3 way fridges

Submitted: Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 13:23
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I am a new boy to this page & need some advice on the purchase of a 3 way fridge.Due to limited space I am considering buying a Finch 35 litre 3 way. As is always the way there are good & bad reports about these. The retailer says they are the ducks guts & a particular after market shop in our area says they are a useless nightmare. I realise these are not a freezer but due to areas of travel I really need the option of using gas...Any comments would be great
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Reply By: Jon - '88 TD42 GQ - Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 13:26

Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 13:26
Haven't had personla expereince but the general opinion seems to be that they are good on the gas but that on 12V they are extremely inefficient. Therefore if you use them on 12V a lot they are poor performers. You'd probably be better off with 2 batteries and a solar panel with a regular 12V fridge. Personlly I don't like to carry more gas containers that I absolutely have to.

As usual, depends what you want to do with it.

AnswerID: 47711

Reply By: Roachie - Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 13:56

Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 13:56
Having owned a 3 way fridge before (and I still have one in the Ultimate Camper too), I would not recommend one as your main fridge. They are very tempramental; need to be just about dead level (use a spirit level); are only good for about 25 degrees below ambient temp and are extremely thirsty on 12V.
I'd love to know why you say "but due to the areas I travel I really need the option of using gas"???
What areas do you travel in that would preclude you from using a well-made and efficient 12 volt fridge? Any of the Waeco, Engel, etc would suit your needs I should imagine. If you are worried about not being able to charge batteries due to extended periods of camping in the one spot, then there are solutions like solar panels, a Christie battery charger or a generator etc.
I will give the 3-ways their due however, if you are going to be camped somewhere for a reasonable period of time (say by a river for a week or 2) and the temperatures are likly to be in the 20 to 30 degree range, the 3-way will be quite okay.
I just find them a bit too finiky to be bothered with. One other trick if you have one, is to get them real cold overnight before travelling the next day and running on 12volts. The 12 volt system will not work as well, but if the fridge is nice and cold to start with, you'll have a reasonable chance of keeping the beers cold for that much-needed drinky at the end of the day.
Good luck
AnswerID: 47715

Reply By: flappan - Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 14:07

Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 14:07
Haven't used a Finch , only a Chescold , similar set up . . . and what has been posted above is about my experience.

240/Gas very good , In my opinion beats the proper 12v fridges , but on 12v . . . waste of time.

AnswerID: 47718

Reply By: ian - Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 14:53

Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 14:53
I have a Finch and a Waeco.
Finch is only useful for camping in one spot, put on gas and forget. Gets cold enough to freeze drinks, even in very warm weather, so my experience is a little different.

Waeco is for touring, one or two nights in each place,

BUT you need a second battery with either, and particularly with a Finch type fridge which will flatten a battery in only a few hours.

If I had to choose one only, waeco / engel wins hands down, no question
AnswerID: 47723

Reply By: Mike - Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 15:44

Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 15:44
Mark, I suggest you do a lot of research on this one so you can be completely satisfied. I have only ever used 3 way fridges myself. I chose that option because of being able to run off gass when staying in one spot for a while. Pros and cons will vary according to what you wish to use the fridge for. If wired up adequately and ventilated properl, the 3 way will work perfectly well on 12v while travelling. The only problem I have experienced is that on longer runs they have been inclined to freeze up, due to the fact that they are not thermostatically controlled while on 12v. It is good advice to get them cold before leaving on your trip but that is not a hasle. 6mm twin core wiring of the most direct route from the battery is a minimum requirement. LOL
Happy camping,
AnswerID: 47730

Reply By: Groove - Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 17:07

Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 17:07
I have owned a chescold 3 way and a Waeco.

3 way fridge
A 4kg gas bottle would last for weeks great if camping in one spot set and forget.
No thermostat so sometimes things would freeze when you dont want them to especially overnight.
12 volt performance very poor especially when bumping around in the back of a 4wd. They like to be level.

Much more efficient, thermostat control avoids freezing. Must have a second battery. If planning to stay in one spot others have mentioned the use of solar but this adds significant expense.


AnswerID: 47739

Reply By: marklynn - Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 17:22

Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 17:22
Me again.Just to provide a bit more info, which probably should have been given at the begining. Have a Nissan Navara diesel towing a Cavalier Camper. Nissan is set up with solenoid charging to a deep cycle 12 v battery in the camper. Back of the Nissan has a 12v outlet to allow fridge to be plugged in while travelling. Camper also has 240 v facility. Primarily wanted the 3 way so that gas could be used when camped as opposed to the heavy demand on the 12v..Hence the question specifically regarding the Finch fridge..Hope the extra info clears the issue a bit
AnswerID: 47743

Reply By: The Banjo - Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 17:24

Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 17:24
There are a lot of posts here on this topic.....I will be staying with 3 way, because of the gas run while camped....that is a winner for me......and, as stated above, it runs quite well on 12 volt while mobile and maintains chilled tucker until the next stop. I never need to keep food frozen solid for long periods so I'm happy.I need red sand under me.
AnswerID: 47744

Reply By: Eric from Cape York Connections - Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 18:17

Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 18:17
Inmy opinion and we have owned a chescold 3 way. Good for running on gas and in the one spot but as 4wd on the move fridge they make really good boat anchors once filled with cement.

All the best

www.capeyorkconnections.com.auCape York Connections
AnswerID: 47747

Reply By: Brad - Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 20:28

Monday, Feb 23, 2004 at 20:28
Have a Chescold (now Dometic) in my camper (Ultimate) purchased 12 months ago. I believe this was a relatively new model which was rated for tropical conditions. Also has a small 12v fan (not dometic but installed by Ultimate) blowing over the back of the fridge.
Had a lot of advice predicting the worst , but....performance on gas (and 240v) is awesome - freezes my vegetables all the time !
Agree with above comments on 12v - Ultimate set it up so it can only draw 12v while 4wd engine is running. Can't comment on performance on rough roads (have an Engel in the 4wd to take up the slack).
AnswerID: 47772

Reply By: Member Colin - NSW Bungendore - Tuesday, Feb 24, 2004 at 12:13

Tuesday, Feb 24, 2004 at 12:13
I have used both 3 way and compresser types - they really shouldn,t be compared as they serve different functions.

I have a Sadec 3 way which is more than 20 years old and works great for my requirements - bush camping in a vehicle where space/weight is at a premium ie. no chargers solar panels dual batteries ect.

A 3 way frig on 12 V needs a heavy cable direct from battery, computer fan for circulation and I have covered my frig with HD foil backed with self adhesive foam (fron Clark Rubber) for better insulation. They use a very small amount of gas.

On our last trip to the CSR in 3 Subarus, we had a frig in each car (my 3 way and 2 engels) used for different roles. One Engel was a freezer and my 3 way was used for every day food bread milk etc. All our meat was vacumn packed and frozen before leaving home - steak was stll OK after 3 weeks (defrosted by then).
The guys using the Engels also had solar panels attached to the roof rack which meant hey had to park the car in the sun !! - Catch22 - charging the battery but heating up the inside of the car.

So it's 'different strokes for different folks' - both types are good.

Subaru Forester
"size isn't everything"
AnswerID: 47862

Reply By: Member - Oskar(Bris) - Tuesday, Feb 24, 2004 at 14:42

Tuesday, Feb 24, 2004 at 14:42
Getting sick of this thread yet?????
Here's my 2 bob's worth....
We have both types of fridges depending on what we are doing.
One thing that is a bit different to other posts however is that I tried the 3 way through my inverter while on the road and found that it performed better in the car on 240V than it did on straight 12V.
On the highway the fridge temp gets down to about -3 to -5degC or so but climbs to +5 to +8 deg C off road (according to the digital thermometer).
I realise that there are efficiency issues through the inverter but that was only while we were driving not while stopped so it didn't really matter.
The 3 way on gas is great when camping for a while.
oskarThe real oskar
AnswerID: 47880

Reply By: Willykj - Tuesday, Feb 24, 2004 at 17:02

Tuesday, Feb 24, 2004 at 17:02

I have a 3 way Finch & it does a great job. Get it cold on 240v before leaving home. In vehicle it is wired to battery & holds temperature - no problem, Very good on gas.

AnswerID: 47899

Reply By: Member - Alex B - Wednesday, Feb 25, 2004 at 07:58

Wednesday, Feb 25, 2004 at 07:58
Hi Marklynn - gets confusing doesn't it?!
Cheryle & I camped around Oz for 10 months using our Chescold 3 way - It was great!

When camped & running on gas we had to turn it down so as not to freeze items and we never had to run it whilst driving during the day. I installed the 12volt wiring before we left and only used it once! (and this was up north.)

People say they are a bugger to balance etc... takes 5 seconds with a small $2 spirit level or with a tennis ball etc - what’s the rush?

Alex B

AnswerID: 47980

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