Should You Leave Your RV Fridge On All the Time? (When to turn it off)


When you go RV camping, you are able to enjoy some of the luxuries of home. Traditional tent camping requires you to bring a cooler to store your food; in an RV, you often can leave your food in an actual fridge.

Some RV campers may be confused as to what to do with these luxury items. You don’t have to worry about turning off your fridge at home, and you don’t take one along on a regular camping trip. This is an entirely new territory. That leaves many with the question – should you leave your RV fridge on all the time?

Today, we’re going to answer that question for you as well as giving you some handy tips and precautions when it comes to Rv camping with a fridge.

Fact or Myth: Frequently Turning Your RV Fridge On and Off Damages It

Many other campers may warn you that you could damage your RV’s fridge if you frequently turn it on and off. This is a myth.

RV refrigerators are designed to hold up through frequent power switches. It makes sense; when you go camping in one, it is understood that you won’t always be hooked up to a power source.

What to Do With Your RV Fridge When You’re Not Camping

This is likely the most pressing question that you have. When you are not camping, you should not leave your RV’s refrigerator running. You are not using it, so you don’t need it for the time being!

Some of you may be wondering why you should turn it off at all. It isn’t because you will damage your RV’s fridge, but there’s an excellent reason why you should power down and forget it for a while. Let’s talk about that.

Why Turning Your RV Fridge Off is a Good Idea

The reason why you should turn your RV fridge off when it isn’t in use is simple. When you constantly run the thing, you are wasting precious energy! Whether you power it with propane or electricity, you aren’t conserving energy. This is bad for a couple of different reasons.

  • Wasting Energy Hurts the Planet

In the past few decades, countless organizations have been trying to raise awareness for the state of our planet and how we can save it before things get irreparably damaged. This is partly because we, as a society, are using up valuable resources and polluting the air faster than these resources can be replenished.

Chances are high that your electricity doesn’t come from a very eco-friendly source. It will be produced in one of four ways, some being more environmentally conscious, but the most popular way currently is coal or another fossil fuel. This pollutes the air that you breathe and uses up resources that are non-renewable.

  • Using Up Power is Expensive

Even if you do not care about being more environmentally-friendly, you likely care about your wallet. Using up electricity or propane constantly will create a huge drain on your bank account. Unplugging your RV when it isn’t in use and conserving energy will save money as well.

When You Should Turn On Your RV’s Fridge

We have straightened out when you should be turning your RV’s fridge off, but when is a good time to turn it on? The best time to turn your fridge back on is 24 hours before you go camping again. This gives it plenty of time to get nice and cold before you hit the road.

Turning Off Your RV’s Fridge While Driving: Good or Bad?

Now that your fridge is cold and all of the goods are packed, you are ready to get on the road and seek out adventure! Here’s the catch, though – your fridge should be turned off yet again. You may be worried that the food will spoil if you do something like that; it’s understandable. You were rightfully taught that leaving a fridge off with perishable food inside spoils it faster.

However, doing so can be a good thing. Again, you are saving energy. If you follow some of these tips below, you can even keep your food cold while driving in your RV while the fridge is off!

  • Keep the fridge closed as much as possible

The temperature inside your already cold fridge will stay optimal as long as you keep it closed as much as you can. This will prevent any perishable foods like meat from spoiling until you get to your destination and plugin again.

  • Pack your fridge with cold drinks

Cold drinks placed into your fridge will act almost like ice packs without actually being frozen. Anything that needs to stay extra cold can be wedged in between them as long as everything is safely sealed.

  • Start with a cold fridge

The reason that you were advised to turn your RV’s fridge on again 24 hours prior to camping is so that it’ll be at an optimal temperature before you pack your food. A fridge that hasn’t gotten the chance yet to cool down will almost certainly keep perishable foods warm and speed up the process of spoiling.

What to Do if You Aren’t Turning Off Your RV’s Fridge While Driving

If you insist on keeping your RV’s refrigerator running while driving to your destination, you have a couple of options. Other RV campers often use these methods when they don’t want to unplug.

  • Use your generator to power your fridge

If you have an RV, you probably have a generator that you use often. While driving, you can keep it running to power your fridge and other appliances that you plan to use on the way to your destination.

  • Leave the air conditioners running but the fridge unplugged

You will still be using a bit of energy from your generator, but it’ll be a little less strain when you unplug the fridge. If you leave the air conditioner on, though, you can keep cool and keep the temperature in the RV chilly enough that the food inside won’t heat up very fast. This is more beneficial to everyone in the RV, but you have another option.

Instead, you could turn the other appliances off but leave the fridge running. Again, it saves a little energy without causing you to worry.

What You Should NOT Do to Keep a Fridge Running While Driving

Those stubborn RV campers who refuse to turn their fridge off while driving have plenty of options when it comes to keeping their food cold. However, there is one thing that some RV campers do that is not safe or advisable.

Do not use propane to power your fridge and appliances while driving in an RV? We’re going to talk about why because it is better to be safe than sorry.

When you use propane to power your RV’s appliances while you drive, you run the risk of causing a catastrophe. We all hope that we never get into an accident, right? The damage might be bad enough as it is, but adding propane to the mix could be fatal.

If a car accident breaks your propane line, the propane could leak and trigger a fire or even an explosion. What was already a scary situation may turn into a tragedy all because you wanted to keep your refrigerator running.

This is the same reason why you must turn off the propane before filling up on fuel. Fuel stations don’t allow this because an open flame near a gas pump could also trigger an explosion. This one would be far bigger and far worse than what would happen to your RV. You would not only be hurting yourself, but you would also be hurting everyone else at the fuel station.

Even if you don’t care about saving energy, you should care about this.

What to Do With Your RV’s Fridge When You Get to the Campsite

When you finally reach your campsite, everything becomes much easier! You will likely have electric hookups available, and all you have to do is plugin and relax. Your fridge will run again and you can forget about it, even when you leave to enjoy the other activities that the site has to offer.

If you are using propane, you can turn it on as soon as you are stopped for good. This time, you can put the thought of fires and explosions out of your mind.

In summary, there are times when it’s appropriate to turn your  RV’s fridge off, but there are other times when you should absolutely leave it on! As long as you ensure the safety of yourself and others, you have nothing to worry about. If you want to go the extra mile and conserve some energy, we applaud you.

Now you are finally ready to get on the road and head off to a nature retreat (but without having to rough it!) Relax, unwind, and grab a cold can of soda while you watch TV or sing songs with the family in your new home away from home.

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Rickie Arms

Hi, I'm Rickie Arms, owner of Glampingorcamping.com. I am so invested in writing the best and most informative articles for you that I went out and bought a travel trailer just so I could write about it for you. I spend just about all of my off time both camping and glamping so I can share everything I have learned and will learn with you. I have spent my whole life camping and over the last 10 years, I have spent a large amount of time checking out glamping experiences with my wife and kids as well. Thank you for coming by and we hope to see you back here getting great information in the future. Rick Arms-

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