How Hot Should your 12V Fridge Get (+What to Do if its Hot!)

Is the 12V compressor fridge in your RV running noticeably hotter than you expect?

If the fridge is installed under the countertop then it may feel hot when you touch it leaving you wondering if this is normal or not and if you should contact the supplier (if under warranty) or technician to investigate.

So, read on to learn why your 12V compressor fridge may be running hot up, and what you can do about it.

Is it Normal for a 12V Fridge to Get Hot?

It is normal for a fridge to heat the area around it. Fridges work by extracting heat from the food and drinks inside and then pushing it out to the outside.

So you can expect the fridge’s walls to feel warm when you touch them. Ordinarily, you should be able to place your hand on the fridge’s walls and keep it there.

If the fridge is fitted in a confined area such as under a countertop, it is possible that some of the hot air can escape and get trapped between the fridge top and the countertop heating it in the process.

If the recommended vents have been provided for the fridge (consult the manufacturer’s instructions) then the fridge temperature should be warm.

If not, check out other reasons why it may be running hot or consult a qualified technician to check it out.

How Hot Should the 12V Fridge Get?

If the outside walls get too hot when you touch them to the point where you’re uncomfortable and need to remove your hand then there is likely a problem.

You may also be interested in the post: Powering your 12V fridge with a battery – What you need to know

What to Do if a 12V Fridge is Hot?

If your 12V fridge is running too hot, as a first step you should check whether it is properly installed with enough spacing from either its walls. Consult the fridge’s owner manual for the recommended spacing.

Is there direct sunlight on the fridge? You should place a shade near the window.

Closing the vents or installing the fridge near a heat source will result in temperature buildup of the fridge.

Also, confirm that the vents provided for the fridge if installed in an RV are of the size specified by the manufacturer for that fridge size.

Read on for additional reasons.

Reasons Why the Fridge May Get Hot

Your fridge may get quite hot from a combination of factors that are somewhat related but depending on a particular installation, one may be more at play than the other.

#1. Poor venting of the fridge in an RV. The fridge should be installed such that there is good airflow from the bottom of the fridge, up the fridge, and up in the vent for the fridge to keep cool. Also, the space above the fridge should be minimized to limit the build-up of hot air above the fridge.

For a fridge installed in an RV, provide vents both below the condenser and above the fridge’s vent for good airflow over the condenser.

Manufacturers specify the minimum size of the inlet and outlet vent.

Make sure that the vents meet those requirements otherwise, the fridge’s temperatures will build up.

The signs may suggest that fridge is not properly vented:

  • the compressor is continuously running
  • the fridge is not cooling properly

#2. If the air flow around the fridge is restricted, for example, if the fridge is placed in a closet or too close to the wall allowing for less than the recommended spacing for good airflow.

The fridge’s surfaces will become hot because there is not enough airflow to remove the heat quickly enough.

Fix: Check the fridge’s installation manual, particularly the spacing around the walls and confirm that it is provided.

#3. High ambient temperature. Positioning the fridge near a heat source such as a cooker or during hot summer days, the fridge’s temperature can buildup quite fast.

Explore moving the RV to a shaded area or moving the fridge away from the heat source depending on the cause of the temperature rise.

Does a 12V fridge need ventilation?

Yes, a 12V fridge needs ventilation too. Fridges work by removing heat from the interior of the fridge, pushing it out and the ventilation improves airflow and the fridge’s cooling efficiency.

If the fridge is installed in an RV, you need to provide vents for proper cooling. Consult your fridge’s installation manual or an RV technician.

Final Word

If your 12V compressor fridge is running too hot, as a first step, check if enough space has been provided around the fridge walls. Also, confirm that the fridge’s inlet and outlet vents are installed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

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