What size portable fridge

Submitted: Friday, Aug 24, 2001 at 00:00
ThreadID: 382 Views:5328 Replies:5 FollowUps:3
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Going out of shop range for 2 weeks and wondered if anyone can recommend a portable fridge size for 2 adults + 2 children(6&10).
60 more than enough or would a 40 suffice.
Forget about freezer use just fridge. Cryovac meats would be the go and any other assorted food items that would need chilling. No soft drink. Would be no luxuries, but not miserable either.
Assume a cool beer or two for the evening.
I am a portable fridge virgin so any advise is gratefully accepted.
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Reply By: Joe - Friday, Aug 24, 2001 at 00:00

Friday, Aug 24, 2001 at 00:00

When it comes to fridges, well you will end up with a hundred different answers. I can tell you that I can happily expect to manage with a 40 litre unit, but if you asked my wife she would say that there is never enough room in whatever you buy, so get the biggest you can afford/fit into the truck. My suggestion therefore is, in the interests of marital harmony, to get the biggest one you can. My wife’s ideal setup (which we don’t have) is to take the Waeco 70 litre system to use as a fridge (although it is also a capable freezer) and then use something like a 50+ litre Liemack to use as a freezer. And then she would still be able to fill them both for a Sunday afternoon picnic!

Cryovac foods – despite the common misconceptions you can keep these almost anywhere, they will last longer (and after a week or two taste better) if you keep them refridgerated.

Once you decide that you will need refridgeration for XX litres you will then come across the issue that has consumed many hours of debate and many discussion forum postings – “Which fridge shall I get?”. I don’t propose to answer that one here, but you could check back through the various postings in this forum on the subject. However, if you haven’t looked yet I do suggest that you remain seated when you first see the prices! Oh, and don’t assume that you will just be able to run the fridge from the cigarette lighter socket – again, check the postings on this, but be prepared to run additional wiring and specialist sockets to the rear of the truck.

No, I can’t resist . . . . I will have to give you a couple of sample prices.

I had a dual battery system fitted to my vehicle (there are many reasons for doing this, but chief among them is keeping the fridge running as long as possible while reducing the chances of getting stuck somewhere with a dead battery) and a couple of Hella plugs fitted to the rear at the cost of $798. This was one of the more intelligent (read expensive) systems, but it will give you an idea of the costs.

A 50 litre Liemack fridge will cost you $1800 or so.
A 60 litre Waeco will cost you around $1200
A 40 litre Engel will cost you around $1300

Prices are quoted from memory so forgive me if they are a little out. What are the differences?
Liemack – very fast and efficient. The Rolls Royce of fridges. A little noisy
Waeco – Excellent compressor, but a bit cheap and plasticky. Sort of like an esky with a compressor. Great value for money.
Engel – The traditionalists fridge. Got a great reputation for robustness/reliability and works efficiently and well. Loses out in the value for money stakes.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask or post on the forum – you will get a hundred answers!

Whatever you choose, I wish you good luck.

See you out there!


AnswerID: 961

Follow Up By: Grant - Friday, Aug 24, 2001 at 00:00

Friday, Aug 24, 2001 at 00:00
Thanks Joe
Yeh,it's all pretty scary pricing accessories for 4WDing. I have been thru a dozen forums,heaps of web pages and mags checking out portable fridges and their prices and you are spot on about opinion on whats the best, best value, best in the tropics, best on an angle, best to make love on and on, and on, and on.....................!!
I guess it all comes down to personal preference, type of use and price. Everyone seems to know the duds, and those products don't stay in the market-place too long anyway. I like the look of the Explorer's but their price!!
Anyway, in all my trawling the web, I've only once found a reference to what size suits who or what. I suppose it is a vexed question the same as the "which is best".
Thanks for your advice Joe and all the best in your travels and one day we will see you "out back". Grant
FollowupID: 277

Reply By: Geoff- Friday, Aug 24, 2001 at 00:00

Friday, Aug 24, 2001 at 00:00
Hi Grant
I to am trying to learn about fridges and in the 4wd nonthly Mag sept 2001 their is a great comparison story on about 10 fridges.I sure after reading the story you will come up with the right fridge for yourself. The size is as joe said what ever size you buy you will fill. My pick would be the Evakool Downunder it's a 50L and as the book said - The Downunder was one of the best units, performing well in all tests. It's a 50L unit, which makes it excellent value for the performance. Good Luck

AnswerID: 963

Follow Up By: Grant - Friday, Aug 24, 2001 at 00:00

Friday, Aug 24, 2001 at 00:00
Thanks Geoff, check the link above. You will be pleased with your choice. I like the Explorer mainly for it's tough look. Looks solid. I have no idea what to get even after all my research. Might just put the names into a hat and reach in..............?
FollowupID: 278

Reply By: John Sullivan - Saturday, Aug 25, 2001 at 00:00

Saturday, Aug 25, 2001 at 00:00
You could also try no fridge at all!! Vegetarian and catch up on meat when you call in at a shop with the 'goods'
You pose a tough question!! -- where are you going that you don't meet a shop for 2 weeks?

Suggest a 40 litre Engel as a fridge for fresh vegies etc., and a 20 liter as a freezer. Use as much Cryovac meat as possible and you will find that you will be eating your stored foods well after you have returned home! Dont forget a basket full of canned pulses and a selection of wines to while away th evenings...
AnswerID: 969

Follow Up By: Grant - Saturday, Aug 25, 2001 at 00:00

Saturday, Aug 25, 2001 at 00:00
G'day John,
Going to Cape Arid(east of Esperance) and out to the Bight in the Nuytsland Nature Reserve, where, thankfully, they haven't set up any shopping malls.Will be fishing so hope to supplement the red meat with lots of healthy Omega 3 laced herring, salmon, skippy etc. Can't wait!!
Thanks for the suggestions. It's certainly something to look at ie; 2 fridges. I reckon with cryovac packs these days a freezer is about obsolete, though I'm sure plenty would disagree.
Roll on Cape Arid.
FollowupID: 280

Reply By: Mike- Monday, Aug 27, 2001 at 00:00

Monday, Aug 27, 2001 at 00:00
Grant, just did a 2 week trip & though we passed shops, basically didn't resupply. Like joe, we had a daul battery system fitted for safety at about the same money. We bought a 39l Engel for $1139, for a couple of reason. first, it wouldn't take up too much room. Secondly, it had ample capacity for everything provided you top up the beer daily( just put in tomorrow's supply) and finally, that one thing all the fancy testing doesn't cover, they have been used out there for all those years and haven't needed to be changed. That must speak for itself. We don't travel with kids, but I do get quite thirsty after a long day in the 'saddle'. I am extremely happy with my fridge/freezer. Hope this helps.
Happy trails, Mike
AnswerID: 975

Reply By: Greg - Monday, Sep 03, 2001 at 00:00

Monday, Sep 03, 2001 at 00:00
Grant I have always travelled with 2 small fridges rather than one large unit. The problem is which type not brand. A three way is almost essential for long stops where power is not available. I use a 3 way Chescold these are very reliable units but don't work well in very high temps particularly in unventillated areas. They also draw a constant 6-8amps which is hell on batteries. I ran a 15 litre 2 way Engel as well for 25 years and it was very good. When using both units I use the Engel as a freezer. I now have a 29l Waeco and so far have found it every bit as good a the Engel and at $599 was around half the price of a new Engel. Having two fridges also gives you a backup system if one gives trouble. A dual battery is essential and a generator and/or solar panel doesn't go astray if you want to freeze things for a long time where there is no power. The other thing about having 2 small fridges is that they are lighter to handle. The large 3 way fridge freezers are great but a pain to lift. I also keep both fridges in my vehicle and not in the trailer as getting at them when travelling is important. The 2 way stays in the vehicle all the time and the 3 way in placed in the camper at night or when stopped for long periods so it can be run on gas. Don't run a fridge on gas in your vehicle as I know some people do. It is illegal and very dangerous. Also don't run it on gas in your camper when under tow.
AnswerID: 1011

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