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How to Pick RV Friendly Appliances

RV appliances transform trailers into functional spaces that feature a cozy resemblance to home. Replacing or upgrading RV appliances can make a huge difference in your RVing experience by simplifying daily tasks and reducing the hassle of common chores. Selecting appliances that are most effective and compatible for your unit can be challenging, especially because RV appliances and residential appliances often operate differently. So, if you are ready to update the equipment in your RV, we’ve got everything you need to know about how to pick RV-friendly appliances!


Unlike residential refrigerators, which require mechanical moving parts in order to function, RV refrigerators cool through a process known as absorption refrigeration. Rather than using a compressor motor, absorption refrigeration relies on a chemical mixture of ammonia, hydrogen, water, and sodium chromate. These appliances are preferred in RVs over residential fridges because they are lightweight and versatile. While RV fridges and residential fridges may operate differently, residential refrigerators can be used in RVs and many models come standard with residential-sized units. This option is more applicable for full-timers and those that need the cooling abilities and space offered by traditional household units. When considering which option is best for you, contemplate power source (electric or propane), the dimensions, and the weight that will be factored into your GVWR. Aside from making sure your refrigerator is compatible with your rig, you’ll also need to make sure your refrigerator can fit through the door of your rig so it can be hooked up!


While most RVers are happy making tasty meals over a campfire, it’s important to have a reliable cooktop to fall back on when you want to or need to cook indoors. RV stove tops can be found in both electric and propane models. Weigh the cost of propane against the cost of running an electric RV stove and be sure to consider how you intend to use your RV. Do you plan on doing more dry camping or staying in RV parks with electric hookups available? Luckily, RV cooktops are one of the easiest appliances to replace, so as long as you verify the dimensions, picking an RV-friendly cooktop should be relatively easy to select and install.


A popular addition many RVers make is the installation of a dishwasher. While some RVs come standard with a dishwasher, plenty of aftermarket options are available if you’d like to install one after purchase. When browsing, pay attention to the volume of water that it will use and make sure that your grey water tank can accommodate the added water waste. You’ll also need to find a place to fit your dishwasher. Countertop models are close to the size of a microwave and they can be an affordable and easy-to-use option. If you can sacrifice a column of storage space, you can also look into slim-line models which more closely resemble home units, and they work as effectively as them too!

Washing Machine

On-site laundry capabilities are a luxury in the RVing lifestyle. Relying on Laundromats and campground laundry facilities can disrupt the carefree flexibility of traveling on your own terms, so picking an RV-friendly washing machine can be a priority. Certain washers and dryers are specifically designed for RVs, as they are often lighter and smaller than traditional home units. As a way to make the most of your limited space, RV washer/dryers are most often designed in a stackable configuration. Two-in-one models are also available, and while these typically use less energy than stackables, they take longer per load. Most new RVs come equipped with washer/dryer prep, but you should still check with a professional to make sure your appliances and your RV are compatible with one another. There’s also an array of portable washing machines to choose from, which will operate by being hooked up to your RV’s sink. If this is the route you decide to go, be sure to read the reviews before making any final purchases as performance will vary. Before making any final decisions about your washer and dryer, consider the water requirements, power needs, voltage, and measurements.


When it comes to replacing your microwave, you can buy a less expensive generic model or a specialty RV model. The difference between the two is a matter of durability. RV microwaves are marketed to withstand the jolts and jars of the open road. If your microwave sustains damage, you could be at an increased risk for fire hazard. Again, consider your intended use before shelling out the big bucks for a pricey RV microwave. If you don’t plan on exposing it to a lot of wear and tear, it might not be advantageous for you to buy a top-quality RV microwave. If this is the case, just worry about picking a unit that fits your dimensions and is user-friendly.


Plenty of RVers travel with a generator. When propane or electricity isn't available, generators can save the day which makes them a must-have for avid dry campers and boondockers. When picking an RV-friendly generator, your main concern will be fuel type. If your RV runs on diesel, it is best to have a generator that does too. For a sustainable option that boasts a long shelf life, go with a propane generator. Gasoline generators are also a great option as gas is less expensive than diesel and easier to find than propane. Before making your purchase, read reviews on specific models and consider factors such as size for storage and noise level.

Portable Ice Maker

After an active day in the sunshine it’s hard to beat a cold, refreshing drink, but having access to ice in an RV can be a rarity. Portable ice makers can make a useful addition to your RV appliances and a number of options are available to choose from. Consider ease-of-use and operation before purchasing. Would you prefer a model that connects directly to your water or would you rather add water by hand? Also think about where you would place the ice maker and if you have enough countertop space.


In order to prevent mold and mildew, it is important to do everything you can to reduce the moisture buildup inside of your RV. Adding in a dehumidifier can be a logical and effective solution. To ensure quality, check how many liters of water it removes in a 24-hour period. You’ll also want to pay attention to the noise level, as some units can create a pretty noticeable humming sound.

Central Vacuum System

Central vacuum systems can make cleaning your RV a whole lot easier. While they may not be able to boast quite the same suction power of traditional vacuums, they have a lot to offer in the way of convenience. The downside include the bulky tubing and attachments that work with these central vacuum systems. Effective RV-friendly alternatives include hand-held units and compact cordless vacuums.

Coffee Pot

If you like to start your mornings out with a piping cup of coffee, then getting a coffee pot for your RV will be non-negotiable. Luckily, you have a variety to choose from. AeroPress coffee makers require no use of power, they are compact and portable, and they are relatively inexpensive too! Another popular option is the Keurig Mini Coffee Maker, which lets you brew an assortment of hot drinks without taking up too much of your valuable countertop space!

When wondering how to pick RV-friendly appliances, your main concerns will be sizing and space availability, as well as source of power. In many ways, RVs can be converted to accommodate residential appliances, and by the same token, residential appliances can be modified to work in RVs. Consider the factors noted above when picking out RV-friendly appliances and you should have no problem narrowing down options that are compatible with your rig! Have any insights into RV-friendly appliances? Share them in the comments!

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