Caravan Fridge Venting, Overheating and Other Common Problems

It’s that time of year again. The mercury is rising, the sun is shining and the coast beckons. Time to pull out the van, and get the beers chilled. But, uh-oh, what’s happening… the fridge isn’t getting cold!

3-way fridges (the ones that run on gas, along with 240v and 12v) can be temperamental devices, and cause no end of frustration for many caravanners. The good news is that most issues can be fixed easily, although perhaps not always as expected. There is plenty of caravan park chatter about fridge improvements, but so many of these good intentioned nuggets can lead you astray very quickly.

Here’s a list of some of the things that are causing fridge problems:

  • that shade cloth you put over the side of the van
  • the installation of the fridge by the manufacturer
  • the cable size
  • the level / alignment
  • any fridge older than about 8 years
  • the vents on the side of your van
  • the gas regulator

First up, I hear a lot of comments about people wanting to keep their fridge cool – by providing shade for it. This can be completely counter-productive. The main reason, is that 3-way fridges require heat to operate – that’s why there is a gas flame, and the electric elements that heat up at the back of the fridge.

The main problem is that the heat doesn’t ESCAPE from the back of the fridge adequately. This is normally due to the way the unit has been installed. There are a few main issues here:

  • cavities / empty space around the sides, and especially above the fridges – simply fill up with very hot air which can’t escape
  • vents not large enough
  • vents not high enough – hot air rises, and if your top vent is at the same height as the top of your fridge, the hot air will struggle to escape effectively. The best venting is to have the top vent actually on the roof of the van, and a ducted space all the way up.
  • completely air tight fitting between the rear of the fridge, and the fridge cavity – there should be no way that air that passes through the back of the fridge, can enter the living cabin of your van – this creates better circulation for the cooling unit – and eliminates the issues with unburnt LPG entering the cabin, or the LPG flame consuming oxygen from inside the cabin.

If running on 12v – is huge area for improvement – we can generally get a fridge to run about twice as effectively as installed from the manufacturer.

So, if you’re having troubles getting your caravan 3-way fridge to cool effectively, have a chat to us today, about how to optimise it for your van.

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