A Guide to Camper Refrigerators

In order to go camping in a vehicle, there are certain necessities that must be included such as a fridge. Unlike residential fridges, camper refrigerators are built for extended off-road travel with meaningful features that can help make camping trips even more enjoyable.

Absorption fridges are a great choice because they can run on gas, electricity or both. They also operate more quietly than compressor fridges.


A refrigerator is one of the most important appliances in a camper. It is where you chill your cold beer and food. It’s also where you store all the other things you’ll need on your trip.

RV fridges work by circulating chemicals in a system of pipes. These chemicals are heated and turn from liquid to a gas, which cools the refrigerator. This process works a lot like your home fridge, but on a much smaller scale.

CRX50 fridge from Dometic is a compressor fridge for a car and caravan, with a removable freezer compartment, touch LED thermostat, variable speed compressor, boost mode and ventilation mode. Its enhanced temperature control and compressor speed regulation helps achieve energy savings of up to 25%.

If power fails, the refrigerator will switch automatically to LP gas. This means you can keep your food and drinks chilled for longer. This is a great feature when camping off-grid. It also saves space in your van.


Caravan absorption fridges have no compressor, instead they use evaporating ammonia and hydrogen gas to cool the fridge. They can be powered by electricity, a gas connection or 12V battery power. They are silent and don’t produce any ozone depleting gases.

Dometic absorption refrigerators have smart features including automatic selection of the energy source, a double-hinged door that opens left or right and versatile storage compartments. They also have a digital display panel for simple control.

They consume less electricity than a compressor fridge and do not require a propane cylinder for fuel. However, they take longer to cool than a compressor fridge. They can also be obstructed by wetsuits, clothes and washing lines. It is important to check the vent is unobstructed at all times.


The size of the fridge you need depends on your food storage needs. If you’re a solo traveller or travelling in a duo and don’t need a large amount of storage, a smaller fridge is ideal for your van life.

Another factor is whether you want a chest or upright fridge. Chest fridges have the advantage of not losing cold air when you open them, but they aren’t as spacious as upright camper refrigerators.

To determine what size fridge you need, measure the space in your vehicle where you intend to fit it and compare this measurement with the fridge’s specifications to ensure a snug fit without sacrificing ventilation. If you’re replacing an existing fridge, it’s also important to consider the size of your vehicle’s cabin door opening in case you have to bring the fridge through that opening.


Many RVs, especially travel trailer types of RVs, come with a scaled-down kitchen. Attempting to fit a new residential fridge into this tight space will likely require cabinet modifications and may reduce the refrigerator’s capacity.

In addition, the fridge will have to be constantly running to circulate refrigerant in order to cool food and drinks. This can be inconvenient if you are camping off the grid and don’t want to run your fridge all the time.

Upright camper fridges offer a solution to this problem by opening like a normal fridge and not like an ice chest. This makes the van feel more like a home and also eliminates the annoying experience of digging through a chest fridge. The fridge comes with new controls, installation manual, foam sealant, thermal mastic and freezer/fin screws.

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