Should You Replace Your RV Refrigerator With A Residential One?

An RV has the potential to be a complete home that you can ‘take with you’. They are of course much smaller and more compact than brick and mortar real estate, but they nevertheless offer all of the conveniences and comforts that any other home does. That means:

  • Somewhere to sleep
  • Somewhere to relieve yourself
  • Food and drink
  • Coffee (mmmm)
  • Entertainment
  • Shelter
  • Storage
  • A sense of being surrounded by your own things
  • Comfort

In fact, for many people, the fact that everything is so much smaller and more mobile is partly what makes it so homely. There’s something immensely satisfying and comforting about being sat on a sofa reading a great book while you watch the rain run down the windows against a beautiful backdrop. Likewise, tucking yourself up in your cabin and listening to the sounds outside is a rare treat.

And we all know what fun a family road trip can be in an RV: it’s a perfect opportunity to spend some real quality time with your loved ones and to play games, watch films, and just generally enjoy each other’s’ company.

But in order for this to truly be a home-on-the-road, you need to make sure that you have all the appliances and systems that you need. And that means making decisions about your decor and your installations.

For instance: should you go with an install a residential fridge or an RV refrigerator?

Knowing the Difference

First, let’s take a look at the differences. What makes an RV fridge well. An RV fridge?

This can be considered to be a microcosm of the RV as a whole. Just as an RV provides everything you would typically get from your home packed into a smaller, more compact unit (minus a few unnecessary extras), an RV refrigerator is like a scaled-back version of your regular fridge.

Thus, we will see a few differences typically:


Obviously, a fridge designed to fit into smaller accommodation is likely to be smaller itself, and that’s precisely what you will find with an RV fridge. This is a considerably smaller place to store your food and drink, and that means you’ll have a slightly lower capacity for what you want on hand. That brings a couple of limitations: meaning you need to stop more often for supplies, meaning you need to be more strategic when choosing what food you are going to eat on your trip, and meaning that you might have to think twice about entertaining large numbers of guests.

One of the few real downsides to staying in an RV is that you will sometimes find that things you take for granted go wrong. For example, you may see that you have to buy a smaller milk carton, only to then run out of milk sooner and have no way to make that delicious milky coffee you usually wake up to.

This is why we are seeing more and more residential fridges make their way into RVs – as people come to demand more from their vehicles and want a more luxurious experience.

But keep in mind that a larger size also means you take up more space. If you are on a strict space budget, then installing a residential fridge will often mean losing out somewhere else – whether that means that you sacrifice a little bit of storage space on top of the fridge (because it now comes up to the ceiling) or whether it means you’re expanding out to the sides and losing your countertop space. What good is keeping all those carrots if you have nowhere to chop them?


The other big difference between RV and residential fridges is the power. Standard RV refrigerators usually run on liquid propane or 110 volts. On the other hand, residential fridges tend to be strictly 110V. This basically means that an RV fridge is going to provide that little bit more versatility when it comes to power options. That means you’re less likely to see your food go off if you should run into an emergency.

Likewise, the bigger the fridge, the more power it will likely take up. If you want to be kinder to the environment, allow your gas to last longer, and avoid spending more than necessary – then go with a smaller fridge. Likewise, this will marginally reduce the likelihood of running your battery down and will reduce the amount of weight your vehicle is carrying too (again, this is a tiny difference).


Something else to keep in mind is how well your items are going to stay put in the fridge. RV fridges have the advantage of being designed for installation in moving vehicles. That means that they will often include bracing elements that keep your items more tightly packed in and held together. In turn, that means that if you should make a sharp turn or go over a speed bump, you’ll be less likely to end up with milk at the bottom of the fridge.

This is less of a problem depending on the type of residential refrigerator you choose – just something to keep in mind.


Finally, think about the features of the fridges you are looking at and what they offer. Residential fridges tend to provide more in terms of ice making, timers, smart features, etc. If these are things you think you could benefit from in your RV, then perhaps that might be enough to make your decision for you! Then again, some RV fridges come with more RV-centric features.

What is Right for You?

So, what is the right call for you?

The answer is that it depends very much on your RV, on the fridge you have in mind, and on your intended use. If you want a real luxury experience and have a large RV to accommodate more home-like appliances, then go for it!

If you have a smaller RV and your focus is going to be on experiencing the area, going out for food, and getting takeaways… then it matters less and you can get the smaller and easier RV fridge.

2 thoughts on “Should You Replace Your RV Refrigerator With A Residential One?”

  1. We have a residential fridge in our camper…biggest mistake ever. They are not designed to be on the road as frequently as we are. I liken it to the fridge being in a 2 to 6 hour earthquake every time we drive to a location. Estimated cost to replace with an RV refrigerator is $3800…


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