3 way or 12/240 fridge???

Submitted: Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 22:02
ThreadID: 67166 Views:3794 Replies:9 FollowUps:3
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Hi all,

Am in the process of buying a new van and have to go through the various options with the dealer in a week's time.

I have a 3 way in my current van and am very disappointed with it, especially once outside temp's rise to 30 or above - even after extra insulation, baffling and fans etc. I have noticed though that it's not a T or tropical model.

However, I am told that the new 90 litre fridges they use (I think it's a Dometic) are fine and work really well. If that's indeed the case, then that's the way I'll go.

If not, then I'll go 12/240 compressor job. The only thing stopping me is that I can't put solar on the roof as I already had trouble finding an off-road poptop low enough to fit in my carport. I do however have a portable 80 watt solar panel, but that's not much use in bad weather and I try to avoid using the genny. Also, compressor fridges I have experienced tend to generate enough noise starting and stopping to annoy you during the night.

Would love to hear from those of you with a newer 3 way as to how well it works in the warmer weather.

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Reply By: Matt(WA) - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 22:36

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 22:36

I wouldnt bother with a three way frigde. Get a new compressor fridge and a decent battery bank. That way you dont need to put the solar panel out every day. You can recharge when you stay in a caravan park and also when you are driving. Itf you dont want to carry a genny you can always hook your cay up to your vanbatteries(by anderson plugs) and idlke your car for a while. Will get you through if you need to. With regards to the noise. If you mount the fridge well you only get a bit of noise. I turn mine off at night sometimes and turn it back on in the morning. Its only a few hours and the temp dosent drop to much.

Hope this helps


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AnswerID: 355984

Reply By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 22:37

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 22:37
Hi Gerry

What we did when we purchased an old wind up caravan was threw out the old three way (i will not use a fridge on gas in a caravan), purchased a small upright 12/240 v Engel (Engel don't seem to make this model any more, but there are other brands), a 100 a/h deep cycle battery and controller, and an 80 w solar panel. It was six years ago, and the lot cost us less than $2,000. My husband made a frame and stand for the panel and we put it out to face the sun when we stopped. We also had trickle charge from the vehicle, but that put very little into the battery. Even late in the afternoon or at first morning light, the charge zoomed up. If we stopped all day, we could rest it on the roof. Being a small wind up, it was not suitable for roof mounting the panel, which is now roof mounted on our F250 and can still supply a battery and our car Engel and lights when camping out. We travelled without the genny in both this caravan, and when camping without the caravan in the F250.

I did turn the fridge off a night if it was cool enough (as it often is at night inland) so no noise. Our present caravan has a Vitrifrigo 150 litre which is a similar size to the caravan Engel. The first Vitrifrigo was virtually silent but we had to replace it due to a breakage (our fault), and i can just hear the new one although my husband can't at all.

We now travel with a genny, mainly for the occasional use of the caravan air conditioner and for emergency power tools.



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Reply By: Member - Captain (WA) - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 23:33

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 23:33
Hi Gerry,

While many people are happy with their van 3 way fridge, there are plenty who were not and have replaced them with a compressor fridge.

Now there are many with compressor fridges in their vans but I have yet to hear of a single example of someone replacing their van compressor fridge with a 3 way fridge - enough said IMHO.



PS. I am sure someone will now pop up to say they have done this!
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AnswerID: 355999

Reply By: Member - Heather G (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 07:48

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 07:48
We replaced our 190 litre Waeco compressor 2 door ( 12v/240v) fridge with a dometic 3 way 184 litre 2 door after a trip to Qld last winter. Had two 100ah batteries and two fixed 64 watt solar panels and it was difficult to stay in the one place for more than 24 hours without experiencing a serious drop in power. This caused very noisy operation of the fridge as it cut in and out all night. Had to buy a gennie (to re charge batteries) which we hated using.

We do not like to stay in van parks, preferring N Pks and free camps, so this didnt suit us.

Since changing to the 3 way, we have no problems staying for weeks in the one place as the fridge runs on gas now. It is tropical rated and so far doing the job efficiently and is silent.

It doesnt seem as efficient when on 12v if I have to open it when stopped for lunch while travelling. I have solved this problem by putting our luch things in a small esky so we dont open it until we have pulled up for the night.

Currently in the second week of a trip of almost 6 months travelling SA and WA. All going well and beer is cold enough for the beer drinking person in the 'house' so all is well.

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AnswerID: 356023

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 11:38

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 11:38
Hi Heather
"It doesnt seem as efficient when on 12v"

IF you just connected it to the existing 12v wiring for the fridge I am sure it would be very much undersized for the current draw of a 3way
This causes loss of voltage which needs to be a minimum of 11.75 v @ FRIDGE terminals when it is"ON"'
FollowupID: 624072

Reply By: Best Off Road - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 08:59

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 08:59
As long as the 3 way is "T" rated it will be fine. They operate very well in 40+ weather.



AnswerID: 356036

Reply By: PeterInSa - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 10:35

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 10:35
If you do a lot of bush/free camping without a lot of solar on a larger compressor frig (12/240) you will regret it. Alternatively be prepared to run the genie daily. I would buy a 3 way T (2 door)Frig.

AnswerID: 356070

Reply By: ozjohn0 - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 14:31

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 14:31
I like the versatility of a 3 Way Fridge.
A "T" Rated Domentic or Theford (Norcross) fridge properly installed as to the fridge manufactures specifications will do what it's designed to do.
Unfortunately MOST van manufactures don't get it anywhere near right and frankly couldn't care less.
Stipulate when ordering the van that the fridge 'MUST BE 'T' RATED AND MUST INSTALLED AS PER THE FRIDGE MANUFACTURES SPECIFICATION' Make sure it's written into the Purchase Contract.
A lot of van manufacturers pop a fan behind the fridge and tell you it'll do the job. Wrong, it won't. The fan will assist when the wall cavity temps gets over about 40c. And I'd certainly had one fitted at only around $100 extra. The biggest problem with these absorption type fridges is that they don't cool down as quickly as Electric Inverter each time the door is open. Also pays to take the lettuce out of a night. LOL.
AnswerID: 356107

Reply By: ozjohn0 - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 14:36

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 14:36
Forgot to add that all current model Thetfords are all 'T' Rated and that the later 90 litre Dometics that don't have a climate Rating shown are very close to the requirements of a 'T' Rated fridge.
AnswerID: 356108

Reply By: Broe - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 14:50

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 14:50

What we have done is bought a 40l Engel and as my 2nd battery I use an Optima.

They can be installed upside down, side on, whichever ways, they will give consistant voltage till 3% flat, and most importantly of all, will recharge from 3% to 100% in about 25 min with reaching 65% after about 7 1/2" minutes. This is running from a std hilux alternator. I have it wired in with a solenoid so that it is standalone while the ignition is off but with ignition on it gets charged with a switch to allow for extra starting crank if required.

They are expensive but well worth the money.

AnswerID: 356109

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 17:54

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 17:54
Hi Broe
" will recharge from 3% to 100% in about 25 min with reaching 65% after about 7 1/2" minutes. This is running from a std hilux alternator"

What size battery??? . what size alter nator???
7.5mins by possible max 50amps from most alternator=6amphrs approx. 25 to 30mins would put in25 amp hrs

FollowupID: 624153

Follow Up By: Broe - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 18:09

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 18:09

When I get home I will have a look at the battery and let you know the specs.

The Hilux is a 2009 TD.

I had the fridge running off of the battery for about 8 days and it never looked like running flat. We then drove down the road to another spot about an hour away and were there for another week.

Bought it on the whim that a god mate is an industrial sparky in Melbourne and had done quite some research for his TVan in regards to batteries.

I will also give him a yell if you are interested.

FollowupID: 624155

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