Any Residential RV Refrigerator Regrets? Most Say “Nope!”

Any Residential RV Refrigerator Regrets? Most Say "Nope!"

Modern RVs have plenty of creature comforts, but hard ice cream hasn’t always been one of them – until now. Residential RV refrigerator installations are on the rise as RV owners are opting for sticks-and-bricks refrigerators in their rigs. But does the thought of having a “real” refrigerator live up to the expectations? Most RVers who have made the leap say “Absolutely!”

They Rarely Regret a Residential RV Refrigerator Purchase

“We did it and never looked back. Lots of ice and stays COLD!! This Samsung has a lot more room and did I say it stays COLD!” says iRV2 Forums member Mark Miller shares about his 2008 Damon Tuscany motorhome’s unit.

Residential RV refrigerator regrets
Residential RV refrigerator of Mark Miller, iRV2 member.

Another RVer on Facebook agrees. “Love my residential. Same footprint as the rv one, way more room. New residential fridge, inverter and 400 watt solar system to run it when boondocking was cheaper than a Rv fridge,” explains Dan Aldridge.

In fact, scan any iRV2 Discussion Forum topics about Residential Refrigerators in RVs and you’ll likely discover that the vast majority of RVers who have opted out of traditional gas absorption style refrigerators say that it was a good idea to do so. They agree that although traditional RV gas absorption refrigerators can be powered three ways – by liquid propane, 120V conventional power and sometimes 12V power produced by the RV’s batteries – the downsides of owning a unit outweighs the positives.

Pros and Cons of Residential RV Refrigerators versus Traditional RV Refrigerators

Residential RV refrigerator
Image: Dan Aldridge

Look at the basic differences between a residential RV refrigerator versus a traditional RV refrigerator and you’ll see subtle but important differences:

Residential RV Refrigerator Pros

  • More space inside
  • Consistently cold temperatures
  • Performance not effected by outdoor temperatures
  • Shorter time to power up and cool down for travel
  • Costs less money
  • Typically longer lifespan
  • Weighs less

Residential RV Refrigerator Cons

  • RV interior modifications are often necessary for the unit to fit.
  • Usually requires extra RV batteries, larger generator and solar power investment to power while dry-camping
  • Not built for travel: doors will need to be secured during travel
  • Sticks-and-bricks appliance technicians may not work on unit unless it’s removed from the RV

Traditional RV Refrigerator Pros

  • Multiple ways to power the unit
  • Smaller size fits nicely into RVs
  • Built for rugged travel

Traditional RV Refrigerator Cons

  • Costs significantly more than a residential RV refrigerator
  • Propane and ammonia-driven cooling power increases fire risk
  • Requires precisely level campsite for efficient operation
  • Consistently improper leveling may damage unit over time
  • Extreme temperatures outside affect cooling performance
  • Requires several hours to chill before packing food inside
Residential RV refrigerator
Modifications for residential units are usually necessary. Image: Dan Aldridge

Is a Residential RV Refrigerator Good for Boondocking?

The power consumption of a gas absorption-style refrigerator versus a residential RV refrigerator are so similar that most RVers say they don’t notice the difference. But because residential RV refrigerators can only be powered by conventional electricity, many people are under the impression that boondocking is not an option when you install one of these units. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you enjoy dry camping, don’t dismiss owning one of these units as an option. Talk to other hard-core RV boondockers with residential RV refrigerators to get the real story.

“We dry camp often. Have residential refrigerator. Don’t find it to be a problem. With our coach the RR option included six rather than the standard four batteries,” explains vsheetz, an iRV2 Forums member.

“We also dry camp a lot and have upsized from Group 24 to CG2 golf cart batteries – 4 total. The refrigerator will consume about 25% of the battery capacity in a 24 hour period absent any charging,” says 2Escapees iRV2 Forums members.

If you keep your RV long enough, your refrigerator will need replacing. If you’re thinking of buying a residential RV refrigerator, rest assured that for most RV owners, installing one of these units was the best thing they ever did to enhance their RV travel experience.

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