RV refrigerators operate differently than your residential fridge at home.  Learn what to expect, how to operate it, and a few tips on how to get the most out of your fridge.  (Models may vary from pictures and location of components, but overall operations, tips and maintenance are the same)

Standard Dometic RV Refrigerator Operations, Tips and Tricks


Step 1: Operation

  • On the top panel of your fridge (locations may vary on model) you will see several buttons.   The on/off button turns the refrigerator off and on.
  • The Auto Button, if on indicated by the auto light, will allow the refrigerator to swap between electric or propane.  It will use which ever option is available.  Primarily it will choose electric if you are plugged in and automatically swap to propane if 110-volt power is lost or unplugged.
  • The Check light will indicate and issue with the function of either electric or propane.  These failures and remedies are explained below.

Step 2: Electric Operation

  • When in electric the unit will only use 110-volt power to cool the refrigerator.  This involves sending power from the electrical outlet to the board and then to the heating elements on the back of the fridge.
  • The check light indicates a fault from either the electric or propane option.
  • Things to check on Electric:
    • Check the breakers that supply power to the power pole the camper is plugged into as well as check the power at the pole itself to ensure the plug is emitting power.
    • Check your interior breaker panel on the inside of the camper to ensure no breakers are tripped.
    • Pull the cover off the exterior behind the fridge and check the 110-volt outlet the fridge is plugged into.  This can be checked easily by plugging a phone charger or hair dryer to confirm operation.
    • If these steps do not remedy the issue, you should bring your unit to a dealer and have them further diagnose

Step 2Electric Operation

  • Propane operation will take propane from your tanks to a gas valve that will open up near an igniter that will spark and ignite a flame to heat the tube generating the operation to cool your fridge.
  • The check light indicates a fault from either the electric or propane option.
  • Things to check on Propane:
    • Common issues arise if the unit has just been pulled from storage and the propane has been turned off, there could be air in the lines.
    • Locate your gas stove top and light a burner and allow it to burn until you get a crisp blue flame and not an orange popping flame.  If you need more help with this task refer to our video regarding bleeding air out of your propane system.  
    • After bleeding the propane, it may take several attempts at cycling the fridge through the propane option before all the air is eliminated from the system.
  • If you have checked these items and still have a check light issue, then you may check the operation of the following:
    • When on Propane ensure the fridge is trying to ignite.
    • Remove the back cover of the fridge, being cautious that items may be hot, and also be aware of the electrical hazards.
    • You will see the gas valve to the right side.  When initiating the propane option by either turning the auto button off or unplugging the power from electric.  You should then hear the igniter trying to spark and light the gas.  You will hear it tick several times and try to ignite then pause.  The unit will make an attempt 3 times before going into fault.
    • If these steps do not remedy the issue, you should bring your unit to a dealer and have them further diagnose it.

Step 3: 12-Volts

  • Your refrigerator also needs 12 volts to operate.  Although it is not the source used for the actual cooling operation, it does control the actual functions of the board and tells the refrigerator what to do.
  • Having a good 12 volts is necessary for the efficient operation of the refrigerator.
  • In the event the refrigerator will not turn on at all then you should first check the 12-volt blade fuses located near the breaker panel.  If all the fuses show to be good check your battery power to ensure you are above 12-volts.
  • If you cannot find a failure in the 12-volt system, bring the unit to the dealer for further diagnostics.

Step 4: Tips 

  • Your fridge will take up to 12 hours to get to final temperature.  To help your fridge continue to cool and stay efficient, cool off any items you plan to put in the fridge.
  • When putting items in the fridge leave a 1” gap from the back wall so air can circulate through the back and provide better cooling.
  • After a trip and you are ready to store your unit, turn the fridge off and defrost the freezer.  Any ice that was built up in the freezer will melt and the water must be removed from the base of the freezer.  There is no drain for the freezer, if the water is left in, it will leak out past the gasket causing damage to the wood surrounding the fridge.
  • Also, wipe down the lower box of the unit to remove any moisture and store the unit with both doors cracked up to prevent any moisture build-up inside and leaving mold or mildew to develop.

For a better understanding of how to manually override your Schwintek Slide, check out this video:

This content is not a legal standard or regulation, and does not create any new legal obligation.  It is advisory in nature, informational in content, and is intended to assist and educate consumers in the use and enjoyment of their recreational vehicles.  Great American RV Superstores does not hereby make any warranty, express or implied, and does not assume any liability with respect to the use of, or damages resulting from the use of any information, method or process included in this content.