When considering to buy a small refrigerator for your pop up camper, you have many choices to consider. The most popular choice is the 3-way refrigerator. However, in other RV applications, there may be other convenient options.
Pop up camper refrigerators available in the market
The 3-way RV refrigerator
They are known as 3-way refrigerators because they run on propane, 120V AC current or 12V DC. It may sound odd that one can make the unit cold by burning gas. However, using propane is the most efficient way to run such a refrigerator. The heat from the propane is used in boiling a liquid called ammonia in an enclosed system
As a result of the miracles of thermodynamics, the vapor will take on the heat during the re-condensation process. The heat is transported out of the refrigerator, thus the interior of the unit becomes cold. The entire process consumes a very small amount of propane. So if you are to use propane for refrigerator application and nothing else, then a 20-pound tank of propane would last a month with continuous use.
Another great way of using the 3-way refrigerator is to use 120V AC power. Here, the electricity is used to heat up the fridge. So instead of using gas for running the unit, you could as well use electricity.
Lastly, the least efficient way you could run a 3-way refrigerator is through powering it with a 12V DC power. Never operate a refrigerator using 12V when going camping without hookups. Or else, you will exhaust the battery in a matter of hours. In fact, without hookups, you should either utilize propane or switch off the appliance.
The main reason behind powering the refrigerator with a 12V connection is to keep the contents inside that refrigerator cold. So this option should only be used when the trailer is attached to a tow vehicle and a 12V charge line is present. And unless you paid for this special arrangement, there are high chances that this type of connection is not present in your tail light hookup. Furthermore, operating the refrigerator without this system installed in place will run down your battery in hours.
Some people switch on their 3-way refrigerator only to think that it's not working properly. However, this is normal since a 3-way refrigerator that works correctly doesn't make noise. These units don't have moving parts, hence they don't emit any noise. They also don't use a motor and a compressor in their construction.
A sure sign that the refrigerator is working properly is when some warmth is being emitted from a vent outside, otherwise it won't make any noise the first time it's turned on.
The two-way refrigerator
The moment your refrigerator becomes this large, it's impractical to operate it on a 12V even when on transit. In fact, this model will either run on propane or 120V. Otherwise, it cannot be powered by 12V alone. These models of refrigerators have a thermostat, meaning they will need some electricity even if they use propane. So in the absence of hookups, you'll still need propane and battery.
3-way refrigerators are expensive and may last long if properly taken care of. However, they may not be a good option for those who camp on an occasional basis. This category of people may use a two-way refrigerator instead.
The dorm refrigerator
When you have hookups, you don't really need propane to run your refrigerator. A small dorm refrigerator can also be mounted permanently inside your camper. Some of these refrigerators have a small compressor built in them, hence they will emit a small amount of noise.
The dorm refrigerator is quite different from other refrigerators which use thermoelectric principle. Models that use thermoelectric principle are less costly and light in weight. Therefore, adding one of these cost-effective units into your camper will help you take advantage of having a refrigerator on board.
The 12V cooler
This model looks like a traditional cooler, though it's plugged into your car's 12V system. These models are less expensive and also ideal for campers. A good example is the Coleman 40 Quart PowerChill Thermoelectric cooler which costs $91 on the lower side. You could also go for the Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric cooler which costs $89. Here's the link to finding these units: http://is.gd/DjtzSk.
If the above options are not feasible, you should use a portable refrigerator instead. They run on gas or a 12V power system. They work as great, plus they give the convenience that a refrigerator gives to campers.
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