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How much power does a 12 volt fridge use?

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Understanding and calculating 12 Volt Refrigerator power use

Power usage is always a big concern when adding any electrical device to a Campervan.

Because many modern 12v fridge freezers feature quality, variable speed compressors and other energy saving features like tight door seals, high quality insulation and accurate thermostat control, these AC/DC refrigerators tend to be very efficient.

All these features allow the best 12 volt refrigerator freezers to maintain internal temperatures right where you need them while only using short, infrequent bursts of power.

How much power does a 12 volt fridge use?

  • A 12 volt fridge uses between 30 and 55 Ah (amp hours) per day on average.

This table shows a guideline of average, per day 12 Volt Refrigerator freezer power use.

Several brands and models were tested under a variety of conditions including fridge lid open/closing, always closed, adding room temperature liquids, deep freezing and ambient temperature variation.

While no 12 Volt Refrigerator test environment can be perfect, the following table will allow you to establish an average base line for your own 12v fridge freezer power consumption.

From a study done by 12 Volt Blog

12 Volt Refrigerator Size in Liters Lowest use: Colder ambient temps in Winter time Average power use: Moderate ambient temps High Power Use: High ambient temps in Summer time
30-50 Liter 12v Fridge 25 Ah 35 Ah 45 Ah
50 to 70 Liter 12v Fridge 35 Ah 45 Ah 55 Ah
Over 70 Liter 12v Fridge 45 Ah 65 Ah 85 Ah

How many Amps does a 12 volt refrigerator use?

Some 12v fridge freezer models features compressors that use as little as 2 Amps while others use 4 to 6 Amps.

One Amp hour (Ah) is the amount of current a battery provides in one hour.

A 60 watt 12 volt refrigerator freezer uses up to about 5 amps while the compressor motor is running.

Watts \  Volts = Amps, so, 60 Watts divided by 12 Volts = 5 Amps.

Variable speed 12v fridge compressors can adjust to power use needs in real time and therefore use less power.

Factors determining 12 Volt Refrigerator power consumption

While running amps are a determining factor in daily 12 Volt Refrigeration power consumption, It’s important to know the other factors influencing how many Ah your particular 12v fridge freezer uses.

  • What’s the ambient temperature of the environment the fridge is running in?
    • If it’s very hot, your 12v refrigerator compressor will run more often, using more power to maintain internal temperature.
    • If the ambient temp is very low, your fridge might only run for a few seconds every hour, using very little power in a 24 hour period.How much power does a 12v fridge use Vansage 12v Dometic fridge
  • What’s the quality of the insulation and construction of the fridge?
    • Some 12 volt refrigerators have very efficient insulation and tight door seal construction and that helps them stay colder longer with less compressor run time and therefore use less amps.
  • How often is the door opened, and for how long?
    • When you open your 12 Volt Refrigerator door, the outside air rushes in, causing the internal temperature to rise and triggering the thermostat to start the compressor, using more power.
    • During the night time or when you’re not opening the fridge often, the internal temperature will remain stable and the compressor will run less, using less Amps.

Again, we’ve provided a table showing how much power a 12 volt fridge uses, above.

See best 12 Volt Refrigerator reviews and available products

Learn about the best 12 Volt Fridge Freezers for Campervans currently available like the best 12v fridges from Dometic, Iceco, Costway, Edgestar, ARB and more.

You can find that article at: 12 Volt Refrigerator Freezers for Efficient, Safe Campervan Food Storage


We’ve answered more questions about 12 Volt Refrigerators

Thanks for reading.

Please comment below with any questions or 12 volt refrigeration experiences you’d like to share.

  1. Jason Chapman
    | Reply

    Firstly of all if ads were applied like your website does it , people wouldn’t complain. A van selling ad popped up, I read it and found it not relevant to me as I am trying to go off grid on my sailing yacht, I have 6 90ah agm giving me 540ah storage and right now 4 100w panels and a 913 wind turbine but I’m also going to build a gantry that I can fit 2 or 3 more 100w panels. I am no expert by any means, like most people we visit sites like yourselves. I must say your plain English and straightforward language was most refreshing and I offer you some kudos, and thanks. My problem is buying a small energy efficient compressor refrigerator that fits the spot in my galley. Right now I am on hook up on land in a cradle but I want full off grid asap. So your info was most helpful, still don’t know a cheap way of getting one yet. I may email waeco and ask if they have any scratched ones etc lol. Best wishes Jay.

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