Fridge thoughts

Submitted: Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 14:26
ThreadID: 133137 Views:4353 Replies:17 FollowUps:22
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Hi all, just wondering if anyone packs their fridge with frozen goods, to use solely as a freezer, and rotates a couple of blocks of ice for an esky.
Was thinking if this idea works ok, in the morning, take out whatever frozen stuff your going to have for dinner that night, and put it in the esky to help keep it cold. Have 2 or three containers with ice, and rotate one at a time to re freeze. Does this sound reasonable, with out forking out coin for a second fridge? Thoughts please.. Cheers Odog
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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 14:35

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 14:35
Unfortunately it sounds good but doesn't work in practice.

There are a couple of problems.
1)A freezer uses about 3 times the power of a fridge. So that battery that would last about 24 - 30 hours with a fridge will last about 8 - 10 hours with that same fridge set as a freezer.

2)That wouldn't be so bad, if you could run the fridge as a freezer while driving, and freeze the ice containers while driving then transfer them across as you say. The problem is that even if you drive 8 hours a day the containers won't have time to freeze. properly. You need at least about 2 days to make good cold ice blocks.

Sorry
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Follow Up By: Member - Roachie - Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 15:20

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 15:20
Sorry to disagree.....

We used to do EXACTLY what the OP was saying back in the 90s when on long trips (eg: Cape York).

I had twin aux batteries in the back of my Patrol, powered by a DC-DC charger.

The drinks etc stayed in the esky and were kept cold by the frozen meat and an ice brick which were transferred to the esky in the morning. One important thing to do is to replace the contents of the freezer each day. This could be done with water in a bladder etc. The reason is that a fridge or freezer does NOT like trying to keep AIR cold.....far better to pack stuff in that can be frozen.

Having said that, we were always on a time limit on our long trips (usually 4 weeks maximum at a time), so our traveling day started early and finished around 4pm. We found that was plenty of time to allow the freezer to regain its low temp and re-freeze the ice brick and any extra water or whatever by the end of the day.

I was using an Engel 40 litre fridge/freezer and had it set below the maximum freeze point.

Roachie
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 15:56

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 15:56
Well there you go Roachie.

Other than small ice cubes, I have never been able to get enough ice with a days driving, even freezing blocks to keep the fridge full. You would have to definitely move daily to have a hope of making it working.

I still maintain that you need to be really prepared with the freezer.
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 16:47

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 16:47
An option that we’ve found useful is to use a single fridge with a rough divider between the frozen stuff in the bottom, and the non-frozen above the divider. Pre-frozen meals, or meat etc survive well for at least a couple of weeks in the bottom of the fridge where the cold air pools and by restricting air circulation there’s not much heat leakage into that area. The fridge must be wound up close to maximum cooling so does draw a little extra power, but a lot less than a second fridge would. Because it isn’t trying to achieve maximum cooling for the whole volume, it isn’t a huge work load either. With a little experimenting you can have frozen meals in the bottom, salad makings and a cold beer above. Does require common sense of course, like moving tonight’s meal from the “freezer” compartment to the fridge section to thaw so as to make use of the “coolth”, and loading tomorrow’s beer in the morning when it’s coolest rather than at the end of today when it’s at it’s hottest. On occasions we’ve had to allow 2 or 3 days for frozen meat to thaw in the “fridge” section, or to move tonight’s meat out of the fridge to thaw (what a waste of cold!).
As Roachie says, fridges don’t like cooling air. One of the advantages of keeping them full is simply restricting air circulation. This divider arrangement restricts air movement.
Cheers

John
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Follow Up By: Member - Odog - Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 18:54

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 18:54
I like that idea John, I have heard of even just put an old towel (clean one) over what's in the fridge, which helps to keep everything cold. What would be best to use as a divider between freeze area and fridge? Maybe I'll throw a tea towel over the top of every thing. Thanks for suggestion. Cheers Odog
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Follow Up By: Member - John - Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 19:36

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 19:36
O Dog, for the divider, cut up a camping mattress, the ones that are about 12mm thick, perfect.
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 07:24

Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 07:24
Odog, I think the towel probably works simply by restricting air movement. We've used whatever came to hand.....like the empty weetbix box, tops off egg cartons, etc. You don't need a perfect seal for this system to work well

John and Jan's camping mattress material should be good too, though it uses up some valuable space. Also you need to reduce circulation rather than stop it completely so that material may be just too effective!

Cheers

John
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Follow Up By: Member - Jack - Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 11:30

Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 11:30
Works fine for us. We use the 'John and Val' method of separating the deep frozen stuff. I use a pre-cut piece of faom board. We can eat ice cream in the warmer climates. We have two Engels. One for normal and one to freeze. Solar panels keep the whole thing chugging along without dramas.
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Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 16:41

Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 16:41
Did the same as Roachie for a long long time , then went to the two fridge route , needs a lot of power to run 1 as fridge and another as freezer , now just use the one old 15lt Engel , that little sucker will freeze / refreeze a 2lt stubby [short in stature] ex fruit juice bottle filled with water in the time it takes to get from home to the nearest supermarket [ 125klm ] where then that frozen bottle goes into the IceKool eski for the drive home ,, Have never had to buy a bag of ice since 2002 using the 'baby' Engel as a freezer ….
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Saturday, Aug 06, 2016 at 07:21

Saturday, Aug 06, 2016 at 07:21
As mentioned in other posts, cryovacing food to be kept at fridge temps lasts for many weeks, if not months.
I used to run my 45lt fridge at about -1 / -2, it cycles from -3 to 1, and with zip locked frozen bags around the outside, beer and general food inside, this lasts a good fortnight safely as it defrosts slowly.

I now have a Waeco cdf11 too, and on longer trips use this as a freezer.
It is small in size, but stacking meals food in order from the front to back, it holds a good 3 - 4 weeks of frozen meats for mains and bacon for the odd breaky.

Yes, these small fridge / freezers are frighteningly expensive for their size, but understandable, probably use same internal main components, or specially made smaller versions as their larger cousins.

I scored the Waeco 11lt (actual is 10.5lt) for $440, which is about the lowest cost as you will find.

Saw another from Bushman the other day, 15lt.
Bushman Roadie15
But at $895 it's getting hard to justify !!

Very hard to find sizes under 35lt to 40lt, and when you do they are relatively much more expensive than your typical 60lt.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Aug 06, 2016 at 11:10

Saturday, Aug 06, 2016 at 11:10
Hi Les,

I do much the same as you.... cryovacing etc. in my 35 litre Waeco but it was a tight squeeze.

I too then added a Waeco CDF11 as a console fridge running it as our freezer. As you say, it is surprising how much can be contained in that little fridge and be readily accessible. When our frozen food was at the bottom of the 35 litre combo fridge we had to burrow down through the overburden to gain access.

I did make a modification to the CDF11 as can be seen in the pic below. Taking my courage in both hands I used a holesaw to place a pair of openings in the lid to allow our stainless water flasks to sit on the 'shelf' within the fridge chamber and just penetrate sufficiently above the lid to easily grasp. The lid still operates normally with the flasks in position.

This now provides chilled drinking water at our fingertips and is an absolute blessing. Although the fridge is operating at minus 10 degrees the upper zone that the flasks sit in is not that cold and the water is at about +5 degrees. There would be some energy loss via the exposed necks of the flasks but not much, and it sure is worth it. I'll loan you the holesaw if you wish ;)
For those not familiar with this fridge, the incorporated bottle holders are not cooled.

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Saturday, Aug 06, 2016 at 12:35

Saturday, Aug 06, 2016 at 12:35
D@mn, nice mod Allen !!
I like it, but we have pretty good access to fridge water through the day (45lt in in cab too), so won't be quite as brave as you !! :)

I know what you mean re the top section of the cdf11, it must be about 0c up there, when the bottom is down less than -10c !!
When I first set it up to do Madigan the other month as a freezer, and tested at home, I tried some Mars ice creams up top, that didn't work out well, even at -15c !!

Everything down below the level with the plates top froze rock solid, testing on the Madigan showed -10c was more than enough, probably could have managed at -5c down there.

They are a great little fridge, once you get over the cost per litre in capacity !! :/
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Aug 06, 2016 at 17:20

Saturday, Aug 06, 2016 at 17:20
Yes Les, That temperature gradient seems common to all, if not most fridges with significantly warmer temperature above the top of the evaporator. A couple on here have even reported fitting a small fan in the cabinet to circulate the air and even-out the temperature.
In both our fridges I took advantage of the gradient. In the fridge unit operated nominally at +4 (measured halfway up the chamber) we find it useful to store contents at the appropriate level, e.g. salad stuff on top, bacon on the bottom.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Sunday, Aug 07, 2016 at 07:35

Sunday, Aug 07, 2016 at 07:35
Agree re all fridges and temp variations, and yes usually you can take advantage of this to place certain foods / drinks.

I'll possibly do this mod in the cdf11 one day, once I get it mounted permanently in the centre console area (oem console cut and shut required :)), and if so will come back to this post and start up here again to get some more info off you, for how the bottles all fit etc.

Cheer Allan.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Sunday, Aug 07, 2016 at 09:06

Sunday, Aug 07, 2016 at 09:06
Sure Les,
Flask size is 65mm dia. maximum and hole placement is critical.

Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: Member - mechpete - Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 16:13

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 16:13
Hi odog
I cryovac all my meat an never need to freeze any thing an currently in NT an tge packs of meat lasted 5 to 6 weeks then just top up along the way
Cheers mechpete
AnswerID: 603059

Reply By: Graeme B11 - Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 18:00

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 18:00
I have just completed a 6000 klm trip using two Engels one as fridge and one as freezer and if you need to freeze ice you put it in the bottom of the freezer and rotate each day you shouldn't have a problem when you are on the road . I have two large batteries in the back of my ute to power the Engels and they are kept charged when I am driving .Just make sure you have a good second battery and a means to keep it charged .Graemeb .
AnswerID: 603060

Reply By: The Goat - Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 19:05

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 19:05
Hello Mate.
This is exactly what the wife and i do.
We use our 65 ltr engel fridge freezer as just a freezer and like you said get large ish freezer blocks and rotate the coldest 6 in the morning.
Usually about 6 in the esky and 12 in the freezer rotating as i say in the morning and also take out of freezer what ever you are going to have for dinner...steak fish and it will partially or fully defrost by night.
I just keep milk butter bread ham and nibbles on bottom and freezer blocks on top with night meal on that.
We use a good esky as well but we have done this method for years in extreme temps just keep the esky out of direct sun with towels or such.
AnswerID: 603061

Reply By: Danny 1 - Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 20:16

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 20:16
Mate..
Bloody hard on batteries unless you are driving every day and who wants to do that??
Buy cryovaced meat or ifn you are going through towns every now and again go to your friendly butcher and buy it fresh..
Some people think that you can't buy good meat more than 100ks from a capital city..
Most of the red meat you buy will be killed in major cities,cryovaced and sent off to butchers and supermarkets..
Danny
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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 22:06

Wednesday, Aug 03, 2016 at 22:06
I have had a number of friends who do that - Run the engel on freeze and pull out the meat or the preprepared meal and pop it into an esky to keep the other stuff cold.
Works well through the winter. Can't see it doing too well in the heat of Kununurra in May.

We haven't gone that way. We like to decide dinner while sitting back at beer oçlock and like to cryovac the meat, so no real need for a freezer. And a freezer doubles your power consumption.
AnswerID: 603064

Reply By: Iza B - Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 06:56

Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 06:56
Friend has done this for years. 18 Litre Engel does the freezing, 80 Litre esky stores vegies and bread and the stuff that needs to stay cool but does not like below 5 Degrees C. Keeping 18 Litres frozen takes a lot less energy and he puts a thermal blanket over it to help.

Mate does not drink much and only has to remember to pop a couple of beers in the freezer at the last stop before camp. Otherwise, a couple of ice cubes in a long Scotch does the trick.

You can pack a weeks tucker in 18 Litres and leave plenty of space for ice and a beer or two.

Iza
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Reply By: GarryR - Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 07:09

Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 07:09
We turn our fridge into a freezer when we travel and have a small 15lt fridge inside the ute cabin. We freeze all our food into small bricks in plastic tubs, then take them out of the tub and vac pack then. this makes it easier to pack and keep frozen as well as not having to worry about empty containers. We even vac pack cheese ,salami etc to help keep fresh. We take out the evening meal an place into the fridge inside the ute to defrost. This helps keep the fridge cool, and rarely comes on. Normally we need to place the vac pack on the gamma oven ( bonnet)to finish defrosting while setting up camp. We have never had a problem keeping food frozen in the main fridge (freezer). There is normally enough food packed into the freezer for 6 weeks. We also keep 2 small freezer bricks with us, and rotate one every day. 1in the freezer and 1 in the small fridge.
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Reply By: vk1dx - Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 07:40

Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 07:40
A bit late on the scene - out of range.

We have two fridges with the smaller 20L used as a fridge. We have camped for three nights and no charging by any means. But we do have three batteries under the bonnet with one for cranking and normal car duties, and two in parallel for all all 4wd stuff, including the two fridges.

Works for us with meals (pre-cooked and uncooked) frozen and transferred to the fridge when needed to defrost.

Phil
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Reply By: Member - Ups and Downs - Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 09:09

Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 09:09
Similar to Roachie, we use a 40 litre Engel as a freezer, and a have a 68 litre fibreglass ice box. have done it for years, including one stint of 12 months and have just finished a 2 month trip.

I used to freeze plastic 2 litre milk containers but found that they would end up leaking due to the flexing when freezing/melting. Now use plastic storage containers 2 x 3 litre and 2 x 1.8 litre, one of each rotated daily. Apart from being stronger they have flat tops so we can store on that easier than the top of the milk containers.

The blocks of ice inside the containers are still half to three quarter frozen when taken out of the cooler in the morning.

Often the meat put in the cooler to thaw has to be taken out late afternoon as they are still frozen. I think you need a quality Esky to make it successful.

Paul
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Follow Up By: Member - Ups and Downs - Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 09:37

Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 09:37
For those posters who state that you would have to be driving most of the time to keep the batteries charged for using a freezer, I'd like to tell you about a new fangled invention.

They are called 'solar panels' and will, believe it or not, keep your batteries charged.
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Aug 07, 2016 at 10:37

Sunday, Aug 07, 2016 at 10:37
Yes indeed there are solar panels .. and they have never been so cheap.
But fat is most people even those with solar have barely enough capacity to run a 40 litre fridge reliably as a fridge without flogging their batteries.

Cheers
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 09:51

Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 09:51
Like Mechpete, I cryovac all of our meat and just keep it cool.
Never have needed a freezer.

We have a 40L Engel in the back of the vehicle and a 70L Waeco upright in the van.

Sometimes I take the Everkool Icebox for drinks and sometimes just use the Engel fridge for them.
Bill


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Reply By: gbc - Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 11:17

Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 11:17
All the engel owners trying to be evakool owners....... I had to take that cheap shot haha.
Seriously time to rethink your cooling requirements and get a fridge/freezer, and no, an evakool doesn't use twice or three times the power of an engel.
I can tell you as a serious beer drinker that using freezers (even in an evakool) to chill water (or hot beers) flogs the batteries. I would not recommend freezing water unless you are on the road every day in which case, fill your boots. Sitting in camp playing those games, however, is not my idea of fun.
Freeze what you need to freeze, rotate drinks into the fridge in short rotation (I only keep 8 beers cold and the rest in the cupboard. Take one out, put one in, same with soft drink and poppers). Fill the unused portion of the freezer with ice cubes for the rum. Nothing further your honour.
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Follow Up By: cookie1 - Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 12:10

Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 12:10
We only replace the beers in the morning just before heading off for the day thus saving the batteries.

cheers
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Follow Up By: Batt's - Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 16:05

Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 16:05
Another one with an Evakool best of both worlds and yes it freezes water very well I've had mine down to -23c in the freezer compartment but it usually runs around -15 to -18 without using 3 times the power which was a guess at best.

In saying that if you run the whole of your Evakool as a freezer and crank it up it will chew the power because it may not cycle and keep running also depends on ambient temp as well.
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Follow Up By: gbc - Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 16:40

Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 16:40
Yes, I open mine up and use the whole thing to deep freeze fish fillets sometimes. Pretty much need a genset to do it but she gets there. No solar panel is going to keep up with it like that though.
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Follow Up By: Member - Odog - Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 20:37

Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 20:37
Old mate, was telling me, went fishing with a group, staying in a pub at, think it was Whyalla or around that area in SA. One of the blokes had a van, they had all chipped in an brought a big chest freezer. Had a power lead, running out to the van, while staying in the pub.
To get back to Sydney, they had designated drivers, and did a pub crawl home, every time they pulled up at a pub, they would run the lead out to the van.. Thought it was a great idea... Be a slow trip home though... Said they got all the fish home, still frozen solid... Never a worry..
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Follow Up By: gbc - Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 20:49

Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 20:49
Back in the Fraser classic fishing comp days I'd put a tucker box freezer in the boat for the drive up the beach. We'd take it up full of IQF pillies and bring it home full of fillets. Ran the genny for 1.5 hrs morning and night and kept a strap around the lid. It wasn't a nice quiet inverter genny either, but 5 blokes fishing means you need to have industrial style cooling.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Aug 06, 2016 at 08:42

Saturday, Aug 06, 2016 at 08:42
Those old 150L Tuckerbox freezers would last 8-9 hours without power, in the right conditions.

Back in another life, Linda & I were living in a caravan on stations on the Barkly Tablelands. Were building "turkeys nests" and dams, so we were constantly on the move. We had 2 toddlers, and usually a couple of offsiders to feed so needed plenty of beef. We'd whack a killer late in the arvo, butcher it and spread this on an old stretcher to cool through the night.

Next day we'd cut it up, bag it, and start to fill the Tuckerbox. Usually ran the generator for 2-3 days non stop, until all the contents were frozen. Then it would take 4-6 weeks to eat it all.........and the process was repeated. Was a bugger when we scored a chewy one!

Ran the genny about 9 hours/day, more in hot weather.

Bob

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Reply By: cookie1 - Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 12:06

Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 12:06
We used to do that before I went and bought a smaller fridge, the coldness of the food assisted the cooling of our drinks too. In fact we used to stop and put a few beers in the freezer about 1/2 hr to 1 hour before we pulled up for the day to make them icey cold.

I bought a smaller 35L Waeco just before we did the Canning in 2012. We also made Ice by using a zip lock bag with water, placed in the freezer, at the end of the days driving put in our Cointreaux in the middle of the Canning - the look on our travelling companions was priceless when they realised we had ice in the middle of nowhere.

cheers
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Reply By: Member - Odog - Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 18:30

Thursday, Aug 04, 2016 at 18:30
Thank you all, for some great advice, we will put it all to good use. Thanks again. Happy travels.. Owen n Sue
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Reply By: The Bantam - Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 10:05

Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 10:05
Yes you can freeze water into blocks of ice in any good compressor fridge ........ but the practicality or lack of it is in the detail.

Somebody said that the same fridge used as a freezer will use 3 times the energy it would use as a fridge ....... from my experience it can be a great deal more than that.

A lot of people are running their portable fridges and freezers hotter than is wise and a lot of food kept in eskies is not kept as cold as it should be.

That said it is possible to keep a properly packed and managed esky on ice for 3 days ..... if it's a good esky, with sufficient ice in it, in a cool place and properly managed.

If you are having difficulty freezing ice over night or in 24 hours .... ya freezer is probably not set cold enough ....... to properly surpress the growth of microbes a freezer needs to hold its contents below -10C ..... in practical terms that means the freezer has to be set below -15C .... reccommended is -18C.

A lot of people think their frozen food is safely stored because it is still frozen ...... but unless it is frozen hard and well below -10C it can't be considered properly frozen.

If ya not running ya freezer below -15C, it probably wont make ice overnight and you are running risks with your frozen food.

It was said that it takes 48 hours to make good hard ice ...... that is true ........ hard ice lasts a lot longer ...... but it will need to be in a -18C freezer for 48 hours.
That said ice is still ice (it still works) and most of the party ice and other commercial ice you buy is not properly hard particularly by the time it gets to you.

Many people have barely enough battery storage and recharge capacity to reliably and sustainably support a fridge operated as a fridge ........ if you are to operate a fridge operated as a freezer ..... particularly a freezer that is actively freezing freezing down ...... you need a very solid electrical supply.

The devil is most definitely in the detail.

cheers
AnswerID: 603107

Reply By: Capt. Wrongway - Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 11:18

Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 11:18
I used to do something similar years ago but eventually found it to be APITA. My setup now is two of the newer 38lt Engels, one as a freezer, and the other as a fridge. Works perfectly for me. I also found that the one used as a freezer is not that power hungry, as you open it a lot less than the fridge one.
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Reply By: takenbyaliens (QLD member) - Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 14:14

Friday, Aug 05, 2016 at 14:14
Hi Odog
We have done this for quite a while. I run my Waeco 60L as a freezer packed with vac sealed and frozen meat etc. We rotate 6 small freezer bottles each morning into a 50L ice box in which we keep 'fridge' stuff. We keep dairy stuff in the small dairy section of the Waeco. Works fine as long as you either have power every camp or carry solar. We carry 2 x 120W panels and all works well.
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