5 Best RV Refrigerators – Keep Your Food Cold With a Compact Fridge

Taking a trip in your RV is all about relaxation. It is the perfect activity to take your mind away from the daily grind of everyday life. And when it comes to relaxing, what is better than an iced cold beverage and a fresh snack? To keep your food fresh and your beverages cold while you’re out on the road, you need a reliable refrigerator for your RV.

Compared to a household refrigerator, an RV fridge is smaller and more portable. They also do not use the large compressors that a full-sized fridge does. A high quality RV refrigerator is compact, energy efficient, and powerful. And if you know what to look for, they can also be surprisingly affordable. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the five best RV refrigerators.

 

The 5 Best RV Refrigerators

1. EdgeStar CRF321SS Refrigerator

EdgeStar CRF321SS Refrigerator for RVs

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The EdgeStar CRF321SS Refrigerator is our favorite refrigerator for RVs. This compact fridge is the perfect size for dorms and RVs, and will fit the needs of most popular RV and camper models. It has a capacity of 3.1 cubic feet, with a refrigerator as well as a freezer area. In addition to its sleek look, it is very well-built and durable, so it should hold up well and last for quite a while.

In terms of temperature, there is a wide selection to choose from, ranging from 34 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The dimensions of the fridge are 19.8 x 18.8 x 33.5 inches, which provides plenty of space without being too bulky. It is made from stainless steel, which makes sure that the fridge will last you a long time. It fits tight spaces so you can place it anywhere you need it. While the fridge does weigh a fairly heavy 52 pounds, that’s actually not a lot for an RV fridge, and it will not have much of an impact on your RV.

The only minor drawback is that it can be a bit loud at times. However, it is still a manageable volume, and it is definitely not as loud as full-sized refrigerator models. All things considered, It’s a great, universal choice that will suit many RV owners.

Best Feature: Dedicated Freezer Section

Much like full-sized home refrigerators, the EdgeStar comes equipped with a dedicated freezer section that has its own door. Because it is in a separate section, the freezer is much more powerful and effective than you would expect. It is capable of maintaining a temperature of “true zero degrees,” which means it can keep food and liquid completely frozen for long periods of time.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • 3.1 cubic feet capacity offers plenty of space.
  • Separate, dedicated freezer section.
  • Stainless steel body.
  • Interior light in the refrigerator area.
  • Energy Star rated.
  • Compressor cooled.
Cons
  • It can be noisy in some situations.

 

 

2. RCA RFR321 Mini Refrigerator

RCA RFR321 Mini Refrigerator

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The RCA RFR321 Mini Refrigerator is a great option for RV and camper owners. When most people think of a mini-fridge, this is typically what they imagine. This design style is often found in dorm rooms and small apartments, which have similar refrigeration needs to smaller RVs. In addition to black and stainless steel, the fridge is also available in several unique color options including blue, purple, red, orange, and white.

From the outside, it is a compact and space-saving unit, measuring 20″ x 18″ x 32″ inches. It can be tucked away in small corners and will fit nicely in most designated refrigerator areas. The door can be switched to swing open to the left or right, which removes many of the limits on where you can put it. Despite its compact size, there is a ton of space inside for food storage. The capacity is 3.2 cubic feet, which is perfect for the needs of most RV owners and small families.

Inside, the fridge features slide-out tempered glass shelves that allow you to easily adjust the spacing to fit your specific needs. An adjustable thermostat provides control over the temperature, with a minimum setting of about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. On the door there are several additional storage shelves and an awesome built-in dispenser for beverage cans.

At the top of the unit there is a small freezer compartment that is great for making ice and freezing small packages of food. If you need the ability to freeze larger quantities of food for longer periods of time, we recommend choosing a refrigerator that has a dedicated freezer section, such as the EdgeStar or the RCA Igloo.

Best Feature: Built-in Can Dispenser

Our favorite feature is the built-in can dispenser. On the inside of the refrigerator door, you will find a cleverly designed system for storing canned beverages. This compartment allows you to easily grab a can of soda or beer, and then it dispenses a new can into its place, ready for the next thirsty person to quickly grab.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • 3.2 cubic feet capacity.
  • Slide out, adjustable shelves made of tempered glass.
  • Reversible door can be set to open to the right or left side.
  • Built-in dispenser for canned beverages.
  • Freezer area.
  • Unique, bright color options.
  • Compressor cooled.
Cons
  • Minimum temperature setting is 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

 

3. HomeLabs Mini Fridge

HomeLabs Mini Fridge

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The HomeLabs Mini Fridge is another one of our favorite RV refrigerators. It is a mini fridge that features a classic dorm room style design. It offers plenty of refrigerator space as well as a small freezer compartment. This particular model is quite popular and is often found in RVs, garages, and dorm rooms, which is no surprise.

The unit measures 18.5″ x 17″ x 32.7″ inches, with a capacity of 3.3 cubic feet, which is actually a bit more space than most other comparable refrigerators. On the sides and top of the fridge there is a sleek black finish. The door, featuring a stainless steel color, packs a few awesome surprises including a reversible opening. Also, believe it or not, the door can be directly written on like a dry erase board (more on this below)!

Inside of the refrigerator, there are three slide-out shelves that let you adjust the interior size to your needs. Towards the top is a small freezer compartment that is great for making ice cubes. For refrigeration, the temperature is adjustable to some degree. A thermostat knob with a few available modes: minimum, medium, and maximum. At the minimum setting for cold temperatures, the fridge will cool down to around 33 degrees Fahrenheit.

Similar to the RCA mini-fridge, this HomeLabs model also features an awesome, convenient option for storing and dispensing canned beverages. It’s a fun feature that the kids really love and we wish it came standard in more mini-fridge models.

Best Feature: Reversible Door That You Can Write On

Our favorite feature of the HomeLabs mini fridge is the reversible door. This means the door can easily be switched to swing open to the left side or the right side. We love this feature because it really opens up the possibilities for where it can be set up inside of the RV. If you need to put the fridge in the corner, you just simply reverse the door to open in the opposite direction of the wall.

Additionally, this fridge takes the unique door design a step further. You can actually write directly on the front of the fridge, using it just like a dry erase board. The kids really get a kick out of this. It is great for jotting down personal notes, reminders, and shopping lists.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • 3.3 cu.ft. capacity, a bit more space than others.
  • Reversible door can be set to open left or right.
  • Built-in dispenser for canned beverages.
  • Compact design.
  • Compressor cooled.
Cons
  • It can get a bit noisy, which is sometimes noticeable at night.
  • Adjustable temperature only includes three settings.

 

 

4. RCA Igloo RV Refrigerator

RCA Igloo RV Refrigerator

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The RCA Igloo RV Refrigerator is one of our favorite refrigerators for RV camping. It features a two door design, with one providing access to the fridge and the other to the freezer. Using a compressor cooling system like larger units, the Igloo offers top notch performance regardless of hot weather.

In terms of size, the RCA Igloo measures 22″ x 20″ x 34″ inches, which is a bit bigger than many “mini fridges”, but should still be a perfect fit for most RV sizes. However, you should be sure to measure your area prior to purchasing it. The Igloo is available in three sleek color choices:  black, stainless steel, and white. Each color does have a slightly different price point though, with white costing a bit more and stainless steel a bit less.

The unit offers a total capacity of 3.2 cubic feet, providing plenty of room in both the refrigerator and freezer sections. Inside of the fridge area are pull out glass shelves, a beverage can dispenser, and a shelf for two-liter bottles. Additionally, there is also an awesome vegetable drawer for storing fresh produce, which is a unique feature in refrigerators of this size. The temperature can be adjusted via a thermostat knob.

Best Feature: Dedicated Freezer Section

With a dedicated freezer section that is separate from the refrigerator, the RCA Igloo is great for bringing frozen food on your trips. The freezing area features its own door and is capable of keeping food and liquid safely frozen for long periods of time.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Capacity of 3.2 cu.ft.
  • Separate, dedicated freezer section.
  • Vegetable drawer for produce.
  • Built-in dispenser for canned beverages.
  • Compressor cooled.
Cons
  • Slightly larger than many other comparable units.

 

 

5. Danby Contemporary Refrigerator for RVs

Danby Contemporary Refrigerator for RVs

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The 1.7 cu.ft. Danby Contemporary Refrigerator is a fantastic mini fridge. It is perfect for owners of small RVs who are tight on space but do not want to skimp on quality. While it is available in four different sizes, we are big fans of the smallest unit, 1.7 cubic feet. Sure, there are dozens of high quality mini fridges available in the range of 3-3.5 cubic feet, but it can be very difficult to find a smaller option that is well-built and dependable. For those who need a small unit, this Danby Contemporary fits the bill.

With the 1.7 cu.ft. model, the Danby Contemporary fridge is tiny. It measures 20.43” x 17.68” by 20.08” inches. Most of the size difference comes from the reduced height of the unit, so it can actually be placed on top of a counter, table, or cabinet. Other available sizes include 2.6 cu.ft., 3.3 cu.ft., and 4.4 cu.ft., so even if the 1.7 model is a bit too small for you, there should be an appropriate size. The unit features a

Inside, there are 2 slide-out shelves that can be positioned at various heights, depending upon your preferences. There is also a dispenser for beverage cans and an area for storing a two liter bottle of soda. One of our favorite features, however, is a white LED light that turns on when the door is open. The light is bright and illuminates the whole interior, which is fantastic at night.

On top of the fridge, there is a scratch resistant worktop that can be used as an area for food prep. The fridge is available in five different colors including black, silver, stainless steel, white, and a beautiful shade of red.

Best Features

  • Compact size. For owners of small RVs and campers, we know how difficult it can be to find a fridge this size that is still capable of keeping your food and drinks cold.
  • Reversible door. The reversible door can be switched to swing open towards the left or the right.
  • Interior light. Inside of the unit is a white LED light. At night, the light is very convenient and illuminates the entire fridge

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Capacity of 1.7 cu.ft.
  • Compact size for tight spaces.
  • Door opening is reversible.
  • Built-in dispenser for canned beverages.
  • Interior LED light.
  • Scratch resistant top for food prep work.
  • Compressor cooled.
Cons
  • No freezer compartment.
  • Smaller capacity means less room inside for food.

 

 

Buyer’s Guide: What to Look for in an RV Refrigerator

When choosing a new refrigerator for your RV or camper, there are a few different factors that you should consider. It is important to think about the size, interior capacity, freezer, and power requirements.

Size

Size is one of the most important factors to consider in a new RV refrigerator. Before choosing a new fridge, be sure to measure the area it is going to be set up in. To be safe, it is also a good idea to select a fridge that’s a bit smaller than the space you plan to put it in. Remember to take note of the fridge’s depth size, otherwise you may end up choosing a model that sticks out too far into the room.

Capacity

Man Adjusting RV Refrigerator Shelves
Most mini fridges have adjustable shelves.

To determine the capacity you need, you should consider the amount of refrigerated food that you plan to store. If you are just storing snacks for you and your spouse, a smaller unit of 1.7 cu.ft. will likely provide enough space. On the other hand, if you and the family plan to fire up your RV grill and refrigerate the leftover burgers, we recommend opting for a fridge with a capacity of 3 cu.ft. or more.

Freezer Section

When it comes to mini RV refrigerators, there are generally three freezer options. Some models have a small freezer compartment inside, some have a dedicated freezer with a separate door, and other models have no freezer at all. Do you plan to bring frozen food and ice on your trips? If so, consider the quantity of items that you will be freezing. To freeze food and snacks for multiple people, we highly recommend that you opt for a refrigerator that has a dedicated freezer since it will provide you with more space.

Power Requirements

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a refrigerator, or any other appliance for your RV, is the power required to operate it. Generally, the larger the unit is, the more power it will need to run. When you start installing appliances in your RV, it is likely time to upgrade to a more powerful and reliable energy source such as an inverter generator.

When determining your overall power requirements, remember to factor in any other appliances and devices that have to run. This includes appliances like tankless water heaters that do not operate constantly, but do draw significant electrical power when they do run. You should also factor in the power needs of smaller devices, such as wifi boosters, television sets, and backup cameras.

 

Types of Portable Refrigerators

Defined by the method they use to cool, there are three main types of portable refrigerators: compressor, absorption, and thermoelectric.

Compressor Refrigerators

Compressor refrigerators are the most common type of refrigerator and can be found in most home kitchens. Compressor fridges are capable of producing and maintaining colder temperatures than any other type of fridge. Additionally, they give you far more control over temperature adjustment. In terms of power usage, they are generally considered to be efficient and cost-effective.

Man Opening Compressor Fridge in RV
A compressor fridge.

For an RV refrigerator, we recommend choosing a fridge that uses a compressor cooling system. To store food for more than a few hours, they are by far the best option.

Another important feature for RV use is that compressor refrigerators do not need to remain level to operate, so they are a great option if you plan to take your camper off-road into some bumpy areas.

Absorption Refrigerators

Typically, absorption refrigerators can be powered by gas, AC, or DC. Most models do not feature an adjustable temperature. Instead, they are designed to simply maintain a temperature 30 degrees lower than the current external temperature. In order to run, absorption fridges must remain completely flat.

Absorption refrigerators are commonly found in small RVs, vans, and campers that do not have the space and/or power source for a compressor fridge.

Thermoelectric Refrigerators

Generally, thermoelectric refrigerators are less expensive than other types of fridges. However, they are not capable of getting as cold, and require more energy to operate. Additionally, they are usually smaller and more compact than other fridges.

 

 

RV Refrigerator FAQs

Can you put an RV refrigerator on carpet?

If it is possible to avoid it, we do not recommend installing an RV refrigerator on carpet. The fridge condenser is typically located at the bottom of the unit, so the carpet will reduce the airflow and retain heat. This means that, generally, the carpet will slightly reduce the performance and increase the power draw of your refrigerator. That being said, the difference is not that significant, so it is probably not necessary to go ripping up your carpet. If your RV is carpeted, installing a refrigerator will not be an issue in most cases.

Why do you need to defrost a mini refrigerator?

In some mini fridge models, ice can build up over time.  This occurs because most mini fridges do not have the ability to self-defrost. The issue is most commonly seen in the type of mini refrigerator that has a small freezer section inside of the main refrigeration area. The layer of frost slowly builds up and expands, eventually overtaking the entire freezer. If left for a long period of time, the excess ice can prevent the door from opening and closing.

How do you defrost an RV refrigerator?

To defrost the mini fridge in your RV, you should periodically empty and unplug it, allowing the ice to melt. Additionally, you can use a hair dryer or heat gun to speed up the process. If possible, it is best to do this outside since the melting will create a lot of water.

Is an RV refrigerator a fire hazard?

While most modern electrical appliances are generally safe, it is important to remember that all electrical appliances do create some risk of fire. A mini fridge, however, typically poses no more of a fire hazard than any other appliance in your RV or home. With anything electrical, you should always take the necessary steps to reduce risk. Be sure to always plug the refrigerator directly into the electrical outlet rather than an adaptor or extension cord.

 

Final Thoughts

Hungry yet? We sure are! Installing a refrigerator in your RV can be a serious game-changer for your trips and adventures. Nothing compliments cruising down the open roads like a nice, cold beverage. You can keep the kids’ snacks fresh and your beer ice cold.

Overall, as the best RV refrigerator, we recommend the EdgeStar CRF321SS Refrigerator. It is compact, energy efficient, and provides a capacity of 3.1 cubic feet. We love the dedicated freezer section with the separate door — it gives you the power of a real freezer with plenty of room inside for all of your frozen snacks.

 

Woman Opening Refrigerator in RV

Happy camping!

Is there a different RV refrigerator that you love? We would love to try it out! Let us know in the comments section below.

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