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Key Takeaways

  • A deep cycle battery or lead acid battery can power an RV fridge for about 12 hours
  • Lithium batteries can power residential refrigerators for about 24 to 48 hours.
  • Extend battery power life by turning the temperature in the RV fridge up a bit
  • Maintaining the battery well also helps power rv fridges for longer.
  • An RV fridge is designed to fit better in an RV and use less battery power.

Some RV owners will need to rely on a battery powered fridge occasionally on their adventures. How long do the batteries powering an RV residential fridge last?

From 8 to 70 hours. The lower end is with a lead acid battery that only discharges about halfway. The much longer time involves power from a lithium battery that can be drained almost completely. You can do a few things to extend the battery life of RV refrigerators too.

We’ve used RV refrigerators many times and know how to analyze the data for how long they will last under load. We also understand the concern with having your fridge and battery die with a good amount of food and drink being kept cool. Let’s dive into how long you should expect to run an RV refrigerator on battery.



How Long Will An RV Residential Fridge Run On Battery?

Lead Acid vs Lithium

Your RV batteries matter. Here is a brief breakdown of potential times based on lithium batteries and lead acid:

Fridge Type Lithium Battery Life Lead Acid Battery Life Battery Life Change with Open/Overstuffed Fridge
RV Residential 2-3 days 8-12 hours Significantly reduced
Full-sized Home 1-2 days 6-8 hours Significantly reduced

As you can see, lithium batteries will last longer when powering a fridge - sometimes offering twice as much power. While it’s not easy to determine specifics about how much time and power you lose when overstuffing a fridge or leaving it open too much - just know that your battery life will go down by a lot.

Calculating Power Consumption from an RV Refrigerator

The first step in calculating the battery life of an RV residential fridge is to determine its power consumption. Most residential fridges have a label that indicates the power consumption in watts. We present this info so you can better understand what your RV fridge is capable of and how to know how long an RV refrigerator should last with battery power.

If the label is not available, you can use a watt meter to measure the fridge's power consumption. Once you have the power consumption in watts, you can convert it to amp-hours (Ah) using the following formula:

Power Consumption (in watts) / 12 (volts) = Current (in amps)

Current (in amps) x Time (in hours) = Energy Consumption (in Ah)

Calculating Battery Capacity - How much power?

After determining the energy consumption of the fridge, the next step is to calculate the battery capacity required to run the fridge. The battery capacity is measured in amp-hours (Ah). To calculate the required battery capacity, use the following formula:

Energy Consumption (in Ah) x Number of Days Before Recharge = Battery Capacity (in Ah)

Estimating Battery Life

Once you have determined the required battery capacity, you can estimate the battery life of the fridge. The battery life depends on the battery capacity and the energy consumption of the fridge. To estimate the battery life, use the following formula:

Battery Capacity (in Ah) / Energy Consumption (in Ah) = Number of Days Before Recharge

Temperature Settings

It is important to note that the temperature settings of the fridge can impact its energy consumption and battery life. The lower the temperature setting, the higher the energy consumption and the shorter the battery life. It is recommended to set the temperature to the minimum required to keep the food fresh.

By considering the power consumption, battery capacity, and temperature settings, you can calculate the battery life of an RV residential fridge. Keep in mind that the calculation is based on average energy consumption and may vary depending on other factors such as frequency of use and ambient temperature.

Understanding RV Residential Fridges

What is an RV Residential Fridge?

When it comes to RV refrigerators, there are two main types: absorption and residential. A residential RV fridge is the same type of fridge you would have in your home.

An RV residential fridge has an advantage in that it can often run on either dc power or ac power. The key difference is that you can run on battery power, a generator, or with shore power.

These fridges are becoming increasingly popular in RVs, as they offer more space and better cooling performance.

Residential refrigerators often used in the home can also be used on the RV. These aren’t exactly optimized or designed to run on battery power or AC power like an RV refrigerator and we would only recommend using them if you happen to be on shore power a lot or need significant room for food.

Propane Fridge

We haven’t talked about the propane fridges available for RVs because batteries aren’t all that important to them. A propane fridge uses little more than a propane tank and a small battery - along with some cool chemistry involving absorption and gas, to cool your food.

These fridges are very useful for dry camping. An absorption refrigerator or propane fridge can cool food for up to weeks depending on how much propane you intend to use, and how big the lp gas tank is.

In its own way, a propane fridge that can also use DC power from a battery is also considered one of the traditional RV fridges because it can power in so many ways.

Tips for Extending the Battery Life of an RV Residential Fridge

Optimizing Temperature Settings for a Longer RV fridge run time

One of the easiest ways to extend the battery life of an RV residential fridge is by optimizing the temperature settings. Keeping the fridge at a lower temperature than necessary can cause it to turn on more often and consume more power, leading to a shorter battery life. It is recommended to keep the fridge temperature between 34°F and 40°F for optimal performance.

Keep it well sealed

It is also important to ensure that the refrigerator door is properly sealed. A loose seal can cause the fridge to push the compressor more often to maintain the desired temperature, leading to increased power consumption and shorter battery life. To check the seal, close the refrigerator door on a dollar bill and try to pull it out. If the bill comes out easily, the seal may need to be replaced.

Minimizing Power Consumption

Another way to extend the battery life of an RV residential fridge is by minimizing power consumption. One way to do this is by keeping the fridge well-stocked. A full fridge requires less energy to maintain its temperature than an empty one. However, be careful not to over-pack the fridge as this can restrict airflow and cause the fridge to use more juice.

Don’t open the door

Another way to minimize power consumption is by avoiding opening the fridge door unnecessarily. Every time the door is opened, cold air escapes and warm air enters, causing the fridge to be overworked trying to cool. To minimize the number of times the fridge door is opened, plan ahead and remove everything you need at once.

Maintaining Battery Health

Maintaining the health of the RV battery is crucial to extending the battery life of an RV residential fridge. It is important to keep the battery clean and free of corrosion, as this can drag down its performance and lifespan. Regularly inspect the battery terminals and clean them with a wire brush if necessary.

It is also important to ensure that the battery is properly charged. A fully charged battery will perform better and last longer than a partially charged one. To maintain the battery's charge, consider investing in a solar panel or a generator. These can help keep the battery charged even when there is no access to shore power.