Looking at my big, beautiful residential refrigerator in all it's roomy glory one year into living in our RV full-time, I start to regret it being on our "must-have" list.
Shocking, right? I get so many compliments, but in reality, it has caused a lot of problems for us over our first year of travelling.
Here are some pros and cons to a residential fridge in our house on wheels.
You have ample space to store all your food and let's face it, space is something we fight for in a tiny home.
Fewer trips to the grocery store which due to recent events is a great thing.
If you're like us, no need for a beer cooler! Come on, who doesn't love a good cold beer at the end of a long workday.
It's aesthetically pleasing and makes it feel more like a brick and mortar home than a tiny home.
You have the option to install an ice maker.
Ok, so basically all the pros are the space. Space is a great thing! But even so, we would still think twice about purchasing another camper with a residential fridge.
If you do decide to install an ice maker, you increase your chance of having leaks.
If there is nothing in the fridge when you travel, tempered glass shelves break and even though you vacuum every nook and cranny you will still find shattered glass 2 months post-incident.
On the other hand, if you have food in the fridge and travel, when you get to your destination and open the fridge you will find all of the contents have fallen into the door (because the strap only keeps the doors from getting stuck on the slide but does not keep contents from falling down in the door, causing the door to open).
Plastic shelves in the door easily break and cannot be repaired. Or we didn't try hard enough... it's a toss-up.
Same with the plastic drawer supports in the fridge. My fruit and veggie drawers sag all the time now because the plastic supports holding them have broken.
Residential refrigerators are NOT meant to be in a trailer going down a bumpy road at a high rate of speed.
RV Newbie Storytime!
If you don't strap your fridge down because you think the slides will keep it from opening, you will be proven very VERY wrong and you will be forced to shimmy along the top of the closed slide (because you can't put the slides out without shutting the fridge doors) with BBQ grill tongs to pull the contents of the fridge away from the door opening and back on the shelves while someone squeezes their arm in the slide and through the tiny crack of the fridge doors to push the contents back up so person 1 can grab them with grill tongs...
I regret to inform you these were real events that happened on our first haul. We weren't going that far, maybe 30 miles round trip to get new tires on the rig. But to date, this is one of the most memorable mistakes we have made.
Now let's talk about how we adapted and changed our pack-up routine. This part of our routine has changed DRASTICALLY and it took us a few moves to get it right.
(This is what our fridge looks before we travel.)
Things We Found Helpful
If you do decide to get a residential fridge in your RV, I would invest in some canvas fold-up storage boxes. This has been the most useful tool in packing up the fridge. And some tape. Blue painters tape does the trick without being a pain to remove.
When packing, we put as much as we can into the drawers on the bottom of the fridge, then we load up the storage boxes. Big stuff first and then all the condiments and pickles jars, etc. on top. Most of the time we leave the big things out (milk jugs, Britta, coffee creamer) out of the boxes. We have tried taping them together but those aren't the main problem. They can't fall down the crack if the door opens slightly along the way.
Once we have the contents stored accordingly, we get the tape out. This is where we secure the now-empty shelves. Tape them up so that they don't fall off when you earthquake tests them with your hands. Don't forget the shelves on the doors.
(We are now ready for liftoff!)
It is not impossible to travel full time with a residential refrigerator, but it does take some extra care to pack everything down. I'm sure that the way our camper is laid out, the fridge being in the back of the camper (most bumpy part) does not help our case at all.
My advice would be that before you purchase an RV, consider how much you are going to be moving and how much time you want to add to your pack/unpack time. This adds an extra 5 minutes to pack and an extra 15 to unpack, seeing as we always have to rehang the drawers since the supports are broken due to travel.
As always, I am here for questions, comments, and concerns.