Engel Fridge in Hot Weather

Submitted: Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 16:17
ThreadID: 9558 Views:16548 Replies:9 FollowUps:6
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Whilst camping along the Murray River over christmas for a week in 35 degree + temperatures during the day, my 39L Engel fridge really struggled to maintain a temperature below 5 degrees during the hot part of the day ( I have an engel external / internal temperature sensor).

The fridge motor was running continually trying to maintain a thermostat reading of 1 and a half on the dial. After a day it really ran down the battery in the dual battery system so I plugged into a mates 240 volt generator to run the fridge for a couple of hours during the day. Even with the generator the best it would pull down to from 6 degrees was 4.5 degrees after running the generator for about 2 hours.

I am wondering if my fridge is faulty (about 4 years old) or if that is as good as they get in the warmer part of the day.

The car was also parked in the shade with all the windows down.

Another mate camping with us had a new Bushman fridge without dual batteries or a generator and was holding 2 degrees and did not even get a flat battery.
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Reply By: Shaker - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 16:53

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 16:53
Sounds faulty to me .. I was camping on the Avon River & it was 35 degrees plus & on setting 1 mine was running between 1 & 1.6 degrees.
AnswerID: 42080

Reply By: The S Man - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 16:57

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 16:57

To give you an idea during one of the days in that hot spell in Adelaide my 39l Engel was in the car which was in the sun most of that day. The internal temp of the car read 50.4 and the fridge read 1.5 (Engel dual thermometer) with the fridge dial on a setting of 1 & 1/2. Mine is a new model (only 4 months old) which has the new turbo fan in it, so am not sure if that makes a difference. The fridge has the transit bag on it as well. Don't know how much it was cycling as I was not in the car (not at that temp anyway!!!)

Normally I set my dial on 1 & 1/4 to 1 & 1/2 and it sits on between -1 and 1.5 degrees. Keeps the tinnies perfect!!

Sounds like you may need to get it checked out.

S Man
AnswerID: 42081

Follow Up By: Leroy - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 19:52

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 19:52
I agree S Man, that's about the same performance as my 40l.

FollowupID: 304564

Reply By: Lyds - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 17:38

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 17:38
I too was up the Murray over the last little while. For my ARB (engel lookalike) which I normally I keep mine on 1 (don't have a thermometer), on the 41C days I had to put it up to near 2 to keep my beers in a manner to which I have become accustomed.

Mind you, the fridge is sitting in a the insulator bag and kept in a storage unit.Cheers,
- To err is human, to moo bovine -
AnswerID: 42088

Reply By: Ray - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 18:03

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 18:03

Depends on how humid the weather was and if there was any cooling from air movement (wind etc) across the condenser. However the temps you quote are realistic under worst conditions ie, hot and humid, opened a number of times to get food and or putting in warm drinks etc. Under these conditions the fridge can't keep up. Pretty much any fridge would struggle, don't forget that with the refrigerant used that it can only pull down to a certain temp above ambient, I think the max delta T is close to 38 deg C, hopefully a fridgey on the forum can confirm the right figure. If the batteries are down and it's hot etc it's an ever increasing cycle until you get hot beer.

AnswerID: 42093

Follow Up By: Mark - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 19:13

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 19:13
The maximum delta T of 38 is about right for the 3 way gas fridges, not a compressor fridge like the engels. The engels is limited by how much heat the condensor coil can disapate, and this is dependent on air flow over the coil 9and obviously ambient temperature) but it is significantly more than 38C. As an example, I have run my engels as a freezer at -10C while its been something like 50C in the car, a delta T of 60.

One of the biggest problems with fridges is the size of the wire used to connect them. Best thing to do is check the voltage while the fridge is running. Unless its over 12V, the fridge will not be running efficiently. Also, as the voltage drops, the amp draw increase, running your battery flat faster.


FollowupID: 304559

Follow Up By: Terry - Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 17:08

Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 17:08

I doubt you would be able to run an Engel at -10 when the car was 50C. The physics of R134a and a swing motor combination wouldn't enable that to occur. the swing motor is a solenoid compressor, as the gasses get hotter they expand, the compressor under these loads finds it difficult to reach full comprsession and only part of the gasses get pushed through the system. The gas that remains in the cylinder of the compressor becomes extremely hot and only compounds the problems.

FollowupID: 304691

Follow Up By: Mark - Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 20:12

Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 20:12
Terry, can only tell what I saw! My engels is in a transit bag and it wasn't 50C in the car all day (only when stopped and car air con off).

Probably only ~30C in car with aircon on, so engels nice and cold. Stopped for ~1hour, only checked engels upon return. In hindsight, engels may have been colder initially and may have got warmer if gone longer.

But still pleased with performance. I have used it as a freezer regularly and never had items not frozen.


FollowupID: 304708

Reply By: Member - George (WA) - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 18:53

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 18:53
I have also found that if you have plastic bags in the Engel fridge and they are in contact with the cooling elements along the walls of the fridge, it's cooling/freezing performance is reduced significantly. Keep fridge contents in hard plastic containersKing Edward River, Mitchell Plateau
VKS-737, ch 2, sel. 2131
AnswerID: 42098

Reply By: chrisfrd - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 18:59

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 18:59
Sounds like it's either got a gas quantity or pressure problem there Bodie!

Typically, when a fridge drones like that, there's a leak with the high-pressure gas somewhere. It can't compress the gas effectively and the thermostat just holds the fridge motor on until sooner or later, PHHHHUUSST! The motor blows.

I would be taking to a refer repair place to get them to check it out.
AnswerID: 42100

Follow Up By: joc45 - Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 08:57

Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 08:57
Yeh, if you lose too much gas, the swing motor piston drives itself thru into the cyl head, destroying itself. Big bikkies for an Engel repair. Get it checked.
FollowupID: 304640

Reply By: Member - JohnR - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 22:29

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 22:29
Bodie, something worried me on our recent trip to South Australia with our temperature guage. I had previously dangled the sensor down inside the fridge until that trip but decided to stick the sensor to the inside of the lid !

We were aware that a certain point on the thermostat gave us a reliable 4 degrees on the fridge and good keeping quality with it.

The read out is visible through the windows and gave us a 9 degree temperature reading on our first day- remember the sensor on the inside of the lid. 35 degrees plus in the camper. It crept up to nearly 12 degrees with the thermostat turned down to eventually freeze the milk later (had to invert over the cereal and shake) and nearly everything else. Beer was ok, but cold as we drank it.

I worked out that the sensor position is critical and a lid that is not as well insulated as it could be. Have seen Michelle suggest wet towels before, I think good insulation would help on top. Guess that is why a bag is an extra where it should be seen as an insulation medium ! Perhaps we need to know more about the insulation others use too, as well as the airflow.

Critical points: placement of sensor and insulation quality. The more we travel the more we learn.Regards

JohnR - Not enough of the right travelling, some here..... some over there.......
AnswerID: 42142

Follow Up By: Leroy - Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 10:04

Thursday, Jan 08, 2004 at 10:04
I have my sensor in the middle and aim for 2deg. I find at the top is approx and find the bottom is around -1 to 0 deg. So yes I found the temp does vary in the Engel. But you pack it accordingly. Tomatoes at the top your cheeses meats in the middle and the beer at the bottom!!

FollowupID: 304649

Reply By: friar - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 23:01

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2004 at 23:01
Hi Bodie
I was at king ash bay in late april with 2friends with engel fridges
the temperature was from 32 to 38 only dropping to 32 at night
both fridges would not freese only getting down to about 1 degree
with continuous cycling,my trailblazer could only get to -10 continuous
cycling normally gets to -18 on the 2nd thermostat maybe the
temperature is just to hot for them to be efficant, both fridges are
about 6years old ,the fridges were on generator power approximatley
12hrs a day only going to battery at night, we used a christie battery
charger every day to charge the batteries for the night running , hope this
can be off some assistance
AnswerID: 42151

Reply By: kellyc - Monday, Jan 12, 2004 at 10:31

Monday, Jan 12, 2004 at 10:31
I had a similar issue with Engel 39L in Flinders ranges where temps were 35 - 40 degrees daily and in car temps reaching 60 degrees. To assist heat dissipation I mounted a pc case fan (~$25) with thermal sensor and modified the power lead to a 12V cig plug to run off aux battery. Becareful to watch amp draw. Mine will draw 0.65 amps at maximum spin (~2800rpm). I have found that this definitely helps with heat extraction. I have placed the fan (80mm) on top of the grill on left side to effectively draw off heat from internals.

Hope this helps!!
AnswerID: 42653

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