Why Is My RV Fridge Not Working on Electric?
Do you need help with your RV fridge? When camping for extended periods, an RV fridge is necessary for keeping food cold and fresh. It helps eliminate the need to stop at small and often expensive convenience stores for meat and fresh produce while traveling.
But what happens when your RV fridge is not working on electricity? Stick around, as we’ll discuss why your RV fridge doesn’t work on electricity and how to fix it.
Does Your Fridge Run on Both Electricity and Propane?
The first thing you should know about RV fridges is that not all run on electricity. Most RV fridges run on one of these power sources:
- Propane gas
It is common for an RV fridge to run on a combination of two of these power sources, and the propane gas/electricity combination is a popular choice for RV refrigerators. This combination allows you to connect your refrigerator to the electrical grid when available, while the propane gas keeps the RV fridge working while you are on the road.
If your RV fridge works on a battery/propane gas, it won’t have the connections to hook it up to an electrical grid. In this case, your RV fridge will run on the battery when charged. It will switch to the propane gas tank when the battery is depleted.
Although a propane/electric RV fridge is a popular choice for many campers, this combination has some limitations and drawbacks. Since these RV fridges have more than one power source, one or both sources can have a problem. Let’s consider what problems you may face with a propane/electric RV fridge and how to solve them.
RV Refrigerator Not Working | Easy Troubleshooting Tips | Dometic Issues
How To Fix a Propane Issue?
Suppose you have a propane gas-powered RV refrigerator that doesn’t work while traveling (not connected to electricity or the battery). In that case, you may wonder why and how you can fix it. Here are some quick fixes:
- Ensure the tank valve is turned on. If the valve is on and the fridge isn’t working, switch it off, wait a few seconds, and turn it on again to reset the system.
- Check the excess flow valve. The excess flow valve prevents excess propane gas from flowing into the pipes and RV fridge. If the excess flow valve is triggered, it will cut off the propane gas from the fridge. Check if the excess flow valve is open and open it if it has closed.
- Check the pressure regulator. The propane pressure regulator ensures that too much pressure doesn’t fill the RV fridge’s propane tank. If the regulator is expired or malfunctions, it may cut off the propane gas from the fridge.
- Ensure the interior propane regulator is on. The RV fridge’s internal regulator may malfunction or expire like the pressure regulator. Ensure it is working properly and replace it if need be.
How To Fix an Electrical Issue?
If your RV refrigerator works fine on propane but doesn’t run when switched to an electric power source, there may be an electrical issue. While electrical issues are rare, they can be quite frustrating. So, how do you fix an RV fridge with electrical issues?
- Make sure you plug in the RV. While it may sound silly, it’s entirely possible that your RV isn’t correctly connected to the electrical source. Ensure the plug is secure and that the electrical plug is switched on.
- Check the diagnostic lights for signs of performance issues. The RV fridge’s diagnostic lights will indicate if there is a blown fuse, unstable power supply, or incorrect internal temperature. You can determine the problem and fix it by consulting the diagnostic lights.
- Reset the breakers. If there was a sudden change in your RV’s power supply, it’s possible that the internal power or external breakers have switched off to protect your electronic devices. In this case, reset the breakers and ensure that all the plugs in the RV are working properly.
Why Isn’t My Fridge Running on Electric Power?
If you have followed the above tips and see that your RV refrigerator isn’t working on electricity, it’s time for a closer inspection. Let’s consider 8 reasons why your RV fridge might not be working on electricity and how to fix it.
Tripped Electric Breakers
As mentioned above, an unstable power supply or spikes in the electrical grid may cause the breakers to trip. This cuts off all power from the RV, which also leads to your fridge not working. To reset the circuit breaker, locate the plug where you connected your RV to the power grid and reset it using the switch.
Bad Heating Element
Larger RV fridges (more than 6 cubic feet capacity) have heating elements that allow the fridge to remain cool and switch on when it is not cold. If the heating element is faulty, it may cause the fridge to heat up or stop working entirely. This is especially true if you connect the fridge in a 12VDC mode.
The Camper Is Not Level
If your RV isn’t parked level, the ammonia and water levels aren’t equal, and the fridge may stall or fail to cool. Ensure that the camper is parked level, so all the safety requirements for operating it are met.
A Leaking Cooling Unit
If the fridge is gradually losing cold air, there may be a leak in its cooling unit. Several pipes run from the back of the RV fridge, one of them being a cooling unit filled with liquid cooling solution. If this cooling solution leaks from the fridge, it will impair its functioning and may cause it to stop working completely.
Buildup Of Ammonia Sediment
Ammonia may leak from the cooling unit of the RV, especially if you let the RV fridge stand unused for long periods. This ammonia sediment will build up around the fridge’s cooling unit and may cause the fridge to stall when you use it again.
A Frozen Cooling Unit
When traveling through a frozen landscape, the cooling unit in your RV fridge may also freeze. This will cause it to fail and may lead to your fridge stalling. The cooling unit may also freeze if the fridge doesn’t seal properly, the fridge is overpacked, or there isn’t enough coolant left.
Failing Fridge Burner
A failing fridge burner can also cause the fridge to stop working. The fridge burner usually gets sediment buildup as it gets older, which can restrict the fridge’s burning power, causing it to fail. Ensure the burner is clean and sediment-free to keep the fridge working correctly.
Issues With Insulation
If your fridge isn’t adequately insulated, it can cause a host of problems, one of them being that it isn’t cold. Insulation issues occur as the result of age, overstocking the fridge, the fridge being unlevel, and objects preventing the fridge door from closing correctly.
How To Prevent RV Fridge Problems?
How can you prevent your RV fridge from developing problems and failing to work when you need it most? There are several ways to prevent the RV fridge from developing problems.
The best way to prevent an RV fridge from breaking is to ensure that the RV and all its components are well-maintained. This means servicing the parts when needed and keeping them clean and in working order. Don’t leave the RV unused for extended periods, as this may lead to performance issues.
When cleaning your fridge before going on a trip, ensure that the fridge’s vent on top of the RV is clean and free of dust and obstructions. This ensures adequate airflow to and from the fridge. Clean the vents when needed, especially after traveling on dusty roads.
Another way to help the fridge stay cold while traveling is to cool it before setting off. Switch the fridge on a day in advance and ensure everything you put in the fridge is also cold. This prevents the fridge from having to work too hard to cool everything.
Keeping your fridge clean and free of leaks may also help it stay cold. Liquids that leak into the fridge can block the cooling unit and may also lead to the inside of the fridge freezing. Clean the fridge regularly, and don’t overstock it with food.
Although regular maintenance and cleaning are essential, doing a deep clean and thorough maintenance once a year can help keep your RV and RV fridge in top condition for many years.
How Long Are RV Fridges Expected to Last?
If your RV fridge is a couple of years old, you may wonder if it is starting to fail when it no longer works on electricity. So how long should an RV fridge last? According to most RV owners, an RV fridge should last for at least 10 years, if not much longer.
The longevity of your RV fridge mainly depends on how you maintain it and if you service it when needed. If you take proper care of your RV fridge, it will endure for many years. Of course, different fridge brands and price points also have different life expectancies.
What To Do If Nothing Works?
If you have tried everything to fix the RV fridge yourself to no avail, your only remaining option is to call the professionals. If your RV fridge is still under warranty, you can likely have it checked out at no additional cost.
Even if the fridge isn’t under warranty, it’s better to have it looked at than try fixing it yourself, and possibly causing further harm. Call the fridge company to have it looked at and repaired.
Frequently Asked Questions
Considering how much you spend on an RV refrigerator and how much you expect to use it, it’s only natural that you will have more questions about fridges that run on propane gas and electricity. So here are 10 frequently asked questions about RV refrigerators.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair an RV Refrigerator?
Repairing an RV refrigerator costs between $200 and $1500, depending on the type of fridge you have and the exact problem.
Do RV Refrigerators Run On 12 Volts?
Many RV fridges run on 12 volts and can therefore run on 12-volt batteries too. Looking at the fridge’s display, you can see what power supply is an option.
Is It Better to Run an RV Fridge On Propane or Electric?
Overall, running your fridge on propane means it will cool faster and doesn’t require electrical input. You, therefore, can run the fridge regardless of where you are.
What And How Often Should Your RV Refrigerator Be Serviced?
To maintain your fridge’s functionality, it’s recommended that you service it every 3 months. This means checking that all the bearings work properly, the fridge door seals correctly, and the propane gas tubes are in proper order.
Does An RV Refrigerator Work Better on Gas or Electricity?
RV refrigerators work better on electricity. RV fridges that run on electricity are safer than those that run on gas since they pose less fire risk. Gas refrigerators, however, do cool down much faster than electric ones.
Why Do Electric Shocks Occur in The Fridge?
Electric shocks sometimes occur when touching the metal part of the fridge, as the accumulated static electricity remains there. If your RV is properly grounded, the static electricity should be absorbed, and you shouldn’t experience any shocks.
Can You Run Your RV Refrigerator While Driving?
Fridges that run on batteries or propane gas are safe to use while driving. Unfortunately, you can’t run an electrically powered RV fridge while driving since it cannot be connected to an electrical source.
How Does an RV Propane Refrigerator Work?
A propane fridge works with a propane flame that heats water and ammonia to a boiling point. This mixture turns to gas and is pushed through an ammonia chamber. It then cools down (which cools the fridge) and returns to a liquid form to be reheated again.
Why Do RV Refrigerators Need to Be Level?
If an RV fridge isn’t level, ammonia crystals can form in the ammonia chamber, which may cause the fridge to stall. The water and ammonia solution may also flow unequally, which could cause imbalances within the ammonia chamber, leading the fridge to become unstable.
Does The RV Refrigerator Need a Battery to Run On Propane?
While an RV propane-powered fridge doesn’t need a battery, you will require battery power to ignite the propane burner and open the gas valve. Once the fridge is running, you don’t have to keep it on battery power for it to work and keep its contents cold.
If you are wondering why your RV fridge won’t run on electricity, there are a few possibilities to discuss. One possibility is that the fridge isn’t capable of running on electricity, while it is also possible that there is something wrong with the fridge.
To keep your RV fridge working as well as possible, you must keep its services and maintenance up to date. Ensure the fridge is level and the electricity is connected when running your fridge on electricity.