How Many Watts Does A Refrigerator Use For Your RV?

how many watts does a refrigerator use

When camping, you want to make sure you cook and consume fresh food, right? To maintain their freshness and avoid spoiling you need to store them properly in a cold place. Refrigerators are quite useful for these purposes, don’t you think? It’s a good thing most RVs are outfitted with one then.

In order to have a seamless trip, get into the habit of knowing the type of refrigerator you are using in your RV, whether it be rented or owned. This includes power source and wattage. This article is for all RV owners out there who not only already have a built-in fridge, but also for those who are considering purchasing the best RV refrigerator.

For anyone who’s looking for an answer to the question “how many watts does a refrigerator use,” keep reading.  

RV Refrigerator vs Residential Refrigerator

If your RV doesn’t have a refrigerator or you’re considering replacing a built in, there are a few things you need to know. First, there are two types you can choose from.

From the name itself, a built-in RV refrigerator is usually included with your motor home. It uses absorption for cooling and does not use any moving part such as a compressor to operate. What it uses are heat, ammonia, and hydrogen gas. It’s compact enough to store food sufficient for a weekend getaway.

Meanwhile, a residential refrigerator provides you more food storage. If you are planning a long road trip, it’s the perfect choice. This type of unit uses a compressor that requires 120V power source. This will only be a problem if you are planning on camping without a hookup.

If your plans involve a large family staying in a campground for a relatively long time, then a residential refrigerator is suitable for your needs.

Knowing your Refrigerator Watts

It is important to be aware of your RV refrigerator’s wattage. In terms of electricity consumption, RV refrigerators require much the same with air conditioners. Keep in mind that unlike the air conditioner, you cannot just turn the refrigerator as you store perishable products inside.

So, really, knowing the answer to the question “how many watts does a refrigerator use?” is vital. Without it, you cannot determine the appropriate hookup or generator to be used. How do you do this?

First off, get to know the starting amp requirement of your refrigerator. A double door refrigerator usually takes up 7-8 amps or around 900-1000 watts for every 120V. The running amp requirement is less. Usually after turning on, the refrigerator can run on 2-4 amps or 100-250 watts for every 120V. If you need to defrost, you’ll need between 1.2-2 amps or around 80-90 watts (per 120V).

Where to check for your RV fridge?

You can get a hold of this information by checking out the stickers or labels attached to the unit. If you can’t find one or if it looks like it has been erased, check the refrigerator manual. You’ll get all the information that you need regarding your unit.

If you still can’t find this information in the manual, make use of the Internet and visit the manufacturer’s site. If all else fails, contact customer support.

Usually, refrigerator amp requirements listed for its different operations. You will see the rating for startup, idle, running or defrosting conditions. However, the availability of this list depends on the manufacturer.

Your RV refrigerator’s wattage will depend on its size, age, model and source of electricity or mode of supply. It will be either 120 V, DC battery, or propane. To be able to determine the watts used by your fridge, you may use the formula, watt = amps x volts. This is usually used if the exact wattage requirement is not listed in your manual.

Why You Should Know Your Refrigerator Watts

Having knowledge about your refrigerator wattage will allow you to plan out for the power requirement of your generator. It will also help you forecast the amount of propane you’ll be needing during your camping. The starting watts of your unit will usually be more than the running watts so make sure you take this into account.  

These days, a refrigerator is really a necessity to RV camping. It has become the norm to have one in your camper or RV. As mentioned earlier, the refrigerator may require close to the wattage of your air conditioner however, a fridge cannot be turned on and off whenever you like.

Remember, the fridge is where you store your food. It constantly needs to be on or your food will spoil. If you are parked in a campsite with full hookups, you have nothing to worry about.

However, it’s a totally different story if you plan to go dry camping. Knowing its wattage becomes fundamental to a safe and enjoyable trip. It will allow you to work around your maximum energy consumption based on your generator. It will aid you in planning how to utilize your generator or battery for the consumption of your refrigerator and other appliances in your camper or RV.

Plan your power consumption around your fridge

Because of the limited supply of power on the road, you really have to do careful planning. Take a full stock of all your appliances and work their use around your refrigerator. If you intend on dry camping, refrigerator run by propane is ideal for your use. Some RVs have both propane and electricity conditions so it will be easier for you to switch sources if need be. Just make sure you have enough supply of propane if you do switch.

If you’re running an older refrigerator model, the wattage might be higher than modern refrigerators. Take note of these details because you don’t want to blow a fuse while you’re in the middle of nowhere.

You don’t want this to happen while you’re in the middle of dry camping because it could cause problems and irreparable damage to your RV. Adding rotting food on top of all that does not make for a good camping experience. Sure, it might make for a good story. But wouldn’t you prefer to have a good story and a good trip?

So, get to know your refrigerator. Have a fun and safe trip!

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