RV Refrigerators - what is the current trend?

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
This is kind of a spinoff from my Toy Hauler thread, but I have to say that when online shopping for RVs, one of the frustrating things is the vague information that is available online with regard to components, especially the refrigerator.

Most of the brochures or web sites will tell you the size in cubic feet, but that's it.

What I'd like to be able to see is what type of fridge it is. Absorption vs compressor? 3 way (120vAC, 12vDC, Propane), 2 way, or what?

A few people in our camping group have gotten new trailers lately and I was surprised to see that some of the newer campers are coming with 12v/120v compressor fridges instead of the "traditional" absorption fridge that RVs have traditionally had since the 60's and 70's.

Obviously the RV absorption fridge has been around for a long time. Our R-Pod 179 has a Dometic 3 way absorption fridge that will run off of 12vDC, 120v AC or propane.

Of course, anyone who's had one knows that you ONLY run the fridge on 12vDC (battery power) very briefly. We usually only run ours in battery mode when we are towing and the battery is being charged through the 7 pin connector. Because otherwise, those absorption fridges are battery killers, since they consume so much power.

I'm kind of intrigued by the new, large 12v compressor fridges on some of these RVs. Seems to me that with the advances in compressor fridges (like we've seen in the chest-type 12v compressor fridges many of us carry in our trucks) combined with a good sized battery pack AND the solar panels that are becoming common on RVs, we might start seeing the propane absorption fridge disappear.

We're lucky (knock wood!) that we haven't had any issues with our 3 way fridge but I dread running into problems with a thermocouple or igniter. A compressor fridge just seems easier to use as long as you can keep your batteries charged up.
 

Todd n Natalie

OverCamper
Our 2016 hard wall is a 2 way. Our 2011 tent trailer was 3 way. We do miss being able to run the fridge off the 7 pin connector while towing. We poke around and look at some of the new stuff and keep finding that most seem to be 2 way now... :(
 

86scotty

Cynic
The current trend, by far, is 12v fridges. Chest style or front door, they are in pretty much everything nowadays. They are very efficient and safer than absorption models with no pilot light and of course no extra fuel needed. They don't use much more DC power, in fact probably less, than running the old 3-ways on battery power. I have run them trouble free in many rigs for years now without any maintenance whatsoever. I did have to replace a $20 thermostat in the one in my work truck recently (Truckfridge T130) but it has been running 24/7 for about 4 years. No complaints.
 

Grassland

Well-known member
I would suspect Thor and FR are using absorption fridges still, unless there are shortages in getting them.
Escape offers a 12v compressor fridge as an option.
In our case we have dual tanks of propane and I carry a 20# one in the truck for the stove/BBQ so essentially the tanks on the Escape are for fridge use. I got the entire season last year on a single tank and that included a few furnace and inside stove uses.

You would need more solar and more battery capacity in the main stream trailers to be able to rely on a 12v fridge long term in my opinion. What happens if it's a cloudy week and your other power loads increase?
 
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Obsessed2findARuggedHybid

Well-known member
I would suspect Thor and FR are using absorption fridges still, unless there are shortages in getting them.
Escape offers a 12v compressor fridge as an option.
In our case we have dual tanks of propane and I carry a 20# one in the truck for the stove/BBQ so essentially the tanks on the Escape are for fridge use. I got the entire season last year on a single tank and that included a few furnace and inside stove uses.

You would need more solar and more battery capacity in the main stream trailers to be able to rely on a 12v fridge long term in my opinion. What happens if it's a cloudy week and your other power loads increase?

Great point. I did add a DC/DC charger on my build that will help charge when in transit. The Isotherm with temp control is easy on the power drain. Plus in is never cloudy in Utah, ID, MT and Baniff these days.
 

Flyelk1

Member
NL here for me too. Zero complaints and would immediately replace any mass produced standard fridge with mine. More efficient and durable, in my opinion.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
12v is definitely the go to now. Faster to cool, pretty efficient and easily handled by a small amount of solar. The negative being not enough solar snd most new tow rigs don’t feed enough power via 7 pin to keep the fridge and trailer battery topped up. So really having a healthy battery capacity ok solar and maybe small generator for the occasional charging up when you arrive if needed (no hook ups etc)

Given the choice 12v only for me
 

AbleGuy

Officious Intermeddler
Frankly I miss my old absorption fridge. Other than the leveling issues, it was better for disbursed camping because we could run it forever on propane. Our newer compressor fridge not so much because after a few days the solar recharge just can’t keep up with the battery drain of the fridge and other electricals.
 

Buddha.

Finally in expo white.
I work at a dealer that sells forest river products. The lower end units get 12v absorption fridges, everchill(neverchill) brand. We used to have a half dozen waiting to be sent back for warranty, maybe they’re better now?
Better units get a 2 way fridge, rarely 3 way.
Big units get residential 120 fridges.
Never have seen a 12v compressor fridge except for one we added in the basement of a class a.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
I know all 2022 Geo pros are 12vdc Refrigerators
I haven’t come across a single dealer employee that actually knows its a 12vdc fridge ??. Pretty sure a large number of dealer employees have impaired memory and retention issues?
 

TGK

Active member
I still prefer propane/electric fridges for camping off grid for long spells where there is little to no solar opportunity. This can be common if camped in some of the densely timbered forest camps in the PNW Cascades. If out in eastern Oregon or Washington solar can be better, but not in the timber. Propane works and, with decent size tanks, they perform well for prolonged periods. Also prefer it for hot water. I’ve also been exploring some of the smaller toy hauler types but have rejected them because propane was not being offered. All electric certainly seems to be the trend. Not denying it can work in some situations, but not all.
 

STREGA

Explorer
Went with the 12v fridge on our 2021 Winnebago TT, they offered either a 12cf absorption or 10cf compressor fridge both made by Dometic. All the Arizona RV dealers only had the absorption fridges. I ended up going to Colorado Springs to get my trailer with the 12v fridge I wanted, it was also $10k cheaper for the same trailer in Colorado.

I will never go back to a absorption fridge again. The advantages of the 12v fridge outweigh the negative for me which is the need for a good solar array and batteries when boondocking. My trailer does have solar panels on it from the factory but might be upgrading it soon. What I really like about the 12v fridge is that it flat out outperforms the absorption fridges I have used in the past. It cools down faster, will actually keep ice cream frozen. It does that with the temperature set at the half way mark, my last absorption fridge (a domectic also) at highest setting would not keep ice cream frozen. With the absorption fridge I had to defrost the fridge every 2 to 3 months, after 9 months the compressor fridge still does not need defrosting yet, both fridges running 24/7. Being totally level is not a concern for it to run properly. The trailer doesn’t have to have vents on the side wall or the roof which is always a potential for a leak or insect invasion. And they are much safer than a absorption fridge, fridge fires are not uncommon with absorption fridges many a RV has burned to the ground from them. Being a full time RV’er that last one is kinda important to me.
 

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