How Does a Propane Refrigerator Work? In-Depth Analysis

Explore the fascinating cooling process with this informative guide on How Does A Propane Refrigerator Work? Discover the benefits of using a propane fridge.

Is your electric refrigerator giving you a hell of a Conclusionlife because of its high maintenance, but you don’t know how does a propane refrigerator work? Are you planning to replace your electric refrigerator with an appliance that would rather be – comparatively more energy-saving with minimal maintenance yet better fuel economy?

Nope, we aren’t really kidding, nor are we making you daydream. It’s high time we welcome you to the world of propane refrigerators! So, how does a propane-powered refrigerator work, and is it safe to use? Well, you’ve come to the right place to broaden your horizons. So, grab a seat and keep reading.

How Does A Propane Refrigerator Work? In-Depth Analysis

How Does A Propane Refrigerator Work?

As you can already guess from the name, a propane refrigerator uses propane as the fuel source to burn and generate energy for operation instead of any electricity. It’s similar to an RV refrigerator that can run off propane, which is also a great option to consider if you’re camping in the woods with your friends and family and need a cold storage place to keep your foods and drinks in good condition.

So, how does a camper refrigerator work off propane when you’re outdoors? But before we dive into that, let’s get you equipped with some basic knowledge about the different parts of a propane fridge.

Main Components of a Propane Refrigerator

We will discuss and analyse the main components that are responsible for the functioning of the propane refrigerator. You will gain a detailed understanding of the various parts, including the compressor and condenser, which are essential for ensuring that the appliance operates efficiently. So take a deep dive into the fascinating world of refrigeration technology and explore the many components that make this important appliance possible

  • The main three substances that chemically react to each other inside are hydrogen gas, water and ammonia.
  • Like every other refrigerator, a generator is involved, which is responsible for generating ammonia gas in the case of a propane refrigerator.
  • Next up, we have the condenser, where the ammonia gas is processed to form liquid ammonia.
  • The ‘separator’ also does a fantastic job of separating the different elements from each other when necessary.
  • There’s also an evaporator that’s there to convert liquids into their gas form. Then lastly, we have a mixing tank where ammonia gas and water absorb each other to form a single element.
Main Components of the Propane Refrigerator

Energy Generation of a Propane Refrigerator

Inside a propane fridge are different pipelines and chambers containing the three main elements – water, hydrogen and ammonia. After the generator turns on to create ammonia gas, it is mixed with water to create a solution of ammonium hydroxide and then heated with the propane flame.

After the solution gets hot enough to start boiling, the ammonia gas, because it has a lower boiling point than water, will start rising to the condenser, condensing it into saturated liquid ammonia under high pressure and low temperature.

Cooling System of a Propane Refrigerator

Unlike your typical kitchen refrigerator, a propane fridge does not use compression technology for cooling and refrigeration. Instead, it’s more like a heat extraction, also known as the Electrolux cycle.

Basically, after the anhydrous ammonia flows through the tubes into the evaporator, it comes into contact with hydrogen gas and creates a cooling effect. Now that the ammonia has regained its gas shape, it will pull energy from the surroundings and merge with water to form an ammonium hydroxide solution, leaving off the hydrogen gas, which goes back to the evaporator and rises again. The whole cycle is repeated, and the process continues till the refrigerator is turned off.

Pros of a Propane Fridge

Compared to a regular electric refrigerator, a propane fridge is so much more energy efficient and excellent in the following ways:

  • It can produce double the energy in a given period.
  • Power outages during natural disasters or typical load shedding will not stop your refrigerator from running and operating smoothly.
  • Gases, in general, like propane, are more efficient in producing heat than electricity.

Cons of a Propane Fridge

Before you make up your mind about purchasing a propane refrigerator, there are certain risk factors that you should keep in mind to be safe than sorry:

  • There’s a potential risk of ammonia exploding when in contact with other gases and when ignited. A propane fridge is more at risk of fire hazards than electric refrigerators.
  • Propane refrigerators are costlier than electric refrigerators. In fact, propane itself is expensive to buy.
  • Possible leakages in the refrigerator propane tank or hydrogen gas pipelines.

How to Maintain a Propane Fridge?

To ensure your propane fridge works efficiently and safely, you need to maintain it regularly. Here are some tips on how to maintain your propane fridge:

  • Check the propane burner for signs of wear and tear and clean it if required.
  • Keep the condenser clean and free of dust and debris.
  • Check the propane supply and regulator for leaks and replace any damaged parts.
  • Inspect the seals on the fridge door to ensure they are tight, and replace them if necessary.
  • Keep the fridge level to ensure proper operation.


Propane refrigerators are a great alternative to electric ones for homes or off-grid cabins. Off-grid residents can benefit from their energy efficiency, reliability, and cost savings. Follow our maintenance tips to ensure that your propane fridge will operate efficiently and reliably for many years.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Will a Propane Fridge Run?
It really depends on the amount/volume of propane there’s available in the fuel tank. Know that one kg of propane gas can burn and produce up to 13.6 kWh of energy. Now you can easily do the calculations yourself. As far as we have seen, a 5 kg propane tank can make your fridge run smoothly for 16-18 hours.
How Much Propane Does a Propane Fridge Use?
There’s no fixed amount. The amount of propane required depends on the size and capacity of your refrigerator and also the size of the fuel tank. The surrounding temperature is another crucial factor to take into account. But on average, a regular-sized propane fridge will need at least 375 gallons of propane per 24 hours.
Does a propane fridge need electricity?
Propane refrigerators do not need electricity to operate in addition to propane fuel.
Can You Use a Propane Refrigerator Indoors?
Yes, you can, although it can get risky if proper ventilation is not ensured. You’ll have to vent your propane fridge if your kitchen/space is cramped.
Are Propane Refrigerators Reliable?
Yes, propane refrigerators are extremely safe and reliable. There’s zero to minimal chance of the propane flame causing any health hazards since it’s safe inside a stainless steel chamber. Apart from that, there’s a thermocouple inside to reduce the chances of gas leaks. Furthermore, as soon as your fuel tank runs out of propane, the thermocouple will automatically shut off the flame.