One of the most essential parts in most RVs is the refrigerator. But this can also be the most challenging part, according to the members of our Facebook community (well over 135,000 members at the moment).
- 1 One of the most essential parts in most RVs is the refrigerator. But this can also be the most challenging part, according to the members of our Facebook community (well over 135,000 members at the moment).
- 2 Essential Info About RV Refrigerators
- 3 Essential Info About RV Refrigerators – two different types
- 4 RV Refrigerator Fires – There is 1 every day!
- 5 Does the RV Refrigerator need to be level?
- 6 Essential Info About RV Refrigerators – insects love propane
- 7 Essential Info About RV Refrigerators – why your ice cream isn’t hard
- 8 Answering your questions about RV refrigerators
- 9 Don’t overpack the RV refrigerator
- 10 Now that you’ve got your refrigerator figured out – where to go next?
- 11 Looking for exciting RV trip ideas and travel suggestions?
- 12 Mike and Jennifer’s Favorite Places in Florida – all 3 ebooks!
FAQ’s about Florida Gulf Coast beaches of interest to RVers
- 13.1 What is the weather like along Florida’s Gulf Coast?
- 13.2 Did Hurricane Ian destroy many beach campgrounds on the Gulf Coast?
- 13.3 Are there any websites that can help me get a reservation for a Florida beach campground?
- 13.4 Are there places in Florida where you can literally camp on the beach for free?
- 13.5 But are there free, unrestricted RV beach camping spots in Florida?
And in today’s Podcast Episode 413 we talk to Todd Henson from the National RV Training Academy. Do you have a compressor or absorption refrigerator? Find out all about the differences and challenges for both in today’s podcast.
We also answer viewers’ questions and go over some of the most important news in the RV Lifestyle.
You can watch the video version of the podcast by clicking the player below.
If you just want to catch the audio version of the RV Podcast, you can listen on your favorite podcast app or in the player below.
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Essential Info About RV Refrigerators
Before we jump into the interview, I want to tell you that NRVTA has a fantastic educational space for those of you interested in doing your own RV repairs! If you are a DIY type of RVer, then check this out. This course is a great way to up your skills in repair and keep you on the road longer. We think this is becoming really important these days, so we are partnering with them to get this course out there — RV MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR HOME STUDY COURSE FOR RV OWNERS Let us know what you think! Now on to the interview.
Essential Info About RV Refrigerators – two different types
Well, Todd Henson from the National RV Training Academy joins us right now to talk about refrigerators.
Todd, it’s a pleasure to have you on the podcast.
Well, I appreciate it. Thank you for inviting me.
So we want to talk refrigerators.
And there are so many questions, so many concerns. Do you want to start us off?
Okay. So how are RV refrigerators different than the ones you have in your home?
Okay. Ooh. So a broad question, but let’s get into it.
So what we call your residential style refrigerator uses a compressor in order to cool down the refrigerator and, of course, your freezer. And with that, you have two different temperature controls. You can set your temperature for your freezer separately from setting your temperature for your refrigerator. But we use a compressor, and we use refrigerant.
Now, the RV-style refrigerator, which is what we call an absorption-style refrigerator, uses a different method in order to create coolness. And what it does is it uses some chemicals. We boil ammonia and we mix ammonia with hydrogen and therefore, we get a flash freezing effect. So we call it an absorption-style refrigerator.
It’s been around for 150-plus years. It’s actually older technology then, of course, with our compressors, but just basically two chemicals coming together, we get a flash freezing effect, and then we just simply use thermal dynamics to pull the heat out.
So now I’m sure you probably had no clue that, or no interest in me telling you all that, but it’s just the delivery mechanism that we have with an RV-style refrigerator that makes it different. The cooling mechanism, we’re using chemicals versus a refrigerant.
Now, if you had to pick the one that’s better, I would say the compressor is what you’d want to choose.
Yeah, it’s a bias. It’s a bias I have. And well, I’m going to say this is from me, not necessarily from you, because a lot of people shy away from this. When we had the RV-style refrigerator, you were told when you purchase your RV that the RV-style refrigerator was designed to be on propane while going down the road. That is not the case. As a matter of fact, we have a lot of difficulties that we have to overcome because when we use propane as a source, there’s an open flame, an open flame going down the road.
So as a bias, if you have a residential-style refrigerator or a compressor-style, because now they have the 12-volt compressor-style refrigerators, they’re far safer, and you get far better performance out of them. The absorption style refrigerator’s an old technology that I wish would just simply go by the wayside.
I don’t know if that’s absorption or compressor.
Yeah, so Dometic and Norcold are the two major brands that make an absorption-style refrigerator. And you will know this because when you go to replace one, you will find out that it costs more to replace your absorption style refrigerator versus getting a residential style refrigerator.
How can I tell what that is?
Well, so when you open the refrigerator door, there’s going to be a data plate. One, it’ll tell you who the manufacturer is. But does it run on propane?
It runs on propane, then it’s an absorption-style refrigerator.
Well, then that takes us to the question. We talked about safety. Us included, most RVers I know run their refrigerator on propane as they’re driving.
And you’re saying that’s a bad idea.
It’s a bad idea. Yes.
So if we really looked at the mechanics in class we have, we show you this, but the cooling coils which are on the back. If we have a flame that’s actually heating up, what we’re doing is we’re trying to boil ammonia. Now, ammonia in its’ normal form also has water. And what we’re trying to do is just boil… Ammonia has a lower boiling point than water.
All we’re trying to do is separate the ammonia vapors from the water. So we have to have a heating source. And the whole reason why we’re going down the road with our propane on is to boil that ammonia so that the vapor of ammonia mixes with the hydrogen and we get the flash freeze. The problem that we have is we have an open flame. As well that’s also the port where the air can flow in.
Well, when you’re traveling down the road, you’re going to get low pressure on the outside of your RV, high pressure… Don’t need to know that. The flame’s going to go this way. And it has to heat up in that flu tube perfectly. As a matter of fact, we have what’s called a spiral baffle.
We want to heat that flame on the tubes perfectly because those tubes, those coils, have welds. If we’re driving down the road and that flame comes out on the outside, now I’m heating the outside of that tube up. Not a big deal, but over time what’s going to happen is one side of that tube is going to get hotter than the other side. And one of the major failure points that we have is with the coils. And the coils will last for years if we treat that refrigerator right.
But if we’re traveling down the road and that flame gets pulled out and it heats the outside of that tube, this is what’s going to happen. Everything stretches based on heat and metal stretches based on heat. The whole reason… And I’ll use cooking for this, you ever take a cold pan, stick meat on it and then put it on the burner. What happens to the meat? It gets stuck to the pan. The reason why is the pan is flexing. It’s actually expanding. So you learn as a good cook, you heat your pan up first, it gets hot, it’s already expanded. Now you put your meat on and it doesn’t stick.
So if I have one side of my tube getting hot, where I have a weld, then one side of that weld flexes and the other side. And so we create a weak point. And it may not happen down the road, but over time, what will happen is we’ll lose our compression. And inside there, we have hydrogen, which is flammable. Most of the time that we lose our coils, we lose the compression, our coils, no big deal, other than we’ve got to replace the coils and it costs thousands of dollars. But we mix that hydrogen and we have an open flame, we can have a potential of a fire.
Wow. Well, that’s pretty eye-opening. So…
I guess on our list… I’ll make a quick list here, get a compressor fridge.
Do they cost a whole bunch more? I mean, why don’t the manufacturers put those in?
Well, they do, but it all goes back to what’s available. And then if you’ll notice that you already have a recall, more than likely, on your refrigerator and that we’re trying to find ways to keep that flame inside that tube. But in order for there to be a flame, there has to be air. There has to be an air source. So they put up flashing. They put on high-temperature limit switches. They do everything they can to monitor it. But the problem is because we were told that this is okay, we do it.
Am I going to say that everyone is going to catch fire? No. As a matter of fact, I even have the stats on that. We get about 20,000 cases that are going to the insurance company a year for fire.
RV Refrigerator Fires – There is 1 every day!
Of the 20,000 cases, 16% of those start at the absorption-style refrigerator.
These are for RVs? 20,000 RV cases are fire?
To insurance companies. Yes.
Holy cow. That’s a lot.
That’s a lot. Well, we got… Right now we got about 10 million RVers out there. 10 million so 20,000 doesn’t seem that big of a number when the pool is nearly 10 million, but of the 20,000, 16% of those start at the refrigerator. So that’s about one a day.
Does the RV Refrigerator need to be level?
Just a related question, many times we’ve heard that the RV refrigerator always has to be level.
Is that for the same reason, because you want that tube to be lit the proper way?
Yeah, here’s the problem. So there’s three chemicals inside that tube. You have your ammonia and you have your hydrogen. Because ammonia also has water, we have water inside a metal tube and that will eventually cause rust. So they add a powder called sodium chromate. Now, if you looked at the back of your coils, you’ll notice that they’re not level they’re actually just slightly off, just a bit. The whole purpose of that powder, of the sodium chromate, is to coat the inside of those coils. So they don’t create rust. Well, the coils themselves, if you look at it, there’s a very small slope and we have to be exactly even for that slope.
What we want to do is when the ammonia moves up, the sodium chromate goes with it, it goes through the coils, and it constantly coats it. So our coils are this way and if our rig is off just a bit, then we lose the slope. And what will happen is that powder can’t move. And then, because those coils are hot, the powder simply just begins to dry up and begins to crystallize. And I want you to think of your arteries. You got too much…
You start building that up and you’re not getting the flow. Well, if you’re not getting the ammonia back, we’re going to eventually lose the coils. So it’s kind of ironic because everything we’re using to keep the coils or prevent the coils from messing up is also one of the reasons why they mess up and that’s just simply because we’re not exactly level.
Now, traveling down the road, that’s fine for that part. If you can run it on electricity, totally fine because as you’re bouncing, you’re still moving the stuff around. It’s when you’re parked and the refrigerator is on. Because I get this question as well, does my RV have to be exactly level with regard to the refrigerator when I’m in storage? No, because there’s no movement. You don’t have it on, but if you have it on, you need to be level.
Essential Info About RV Refrigerators – insects love propane
Got it. Fascinating stuff. So we’ll look for a compressor. What are some of the common problems that go wrong with all RV refrigerators that the RVer can solve or prevent?
Okay. So if you do use your propane, then you’re inviting insects. Insects love the smell of propane. And you have an open port on the outside. They love to build their nests, whether it’s going to be in the burner assembly or in the burn chamber. So if you are using propane, then I would recommend maybe twice a year… Especially spring and fall, because when you go in the winter, not many insects.
Spring and fall, go to the back of your refrigerator and make sure that it’s cleaned out. Spiders love to get into the burner assembly, create their web and then they end up dying because no one else comes and visits them.
Well, that prevents the propane from flowing and everything else. So we want to keep that burner tube nice and clean. You can look at it, blow some compressed air, get you a straw brush, run that through there, it’s real simple. You just want to keep that area clean. And while you’re back there, depending if you’re RVing in the summer, you’re going to see dirt dauber nests and all that. So just go in and grab them, don’t even look to see if they’re there, grab the nest and pull it out.
Essential Info About RV Refrigerators – why your ice cream isn’t hard
What other things go wrong?
So some other things that can go wrong… Well, there’s some limitations. You’ll notice with your RV-style refrigerator, if you like to eat ice cream, you really don’t get a good, hard ice cream from the freezer. And that’s because the limitations. On the RV-style refrigerator, you’re going to get about to 10 degrees. And if you have high fat concentrated foods, it takes a lower temperature to freeze them. So to me, first off, if you’re putting your ice cream back in the freezer, then you’re just a quitter. You’re doing it wrong.
Buy smaller amounts of ice cream.
I remember what he said. Yeah, yeah. No ice cream back in, we eat it all.
No ice cream back in. But you can do a sherbet, something that’s low fat or something like that, you’ll get a good, hard ice cream.
The temperature setting, you set it for the refrigerator, the freezer responds. But the back of your refrigerator, let’s move to the refrigerator. You notice for most models, there’s no fan. And if we had a fan in there, we can get cooler temperatures. We’re using… We’re just using physics to move the heat over to the top of our refrigerator in the back, we have some evaporator fins. We already have a limited amount of space for our food.
But one thing with an absorption style refrigerator, the last two inches, we don’t want to put any food back there. If the food is all the way back and heat rises, then I can’t get the heat out of the food on the bottom to go up because I’ve got it blocked off. So it’s a huge limitation because of course the absorption style refrigerator’s already pretty thin as it is, but we want to keep that back area nice and clean.
If you see moisture on your food, big problem. That means there’s an air gap somewhere. The moisture forms because there’s warm, moist air getting into the refrigerator. So the first thing is, know what you’re looking for before you open the door, don’t go shopping. Don’t open the refrigerator door and go, “What do I want?” Because the absorption style refrigerator uses a older technology. It takes one hour to recuperate one degree.
So if you hold it open for a minute, it’ll take almost an hour for it to get that temperature back. So it’s going to take just a little bit.
So just kind of make sure you know what you want. And that’s one of those things… I have a four door, so I’m always, “Just open up one door. Don’t open up both.”
Second thing with this is it takes about 12 hours. Let’s say you’re traveling. Let’s say, you stack in your food, because I’m going to go over some tips and tricks for you so you can keep your food cool and not have your propane on. So make sure with… Oh, I’m sorry. Let’s go back to the moisture vapors. Let’s say you look in there and you’ve got moisture sitting on your food and also on those coils.
We do right now.
Okay. That typically means there’s an air gap somewhere and there’s two places we can get that. There’s the door where we have seals, so I want to make sure that that’s all nice and clean. And then what we could do is a paper test. We used to say a dollar bill test, take a dollar bill, close the door on the dollar bill and then drag the dollar bill across. What you’re looking for is nice. Even resistance. If you get to a part of the door and it kind of moves over real quick, then we know that seal isn’t really tight right there.
So to address that, let’s say the seal on our RV refrigerator door, one, they don’t make them by themselves anymore. You have to replace the whole door. So we’re going to try and find a way to repair that. If you have a loose or dead seal, in other words, it lost its memory, take a hair dryer and lightly warm it up right there. When you warm that up, you relax the rubber and it finds its’ memory again. That’s the only place we use the hair dryer. We do not use that in the freezer. But right there for the seals.
The other thing is that drip tube. The back of your refrigerator on the outside of the RV. Let’s say this is the outside of your RV, you got a drip tube there somewhere.
That drip tube should have a cap on it. A lot of times that cap goes missing. Well, the problem is… Or the reason why we have that cap is we want a little bit of water sitting right there at the end of the tube. That prevents warm moist air from going up the tube and going into our refrigerator. So if you are suffering with a lot of moisture, a couple things. Either you’re leaving the door open too long and you got a lot of moisture going there, you’re sticking food in that’s still hot and steaming, your seals are loose, or you got air coming in that tube. So check the back of that tube and make sure that your cap is on there.
So it doesn’t matter. Now you guys have a Norcold that you’ll also have a little drip tray. And so some of the water’s supposed to go in the drip tray. Notice the drip tray is real close to your burner assembly? We’re going to find out if it’s overflowing. If it’s overflowing, it’s no big deal other than it just gets some water on the outside of your RV. Whenever the refrigerator’s on, that right there gets really hot so it evaporates the water. But just make sure that that tab is in there. If your cap is not in there, you’re going to have to order one.
What you can do in the meantime is take your tube, spin it in a circle and create a P-trap. And then just put a little zip tie or something to hold that. The water will go down the tube and has to build up and then finally go out. So it’s a great… It’s an easy way to get that fixed until you get your cap.
Now, one thing you could do… Sorry, one thing you could do is if you’re at an RV park, you could just go find someone who has the same type of refrigerator…
And steal theirs?
I’m just overwhelmed by all the knowledge that you just shared. You’re a wealth of information here.
Answering your questions about RV refrigerators
Do you want to start with some of the questions that we get and we’ll go, “Here are some of the reader questions just that we’ve had this week.”
To extend the life of my refrigerator, is it best to always have it on or turn it off when not in use? I’ve been told both.
Yeah. And there’s really no difference between the two. If you keep it on, just make sure… Let’s say it’s in storage, the one thing you don’t want to do is keep it on and you not be around to check on it. Because if something goes wrong, you’re not there to stop it. So you can keep it on if you’re always around, but quite honestly, if you’re not using it, no, you’re not going to hurt it. It’s not like a battery that will decay over time when you don’t use it. I’ve just got chemicals down there so absolutely if it’s in storage, don’t turn it on.
Gotcha. We have a question about thermometers. Do you recommend them? And what temperature should the refrigerator be and the freezer be? What can we expect?
Well, we go back to the refrigerator. You want that between 34, no higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, I have one. It’s a Bluetooth one where the temperature sensor’s inside the refrigerator and I’ve got one inside the freezer. So I don’t have to open it up. The monitor itself is on the outside. It’s got a little magnet, sticks right on there.
And the coolest thing is it also will record the high temperature. So it gives me the current temperature, but let’s say, for whatever reason, let’s say I lost power or something like that and it got up to 50 degrees. Boom. It’ll show the high and it records it and keeps it there.
That lets me know… And that’s so awesome because let’s say I’m gone for the day or something like that and I had perishables or let’s say I was gone for a week and left the refrigerator on, there’s food in there. If I come back and I see that it was at 70 degrees, I know that I may want to go ahead and throw that food away because I don’t know how long it was at 70 and did I spoil it.
Here’s another question:
The refrigerator says the temperatures are factory set and it freezes the eggs after a couple of days. Why is that? Sounds like they need a fan.
Well. So if it freezes your eggs, then it’s doing really well. On the refrigerator, just depends on what you have, you have what’s called a thermistor and that’s what’s regulating the temperature.
If you have a resettable or a changeable… If on the outside of your refrigerator, you can change the temperature, you want to go ahead and set it to its lowest setting. So, in other words, you’ve got a Norcold or Dometic and you’ve got your temperature and you’ve got 1 through 9. Well, you’re saying you want it to be the coldest. 1, warmest.
So the first thing is if your eggs are freezing, see if you can lower that number, which will increase the temperature. Second thing is with the eggs freezing, where are they located? Are they real close up to the top next to the evaporator coils? If so, move them down towards the bottom.
So the warmest part… The coldest part is high, warmest part is low?
Well it’s a contradiction in terms. We know heat rises.
But we also know the freeze plate or the plate where the heat transfer takes place is the evaporator fins right there. So if the eggs are located right next to the evaporator fins, heat runs to cold. That’s the shortest distance for the heat coming out of those eggs are going, so we may want to move those down.
On the Norcold that we have, there is no outside control, but on the inside, there’s this little thing that moves up and down.
Yes. That is your thermistor.
1 is the coldest? It doesn’t say. You lift it up or is it… Which way, how do I?
There should be. There should be a sign on the side over here. Now heat rises, so if your refrigerator is too warm, you take that… I call it a paperclip. There’s a paperclip, that’s what we see. But there’s a little, little thermistor, it’s just a wire. We want to move it up because heat rises and what we’re telling the circuit board is, “Hey, it’s not cold enough. Move it up.” If it’s too cold, move it down.
Got it. Got it. Okay. We got a couple of other questions.
Refrigerator is cool, but not as cool as it usually gets. Notice the coils inside are very wet and dripping some water.
All right, again, water I’m going to first say is… I’m going to attack the airflow or the air. We’re getting air inside the refrigerator. Check your fin, check your seals, make sure they’re closed. Check that drip tube on the outside of your RV, but also then consider, are you keeping that door open? Are you putting in food that is hot and it just takes that much longer for it to recoup?
All right. Now, if we’ve got a good working refrigerator, once that door closes, it’s a sealed system. So the only moisture we have will be in the food itself. If you’re waking up the next morning and there’s still moisture, that means there’s air getting into the refrigerator.
Oh, that’s interesting. Here’s one that says, “I have a 2018 Dometic refrigerator that has ice cold freezer, but room temperature fridge. The fridge is level. I’m getting power. And I replaced the thermistor wire. Other common causes because besides airflow?”
Don’t overpack the RV refrigerator
Packing it too much.
So we only have one set of coils on the back. So if the freezer is working, more than likely the refrigerator’s working, because we use the same coils. So if the freezer is working, the refrigerator’s not, I’m still going to go back. Is there too much food or is there an airflow problem? Again, I don’t have a drip tube in the freezer. Once that door closes, that’s all there is. I would check the back of that RV where we have the drip tube, see if that cap is there. Second law of thermal dynamics, heat runs to cold. You can have just a small thermostat.
But if that cap is off, then warm, moist air just simply goes in there. So we’re going to attack that again. There’s a slim chance the coils could be having a problem, but 99% of the time, if the freezer works, there’s nothing wrong with the coils for the fridge… The freezer works and the refrigerator doesn’t then that may be seals, airflow or too much food inside.
We have one last question we want to hit. And then we want to talk about your home study course here.
Okay Dometic refrigerator whines when it’s hot outside and really struggles to maintain temperature.
Is it an absorption-style refrigerator or a compressor?
This is Dometic.
Now, if you hear gurgling, that’s different from whining. That means that sodium chromate’s crystallizing and the liquid’s just not moving. But if it’s whining, I’m going to think of something that’s moving. If the refrigerator is in a slide out then on the back of the refrigerator, which you can’t find, there’s two fans, depending on the size of your refrigerator, and that fan helps move the air. Because again, we’re bending physics. We’re trying to get cool air to come in, to go across these coils, take the heat and move it out.
If your refrigerator is not in a slide out, we use what’s called the chimney effect. Cool air comes in, goes straight out the top. If it’s in a slide out, we have to make it do a 90 degree angle to come out. So they stick fans on there.
I’m wondering if the whining is the fan itself. If it’s got dirty or if maybe some insulation or something has gotten in the fan blades. If I’m not moving cool air through there, I’m not getting good performance out of that refrigerator. The way to be able to tell, get your ladder out… Your refrigerator should have a lower port and then an upper port. If you get an upper port, kind of look down, get your flashlight or something and see what’s going on with those fans.
Now it may work in the morning, you got better performance, but as the afternoon, it gets warmer and warmer and warmer. That’s an airflow problem at the back of the refrigerator. So without knowing more, that’s where I’m going to point them is to look for that. Look for airflow possibilities on the back of the refrigerator.
Wow. You have been so helpful to us.
I would probably not want to be you in a group of 50 people with all the questions coming.
Well, and I can tell you there’s still a ton to learn. I get a lot of questions.
Now you guys do training of many RV techs around the country. In fact, I just hired one who came and did a great job. And he just was trained by you guys this summer. But there is a way that the average RVer can really benefit from the things we talked about today? It’s your home study course RV… Let me get the address and we’ll put it up on the screen below us, but it is the RVtechcourse.com.
Make sure you use our link to go right there–> https://rvlifestyle.com/RVtechCourse
Tell us about that. And it’s not just about refrigerators. It’s about all the things that we can do ourselves to help our RVs get the performance we need.
Yeah. There are about 30… Between 24 and 30 hours of video and we got it broken up. I actually go over the major systems. I’m going to teach you about electricity. We’re going to go over AC and DC. 80% of the RV runs on electricity. And a lot of problems… If you understand electricity, understand what we call signal flow. We just figure out where the signal stops.
So think of a water hose and you got to kink in the line. You’re over here at the end, you got no water coming out. You track it back. “Oh, there’s a kink in the line.” It’s the same thing with electricity, with water and with propane. So we teach you the concept of signal flow, where to go look for that. So I’ll teach you electricity.
I’ll go over a lot of the problems that we have with propane. That’s all mechanics. And it’s usually self-inflicted. A lot of the problems we have with our propane is we don’t know how it works and we don’t know all the safety devices and we end up causing most of the problems.
So I go over that with you, show you how to simply reset the system and then tell you the proper processes. Go over how to maintain, clean these service intervals. But then we go over your four major appliances. I’ll go over the absorption style refrigerator, I’ll go over the air conditioners, the rooftop air conditioners, water heaters, and then furnaces. And with that information, you can take care of a lot of the problems yourself.
For most of us. If we just learned a little bit about how that works, we could fix it. So that’s what this course is for. If you just knew how it works and then a couple steps on cleaning it, man, it makes it a heck of a lot easier when you’re RVing and something goes wrong. Because now you can look at it and go, “Oh, I can fix that.” Or you can go, “Well, that’s beyond me, now I’m going to call someone.” But it gives you that sense of comfort. Like, “Okay, I’m not totally clueless on what’s going on,” and it’s not because we’re stupid in any way. It’s just no one’s ever told us how it works.
Well please know that we are very supportive of you guys. We have just nothing but high praise for the National RV Training Academy. And particularly for you, Todd Henson, who we hope we can have back many times to answer questions. You have a… And I’m sure you know this, but you have a wonderfully warm and welcoming way of teaching this stuff. And we thank you for educating us. We’re going to go check our refrigerator.
Again, we will put a link. We really recommend this course. And, Todd, thank you for being our guest and making this time and helping to educate our community.
Well, I appreciate the opportunity for coming on and wish you guys all the best and yes, we’ll schedule this. And if you have more questions, hopefully, they’re easy questions.
Now that you’ve got your refrigerator figured out – where to go next?
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Mike and Jennifer’s Favorite Places in Florida – all 3 ebooks!
We RVers may wander far and wide but it’s true for most of us that we end up with some favorite “Go-To” places – places that draw us back again and again.
Florida is one of those places for us. And we know it is for many RVers looking to get away and explore during the winter.
That’s why we’ve created three guides, covering Florida’s Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the Keys.
Each of these guides is a seven-day guided exploration of one of the coasts. And each stop is a curated view of the best things that we’ve enjoyed on this trip and want you to experience.
Altogether these guides are over 300 pages of content!
FAQ’s about Florida Gulf Coast beaches of interest to RVers
What is the weather like along Florida’s Gulf Coast?
The weather along Florida’s Gulf Coast can vary depending on the time of year and the specific location. In general, the area experiences hot, humid summers and mild, pleasant winters.
The Panhandle region can be quite cool in January. It is seldom below freezing, but daytime highs are typically in the 50s. It warms up about 10 degrees each month.
You can also generally add about 10 degrees for every 150 miles you travel south down the Florida peninsula.
By the time you hit Naples, daytime highs in January are in the comfortable 70s.
Did Hurricane Ian destroy many beach campgrounds on the Gulf Coast?
While it severely damaged almost two dozen RV parks and campgrounds, about 8-10 campgrounds in the Naples-Ft. Myers area were completely destroyed. Most of the damaged campgrounds have been repaired and reopened.
Check with the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds if you have questions or concerns.
Are there any websites that can help me get a reservation for a Florida beach campground?
One of the best resources we can recommend is called Campnab. This service monitors parks for cancelations and sends you an alert when an opening matches your criteria. That said, it isn’t magic. The app doesn’t create availabilities.
The service works – but it is not free.
Campnab offers two ways to use the service. The first is individual pay-per-use scans. These watch for vacancies at a specific park for a specific date. These work well if you know exactly when and where you intend to camp. Pay-per-use scans cost $10 – $20, depending on how frequently you want them to check availability.
The second way to use the service is through a membership. These typically run monthly and are tailored to those who camp more frequently or are looking to maximize their chance of finding a site. Membership allows you to scan multiple parks and/or dates simultaneously. With memberships, you pay a monthly recurring fee ($10, $20, $30, or $50), depending on your needs.
Are there places in Florida where you can literally camp on the beach for free?
Not many. And they are very pricey. If you want to sleep directly on the sand in an RV, you’ll have to stay at a developed commercial campground like Camp Gulf on the Emerald Coast or an RV resort like Big Pine Key Resort in the keys. Some state parks like the Gamble Rogers State Memorial Recreation Area in the Atlantic Coast or Bahia Honda State Park in the keys or Fort Desto State Park near St. Petersburg have beachside sites, too.
But are there free, unrestricted RV beach camping spots in Florida?
Sorry, none that I know of that would work for RVs.
There is unrestricted camping on wild beaches on a couple of islands, but you need a boat to get there, and it is for tent camping only. If you want to sleep directly on the sand, there is Anclote Key offshore Tarpon Springs, and Shell Key in Pinellas County. Another favorite is Keewaydin Island between Naples and Marco Island but that area remains pretty devasted from Hurricane Ian.
September 15, 2022at1:23 pm, Bob Thompson said:
My water heater works on electricity but not on propane after the first year. Its in its second year, I tried to follow the RV video on how to fix it but it will not fire up. Looking for recommendations
September 16, 2022at9:46 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:
Hi Bob – Have you put this question on our Facebook group? Lots of folks there who help each other with different issues. Perhaps someone there could offer some suggestions that help. Here is the link – just in case. Team RV Lifestyle https://www.facebook.com/groups/roadtreking
September 14, 2022at12:03 pm, craig woods said:
Hey just a heads up I watched the video on refrigerators and there is a correction you need to be made aware of.Heat does not rise warm air rises because it is molecular lighter.So heat always goes to cold a fundamental rule of thermodynamics.Been in the refrigeration hvacr business for 40 years.It makes me crazy when people say heat rises when its warm air that rises . Not trying to be a snob but Maybe I should be a instructor.
September 14, 2022at6:10 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:
Thanks for sharing, Craig- Team RV Lifestyle