With the erratic seasonal temperatures of the last few years, we don’t know what to expect from the coming summer season. Will it be a scorcher or pleasantly warm? In the RV world, there are two appliances that need to keep working regardless of the heat: the refrigerator and the air conditioner.
High Temps and the RV Refrigerator
If the refrigerator tends to heat up to over 45 degrees in the summer temperatures, don’t buy a new refrigerator or replace the cooling unit until you try this little trick.
Keep the Refrigerator Cool
Install Exterior Flue Fans
If your travel plans include an extended stay in a very hot climate (over 90 degrees F daily), the refrigerator may not stay cool enough to keep food fresh. Installing a couple of 12 V computer case fans at the top of the refrigerator flue vent eliminates this problem. Depending on the size of your motorhome refrigerator flue, there may only be room for one large fan.
Refrigerator designs may require the fan to be installed at the bottom. Avoid this if possible. Service installers may spin a tale about the best installation, but I have tried both top and bottom vent placement. The fans installed in the top of the vent far outperform the bottom location.
The top vent design is a tougher install project and may cost a few more dollars in labor, but well worth it when the temperature hits 110 degrees. If you understand 12V schematics, it is an easy installation.
Measure the top surface opening of the flue. Buy these small computer case fans yourself at a local electronics/computer store or online (around $5 each).
Do it yourself or contact a local RV repairperson to install the fans at your RV park site. Install an on/off switch within easy reach for flexibility in colder climates.
Caution: Do not allow the RV repairperson to buy the fans. They do not usually have the correct specifications or understand the reasoning behind using computer case fans over conventional refrigerator vent fans. Computer fans are also less expensive ($10 versus $35).
Note: Unless your motorhome is less than 20 feet long, ignore the solar-type vent fans, as they do not produce enough airflow to do the job.
Minimum specifications to ensure high airflow and low fan noise:
80 mm Computer Case Fan (3 inch):
Air Flow (CFM) 28.89; Max Noise (dBA) 20.9
120 mm Computer Case Fan (5 inch):
Air Flow (FM) 44.03; Max. Noise (dBA) 23.5
For more information on this and other helpful tips, see the book designed for non-mechanical travelers, “Conquer the Road: RV Maintenance for Travelers.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA.gov) maintains a list of all RVs that are recalled by the manufacturer. To narrow the chances of buying a defective vehicle, check the VIN number on this website. If you have a question about a particular make or model, enter the VIN number of the vehicle to see the details.
For the latest recalls, click here.
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- Would you like to understand more about your RV?
- How does the refrigerator work and why does it need to be level when in use?