Fridge for campervan

Submitted: Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 13:00
ThreadID: 138531 Views:5428 Replies:9 FollowUps:3
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Our 3 way fridge has failed us once too often and we want to replace it. I'm told compressor fridges are the way to go. Is there a brand which people recommend having personally used it themselves? Also we have an Anderson plug to accommodate solar electricity but haven't yet bought any panels. Does anyone have advice about which is the best type of solar energy collection?
Thanks for any advice.
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Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 13:35

Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 13:35
Hi suegra,

A couple of questions, is the current fridge built in, or in a locker on a fridge slide? Does your campervan have a deep cycle battery? If so, What size (amp/Hrs)?

Compressor fridges are far more efficient than Adsorption fridges, and in my opinion Engel is the best of the bunch, with Waeco a close second. There will be others that will have a different opinion to me, and that is fine.

As far as Solar is concerned, folding panels, although heavy & bulky, are more efficient than the folding blanket type. The number & size of panel will depend on the size of the Deep Cycle Battery (and the load on this battery) you are trying to keep charged. I have two sets of 120 Watt folding panels that I use to supplement my roof mounted panels on the van if I need to. I generally use the folding panels to keep the Aux Batteries charge up in the car when camped up for longer than overnight. I run a 60 Ltr Engel in the car mostly for drinks, but also as an “overflow” for the 190 Ltr in the van.


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Reply By: RMD - Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 15:22

Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 15:22
Hello Sue
Not sure what you do or don't realize/know about solar and batteries and fridges.
There is plenty of conceptual info on caravan sites and fridge sites too.
Fridge and Solar is a site and (Val Rigoli) has plain talk explanations of components and considerations you might need to be aware of. The panels you may buy, are they fixed ,ie on roof, or folding as in portable?
Many folding systems come with a PWM regulator, Pulse Width/duration of charge pulses and use that method of controlling charge into a battery. Usually the maximum voltage of the panels is around 18v + or - a bit. If buying folding, you can just use the panel which are normally connected in parallel and give a doubling effect, ie, the product amp of two panels. If wanting to maximize charge at low sun times the panels can be used by electrically connecting them in series, (can be modified with a change over switch to go from parallel to series down the charge wiring) but this is only an advantage IF you also use a good quality MPPT charge controller which can then harvest the earlier starting of charge, ie, the system now has double the voltage and 1/2 the amps but same energy level delivered to batteries for longer. This is handy in winter sun situations. The MPPT controller, MUST be able to accept the doubled up panel open circuit voltage and will be more efficient overall. I currently do this with two Aldi panels in series with a suitable regulator. I mention this modification to series wiring with a Higher than normal voltage regulator input because you asked for best solar collection. House systems do far more, with my house system running all panels in series at 380vDC, so the concept works. This series connecting of two panels may not suit everyone though.

Although possibly more than you will consider, a mate of mine has two 250w panels in series, two large batteries and suitable MPPT charger and hasn't had a low charge situation since. It starts early and finishes later than normal/ parallel panels would provide.
A lot of people here use many different systems and their usage experience covers a lot of situations so they will provide plenty of info to sort through.
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Reply By: blue one - Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 15:28

Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 15:28
I would recommend an Engel.

Reliable, well made.

Two 45ltr Engels gives you ample capacity with one as a fridge and one as a freezer.

Not my experience, though if one fails you have redundancy.

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Reply By: IvanTheTerrible - Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 16:02

Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 16:02
We run an 79L Everkool Fridge. Hell of a lot cheaper than Waeco amd Engel
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Reply By: swampy - Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 19:31

Saturday, Jun 15, 2019 at 19:31
Compressor fridge . What size ??
Portable 40/60/80 ltr ???
Fixed upright replacement 110ltr

A fridge uses power depending upon ambient temperature
Use as a freezer will use more

EG 60ltr 30ah--70ah ---80ltr not much more
EG 110ltr similar to above power consumption

Say 70ah--80ah consumption every 24hrs

as u can only use half the amount of capacity max 100ah
2x 100ah batteries required

Solar regulator-- MPPT most efficient
Vehicle charging while driving [arrive with full batteries]
Does both of above
Projecta IDC 25amp 250$ approx.

240 v AC charging
projecta 180$ 21 or 25 amp

Solar panels --watt requirement
200watt replaces 48ah in 24hr
160watt replaces 38ah in 24hr

Batt capacity = 200 ahr ==usable 100ahr

Not an exact science but total minimum 300watts of solar . Better yet would be 400watts .
NB Bigger than 200watt panel are cumbersome and a little weighty to move .

The aim is to recharge b4 lunch . This allows for cloud lengthening charge time required .
Most have some panels fixed to roof . Combined with some portable .

AnswerID: 626228

Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019 at 12:29

Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019 at 12:29

Lithium Batteries will give you considerably more available battery usage for the same size. 200 ahr Lithium equivalent to approx 150 ahr AGM.


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Reply By: Eric A1 - Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 09:54

Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 09:54

When our 3 way failed, mid summer in Thargomindah, we had one of these sent out. Installed it, then added a second battery and solar panel.

Never looked back. We could freeze ice cubes even on the hottest days. Ran 24/7 off grid. Loved it!

Only problem.... We've now upgraded our van and the new one has a big 2 door 3 way! Good for now, but should it fail, we'll be back to Everkool!
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Reply By: Member - DOZER - Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 19:38

Sunday, Jun 16, 2019 at 19:38
throw your swag in the kitchen for 1 night, and you will reconsider. broom tinkletinkle all night long. I bought an 80 litre engel upright when my gas fridge died, on return i repaired the gas fridge and the engel is the garage fridge.
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Follow Up By: RMD - Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019 at 16:31

Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019 at 16:31
That is a situation nearly everyone never comments on, Good point. "THE NOISE" 12v fridges make. The Engel would have to be the worst of them with it's constant rattle as the solenoid flutters back and forward. The others have motors and do make some noise. I have a small Waeco and it is fairly quiet, but the Engel39L can be heard a long distance away. In a van it is nearby. Do Engel supply earplugs with the upright models they sell? You need them with the normal portables.
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Follow Up By: nickb - Saturday, Jun 22, 2019 at 12:46

Saturday, Jun 22, 2019 at 12:46
Unless you are the lightest of sleepers the noise, after a couple nights, is a non issue. Myself and 2 friends have changed the 3-ways to compressor fridges and my advice above has been true in all cases.
FollowupID: 900109

Reply By: RMD - Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019 at 16:52

Tuesday, Jun 18, 2019 at 16:52
Just reading through the thread again, you didn't say, in what way, the 3 way had failed you. Most 3 way fridges benefit from having a couple of computer fans to assist airflow into the rear cavity and to exit the hot air. Wired in series, they are quiet and economical on 12v power. They increase the performance a fair amount.
Most 3 way fridges are NOT insulated above and at sides to prevent the hot exit air continuing to heat the case and re enter the fridge. If insulated it makes a BIG difference to performance too. Depending on the failures, it may be far cheaper to fan it and insulate it, IF failure to cool is the issue
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Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, Jun 21, 2019 at 21:37

Friday, Jun 21, 2019 at 21:37
Do you need an upright or a car fridge style? You may just have to look for a brand that has the right dimensions to replace the old fridge.

When we purchased an old wind-up camper trailer/caravan, we discarded the gas/electric fridge, and purchased an upright Engel which was the exact size to fit the gap. We fitted a 100 ah battery, and used a solar panel as a portable when we stopped each night. We had trickle charge from the vehicle, but it did very little. In fine weather this was adequate for the fridge and a couple of 12v lights. There were not other electrical needs. As it was by my bed, I did turn it off during sleeping hours, and it maintained temperature.

Our present caravan has a 130 litre upright Vitrifrigo, which is virtually silent. We have adequate batteries and roof mounted panels for all our needs.

We do have two older style Engel car fridges, not silent. We keep one in the car for lunches and drinks, and the other under the bed, usually used as a freezer, but this is flexible. I can hear it cycling during the night, but soon get used to it.

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