The Bus #BusLife

#BusLife – Tell us about your RV fridge!

The ultimate crew base camp

Note – this is not our fridge. No way I would waste beer space on 4L of soda!!!

When we ordered our Norcold 410 RV fridge I was more than a little nervous. Not because of the size – I knew that I could deal with a small fridge – but because of the cooling capacity. Would we have enough energy to keep things cool? Would the freezer be totally lame, à la my college dorm minifridge freezer? My feelings were especially impacted by the big price tag – at $1,010.06, this baby was one of our biggest purchases.

My second bout of nervousness came when our RV contractor pointed out that I’d installed the vents wrong… the upper vent was about 6″ too low. Damn. He cautioned us that it’s really important that these things have enough ventilation, and then told us we’d probably be fine if we added an electronic computer fan to help facilitate the airflow.

After all that, I needn’t have worried. This RV fridge is a total workhorse and it has been awesome so far. Here are the details:

Is there enough room for all of your food?
Yes! But I think it depends on how you shop. I’ve always been more of a European shopper, preferring to visit the grocery store at least once a week and often again to refill on produce – I love the fresh stuff! If you’re making a monthly trip to Costco to buy the double gallons of milk, this will not work for you.

At the beginning of the week our rv fridge typically looks something like this:

  • Two bags salad
  • Some combo of loose veggies: bell peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, avocado
  • 2-3 blocks, bags, tubs of cheese
  • 1/2 gallon of whole milk
  • 1 pint of half n half
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • Fish Sauce, Soy Sauce, Sriracha, Better than Bullion, Mayo, Jelly, Butter, Syrup, Mustard, Salad Dressing, BBQ Sauce
  • A jar of leftover pasta sauce
  • 2 packages of deli meat
  • 1 meal’s worth of chicken, pork, or beef
  • a few miscellaneous sausages
  • 1 gallon of water (which sometimes gets kicked out for a growler of beer)
  • 6 pack of beer (cans are easier to store)
  • Frozen raviolis
  • Frozen salmon filets
  • Frozen hamburger
  • 1 pint of ice cream

You get the idea – there’s a lot going on in there. It all fits, with some superior organization skills.

How is the freezer?
The freezer is great. It freezes meats, ice cubes, ice creams… you name it. There’s a good amount of room in there too, more than you would expect! I’ve hated “in fridge freezers” before, but this one is in a class of its own.

How is it powered?
This RV fridge is a combo: it can run on either 110v electric or propane. We almost went full electric, but I’m so glad we sprung for the propane. We only power the fridge on electric power while we’re driving, which usually means we’re in full sun and can take full advantage of our solar panel setup. However, the fridge draws so much power that we can only keep up in the most ideal solar conditions. The propane, on the other hand, is super efficient. We turn on the propane whenever we’re stopped for more than a few minutes. To give you an idea, our 25 gallon propane tank powers the fridge, stove, water heater, and furnace. We use all very liberally, and the tank lasts about a month and a half before we need to fill it again. Not bad!

What if you lose power?
There have been a few occasions where we’ve forgotten to turn the propane on or not had enough reserve in the batteries to run it on electric while driving at night. Fortunately for us, this thing is incredibly well insulated and can go several hours (if you keep the door shut) without losing its cool. I keep a tub of ice cream in the freezer to help gauge how long we’ve been without power. 😉

What are you wondering about?
Is there an aspect of #buslife that you’re especially curious about? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll answer next Thursday!

Are you thinking about converting a bus?

If so, make sure to check out our Big Bus Shopping List! It has everything you’ll need, from toilets to light switches, to do your own conversion. Check it out »

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  • Jay

    I love your ice-cream gauge idea. Might need to implement that in our apartment freezer. You know, just in case.

  • Dale Borgeson

    It would seem to me that the biggest challenge would be to keep the ice cream tester consistently on hand. Once I know I have ice cream, it’s calling my name all too often.

  • Dale Borgeson

    Love the caption for the frig photo!

  • Dale Borgeson

    Alyssa & Will,
    I was thinking about Hilde and her shedding in your confined space. Is that an issue, or it is just a fact of f life that doesn’t bother you?

    • Dale, that is the perfect subject for next week’s reader question! Thank you! 🙂

  • Kelly Lynne

    Hi Alyssa & Will,
    We love reading your blog and following along! We too are living on the road, but in a utility trailer we converted into a living space (Our blog is We also have two big dogs who go with us EVERYWHERE! When you travel, have you found any good online resources to know whether the area you’re going to is very dog-friendly? So far we’ve been stumped by national parks who don’t let dogs on trails, even on leash, and of course it’s hit or miss on the town we’re in whether its an area that’s receptive to dogs. We have utilized BringFido but it’s so bogged down with ads it’s not always the best. Anyway, we’d love any tips if you have any!

    Thanks and we look forward to continuing to follow along! 🙂

    • Hi Kelly, thanks for writing in! I’ll have to check out your blog, converted utility trailer is new to me! Sounds very cool. I’m going to do “living & traveling with dogs” as this week’s reader question. Thanks again! 🙂

  • More perfect timing on so many things. We’re currently in NJ crashing at my parents’ house. Before we leave here we’re – finally – going to turn on the fridge and properly stock our fridge, freezer + pantry before we head off to New England. I’m eager to finally have fresh food within my reach – and to see what we really end up cooking + eating while on the road.

    I saw that you mentioned you’ll be sharing some dog tips in a future post. Perfect! Our Boston Terrier mix isn’t much of a nuisance aside from his penchant for rolling in all sorts of dead animals and their poop. The Chow/Husky mix, however, apparently sheds hair just while sitting. I’m currently just sweeping/swiffering pretty much every day, which ultimately isn’t that much of a hassle given we’re only in a 30 footer. But I’m always curious to see how other people manage their pups + if I’m missing out on something totally revolutionary or terribly obvious that I’ve not clued into.

    • Stocking the kitchen is one of my favorite things! I don’t think I have any revolutionary dog tips… but we’ll see! Thanks for reading! 🙂

  • Karli Miller-Hornick

    Hey Alyssa and Will,
    I’m curious to learn more about your heating system, solar system, and internet setup! Would love to learn more about how it all works!


  • Joey

    I’ve been wondering a lot about your fridge, actually! Thanks for writing this.

    Quick question- I remeber reading in an earlier post that you had to cover up a window in order to accommodate the fridge vent. Would it be possible to add some sort of duct work that would allow the vent to be installed right below the window?

    Thanks again for sharing!

    • Will Hitchcock

      Hey Joey. Ya, that would probably be possible, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You’d probably need to have a fan in there running 24/7 to keep the exhaust fumes moving down and out toward the vent. The reason they recommend you have that vent so high is that if you don’t have that constant airflow you’re going to have exhaust getting caught in the high point of the duct and leaking back into inside. That would be a big carbon monoxide risk.

      • Joey

        Gotcha. Thanks so much for the quick reply! This has been a huge question of mine for a while.