A constant struggle RVers have when moving from destination to destination is keeping their fridge cold while driving.

Even when you’ve checked to make sure the temperature is low before you go, it never seems to stay cold after a few hours. 

How to Keep Your RV Fridge Cold While Driving:

  • Fill open space with frozen beverages or ice packs.

  • Crank the temperature down the night before or a few hours before departure. 

  • Do not open the fridge when it isn’t running. 

  • Last Resort: Use a Generator

Having a system down that keeps your food from spoiling, no matter the length of your drive, is essential, especially if you’re a full-time RVer.

In this article, we will break down each of these four options, provide maintenance tips on keeping your fridge running smoothly, and answer some frequently asked questions about RV refrigerators.

How To Keep Your RV Fridge Cool When Driving

Since it is not recommended to keep your fridge running while driving, we have a few helpful tips and tricks to help keep your food cold while driving.

Pack Your Fridge Properly and Fill Open Space with Cold Items

Pack Your Fridge Properly

Knowing how to pack your fridge correctly will be an essential step in keeping your refrigerator items cold while driving. 

The main thing to remember is that you do not want there to be much space between items.

Limiting space in the fridge will eliminate movement in the refrigerator and prevent spillage. Plus, the more cold items you have in the refrigerator, the longer the temperature will stay low.

If you have excess space between items, pack them with cold cans or ice packs. You can also use frozen drinks like water bottles or juice.

These won’t spoil as they thaw, and they won’t create much moisture either. Avoid packing in ice cubes or frozen food.

As these thaw, they’re likely to create water in the fridge, and thawing frozen food could spoil.

Lower Fridge Temperature Before Departure

One of the easiest ways to keep the temperature low when your RV fridge is turned off is to turn the temperature to the lowest setting the night before leaving. 

If your refrigerator is prone to freezing items when you do this, choose the lowest temperature setting you can without freezing items.

To avoid freezing anything on the lowest setting, you can also lower the temperature a few hours before you leave instead of the night before.

The goal of this is to get the fridge to the lowest possible temperature before you have to turn it off.

The lower the temperature when you leave, the longer your refrigerator will stay cold before you need to turn it back on.

Avoid Opening the Fridge When You’re on the Road

A quick way to lose cold air in your RV refrigerator is to open the door. When the fridge is running, this isn’t an issue, but when you are trying to conserve cold air and keep perishable items fresh, it should be avoided.

When you are lowering the air temperature before turning the fridge off, you should also avoid opening the door.

Remind passengers that everyone needs to avoid opening the refrigerator door when you are traveling.

An easy way to avoid this is to pack a small cooler with items you will be using for the drive.

This way, you can access all the food and drinks you’ll want for your trip without losing any precious cold air in your refrigerator.

Use a Generator

Use A Generator

If nothing seems to be working, or your drive is just too long, then the last resort can be to run your generator.

You won’t be able to do this while you are driving, but while you stop for lunch or a short break, you can plug the fridge into the generator and let the temperature drop back down.

Generators are noisy and can often send off unwanted fumes. Be mindful of other people if you choose to do this on your stops. If you are in a rest area, park as far away from other vehicles as you can.

Do not run your generator inside of your RV. It can release toxic fumes, like carbon monoxide.

Additional RV Fridge Tip

Another thing that helps keep RV refrigerators fresh and cool is to have air circulating at all times.

This distributes cold air evenly over your perishable items to regulate the temperature, and it can also eliminate odors.

You can buy small, battery-powered refrigerator fans to place in the fridge when you are driving.

Other FAQ About Keeping Your RV Fridge Cold

Can I Keep My Fridge Running While Driving?

No. Most appliances in your RV are meant to be used on even stationary surfaces. When you are driving, you will be traveling over bumpy roads and making turns.

These movements can damage your refrigerator if it is running while you drive. If you use propane to power your fridge, there are other issues we will address under the next question.

Why Is Using Propane While Driving A Bad Idea?

Propane is flammable. If there are any leaks in the system, it could cause a fire or even an explosion.

The jostle of the RV, while you drive, makes it even easier for a line in the propane power to break or leak, so it should be avoided any time you are driving.

It is even illegal in many states to run propane while driving your RV for these reasons. While it can be tempting, it is hazardous and fatal accidents have occurred.

How Long Will the Fridge Stay Cold When It Isn’t Running?

Most refrigerators will stay cold enough to keep food for 10-12 hours when they aren’t running. If you follow the advice in this article, you could extend this timeframe.

Your refrigerator has the potential to lose up to 4 degrees every hour, though. That is why packing in cold/frozen items, and getting the temperature as low as possible is important before a long trip.


Finding a system that works for your fridge when you travel in your RV can be a process. It is helpful to try out multiple options to discover what works best for your needs. 

As you try a few of the suggestions we laid out in this article, you will figure out a system that works with your RV and traveling group.

The number one thing to remember is that running your RV when you are driving can be very dangerous and should always be avoided.

There are ways that you can preserve the perishable items in your fridge. All it takes is a little bit of planning and practice.