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Convert Your RV Icebox To A Refrigerator (And Vice Versa)

This post was updated on March 15th, 2024

There are a variety of ways to keep food cold while on the road.  Some RVers want the convenience of their modern refrigerator, while some want the simplicity of not having to rely on power or fuel and don’t mind picking up a few pounds of ice.

Each choice has merit, but sometimes the RV doesn’t reflect what we want or need.  With some simple changes, an icebox can become a fridge and a fridge can become an icebox.

Convert an icebox into a refrigerator

Some older RVs may not have had a refrigerator installed, the original refrigerator is no longer working or was replaced with an icebox.  Newer RV refrigerators are usually 3-way and run on AC power, DC power, or propane.

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However, some RVers might not be comfortable towing or driving their RV with the propane on.  This is a simple fix with an icebox conversion kit.


The Norcold SCQT Conversion Kit is just one way to convert an existing icebox into a 12/24 volt DC and 120 volt AC fridge.  No propane lines need to be installed, which can make some basic DIYers nervous.

The “Norcolder” runs quietly and can turn a 6 cubic food icebox into a small fridge.  The kit also includes the copper tubing that places the compressor away from the icebox.  A ventilator is also built into the compressor unit.

Photo by Meerkat Trailers Northwest

If you have no intention of using campground hookups, Frigibar sells a 12-volt only icebox conversion kit.  This kit is primarily for boats but still works for side or top entry iceboxes.

The “Lectriciceman” can keep larger 12 and 15 cubic feet boxes super cold.  The conversion kit will draw an average of 2.0 amps from a deep cycle battery.  Another conversion kit and a handy installation video are available from Engel.

Convert a refrigerator into an icebox

For RVers who don’t stay at campgrounds with hookups, having an icebox might be a better decision.  Ice can be picked up at nearly any gas station, campground, and convenience store.  In addition, converting an RV refrigerator into an icebox is much simpler than converting an icebox into a refrigerator.

Photo via Wikipedia Commons
Wwikitom, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you have no intention of using the fridge again, cut off the end of the plug.  Since cold air from ice settles to the bottom of the fridge, use the upper compartment of the fridge or the freezer to hold the ice.  Cut a hole in the bottom of the freezer or upper compartment large enough to install a floor register used in a heating system.

This allows the cold air to drop into the lower compartment.  Find a watertight pan that fits inside the top compartment to hold the ice (block ice lasts longer).  To drain the melted ice, either take out the pan and dump it or install a drain that leads to the outside.  Keep your food in plastic containers for easy removal from the icebox.

See also: How To Make Your RV Fridge Magnetic