Figuring out what voltage you need in your RV for a comfortable cross-country trip is going to be a chore, but picking the right appliances shouldn’t be.
When you’re stocking up your camper for the season, for that much-needed trip away from the nine-to-five, it’s important to have the right gear for the road, which is why we’ve found the best RV refrigerator models on the market, and put them all in one place for you.
We’ve taken a lot of things into account, from electrical requirements down to the volume, the aesthetics, warranty, brand history and everything else in between. Your RV can be a hassle when it comes to renovations and upgrading your appliances, so let’s take some of that burden off your shoulders.
This is everything you need to know about RV refrigerators, and then some.
Best RV Refrigerator Reviews For 2020
1. orcold Polar 7LX Refrigerator – Best Overall
Designed to be installed and made a permanent addition to your RV for the rest of its days, Norcold comes in with a stellar solution to really fill every need you’ll have in an RV.
As the best RV fridge, you get a decent 7 cubic foot internal storage space, which should go flush with just about every RV fridge spot that we can think of.
Directly in between the fridge and freezer, you get a gauge that shows your temperature, and gives you some control options to adjust it as you see fit. In total, there are four shelves, two clear crisper bins, and clear door bins so you always know what’s in your fridge without having to tear it apart.
The reason that this tops our list, and why we believe it’s worth the money, is because it comes with plenty of features that we’d all kill to have.
First, you get an automatic frost limiting aspect, which detects how much frost buildup there is, and auto-adjusts accordingly. On top of that, it’s also equipped with a thermostat back-up mode that really changes the game.
While it’s a heavy beast, Norcold made this with quiet operation in mind. You’ll barely notice that it’s on, allowing you to focus on everything else that’s going on in your RV instead.
Even when you set this to the lowest possible temperature, which just so happens to be 0°F, you’re barely going to hear a thing. I will say that the gasket that Norcold gives you is very standard, so it will likely need to be replaced after a few years of usage.
You can hang this to either swing left or right, depending on the orientation of your RV, but it is a bit of a pain to do, so be sure to have some patience when you’re unfastening the bolts.
- Size: 52 ⅞” x 23” x 24”
- Volume: 7 cubic feet
- Power: 2.5 amp draw (120V)
- Weight: 132 lbs
The second best of our best rated RV refrigerators comes from Avanti, a brand you might not have heard of before. They’re taking a median price approach with a 7.4 cubic foot fridge and freezer combo.
In total, you get about 6 cubic feet of refrigerator space, with removable shelves and a spot for cans to roll out on the door’s interior.
You get an Energy Star certification, which these days is basically the standard. Avanti isn’t that costly to run, even on a twenty-four hour recurring period.
No matter how long you run it for, you’ll get consistent temperatures the entire time, which is basically what we all want. You’ll find a lot of RV refrigerators that come with a 3-5° range where things can fluctuate.
It’s also important to point out that Avanti includes a water line for dispensing your own water, so you don’t have to run it through the faucet every single time.
Now, in the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t do too much other than filter your water for you, but it’s a nice add-on if you choose to use it.
You only get a one-year warranty with this fridge. I’m not going to sugarcoat it: it’s not a good warranty. Even with that year of coverage, there are a lot of stipulations in the warranty document, meaning that you can only really rely on it for total system failure at no fault of your own. As long as you install this correctly and don’t run into any problems in that space, you should be good to go.
This is designed for the average apartment, which fits most RVs. You have an interior light, leveling legs (which come in handy a lot in an RV), and adjustable door bins. On top of that, you also get a see-through crisper bin, included ice cube tray, and door rack that’s designed to hold onto two-liters with ease.
- Size: 55.8” x 21.8” x 23.5”
- Volume: 8.4 cubic feet
- Power: 110V
- Weight: 92 lbs
Yes, RCA makes just about everything you can think of, including RV refrigerators. Available in black, white, and even stainless steel, this 3.2 cubic foot fridge fits snugly into your RV between a fridge and freezer combo.
There’s a built-in can dispenser in the refrigerator, and a basket that’s designed to hold onto two-liter bottles without losing carbonation on a bumpy road trip. You’ve got about two full cubic feet in the fridge, and about 1.2 in the freezer.
It’s not a portable RV refrigerator, but it isn’t exactly heavy, either. In total, this weighs 57 lbs, which is the same as the Whynter chest-style fridge that we’re going to show you later on in this guide. It’s easy to install it on your own: lifting it into your RV and positioning it solo isn’t going to be a problem.
RCA did a great job at making this compressor high-quality, but you’re going to run into issues with how loud it gets. Energy efficient, but loud. When you first unpackage this and plug it in, you’ll probably get about 20-30db, which is half the noise of a normal one-on-one conversation.
However, after some time and a bit of dust builds on the compressor coils, you might end up with closer to 45-50db, which can be quite aggravating.
Now, here’s the kicker: the temperature can fluctuate, and we’re not quite sure why. In fact, RCA isn’t quite sure why, based on all the information available about this fridge.
This all translates to you puting the temperature 2-3° lower than you actually need to account for these fluctuations, because we really don’t want the confines of your fridge going into the danger zone.
Overall, RCA’s RV fridge is very affordable, though with the fluctuating temperatures, the freezer is a bit questionable at times. It may over freeze from time to time.
You have a one-year warranty on parts, as well as ninety days on labor, which is plenty of time to put this through the ringer and see how it fares.
- Size: 22” x 20” x 34”
- Volume: 3.2 cubic feet
- Power: 110V
- Weight: 57 lbs
Out of all our RV refrigerator reviews, this one was the most fun to do. Dometic actually hits the highest price point on our list, but they also don’t go halfway on any feature included in this portable RV refrigerator.
You can bring this outside with you and plug it into a generator, or use it indoors to replace your RV refrigerator entirely. It’s portable, but it’s also built for continuous, heavy-duty use.
You have controllable zones, so you can choose whether to have a full fridge or two freezers, depending on your needs for the trip. An interior LED light illuminates everything, so you can grab that early morning breakfast while you hit the road and let everyone sleep during your travels.
The reinforced handles on the sides lock into place so they can’t get snagged on anything, and help you move this with ease. The whole fridge weighs 90 lbs, so if you can, get a second set of hands to help you move it into your RV or from your RV to wherever you need it.
One of the best things about this fridge is its rugged design, which is very forgiving if this gets knocked around a bit while you’re driving (or if you have kids).
There’s a built-in USB charging port, so you can reroute some power through your fridge to charge your devices while you drive. You get an AC and DC power cord included with your purchase, but as a fair warning, the cords are kind of short.
The LED light temperature display makes it easy to check the current temp, while the detachable and reversible lid gives you options on how you want to use your fridge. It’s not a cheap unit: this is an investment in your RV, giving you a temperature range of -8°F up to 50°F. It’s the power you need to keep everything cool.
- Size: 18.6” x 37.8” x 20.8″
- Volume: 85 liters
- Power: 120V
- Weight: 90 lbs
Last but not least, Whynter comes in with some serious refrigeration power. You get a total of 65 quarts of storage space, wrapped up in a 57 lb package (which isn’t too shabby considering how much room you get).
As one of the best rated RV refrigerators on our list, it also only uses 75 watts, so power consumption isn’t going to be a major concern for energy-conscious RVers out there.
A normal conversation between two people registers at around 58-62db, and Whynter’s portable fridges come in just shy of 46db, so it’s going to be noticeable.
There’s no other way to say it, but in the closed confines of an RV, you’re going to notice this for a while until you get used to the noise. It can be a little distracting for the first few days after installing it.
With a temperature range of 8°F to 50°F, you can choose to use this to keep food safe, or simply use it as a big drink chiller while you’re on the road.
Using a higher temperature setting means you aren’t drawing nearly as much power, while you still get access to cold drinks, snacks, and foods that aren’t required to sit in the safe zone of 32°F to 41°F.
For some context, you can fit 107 separate 12 oz cans in here, so it’s definitely viable for long-range trips where you plan on eating at restaurants along the way.
Utilize the 8-foot AC power cord or 10-foot DC cord depending on your needs, and hook up this ETL-approved refrigerator in your RV for some serious power.
There’s an LED indicator light and temperature display, so you can ensure it’s working when you get up early, even if your little ones are asleep in the back—no need to turn the lights on and stir everybody.
The lid is secure, the hinges operate smoothly, and overall, you’re going to save some money on this refrigerator compared to even some other models on our list.
- Size: 23.5” x 12.5” x 15”
- Volume: 65 quarts
- Power: 110V
- Weight: 57 lbs
RV Refrigerator Buying Guide & FAQ
Features to Look for in an RV Refrigerator
Cubic Feet of Storage Space
You’re obviously not going to have the same capacity as that 28 cubic foot Samsung smart fridge in the kitchen right now, but we still need to get some serious storage capabilities in our RVs if we want to validate this purchase in the first place.
You need to look at the total cubic feet, and understand that we use about 0.17 cubic feet per person, per day in a standard refrigerator.
Add the math up to your usual RV trips and the average number of occupants (and of course, factor in your average number of restocks) to determine what you need, and what doesn’t cut it.
You have to be conscious of how much energy you’re sapping in your RV.
If you have a full deck of solar panels on the roof and mostly RV during the summertime, this might not be as much of a concern, but for the rest of us or full-time RVers, the energy ratings and amp hours used per day are going to seriously affect the decision-making process.
Every pound counts. Every pound that you strap into your RV can affect your fuel rating, which is why many manufacturers make high-capacity refrigerators for your RV with a relatively lightweight design (compared to standalone residential refrigerators).
For instance, the Whynter refrigerator at the fifth spot on our list has a total weight of 57 lbs, whereas similar fridges with the same cubic foot capacity come in at 65-70 lbs.
How Long do RV Refrigerators Last?
These chest-style RV refrigerators have a longer lifespan than traditional fridges.
Chest-style (otherwise known as portable) RV fridges typically have a ten-year life cycle on them, while others may only have around eight. Either way, for your RV fridge freezer combo, you’re only going to see one to three year warranties at the absolute best.
A warranty is not a guarantee of how long something is going to work for. It’s not saying, “This fridge will operate perfectly for the time of this warranty.”
Most warranties are only one to three years for many RV refrigerators, and cover manufacturing issues. If a compressor gives out (which can happen), and it’s not because of an improper installation, it’s still up to you to take care of it.
It’s important to have a warranty to cover your purchase against a serious oversight during manufacturing and quality control, because no matter what brand you go for, this is going to happen from time to time.
However, you don’t have to go ride-or-die on an extended, overstuffed warranty. Don’t be upsold on them.
Can I Replace my RV Refrigerator with a Standard Refrigerator?
Many RVers will use what’s called a residential refrigerator in their RV.
Some residential refrigerators are actually designed to go in an RV, specifically in those 40’+ units that people full-time in. If you’re spending every day of the year in your RV, you need a large fridge to accommodate.
Depending on the power capabilities of your electrical system in your RV, you could probably use a standard, designed-for-home refrigerator in your RV, provided that it’s not too large, and doesn’t draw too much power.
If you’re someone that likes to hook up as many solar panels to your RV as possible, powering one of these might not be as big of an energy draw for you.
Do RV Refrigerators Use a Lot of Electricity?
Every fridge is different, but yes, on average an RV refrigerator does use up a lot of electricity. There are smaller, on-the-go RV refrigerators, and then there are residential RV refrigerators that emulate the same size of the fridge you have at home right now.
Standard residential RV refrigerators can run around 200 amps of power in about ten hours of use. I’m talking about full capacity, 16+ cubic foot fridge, here. That’s why we’ve showcased smaller fridges around 3.2 cubic feet and up.
Larger units require larger compressors, which draw a ton of power, meaning these smaller fridges can save you tons on your electrical costs, and the time you spend recharging your battery.
A 3.2 cubic foot fridge, depending on the compressor or thermoelectric cooling method, can run you about 80 amps over the course of ten hours. You might hit that 200 amps we mentioned earlier for a full twenty-four hours of use.
Many RV-specific refrigerators (usually post-2013, when RVing full-time became a big thing) have a rest mode or sleep function. You can even find this in a lot of beverage coolers in convenience stores and coffee shops.
After the desired temperature is reached, the fridge powers down to standby mode, where it monitors the temperature and kicks back on when it’s needed. As long as you don’t open the fridge, it acts like a cooler and just uses the available air temperature for the time being.
Does an RV Refrigerator Work Better on Gas or Electric?
Technically, it works better (more energy efficient) if you’re on electricity, but that isn’t a luxury that we have on a constant basis when we’re in an RV. Instead, running off of gas is going to work better for keeping your fridge operational and keeping your food safe.
Electricity is preferred and more energy efficient, but not quite as accessible. You could stop at a propane station on the way to or from your destination, but recharging takes a while.
If you’re also running RV solar panels on top of your RV to really add to your mobile electricity (I’m talking over 1,000 watts worth of panels), you might get away with switching to electricity while you’re parked.
It’s good to have the option of running both. If you’re on the road and need the fridge running, then you’re going to want to use gas until you can park and get some reliable solar power coming through so you don’t drain your on-board battery.
If you run a generator when you get to your campsite, you could hook up your RV fridge to that as well.
Chillin’ Like a Villain
You can’t cruise around without something cold to drink, and you can’t just rely on a hand cooler for RV travel.
These RV refrigerators are certain to enhance your experience, while also adding utility to your RV throughout every one of your trips. It’s time to make your RV a more comfortable place to spend your time on the road.