Dometic vs Thetford: 3 Way Caravan Fridges

Thetford and Dometic are the big players in 3 way fridges, but which one should you choose for your caravan?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let's go back to basics. 3 way fridges (also known as a absorption fridges) got their name because they can run on either 12/24-volt, 240-volt or LPG gas. Rather than using a compressor, a 3 way fridge uses a gas flow heat exchange system in the back of the fridge. In other words, they remove the heat rather than create the cold.

There are lots of benefits to 3 way fridges:

  • 3-ways fridges give you the convenience of choosing which power to run from. If you are on the road and away from mains power for long periods (and don't want to invest in solar), this is your best option.

  • They tend to have a longer lifespan than their compressor fridge counterparts, because you don't need to worry about the compressor failing. 3-way fridges can last 20+ years compared to 10-15 for compressor fridges.

  • 3-way fridges run extremely efficiency on gas - so they're a great bet if you want to camp for longer periods. You can a 3 way fridge on a 9kg gas bottle for around 3 weeks (approx.).

  • 3-ways fridges don't make a sound - there's no compressor.

3 Way Fridges for Recreational Vehicles


So, which 3-way fridge brand should you choose? Dometic or Thetford?

Let's take a look at how they measure up in our Dometic vs Thetford 3-way fridge comparison:


Initial Overall Fridge Considerations:

The first thing you want to look at is size. Both brands have various sizes ranging from 90 litres to 224 litres. But when it comes to Dometic vs Thetford, Dometic has a greater range overall. That said, Thetford has a popular slimline model which is only 418mm wide compared to the standard 525mm, but the volume is still substantial with 140-litre fridge and a 15-litre freezer. The height is also increased to 1500 mm to perfectly fit the standard height of the majority of the RVs.


Temperature Ratings:

The best way to compare Dometic vs Thetford fridge models is to use the European Union (CEN) fridge performance standard. Ideally, you want to look for a T Rating (tropical), which is designed and rated to work up to 43 degrees C.

This is where both brands come in neck and neck. All of the Dometic RM range and the Thetford Absorption Models of fridges are T rated. 


New Technology:

Another way to narrow down your options is to look at the latest models. Dometic offers a new RUA Absorption Series with a tropical rated cooling system which ensures excellent performance in both low and high ambient temperatures. This range is offered in two sizes:188L and 224L. Both models have a tall and narrow cabinet design, which allows for greater flexibility in the kitchen without compromising on valuable storage volume! For a smaller more compact option checkout the 153L.

3 Way Caravan Fridge: Dometic RUA Series Review


On the other hand, Thetford boasts the new T-Rated European N3000 refrigerators including the N4141 Slimline and the N4175 refrigerators. These are very popular due to their space saving features for RVs and have been developed to meet the heavy demands of the Australian market.


Warranty & Service Agents:

Both Thetford and Dometic both offer a 3-year warranty on their 3-way fridges. But if we're going to get into the details (this is a battle, after all), Dometic has a slightly more extensive service agents than Thetford. This means if something goes wrong, Dometic provides a slightly higher chance of finding a local service agent.



If appearance matters, Dometic has the edge over Thetford. Some Dometic 3-way fridges do not have an exterior door skin. Instead, the door is silver-coloured coated sheet steel, with black plastic trim. You can then fit a laminate panel or ply to the door to seamlessly complement your RV interior décor. Thetford fridges come with a sleek black finish for a modern clean look. 

-Other features and considerations:

Still can't decide whether on Dometic vs Thetford? Time to get into the smaller details:

  • Both brands have models with either a manual changeover between gas and electric or AES (auto energy selection)

  • Both have quality venting and fluing kits available as accessories to ensure optimal performance and installation

  • Dometic has more 3-way absorption models available in larger array of sizes


Still can't decide?

Consider the price and shipping costs to your location. Plus, look out for bonus items often offered with our Upright Absorption Fridge Range to help you make your decision! We also have an array of customer review videos on our My Generator Site and My Generator YouTube Channel.

3 Way Caravan Fridge Review, Dometic RM2350



Absorption 3 way refrigerators need to be installed and certified by a qualified and licensed gas-fitter, as improperly or illegally installed products will void the manufacturer's warranty and could pose a safety risk.

While 3 way absorption fridges have the ability to run off 3 different power sources (12V / 240V / Gas), they are primarily designed with gas operation in mind; they provide exceptional efficiency when running on gas. However for 12 Volt operation, this is only recommended with absorption fridges when the vehicle is running, otherwise it can exhaust your 12 volt power source (battery) very quickly.

Need further assistance? Give one of our friendly team members a call on 1300 400 122!


DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.

2 thoughts on Dometic vs Thetford: 3 Way Caravan Fridges

16 April 2020
I have a Dometic RMD 8555 fridge in my Franklyn Arrow van and the lowest inside temperature I can achieve is 8*c in the main compartment and -6*c in the freezer. This is regardless of gas or AC operation, full or empty or time of year. 12 months ago, a Dometic service agent acknowledged this as a fault and arranged a replacement of the entire cooling unit under warranty, although the fridge was two months outside the 3yr warranty period - hats off to Dometic for this. The service agent also noted that the fridge had been installed with insufficient insulation in the van cavity and also suggested fan forced exhaust ventilation to improve efficiency. All this has been done and I have gained a full 2*C inside (Down from 10*C to 8*C) and an additional 3*C in the freezer (Down from -3*C to -6*C). It should also be noted that these temperatures are only achieved after 5 days running on AC, or 4 days on gas. All attempts to get advice from Dometic since the initial overhaul have been ignored. Some caravaners I have spoken to tell me this typical but it just doesn't seem right to me. Do you have any advice on this matter or should i just replace the fridge and hope for the best? Regards Jim

My Generator Response
Hi Jim, If you have followed the advice of a dometic service agent and have not seen any improvement then you will need to contact the service agent and have the issue diagnosed and inspected. If the product falls out of warranty that will be up to Dometic and the service agent if they are prepared to repair or not. If you are in the market for a new fridge, perhaps check out our range of Compressor fridges that can be run on battery, solar and 240V. We are finding a lot of customers making the switch from absorption to compressor. Thanks.

20 October 2019
Nothing on earth can create cold. Physics dictates all that can be done is heat can be removed.

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