Waeco 14L fridge model TC-14FL rev0ommended?

Submitted: Saturday, Jan 07, 2017 at 22:37
ThreadID: 134069 Views:3399 Replies:4 FollowUps:2
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I'm looking at one of these as a fruit and veg fridge for our caravan as we only have a 90L van fridge and I can't store much fruit and veg after the other essentials go in. We have a 40L compressor fridge using 1.49 amps per hour, but that's mostly for drinks. The Waeco product manual says the power input is 43 watts DC. My questions are 1. Will a 120 watt solar panel run both the 40L fridge and the little Waeco? 2. If it cools to 30 degrees below ambient, and the Waeco is kept under the awning, will it be effective in keeping fruit and veg (no meat) cool in the Northern Territory autumn/winter? I know next to nothing about refrigeration, so any plain english help will be greatly appreciated. Many thanks
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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Jan 07, 2017 at 23:51

Saturday, Jan 07, 2017 at 23:51
Hi Sandra,

The Waeco TC-14FL is a 'thermo-electric' fridge. That is, it does not have a motor and compressor like most fridges. It uses a solid-state thermo-electric device which has no moving parts but converts an electrical current directly into heat on one side and coolness on the other side. One side of the module sits within the fridge chamber and the other is on the outside. Which side cools depends on the direction of electric current flow, so simply by selecting the current direction will cause the chamber to become either hot or cold. A very simple device with no complicated electronics.

However the downside is that they do use a lot of electricity to achieve the effect. As you say, they draw about 43 watts (4 amps) and they do so continuously. So it is a fair drain on your solar charged system. Whether your 120 watt panel will support it plus the existing 40L fridge depends on how much sunlight you can gather with your solar panel. Furthermore, overnight this fridge will draw 4 amps times 16 hours equals 64 ampere-hours which is probably the entire capacity of your auxiliary battery without taking into account the power drawn by your 40L fridge and anything else. So the answer is no, it will not be effective.

These thermo-electric fridges are really only of use to keep your lunch cool in a vehicle while it is travelling and while the vehicle alternator is supplying the power. Furthermore, their cooling performance can be disappointing especially as the ambient temperature exceeds about 30c. I tried one in the Troopy simply to keep our drinking water cool and it was a miserable failure.


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AnswerID: 607330

Reply By: Sandrab58 - Sunday, Jan 08, 2017 at 00:31

Sunday, Jan 08, 2017 at 00:31
Thanks Alan. Your explanation makes it very clear. I now understand how it works and the power it draws. I think I'll need to look for another solution to storing fresh fruit and veg. Cheers, Sandra
AnswerID: 607332

Follow Up By: Tim F3 - Sunday, Jan 08, 2017 at 08:05

Sunday, Jan 08, 2017 at 08:05
We simply use a 47 litre fiberglass box from an old everkool fridge that i removed the motor and cooling plates from (because the motor died ) for storing fruit and vegs works a treat.
Also if you want to cool drinks etc i just put a frozen brick from the freezer into the vegi box .
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Follow Up By: Dusty D - Sunday, Jan 08, 2017 at 08:11

Sunday, Jan 08, 2017 at 08:11
Hi Sandra,
We have a similar setup to you with a 90 litre compressor fridge in the van and a 39 litre Engel in the back of our troopy which we use as a freezer. We have overcome the problem of limited fridge room in the van by freezing bottles of water in the Engel and use them for keeping fruit & vegies cool in a 25 litre ice box (IceKool).

By refreezing the bottles before they completely thaw, the temp in the freezer remains at between -10 and -15 and we can keep the fruit & vegies cool enough to prevent spoiling even in ambient temps above 40. It works for us.

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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Sunday, Jan 08, 2017 at 11:16

Sunday, Jan 08, 2017 at 11:16
Sandra, with respect, I am in awe at your fridge capacity...... 90L in the van plus 40L for drinks and a desire for more for fruit & veg.

For some years we managed at length in remote areas with only a 35L Waeco. We have since added an 11L Waeco as a console, and run as a freezer. It also keeps our drinking flasks cool. Fruit & veg are not carried in a fridge but may be added at times to cool. Drinks are only added daily, not stored in the fridge.

We have no solar and rely solely on the vehicle alternator. Our two auxiliary batteries cope for at least 48 hours without charge. But we do not camp for long without using the vehicle.

Mick hutton and Connie Beadell (daughter of Len Beadell) conduct escorted outback tours and are in the deserts for 4 months of every year. They carry no refrigeration at all. Their diet is constructed to suit. Each piece of vegetables and fruit are separately wrapped in newspaper and carried in a cardboard box. We do much the same with our vegies. (But we do like our meat etc. so we are not as disciplined) And I'm afraid that leaf salad veges are out altogether! :-(
Certainly, some fruit (e.g. stone fruit) does benefit by being kept cool but we simply avoid such. Most however (e.g. apples, oranges) carry well if treated as per the Beadell's method. Storing fruit & veg in a closed foam plastic box or Esky aids in protecting them from high ambient peaks.

As described by Tim and Dusty above, freezing a 'brick' in a fridge then transferring it to an Esky for the vegies is an option, but it does increase the load on the refrigeration which may be intolerable for your solar capacity.


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Reply By: Sandrab58 - Sunday, Jan 08, 2017 at 16:40

Sunday, Jan 08, 2017 at 16:40
Thanks Tim and Dusty. I think we'll follow your advice and get a good ice box.
Alan, I am in awe of your resourcefulness! I must admit the 90L in the van isn't as big as it sounds and I only put the essentials (eggs, milk, butter, cheese) and a few other bits and pieces in but it seems to fill it. I must admit to not being able to get by without my garden salads, hence the need to find some refrigeration. Ditto with fruit. I guess I'm a bit of a sook ??Thanks again for your explanation of the power usage
AnswerID: 607355

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