Chilling your RV's chill box
For anyone who has an RV refrigerator you know what it means to prep for camping. A day or so before you leave for your journey you either plug your RV into a electrical outlet or open a propane valve and start your fridge using gas. In either case, the RV fridge gets turned on and gets cold enough to put your supplies into. Did you know there’s a solution that can help get the entire refrigerator colder in a shorter amount of time that also saves you money?
I belong to a packaged meal service so every week three pre-measured meals show-up on my door step in an insulated cardboard box along with at least two freezer packs to keep the food cold. While it’s good to donate these ice packages to a local meals on wheels service, I have kept a few of the freezer packs for pre-chilling my RV fridge.
You can also find these freezer packs at local veterinarian’s offices or at pharmacies who receive packages of medications chilled by these packs. Often times they just throw them away so you might be able to talk your pharmacist or vet out of a few of them.
What I do is pre-freeze these packets in my home freezer and put as many of these frozen packets in the RV fridge as possible. Then I also bought a Camco deluxe RV refrigerator fan. Why?
RV refrigerators are gas absorption units where heat is applied to ammonia which creates a vaporization that then causes the gas to chill, thereby providing the cold in the refrigerator. Unlike your fridge at home, there is no forced air circulation so it can take longer to chill and longer to recover when you open the door.
The Camco deluxe RV refrigerator fan helps the chilling process and also helps circulate air in the RV fridge by having a small “squirrel cage” fan powered by two D cell batteries. In addition there is a charcoal filter that Camco says will help neutralize odors in the fridge. Sure, why not?
I am a strong advocate of rechargeable batteries to help us all put less stuff in the land fill so I also bought rechargeable batteries along with a charger.
To test the life of these batteries in the Camco deluxe RV refrigerator fan I charged them up and put them in the unit and then put the whole thing in my refrigerator at home. Batteries don’t necessarily like being cool so this would be a good test to see how much life I got out of the whole thing.
Surprisingly I got over a week of continuous use with the fan inside the fridge on the initial charge. The little fan does do a good job of circulating air in the fridge, especially in the smaller fridges we have in our RVs.
My next step is to freeze a bunch of these pillow packs and put them in my RV’s fridge with the fan on and measure how quickly the whole thing chills down. Typically I have found that the RV fridge drops about 10-12 degrees F per hour on its initial chill. Considering that it might be at room temperature in the summer and that room could be 90° F that means getting to 40° F could take 5-7 hours of continual use. That’s 5 hours of sucking propane or electricity if I plug the trailer in.
Anything I can do to speed this process up is going to save me money in energy.
Another advantage of this little battery-powered fan is that it helps to create a more even distribution of the cold air inside the fridge. Every fridge has hot and cold spots in it so, like a commercial fridge, a fan will help mitigate these hot and cold spots.
I would recommend this fridge fan to anyone who has an RV fridge. It doesn’t take a lot of space, it’s dead silent and it can help you save a little money while also keeping your food lasting longer. You could say I’m a fan.