How Does a Propane Refrigerator Work?


Refrigerators are household appliances that make our life easy, breezy and healthy. Fresh food can be stored safely in a refrigerator and consumed at convenience. Active lifestyles are hectic and the refrigerator is a boon in disguise for modern living. A propane refrigerator is a boon for the active lifestyle outside homes or while travelling.

Propane refrigerators are a popular choice for recreational travelers. If you love road trips, camping and outdoor adventures, gas powered refrigeration is a perfect choice. Most recreational vehicles (RVs) have a designated space for a refrigerator. Exploring new areas and traveling to remote places have become popular and amenities need not be sacrificed. You can carry whatever you want, including a refrigerator. This refrigerator on the move comes minus the humming sound and audible clicks of the compressor, which we are all used to.

How does a propane refrigerator work?

The propane refrigerator does not require electricity or an external power source. It is fueled by propane. While electric refrigerators require a coolant to keep the interior of a refrigerator cold, the propane refrigerator runs on a simple chemical reaction. This is interesting as the refrigerator has no moving parts and uses heat to produce cold. That’s weird. But that is exactly how gas powered refrigeration works.

Ammonia is used as a coolant that is generated by a reaction of water, hydrogen gas and ammonia. How and where does this reaction take place? Propane refrigerators have five main parts to conduct this process. The parts are generator, separator, condenser, absorber and evaporator. The process is triggered by a propane flame, which is why these refrigerators are called as propane refrigerators.

Process of refrigeration

A propane flame heats the main generator, which holds the ammonia and water. The mixture starts to heat and it reaches a boiling point. The mixture now flows into the separator. The next step occurs in the condenser. Ammonia gas rises up and enters the condenser. It condenses and becomes liquid ammonia.

The liquid ammonia moves into the evaporator, where it evaporates on mixing with hydrogen gas. This reaction produces a cold temperature inside the refrigerator box. The ammonia and hydrogen gases move into the absorber. Here, they combine with the water collected in the separator.

Once again, the ammonia mixes with water to form a solution and releases the hydrogen gas into the evaporator. This cycle repeats continuously to keep the refrigerator contents cold and the refrigerator working.

Benefits of gas powered refrigeration

Now, look at all the benefits you have from a gas powered refrigerator. There is no need for electricity. Food and medicines can be stored safely with no disruptions of power. Cool drinks, eggs, cold cuts and fresh produce are within reach for a balanced diet. No power outages or black-outs. Just enjoy the living.

You are traveling in remote areas, but you don’t worry about the nearest grocery store. Your supplies are safe in your propane refrigerator. Isn’t that a big relief? It is mind-blowing. Also, there are no repairs as there are no parts that can be moved or dislodged in the refrigerator. You have a sealed network of tubes of ammonia, hydrogen and water. The chemical reactions are smooth, noiseless and continuous. Your food and supplies are cold and fine. How much simpler can this be?

Efficiency of a propane refrigerator

Now comes the million-dollar question. Are propane refrigerators efficient? Rest assured, the propane refrigerators are highly efficient. Refueling of propane tanks is the main thing required to run the fridge efficiently. There are reports of a propane refrigerator running for 11 days smoothly with a standard propane tank.

Factors that affect the efficiency of a propane refrigerator

Let us look at the factors you have to get the best out of your propane refrigerator. Propane refrigerators take a long time to become cold initially. In fact, 10-12 hours of cooling time is required before you take the fridge on your journey. It is better to turn on the fridge using electricity the night before travel to ensure sufficient cooling. This will result in a good start temperature and your cold storage will leave you astounded by its efficiency.

Protect the refrigerator from harsh weather. Keep it covered from harsh sunlight and maintain sufficient ventilation. Avoid storing hot or warm food that may bring down the cold temperature and increase the cooling time. This will ensure that your food stock remains fresh and doesn’t spoil easily.

Most important is the set-up of the refrigerator. It should be placed on level and maintaining a steady gravity level is important. With moving vehicles, there is movement of items inside, which can cause some misalignment, reducing efficiency. When you park your vehicle, check the level of the propane refrigerator for any variation. Once again ensure that there is some shelter for the refrigerator. Avoid abrupt change of temperature, which can decrease the efficiency.

Also, make sure that there is sufficient airflow or ventilation around the refrigerator. If you are in areas with hot weather, warm temperatures can affect the efficiency of the propane refrigerator. It makes sense to pack cold food in the refrigerator first instead of packing hot food. This will increase the efficiency of the cooling as the interior is already cold, to begin with.

A good tip is to not open the door of the refrigerator many times. While it is not easy to keep young ones and curious souls from opening the door of the refrigerator often, it is wise to keep popular snacks and drinks easily accessible. Frequent opening will increase the temperature inside the refrigerator, making it warmer. The refrigerator has no airflow except what you provide. This puts extra burden on the gases and cooling will be slow.

If you are planning a trip, it helps to switch on the refrigerator the night before to maintain the cooling. Switching to propane tanks before traveling will increase the efficiency as the starting temperature is lower. Refilling and time spent on refilling is less and that is another factor to consider.

Propane refrigerators are perfect for adventures in the wilderness, where you are completely off-grid. Lake houses, boats, cabins in the woods are ideal getaways from civilization but usually do not have access to electricity. Propane tanks are the best power sources for these refrigerators. You have to be alert and exercise some caution to have a smooth-running refrigerator.

A suitable propane refrigerator

Many brands of refrigerators offer a number of features to encourage you to buy a gas powered refrigerator. There are many factors to consider if you want to purchase one. You have to consider a number of factors before you can decide if gas powered refrigeration is indeed your choice. Some factors are dependent on your lifestyle. Are you an outdoor soul? Do you enjoy camping, road trips, off-grid nature and wildlife trips? Are you considering environmentally-friendly options in your convenience living? Are you comfortable with a lot of do-it-yourself projects? If you answered “Yes” to most of these questions, then the propane refrigerator is a perfect addition to your active lifestyle.

It is the most attractive choice of convenient living. You can now go ahead and check out the various models and features available in the market. Check out the various options available regarding the maintenance of the refrigerator and the propane tanks. Explore refrigerator size depending on the size of your family, storage options, colors and your budget. Have fun!

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