Keeping Your Food & Beverages Fresh'n'Cool
Choosing suitable camper refrigerators can be very confusing if you have no previous experience in this field.
Just to make it a bit easier, these refrigerators come in three basic versions.
The thermoelectric coolers, compressor refrigerators/freezers using only 12V/110-240V electricity for power and.... absorption refrigerators/freezers using propane gas and electricity.
These refrigerators are made just like any other household refrigerator using PU-foam for insulation and sturdy materials for casing.
They all work just fine when you're driving or using an electrical hook up, but when you go "wild camping" things change a little bit.
So let's take a look at the different types just to
get the general idea here.
These light weight portable coolers are the basic solution for cooling your food and beverages on the move. They have a cooling capacity of up to 30°C(86°F) below the ambient temperature which should be more than enough in most cases.
Most of these coolers can use the thermoelectric energy for cooling and heating.
Reliable and cost-efficient, these coolers are great for any vehicle, picnics and camping or any other every day use.
They come in a variety of shapes and small sizes and with different kind of electronics to choose from. All are coated all around with PU foam and are made from sturdy molded materials.
The power source can be either 12V or 24V and can be also plugged into 110/240V power source. However, they will drain your vehicle battery flat in a few hours if you're standing still with no other source of power available, therefore they are not a perfect of the grid adventure companion.
If you're out for some action and adventure and need a serious trouble free camper refrigerator and freezer that will keep your food and beverages cool and frozen under any kind of ambient condition, the compressor refrigerators are what you're looking for.
Just like any other camper refrigerators, they come in many shapes and sizes. They can be either portable or build-in your camper units with a top lid or side opening door.
Aware of the fact that cold air stays at the bottom, the top lid opening version is the best you can find. With the side door opened, you just let all the cool air out of your refrigerator.
The power consumption of compressor refrigerators depends on the ambient temperature. The cooler the ambient temperature, less power is needed and vice- versa. But the pre-set inner temperature will always stay the same.
So if you're using any kind of heating in your camper, your refrigerator will use more power. Body heat alone is enough to raise the inside temperature of your vehicle.
This is where the portable units like the Engel come in to consideration. You can simply remove them, place them outside (still plugged in) and even use them as a place to seat on.
I run the Waeco Cool Matic CB 40 built-in cooler box in my Volkswagen camper van conversion and it has been running just perfect for years now. Like many compressor refrigerators it uses the quiet and power-efficient Danfoss compressor.
Depending on the ambient temperature the cooler will drain a 90Ah auxiliary battery in 2-3 days set on minimum power. I never had a need to go above minimum power because the drinks are ice cold as it is. If you plan on "wild camping" for longer periods of time, you can use a solar panel to charge your battery and keep your refrigerator running.
Compressor refrigerators are not cheap and despite the power efficient compressors still need a lot of power to run. But they have the best cooling and freezing capabilities among camper refrigerators and have impeccable performance under any kind of condition.
Absorption refrigerators are also known as three-way refrigerators because they can run either on propane gas, 12V and 110/240v mains power.
Using propane gas or electric heating element for power source this type of camper refrigerators use a series of basic chemical reactions by heating the ammonia solution in a closed system of tubes behind the cooler box and the casing itself.
They come in various shapes and sizes and can be either portable or build-in units with a top or side opening depending on the model.
For decades absorption refrigerators have been the number one choice among camper or motorhome manufacturers. The absence of any moving parts makes these fridges silent and the low propane consumption allows you to enjoy the freedom of your camper vehicle, when no other power source is available.
However if you ask the camping folks that use these camper refrigerators on regular basis, you will usually find these three minor problems sometimes causing a headache or two.
To work properly these refrigerators have to be leveled. In other words you will always have to level out your camper vehicle.
Lack of ventilation is another often overlooked problem. These refrigeration units usually have a couple of vents or a chimney to allow the exhaust heat to escape. The vents can be blocked by insect nests or other dirt that can build up. This will cause the unit to malfunction or not work at all.
A lot of people install additional vents from computers to help the air circulation, which is very helpful in the summer heat.
The propane burner can also be a source of trouble. Carbon buildup from the heating flame will slow down the cooling process.
Absorption refrigerators need annual proper care and maintenance, specially after a longer storage period otherwise you will probably end up drinking luke-warm beer. And that's not fun at all!
This really depends on where and when will you use it.
A simple and cheap thermoelectric cooler is perfect for everyday use if you have constant power available. But they are not as power efficient and only come in small sizes.
The trouble-free compressor refrigerator has excellent cooling capability under any circumstances and doesn't need any leveling. It drains quite a lot of power, but if you're on a camping site hook up or use a proper solar panel it will run cool forever.
The well known absorption refrigerators will work for ages with proper annual maintenance. However, you will hear some people complain about it's cooling capability in harsh summer heat, do to the poor air circulation.
And if you want to build your own camper, consider the location of the refrigerator and the space available and the number of propane bottles and propane appliances that you will carry on board.
Amazon.com has many types of camper refrigerators on stock. Just search in the box above, take your time, read all the reviews and decide what you really need.
Down the line the choice is entirely yours...