A good-quality RV refrigerator is an excellent item to have while on a long camping trip. RV fridges are very different from a refrigerator you use in your home. Aside from their compact size, these appliances can also be different in how they operate.
The Three Different Types of RV Refrigerators
There are three different types of refrigerators you can purchase for your RV. They are Absorption, Thermoelectric, and Compression refrigerators. The compression refrigerators are the only ones that you can recharge. So, if you are wondering if you can recharge the fridge in your RV, you first have to determine what type of refrigerator you have in your RV.
Thermoelectric RV Refrigerator
A thermoelectric refrigerator is a type of appliance that is designed to be used temporarily. These are ideal for keeping your food and drinks cold when spending the day at the lake. These refrigerators are not the type you need if you want to keep your food cold for a period that is longer than a couple of hours.
A thermoelectric refrigerator has a simple process design.
It pumps heat energy out of an insulated chamber that is found inside your fridge. It helps to reduce the temperature of the chamber below that of the air surrounding it. Thermoelectric fridges use what is known as the Peltier principle to pump heat electronically.
If you own a thermoelectric fridge and have issues with it, it would be best to replace it instead of trying to repair it. These appliances do not have any coolant to recharge, and replacing parts can be difficult.
Absorption RV Refrigerator
Absorption refrigerators are the most common among today’s RV owners. They do not require any electricity and run on propane instead. These refrigerators use an ammonia solution that is heated in a boiler and then expelled as a vapor.
Since ammonia is a gas, it is kept under pressure inside the refrigerator and transformed into a liquid while inside a condenser. To make the ammonia evaporate, hydrogen is added in.
When that occurs, heat is pulled out of the refrigerator, which makes it cooler inside. The ammonia then goes into an absorber, where it is reabsorbed into a weaker ammonia solution. Then the saturated solution goes back to the boiler, where the entire process starts all over again.
Since absorption refrigerators use ammonia instead of a coolant like Freon, you cannot recharge them. These units are sealed, and it’s difficult or even impossible to open them up and refill them. While you can replace the cooling unit itself, you cannot recharge an absorption refrigerator with ammonia.
To replace the cooling unit, it is best to hire a professional to do the job for you since it is not an easy task. They will also diagnose the issue with your refrigerator and fix the problem without any issues.
Compression RV Refrigerator
Compression refrigerators are mostly like the ones you use at home. A compressor does the cooling, and the cooling process involves a refrigerant that turns liquid into a gas inside an evaporator. During the evaporation process, heat is gained from the inside of the fridge, and that causes the temperature to decrease.
The compressor draws in the refrigerant, then compresses it and sends it to the condenser. After that, the heat that is absorbed is released into the atmosphere. Finally, the refrigerant turns into a liquid once again and is sent back to the evaporator, where the entire process starts all over again.
If you are having problems with your compression RV refrigerator keeping food cool, and you are sure that the issue is caused by a low level of coolant, you should be able to recharge your RV refrigerator.
To do this, you will need a certification from the EPA or hire a certified professional to diagnose the problem and recharge the fridge for you if needed.
Keep in mind that while most compression refrigerators can be recharged, some can’t because they have closed systems. If you are unsure, it is best to ask an RV professional about recharging your fridge so that you can benefit from using it once again.
Will I Be Able to Recharge the Refrigerator in My RV?
You can only recharge your RV’s refrigerator if it is a specific type of compression fridge.
That means if it has a coolant or refrigerant, you can recharge it. If your RV’s refrigerator uses propane or ammonia to keep your food cool, you will not be able to recharge it.
Remember that you will need to be EPA certified to recharge your compression refrigerator on your own legally. But you can always take your fridge to a professional who can recharge your fridge for you.