Engel Versus ARB fridges

Submitted: Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 20:32
ThreadID: 92470 Views:38912 Replies:5 FollowUps:6
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We are looking at fridge freezers for our travels. We have been looking at either an Engel or an ARB unit. We have heard a lot about the Engel's but very little about the ARB fridges. Also unsure weather to get a unit that works as either a fridge or freezer or an Engel combination fridge freezer unit. Seems that ARB do not sell combination units.
Does anyone have any experience with the ARB units or thoughts on the pro's and con's of the fridge or freezer units versus combination fridge freezers.
Any comments appreciated.
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Reply By: BUSH CAMPER - Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 20:52

Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 20:52
I believe that you can't beat an engel. I had the old green and yellow, bought it for $150.00 second hand in 1992, it was about 10 years old then, had it for another 10 years before I bought a new 40th edition. My boys then gave the green and yellow one hell before they sold it to a mate. My boys bought the 80lt engel and has been strapped on the back of a cruiser for about 6 years, and the pig shooting trips give it hell, but it just keeps going. I wouldn't buy anything else.
AnswerID: 480206

Reply By: Kanga1 - Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 22:09

Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 22:09
Russan, we have had a 40 litre Engel and 57 litre Engel Combi ( fridge freezer) which was brilliant, an 18 litre Waeco and now have a 47 litre ARB, the Engels are good but can be difficult to clean properly, getting the temparature in the fridge right can be challenging, and the 40 litre Engels are about 3 1/2 cans wide which can mean wasted space. So far the ARB which is thermostatically controlled has been faultless, it is an even number of cans wide and is super easy to clean, it has a light in it too. No problems so far, very happy. :-) Kanga.
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Reply By: Member - GRANT HID(NSW) - Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 22:22

Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 22:22
Hi Russan,
We had a 60L Engel for a number of years till the slide on got destroyed in a fire.I have since bought a 47L ARB and a 60L ARB so much easier to set what temp you want and forget rather than always checking to see if things are frozen then adjusting and easy to clean with the bung in the bottom.

AnswerID: 480219

Follow Up By: Member - Wayne B (NSW) - Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 23:04

Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 23:04
I have 2 Engels and both are over 15 years old never had a problem. These 2 fridges have been to most Asian countries when I was driving rally cars and were essential as apart of the back up vehicles. Since then one has been planted in the back of my 80 series.

Got to agree with Grant with setting temperature though. Exploded a few cans of drink over the years but at least you cant say its not keeping cool enough LOL

Wayne B
FollowupID: 755701

Reply By: Tim - Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 23:54

Monday, Mar 12, 2012 at 23:54
4WD monthly did a test on fridges nearly 12 months ago. They tested things like the ability to hold set temps in low and high ambient temps (controlled climate), current draw and a few other things like that.

If you analysed the raw data, the engel was clearly in front, however, the ARB was awarded the "best fridge"...... not too sure why.

Engel make fridges. ARB slaps their stickers on a lot of things!
AnswerID: 480228

Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 00:45

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 00:45
"however, the ARB was awarded the "best fridge"...... not too sure why. "

Usually obvious - check the sponsorship ....
FollowupID: 755707

Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 07:34

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 07:34
Tim just curious on your comment " Engel was clearly in front" I thought in that test the Engel did not fare as well as a number of other brands for power usage and holding its temperature in extreme heat?
FollowupID: 755717

Follow Up By: Tim - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 10:26

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 10:26
There was things which were not ideal for both, I think the engel may have had more power usage in some areas.

I recall one of the tests was to see which fridge would "control" the temp better in a set outside temp. Both fridges set to 3 degrees and the actual temps were plotted. The engel went from 4 to 0 where as the ARB went from 3 to 5 degrees and was awarded the winner for better temp control. Yes the differance between the set point and the maximum deviation is lower but over 4 degrees and you run the risk of your meat going off etc etc. Obviously the lower temps are gong to use more power to get them lower.

I can't remember more specifics but I remember stewing over the magazine over it's interpretation of the data. Engel wasn't in front everytime but it was clear the ARB could do no wrong.
FollowupID: 755728

Follow Up By: Travis22 - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 11:11

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 11:11
The old ARB fridges were made by Engel.

The new (current) ARB fridges are made by DOMETIC (Weaco).


In all of our travels by a long long lead we have encountered many fellow travelers with failed Weaco fridges.

Late last year whilst heading out to do the Simpson we met 3 separate groups that had a failed Weaco in them, and one group had a failed ARB (one of the new ones) in it. Granted it was during a very hot week, and iirc it was a pretty similar story fridge in vehicle sitting in the sun in the middle of the day and they die.

The most common fridges we come across out there would have to be Engel, specially with the camper trailer types. Many of them even run two Engels in their camper trailers.

Personally im not a huge Engel fan, IMO the fit and finish and quality of the fittings themselves today seems to be really lacking. Even the Stainless Steel screws, clip etc. doesnt look like SS... maybe Chinese SS?

Any fridge over the 50-60L mark is going to use a fair amount of power.

The 4wd Action fridge comparo and most of the results are really worthless. Vague and inaccurate, basic mistakes with a 'hint' of sponsor's bias!

We have the National Luna 50L Twin. 40L Fridge and 10L Freezer. It lives in the back of ute, rain hail and shine. Its never let us down and despite what the 4wd Action comparo might make you think it uses hardly any power (and ive bench tested it myself, along with my mates 40L & 60L Engels to confirm my thoughts on the 4wd Action Comparo).

My advice would be first of all to work out exactly how much room you have to fit the fridge, narrow down your list to what actually fits. Pay attention to the lid opening direction options and also where the dials are situated along with the power supply cord. This will further narrow down your choices to what really is going to suit you the best.

Head down to your local Rays or Anaconda and have a look at the fridges there, see how many of them (which brands) have busted clips and lids that dont align / seal properly.

Trail Blazer, Explorer or National Luna would be my pick and once you weigh everything up and look at the quality you are getting there really isnt much gap between them and the 'others'.
FollowupID: 755735

Follow Up By: Travis22 - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 11:15

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 11:15
^^^ by 'gap' i mean the price gap. Once you look at what your getting the price difference doesnt really seem very big, and the way the Engel's etc. prices seem to go up and up it wont be long before they are in the same price bracket anyways!
FollowupID: 755736

Reply By: Member - Travelinglew - Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 12:42

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012 at 12:42

Have to say that I was a tried and true Engel user for many years. Last year before heading to the NT on a fishing trip, I was talked into buying a Trail Blazer. I purchased a second hand 60l TB and believe me, I am now converted though I still have my 20l Engel and use it all the time.

Couple of things that stand out.

Build of the TB is brilliant. Made for the rough tough trips that we all like to do.

The 60l TB uses less power than the 20l Engel.

The engle has its cooling plate at the top of the fridge, making it hard to use as a combo fridge freezer.

The TB cools from the bottom plate. So you can put all of your frozen goods on the bottom. A thin sheet of styro foam over the top and then the fridge items on top of this. Set the control to keep the frozen food frozen and the fresh sits on top without freezing.

On the down side, the TB has a large footprint and is a heavy unit but this is far outweighed, IMO, by the benefits.

AnswerID: 480256

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