Portable Fridge for Camping

Submitted: Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 12:18
ThreadID: 77201 Views:7296 Replies:8 FollowUps:2
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Hi folks,

Have been looking at portable fridges, searched this site and others, and am not sure. I don't really want to spend $1000+ on a Waeco/Engel, therefore am wondering if one of the cheaper Repco/Kmart?Jackaroo 2-way or 3-way fridges would be sufficient?

We are planning on weekends and short breaks (1-2 weeks) where we will almost always be staying on grassed powered sites in a tent. We would run on 12v while driving, unconnecting if we stop for a lunch break, and would run it on 240v when at the powered site. No plans to go unpowered, though its not out of the question.

Ultimately I'm not sure whether to go 2- or 3-way! And where do we put it? Does it need to be off the ground when at the site?

Thanks in advance,
Kylie
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Reply By: Member - Troll 81 (QLD) - Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 12:41

Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 12:41
Kylie,

Cold beer is very important to me almost more than keeping food cold :) In my case I would rather spend the money on a well known brand that has proven reliability out in the field. They all say the same stuff on the box but the real proof is out in the sticks.

Why don’t you hire a three way and then hire a compressor fridge for one of your trips and try them out and see what works best? If you are going to be at powered sites like you say then you don’t need a battery setup just run the fridge from the mains. Friends of ours hired a fridge not long ago for a trip and they paid around $120 for a week.

Another thing if you are always going to be at powered sites then the chances are pretty high that there will be ice close by.....use a good esky while you save up for a good compressor fridge and battery setup and get away from the caravan parks :)
AnswerID: 410468

Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 13:36

Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 13:36
HI Kylie

You can't do better than get a second hand old 12/240 v Engel. They may not be quite as efficient as the latest models, but when on powered sites, that won't matter, and you vehicle battery should handle it whilst driving, but they are bomb proof. If stopping unpowered, just turn it off and leave it shut over night and it will hold the cold pretty well.

We ran one in powered sites when tenting after we had a good catch of fish to keep frozen. We just left it on the ground near the power outlet for our site. When camping with just the ute (no tent) and at a caravan park, we left it in the middle of the site to mark out spot while out for the day, but we chose to camp amongst the 'oldies' who we asked to keep an eye on it for us during the day. If the ground was really dusty (bush camping), we put it on a small cheap plastic tarp (like $2-$3 from a cheap shop).

I would never use a fridge on gas, and prefer the efficiency of compressor fridges.


Motherhen
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AnswerID: 410480

Follow Up By: sassenach.girl - Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 13:40

Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 13:40
Thanks Motherhen .. didn't even occur to me to look for a 2nd hand Engel. I shall start keeping an eye on eBay :)

Kylie
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 13:45

Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 13:45
I don't know where you are Kylie, but we have an advertising paper called the Quokka, and when we have bought, there have been heaps in there - so what ever local paper which is popular for advertising (most are also on line these days). We have two older style; a 30 litre and a 40 litre, so can run one as a freezer if needed. The one in the vehicle runs off a solar panel and battery. Caravan is fully solar powered.

Mh
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Reply By: Outbacktourer - Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 15:04

Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 15:04
We have 39L and 29L Engel's a Repco 3 way jobbie, also Waeco fiberglass esky and two sizes of el cheapo plastic esky.

It's horses for courses depending on the trip/who's along

If you are base camping the Repco will be fine provided it is in a relatively cool spot and set up DEAD LEVEL. It works well on 240V and Gas but forget it on 12V, not worth the effort. Remember these are fridges and not freezers so they will struggle in hot conditions where the others will sail through because you can just keep turning them up to the point they freeze.

What helps greatly, particulrly if you have kids along is to run a separate esky for drinks, even an el cheapo will keep drinks well with a bag of ice a day and keeps people out of the fridge.

Another thought for you if space is not at too much of a premium, what about a small 240V only bar fridge? I would have gone that way if I did not want something that ran on gas.

OBT
AnswerID: 410496

Reply By: Best Off Road - Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 16:15

Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 16:15
Kylie,

The cheapie ($300 ish) 3 ways only cool to about 22-24 below ambient and are useless when it gets to 30 or hotter.

If you go a compressor fridge it will work extremely well in almost any conditions as long as you can keep the power up to it. If you get bitten by the bug to get away to some great, unpowered, bush camps you will then need to be able to power the thing. This will require a dual battery system and some way of charging it; budget for a minimum of $1000 and possibly well past $2000.

I'd recommend a good quality 3 way. Primus do a 55 L fridge that cools 33-35 below ambient for around $800 and a 70L that cools 38-40 below ambient for a bit more. Run it off 240 in van parks and gas in the bush.

I went down the compressor fridge path and with the fridge, dual battery system, solar panel and generator I've got $4000 invested in keeping stuff cold and that is absurd. If I had my time over again it would have been a good quality three way.

Regards,

Jim.

AnswerID: 410504

Reply By: garrycol - Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 21:30

Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 21:30
I have a 55l ebay compressor fridge that cost $500. Works great, has low power consumption and can easily freeze your beers if you want.

Garry
AnswerID: 410566

Reply By: garrycol - Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 21:32

Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 21:32
I have a 55l ebay compressor fridge that cost $500. Works great, has low power consumption and can easily freeze your beers if you want.

Garry
AnswerID: 410568

Reply By: adgnetworks - Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 22:55

Friday, Mar 26, 2010 at 22:55
There's a 60L Primus compressor fridge/freezer at my local camping shop for $700.

That's pretty cheap for the size and the quality of Primus.
AnswerID: 410591

Reply By: kcandco - Monday, Mar 29, 2010 at 21:37

Monday, Mar 29, 2010 at 21:37
Hi Kylie

This may not suit your vehicle or traveling habits but...

We traveled for years on holidays using a small bar fridge in the back of the dual cab. It had sufficient room in the freezer compartment to fit in 3 x 2 litre milk bottles which were filled with water. We connected to 240v at night while staying in caravan parks and it was disconnected from about 7am till 6 pm while doing other activities. During that time the millk bottles filled with ice kept everything nice and cold (even on 35C Summer days). We then used the fridge at home as a 2nd beer/drinks fridge when not on holidays. For a budget fridge it worked really well, and saved us heaps in lunchtime meals and drinks taken from our own fridge.

As regards 3 way fridges. I have used many including Kmart models, an unbranded model and Chescolds f40, f400 and RC1180. I would not bother spending my hard earned $ on anything but a Chescold fridge/FREEZER.... $1000 new but can be bought 2nd hand for $200 up. Just make sure they work well before buying. Compressor fridges are better still if you have the power available to run them. They cool more quickly and are more suited to daily traveing. 3 ways are more suited to longer stays (3 days plus) as they are slower to cool.

regards Kc
AnswerID: 410969

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