Power 80lt Engel Fridge

Hi hope you experts can give some advice.

We have just bought a 80lt Engel fridge/freezer and a 200Watt portable solar panel, initially for a 5 day trip many more to come (previously we have use a standard esky and dry ice, last trip all our food was carbonated and my wife finally let me go with the fridge yay for me). My wife wants to be able to keep the meat frozen in the freezer (and defrost it when she wants) while keeping all our other food cool in the fridge component. No drinks will be stored in it. (Family of four)

For this trip I want to use the battery in our X-Trail (racq brand about 4 weeks old) to run the fridge from the boots plug (not sure if the wire is good enough for this, can any one comment?) and charge the battery directly with the panel during the day, other items that might be charged as well are phones, ipod, lattern. Possibly turn the fridge off at night as the temperature is usually quite cool were we camp over Easter.

Do you think this will be ok?

Long term I would like to get a dedicated battery to run the fridge and possibly some small lighting and on those really sinking hot days a fan (have not look at options for these yet). What is the better battery technology to go for? I have heard AGM are the way to go, are the SSB batteries different tech? (they seem to be cheaper for the same ah).

I have also read that it is better to go with two smaller units run in parallel than one large one, is this true?

What other components will I need for a single/double battery setup?

I have also seen the waceo and thumper type batteries which seem to be a nice packaged product with plugs, led display etc (all you need) in a custom box, however the sizes (ah) are really small for the price you are paying.

I do understand that what might work for one person will not work as well for others however I am looking for some first hand experience on this type of setup.

Any help/advice will be greatly appreciated.

Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Rossc0 - Sunday, Apr 10, 2011 at 22:24

Sunday, Apr 10, 2011 at 22:24
We have an 80lt Engel fridge only.

Generally we freeze everything that we need to before we go and it will stay frozen for 5 days with the fridge set on 2 = about 4deg C and all the frozen items in the bottom before anything else is loaded (drinks included).

Only thing that won't stay frozen is ice creams (damn) but if I set it at 4 it will freeze everything in there.

We have two auxiliary batteries both connected to the fridge if the camper is on the truck.

With this set up from full charge we can run the fridge and lights for 5 days with out having to run the truck to charge up the batteries. If we had solar panels it would be much longer.

I'd definitely run the solar as much as possible, full sun no shade angled to the north, follow the sun but at least ensure that maximum sun from 10am to 2pm. Why do you need to charge phones and ipod your supposed to be away for the weekend ;).

As for dual battery setup then you need an isolator and the second battery.

As for what type of battery I'm biased and only use optima yellow top batteries. These are a cranking/deep cycle battery those in the F100 are now about three years old and no issues what so ever. I have a spare one at home which has sat on the shelf for 12 months and still shows 12.2 volts so very little drain when not connected to anything but don't let them sit without charge.

You can also get one of these Battery Box and put what ever battery you wish in it.

The X Trail rear socket should provide enough power, plug it in now and turn the fridge to maximum see if the fuse can handle it, if so then should not be an issue.

AnswerID: 450889

Follow Up By: ruskie - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011 at 06:29

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011 at 06:29
Hi Ross

Thanks for the info.

It looks like the yellow top batteries are wet lead ones, are they safe to have in
the back of the car? There is nowhere near enough room under the bonnet of the X-trail?



FollowupID: 723564

Follow Up By: Rossc0 - Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011 at 12:35

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011 at 12:35
Don't know where you got that from, they are AGM batteries (Absorbed Glass Mat).

They can be shipped by air so are definitely not wet.

Optima Yellow Top

FollowupID: 723735

Follow Up By: Rossc0 - Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011 at 12:38

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011 at 12:38
AGM Battery description
FollowupID: 723737

Reply By: Battery Value Pty Ltd - Sunday, Apr 10, 2011 at 22:34

Sunday, Apr 10, 2011 at 22:34
Hello Ruskie,

this fridge/freezer is specced 4.2A max current, so powering it from the 12V ciga lighter is no problem.
200W solar panel is more than adequate to charge the battery/power the fridge during the day.
Cool nights mean the time averaged current probably won't exceed 1.5A, no problem for a good starter battery to power through the night.

For a second battery, yes AGM deep cycle batteries are the best choice.
Good quality units don't have to cost more than $2 per Ah.
For your power saving fridge and small other loads a 95Ah battery is more than adequate.

Because you've already got a beefy solar panel, you don't need any other components (except the solar regulator which probably came with the panel).
While travelling, plug the fridge into the outlet in the boot, and when stationary, connect it to the second AGM deep cycle battery which stores the solar power from the folding solar panel.

cheers, Peter
AnswerID: 450891

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Apr 11, 2011 at 07:14

Monday, Apr 11, 2011 at 07:14
Portable Battery packs such as the Blue Apple Thumper, or Sidewinder Flyer (with battery added) are hard to beat for functionality.
The Thumper size goes up to 105Ah and the Flyer takes an AGM size battery of 120Ah or so. Both come with isolators, cables, plugs etc.... for a full solution.

My recommendation for portability (if you need to remove the battery pack from the vehicle), is a 75Ah Thumper, or a Flyer with an 80Ah AGM battery installed.
Anything bigger is just too heavy to lift out.

Whatever you eventually decide in the way of an auxiliary battery supply, take my advice and immediately invest in a low voltage protection device.
This will protect whatever battery you have the fridge connected to from being discharged too much, especially when using the one and only starting battery to begin with.

Sidewinder Battery Protector


I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!

My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 450895

Reply By: Member - Greg H (NT) - Monday, Apr 11, 2011 at 08:06

Monday, Apr 11, 2011 at 08:06
With regards to your meat, get it cryovac (freeze it also). This will help with the long life and no spoiling.


Tomorrow is here!

My Profile  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 450898

Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Apr 11, 2011 at 19:41

Monday, Apr 11, 2011 at 19:41
Yep, totally agree.
We vacuum seal our meat and freeze it, then place it in the fridge (non freeze setting) before setting out on a trip.

Even if the meat thaws out, it will last much longer than the time we have available for a camping trip. 2 to 3 weeks, no problem at all and 6 weeks is more likely for red meat without bones. Any chicken we take is used early in the trip as I "don't trust it" for too long.


I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!

My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

FollowupID: 723508

Reply By: anglepole - Monday, Apr 11, 2011 at 09:02

Monday, Apr 11, 2011 at 09:02

Things go a little better if you freeze your food(in the home freezer) before you go away.

I have found that a fridge cover helps minimise the cycling of the Engel
AnswerID: 450902

Reply By: ruskie - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011 at 06:32

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011 at 06:32
To all who have replied.

Thank you all for your replies you have all given me some good advise I appreciated your feedback.

Happy camping/exploring....

AnswerID: 451020

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (11)