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To keep the fridge in your motorhome running on gas/propane if you are driving somewhere is often very tempting and ordinary, but should you do it?
As a general rule, you should not run a fridge or any other appliances on gas or propane while driving if you do not have a crash sensor connected to your gas system. The consequences could be severe if you crash or rupture a gas hose while driving, and illegal in many cases.
On the other hand, if you have a crash sensor, you are good to go! The primary purpose of the crash sensor is to serve as a safety device that cuts off the gas/propane supply in case of a traffic accident. In some cases, using gas/propane while driving without a crash sensor will be illegal.
Is it legal to Drive a Motorhome With The Gas Turned on in Europe?
Vehicles made after 2007 need to comply with the heating equipment directive 2001/56/EC with annexes 2004/78/EC and 2006/119/EC (Link). And use a safety shut-off device in case of a ruptured hose or accident. However, this does not apply to vehicles made before 2007 except in France, where older vehicles cannot use gas on the move.
So for us with vehicles made before 2007, it is legal to drive with the gas turned on and use appliances while driving even without a safety shut-off device or crash sensor in Europe, except in France, where it doesn’t even matter if we have the crash sensor or not. It is forbidden either way for vehicles made before 2007.
With vehicles made after 2007, you must legally use a crash sensor to drive with the gas turned on in Europe.
Either way, these laws came into place for a reason, and just because your vehicle is old and goes under the “grandpa” clause doesn’t mean you should ignore these safety concerns, especially when it is so easy to switch the fridge to 12v power when you are driving and turn off the gas.
How to Run Motorhome Fridge on 12v While Driving
Many motorhomes, RVs, and caravan fridges can only run on 12-volt power when the engine and generator are running, so it’s not broken just because it won’t work on 12-volt when the engine is not on.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to turn on a motorhome fridge to 12v for driving:
- First, turn your fridge off its current power source (gas/propane or 220v).
- Turn off your gas/propane supply if you do not have a crash sensor.
- Start the engine of your motorhome.
- Turn on your fridge to 12-volt.
- Choose the temperature setting on the fridge.
- Drive to where you are going.
- When you turn off the engine, remember to change the power source on the fridge since it won’t work on 12v anymore.
Fridges will typically be able to stay cold while running them on 12-volt and not get any colder. So remember to turn on your fridge on another power source the day before you intend on using it, so it has the chance to cool down properly before you start using it on 12-volt.
Those fridges they usually use in motorhomes or caravans can be very power consuming. For example, my old Electrolux fridge uses a continuous 125 watts when it is running on 12v, which would mean running it from the batteries for 24 hours would consume 250 Amp hours which is just crazy much. My whole battery bank is 200 AH! For this reason, those fridges only run when the engine and generator are running. If you are considering running your fridge on 12 volts full time, ensure how much energy it consumes beforehand.
In comparison, a 12-volt compressor fridge would consume about 17 Amp hours during the same amount of time; for this reason, I’m planning on building a custom-made 12-volt compressor fridge that I can run off my solar panels. So I don’t have to worry about turning on and off my fridge every time I move my motorhome. Since I don’t have a crash sensor installed, I should turn off the gas every time I move, and I often forget, so I will instead build a 12v compressor fridge and stop using gas so much since I have lots of solar power as well.
If you are interested to see if you can run your fridge at 12 volts all the time and how to do it, you should check out my other article where I go in-depth about this and how much power it consumes as well as how much the solar panels will charge up the batteries to run the fridge continuously.
“Since I don’t have a crash sensor installed, I should turn off the gas every time I move.”Motorhome King
What is a Crash Sensor or Safety Shut-Off Device for Motorhome Gas Systems?
A gas pressure regulator can come with a crash sensor which enables you to use your gas appliances safely while driving your motorhome since it will automatically turn off the gas supply in case of a crash or traffic accident. Truma, the famous motorhome, RV, and caravan shop, is making some well-known options that are compatible with two gas cylinders as well as one. However, I have also seen another brand selling crash sensors built into the gas pressure regulators.
If you are looking into changing your gas regulator, make sure you consider buying one with a crash sensor, I would strongly advise doing so if the price is not too steep and you can afford it.
Suppose you are winter camping or hate it when you run out of gas in the middle of the night and wake up freezing. In that case, you should look into the dual gas regulators; those allow you to connect two gas/propane bottles simultaneously. When the first bottle is empty, it will automatically switch to the second bottle, so you don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to change bottles ever again! it is brilliant, and I have been super happy with this type of solution during the cold months. Those also come with crash sensors.
If you haven’t yet watched my youtube video on the topic, I recommend you do so and check out my youtube channel motorhome king.