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Understanding How High Altitude And Temperatures Affect Your RV To Avoid Surprises

If you are new to RV camping, or have always camped locally, you could be in for a big surprise when you decide to go somewhere with a much higher altitude or temperature. You may find you have trouble with your generator and refrigerator. Here is some information to help make sure you are well prepared for your trip.


The coolant in an RV refrigerator needs to have cool air blowing across the coils to help it cool down after absorbing the heat from the food compartment. In high temperatures, anything constantly over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the coolant will not cool enough to keep the food inside from spoiling. A good way to avoid this problem is to have a fan blowing at the cooling unit.

In high altitudes, there is a problem with a lack of oxygen to keep a propane refrigerator working. The unit may shut off completely at any altitude over 5,000 feet. You have two choices to remedy this:

  1. Purchase and install a high altitude kit for the unit – or –
  2. Switch to electric power for the refrigerator

In addition to problems with the refrigerator, a propane stove may need to be switched to electric at high altitude. 

You can speak with an RV repair technician to find out if there is a kit available for your brand and model.


Temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit will cause a reduction in the power output of a generator. To limit this reduction, be sure to put the generator in a place that is open on all sides, You can use a fan to try and reduce the temperature of the unit. It is also important that you check the oil in the generator and use one that will flow freely but not be too thin at higher temperatures. A good choice would be 15W-40.

When you are going to be camping in an area without power, you are going to need to use the generator if you want to have lights and electricity to the RV. However, there will be a power reduction every 1,000 feet you go higher than 500 feet above sea level. If your unit can be adjusted for different altitudes, be sure to change it once you reach your destination. If you do not have the ability to make adjustments, contact a service technician to see if he or she can install one in your unit.

Knowing what may happen on your trip allows you to prepare for any problems so your excursion will be as enjoyable as possible. If you are not sure how to make any adjustments to keep things running properly, talk with an RV repairperson before leaving. He or she can make the necessary adjustments or tell you of other ways to resolve the problems.

Check out a company like Central Body Co Inc to learn more about RV maintenance.