For the most part, RV fridges run without us even being aware if they are running. For whatever reason, perhaps you have an ear for little details, you may notice the fridge seemingly cycling on and off too frequently.
But what is the normal on and off duration for a fridge? Should you even be concerned? Should you contact a fridge technician?
This post explains how often you can expect an RV fridge to cycle on and off, what determines it and if it is too frequent the likely causes, and what you may be able to do to fix it.
How Long a Fridge Should Run Before it Cycles off?
The duty cycle of a fridge depends on several factors – the surrounding temperature, how often the fridge door is opened, whether the fridge is lightly loaded or not, the cooling efficiency of the fridge – if the cooling fins are clear of dust and the fridge is well ventilated.
It is not unusual for the fridge compressor to run nearly 50% of the time.
This can increase the more times the fridge door is opened, during warmer weather or if the air circulation around the fridge is restricted.
You may also be interested in this post: Why the fridge compressor is running continuously
What Causes the Fridge to Cycle On and Off too Often?
The RV fridge may cycle on and off frequently if:
#1. The fridge may not be cooling efficiently because of poor airflow around the condenser coils. If there’s enough spacing behind the fridge or the coils are covered with dust then the fridge will not cool efficiently. The compressor will run frequently to keep the fridge contents cool.
Fix: Disconnect the fridge from the grid to reduce the risk of electric shock. Inspect the fridge condenser coils for any dust and clean them.
Confirm that there is enough spacing around the fridge sides to allow enough air flow.
Check your fridge manual for the recommended spacing for sufficient air flow.
#2. If the fridge is running off a battery bank, confirm that the battery connections are clean, firmly connected with no corrosion and the battery voltage is sufficiently high enough, usually 12.4 V DC in some fridges (consult your fridge manual).
Weak battery connections or a low battery may cause the compressor to cycle too often as there is not enough current drawn from the battery.
Fix: Inspect and clean the battery connections. Measure the battery bank voltage and confirm that it meets the minimum recommendations as specified in your fridge manual.
#3. The thermostat may be faulty or the temperature probe may not be fitted properly. The thermostat is responsible for sensing the fridge temperature and correspondingly switching the fridge on or off.
If the thermostat is not fixed properly at the recommended point (RV fridges), then it will not able to detect the fridge temperature accurately and may cause the fridge to cycle on and off too frequently.
Consult your fridge manual for instructions on how to fit the temperature probe.
Why you don’t Want a Fridge Cycling On and Off too Frequently
If your fridge is cycling on and off too frequently then you need to pay attention. Short duration cycles can lead to:
#1. Increased power consumption. If you are running the fridge off the battery, the battery draw will increase and your battery bank may be drained flat resulting in food spoilage.
#2. The fridge may not be cool properly. It is not unusual to find that the fridge also is not cooling properly if it is cycling on and off too frequently. This can also result in the spoilage of food as the fridge is not cooling properly.
Why Your Fridge May be Cycling on and Off every 5- 10 minutes?
If your fridge is cycling on and off too often, say every 5 minutes, then it is probably not cooling efficiently. Review each of the factors that affect how often the fridge runs for which one may be affecting the fridge operation.
It is normal for a fridge to cycle on and off during its operation. The actual on and off duration depends on several factors including the ambient temperature, how often the fridge door is opened, whether the fridge is lightly loaded or not, and the cooling efficiency of the fridge.
It is not unusual for the fridge to run for 50% of the time or more, however, if it runs non-stop continuously or runs for a few minutes and then stops then there is likely a problem, probably with the temperature detection or the cooling efficiency.
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