Car Fridges

Submitted: Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 23:44
ThreadID: 134156 Views:7292 Replies:9 FollowUps:20
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I am considering buying a Ridge Ryder car fridge for about $500. An equivalent Waeco or Engel costs nearby $1000.

I don't travel often in my Subaru Forester and am at retirement age so does anyone have any ideas which would be best in terms of guzzling 12 volt electricity and surviving roads like the Buntine Highway and Tanami Road?
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Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 00:18

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 00:18
What size are you thinking of ?

These were on special the other week for $399 !
Spinifex Cold Station 50lt

Maybe keep an eye out for specials that come up ?
If going for SCA Ridge Ryder fridge, then they often have 20% off sales through the year too.
AnswerID: 607832

Follow Up By: Member - Roachie - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 08:07

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 08:07
Mmmm....that appears to be a re-badged Waeco.
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 13:41

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 13:41
Yes, I believe so, for $399 I nearly went and got one for a spare / use at home as an extra freezer type of thing.
But already have 45lt, 25lt, 11lt fridges, I think the missus might draw the line at another.
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Follow Up By: Sir Rodney - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 22:57

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 22:57
Right, re-badged is the way to go. And buying on special. There was a Ridge Ryder for $499 in Auto Barn at Christmas.

I'm looking for a 40 litre or so.
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Reply By: Member - Bigfish - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 10:08

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 10:08
At retirement age you need to buy quality that will last many years. I,d go for a 40 litre engel. Pricey but top quality. Its best selling fridge in Oz and ultra reliable.
AnswerID: 607842

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 10:22

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 10:22
The plastic engel 38L Ëclipse" costs around $750-800.

As far as battery power goes, with the Forester you have a couple of options, given that I think its unlikely that you can cram a second battery under the bonnet. First you can buy a Thumper pack that sits with your fridge in the back. But it needs an isolator and decent wiring like any other second battery. Not a cheap option.
Secondly, I have travelled with people who have upgraded to the biggest possible battery that will fit into the tray under the bonnet and run a new fused lead to the fridge. Very simple and cheap option - main risk of course is that you can flatten the cranking battery if you run it for more than a day without driving. So I'd suggest you carry one of the new lightweight lithium jump starters just in case.
AnswerID: 607843

Follow Up By: Zippo - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 11:53

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 11:53
You're not wrong about lack of under-bonnet space in a Forester. I agonised for quite a while about the what and where of fitting an auxiliary battery in ours. In the end, I used a telecomms industry type AGM (Yuasa UXF100-12, although the shape is pretty generic), which fits on side under the passenger seat and is easily secured there in what is otherwise potentially wasted space. Also keeps the weight low down.
FollowupID: 877562

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 12:05

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 12:05
Sounds like an excellent solution!
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Follow Up By: Zippo - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 14:30

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 14:30
Well it works for me. Who knows, may even suit other vehicles ...

Seat in normal position.

Seat in full forward position.

FollowupID: 877565

Follow Up By: Sir Rodney - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 23:03

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 23:03
I am an absolute cheapskate and planned to have a jumpstart in case the fridge flattened the cranking battery. Meaning, I will mostly use it while driving and not camping.

My plan was to plug it into the cigarette lighter socket, but read that the wiring is too long and too thin. So, the second plan was to get thicker wiring and plonk the fridge on the back seat.

Would thicker wiring damage the cigarette lighter socket? I ruined two in two previous Hyundai Excels by plugging in those 12-volt kettles.

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Follow Up By: Zippo - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 00:23

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 00:23
A jump-starter is one alternative to an aux battery. (I use both).

The problem with the existing ciggie-lighter outlet approach is that your poor fridge is going to lose power when you stop for fuel/lunch/pit-stop etc and then be playing catch-up. If you install one directly from the battery, you avoid that problem but get back to the risk of flattening the cranking battery. Trade-off.

BTW "plonking" any fridge on the back seat is a disaster waiting to happen. Last thing I want in an accident is a fridge through my back or skull.

Getting a bit away from your original question, but ....
You didn't say what vintage your Forester is. On my 07 SG I replaced the rear seat with a 12mm ply "platform" braced and bolted securely to existing mounts. The Engel (a 70's vintage MRFT514) is secured to that with a ratchet tie-down.
Bare "Platform"
Engel on platform

While you obviously can tie the fridge down on the existing seat, having it horizontal and on a firm (non-squishy) surface is obviously preferred.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 10:17

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 10:17
A fridge that works only while driving is useless in the Top End. Meat and milk will go off.

Fridge and battery have to be well secured or secured behind a cargo barrier in the back. Also make sure there is a fuse at the pos terminal on the second battery as a short can cause a fire, and make sure the battery terminals are well covered and insulated.
Factory cig sockets can be inadequate - with time and a bit of corrosion they can develop resistance and get hot. Engel will draw 2.8A so is less likely to be a problem. Waeco draws 5A (cycles less often) and has an inbuilt low voltage cutout so might cutout earlier than you'd like.
A separate fused circuit for the fridge will mean you can use any connector you like. Anderson plugs are cheap and very secure, so I cut an anderson plug into the fridge lead and on the end of the thicker wire from the battery. 6mm automotive cable is a good choice from battery to fridge.
FollowupID: 877608

Follow Up By: Batt's - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 16:42

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 16:42
Rodney you have to find out how many amps the fridge uses and buy a lighter socket or better still a merit plug to suit and use the correct size wiring and fuse as well then you won't have any problems with it nothing to gain by being a cheap skate if you don't set it up correctly because it will cost more to do it again. Also you will be shortening the life of your battery by letting it go flat so if it happens often enough it may be more costly in the long run. Starter batteries are also not the best battery to leave your fridge running on for long periods of time they are different to deep cycle.
I expect you only use it to keep drinks cold as mentioned anything else would spoil overnight if you use it a bit in the long run it's better to use a dual purpose battery like a Supercharge Allrounder they are not expensive Auto Barn stock them as well. Replace your starter battery with the biggest one that fits in it's place and you'll be able to easily run a fridge overnight or 2 nights depending on the size of the battery and fridge current draw I done that for a few yrs. It's pretty simple to set up at not that expensive and you won't need to turn the fridge off every night, turn it back on in the morning wait for it to cool down load it up and do it again that night which gets very boring especially if there is no need to if you set it up correctly.
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Reply By: Top End Az - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 13:26

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 13:26
4x4 Australia mad fridge comparison 2016

There was a mag comparo recently that may hep if you haven't seen it.

The Engel 40 is a great reliable fridge which has done us service for years through all the usual haunts across the top end. It even bounced out of the ute once when I forgot to tie it down and it lived to tell the tale.
A 2nd hand one if you can find one might be a viable option, especially if bought from someone who has done their lap and is done with it.
I've never understood the prices of car fridges, especially the two big brands that can be $1000-$2000. Especially when you consider you can get a decent house fridge for much less than this (I'm not advocating to buy one of these for your car btw lol) They seem way overpriced but I guess they charge it coz they can and people will pay it.
I've got friends with the Evakool car fridge and they are happy with them.
AnswerID: 607850

Follow Up By: Sir Rodney - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 23:07

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 23:07
The prices of those fridges in the comparison were all over $1000. While liking the idea of an Engel with digital thermostat, I travel lightly and not so frequently and will probably buy a Ridge Ryder next time it is on sale at $499. Or another re-badged brand.

Do you think the re-badged fridges are of the same quality as the good brands when both might come from the same factory in China?
FollowupID: 877589

Reply By: Sir Rodney - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 23:10

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 23:10
Thanks everyone for your advice. This re-badging is news to me. My problem now is to decide if I will plug it into the cigarette lighter socket and determine the consequences.

Does it waste DC current, or what?
AnswerID: 607864

Follow Up By: Member - Bigfish - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 06:08

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 06:08
You have already declared that you are an absolute cheapskate. Unfortunately to a good reliable supply for cold drinks and food, cheap means unreliable. Your cigarette lighter MIGHT work...more often than not they dont. Really...dont be such a tightarse and get a quality setup. No good showing up at the pearly gates with even a cent!!!
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 10:33

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 10:33
Rod you can't just say you are ok to flatten your main starter battery (or 2nd one for that matter) as you will damage it in short time.
Better to get a small 2nd AGM battery, say 80 amp/hr min, and locate safely with the fridge in the back, wire up HD 6B&S dual core with VSR isolator and charge from alternator.

At the very least, if using main battery only, run fused HD ciggy connection straight from the battery to a double point in the back, and buy a decent little 100w solar panel (with controller) to connect up to the battery when at camp.

That should keep up with the fridge during the day keep battery fully topped, and overnight should be fine for a good battery to still start you ok . . . Or to be sure main battery is not compromised, shut the fridge off at night, get down to -5 or so first, leave for half hour, pull the plug and don't open it again for the night.

You don't want to have headaches with food / drinks on a tour, just set it up right and relax.
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Follow Up By: Top End Az - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 11:21

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 11:21
Honestly, you can't do a cheap fridge set up properly. You need a decent fridge, a deep cycle battery which are at least $250 upwards, quality wiring and some type of isolator to prevent your starter battery going flat leaving you stranded.

In Darwin, for years and years before our Engel and when we had a RAV4 we used a Tropical Icebox esky, which have well insulated thick panels. We would freeze ice cream containers of ice and this would keep us going for 3 or 4 days. If you mix the ice with salt you can make a slurry which keeps every super old. Alternatively, if you want a less messy option dry ice is good. But block ice will last a surprisingly long time.
And with your food, throw a frozen roast into the esky, this will give you a feed and help keep your beer cold. And keep your fridge as full as possible as this helps keep everything colder.
If you are rarely traveling these days, then pulling over a throwing a bag of ice in when you refuel is probably the most cost effective way for you.
FollowupID: 877613

Follow Up By: Batt's - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 17:28

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 17:28
It sounds like you shouldn't have asked for advice from people who are willing to help if you have already planned on trying to burn out another socket or burn your car to the ground because you claim to be a cheapskate. So when you buy your cheap fridge and turn it on and off every day don't complain if it plays up because you're not using it how it was meant to be used that may also cost you more in the long run.
FollowupID: 877637

Follow Up By: Top End Az - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 19:23

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 19:23
Not everyone is flush with cash so I can understand people wanting to get away on a shoestring, but playing roulette with a cheap fridge hooked up to a ciggie lighter could end up being false economy. Travelling up north, as mentioned, you need your fridge going. You only need to lose a couple of fridge loads of food and drink from a flat battery and you are already up for a battery and a fridge restock. I still reckon in your case you're better off with a good quality cooler box/esky.
Playing on the safe side, if you do a battery on a remote road well your car and food is not much use to you.
FollowupID: 877643

Follow Up By: Sir Rodney - Friday, Jan 27, 2017 at 23:37

Friday, Jan 27, 2017 at 23:37
Whew, on second thoughts maybe a 40 litre Engel would be best because it draws less current than the others and has a good reputation.

And a good jump starter.

And direct line from the battery/alternator.

Still thinking about the spare battery.

My background is hitch-hiking so actually spending money, even though I'm now loaded - is like letting the dentist pull out another tooth.

Thanks, everyone.
FollowupID: 877799

Reply By: steamfire01 - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 13:11

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 13:11
Sir Rodney
I have just (last Tues) bought a second Waeco CF50 from Anaconda for $699 including insulated cover. Good value. Not all stores seem to have them and the Anaconda website said out of stock, bit I persisted and found one.
Another option for you if you are looking for a good sized fridge.
AnswerID: 607875

Reply By: Bazooka - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 14:54

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 14:54
I'd take comments on "rebadged" fridges with caution Rodney. Specs will often show differences, lack of detailed specs might suggest lower quality components, poorer insulation etc.

Moving on though. Someone mentioned seconds/reconditioned units. Plenty of the brand you're looking at here:

AnswerID: 607883

Reply By: rocco2010 - Monday, Jan 23, 2017 at 17:22

Monday, Jan 23, 2017 at 17:22

For what it's worth today after much umming and ahhing and reading threads like this ad nauseum and weighing all the options I lashed out on a new 40l engel.

It was more expensive than some but I guess I can afford it and given that I still have the 15l my dad bought in 1976 (which works fine but is noisy and too small for much more than a long weekend away) I expect this fridge will outlast me.

At least that is what I will tell my sons. They can fight over the fridges when I am gone.


AnswerID: 607908

Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Jan 23, 2017 at 22:27

Monday, Jan 23, 2017 at 22:27
Hi Rocco

You have made a very wise decision and should have countless years of trouble free use from your trusty Engel.

On another issue, a vast majority of viewers here are "city slickers" and think that all fridges are created equal, or a cheap fridge is better than a dearer one. I deal with lots of true bush people that live and work in our remote location across out great nation.

Next time people head bush, they should ask them what fridge they use in the back of station vehicles, covered in dust, diesel and a favourite sitting place for station dogs........

You will not find any cheap plastic, no name fridges in a true mans working world, they want a fridge that works in our extremely hot remote location , will not let them down, and will just keep on working, year after year. And that fridge is the one you have purchased.

Facts are facts and Engel have been making car fridges for over 50 years and were the original in car manufacturer of vehicle fridges.



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Reply By: Gramps - Monday, Jan 23, 2017 at 22:51

Monday, Jan 23, 2017 at 22:51
G'day Rodney,

Sorry, I won't point you at a particular brand of fridge for many reasons but I will offer some simple advice.

Take heed of any advice you are given by people who actually own or have owned that particular fridge. Totally IGNORE any advice they offer regarding fridges they have not or do not own.

AnswerID: 607921

Follow Up By: Batt's - Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017 at 22:26

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017 at 22:26
What if a close friend or neighbour has had a good run out of a particular brand of fridge and you go camping with them a few or several times a year etc lots of people on here would be in that boat is that advice not worth taking just because you don't actually own it but you know how it performs ?
FollowupID: 877752

Follow Up By: Gramps - Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 23:01

Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 23:01
Hi Batt's,

I'm assuming the OP has no close friends or neighbours on the Forum. Purely up to them to take the advice or not.

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