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Off Road Refrigeration

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  • 26 Nov 2015 8:45 AM
    Message # 3661763
    Chris Doering (Administrator)

    I've noticed the prices of RV and 4x4 refrigerators coming down. Which means they are more attractive for some of us who are getting tired of the 5 day cooler & ice routine that only really lasts 2 days in the hot areas we visit.

    If you can share how you like your equipment on this forum topic, I'm interested in purchasing a model, but would like to know where to start. My seeking and reporting here should also help others to learn about choosing a frig that suits their needs and budget.

  • 27 Nov 2015 8:06 AM
    Reply # 3663106 on 3661763
    Jim Biram (Administrator)

    I have had my Whynter 43qt for about two years, and while I love the convenience, I have had to get it serviced twice in that time.  Fortunately the company is nearby in Santa Fe Springs

    Overland Journal published a pro/con of electric fridges in this article Link to Article.  They previously had a review of several electric fridges compared head to head with the National Luna coming out on top.  Pretty pricey though.  One source of fridges is Compact Appliances Link but there are many other places.

    One consideration you have to look at is where you plan to install so the lid moves in a convenient direction.  Some coolers like the Whynter, Edgestar open from the side like a normal cooler while the Engels, ARB open longways.  Also while most fridges will operate off the cigarette lighter adapter, I've found that my electrical system is a bit finicky at 12volts so I have great success running mine off a small inverter at 110 volts.  Many people install a dual battery setup to ensure plenty of power if stationary for more than 10-12 hrs.

    My best advice is spend as much as you can afford, as the more expensive units seem to be better suited to the abuse of off-road driving.

    Last modified: 27 Nov 2015 8:11 AM | Jim Biram (Administrator)
  • 28 Nov 2015 3:22 PM
    Reply # 3665136 on 3661763
    Chris Doering (Administrator)

    Thanks for that Jim, it looks like the Pros are starting to outweigh the Cons for me, but the big Con is the price. I heard some of our members have been buying Chinese brands brand new for unheard of pricing less than $300 new.

    Still looking into it.

  • 29 Nov 2015 6:24 AM
    Reply # 3665855 on 3661763

    I have an ARB 50 Qt model for my trailer.  It's nice to not have to deal with ice and water mess.  It has a setting that will turn the fridge off if your battery gets to low.  Got mine from Northridge 4x4, no tax and no shipping fees.  Still lots of money but I'm glad I got it.

  • 13 Dec 2015 3:52 PM
    Reply # 3696978 on 3661763

    I also have the ARB 50 quart model.  It has been on two trips with me and so far I love it. It keeps everything cold and as mentioned above everything stays dry.  I need to get a dual battery set up though.  I do not trust leaving it on overnight without running the engine to charge the battery.  Both trips have been this fall where the temps were into the forties overnight so I just unplugged it at night.  No issue because of the low temps.  It will be a different story come the summer months.  I also use this in conjunction with an Igloo 55 quart Sportsman cooler.  It is comparable to the Yeti and the Pelican.  I run a bit of dry ice in that cooler which effectively becomes a freezer.  I get the best of both worlds and always have something cold.

  • 14 Dec 2015 9:37 AM
    Reply # 3697986 on 3661763
    Chris Doering (Administrator)

    Thanks for sharing your experience with your equipment thus far Jeff. I'm hoping to have one before summer, but in case I don't and for the sake of all who will follow this thread later could you plan on giving us an update on the summer frig performance?

  • 15 Jan 2016 10:23 AM
    Reply # 3761583 on 3661763

    I am currently using a 52 Liter fridge the I imported from China. I currently love the thing and the convenience of not having to haul an ice chest around.

    Here are a couple of features/specs.

    1. Auto shutoff/turn on with battery voltage. (This is great is you are only using one battery, but I kind of find it annoying with my dual battery setup.)

    2. Simple display and operation. (Once you power it one, you press the up.down arrow to set the target temperature.)

    3. 2 modes for cooling. (Eco-mode and Max. Max works great if you have this plugged into 110v or will have the car constantly running the whole time the fridge is in service.)

    4. Adapter from 12V to 110V. (This worked great when I had my daughters birthday party in December. Didn't have to buy ice and started chilling the drinks a few days before the event.

    5. Very spacious. (I probably got a size or two too big for my needs, but I wouldn't trade it just to buy another one. I can easily fit all my food and drinks in here and have room to spare.)

    6. I ordered this fridge with the Danfross compressor. (After doing my research it seems, this is the heart of the fridge and they said to get one with this compressor.)

    7. Cleaning is easy. Simple wipe will suffice. Outside is a thin metal body, Lid is a nice heavy plastic, inside is a nice metal surface. The fridge feels durable.

    8. Simple error codes. (The error codes were great when I was first setting this thing up.)

    9. Handles are nice and beefy. (Although I only have one installed, so it will fit in my FJ.)

    Things that I learned and use today.

    1. You will never go back to an ice chest ever again. :)

    2. When installing, use the correct gauge wire. (I made the error of not using the correct gauge and it got me on one trip. I was losing too much power through the line and it wasn't staying cool. Very frustrating. Came home, figured it out ad it works great.)

    3. Went to the 99 cent store and picked up various tupperware containers to repack my food in. (This allowed me to purchase the same size containers, and be able to stack them for maximum use of the space.)

    4. Wire up a dedicated port. I put one in the back of the FJ and love the location. 

    5. Keep the vent holes open. There are 3 vents around the bottom where I assume the compressor is. These need to be open so the unit won't overheat. I had this happen once when a pillow got shoved by it on one side and a sleeping bag on the other. I also tried to locate the vents towards the rear of the car so that they were closer to the outside air and not shoved up again my back seats.

    6. I would wire up a dual battery setup just for piece of mind that your not messing with the starting battery. (I have done this and love the outcome so far.)

    Things I would like to fix/update.

    1. I want to put a fridge light in it to come on after opening the lid. (Sometimes in the dark, it's kind of hard to see down inside the deep fridge.)

    2. Maybe wireless temp gauge. (Not something super critical, but might be useful in the future.)

    3. A battery meter so I can see how the battery is doing and if I need to start the car.

    4. Make a separator in the fridge that will allow me to have drinks on one side and food on the other. (Right now the drinks are usually on the bottom and the food on top, which is a hassle if 4 people want a drink.)

    5. A fridge slide is awesome. (I had one for awhile, but I used the wrong slides for the weight of the fridge and THE CONTENTS. When I did have one it was awesome, because I mounted it on a drawer that I built and it allowed me to stack the fridge on the drawer, slide it out and then open it up. I will really be looking into what they call a "Drop down fridge slide." It slides the fridge out and then lowers it allowing access while standing on the ground. As it stands right now, I put my knees on the bumper so I can see into it.)

    6. Get the battery with the most AMP hours that you can fit. If you keep the fridge set at like 35-38 degrees, then I can leave it for a day before it kicks off. If you push the fridge to something cooler, you will just need to be mindful and keep your battery running. 

    7. I'm planning on doing two things to compensate for number 6. First, I am planning on installing a solar panel on the roof rack that will provide a charge through the charge controller to the battery, to hopefully offset the power loss from the fridge. Secondly, I am planning to install a battery tender in the FJ and plug it in over the weekends. (This is the time I find the fridge shuts off the most for me when the other car is first in the driveway.) I may not need to do this with the solar, so we will test the solar for a bit and then decide.

    Sizes/Cost 

    This fridge comes in 4 sizes.

    25L - 20.6" x 13.9" x 14.2" - $287.00

    32L - 20.6" x 13.9" x 16.5" - $296.00

    42L - 24.6" x 13.9" x 18.1" - $305.00

    52L - 24.6" x 13.9" x 21.5" - $314.00

    Shipping was I think around $100 or less. Very reasonable. Shipping time is like 30 days though.

    This is a link to the picture.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxcHH0teZbFcUHprV0FLNzhPZzg/view?usp=sharing

    If you want to see it installed or have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Along with this project was a dual battery setup that was completed before this that went along with it. If you are interested in that, let me know and I can write something up.



  • 17 Jan 2016 8:47 PM
    Reply # 3765444 on 3661763
    Chris Doering (Administrator)

    John, wow...you wrote a book.
    Thank you for the details of your experience, the DOs and DON'Ts

    I'll check out the link.

  • 17 Jan 2016 10:46 PM
    Reply # 3765549 on 3661763

    Yeah, I thought it might be too much.


  • 25 Jan 2018 10:24 PM
    Reply # 5702844 on 3661763
    Chris Doering (Administrator)

    Just a current update... I decided to apply my budget towards other more critical repairs and upgrades. So I am currently still using the Yeti.

    The Yeti is insulated very well.

    I don;t like using ice, so I have a large inventory of blue ice packs I use with the YETI. Downside, the blue ice as well as ice, takes up a lot of space in the cooler.

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