what size fridge?

Submitted: Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 09:04
ThreadID: 35232 Views:4160 Replies:21 FollowUps:13
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Hubby and I are joining the grey nomads and are in conflict re size of fridge to buy for our travels. I think Engel 40L sufficient using as freezer and a 40-50L icebox for day to day use - my reasons - less power consumption; HE thinks 60L and no icebox - his reasoning not so much room taken up but admits heavier power consumption is a problem when static for a few days. The 60L then becomes an expensive exercise having to use extra batteries or solar power. Any ideas from anyone out there on what we need from past experience. Anyone bought a 60L and think they didnt need that much room or bought a 40L and regretted it?

Cheers Daves BETTER HALF ha ha
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Reply By: Alan H (Narangba QLD) - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 09:15

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 09:15
I think icebox without ice is great for fresh friut and vegies.

As for the cold bit it will depend on how often you see yourself restocking.
Using the engel on cold is fine to hold several days food and then restock.
Using it as a freezer limits it use for other things (milk etc). However if doing long trips away from anywhere the need to take deeply frozen food may increase.

We often start with frozen food in the bottom but after that just keep things cold works for us. Using it as freezer will certainly increase battery use. We only have our engel set on 2 or else milk etc freezes and keeps meat plenty long enough between restocking.

In short, I believe it depends on your restocking cycle and required time to keep food. If travelling a lot restocking is not a problem. If stationary a lot, you may require to hoard food and is a differnt story on battery usage. If this is the case you may need extra charging capacity through solar etc.
AnswerID: 180173

Follow Up By: itsdave - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 09:20

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 09:20
Thanks Alan, so you reckon 40L with icebox then??? I reckon we will restock regularly ... what size do YOU have?
FollowupID: 436412

Follow Up By: Alan H (Narangba QLD) - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 09:24

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 09:24

We have a 40l engel. Had it for years and still going strong. Second one in about 30 years
FollowupID: 436414

Reply By: Alloy c/t - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 09:16

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 09:16
In my opinion you can never have too much refridgeration ,,think of all the fish waiting to be caught on your travels ,we find that even our 80lt Waeco in conjuction with our 15lt Engle is just big enough for the 3 of us.
AnswerID: 180174

Follow Up By: Alan H (Narangba QLD) - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 09:28

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 09:28
Alloy has a good point.

I was talking about two of us for food only. Naturally if you fish and want to hold them then the sky is the limit or is it the limit the fishing potential of any spot?
FollowupID: 436415

Follow Up By: Member - andrew B (Kununurra) - Sunday, Jun 25, 2006 at 22:01

Sunday, Jun 25, 2006 at 22:01
gday Alloy

sorry about the partial thread hijack. how have you found the 80l waeco....I recently purchased one and so far so good. on the recent Kalumburu trip it did all that was asked of it. I carrently have 60 beers in it without the divider in to see how it goes as a fridge only. I'm a bit sus on the warm end being a bit warm and the cold end freezing. I had it set on 0 deg, but wasn't getting real cold in the warm end (24 hrs, 26 degree beer down to about 10 or so). upped it to -4, and so far so good, nothing frozen yet, and warm end is down to about 6 degrees. It will be interesting to see how it goes tomorrow. I will let you know. How do you find the best way to use yours?

Cheers Andrew
FollowupID: 436576

Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 15:09

Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 15:09
Andrew B [Kununurra ] ,we have had the Waeco 80lt fo a couple of years now ,never a problem , could not ever go back to a 3 way or an eski , once you have the battery power and recharge of same worked out keeping the SWMBO happy with refridgeration is easy , we use ours as freezer /fridge/ and dairy , usually set on 3-4 lights ,batt cuttout on "normal" ,power usage averages out at 64amps per 24hrs , thermometer reads as minus 10/12 in freezer/ zero /3 in fridge and 7 or so in dairy ,, we dont use the Waeco as our beer supply ,have a baby 15lt Engle for the beer ,Waeco would be opened too often , bl--dy great to make ice overnight for the scotch though.
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Follow Up By: Member - andrew B (Kununurra) - Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 22:20

Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 22:20
Thanks for that Alloy - I am gitting a bit more of a temp variation, possibly the 31 or so degree days up here (hoter in the car!), but it is easily counteracted by defrosting meat in the dairy section over a couple of days. My next job will be to custimise the wire baskets so stuff doesn't fall into where the milk goes, and also a section in the freezer a similar size for ice bottles. (its a real pet hate of mine having stuff or ice fall into where you want to put something back - beer is good, drink it all, nothing goes back!)

Cheers Andrew
FollowupID: 436763

Reply By: itsdave - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 09:30

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 09:30
Nup, like fishing but hubby doesnt so only go with my son in his boat occasionally. Sounds like 40L should do the trick.
AnswerID: 180175

Follow Up By: Brew69(SA) - Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 15:36

Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 15:36
40lt is tiny.............hire one for a while and find out how much they don't hold. We find a 70 lt barely has enough space for 2 people.
FollowupID: 436663

Reply By: Member - Brian H (QLD) - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 10:24

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 10:24
I am in the same boat so to speak. I am after a fridge and am looking at a 80 l explorer inclusive of a seperate freezer section. The power usage is something I need to consider but I feel a 40 l is to small for my use at the moment. Of course there will be times it is to big for my travel plans and a 40l would suit.

As I have a single cab ute space in not a big issue. A friend has two 40 l for two adults and 1 teenager. At the moment the 80l looks the goods for my personal use as i do a lot of fishing.

I figure the follow are a few things to be considered other will add i'm sure.

1.Power usage 2. space, 3. Time away from restocking places 4. BEER :) 5. Weight.

Have fun in your selection
AnswerID: 180182

Follow Up By: Muzzgit (WA) - Sunday, Jun 25, 2006 at 02:12

Sunday, Jun 25, 2006 at 02:12
Battery power at hand is, was, and always will be, the overiding factor and anything else is just wispering into the wind.

I found the best way was to hire one first.

Hire a 40L engel, go on a 3 or 4 day trip and see how you fare for battery power. You will be supprised how well you can do with just 40L.
FollowupID: 436482

Reply By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 10:45

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 10:45
We are always short on space and can barley fit the 40L fridge in, and icebox on top of that would be impossible.

We find that for a family of 4 the 40L is fine for the weekender, if you were planning on going away longer you would have to store more warm drinks, cool them as required rather than keeping them all cold. The use the extra spave in the fridge for more meat etc, however that would still be workable. If you have the room, I'd absolutally be going to 60L. The difference in power consumption will be there, but minimal. Just ensure you have a decent DB setup and you should be fine.

We don't set the fridge to freeze anything, we keep it around the 2c mark when running off batteries, frozen meat at the bottom of the fridge in 2c stays frozen for nearly a week!
AnswerID: 180183

Reply By: hopscotch - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 11:11

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 11:11
Another opinion for what it is worth.
Wife and I travelled across the top last year with an 80 litre Waeco plus a 33 litre Esky. The Esky was used for fruit and veg and kept cool by using freeze paks in rotation from the Waeco
We had some stops of four to five days where we had to hit the battery on the CT with the Honda genny or on a couple of occasions left the fridge in the truck so that we could run it on boost for the time we were moving.
Basically it was an acceptable set up BUT
If heading off now I would be looking at 2 x say 50 litre. One as a freezer and the other as a fridge.
I would try to have them working off separate batteries eg vehicle and CT and both would have total insulation covers.
In the event of a failure you would still have some coverage and having a dedicated freezer would allow un restricted fishing!!!
The brand of unit is also worth a good look bearing in mind the old adage that you normally get what you pay for. Not to say that there are not bargins to be had BUT
As always what suits me may not suit you. I have friends who travel the deserts for weeks on end and they don't have a fridge at all but then thats their way
Kevin J.
AnswerID: 180185

Reply By: Member - Rotord - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 11:20

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 11:20
Hello Daves better half

Have a look at a 40ltr Engel with a Two Zone , using the Engel as a freezer and the Two Zone as a fridge . If you are going to be static for longer than two days I think you should commit to a second battery , solar or generator . I prefer the generator option because it allows you to fill the Engel with fish fillets and freeze them and to pull down the temp of warm beers .
AnswerID: 180186

Reply By: Peter W - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 12:37

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 12:37
Hi Daves better half,
A lot of good advice has been given above and obviously you will need to consider the facts and what suits you personally.
For what it is worth I think another factor should enter your consideration.
These Engel fridges are very robust and excellent for either freezing or keeping food cold but even empty they are quite HEAVY.
I have a 40ltr model and find moving the empty to and from the rear of my 4wd or the caravan quite a job. But then I am no spring chicken and don't know the fitness of your Dave.My brother has the combined fridge/freezer 80ltr model and can only be lifted by two persons.
Not much good having cold beer and frozen chicken when you are laid up at home with a crook back.
I hope this comment helps in your final decision.

Peter W
"Life is not a Rehearsal"
AnswerID: 180188

Follow Up By: Muzzgit (WA) - Sunday, Jun 25, 2006 at 13:32

Sunday, Jun 25, 2006 at 13:32
Hear Hear. My back has been kaput for almost a year now. At 40, it is no fun having to ask for help to move the 50L waeco to the front seat of the patrol when we sleep in the back. I used to be able to lift it in and out, full or empty, but not anymore.

Jacqui's back is not much better than mine so it would be impossible for us to shift an 80L jobbie. Everything we do now has to be thought out so we don't have to lift heavy things on our own.

I dread the thought of getting a puncture on the beach!!! LOL

Hell, I even have to keep my mouth shut instead of telling people what I think of them. It's impossible to move quickly and get out of the way of swinging fists with a crook back. hahaha
FollowupID: 436514

Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 14:02

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 14:02

We have been travelling for over about 15 years with our 39L engel.
Started with the 4 of us, now just the two of us, boys have grown up.

We only do 2 to 5 week trips. On the road longer may change the parameters.
Started off using the fridge as a freezer, and taking an esky.
But we were really only using the freezer to carry meat, and maybe some frozen meals at the beginning of the trip for easier meals for the first few days.
Now we cryovac our meat, and run the fridge as a chiller, to keep milk, left overs and those few items that need chilling.
The two of us and we generally run with it only half full. A lot easier on the 2nd battery too.
We have a mesh sided box to keep fruit and veges in.
We usually have enough food for 2 weeks when travelling, as we like to sometimes pull up in national parks etc for a week or so.
Carry a fair bit of tinned and dried food too.
We tend to eat one pot meals. Use a large deep frypan most of the time, so we have plenty of curries, stir fries, pasta type meals, which don't need a lot of meat. If in one spot for a few days and have a fire, we will cook in the camp oven. Do a damper then too, once the loaf of bread has run out after a few days.

So your menu could decide how much you need that fridge!

If the fridge broke down we could still survive reasonably well without any refrigeration. Cryovac meat supposedly keeps up to a week or more without refrigeration. But who needs meat all of the time. When we first started camping, we use to take a large cured salami, which would keep for a few weeks without refrigeration. Just had to wipe it down each day. The fridge has added that touch of luxury. Tinned fish works well too. We have had tinned tuna curried, sweet and sour, plain in a salad, mourney, stir fry and a couple of other ways.
AnswerID: 180192

Follow Up By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 16:52

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 16:52
Forgot to add, other main use is keeping the beer cold.
But when the beer runs out, or the fridge is working overtime in hot weather, we switch to red wine out of necessity.
Our N70ZZ (same size as cranking battery and you can buy them anywhere) usually lasts us 4 to 5 days in cooler weather (turn the fridge off at night), and just 3 days in hot weather. So we normally do a short run somewhere to a lookout or another place nearby, or go and get firewood outside the national park, and it charges the batteries every 3 days. Very seldom are we completely stationary for over 3 days.
FollowupID: 436439

Reply By: Footloose - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 14:21

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 14:21
Ask your hubby is he going to put in a fridge slide or carry it around. Pretty heavy gear when stocked. I bought a Waeco CF40 because I dont have the need for a lot of freezing meat etc. I can relocate it if necessary by myself. Runs off the aux battery fine, now that I have what must be battery cable running around the vehicle...very little voltage drop.
As others have said, it depends on whether you can get by on bland diets for a while, or if you're the kind that thrives on cooking up a storm in the bush. :))
AnswerID: 180194

Follow Up By: Oz Travellers - Sunday, Jun 25, 2006 at 08:40

Sunday, Jun 25, 2006 at 08:40
Although I am not one I think the vegetarians could take you to task for your comments about "bland diets". Most vegetarians I know have very tasty and spicy food.

Our 3way fridge is not large because of the lifting factor and we have now added a cool box which we find excellent. We didnt find the fridge large enough at the start of a trip for both food and drink and took an esky but we find the cooler box a much better option.

FollowupID: 436487

Reply By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 14:23

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 14:23
40 is a good compromise for an experienced user, if you haven't got the experience buy it anyway and the experience will come.
AnswerID: 180195

Reply By: Gavin WA - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 15:38

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 15:38
Go the 40L Engel with the TwoZone which gives you another 21L of fridge space.
It works well for me and the wife and 2 billys for 7-10 days.
Have a great trip.

Cheers Gavin
AnswerID: 180197

Reply By: disco1942 - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 16:36

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 16:36
Does any one out there know how much extra a 60 or 80 litre car fridge will use over a 40 litre model. I doubt if a an 80l would draw any near twice the power of a 40l. The larger the fridge the more efficient they are in terms of wats/litre they are.

If you get one of the larger models they come with multiple compartments. I have seen a Waeco 80l model with three – freezer, fridge and vege compartments. Also if you have to shuffle bricks between the freezer and the ice box you really are not going to save power compared to having a large unit.

Retired radio and electronics technician

Lifetime Member
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AnswerID: 180199

Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 17:14

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 17:14
My Waeco 80lt uses an avg of 64amps per 24hrs set at -10 inthe freezer section which equals 2/4 deg in the fridge section and 8/10 inthe dairy section , Our baby Engle 15lt that we use for drinks is set on "2" giving a temp of 2deg and uses 45 amps per 24hr period on average.
FollowupID: 436443

Reply By: Member -Dodger - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 17:01

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 17:01
We have used our 39l Engel for 5 week trips (2 adults) by cryovacing the meat and perishables in meal lots that way no blood or odour until you open the packet half an hr before use. This lets the fridg run at fridg temps all the time thus conserving battery power when stopped. Cryovac meat etc will last in excess of 5 weeks if the job is done right.
For years we got the butcher to do the vacuum packing for us but now have bought a small machine ourselves from hardly normal for $130 and this is real easy and convenient to use.
We have even kept fresh fish we have caught and filleted for weeks when done this way.

I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

Cheers Dodg.

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AnswerID: 180202

Reply By: Darian (SA) - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 17:09

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 17:09
I'm not quite 'nomadic' yet but one thing I've learned for sure - you can get by with whatever size fridge you have - you just adjust your strategy - I know some intrepid bush adventuers that only have a weeny fridge - others have the 80L jobs - we chose a 60L Waeco because it fully occupied the space we had for a fridge - not much point in going smaller - we could still do nicely with a 40 though. Waeco seemed better value to me than Engel (ours was $1035). In freezer mode, the big ones would be thirsty though - a well insulated smaller job might be the go - and....... we got pyjamas for our Waeco at Xmas (at $170 I think).... made me think...... what if we'd bought a much better insulated fridge - would have been another brand ? As it turns out, some of the others are very well insulated (eg 50mm case walls) but are often only 40L at 50% dearer than Waeco !
AnswerID: 180204

Follow Up By: Peter W - Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 23:45

Saturday, Jun 24, 2006 at 23:45
Yes Darian,

More toys!!


Peter W
"Life is not a Rehearsal"
FollowupID: 436474

Reply By: Member - Banjo (WA) - Sunday, Jun 25, 2006 at 09:42

Sunday, Jun 25, 2006 at 09:42
Dave's better ½

For 12 months we toured Oz with the 40L Engel as a freezer and a 73L fibreglass ice-box for the fridge.

We had 4 plastic milk cartons filled with water and rotated them 2 at a time. 2 in the Engel freezing and the 2 frozen ones in the ice-box.

That way we had plenty of fridge and sufficient freezer space for meat and all the other frozen things we wanted to carry.

A dual battery and 2 x 80W solar panels allowed us to bush camp, or even stay in Caravan Parks indefinitely, without paying for power. (if it was sunny)

Banjo (WA)

AnswerID: 180247

Reply By: greenant - Sunday, Jun 25, 2006 at 11:18

Sunday, Jun 25, 2006 at 11:18
I have just down sized from a 70 litre to a 40 litre . Found that the 70 took up too much room and over all was not used to its 70 litre capacity

AnswerID: 180253

Reply By: Member - Doug S (QLD) - Sunday, Jun 25, 2006 at 21:19

Sunday, Jun 25, 2006 at 21:19
G'Day Dave and other half, Would use nothing else but 3 way. 240/12/GAS. We had a 40 litre and travelled Oz with 2 kids and now have 60 litre Chescold and no kids and load the freezer end up from home (vacuum packed) and top up when needed or price is right. 12v maintains freezer when travelling (dual batteries) but pulls it down if left parked for a hour or 2. Gas is easy to carry and avoids battery problems when out in the bush for unlimited time which we now do more of. True newer EL fridges are more efficient than older ones but they still use power that may be difficult to replace especially in NP (no gennies thank goodness). Some vegies carried in fridge end when must do.

Doug S..
AnswerID: 180312

Reply By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 15:41

Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 15:41
G'day Dave's better half (hahaha - had to add that),

We found that if travelling for any length of time, and I guess this is what you are saying, that 2 fridges are better than one. The replenishment cycle is important but some things are better frozen and others just need chilling. We use 2 50 ltr Waecos but they may be too big - not a problem for us though. It is incredibly handy to have things frozen and transfer to the fridge on a regular basis, much like at home. It is all about what level of inconvenience is acceptable for you when travelling, our first Cape trip was done with an esky and purchasing frozen meat and milk along the way - it worked, but highlt dependent on supply being available etc.

Kind regards
AnswerID: 180428

Reply By: meandet - Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 15:57

Monday, Jun 26, 2006 at 15:57
Hi Dave's Better Half

My wife and I are grey nomads and are about to do our 5th trip. You are on the right track with a 40 litre Engel. We use a 40 lt Engel as a fridge, not freezer with a dual battery system and charge it with 2 x 40 watt solar panels when stationary for a while. We don't need an ice box and if you are careful, you won't either. Look at cryovac packed meat, long life milk and tinned foods to supplement. Power consumption is an issue and the 40lt Engel is the lowest in the business despite what some people might tell you.

Seriously, a 40 litre is enough, use it as a fridge. Set on just under 1.5 on the dial you will have the best temperature beer you have ever had. We fit in a couple of beers a day a litre of cold cordial and a bottle of champers each day whilst at Cape Leveque each year. Food is available everywhere so don't get too carried away with carrying too much in the fridge, just stock up as you run low. Food becomes less important when you are away, we sometimes just have nibblies like smoked oysters on crackers and wash it down with some red.

Enjoy your trip, it is so wonderful out there.

AnswerID: 180434

Reply By: andoland - Tuesday, Jun 27, 2006 at 12:37

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2006 at 12:37
We have just come back from a 6 week trip to the gulf. 2 adults and 2 toddlers. We took a 50 litre Waeco which was more than big enough and most times was only 1/2 - 2/3 full. It was set to refrigerate only, not freeze. All our meat was cryovacced so didn't require freezing.

We kept meat, milk, juice, cheese, ham, a few beers and a few softdrinks in the fridge plus any leftovers. Additional beer, softdrink and long-life milk was carried hot those used from the fridge replaced each night. Fruit and veges didn't need refrigeration.

So the smaller fridge worked fine for us, especially considering we had a 1 and 2 year old you consume copious quantities of milk.

AnswerID: 180580

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