Close this search box.

rv trips & travel

Do RV Refrigerators Have Compressors?

A refrigerator is one of the critical appliances you need to carry while traveling in an RV. It’s essential to have this appliance because it keeps your food supplies fresh. But do RV refrigerators have compressors?

Yes, some RV refrigerators, known as 2-way refrigerators, have compressors. These RV refrigerators run the same as the models at homes, and they operate on either a 240-volt mains power or 12-volt battery power.

In this enlightening post, you’ll learn about the unique features of compressor RV refrigerators, their pros, cons, and more.

Let’s get started!

What Is A Compressor RV Refrigerator?

A compressor RV refrigerator refers to an RV refrigerator that cools the refrigerator using a small compressor unit. The name ”2-way refrigerator” comes from the refrigerator’s ability to provide power to the compressor using two ways. These ways include via a 240-volt mains power or via 12-volt battery power.

The compressor RV refrigerator cools the refrigerator nearly the same way as the absorption refrigerator (three-way refrigerator). The main difference is that the compressor RV refrigerator uses hydraulic pressure (instead of gravity) to transport the ammonia liquid to the refrigerator’s evaporator coils (from the refrigerator’s condenser fins).

However, the compressor refrigerator can only achieve this in the presence of a continuous source of power. Mainly, it relies on an Alternating Current. But you can use a Direct Current if you have an inverter on your RV.

Another thing to note is that a compressor RV refrigerator tends to cool more efficiently and faster, and it cannot malfunction because of altitude changes. However, they depend on a continuous source of power to work efficiently. Therefore, compressor RV refrigerators can serve you well if you stay at developed RV locations.

Working Principle Of A Compressor RV Refrigerator

You have to run the compressor RV Refrigerator on a 12-volt power in cases where you have not connected it to a 240-volt mains power. Therefore, you should always have a battery on standby to operate this RV refrigerator.

Also, note that a compressor RV refrigerator operating on 12-volt power will pull less from the power source than the one a three-way RV refrigerator can use from that source.

This compressor refrigerator will operate using any power without considering the method used to recharge the battery.  For example, it can still run if you connect it to a battery you recharged using solar panels.

How Efficient Is The Compressor RV Refrigerator?

The three-way RV refrigerator offers excellent efficiency when using Gas to operate. With one 9kg gas container, your three-way RV refrigerator will run for a few weeks. Therefore, these RV refrigerators will work well if you plan for a more extended RV trip.

However, compressor RV refrigerators will take the day if you rely on on12-volt power. Three-way RV refrigerators become less efficient when operating on 12-volt power. Therefore, they will drain your battery faster if your car stops.

AES Feature

Some three-way RV refrigerators feature an Automatic Energy Selection feature. This feature plays a critical role in selecting the best energy source. For example, this source will select the 12-volt source when your car is in motion and then the Gas source when your vehicle stops. Therefore, this feature will help a lot in protecting the battery from getting drained.

But still, you can rely on a refrigerator switch if your refrigerator does not have the AES feature. This switch will detect when your car has stopped and then turn the fridge off automatically.

The design of compressor RV refrigerators allows them to well when operating using a 12-volt power source. As a result, this explains why these refrigerators become more efficient when running on a 12-volts power source. But still, you need a reliable solar setup or battery if you plan to use them in an area without mains power.

Advantages Of A Compressor RV Refrigerator

  • It’s more efficient than the three-way refrigerator when using 12-volt power.
  • It cools faster and maintains the refrigerator temperature even when using them in areas with high ambient temperatures.
  • The installation process does not need venting or cabin sealing.
  • A compressor RV refrigerator can work well on any terrain (both on an incline and flat terrain).
  • They work as freezers because of the robust compressor motors.

Disadvantages Of A Compressor RV Refrigerator

  • The compressor RV refrigerators create noise that can annoy you, especially at night.
  • It’s an efficient RV refrigerator, but batteries will take you only for a few days if you don’t have a quality solar setup or if you don’t recharge them.

How Well Does A Compressor RV Refrigerator Cool?

The compressor RV refrigerator shines when it comes to cooling power. These refrigerators work as home fridges. Besides this, compressor RV refrigerators can maintain the refrigerator temperature even when using them in areas with high ambient temperatures. Therefore, compressor RV refrigerators are the perfect option if you plan a more extended RV trip to hotter locations.

Their counterparts, the three-way RV refrigerators, cannot maintain the refrigerator temperature when used in areas with high ambient temperatures. Besides this, you cannot rely on three-way RV refrigerators to cool quickly.

Is The Compressor RV Refrigerator Noisy?

Yes, a compressor RV refrigerator is a noisy RV refrigerator. It produces a  hum that can annoy, especially during sleeping times. However, the market has some quality compressor RV refrigerators that produce relatively less noise.

Here, the three-way refrigerators take the lead because they are 100% silent.  Their thermostatic switched fans play a critical role in increasing airflow, but they produce zero noise.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, compressor RV refrigerators come with advantages. However, their benefits outweigh the pros. So, do you need to go for compressor RV refrigerators or three-way RV refrigerators? Worry no more!

Take your time and know why you need an RV refrigerator. Assess your goals and know if it is the compressor RV refrigerator or three-way RV refrigerator to select. Through this, you’ll find it easy to choose the RV refrigerator that suits all your RV trip needs.

Scroll to Top