Propane Refrigerators (Top Rated and Buying Guide)

Thinking about spending a few days in your cabin or touring in your RV? Then you may want to consider investing in a trusty propane refrigerator. If you and your family are taking the fun to a place with no access to electricity, a propane refrigerator is a great way to make sure your food stays in good condition. This is the reason why today, we’ll be telling all about how does a propane refrigerator work.

With a propane refrigerator on board, you can rest assured that your provisions will be fresh for as long as your trip lasts. A propane refrigerator may seem like nothing special, but when you have found pleasure in spending time in God-forsaken places, having a propane refrigerator that takes care of your product, is one less thing to worry about.

As you can see, a propane refrigerator can totally give you the confidence you need when being away from home, that your food will not go bad. However, if you are new to propane refrigerators and find yourself in the search for the best possible option for you and your needs, things may seem a bit overwhelming. But do not worry because we’ll be breaking down everything you need to know about the propane refrigerator.

Propane Refrigerator FAQ’s

Is there a refrigerator that runs on propane?

Today, propane refrigerators are popular options for recreational vehicles, cabins, lake houses, or any place that doesn’t have ready access to electricity. These units are economical and don’t require an outside power source.

Do propane refrigerators use a lot of propane?

A 10 cubic foot propane refrigerator will typically consume 1.5 lbs, or. 375 gallons, of propane per day. The energy content of 1.5 lbs of propane is 32,250 Btu or about 9485 watt-hours.

How long will propane run a fridge?

If you’re using a standard 20-lb propane tank, you can expect it to last around 11 days (non-stop) before needing to replace or refill it. For a 30lb tank just add 50%; so it would last for 17.7 days non-stop.

Are propane refrigerators reliable?

Propane refrigerators have been the king of off-grid refrigeration for a long time, and it’s easy to see why. They’re reliable, efficient, and work well in an off-grid environment. Additionally, fuel is easy to come by and safe to store, even in large quantities, making it an ideal choice.

Do propane refrigerators have to be vented?

If you are looking into a propane refrigerator for a tiny home or for an RV, then venting is a must due to the small confined space inside the dwelling.

Are propane refrigerators expensive?

With 1.8 cu. ft of space it’s quite small, but it’s high quality and modern design makes it a stand-out appliance. The price is kept low through the small size and not having a freezer. For such a lower price tag though, you get all the advantages a propane fridge provides.

How long will the 3-way fridge run on gas?

In fact, your 3-way fridge freezer can run for approximately 2-3 weeks on a 9kg gas bottle before it needs refilling. So, you can still do a big shop and enjoy chilled food and drink in the most remote spots.

How a Propane Refrigerator Works

A propane fridge has a sealed network of tubes and chambers holding water, ammonia and hydrogen gas. A propane flame heats a chamber holding a solution of water and ammonia until the liquid boils. The ammonia gas rises to another chamber, the condenser, where it cools back into a liquid.

Some units have electric power options (heat rod), but propane operation does not require it.

How do you call the propane refrigeration process?

The propane refrigeration process first developed by Micheal Faraday in 1824 is known as “absorption cooling” or “absorption refrigeration.” While it’s been retooled and revamped over the years, the underlying theory remains the same – and why a propane unit is sometimes called an absorption refrigerator.

Sealed tubes and canisters containing liquids and gases experience a chemical reaction under heat and pressure, which, with help from condensers and compressors, creates a drastic cooling process.

When was the first propane refrigerator invented?

In the 1930s, the first propane-powered refrigerators hit the market, under the name SERVEL. Refrigeration was relatively new to the mass consumer market, and these refrigerators became popular in a time when many of the homes lacked electricity.

Absorption cooling process:

  • The sealed system of a propane-powered fridge holds water, liquid ammonia, and hydrogen gas. A propane flame heats the water and ammonia to its boiling point in what is called the generator.
  • The now-gaseous material then rises into a condensing chamber where it cools and returns to a liquid state. This fluid then flows into another chamber – the evaporator – where it mixes with hydrogen gas. It’s here that a chemical reaction occurs that pulls, or absorbs, heat from inside the refrigerator.
  • Once the solution absorbs enough heat, the ammonia returns to a gaseous state, starting the process over again. This self-contained system doesn’t rely on mechanical, or moving parts, meaning these units remain reliable for years.

Propane Refrigerator

1. SMETA Propane Refrigerator

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This model features an 3.0 cu ft fridge and 0.4 cu ft freezer, which can run on propane, or electric AC 110V and DC12V.

The operation of this refrigerator is straightforward with the battery ignition and safety valve located on the front side of the unit.

What Our Testers Say

Get more than 2 degrees off in any direction and it stops cooling. You have been warned! I lost some food before I learned this lesson. Came back to defrosted meat and spoiled milk. Knowing this, I’ve never had another issue. Works on all three energy sources without a hitch. Mine arrived dented and rather than try to go through a return process because the packaging is nearly impossible to re-use, Amazon compensated me for the damage (after numerous chat dialog and escalation requests). Product is great, Amazon finally came around.

Inside the refrigerator you will find white interiors with 3 adjustable shelves, a chill box and 3 balconies. It is equipped with power switch, flame indicator, safety valve, thermostat knob.

What We Like

  • Stand Alone
  • Freezer-on-Top
  • Compressor

What We Don’t Like

  • Faulty instruction manual.
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2. Techomey Propane Refrigerator

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Techomey Propane Refrigerators work on 12V, 110V, or propane, meet your needs in a variety of places. The 12 volt refrigerator for truck is light and easy to move, not afraid of bumps. Perfect propane refrigerator as the gift for campers.

What Our Testers Say

We’ve had this running 24/7 for 3 months and it hasn’t missed a beat.

We’ve ran it on DC and shore power, we didn’t have the need to hook upto propane yet but it includes the hose and proper regulator.

You will need to install the included DC cigarette lighter ended cord, it’s simple just remove 2 screws from the marked cover insert the wire ends in the same color wire fittings and tighten them down with the attached set screws.
In the manual it is not recommended to hard wire the DC, so if your installing it in a camper RV you’ll want an DC port installed.

We’ve used this powering it from our jackery power station which allows me to see how many watts it pulls.
At startup it pulls 104 watts, then once it comes down to temp it averages 4 watts until it kicks on again to maintain the temperature.
I can run it 3 days off our 1000watt power station before needing to recharge, so its average daily watt use is 300 watts, this is opening and closing many times throughout the day and night. It uses less power if it’s not being opened or your not introducing warm items into it.
It takes around an hour to come down to temp with the ambient temperature at 78 degrees. If you have it installed in your RV, I would get it running the day before you load it.

I can get enough food for a week, (3 meals a day), for 2 people, and a bit more if I stack it better.
I’ve found I get better capacity if I remove the shelves from the door and slide the wire shelves 2″ forward and use some tape to secure them in place.

included flue tube scrubber is stored in the flue tube on arrival.
The included hose/regulator is 64″ long.
It has a button on the front to ignite the pilot light, and a red/green gauge to indicate if the pilot is on.
The flue scrubber/cleaner is stowed in the flue when it arrives

this comes with a standard 3 prong US 120 cord and plug pre installed.
The usable length is 37″ from the back of the cooling fins to where the molded 3 prong plug.
I wouldn’t have minded if the plug was a 90 degree angle making it sit flush to an outlet, since clearances are tight when installing it in and RV, this is my only gripe.

a door pin for reversing the door from left to right opening is included, you’ll have to switch some hinge pieces around.

This has a simple manual control panel which is covered by a clear plastic door so your settings don’t accidentally get bumped.
You’ll have to manually switch it over from DC, shore power, or propane, it won’t automatically do it for you.

this is no different than any smaller RV refrigerator I’ve had.
It doesn’t have a Compressor or an air circulation fan like your home refrigerator.
If you’ve never been around a small RV refrigerator, don’t think it’s not working because it doesn’t make any noise, it is.
As long as you’ve turned on what it needs to power it properly, just wait an hour or so and feel if it’s getting cold inside. If not double check it’s powers sources and if you have the control knobs set correctly.

is comprehensive even though it’s not thick. It covers everything from operations, troubleshooting, installation, maintenance, cleaning, schematics and more.
If your having a problem chances are very high you’ll find the resolution in these book. It is written very well.

I included these on my photos for reference

It’s a little workhorse and has worked non stop in hot 115 degree weather and nicer weather now around 78 degrees. I wouldn’t hesitate to order from this manufacturer again.

Techomey Camper Refrigerators perfectly silent running with advanced absorption cooling system. Automatic defrost, no noise, no freon, no pollution; you can fully enjoy a green and quiet life.

The Rainproof and Dustproof Cover specially designed for the outdoors provides intimate protection for campers.

What We Like

  • 2.1 Cubic Feet
  • Energy-Saving
  • Compact Freezerless

What We Don’t Like

  •  Gas Supply line is not Included with the fridge. 
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3. Smad Gas Refrigerator Freezer

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This 9.3 cubic foot propane refrigerator features a 7.3 cubic foot refrigerator and a 2.0 cubic foot freezer, which is run strictly off propane or 110V electric if desired.

Operation of the refrigerator is straight forward with the igniter, safety valve, and thermostat located on the control panel.

What Our Testers Say

Our SMAD absorption refrigerator has been set up in our kitchen for a month now, and I LOVE it! I am very sensitive to the hums and electrical noises of most modern appliances, and this SMAD fridge is a dream come true as it is completely silent. The temp at “3” keeps both the food cold and fruit & veggies fresh. As you can see from the photos, in the kitchen in our new house, the former owners had huge Miele built-in freezer and fridge units. They look gorgeous, but the compressors and fans and electrical hums were more than I could stand in our open concept layout. I am working with the same kitchen designers who created this kitchen 3yrs ago to integrate two SMAD units into the kitchen – as we need to accommodate the ventilation needs of the back of the SMAD.

I felt it was important to show that these fridges – even though small and old fashioned in their bottom fridge/top freezer design – can still look great in a high end kitchen, and someone like me can have her gorgeous kitchen AND a silent fridge/freezer.

A flame indicator is also located on the control panel to let you know the flame is lit. With absorption cooling system, this model runs no noise, no vibration, no Freon, no pollution.

What We Like

  • Full-Sized Freezer-on-Top
  • Gas/electric thermostat
  • Reversible door

What We Don’t Like

  • Uses Lots of Propane.
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4. SMETA Propane Gas Absorption Chest Freezer

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3-Ways power selection:110v/12v/Gas. Approximate gas consumption per day: 0.7 lb. The absorption system is totally silent that uses no compressors or fans.

Adjustable, removable shelves with tall container storage. No noise, no vibration, no Freon, no pollution, low energy consumption.

What Our Testers Say

The product was received with some minor damage. After speaking with Amazon representatives, I would have had to return and repurchase in order to replace. Was never able to locate a phone number or email address to contact SMETA. Too much hassle for a few dents so we just kept it.

But, when you purchase an $800 product, you’d like it to be damage free. It works great, but we probably won’t be purchasing any more products from them.

This freezer is ideal for installation in homes, hotel, apartment, villa, farms, Cottages and chalets.

What We Like

  • 3-Ways power selection
  • Removable shelves
  • Door on top

What We Don’t Like

  • The freezer doesn’t come with propane hose.
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5. SUPERIOR REFRIGERATION Propane LP Gas Off-Grid Refrigerator 

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Crafted by the amish in the Midwest, the Diamond Quest 14 cubic foot propane refrigerator requires no electricity or venting making it a perfect fit for off-grid use.

The Diamond Quest 14 Cubic Foot Propane Refrigerator provides 9.7 Cubic Feet of Refrigerator Space and 4.3 Cubic Feet of Freezer Space.

What Our Testers Say

Superior propane LP gas refrigerators are superior in quality and price. This 8 Cubic Foot model features a 6.3 cubic foot refrigerator and a 1.7 cubic foot freezer, which is run strictly off propane or 110V electric if desired. Four AA batteries power the interior LED light. Operation of the refrigerator is straight forward with the igniter, safety valve, and thermostat located on the control panel.

A flame indicator is also located on the control panel to let you know the flame is lit. Inside the Refrigerator you will find an all white interior with adjustable/removable shelving, one vegetable crisper, and door shelving capable of holding two liter bottles. Clearance of 4″ inches should be left on the top, and 1″ inch on back/sides of the unit for proper air circulation.

Full width clear crisper provides a generous space for storing your produce. Features two adjustable glass shelves for easy cleanup and five clear, adjustable door shelves with an appealing blue tint.

What We Like

  • Thermostatically controlled
  • Reversible doors
  • Interior LED light

What We Don’t Like

  • It doesn’t have an exterior vent.
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Factors of a Propane Refrigerator to Keep in Mind

  • Storage Space. Portable fridges range from small countertop models all the way to full family size fridges. Those greater than around 3 cubic feet also tend to have freezers. Picture the largest shop you’d fill the fridge with and choose accordingly.
  • Build Quality: Try to gauge whether there is solid plastic and rubber construction on the doors and gaskets. A tell-tale sign is sometimes in the drawers and shelves. If they’re giving you plenty of each, they’ve likely spent the money to make a quality product.
  • Features: There’s a lot of features to expect on a good modern portable fridge. Look for multiple power options, reversible doors and lockable doors.
  • Warranty: Similar to build quality, try to gauge the warranty on the product. Especially with the price tag of larger fridges, you want to make sure your purchase is covered for as long as possible.


Photo of author
Tom Mason is a refrigerator enthusiast who has spent years researching and testing various methods for maintaining, organizing, and optimizing the use of a fridge. He lives in a small town in the Midwest and works as a freelance writer and handyman. Tom has a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin, which has helped him better understand the complex workings of the refrigerator.
Photo of author
Tom Mason is a refrigerator enthusiast who has spent years researching and testing various methods for maintaining, organizing, and optimizing the use of a fridge. He lives in a small town in the Midwest and works as a freelance writer and handyman. Tom has a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin, which has helped him better understand the complex workings of the refrigerator.