Upgrading Your Motorhome Fridge: When is The Right Time?

Author: Your RV Good Guide   Date Posted: 29 October 2023


For most motorhome owners, a fridge is a must-have when it comes to making our travels comfortable and convenient. A reliable fridge is your ticket to fresh meals and chilled beverages after a long day on the road. However, like every appliance, campervan fridges have a lifespan. Recognising when yours is nearing its end can be tricky. In this helpful guide, we'll share some of the key indicators that suggest your fridge might need attention. We’ll also weigh up the options of repairing versus replacing, and touch on responsible recycling and disposal methods.


The importance of a reliable motorhome fridge 

One of the big benefits of travelling by motorhome is having all your home comforts with you. Having the ability to cook in your onboard kitchen takes your holiday to the next level. And as part of that, having a fridge to keep food and drinks cool is vital. But when your fridge decides to fail, your holiday can quickly become… challenging! Not only can it disrupt your carefully laid-out plans, but it also poses a risk of food spoilage, making those intended relaxed dinners a stressful scramble. Moreover, food wastage can lead to unplanned expenses, straining your travel budget.


Warning signs of a failing RV fridge 

There are a few things to look out for if you suspect your campervan fridge could be on its way out:


Unusual noises and vibrations 

Motorhome owners quickly become attuned to the various hums and rumbles of their RV. So, when the familiar lull of your fridge changes to something out of the ordinary, it's time to take notice. Unusual fridge noises, especially those akin to grinding or clanking, should not be ignored. Similarly, if you start feeling more pronounced vibrations from your fridge than usual, it’s cause for concern.

In a compressor fridge, these symptoms might be pointing towards internal problems. The compressor is the heart of your two-way campervan fridge, pumping refrigerant and ensuring everything stays cold. If your compressor is struggling or malfunctioning, not only does it compromise the efficiency of your fridge, but it also poses a potential safety risk. Addressing these issues promptly is essential to prevent further damage or costly replacements down the line.


Failure to ignite in a gas fridge 

When it comes to three-way fridges, one glaring warning sign that it might be time for an upgrade is when the fridge fails to ignite. If you find yourself repeatedly clicking the ignition switch to no avail, it's a clear indicator that something's not right. This issue could be due to a variety of reasons, such as a faulty igniter or a gas flow problem. Either way, a fridge that won't ignite is not only inconvenient but could also be a safety concern so it should be checked by a professional.


Changes in temperature 

An RV road trip can bring many surprises, but one thing that should remain predictable is your fridge’s temperature each time you open it. If you notice that this consistency wavers, it's a clear red flag. A motorhome fridge that has trouble maintaining its temperature or has noticeable fluctuations may have issues with the cooling system or the thermostat. A malfunctioning thermostat, for example, might not accurately regulate the temperature, causing either freezing or inadequate cooling.


Things don’t look quite right

One of the most conspicuous signs of a failing fridge is excessive frost buildup. A thin layer of frost might be expected from time to time, especially in older models. But when it becomes a persistent icy landscape inside, there's likely a malfunctioning defrost system at play.

Another visual red flag is finding puddles of water inside or around the base of your fridge. This could signify damaged door seals. These seals are essential for keeping the cold air in and the warm air out, ensuring efficient cooling. If they're compromised, it affects the fridge's overall performance.


How to tell if your fridge needs to be repaired or upgraded? 

Fridges are one of the worst offenders when it comes to environmental pollution. With that in mind, it’s always preferable to try and repair your fridge before upgrading.


Can motorhome fridges be repaired? 

When your fridge is rattling, leaking, failing to ignite, or not keeping its cool, the first question you’ll have is whether it can be fixed. As we mentioned earlier, repairing is best, when possible, but there are a few factors to bear in mind first.

Start by considering the age of your fridge. Like all appliances, fridges have an expected lifespan. If yours has already given you many good years, the issue might be a sign of natural wear and tear. Next, look into the cost of the necessary repairs. Sometimes, a minor tweak or component replacement can breathe new life into your campervan fridge. However, for larger problems or particularly outdated models, you might find that the cost of repair approaches, or even exceeds, the cost of a brand-new unit.

It's also important to consider the availability of replacement parts. Some older models might have components that are now hard to find or even obsolete, making repairs challenging or impractical.

In essence, while many motorhome fridge issues can be rectified with repairs, it's essential to weigh the costs, benefits, and long-term viability before committing to a fix.


Can motorhome fridges be upgraded? 

As technology evolves, so do the features of motorhome fridges. Think precise temperature control options, advanced cooling systems that adapt to the surrounding environment, and even smart systems that notify you of potential issues. These upgrades are more than just bells and whistles; they guarantee a consistently reliable performance, ensuring your food remains fresh and safe.

Newer fridge models also offer significant improvements in energy efficiency. This not only helps to extend the life of your RV's battery but also contributes to a greener journey. Additionally, many modern fridges come with an increased storage capacity, ensuring you have ample space for all your culinary needs on the road.

Your local RV Super Centre has a great selection of portable fridges, gas fridges, 3-way fridges, and fridge accessories. Let’s take a look at a few popular models:

Brass Monkey GH1662 Upright Fridge/Freezer: This super quiet, 138L Brass Monkey fridge has a quick-freezing function, crisper drawer, height-adjustable shelving, and can run on 12 or 24 volts.

Dometic RUA6498XL 3-way Fridge/Freezer: With a generous 188L capacity, this 3-way Dometic fridge is tall and narrow, allowing greater flexibility in your kitchen space.

If space is very limited, you may prefer a smaller unit such as the 50L Challenger Fridge. This quiet single-door fridge can fit in compact spaces such as under a bench or on a table. It also makes the perfect mini bar fridge!

READ MORE: Gas fridges vs 12V fridges: Which is best for your motorhome?


Sustainable disposal of your motorhome fridge 

If your fridge is beyond repair, here are some options for responsible and sustainable disposal:


Recycling options 

Every motorhome fridge, no matter how trusty, eventually reaches the end of its lifespan. When that time comes, it's our responsibility to ensure it gets a respectful and environmentally conscious send-off. Improper disposal can have adverse effects on our environment due to the refrigerant gases and materials used in the fridge's construction.

Your best course of action? Seek out local recycling facilities that specialise in appliance disposal. These facilities are well-equipped and knowledgeable in handling specific challenges posed by fridges. They ensure that harmful refrigerant gases are safely extracted and neutralised. In addition, the various components of your fridge – be it metal, plastic, or glass – are sorted and recycled, preventing unnecessary waste from reaching landfills.

Remember, even at the end of its life, your fridge can still make a positive impact, provided it's handled with care.


Donating or selling 

If your fridge is still humming along but simply doesn't align with your needs, why not give it a second lease on life? Donating your motorhome fridge to a local charity is a great way to give back to the community. Many organisations can repurpose these appliances for community projects or for those in need. Alternatively, selling your fridge could provide the perfect solution for someone looking for a low-cost option. Either way, by donating or selling, you're not only extending the usable life of the fridge but also promoting sustainability by reducing waste.


Professional disposal 

Sometimes, the easiest option is to call in the professionals. These experts are equipped with the knowledge and tools to dispose of appliances in accordance with strict environmental standards and regulations. They ensure every component, especially potentially harmful substances like refrigerants, is managed safely.

When considering a professional disposal service, it's essential to do a bit of homework. Research local companies that have a proven track record in eco-friendly practices.


Upgrade your motorhome fridge with RVSC 


We hope this guide has given you some useful advice on when, why, and how to upgrade your campervan fridge. Still have questions? No problem, the friendly team at your local RV Super Centre are always happy to help. And if you’re ready to buy, head online and check out more of our quality campervan fridges.

For more motorhome inspiration and advice, check out these helpful guides:

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