"fridges in the bush"

Submitted: Saturday, Apr 19, 2003 at 16:42
ThreadID: 4457 Views:2247 Replies:7 FollowUps:8
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Have read some interesting threads on refridgeration recently and would like to throw a pennyworth in.
We (missus+me) spend most of winter in fswQld. where daytime temps. still reach high 20's. So what do we use? The Eletrolux on gas is ok for keeping food,veg. etc. cold on a 3 setting. Up higher you can nearly hear the gas bottle emptying! For the really cold stuff we have used a Trailblaza for the last 6 years, and for my money its the "ducks guts". Have a dual batt. on the 75 L/C, Bosch marine solenoid (75a.cont.) to isolate when not travelling with a 4.5hp Honda driving an alternator/reg. 12v. charging system to keep everything going at other times. We have used an Engel, a very good fridge, but discovered that frozen items on the very bottom will thaw unless the contents are frequently "stirred"(the T/blaza overcomes this by having cooling coils across the bottom). Can understand tour operators lauding the "3way" concept, but of course they are powering their way 8-12hrs./day with quite often 100km/h ventilation! (try sitting pat for 3/4 months) also buses run with 24v. electrics, so half the current draw. At this stage very happy with our setup, but would appreciate comment,always looking to improve! cheers Haze.
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Reply By: Norfridge Repairs - Saturday, Apr 19, 2003 at 17:56

Saturday, Apr 19, 2003 at 17:56
You must have has something terribly wrong with your 3 way fridge if you could hear the gas bottle emptying. Out of a 9kg bottle 8 days should be a worst case with 12 days being the norm. A Trailblazer is really no better than a Waeco with a cover. Check out the specs on the Waeco and Trailblazer insulation and you will be surprised. The only tour operators that use 3 way fridges are the ones that stop at the same place for 2 days or longer. Otherwise they use Danfoss fridges as they can be used on 12 or 24 volt.
AnswerID: 17931

Follow Up By: Brian - Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 09:21

Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 09:21
....Don't get me wrong... this is not intended to start an argument... but as a "fridgie" who is looking at purchasing a fridge, I must say that the comparo with Waeco doesn't sit with me. After looking closely at all the fridges on the market, my opinion is that the sturdier build of the Trailblazer will outlast the others, as good as they no doubt are.... Personally I would prefer to have a fridge that DIDN'T need to have a cover!
FollowupID: 11254

Reply By: george - Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 11:49

Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 11:49
We have had our 28L Engle fridge for 20 years, we bought it 2nd hand 20 years ago when it was 3 months old.
It is still going great, better than the newer models, in my view.
Apart from replacing the 12V cord from time to time we have never had a problem with it.
I run a dual battery system, the standard LC battery with a 105amp deep cycle battery.
The deep cycle battery is automatically isolated when the ignition switch is off, through a simple solenoid switch.
This will keep the fridge running, on average, for about 24 hrs.\
The only thing you must watch, when loading your frige, is plastics.
If you have plastic bags against the cooling plates inside the fridge it will loose up to 75% of it's cooling capacity.
Another thing to be mindfull of is the way you store items in the fridge.
Try and leave airspaces between the items.
We find that packing things in small solid plastic containers works best.
Never store anything on or arround the air grills of the compressor motor, this will also reduce the efectiveness of the fridge.
Hope this is of some assistance to other users of Enle fridges.
AnswerID: 17949

Follow Up By: Eric from Cape York Connections - Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 12:39

Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 12:39
George I will second all you said about the Engle , we have only had ours for about 6 years and it has done plenty of work , to date not missed a beat.
About the plastic bags against the cooling plates we have a basket in the fridge , we just put every thing in the basket then load it into the fridge.
Is this wrong can you give us a tip on what you mean .
Also I was told to keep our fridge as full as possible to eliminate air, it is interesting to here different opinions on the above.
All the best

Cape York Connections
FollowupID: 11258

Follow Up By: JC - Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 21:58

Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 21:58
Good day (Big) Eric,
Keep that Beer cold and fridge full because I will see you at the Canning.

Regards (Big) John.
FollowupID: 11284

Reply By: george - Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 13:00

Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 13:00
Hi Eric,
You are correct, however the standard basket that comes with the fidge does not provide sufficient clearance when plastic bags are used.
Fill the fridge completely is OK providing the things you put in the fridge are already chilled or frozen.
If you load up with warm items for the fridge to cool or freeze, then leave the airspace between them

AnswerID: 17953

Reply By: Member - Cocka - Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 14:24

Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 14:24
Some really good comments by George. Allow me to emphasise one important point made. Fridges are heat exchangers, they take heat out and dispose of it through the fins, vanes, plates etc, Whatever the means it is absolutely important to allow that heat to escape for efficiency. Air flow over the fins by way of vents, fans open windows or whatever allows a fridge to work much much better. If the air is trapped around the motor and fins, the motor will stew in it's own heat, producing more heat which can't escape. Keep the fins clean also with a blow out of dust buildup.
Obviously, fridges always work better in cooler ambient temps & visa versa.
This also applys to any refrigeration, domestic etc.
The thickness and quality of insulation of the walls to minimise temperature loss should be considered. In hot conditions drape a damp towel over the fridge even whilst travelling but dont cover the vanes, it helps. I've got a mate who installed mini fans from a computer to blow over the fins, he had to turn the temp dial back half a turn to stop it freezing up.
I get amused with certain brand fridges that produce a product that only partially does the job insulating and they then sell you a jacket to make it do what it should have done in the first place.
AnswerID: 17957

Follow Up By: haze - Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 15:58

Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 15:58
Thanks for the comments,folks. First off, my home administator advised me our T/blaza is now 9yrs. old (no longer a pup) And yes, because its in the back of a tray top it cps a lot of dust so a regular blow out of the motor compartment is a necessity. the other big feature of this unit is the outer shell providing the heat sink for the condenser coils. I reckon this being alluminium helps in efficiency. However one mod I made was to screw a piece of 3ply to the underside of the lid and glue a 1" thick piece of poly foam to fit neatly in the box to provide better lid insulation. As supplied is only 2 1/2" with fully wrapped around al. cladding. I know cold air sinks, but it has reduced power consumption by around 7p/cent. Re comments on Electrolux gas consumption, by removing the rear louvre panel and making heat deflectors from foil backed sisalation we can get 24-28 days from 9kg. (which includes the odd cup tea boiled on the stove) The purpose for all of this is that at this particular location we are long term campers with the closest town for shopping 210km. distant. So we try to shop every three weeks, and put great reliance on our cold store facilities! The plus side is great isolation, being self reliant, no noisy neighbors (lucky to see 2 people a week!) and a life style second to none. Cheers, Haze
FollowupID: 11265

Reply By: Flash - Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 20:36

Sunday, Apr 20, 2003 at 20:36
some good comments here- but if anybody called "scott" has anything to say then look out- he might punch you in the face.....
My ACTUAL name is Scott, BUT I am NOT THE SCOTT on earlier posts (re 3Way friges.)
I have had some bad experiences with a 3 way ( I had a Electrolux that was not very good at all), but whoever "Scott" is -he is looney tunes!!!
All friges are ok at times, but my evacool (with a danfoss compressor ) has never let me down- it is reliable and predictable. I have had it for about 2 years and have had NO problems!!
I just want a refrigerator that works reliably, and the Evacool does that every time (so far). (I dont sell evacools!! I am a mechanic with a major Toyota dealer and work mainly on 4 Cyl cars .)
A few of my buddies with 3 way have had various problems. I cant run on gas but have a solar panel which charges my batery, and it charges when I drive, and have NO problem if I keep my battery charged at a fair level.
I did have a 3 way but always had problems unless it was cool. For my money I would go for a Evacool rather than GAS> EVERY time.
I have also heard that trailblazer is good- no problems at all .
Happy easter everybody. (its nearly over)

AnswerID: 17968

Reply By: Mike - Monday, Apr 21, 2003 at 00:02

Monday, Apr 21, 2003 at 00:02
The Engel fridge is definately the way to go.

At the recent Camping show it was 30+ degrees in Perth and they had an Engel and other brand sitting side by side. Both fridges same internal temperature in the sun and the Engel was pulling 2.5 amps and the other 5+ amps. Basically the time you can use fridge = battery amp-hr rating divided by amps therefore Engel will last at least twice as long!

BUT, why buy one!! They are $1200 new or $850-$1100 second hand. I rent mine at $30-$35 per week. No problems with maintenance or new models superceeding my expensive purchase. The renter is just a couple of k's away and therefore I just pick up the night before.

Work it out: A$1200/A$30 = 40 trips before I break even (ok, not counting residual value!!)! I'm lucky to do 5 trips per year where I need the Engel and therefore this is about 8 years use! At best 5 years!

If I do the big one round Oz I will probably buy one but until then...I'm renting!

See yah...
AnswerID: 17989

Follow Up By: Terry - Monday, Apr 21, 2003 at 21:06

Monday, Apr 21, 2003 at 21:06

you logic's quite amazing, My Subaru's lighter than a land Cruiser therefore it must be able to fly. The Engel may have been pulling 2.5 amps, the swing comprerssor can only push so many watts of refrigerant, what you failed to mention was the temperature. Your little Engel with its Swing compressor will run continously to maintain temperatures below -4C at 30c ambient. It would have been interesting to see what the 5 amp fridge was doing. People that get hung up on amp/hrs don't want a unit to keep food cool they want and energy saver, you can't have both.
FollowupID: 11315

Follow Up By: Craig - Tuesday, Apr 22, 2003 at 22:13

Tuesday, Apr 22, 2003 at 22:13
I wonder if you could advise where you rent your fridge from.
I live in Perth and am also of the oppinion that Engels are the dogs proverbials, but have problem justifying one for w/e or 4 day trips. will buy later for the big trip, but just want to rent for now.
FollowupID: 11385

Follow Up By: Mike - Friday, Apr 25, 2003 at 00:35

Friday, Apr 25, 2003 at 00:35

Your Subaru can fly eh? Mmmm, have you been drug tested lately?

I'm not sure what point you are making but what I observed was that one compressor (the Engel) was pulling 2.5 amps and the other fridge was pulling 5 amps. Both fridges were at the same outside temperature (=ambient) and internal temperature (about 0-2 degrees). Amp useage was measured on both via ampmeters (or whatever they are called).

Now, I understand your point about motor duty etc but surely if both fridges are the same temperature and both are running continuously (repeat continuously) then surely it would be better to have a fridge at 2.5 amps rather then one at 5 amps? Doesn't this mean the Engel is more efficient (= function of motor+insulation)?

Nuff said I think...unless of course you have any further insights to the flying Subaru!
FollowupID: 11493

Reply By: Craig - Monday, Apr 21, 2003 at 23:28

Monday, Apr 21, 2003 at 23:28
Hi Mike,
Where do you rent your Engel from?
AnswerID: 18055

Follow Up By: Mike - Friday, Apr 25, 2003 at 00:27

Friday, Apr 25, 2003 at 00:27
Engeland in Balcatta. 9240 1003 and 0419 191 072. The fridges are fairly new and unmarked (although that said I had a small dent in the last one I rented so check it when you pick it up so you don't get blamed for any previous marks!)
FollowupID: 11492

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