12-volt fridges

A man’s best friend is his fridge
It’s the ultimate off-grid luxury – the sun is baking, dust is caking the back of your throat….. you reach into the DC Cooler for a cold beer. And it comes out ice-cold, not tepid.
Or it might be drugs you are storing- that just have to remain cold in order to be effective. Not as important as a cold beer, some might say, but mission-critical nonetheless.
The criteria to judge a 12-volt fridge are simple – how cold does it go and how much energy does it use getting there?
Assuming that your sources of power are either the car battery or a solar panel, its pretty important that the ice box is not energy-hungry.
And whether it’s calls itself a fridge or a cooler you want its contents to be ice-cold, right?
Most 12V fridges are available in compressor models, and Danfoss is one of the better known makes of compressor.
There’s some belief that compressor-type fridges make operating noises, easily heard while dozing off. We haven’t found the ultra-efficient Waeco to do that, though in silence I you can hear the small 12V cooling fan.

Here are some other top of the market examples:
SUNDANZER Battery Powered Refrigerator
This new, ultra-efficient chest-style refrigerator will keep plenty of food and medicines cold after a storm. That means no standing in line for free ice, no need for a lineup of coolers in the kitchen or running electric cords through the house and outdoors to a constantly running (and noisy) generator. Its zero-maintenance, thermostatically controlled cool runs on 12 or 24 DC volts.

Sundanzers start at over $600, but EVAKOOL coolers are in a lower price bracket. Established in 1994 as a fibreglass icebox manufacturer, Evakool has steadily developed its product range and today is Australia’s largest manufacturer of 12 volt fridge freezers, specifically designed for optimum performance in the harsh Australian climate. They include the classic Evakool RF fridge and FridgeMate ranges, which will continue to freeze anywhere in Australia.
“This claim is supported by independent tests which record a freezer temperature of 12 centigrade on a 50 centigrade day,” director Allan Smith said.

ENGEL is another Australian brand known for its reliability. Engel products use the unique and world famous Sawafuji swing motor.
The compressor is purpose built and designed to be portable. Engel fridges range in size from 14 litres to 80 litres. There are also upright versions which range in size from 40 litres to 80 litres and portable power options. Engel also makes thermoelectric coolers/warmers which can hold eight litres and 15 litres.

For a long time Engels, and Engel men, were up there alone. There have been a number of challengers that have fallen short, sometimes well short, but the Waeco camping fridge is now right up there. And there are now Waeco men, too, even if they’re not as in your face.

One Response

  1. I ran my fridge on propane but it seemed to empty the tank quickly that month, whether that was the fridge or cooking I don’t know- but it put me off using gas. What puts me off using 12v is ‘using 12v’ ie my solar electricty supply – any of it! it’s precious! I thought maybe it could be switched off at sunset and be insulated enough to stay cold overnight (like a cool box) or… looking at the propane/butane ones.. doesn’t seem much like a flame.. has anybody ever made a candle-burning or an oil-lamp-based fridge..?

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