How to Operate the Propane Refrigerator in a Camper

How to Operate the Propane Refrigerator in a Camper

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When camping in the mountains, at a lake or at the ocean, one thing you always need is a way to keep your food cold. Coolers can do this, but if you are in a very remote location, you may not even have access to the ice. Plus, buying ice day after day can get expensive. A better option is using a propane camper refrigerator. A propane refrigerator can be used anywhere, and isn't reliant on anything other than the propane and a battery, so it can be used even in the most remote locations.

Items you will need

  • Level

  • Match if necessary

Level your camper. For a propane refrigerator to run properly, make sure the camper is level. The level can be placed in the refrigerator itself or on a counter.

Unscrew the propane bottle or bottles that feed the propane to the camper. Normally these are located at the front of the camper. Turn the propane knob all the way to the left, or counterclockwise.

Turn on the propane switch for the camper. Most campers come with a switch to allow propane use in the camper. Refer to your camper's manual if you can not locate this.

Make sure the battery is connected on the camper. A camper refrigerator needs a small amount of DC voltage to start up and operate.

Locate the switch for your refrigerator. This could be a button or a dial, depending on the age and type of propane refrigerator.

Turn the refrigerator to the on position for the refrigerator to run on propane. If there is a light indicator, it will turn on.

Listen for a clicking sound. As the propane camper refrigerator tries to turn on, you will hear clicking followed by a humming sound once the pilot is lit.

Turn the refrigerator to the off position if the refrigerator doesn't turn on after 45 seconds.

Wait a few minutes and repeat steps six and seven until the propane refrigerator turns on.

Turn the dial or hit buttons to set the temperature. How to set the temperature will vary according to brand and age.

Allow up to 24 hours for the propane camper refrigerator to get cold enough to use.


  • For self lighting propane refrigerator pilots, never use a match to light the pilot. If it is not lighting, there is something wrong. Contact the manufacturer for assistance.


  • For older style propane refrigerators that require the pilot to be lit manually, locate the access door for the camper refrigerator on the outside of the camper. Open the access door, turn the propane refrigerator to the on position and light the pilot. If you're unsure how to do this, check your owner's manual for pilot lighting instructions.
  • To make sure your propane camper refrigerator is cold when you need it to be, run the refrigerator for 24 hours before leaving for your camping trip and run it on battery, if possible, while driving to your destination.
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