Does the RV fridge need a battery to run on propane?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Does the RV fridge need a battery to run on propane? We will explain how a propane refrigerator works and the main advantages of owning one.

Does the RV fridge need a battery to run on propane?

Although propane refrigeration does not require electricity to run, you will still need at least a 10.5 V battery power to get it on. This energy boost is needed to open the gas base and spark the ignitor, otherwise, the fridge will not run. 

How and where does this reaction occur? Propane refrigerators have five main parts to doing this process. The parts are generator, separator, condenser, absorber and evaporator. The process is triggered by a propane flame, which is why these refrigerators are called propane refrigerators.

The main advantages of a propane RV fridge are obvious: 

  • There is no need for electricity. Food and medicine can be safely stored without power interruptions.
  • You can travel to remote areas and not worry about the nearest grocery store. Your supplies are safe in your propane refrigerator.
  • Since there are no moving parts in a propane refrigerator, this means there are no parts to wear out.
  • With the price of propane, a refrigerator of this type is much cheaper in operation than the typical ice cellar.
  • The initial cost to buy a propane gas refrigerator is considerably higher than an electric refrigerator, but cheaper than a 12VDC refrigerator.
  • But comparing an electric refrigerator to a propane refrigerator is not comparing apples to apples. An electric and 12VDC refrigerator runs on freon and a compressor pump. 

A propane-powered refrigerator works with a propane gas flame to heat ammonia and distilled water using hydrogen gas to circulate vapour and liquid ammonia to cool it down. There are no power lines or inverters and generators to power the refrigerator.

  • All propane refrigerators are connected with a 3/8 ”copper or flexible gas line to feed the gas.
  • An absorption refrigerator that runs on propane consumes an average of 235 g / day of gas. With a 13 kg tank, it will work for almost 2 months. This is the main argument, an extraordinary level of independence and silence.

How does a propane refrigerator work?

A gas or propane burner is connected underneath the generator. The burner heats the generator. In the generator, there is a combination of water and ammonia, which begins to boil. The boiling solution passes through a pipe until it reaches the separator, which by the force of the difference in the molecular weight of water and ammonia, separates the two materials. 

Ammonia rises as a gas while water does not. As a result, the water is directed towards the absorber to wait for another use while the ammonia travels towards the condenser. The condenser is an expansive device that allows the ammonia heat to dissipate and the ammonia condenses back to liquid. 

The ammonia goes to the evaporator, where it mixes with compressed hydrogen gas and evaporates once more to frozen vapour. Steam is pumped through cooling coils as a result of the pressure initially created by the generator, which is still the driving force behind the entire process.

 Once the steam passes through the coils, it travels to the absorber, which combines again with the water. A chemical reaction occurs where ammonia combines with water as a liquid, while hydrogen gas travels through a pipe to the evaporator to repeat the cycle. Likewise, the ammonia and water flow back into the generator.

The efficiency of a propane fridge

Gas consumption in a “modern” propane refrigerator is less than half the amount used by older models, due to the design of this cooling system. The average amount used by newer style propane refrigerators is approximately 235 grams per day.

The number of improvements that have been made to newer style refrigerators, built from the mid-1970s to the present, for improved gas performance is fully attributed to improved engineering in gas cooling systems. absorption.

Since modern propane refrigerators use only half the amount of fuel to operate that older refrigerators did, they are also observed to burn much cleaner. These unburned gas gases are what they call carbon monoxide (CO) gas. When too much of this gas is emitted into a room, it will create CO poisoning if this CO level is too high.

Any propane refrigerator built in the 1980s to the present day is much cleaner to operate. On average, these refrigerators will emit 20-30 PPM of CO in the exhaust vent pipe, which emits approximately 0.001 PPM of CO in a room.

The allowed amount of PPM of CO allowed in a living room is 50 PPM. With this amount of CO in any area, no one should worry about CO poisoning with a modern propane refrigerator.

A propane refrigerator generally does not need to be vented to the outside. If the homeowner must place their propane refrigerator in a kitchen with cabinets built over the top of the refrigerator and around the sides, it is always important to place a floor vent towards the back of the refrigerator and on top. from the refrigerator so that heat can escape from the cooling system.

Is a propane refrigerator reliable?

Yes, a propane refrigerator has legendary reliability. Its principle of operation, which excludes any mechanical form, without moving parts, does not wear out by friction.

The small faults that can occur are a piezo or electrical resistance. These replacement parts are in a fairly affordable price range and can be easily changed.

After very long years of service, it is possible for a refrigerator to stop, caused by the clogging of a small through-hole by traces of rust. The aggregate will rust from the inside after thirty years, not before, in some cases, we see refrigerators that are 40 years old or older.

If the clogging phenomenon occurs, you should turn the refrigerator upside down and leave it for a couple of hours. The debris will fall back into the tank.

Then put the refrigerator back in place, wait several hours for the bodies of the fluids to take their place.

So the fridge should restart, but if this problem happens, it will, unfortunately, happen again. It is the beginning of the end. One system is not changed, the entire refrigerator is changed.

For an RV, it would be more profitable to operate a long-term propane refrigerator. This is based on the amount of maintenance to operate compared to a 12VDC refrigerator. Since there are no moving parts in a propane refrigerator, there is almost no maintenance to use this type of refrigeration unit.

Generally speaking, a propane refrigerator generally needs to be cleaned only twice a year by cleaning the burner area and the combustion tube. No compressor unit goes wrong. There are no batteries to charge.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on Does the RV fridge need a battery to run on propane?

How does a propane refrigerator work?

A propane-powered refrigerator works with a propane gas flame to heat ammonia and distilled water using hydrogen gas to circulate vapour and liquid ammonia to cool it down. There are no power lines or inverters and generators to power the refrigerator.

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.

How dangerous is gas from a refrigerator?

The oils and gases of any device of this type 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.

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