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View Full Version : 12 volt camping fridge input, not a cooler.



jwirecom109
03-31-2015, 06:13 AM
Looking for information on 12 volt dc fridges for camping.
I've had the coolers that are powered in the past, 20 degrees above outside temp is great if it's only 25 degreed out, so not looking for those.

Looking for recommendations on brands, what to look for cost etc.

blacksmithden
03-31-2015, 08:28 AM
Buy a 110 volt bar.fridge and a generator to run it. Any appliance that creates or displaces heat using 12 volts dc is going to suck power like theres no tomorrow.

SIR VEYOR
03-31-2015, 10:17 AM
Scrapped/used RV fridge? 3 types of input. Use bottle away, 110v when available and 12V as fall back. And if it's not being opened much, should keep on own like a cooler, especially said with a lil extra insulation.

Gaidheal
03-31-2015, 10:25 AM
If you have the money look at Engle or ARB if you want super awesome products that will NOT kill your battery over night and some Engle models are fridge/freezer combos. Most can be run as one or the other. There is even an add-on for some Engles called a TwoZone that increases the storage and gives you more flexibility for temp zones.

Make sure you are sitting down before going down that bunny trail though.

BrotherRockeye
03-31-2015, 11:45 AM
While a 3 way RV outfit sounds like a good idea, a good unit will cost considerably more than one would expect.
I went through this with a buddy and his wife a couple of years ago. I have a pal in the RV business and even through him it was a better option going with a genny and a 110 fridge.
Something to remember about RV fridges (and most things RV) is that they are expensive and parts become obsolete in short order.
A bonus to running the genny for the fridge is you can string lights around camp for virtually free.

Mil Specs
03-31-2015, 05:12 PM
We sell Dometic and NovaKool at work , these are compressor driven fridge/freezers that are a chest /cooler style . They draw about 3.5 amps of 12 V when cycling. Being top load they hold the cold in when you open them , they require a fair bit of battery bank to run long term and you will have to upgrade the wiring to your 12v accessory plug to about 10 ga. wire . They are settable to run on lower voltage and are very good units, average price for a 50 l size is probably about 1200 bucks. Some might ask what ice cream is worth after 8 days at anchor . In mid August it is worth it lol ht tp://www2.dometic.com/enie/International/site/Products/Portable-refrigeration/Portables/products/?productdataid=90187 Novakool is mostly built in units and based out of Vancouver (I think).

coastal
03-31-2015, 06:08 PM
If you have the money look at Engle or ARB if you want super awesome products that will NOT kill your battery over night and some Engle models are fridge/freezer combos. Most can be run as one or the other. There is even an add-on for some Engles called a TwoZone that increases the storage and gives you more flexibility for temp zones.

Make sure you are sitting down before going down that bunny trail though.


These are definitely the ones to look at, the expedition crowd all seem to use these.

coastal
03-31-2015, 06:09 PM
We sell Dometic and NovaKool at work , these are compressor driven fridge/freezers that are a chest /cooler style . They draw about 3.5 amps of 12 V when cycling. Being top load they hold the cold in when you open them , they require a fair bit of battery bank to run long term and you will have to upgrade the wiring to your 12v accessory plug to about 10 ga. wire . They are settable to run on lower voltage and are very good units, average price for a 50 l size is probably about 1200 bucks. Some might ask what ice cream is worth after 8 days at anchor . In mid August it is worth it lol ht tp://www2.dometic.com/enie/International/site/Products/Portable-refrigeration/Portables/products/?productdataid=90187 Novakool is mostly built in units and based out of Vancouver (I think).

I would be interested in how these compare to the engel in price and performance.

Laramie Longhorn
04-02-2015, 03:17 PM
x2 on 110v. You can install an inverter on your truck that can handle the load while driving, and get solar panels to run it during the day. A generator as a backup. I would say that if you are not in it every 10 minutes to grab a "pop", it would go all night in most climates without power, and still keep things fresh. That way you are not running your gennie all the time.

If you are really motivated, you can set up a 2nd battery on your truck, with the inverter running off of it, so the fridge has a battery back up. Use a deep cycle marine or RV battery. Use an isolator to prevent running down your primary battery or even don't connect it to the main system until you need to charge it. The solar panels will charge the truck and inverter batteries. The real restriction on how much power you can generate is the surface area of the rig; the number of batteries you can fit and the depth of your wallet.

Gaidheal
04-02-2015, 03:31 PM
An Engle is likely to be cheaper and will definitely be easier to assemble and haul than 110v and all that other stuff.

coastal
04-02-2015, 03:56 PM
So you need a generator, an inverter, solar panels and a bar fridge....or just get an efficient purpose built unit that works better.

Mil Specs
04-02-2015, 11:43 PM
I would be interested in how these compare to the engel in price and performance.

Not having sold the engel, I can only go by specs but with the Dometic they look very similar for performance most compressor fridges will run at near 3.5 amps at 12.5v a regular fridge will draw a lot more .The prices look similar although the dometic have a few larger sizes up to 110 Ltr. capacity. Get one that runs 110 and 12 v that way you can pre cool or freeze the foods before you leave . Running a gen set and solar plus your batteries plus your inverter to save a few hundred bucks buying a 110 bar fridge is a good idea if you have an 18 wheeler to haul everything and want a 8-10 battery bank weighing 1000 lbs or so. Buying a decent fridge/freezer that will last years plus a couple of good batteries makes more sense IMO .As stated a chest type will hold the cold in when you open it. an upright will dump all the cold air onto the floor every time you open it and the fridge will have to start it's cycle all over again . Converting 12v to 110v is inefficient to start with from an energy point of view. Running this with an even more inefficient non compressor fridge will mean you are spending any savings on a MUCH larger battery bank just to keep the cheap one running for the same amount of time . You can also build your own with a compressor and plates fairly easily which means you can make the insulation as thick as you want. A single plate and compressor will run 700-1000 bucks depending on the size needed

Laramie Longhorn
04-09-2015, 09:02 AM
You're spending up to $900 on the Engel. And all you have is a fridge. You still need an extra battery to run it. You can't run it off the one on your truck. Too risky.

The Engel takes as much power as a regular fridge/freezer.

You install 100w of solar, 1 battery, and an inverter, costs around $400 for equipment. Now you have 110v as well. Upgrade fridge? No problem. Keep batteries maintained? No problem. Run a freezer and a fridge? No problem.
As far as efficiency, who cares? Free power from the sun, excess gets shed as heat.

Batteries are easy now. Two 6v deep cycle. Battery tech is way advanced, and you're not running much. You don't need a forklift battery pack. One for a golf cart would give you lots of juice.

I look at it as cost vs. function. Cost is about equivalent. Function is improved since you have 110v. And more than enough power to do whatever else you need.

blacksmithden
04-09-2015, 10:23 AM
With all the work involved with having a fridge while camping....screw it....MRE's all around. :)

Laramie Longhorn
04-09-2015, 11:14 AM
But - BEER!

shootemup604
04-09-2015, 11:32 AM
Cooler and ice (or ice packs). Job jobbed.

kennymo
04-09-2015, 11:51 AM
With all the work involved with having a fridge while camping....screw it....MRE's all around. :)

Followed shortly by a somewhat nasty poo in the woods....must be the sulphites....doesn't seem to stop me from forgetting and taking them camping again....

blacksmithden
04-09-2015, 02:48 PM
But - BEER!

I dont drink it myself, but have some experience keeping it cold for friends. This is how it works in Georgian Bay (Lake Huron). The thermocline is down between 30 and 40 ft at the height of summer. It gets shallower the closer you are to winter. Deeper than that, the water is hovering between 2 and 5 degrees C year round.. Put your beer in your fishing net. Put a rock in it to make it stay put. Sinch it up with one end of a 50 ft rope (100 ft if youve got it). Put a windshield washer jug on the other end. Find 40-45 ft on your depth finder and sink it. Mother natures cold storage.

Laramie Longhorn
04-09-2015, 04:07 PM
I dont drink it myself, but have some experience keeping it cold for friends. This is how it works in Georgian Bay (Lake Huron). The thermocline is down between 30 and 40 ft at the height of summer. It gets shallower the closer you are to winter. Deeper than that, the water is hovering between 2 and 5 degrees C year round.. Put your beer in your fishing net. Put a rock in it to make it stay put. Sinch it up with one end of a 50 ft rope (100 ft if youve got it). Put a windshield washer jug on the other end. Find 40-45 ft on your depth finder and sink it. Mother natures cold storage.

That's easier how? <LOL!!> You need a boat and a depth finder. And can't get caught by whatever authority patrols the lake. And won't work on dry land. And requires you to be in ONT. (Many problems with that!)

My method means you have cold beer, bacon storage, and ice for the Scotch. And 110v for the stereo, lights, TV, DVD, surround sound. Not only will it keep bears away, but other campers as well. I need decibels to drown out other peoples loud lousy music. My loud music is always AWESOME!

SIR VEYOR
04-09-2015, 08:37 PM
http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/rocket-city-rednecks/videos/cool-as-nitrous-oxide/

Haywire1
04-09-2015, 09:08 PM
Fridges and freezers for camping? Sheesh city boy. Here is your solution. Buy once and be done with it.
http://carsbikesbacon.com/img/16226.o.jpg

kennymo
04-09-2015, 09:35 PM
^^ That looks sorta like the Barbapapa's house for anyone who was ever six....

kennymo
04-09-2015, 09:37 PM
I dont drink it myself, but have some experience keeping it cold for friends. This is how it works in Georgian Bay (Lake Huron). The thermocline is down between 30 and 40 ft at the height of summer. It gets shallower the closer you are to winter. Deeper than that, the water is hovering between 2 and 5 degrees C year round.. Put your beer in your fishing net. Put a rock in it to make it stay put. Sinch it up with one end of a 50 ft rope (100 ft if youve got it). Put a windshield washer jug on the other end. Find 40-45 ft on your depth finder and sink it. Mother natures cold storage.

I just forgo the beer and take some Southern Comfort and Tang packets. Poor man's Alabama Slammers all night long. ;)

Swampdonkey
04-09-2015, 10:30 PM
I vote for the inverter and household fridge/freezer. The inverter lets you bring power tools and the fridge can be useful all year long at home.

Gaidheal
04-10-2015, 03:31 AM
How long will a household fridge last banging around the back country I wonder?

BTW - The ARB/Engle stuff can be used in the house too...

Attached is the least rugged place we camped in Labrador. I would NOT have taken a household fridge on those so-called roads!

SIR VEYOR
05-09-2019, 10:23 AM
Bump for billy3!

https://campaddict.com/12-volt-portable-refrigerator/

Table of Contents
Is It A Cooler Or A Refrigerator?
Three Types Of Cooling Systems
Portable Compressor Refrigerators
Portable Absorption Refrigerators
Who Needs a 12-Volt Portable Refrigerator?
Portable Thermoelectric Coolers
Price Ranges Between Portable Coolers & Refrigerators
The Best 12-Volt Portable Refrigerator Reviews
12-Volt Portable Refrigerators Compared
Why Only Dometic 12-Volt Portable Refrigerators?
Best 12-Volt Portable Refrigerator/ Freezer
Best Dual Zone 12-Volt Refrigerator/ Freezer
Best 12-Volt Cooler
Portable Car Refrigerators: True Compressor Technology in a Compact Size
Dometic Portable 12-Volt Refrigerator Accessories

SIR VEYOR
05-09-2019, 10:27 AM
https://www.cheaprvliving.com/forums/Thread-DIY-How-to-make-your-own-12V-Fridge?pid=206148

I'm breaking my current "pseudo 12 volt fridge" discussion to this new thread from my build log ( ViaVacavi Build Log )

The purpose of this thread is to discuss DIY fridge conversions, essentially converting inexpensive and readily available mini refrigerators designed for 120 VAC use, to run off of our 12 VDC electrical systems as efficiently as possible. I would also like to gather information on energy use of popular 12 volt fridges for a comparison. I will detail cost breakdowns, energy use and efficiency and details to do your own conversion.

Why would someone want to convert a 120 volt fridge to run on 12 volt?
Cost. Using all new high end parts, a converted fridge can be made for around 1/4 the cost of a similarly sized 12 volt fridge. Using used, free and cheaper parts, a converted fridge can easily be made for less than a tenth the cost of a true 12 volt fridge of similar size.
Layout. Some people prefer a vertical layout vs. the standard "cooler" layout of most 12 volt fridges.
Size. Many mini fridges are available in the 3 to 4 cubic foot range - this is equivalent to a 90 to 120 quart 12 volt fridge in size.
Separate Freezer. There are many mini fridges with separate freezer compartments. Only a few 12 volt refrigerators have this option and they are at the high end of the price range.
To be fair, there are also some drawbacks:
A "pseudo conversion" will nearly always be at least a little less efficient than a true 12 volt fridge.
There is a bit of added complexity. There will be added components which could fail
You must be at least a little familiar with wiring
Nobody really knows anything about longevity or reliability, nor how well a converted fridge will stand up to life on the road.
Stay tuned!