Replacing An RV Refrigerator

by | Sep 5, 2020

After 6 years of heavy RV travel, it was time to replace our RV refrigerator. Our current unit was getting a little beat up inside from all the bumpy roads, plus the compressor was making a strange noise when starting up. We took the latter as a sign the refrigerator was going to cause problems in the future and we didn’t want to be out on a multiple month, extended trip and have the refrigerator fail.

TYPES OF RV REFRIGERATORS

When we purchased our 5th wheel, we preferred having a residential style refrigerator versus the more traditional RV refrigerator, also known as an absorption refrigerator, that uses propane to create a flame that heats a combination of ammonia, hydrogen gas, and water for the cooling process. We found the residential refrigerator to be much colder, no maintenance and have larger capacities using the wall space available.

There are pros and cons to each type of RV refrigerator. For the traditional absorption refrigerator, having the propane option is great for boondocking. The battery system is only used for thermostat and pilot lighting. The downside, the smaller capacities, heat generated, maintenance and occasional need to defrost. A residential refrigerator is colder, most are self-defrosting, have more space and require little if any maintenance. The challenge is finding one that will fit through the RV door and the space inside along with the power consumption when traveling. A multiple batteries are required along with an inverter with capacity to handle the refrigerators 120V AC compressor.

WHY REPLACE THE RV REFRIGERATOR

Why did our refrigerator fail after 6 years? Well, it hadn’t….yet. Sure, it was making a weird noise, but the refrigerator could have continued to work for many years. As “long timer” RV travelers, we often spend two or three months at a stretch in our 5th wheel and can travel up to eight months out of a year. We treat the 5th wheel as our second home and have made various upgrades for comfort and overall usability. Joan and I felt it was time for an upgrade and wanted some of the new features available with a new refrigerator.

REPLACING THE RV REFRIGERATOR

Finding a residential refrigerator that would fit in our 5th wheel was going to be our greatest challenge. We had a 29 inch front door on the 5th wheel to remove the old refrigerator and bring in a new unit. We also had exactly 28 inches to fit a new refrigerator in the existing space. Height was less of an issue requiring minimal carpentry with a small panel to fill in the remaining refrigerator space.

Second challenge was finding a unit that had a low power budget to operate. We wanted something that was less than an amp to run and wouldn’t require a battery or inverter upgrade. Our current 1,000 watt inverter supports a 2,000 watt peak and wanted a refrigerator that would work within these parameters.

After several months of searching, we found a refrigerator at Home Depot that met all of our requirements. Width was a perfect fit, power budget was much better than our existing unit, and the taller height was going to require the smallest amount of carpentry. Our new LG model LBNC15231V was going to be a great upgrade in features. Plus, the LG is an inverter compressor and for the size of this unit, requires very little power.

Removing the existing RV refrigerator and replacing with the new LG took a little planning, some finesse as well as muscle. The actual weight of the refrigerator was not the biggest issue as much as overall bulk and the tight space. We quickly discovered only two people could work in the space, plus we had to make a substantial effort to protect the unit from any damage or scratches fitting the new LG refrigerator though the doorway and around the cabinets. We took the extra effort of creating a ramp to the doorway which dealt with the largest difficulty of moving old and installing the new RV refrigerator.

RESULTS

We couldn’t be happier with the results of the new RV refrigerator. We have more space, more features and the power budget is much lower than the previous model.

RV AccessoriesNot sure about what RV accessories you need as you start RV travel? Check out our RV Accessories page where we have listed a wide range of products from essential items to those “nice to have” RV products to make RV life more enjoyable. Every item listed is being used or has been used by Joan and I as we’ve traveled across the country in our RV.
 

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