RV cooling systems and residential refrigerators really are two different beasts. That’s not a capricious choice on the part of the recreational vehicle designers, not some fluke that has no rhyme or reason for existing. No, domestic refrigerators are high-demand appliances. Equivalent RV replicas, while just as capable, don’t have access to the same source of power. Power differences aside, what other differences separate the two food and beverage cooling appliances?

Sorting Out the Capacity Question

 A regular home refrigerator doesn’t have any limitations here, not when a homeowner has access to a shop full of double-door monoliths, complete with all the bells and whistles. If an RV is to gain that larger than average appliance footprint, the motorhome in question will likely occupy as much space as a modern bus. Typically, however, RV refrigerators are smaller, although they use many clever design mechanisms to take advantage of what space is available. Picture a mobile cooling appliance as a smaller device, but do be aware of the potential for a bigger enclosure, especially when the recreational vehicle in question has plenty of space.

Spot the Power Supply Differences 

Residential fridges employ compressors and refrigerants, then the coils in the system do the rest. Mobile vehicles do allow for a 110-Volt variant on this operational theme, a power source that a large RV can readily access, but there’s also a second, quite different option. Based on a principle called ‘absorption,’ this kind of mobile cooling uses ammonia and water as the fluid cooling medium. Behind these fluids, a heat source (Generator) boils the solution until the two fluids part way. Thanks to the chemical processes and thermal characteristics of these parting then recombining fluids, heat is drawn away from the RV refrigerator, again via a set of coils. However, it’s this percolating chamber that acts as the energy section, with its lower half receiving heat from a natural gas flame or an electrical element.

The mobile life can be a tough life, which is why RV refrigerators need some extra features. Built rugged, they cool food and freeze ice. But the mechanical components running the show do operate with the assistance of gravity, so keep the recreational vehicle level. Otherwise, the size issue does raise a few questions when the differences issue comes to mind. Typically smaller than their housebound cousins, there are larger options for larger motorhomes. Just be prepared for a matching increase in energy output, and fuel, when one of those massive mobile refrigerators is operating.