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Are you, like many others, wondering how long a motorhome, RV, or caravan fridge lasts and when you should start worrying if it needs replacing? In this article, I analyzed the responses from 61 RVers and looked at how long their fridges lasted.
Using statistics from 24 different motorhome or RV fridges that were reported broken, the average RV fridge lifetime was 13.9 years. Unfortunately, two of them caught fire. I got statistics from 61 owners where older working RV fridges were also reported; the oldest was 43 years old.
In this article, we will go through all this data and information in an easily overviewed way so you can learn how long an RV fridge lasts and what common repairs to expect.
Out of 24 Broken RV Fridges, Here Is How Long They Lasted
After analyzing the responses from the people who reported that their motorhome, RV, or caravan fridge had broken at different ages, I made a table below where you can see how many percent of those fridges broke and needed replacing in 5-year intervals.
|Age of Fridge||Percent of RV Fridges that broke |
at a certain age
|0-5 Years||12.5 %|
|5-10 Years||29 %|
|10-15 Years||25 %|
|15-20 Years||4 %|
|20-25 Years||21 %|
|25-30 Years||8.5 %|
From these numbers, we can tell that out of all the people who reported that their fridges had broken there was a majority of fridges that died when they were between 5 and 15 years old but also almost 30% of the fridges broke after as long as 20-30 years.
Are you, like many others, wondering how much it is going to cost you when it is time to replace the old fridge, don’t worry; I cover that in another article where I go through 25 different price examples for various sized motorhome, RV, or caravan fridges the prices varied between 700 and 6000 USD so to learn more accurate numbers for the type of fridge you are looking for I would recommend you to read that article too.
61 RVers’ Responses If Their Old RV Fridge Works or Not
In the table below, I have put together all the responses from 61 different motorhomes, RV, or caravan owners that have either reported that their fridge broke after X amount of years or that their fridge was still working after X amount of years. So 24 people reported that their fridge had died, and 37 said that their fridge was still working.
|Age of fridges||Amount of broken |
|Amount of working|
What I find particularly interesting with this information is that we can see that seven people out of 61 respondents have reported that their motorhome or RV fridge is still working after 25-43 years!
Some people are fortunate to have a motorhome, RV, or caravan fridge lasting a long time, and we still don’t know how long those fridges will last. So we have data that says out of the people who responded to the question in the forums (Link here and Link here), the people who had experience with a broken fridge, it was most common that they broke between the ages of 5 and 15 years.
At the same time, we can also see that 21 out of the 61 respondents said their fridge was still working after 15 years, and as many as five said their fridge was working after as long as 30 years!
If you are lucky your fridge can last as long as 43 years!
What Repairs To Expect From Old Motorhome (RV) Fridge
In the table below, I have listed all 24 fridges that were reported as broken. Sometimes, the respondents also mentioned what brand or model the refrigerator was and what repairs they had made during the lifetime of the fridge, as well as other notes such as why it broke or if they had used it for full-time living.
Below this table, I summarized what notes I found the most interesting in case you want to scroll past them.
|Brand||repairs & notes||Broke after|
|Norcold 1200||Four years full-time||5 years|
|Norcold 1200||Thermistor, doors fell off||6 years|
|Norcold||Door hinge after three years, circuit board after five years||6 years|
|Norcold||Caught fire, the insurance company said they|
had fifty or more claims for the same reason.
|–||Replaced the cooling unit after 15 years|
after 20 years, it caught fire
|Norcold||replaced cooling unit after 22 years||24 years|
of 24 broken fridges
From some detailed reports, we can see that one RVer that used a Norcold 1200 fridge that only lasted for five years had used that fridge for full-time RV living for four years. So with that amount of continuous use, maybe it was reasonable that the fridge just lasted five years.
Another exciting thing we can see is that the two examples that needed to repair a cooling unit only lasted a couple of more years, and one even caught fire! So maybe if you are wondering about replacing a cooling unit, it might be better to replace the whole fridge.
We can also see another example of a Norcold fridge catching fire after seven years where the insurance company claimed that they had another 50 or so claims for the same reason! So maybe RV fridge fires are more common than I thought before.
Two others also reported they needed to repair a door hinge or that the door fell off, presumably for the same reason. If we look at the table below where we take into account the fridges that are reported still working, there is another report of a broken door hinge that has been repaired as well.
37 Examples of Old & Ancient RV Fridges Still Working
I listed all 37 fridges reported as still working in the table below. Sometimes, the respondents also mentioned what brand or model the refrigerator was and what repairs they had made so far during the lifetime of the fridge.
|Brand||Repairs & Notes||Still working after|
|one door hinge repaired||10 years|
|Replaced for a newer fridge even though it was working||12 years|
|Dometic RM2852||15 years|
|Norcold||glued back part of the plastic door handle that broke.||17 years|
|Norcold 661||27 years|
|total 37 fridges||average age reported still working 18.9 years|
In the table above, from the fridges reported still working, I find it amazing how many older fridges are still working and making motorhome, RV, or caravan owners happy by keeping all the beers cold!
One owner decided to upgrade and replace his RV fridge even though it was still working after 12 years. This is something both me and a friend of mine have done; I just got rid of my 25-year-old Electrolux fridge even though it was still working because I wanted a compressor fridge.
So that I can power the fridge from my 12-volt batteries; since the old one was an absorption fridge, it was just sustainable to run it on propane or from shore power. Since I’ve got plenty of solar panels and mainly go boondocking or wild camping, I wanted to swap it out for a compressor fridge.
If you want to learn more about how to power your fridge from the battery, how much your solar panels charge your battery, and how much your generator charge your battery while you are driving, I have another article where I cover all that as well as how you connect the fridge to run on battery.