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Plugging In At HomeEveryone is excited, we’re going CAMPING!!!  Let’s get the rig ready for the big trip, bring it to the driveway, cool down the refrigerator and pack up all our stuff.  We all do this, but most of us don’t know the precautions that should be taken before we just plug the unit in and stuff it full of goodies.

First, most driveways have a slight slant away from the garage for drainage.  This slant might be enough to actually ruin our refrigerator if left running for even a couple of days!  RV refrigerators or absorption refrigerators have no moving parts and rely on heat and gravity to create a chemical reaction and cool the refrigerator.evaporator coil

The solution is heated with either an LP flame or by plugging it into a 120- volt heat element. The solution rises up to the evaporator coil and must zig zag it’s way back to the boiler assembly by gravity.  If the refrigerator is unlevel, approximately 6 degrees side to side and 3 degrees front to back, the solution will pool at one end and start to flake and become blocked.  Eventually, the solution will not be able to make the cycle and not cool efficiently.  Make sure the rig is level on the driveway by using the round level disc provided by the refrigerator manufacturer.  This is a common issue as we are not sleeping in the coach at night and don’t notice it is not level.

RV refrigerator

Next, make sure you are plugging the unit into a dedicated outlet that has enough capacity for your rig.  Too often owners simply plug the unit into a wall outlet thinking “I’m just cooling the refrigerator down”.  When you plug your rig into an electrical outlet, the power goes to the distribution center and supplies 120-volt appliances AND the converter which will periodically charge your batteries.  Even if you have everything in the rig off except the refrigerator, your batteries will drain slightly and the converter will kick on and charge the batteries.  This can be as little a 2 amp draw, or up to 9 amps!  Add that to the draw of the refrigerator which could be another 4-9 amps and you could have as much as an 18 amp draw.  Most residential outlets are connected to a 10-15 amp circuit breaker which would not be enough for your rig.  Plus, those outlets are usually “ganged” to other outlets with a refrigerator, freezer, or air compressor which would also draw from the circuit.  It’s a good idea to have an electrician wire a dedicated outlet with at least a 20 amp circuit for your rig.




And finally, make sure your extension cord is rated for the correct draw and not over 25 feet.  Typical medium duty cords you get from home improvement stores are only rated for 10 amps and not heavy enough for your needs.  If you need an extension cord, make sure it’s rated for your needs and not over 25 feet.

Just a few precautions while gearing up for your great adventure will help eliminate headaches or worse so you can hit the open road!

About the author:

Dave Solberg: Managing Editor, RV Repair Club

For the last 25 years, Dave has conducted RV maintenance and safety seminars, developed dealer and owner training programs, written RV safety and handyman articles, authored an RV handbook reference guide and logged over 100,000 miles on the road in an RV.

RV Repair ClubRV Repair Club is your go-to online resource for enthusiasts who want quality RV maintenance, repair, and upgrade information – a community where passionate RVers can come together to gather knowledge and share their experiences.

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