Residential Refrigerators vs RV Type Refrigerators in Recreation Vehicles

Keep it cool!


After we finished deciding on the model of Fifth Wheel that we wanted to purchase, we had to decide on what type of refrigerator to get with it. I had done some research in advance to help us decide which way to go. Should we get a residential refrigerator or go with the common 2-way/3-way RV type refrigerator?

Lately, residential refrigerators have become quite popular. The manufacturers like installing them because they cost less and are easier to install. Customers like them because they are …bigger?

OK, well they used to be bigger but now they’re not. In fact, the model we chose comes with either an 18 cu. ft. RV fridge or an 18 cu. ft. residential style fridge.  So now you can take that argument right back off the table. However, size was the biggest factor when RV manufacturers first started installing residential refrigerators. I think that is why a lot of RVs built with residential refrigerators coming out of the factory are costing more than their RV Type refrigerator counterparts when the units themselves are quite a bit less.

To explain some of the differences between the fridges, I went and put together a list of advantages that each type of fridge has to offer in a typical RV.

Residential Refrigerator Advantages

  • More efficient
  • Repair costs are less
  • No outside vents to deal with
  • Works better in temperatures over 90 degrees
  • No open flames
  • Cools faster
  • Less frost
  • Uses 12v Battery or AC Power
  • Freezes Ice-cream better

RV Type Refrigerator Advantages

  • More durable for traveling
  • No inverter needed
  • Less battery draw
  • Less noise
  • Less weight
  • AC Power or Propane (and sometimes 12v Battery)
  • No icemaker maintenance
  • Built-in door latches

What makes a residential refrigerator the best choice for your home are the exact same reasons that would make it work best for your RV. It is more efficient, it cools better, and it is less expensive to repair. If you don’t plan on traveling much this type would work out great for you.

For anyone looking to travel much in their RV, the 2-way or 3-way RV type refrigerator would probably make better sense. These are more durable, lighter and demand much less power to run.

If you have the room, you can also have the best of both worlds. Our 5th Wheel happens to have a large enough basement that we could put a mini fridge in it. Then we would have both an RV type refrigerator upstairs and a residential refrigerator downstairs. Pretty awesome.

As you can see there is no perfect solution. Your needs will determine the type of fridge that will work best for you.

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