Modern day caravans are equipped with fridges and freezers operating on 220V electrical power.  Older caravans were equipped with 3-way fridges, also referred to as absorption fridges.  A 3-way fridge is a fridge that can operate on 220V electrical power, 12V battery power or on gas, hence the name 3-way.  Off-road trailers and some caravans are still equipped with 3-way fridges, or fridges that operated on 220V or 12V electrical power.

You can identify whether your caravan is equipped with a 3-way fridge by looking at the controls on the fridge. These controls might be at the top of the fridge (like the one in the picture below) or at the bottom end of the fridge. If the controls on your fridge is like these, then it is a 3-way fridge.

For a 3-way fridge to operate efficiently it is very important that it stands level.  When you arrive at your camping site, before doing anything else, make sure that your caravan is parked level.

FRIDGE CONTROLS

The function of each of the fridge controls are as follow:

A –  This light will illuminate when the fridge is operating on 22V power
B –  Gas ignitor when using gas to operate the fridge
C –  Switch between 12V and 220V power to operate the fridge
D –  Indicates whether the gas flame is lid or not
E –  Set the gas flow/thermostat when operating on gas
F –  Sets the thermostat when operating on 12V battery or 220V electricity

OPERATING ON 220V ELECTRICITY

  • Make sure that the caravan is connected to the main power supply at your camping site.
  • Check the switches on the main power supply box in the caravan and make sure the mains switch is in the “ON” position
  • Turn the power selector knob (C) to the 220V position
  • The 22V indicator light (A) will lit to indicate that the fridge is running on 220V electricity.
  • Set the thermostat control (F) on maximum.  You can always turn is down once the fridge is starting to cool down.
  • The fridge is now running on electrical power.
  • To switch the fridge off, turn the switch (C) to the middle position.

OPERATING ON 12V BATTERY POWER

  • Make sure that the caravan is connected to the 12V battery situated in the nose cone of the caravan.
  • Check the switches on the main power supply box in the caravan and make sure the battery switch is in the “ON” position.
  • Turn the power selector knob (C) to the 12V position.
  • Set the thermostat control (F) on maximum.  You can always turn is down once the fridge is starting to cool down.
  • The fridge is now running on battery power.
  • To switch the fridge off, turn the switch (C) to the middle position.

OPERATING ON GAS

  • Switch off the 12V/22V power by turning the switch (C) to the middle position.  (Never operated the fridge on gas with this switch set on either 12V or 220V)
  • Make sure that the gas bottle in the nose cone of the caravan is connected to the gas supply pipe.
  • Open the valve on the gas bottle by turning it anti clockwise.
  • Turning the gas flow knob/thermostat (E) to the maximum position.
  • Press the gas flow knob (F) inwards and hold.
  • Wait for a few seconds and press the gas ignitor (B) switch. You will hear a click sound.
  • Hold the gas flow knob (E) till the red line on the gas indicator (D) start moving upwards.  If it does not start moving upwards after 15 seconds press the ignitor (B) again.  When switching to gas for the first time or after replacing the gas bottle the gas pipe to the fridge may be empty and you might need to repeat the process a few times.
  • After the gas flame has been successfully ignited, hold the gas flow knob (E) for about 30 seconds before releasing it.
  • If the red line on the indicator (D) drops after releasing the gas flow knob (E) repeat the process.
  • The fridge is now operating on gas.
  • To switch the fridge off, turn the gas flow knob (E) to the close position

IMPORTANT SAFTY AND OTHER NOTES

  • Never ever operate the fridge on gas while towing.  It might cause a fire in the caravan.
  • If at any time you smell gas in the caravan, check the indicator (D) on the fridge to determine whether the flame of the fridge is still burning if operated on gas.
  • If the flame is out (could be caused by wind or an empty gas bottle) close the valve on the gas bottle and leave the caravan door open until there is no smell of gas left.
  • Check the gas bottle and if empty replace and then lit the flame again by following the procedures for operating the fridge on gas.
  • Also check that there is not an open valve on the gas stove which might be the source of the gas leak.
  • If the gas valves on the stove is properly closed, and the flame on the fridge is burning and you still smell gas, close the valve on the gas bottle and get professional assistance to determine the source of the gas.
  • There are two vents on the outside of the caravan just behind the fridge.  Make sure never to obstruct these as it is of vital importance for the functioning of the fridge.
  • There are also two vents on the build in step inside the caravan.  Make sure never to obstruct these as it is vital for gas to escape should a gas leak for whatever reason occur in the caravan.