.

1 RV Fridge keeps shutting off

One of the reason of the fridge shutting off is when it is not leveled making the compressor not operate since it also relies on the gravity concept to operate. Try level the fridge as much as possible.

Keep in mind that even at least 15 minutes of fridge operating in unleveled surface can cause permanent damages. When the fridge is unleveled, there is improper circulation of the coolant that even reduces the cooling capability of the fridge.

I know it is not easy to maintain a leveled ground when driving but when parking ensure the RV is parked in a leveled ground.

Other things to monitor that can cause the fridge not work include:

  • Power source: if there is no power or there is  a frequent interruption to power source then the fridge will keep on shutting off.
  • Electrical heating element may have been spoiled if you use electricity and you may need to have it replaced
  • The burner may be malfunctioned if the fridge is operating on propane.

2. RV fridge fan keeps running all the time

Normally, the fan ought not to run continuously. However, sometimes it can run continuously. This may not be an issue of concern since everything is operating but it may imply that there is an inline fuse before the vent fan. You may require expertise to help you fix the fan and even replace if need be.

3. RV fridge leaking water

Possible cause of the leaks is leaks from the draining tubes. You may require expertise to help you sort the leaking.

4. RV fridge is wet inside

Check for possible causes of leaks, tubes and vents. Have them fixed

5. RV fridge drains battery power

It may not be a concern especially if the fridge capacity is high since it requires high power to operate and may easily drain your battery fast. So, get another back up batter or use solar panel systems to boost your power. 

Besides, when on the road do not use the battery since it will drain fast. Instead use propane. Besides, while at the shore use direct power from the shore.

Although all these options will depend on the type of fridge you have bought and whether or not it is compatible with various power sources.

6. RV fridge has mold

Mold often comes forms when the fridge door remains closed when not using the fridge. If you are not planning to use the fridge for an extended period leaving the fridge door open will help prevent mold formation. Molds forms in damp areas.

7. Food keeps flying around on the road

Find fridge braces to hold food in position. You can also buy a shelf hog, it is a balloon like item that offers padding and holds food in place.

8. RV check lights keeps blinking

The check light is the yellow one next to the green light. Green light indicates the fridge is on. The yellow indicates possible problems with the fridge. Possible reasons for the yellow check light to keep on blinking include:

  • Unleveled RV
  • Power source is off (battery, propane, or electricity)

9. RV fridge leaks yellow fluid or makes a gurgling noise

It indicates a possible leak in ammonia. Ammonia is an evaporator used in a propane fridge and is essential in the proper working of a fridge. You can identify the ammonia is leaking through a pungent smell when you open the fridge door.

Presence of a yellow like fluid in the burner section and in worst case scenario you may hear a bubbling sound at the back of the refrigerator when it is on.

10. RV fridge is not cooling

Possible factors can prevent the fridge from cooling. The fan may be faulty and you may need a replacement.

When the fridge is on, you may hear some background noise, it is a fan operating, although the sound may not be continuous then the fan is ok. If no sound at all then have the fan inspected by an expert.

Do not overload the shelves since it prevents effective cooling. In addition, open the fridge door only when necessary. Leave it closed as much as possible.

How To Make RV Fridge More Efficient (Video)

Watch this video to get more insight on how to increase your fridge efficiency.

How to make RV fridge more efficient

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