Can you run your RV refrigerator while driving?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Can you run your RV refrigerator while driving? We will discuss the possible risks you are exposed to if driving an RV with the refrigerator on and explore some solutions to keep the food and drink cold if you decide to turn off the RV fridge.

Can you run your RV refrigerator while driving?

Yes, you can run your RV refrigerator while driving. However, if your RV fridge runs on propane, you may want to think about this twice. 

The risks of operating the refrigerator while towing include fires and explosions. This risk is mainly due to something going wrong, and we’ve all seen things go wrong while travelling. If you have an accident or if a tire blows, the gas lines running under the camper could break and leak. Propane could be trapped in a storage compartment or cavity under the RV.

All that is needed is an ignition source to start a fire or cause an explosion. This could happen during the accident or shortly after. If you hit something like truck tire retreaders, which are all over the road, you could possibly hit the gas line and you might not even notice your propane leak until it’s crawling on fire.

Other risks, but at least one that is not life-threatening, include the refrigerator not working very well while driving. This could result in melted ice cream and food spoiling while on the road. Also, food poisoning while camping is never something I’d like to deal with.

Running the RV refrigerator while driving

If you choose to run your refrigerator on propane while driving, remember that the law requires that you stop and turn off all gas appliances before entering a service station. This means that you must do so even before approaching the pump. Therefore, before you get to the gas station, you need to find a safe place to stop and put out the flame, then drive to the gas station.

Then once you get out of the gas station, you need to find another safe place to stop and turn the propane back on. Too much risk and hassle if you ask me. You may also need to turn it off before entering the tunnels or boarding a ferry.

Is it legal to drive an RV with propane on?

While it is not illegal to drive an RV with propane on, you must take some safety precautions and consider the possible risks:

  1. Propane is a flammable gas
  2.  And also its inhalation is toxic to the body.

It is necessary to be very careful when using this energy source, as it has been proven that most gas accidents are associated with carelessness on the part of those affected. Precautions should be focused on avoiding gas leaks in closed places, in order to avoid a possible explosion or poisoning by inhalation.

With the use of propane appliances, the same precautions are necessary, especially in places where there is insufficient ventilation. With the combustion of gas, the accumulation of carbon monoxide in the environment can be fatal. It is essential to use these devices in places that have ventilation routes to permanently renew the air.

Solutions if you stop your RV refrigerator before a trip

If you are worried about the potential risk of driving with the RV refrigerator on, here are some quick solutions and precautions to take:

  • Meal planning: Before leaving, everyone is excited about what they are going to do when they get to camp and many prepare for the food they bring. Then when it’s time to go, you’ll have plenty of food to take home. 

The key to successful food transportation is planning your meals in advance so that leftovers that need to be kept cold can be kept to a minimum. The less food you have to spoil at the end of the trip, the better.

  • Freeze everything that can be frozen: If it can be frozen and then allowed to thaw in the refrigerator, freeze it. This allows the refrigerator to act as a cooler that we fill with ice. Freeze all your meat or prepare foil-wrapped meals or potatoes that can be frozen and then placed on the grill or on a campfire to cook. 

To avoid having to wait for something to thaw on the first night of camping, we bring fried chicken from the deli counter, it can be eaten cold picnic style or microwaved if you have one.

Burgers and hot dogs can be frozen and then placed on the grill frozen or partially thawed. For the brats, boil them in beer and freeze them so all you have to do at camp is heat them up and burn the outside. We will also freeze the children’s juice boxes and dump out frozen water bottles.

  • Make it as cold as possible: Turn on the refrigerator two to three days before your trip and set it to its coldest temperature.
  • Add ice and keep it close: Pack your frozen and unfrozen foods tightly and surround them with frozen water bottles or ice packs. If you travel a distance and want the refrigerator to be colder without turning it on, use salt water in the frozen bottles. Saltwater freezes at a lower temperature and will work better at keeping things cold than drinking water. 
  • Pack the drinks and snacks you will need while driving in a cooler. If you don’t open the refrigerator, it will stay colder longer, like in a power outage. This should give you several hours of driving without having to use propane to power the refrigerator.

And finally, once you get to camp, turn on the fridge and get some of the frozen water bottles and all the ice packs out of the fridge and put as many as you can in the freezer for the trip home. This allows air to circulate in the refrigerator.

Make sure it lights up before exiting the driveway. Still, freeze the things that can be frozen and add some ice packs or frozen water bottles for a little insurance. Don’t pack it so tight, air needs to move to keep things cool.

The bottom line

In my opinion, the biggest risk of running the refrigerator on propane is the possibility of food spoiling, but there is also the added risk of fire during an accident or if you forget to turn off the propane when entering a station of service. Standing food while camping is definitely going to ruin your trip.

Whether you operate the refrigerator or not, take proper precautions to keep food cold and safe. If the refrigerator is on, remember to turn it off when necessary to stay safe.

If you have any questions, comments or tips on how to keep food and drinks cool during an RV trip, let us know!

FAQ on Can you run your RV refrigerator while driving?

How dangerous is gas from an RV refrigerator?

The oils and gases of any RV refrigerator remain inside and in its tank, despite the fact that it is already an old fashioned one. These chemicals damage the ozone layer. Even keeping a useless refrigerator at home is dangerous, as a leak could trigger a tragedy, such as a fire or explosion.

What is the name of the gas that the refrigerator uses?

Modern refrigerators, instead of Freon, use a refrigerant called HFC-134a 1,2,2,2-tetrafluoroethane, which does not break down ozone but is a greenhouse gas regulated by the Kyoto Protocol.

Should I leave my RV refrigerator on all the time?

You don’t need to leave your RV fridge on all the time. This will not extend its life. However, before going on a camping trip, you must turn on your RV refrigerator within 24 hours. This will allow your refrigerator to cool down in time for your trip.


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