What Is a 3-Way Refrigerator in an RV?

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Woman opening her 3 way RV fridge.

What is a 3-way RV fridge? Camping in a remote area means you’ll have to plan for food storage. It would be best to have a refrigerator to keep your food from spoiling while you explore your surroundings. 

Getting the right RV fridge for your type of exploration is essential. Take a moment now to jump into the perks, purpose, and function of a 3-way RV fridge. 

What Is a 3-Way RV Fridge?

A 3-way RV fridge is a refrigerator that can run off three power sources. They run on 12v DC, 120v AC, and propane gas.

Running your refrigerator on various power sources gives you more flexibility on your adventures. When you don’t want to camp in a spot with conventional power hookups, you can run your 3-way fridge on propane gas. 

A 3 way RV fridge.

How Does a 3-Way RV Fridge Work?

A 3-way RV fridge doesn’t cool your food the same way as the fridge in your house. Unlike your residential refrigerator, a 3-way fridge cools through absorption heat exchange. It removes heat instead of cooling. 

A gas flow heat exchange system in the back creates a heat source to spark the fridge’s function.

The absorption principle responsible for the ability to keep your food cool is Dalton’s Law of partial pressures. Check it out if you’re interested in the science behind the function of a 3-way refrigerator. 

Pros of 3-Way RV Fridge

There are plenty of perks to enjoy when you have a 3-way fridge in your RV. For starters, there’s the ability to run off propane.

Propane can keep your food cool in remote locations, depending on how much propane you bring.

Another advantage of a 3-way is that you can run it on 12v battery power while you drive. They’re also low maintenance and quiet when they’re running. 

Smad 3 Way Refrigerator 12v Fridge for RV Trucks Propane Refrigerator No Noise, AC/DC/LPG,55 Qt, Removable Shelves & Reversible Door, Black
  • Easy-to-use mechanical control, equipped with GAS/Electric thermostat
  • LPG 110V and 12V 3 way working, no noise absorption cooling system
The front of a fridge that shows the brand is Norcold and it runs off battery

Cons of 3-Way RV Fridge

Though there are many perks to a 3-way fridge, there are a few cons.

First, you have to have your camper and fridge completely level for the propane function to work effectively.

Second, absorption fridges aren’t as effective at keeping your food cool in overly hot environments. They also may not provide even cooling throughout the storage area. 

A 3-way RV fridge with the door open in a new RV

3-Way RV Fridges Vs. 2-Way RV Fridges

One of the most notable differences between a 3-way and 2-way RV fridge is that a 3-way RV fridge can run on 12v battery power, while a 2-way cannot.

3-way fridges are often smaller than 2-way fridges. 2-way RV fridges have an advantage in size, making them for families and full-time RVers.

Keep in Mind: It’s common to have a few issues with your RV fridge. Troubleshoot them yourselves! Here’s how to troubleshoot common issues with your Dometic RV fridge.

Can a 2-Way Fridge Be Converted?

If you’re up for a big job, you could convert your 2-way fridge into a 3-way fridge with some work. You’ll need to add a dedicated inverter on the back of the unit, update the electrical wiring, and add some switches in to control the power source. 

Additionally, you would need to add a heating element, update the control board, and new control knobs on the front. It’s a big job for little payoff.

In the end, converting a 2-way fridge to a 3-way RV fridge isn’t an efficient use of resources or time. It’s better to purchase a 3-way fridge instead, so you don’t risk malfunction and spending unnecessary funds. 

A new RV fridge with the door open

How Long Will a Fridge Run on Battery?

When running it on battery power, you won’t get an extended cooling period with your 3-way fridge. You’ll only get an average of three hours of use.

This is why it’s so critical to pre-cool your fridge before driving. Run your fridge on battery power while driving, then switch to propane gas once you’ve parked. 

Man going to his 3 way RV fridge.

Can You Use a 3-Way RV Fridge While Driving?

Yes, you can! As we stated prior, you should cool your fridge before your departure to get the maximum cooling effect. Your 3-way won’t run for very long on battery power, so make sure you flip on propane or hook up to shore power once you settle into a spot. 

Keep in Mind: You’ll need the best fridge to keep your food cold. Let’s check out which RV Fridge Is The Best?

Stay Versatile With a 3-Way RV Fridge

Versatility is the key for some adventurers. If you don’t like to travel the beaten path, having a 3-way fridge onboard your RV will suit your explorations.

Ultimately, whether you choose a 2-way, 3-way, or residential refrigerator should depend on how you plan to use it. The choices you make should mirror your style of travel. What kind of fridge are you looking for in your RV?

Last update on 2022-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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