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How Long Will Camper Fridge Run on Propane? (Answered)

If you don’t have access to any electrical power sources, your best bet is to rely on propane to power up your camper fridge. And if you are worried about how long it might last before the fridge shuts down, we can help clear your doubts.

How Long Will Camper Fridge Run On Propane?

Domestic camper fridges that typically have about 8 cubic feet of internal space are rated at 1500 British Thermal Units (BTUs) per hour. Using about 1 gallon of propane should last roughly 61 hours, as each gallon of propane contains a total of 91,502 BTUs.

BTU is the unit in which propane is measured when it is used as a power source for such machines. The higher the BTU, the longer the propane lasts. Typical camper fridges have an average tank of 20 lbs. which equates to about 4.6 gallons.

Propane is a fuel commonly used in rural areas or for camping. It is also referred to as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Propane is a hydrocarbon (C3H8) and is manufactured from natural gas and crude oil. It is nontoxic, colorless, and virtually odorless.

This type of refrigerator has been increasing in popularity in recent years. For people who camp, or live in RVs, a propane refrigerator is a great option. 

A propane refrigerator uses a small amount of liquid propane to keep things cool. Propane is a very efficient way to keep things cool and it does not require an electrical hookup.

A refrigerator that runs off of propane is a great addition to any RV. They are relatively inexpensive and will keep your food cold for a long period of time.

Many people choose to use propane refrigerators because they are not as expensive to operate as electric refrigerators. Propane refrigerators are also very easy to install.

A full-sized refrigerator that can run on propane is one of the biggest draws to RVs for those who enjoy dry camping. Most RV refrigerators come equipped to run on three types of fuel – 120-volt AC, 12-volt DC, and propane.

Depending on the type of RV you have, you may find that your refrigerator works better on one fuel source than another. Running a full-sized refrigerator on propane can be done, but it is important to do your research before your first dry camping trip.

A camper fridge does not use the same methods as a regular fridge to cool the goods inside. It functions when there is a combination of ammonia, hydrogen, and water.

The propane is used to heat the water and ammonia mixture which allows it to vaporize. Then when this vapor comes in contact with hydrogen, it allows for cooling to happen.

Usually, a full tank of propane with 20 lbs of storage can allow refrigeration for 10-11 days before it runs out of fuel. However, you can also choose to get a larger propane tank with 30 lbs storage or more. These can offer higher longevity. 

Due to the BTU requirements, it is hard to expect the tanks to last nearly a month even. Propane is one of the best sources for powering the fridges, but well, they don’t really last a long time.

How Long Will A 20 lb Propane Tank Run A Camper Fridge?

The standard tank size for camper fridges is 20 lbs. This is equivalent to about 4.6 gallons of propane. As we already know, one gallon of propane contains 91,502 BTUs. So, 4.6 gallons would contain 420,909.2 BTUs.

A gallon of propane lasts about 61 hours, which is less than 3 days. As for 4.6 gallons or 20 lbs., if you will, of propane, it would last around 280 hours, which equates to a little over 11 days or so.

This is not exactly a long time, however, a full tank is certainly enough for people going for occasional camping trips.

As for people who live in the campers, you might need at least 3 tanks per month in order to have your fridge function properly and regularly.

How Much Propane Does A Camper Refrigerator Use?

Camper refrigerators require a high BTU of propane. What this means is that they use the fuel up quite a lot. This is why the propane consumption will be quite high, regardless of how much you end up using, at the end of the day.

To run smoothly for more than 2 days, a camper fridge requires about a gallon of propane. As useful as the fuel is, propane does run out quite quickly. It burns pretty fast when performing the reaction that does the cooling job in the fridge.

For occasional campers who need the fridge for only a weekend, a gallon or two should be enough. You don’t need a full tank, as you won’t be using it all that much. A camper fridge should use only a little over a gallon to power it up for such short periods of time.

However, for motorhome owners, this is quite bad news. The camper fridge will consume about 3 tanks of propane per month if used regularly.

And considering the fact that you live there, you’re probably not going to turn the gas off and let the things inside melt.

3 Factors That Determine The Camper Fridge Running Time On Propane

There are a few factors that can influence how quickly you have to refill your propane tank for use with the camper fridge. The 3 factors are:

Amount Of Propane:

It is quite obvious that the amount of propane would be a deciding factor in this matter. The more propane you have at your disposal in the tank, the longer the fridge will run.

And if we have learnt anything about propane and camper fridges, it is that propane runs out quicker than one would expect.

A full tank of propane would last far longer than just a gallon of the fuel. So, we can deduce that, the higher the quantity of propane present in the tank, the longer the camper refrigerator will last and function without any hindrance.

Size Of Tank:

While the standard size of a tank for camper fridges is 20 lbs or 4.6 gallons, you can get tanks with higher capacity.

This changes a lot. As mentioned, the more propane you have, the longer your fridge will run. So, if you increase the capacity of storing propane, naturally you will be able to have your camper refrigerator run for longer.

Tanks are available in 2 other notable sizes, which are, 30 lbs. and 100 lbs. If you are someone who lives in a camper, it is wise to get a 100 lbs. tank, and rest assured that your tank won’t run out for the next 2 months at least.

Frequency Of Usage:

This one is certainly a factor that determines how long your fridge will run on propane, however, there is a catch. This only applies to people going on camping trips, who don’t necessarily have to rely on the fridge to store stuff for prolonged periods.

If you simply keep the switch off for a while and turn the fridge off for some time, it should allow you to save some propane from burning, as a result, increasing its longevity.

Does A Propane Camper Fridge Run Continuously?

The answer to that question is yes, it can run continuously. However, whether it should run continuously or not is another important question that you should be asking.

Camper fridges can be allowed to run for days straight, they would work just fine as would a regular fridge. When the camper is steady at a spot and not being driven, it is perfectly safe to let the fridge run continuously to keep the food inside cool and fresh.

However, when the RV is being driven, it is highly risky to keep the fridge running. Experts highly recommend turning it off before driving as it could potentially cause accidents.

God forbid, if there is a tire blowout and that somehow comes in contact with the propane tank, there could be casualties.

To avoid this, try to turn down the temperature to the lowest the night before the drive and pack everything tightly to keep things cool throughout the day.

Final Thoughts

The standard propane tanks for camper fridges, which have a 20 lbs capacity, should last about 11 days or 61hour continuously. So depending on your usage, you should get a full tank and/or refill whenever necessary. Just make sure you turn the fridge off sometimes to increase the longevity.