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Old 11-29-2018, 06:35 PM   #1
dlcasaletto
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Question Refrigerator needs to be level to operate?

I have a question and I am a newbie. I have read that the refrigerator needs to be level to operate. But I have also read that many (most?) run their refrigerator on gas while traveling, which would not be level most of the time. Just wondering what is correct.

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Old 11-29-2018, 06:44 PM   #2
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Are you thinking that the refrigerator is operational while your travel trailer is being towed? That is incorrect, since safety concerns demand that you shut off your propane tanks while your tt is under tow. As far as level is concerned, once you are at your site, you do want to be as level as possible to facilitate the proper functioning of your RV refrigerator. Do not sweat getting your bubble in the fridge at dead center of the circle, though. The refrigerator will function fine as long as you're within a few hairs of dead center.
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Old 11-29-2018, 06:51 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by dlcasaletto View Post
I have a question and I am a newbie. I have read that the refrigerator needs to be level to operate. But I have also read that many (most?) run their refrigerator on gas while traveling, which would not be level most of the time. Just wondering what is correct.

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The fridge operates "optimally" when it is perfectly level, but, it works just fine when it's somewhere "close" to level. Most RVrs leave their fridge on when traveling (LP gas) and have literally zero problems. When hitting the road for 6-8 hrs daily it is not feasible to turn the fridge off all day and hope it can catch up overnite...and then there's the freezer, which would have thawed everything. Don't worry about the "level" when traveling, you will be close enough - when you get to your site make it as close as you can.
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Old 11-29-2018, 06:52 PM   #4
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I have read on this forum (I believe) that many travel with their propane on and refrigerator operating. I remember I did 25 years ago when borrowing my dad's RV. So I was wondering how they did that as it won't be level. (What you are susposed to do and actually do are sometimes two different things!)
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Old 11-29-2018, 06:57 PM   #5
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Are you thinking that the refrigerator is operational while your travel trailer is being towed? That is incorrect, since safety concerns demand that you shut off your propane tanks while your tt is under tow. As far as level is concerned, once you are at your site, you do want to be as level as possible to facilitate the proper functioning of your RV refrigerator. Do not sweat getting your bubble in the fridge at dead center of the circle, though. The refrigerator will function fine as long as you're within a few hairs of dead center.
Agreed, the RV doesn’t have to be dead on level for the fridge to work. It just needs to be close. As for people driving with the fridge running on propane, I have seen a lot of people do it without any problems. I agree it is safer to have the propane shut off the entire time you are driving. All of the propane appliances should definitely be shut off during fueling due to the possibility of having an open flame near flammable fumes.
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Old 11-29-2018, 06:58 PM   #6
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This is a standard warning found in most RV trailer refrigerator owner manuals.

The refrigerator is made to operate within 3 off level side-to-side and 6 off level front-to-back (as looking at the front of the refrigerator). Operating it at
more than these limits can cause damage to the cooling system and create a risk of personal injury or property damage. Make sure the vehicle is level before you operate the refrigerator
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Old 11-29-2018, 07:10 PM   #7
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I stand by my closed propane tank policy, while traveling. I've owned RV's for over thirty years. Never once did I travel with my tanks open. That's insane, as I see it. If you're on the road with your fridge and freezer full, you need to rethink how you restock. Even then, as long as your fridge remains closed, you have some leeway, when it comes to everything thawing out. If you're driving for more than four hours at a time, you also need to rethink your routing. I'm sure some will disagree, but I know what works for me, and I know what the safety standards are.
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Old 11-29-2018, 07:13 PM   #8
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What hasn't yet been addressed is the question, "Why is it OK for the refrigerator to operate when towing and it's not level when on the road?"

The answer is contained in both the Dometic and the NorCold owner's manuals. The "rocking of the RV when in motion prevents pooling of the coolant and damage to the system from that pooling"

Many (probably most) RV'ers tow with their refrigerators operating without any problems. When parked "off level" for a length of time (hour or more) the ammonia/hydrogen/sulfur coolant can pool in low spots and the sulfur will settle out and solidify, causing a blockage of the coolant pathway. When towing, the RV rocks and bounces down the roadway, because of this motion, there is no risk of the coolant pooling in low spots as the motion keeps it from becoming stagnant.

Hope this helps.
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Old 11-29-2018, 07:15 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by dlcasaletto View Post
I have read on this forum (I believe) that many travel with their propane on and refrigerator operating. I remember I did 25 years ago when borrowing my dad's RV. So I was wondering how they did that as it won't be level. (What you are susposed to do and actually do are sometimes two different things!)

I don't know of anyone, repeat anyone, that does not travel with their fridge on propane. You will not ever encounter something that makes the fridge malfunction on improved highways; at least I, nor anyone I know, has had that problem. The fridge has a deviation in it that will allow for any minor movements you will encounter while driving.

Anyone telling you that the fridge is turned off any/all the time you are traveling, prepping, setting up etc. hasn't done it; unless they do a 2-3 hour trip. If you load and drive 6, 8, 10 hours with the fridge off (and what would be the logic in that?) you will never keep food frozen or ideally cool...forget vegetables.

Concerns about the fridge running on propane would be if you stopped for refueling; some turn it off due to fears of gasoline fumes - if you research that the likelihood is near zero- not nearly like watching the lowbrows yesterday filling 3 bikes and a truck...everyone with a cigarette in their mouth within 18" of the nozzle. _ At times the tanks are supposed to be turned off in restricted tunnels.
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Old 11-29-2018, 07:20 PM   #10
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Thanks for the information, especially why level is important and why the refrigerator works when traveling! I did not know that..... At this point, I am trying to suck up all the information I can!
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Old 11-29-2018, 07:29 PM   #11
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I stand by my closed propane tank policy, while traveling. I've owned RV's for over thirty years. Never once did I travel with my tanks open. That's insane, as I see it. If you're on the road with your fridge and freezer full, you need to rethink how you restock. Even then, as long as your fridge remains closed, you have some leeway, when it comes to everything thawing out. If you're driving for more than four hours at a time, you also need to rethink your routing. I'm sure some will disagree, but I know what works for me, and I know what the safety standards are.
Miles, I've owned RVs for 4 decades. I've never NOT traveled with the LP tanks on (in a full size RV). Why would you not? You say it is insane; why? If I'm traveling with my fridge freezer full I need to rethink how I restock???? I'm traveling across the U.S....maybe just throw in some bologna and hope for the best? Visit every 7-11 every evening for "a nice meal"? If we travel for more than 4 hours at a time???? Really? You ever tried to make a 21-24 hour run trying to run less than 4 hours a day?? Methinks you know not of what you speak.

You say you know what the "safety standards" are....for towing? LP gas? RVs? Please elaborate.
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Old 11-29-2018, 07:32 PM   #12
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I agree with Danny (sourdough) for every 1 RVer that shuts off his propane refrigerator there are (I'm guessing here) 10,000 that don't. It's strictly a personal choice, nobody will ever force you to tow "with or without" propane functional. That said, there are some bridges and some tunnels that restrict operational propane systems over the bridge or through the tunnel. At every one I've encountered, there is a pull off space before entering the tunnel and they are all clearly marked with the signs prohibiting propane use.

I don't know of any state that prohibits RV operation with propane refrigeration in use (except in tunnels or bridges as indicated above).
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Old 11-29-2018, 07:37 PM   #13
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I don't know of anyone, repeat anyone, that does not travel with their fridge on propane. SNIP
Yeah, you don't know me, but I never, I repeat never, travel with my propane tanks open.
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Old 11-29-2018, 07:39 PM   #14
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Miles, I've owned RVs for 4 decades. I've never NOT traveled with the LP tanks on (in a full size RV). Why would you not? You say it is insane; why? If I'm traveling with my fridge freezer full I need to rethink how I restock???? I'm traveling across the U.S....maybe just throw in some bologna and hope for the best? Visit every 7-11 every evening for "a nice meal"? If we travel for more than 4 hours at a time???? Really? You ever tried to make a 21-24 hour run trying to run less than 4 hours a day?? Methinks you know not of what you speak.

You say you know what the "safety standards" are....for towing? LP gas? RVs? Please elaborate.


I made this post because the OP was a new person asking for guidance and was receiving, IMO, some questionable guidance on the use of their fridge while traveling. Some may disagree, but in my experience, most won't. Just want the OP to be able to travel without a lot of worry.
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Old 11-29-2018, 07:51 PM   #15
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Yeah, you don't know me, but I never, I repeat never, travel with my propane tanks open.

I respect that and that is your option....you sure limit your and your family's ability to travel and see the country by trying to adhere to, IMO, a guideline that makes no sense...to me. Think about this;

You leave the valves open and "something" happens due to the "valves open". Realize the only thing that will happen in that circumstance is a gas line rupturing and draining the tanks....unless you run with some sort of ignition source running in the trailer while traveling...I never have. Other than that possibly the stove wasn't turned off....after that....??

On the other hand, the big danger with LP tanks, are....LP tanks, the compressed gas in them and what could happen in an accident. I've never seen damage caused at anytime, anywhere by propane tanks left open. I have seen an explosion involving LP tanks...not open, just hit and ruptured. I'm not worried about an LP tank left open on any device I use as long as common sense is used.
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Old 11-29-2018, 07:54 PM   #16
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I made this post because the OP was a new person asking for guidance and was receiving, IMO, some questionable guidance on the use of their fridge while traveling. Some may disagree, but in my experience, most won't. Just want the OP to be able to travel without a lot of worry.
Thanks Danny! Don't worry, I am used to reading about both sides to an issue. Everyone just needs to do what they are comfortable with. What I needed was information on how the refrigerator worked and that was supplied! It is great we have this forum to help each other out!
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Old 11-29-2018, 07:59 PM   #17
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To the OP: Read up on the subject of traveling with open propane tanks, online, on sites other than this one. You will find that the experts are divided on this topic. It all comes down to what you're comfortable with. In towing a travel trailer, you have no idea what's going on, inside it, while in transit. For me, I prefer being safe rather than sorry. With my tanks off, I have one less thing to be concerned with. My food keeps just fine. With a closed refrigerator, you'll only lose about 4F per eight hours. Anyway, I'm done with this thread. Do what you're comfortable with, but do your own research on other sites, as well.
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Old 11-29-2018, 08:01 PM   #18
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Thanks Danny! Don't worry, I am used to reading about both sides to an issue. Everyone just needs to do what they are comfortable with. What I needed was information on how the refrigerator worked and that was supplied! It is great we have this forum to help each other out!
David...good! Hopefully how the fridge works and traveling with it is more clear and hopefully you feel more comfortable doing that. It IS Ok.
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Old 11-29-2018, 08:22 PM   #19
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I'm about half scared to state that I have ALWAYS, for the past 40+ years, traveled with my fridge running on propane, as it was designed to do, NEVER had an issue. Plus when traveling in the winter I also have the furnace running....
I'm with others that I'm more afraid of the many folks at gas stations filling their running vehicles with a cigarette in hand talking on the cell phone than I'll ever be running with my fridge on propane.
To date I've only ever heard of 1 rver that DID NOT leave fridge running while traveling & he just posted here, Miles65.
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Old 11-29-2018, 08:27 PM   #20
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I'm about half scared to state that I have ALWAYS, for the past 40+ years, traveled with my fridge running on propane, NEVER had an issue. Plus when traveling in the winter I also have the furnace running....
Me too. Bought my first trailer (fifth wheel) in 1989. In 1992 I traveled from Stockton Ca. To Las Vegas Nv. Took 12 hrs and when I arrived my freezer was filled with a gooey mess of melted ice cream. I have left my refer on since then.
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