Engel and Trailblaza fridges

Submitted: Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00
ThreadID: 2461 Views:9539 Replies:12 FollowUps:13
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We are looking to buy a fridge and have our eyes on Engel and Trailblaza. We originally looked at 40 litres capacity but it has been suggested 60 litres is the way to go.
What are peoples views on the Engel over the Trailblaza (or vice versa) and whether we should go for 40 or 60 litres.

Thanks in advance.

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Reply By: Member - Bob - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00
The size depends on what you want to do. Its always a compromise between space and weight, and what you need to keep cold. Most people seem to manage regular bush touring, including the major treks, with a 40L fridge. If you intend bringing home a week's barramundi catch then 40L won't be enough, but you will have to compromise on other gear to fit the larger fridge in your vehicle. Because the cost of the 60L units isn't much more than the 40L it's tempting to get one on the basis of 'value'. You may end up with a compromise driven by price rather than needs. I have an Engel and have been very pleased with every aspect of it (the lid annoys me at times). My previous Gaz 3way (Finch) was inefficient and fiddly.
AnswerID: 8967

Reply By: tony - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00
Hi Steve, you will not have a problem with either of the two brands you are looking at , just be carefull when making a final decision on the size as the 60 litre fully packed are very heavy, and you are better of with 2 poeple lifting them.

Cheers, Tony
AnswerID: 8968

Reply By: Truckster - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00
Personally most fridges Ive looked at are all motor/compressor and no storage...

Maybe Im expecting more for my $1000+ than few cartons of milk and loaf of bread...

I havent tried packing one, as I aint ever gonna buy one, but again I see them as all nothing and all box and motor....

$1000 gets ya a HUGE bar fridge! Or lots of dry ice for my 100qrt coleman esky!
AnswerID: 8971

Follow Up By: Oziexplorer - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00
Bar fridges are most inefficient, and to try to keep power up to them would require you run a generator nearly 24 hours a day.
Rather difficult to buy dry ice outside of capital cities, and when you are camping in the bush for extended periods. 50 litres holds a fair bit, and if you get your meat cryovac packed it will keep and improve for 30 days. My fridge on solar panels is a dream and would not go back to the days of esky's.
FollowupID: 4462

Follow Up By: Janset - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00
Hey Truckster.
Get with the program. This is the 21st Century not the 18th. I guess it really is a hard thing to teach an old dog new tricks. LOL.

FollowupID: 4486

Follow Up By: Truckster - Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002 at 01:00
janset :P

I dont like the new century, its too expensive....

Ive looked at 4wd show at fridges and talked to mates, and they are not good value simple as that. As I said all the ones I seem to look at Engel, Waco etc are all crap and no storage....

Maybe I expect too much, but lookin at the ones Ive seen, i would want a 150 ltr to go bush with.....

FollowupID: 4510

Reply By: OziExplorer - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00
I have a 50litre ED50 evaKool which performed exceptionally well in the fridge NATA Certified testing. The features why I chose the evaKool, is the quality of the insulation comnpared to others, the low power consumption, when you pick the fridge up the handles dont squash your hands, the excellent build quality of the fibreglass and their great reputation of their esky's/ice boxes. You can see the evaKool at www.evakool.com.au but their website is out of date and they have some extra models and a new eight page brochure.
The Bushman (Chinese built) also performed well in the tests, but by the time you add the extra high lid, transit bag etc. you are better buying the Australian made product which requires no extras or transit bags like the Engel and Bushman do for extra insulation. www.bushman.net.au
The Engel performed reasonably well in the tests, but are known for compressor failure which is expensive to repair - around $600. You can also get better value for money as in capacity over evaKool to Engel.
Trailblaza did not want to take part in the tests!
AnswerID: 8974

Follow Up By: Bob - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00
Ozi- Was the NATA fridge testing you refer to the testing done by the 4wd monthly magazine?
FollowupID: 4491

Follow Up By: Rockhopping - Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002 at 01:00
Please note the 4wd Monthly test was NOT a NATA certified test. Granted it was done in a NATA facility- but thats where the similarity ends. (I make my sandwiches in a NATA laboratory).
There is more to a fridge than the compressor type/ brand- including the gauge/length/positioning of the capilliary and the pressure/volume of the refrigerant- and of course the insulation. Any of these parameters can be tweaked to give vastly different results.
It is also important that if any unit is only being used for that 3-4 week trip per year- it must be run for 3 or 4 days every month or so when back home.
I have no commercial interest or commitment to any manufacturer or reseller- but it does annoy me when people get sucked in by hype- and trip over statistics.
FollowupID: 4505

Follow Up By: Tony - Friday, Nov 29, 2002 at 01:00

Friday, Nov 29, 2002 at 01:00
Rockhoppong is probaly right about the test not being NATA certified test. There wasn't enough real data to make any reasonable conclusions. The tests took a running amp draw at the top and bottom of a run cycle and divided it by two, this doesn't relate to any refrigeration performace. Some of the units where actually off and cycling because they had reached the temperature required. you really need to know how many amps were consumed over a given period to maintain a given load. The best way is to use am amp accumulator and run it over 24hrs and see the actual power used to maintain a given temperature. See how long it takes to move from 30C to 0C and the energy used. The draw down power is important, however you need to know what the refrigeration out-put of the compressor is, an example is the Engels 40lt fridge at 2.7 amps approx has refrigeration out-put of
42 watts. In an ambient temperature of 40C it will take the Engel
3 hours to reach -8C and will consume approx 7 amps running continuously, there are other fridges that will achieve this quicker and use the same amount of power or in some cases less. I'm only using the Engel as an example as I know that these figures are available. The point I'm making is that most 4x4 mag tests are done in house and don't set these tests up properly to help give any meaningful data to make an informed decsion. A good example of this is our inability to guess correctly temperatures once they get below 12C, so in most cases you may think your fridge is chilling product, but do you know what the temperature is, the best test is to put a thermometer in your fridge at room temperature and see how long it takes to get down to 0C, then put it in the back of your vehicle and do the same thing,and see how long the compressor stays off at zero. There's not enough room but insulation is another great subject. The upshot is we'll never all agree on fridges which makes forums such as this so good.
FollowupID: 4567

Follow Up By: Member - Nigel - Sunday, Dec 01, 2002 at 01:00

Sunday, Dec 01, 2002 at 01:00
Tony, the 4WD drive monthly test actually measured total current draw over 48 hours with ambient temperature cycling between 15 and 55 degrees over that period. The current draw figures were the average over the 48 hours. The test was not NATA certified, but it was done in a NATA certified lab, not in-house by the magazine. Best to read the article before making claims about it.
FollowupID: 4592

Reply By: Alpaca - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00
I have a 70 litre Trailblazer for over 8 years and I find it very good. They are made very strong, well insulated and you can keep about 6 slabs of COLD amber stuff in them. No repacking every night to chill tomorrow's supply. With a dual battery system, I get nearly 3 days of stationary use without having to recharge the battery. I don't even turn the fridge off overnight.
I wouldn't consider an Engel but I'm biased anyway.
The only disadvantage is their weight but that is what gives them their strength's.
Mount the fridge on a slide out the back door and it is easily accessable.
Happy travels
AnswerID: 8986

Reply By: topolino - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00
I have been traveling the outback for twenty years and half of those years as an outback tourguide, and I have always used a Engel fridge. I have never everhad any trouble with the fridges. Even when it fell of the back of my Cruiser (dont ask!) i just turned around put it back onthe tray pluged it in and away it went!!!!!!!
40/60 litrer? you work that out for yourself! they all do the same job. I guess it depends on family size, room in car, what you can afford or how good a fisherman you are! whatever you choose go with a Engel it just wont let you down, no I am not paid by Engel. Should be though!
Happy camping.
Steve "Bushdog" Mcgrath
AnswerID: 8992

Reply By: colin - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00
Hi Steve, really you have 3 options, explorer is another model to look at, aussy made and on par with the trailblaser. All 3 fridges are excellent , but it comes down to insulation, which puts the engal out, the better the insulation the less drain on the battery system. I have a exploer, which is a 59 ltr model with a seperate freezer with its own lid inside the main lid, (which can be sat on unlike a engal. ) it also has 2 thermostats 1 for fridge 1 for freezer giving better control over power consumtion. Also the whole unit is very squat, i havent seen the latest trailblaser, but i think they have made models to match the explorer. The only down side of these two units is they are a bit bulky, but the pluses out way the one minus. Hope this helps Col
AnswerID: 8995

Reply By: Darrin - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00
Myself and a mate have both had 80L Trailblazer fridges for 12 years they are both still going strong and not a problem with either of them.
Their backup service is excellent with info and parts if required.
These fridges up until last month when I bought a wagon have travelled in the back of a ute a have lasted the distance.
You wont regret buying one.
AnswerID: 9011

Reply By: Bob Y. - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00
Steve, Reckon the brand you buy will depend on what you need it for. Have a fairly new Engel 40 L and a 12 year old 70 L Trailblazer, thats spent most of its life in a stockcamp. The Engel is good for trips to town to pick up bacon, dairy foods, or for trips to Brizzy chock full of frozen Channel country beef for the in laws. As others have said the T'blazer has good insulation and reasonable power drain. They are bulky, and heavy when full, (what fridge isn't?) but can take a hiding. They can be run as a fridge/freezer, depending on thermostat setting, by fitting a ply or foam false floor at halfway. useful for long stays in one spot. If you are doing lots of travelling, go for the Engel, other wise T'blazer. Bet they last longer than those plastic wank....err Waecos. Catch you later...
AnswerID: 9015

Reply By: bob - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00
Personally Id go for the 60 litres -Steve, if your willing to pay a few extra dollars, got the extra space and dont mind the extra amps the larger fridge draws. I just purchased my new fridge a few weeks ago. Basically nailed it down to either the engel, trailblaza or the auto fridge. In the end the engel won, ending up with the new 80L stainless model. Dont think you can go wrong with either fridge, as they both are a excellent product.
AnswerID: 9016

Follow Up By: Steve - Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002 at 01:00

We have looked at the new stainless steel Engels. The stainless interior is appealing for ease of cleaning and strength along with the digital thermostat but as they are new I have nothing to go on for performance.
How has your 80L been so far?

FollowupID: 4501

Follow Up By: Bob - Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002 at 01:00
Steve ,

Ive only had my SS80 litre engel for only 3 weeks, bought in preparation for a big trip up to the Pilbara at christmas. I can only guess on its performance when compared to the other engels. Maybe I can tell you after christmas.
The interior of the fridge is purely all stainless too, with no coils so cleaning is a breeze.
I decided on the 80L vs the 60 L engel because I got it for only $200 more, and I beleived it to be a better fridge. (more capacity, stainless steel - same current draw) I know I could have got a 80L fridge in another brand for a lot less, but I am wrapped with the fridge.
The stainless steel series are a bit heavier than the normal engels, but they are a good solid fridge. Good luck on your decision.
FollowupID: 4522

Follow Up By: Tony - Saturday, Nov 30, 2002 at 01:00

Saturday, Nov 30, 2002 at 01:00
The Engel SS80 is a very nice fridge. However the stainless steel outer casing is a great heat sink, it may look like it has refelctive properties but the thermal dynamics of the stainless steel enables it to absorb large levels of heat energy. Leave a piece of steel in the sun on a low ambient day and see how hot it can get. Heat loads can be similar in the back of your 4X4 even if its not in direct sun.
FollowupID: 4578

Follow Up By: Bob - Saturday, Nov 30, 2002 at 01:00

Saturday, Nov 30, 2002 at 01:00
You are correct in stating that the stainless steel will absorb heat from the sun, but my transit bag will help minimise this. Id rather have a fridge made from metal than some of the tupperware varieties available.
The stainless steel engel should be a easy to maintain fridge. I know people with 10 + year old engels and the like, that despite still working well are starting to show signs of corrosion. Hopefuly this wont happen to mine.
The biggest down side of this fridge apart from the initial price is the sheer weight. At 42 kgs, you'll probably grow a third nut trying to lift it yourself.
FollowupID: 4583

Reply By: daren - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2002 at 01:00
Just to add anouther spanner,,,,
I got an auto fridge a few months ago (10 i think) ,been camping a few times and have taken it to work a lot where it sat in the blazing victorian sun for hours and i must say shes the ducks guts. Other work mates have engels, there ok but the auto fridge has no internal coil to get rubish stuck behind.the insides is smoth like the inside of an esky.also the the cold radiates evenly from all sides. Also i belive that it performed better than the engel's in the test in the mag write up. I'll look it up if some one wants to debate it. when we went camping the battery (50 amp) lasted 2 days and was still going when we moved on.
hope it helps
AnswerID: 9024

Follow Up By: Member - Ray - Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002 at 01:00
I think Tyres and Fridges are the two most popular topics around.
I have a "Cole" made in Beverly W.A. and they were sold by The 12 Volt Shop. Don't know who sells them now but I will back my 50 litre "Cole" against any other fridge.
So everyone has a favorite and most of us are happy with what we have,what a happy little bunch of campers we are. __(:
(By the way ,that's my tongue in my cheek)
FollowupID: 4500

Reply By: chrisfrd - Thursday, Nov 28, 2002 at 01:00

Thursday, Nov 28, 2002 at 01:00
I've got a Waeco 54L fridge... Couldn't be happier! It sits in the back of the GU wagon, plugged in and switched on 24x7. 'cause I tend to drive a fair bit for work, it's always got my lunch/drinks in it and it's not a heavy weight thing either!

The Danfos compressor I think it better than the Engel Swing compressor, with the amps/hour being consumed on an average 3 degrees internal, 30 degrees external tempurature being about the same.

I'm currently building a fridge slide for it, so I can acutally get the thing fully open......

AnswerID: 9071

Follow Up By: Member - Nigel - Sunday, Dec 01, 2002 at 01:00

Sunday, Dec 01, 2002 at 01:00
Gotta agree - why buy a fridge and only use it a few times a year - Mine stays in the GQ and is running most of the time.

BTW I can open the lid on my 68 litre evakool to 90 degrees in the back off my GQ. When open the lid just fits between the cargo barrier and the back of the vehicle (the lid is hinged on the long side).
FollowupID: 4591

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