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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Ventura Highway in the Sunshine
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    22,308

    Portable refrigerators for camping, vanlife

    Picking up a Ford Transit AWD next month and want to use an electric frig. Mostly looking at Dometic units, but curious about others experiences or preferences. Who is using what?

    I tried a search, but found nothing, but I such at searching, so links if there is a thread would be appreciated.

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    The Bull City
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    10,161
    RV place??
    Go that way really REALLY fast. If something gets in your way, TURN!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    beaverhead county
    Posts
    4,186
    I think there is another thread on here regarding some vanlifers in a ford transit.
    "somebody's gotta do it"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    DownEast
    Posts
    2,286
    I just got an Alpicool C20. Dometic type knockoff. $230 and seemed well reviewed. No real experience with it yet other than I plugged it in the garage outlet and it worked all weekend .

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Ventura Highway in the Sunshine
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    22,308
    Quote Originally Posted by oldnew_guy View Post
    Ski/snowboard forum has a huge discussion going on about camping in parking lots.
    ...and it's only 412 page, which would be fine if search function was better (or I was better at searching.) I couldn't find any relevant information information, which may or may not be buried in those 400+ pages.

    Besides, it is not really just a van question since these are the cool and groovy coolers for camping, Icelanders, et all.

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    The land of lot's of houses, CO
    Posts
    297
    Not sure if this is still the case but a couple years ago when I bought my dometic it was all about the right compressor, dometic,ARB and Engel all used the same one.

    Runs the best and draws the fewest amps.

    I turn mine on in April and off in October, love it.


    Sent from my iPad using TGR Forums

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    1,685

    Portable refrigerators for camping, vanlife

    #1: my IndelB 40L fridge is the best camping gear Iíve ever purchased. No question. Everyone should have one.

    #2: Industry standard is the Secop/Danfoss compressor. Itís the most efficient and reliable. Low priced Amazon/eBay fridges use Chinese knock offs of this German compressor and may or may not be as reliable. Iíve also heard LG makes a compressor that is pretty good but havenít heard reviews on longevity.

    #3: Prices have gotten insane lately. If I were buying today Iíd go IceCo brand. They still use the same compressor as the $1000+ units but at a much lower price point. *Maybe* an ARB is a better option if youíre constantly bouncing down actual 4x4 roads but for the average trailhead access in a Transit, I canít see theyíre any better than the IceCo. They are around $500 now but Iíve seen regular 10-20% off sales.

    #4: most vehicles do not need a separate battery for a basic fridge for weekend duty. I ran mine off a 27 size battery in my 4Runner for three years with no problems. This is especially true if youíre moving campsites every few days. And all the fridges have low voltage cutoffs so you wonít completely drain your starting battery. I always carry a jump pack anyway just in case.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Vermont
    Posts
    1,254
    Weíve had a National Luna Weekender for a few years. Itís got a fridge and freezer compartment. Itís been good. The first unit that we got developed the most annoy squeak/high pitched rattle and they replaced it. The replacement has been fine. Run it off a house battery in the 4Runner.

    Since we bought ours there has been a lot of new brands and innovations. I think there are probably better options out there for less money than the National Luna. At the time it had the best compressor and features for the size.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    The Dirty E
    Posts
    995
    We run with an "Ausranvik" 37L fridge/cooler thing and it's been surprisingly reliable for the price.

    https://smile.amazon.com/Ausranvik-P.../dp/B07J4WD6RP

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Ventura Highway in the Sunshine
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    Great information, thanks. Lots of new options I had not seen on my quest. The IceCo (VL Pro line) is intriguing, but not too much less then the comparable Dometic, but still a reasonable savings. It does appear you get what you pay for, but only up to a point. The better lines do have better components (especially compressors, which are the heart of any frig) and overall better materials/construction.

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Ventura Highway in the Sunshine
    Posts
    22,308
    It is challanging to find out where the different brands are made. On items like this, I avoid Chinese builds, they just don't have the QC. National Luna appears to be made in South Africa, Dometic in Scandinavia, not sure on IceCo, and Aplicool is China. Of course these days something built in one country still might be filled with shit Chinese parts.

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    ID
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    855
    Quote Originally Posted by Falcon3 View Post
    #4: most vehicles do not need a separate battery for a basic fridge for weekend duty. I ran mine off a 27 size battery in my 4Runner for three years with no problems. This is especially true if you’re moving campsites every few days. And all the fridges have low voltage cutoffs so you won’t completely drain your starting battery. I always carry a jump pack anyway just in case.
    Just to be clear, you're running this off of the car's battery (assuming the 4Runner has a plug in the back?) or you've purchased a spare car battery, store it in the back, and run the fridge off of that? I'm actually more interested in the latter option. Maybe with a rechargable. Is that possible? Thanks for the detail.
    OP, FWIW, I have an ARB and like the slight peace of mind. Access roads around here range from eh to rowdy. Not fair to expect a prepper's garage fridge to withstand the bouncing. Plus, our van's suspension is strung like Djokovic's racket. YMMV.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    1,685
    Quote Originally Posted by hafjell View Post
    Just to be clear, you're running this off of the car's battery (assuming the 4Runner has a plug in the back?) or you've purchased a spare car battery, store it in the back, and run the fridge off of that?
    Nope I ran if off the vehicleís starting battery with no ďhouseĒ battery. In my van I now run all my electronics off a 100ah house battery. A separate battery gives some peace of mind for longer trips but for long weekends and trips where youíre moving every few days you donít really need two batteries.

    Also, a bunch of fridge companies are now incorporating battery packs into the fridge so theyíll run 4-10 hours away from the vehicle. That would really extend their run time in the car as well.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Ventura Highway in the Sunshine
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    22,308
    Dometic makes a lithium battery (I believe its called a PBJ40). a supposed to run for 40 hours, but not cheap. It has a built in regulator and can be charged by direct solar or from the car DC source. Somebody from CO has a video on it somewhere, could even be a maggot, ot knows a maggot.

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Keep Tacoma Feared
    Posts
    3,976
    I bought a Dometic CFX3 35 last summer from REI using the 20% coupon they give out periodically. No problems with it so far. REI has other models as well.

    While you might be able to run it exclusively from the starter battery for short trips, I would recommend a second "house" battery and solar. Repeated deep discharge of your starter battery will wear it out fast (and possibly leave you stranded). How much power it consumes all depends on internal and external temps. Here's a graph of the various CFX3's power consumption:

    Click image for larger version. 

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  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Among Greatness All Around
    Posts
    6,050
    You planning on a generator, solar or trying to run it off batteries- which would only be for short periods of time. The RV fridges have dual mode- electric when plugged in at a site or have electrical outlets available, or propane that you light the pilot and use a propane tank to run it. No idea of sourcing other than the RV parts web sites or a Google search as have been out of RV camping for a good number of years.

    Something like this article maybe a starting point: https://tinylivinglife.com/the-top-p...-buying-guide/

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Quote Originally Posted by altasnob View Post
    While you might be able to run it exclusively from the starter battery for short trips, I would recommend a second "house" battery and solar. Repeated deep discharge of your starter battery will wear it out fast (and possibly leave you stranded). How much power it consumes all depends on internal and external temps.
    Which house battery are you using, which solar, and which power station in between?

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Ventura Highway in the Sunshine
    Posts
    22,308
    The van I am getting has dual ATM batteries as 400w solar panels separate but linked to the Van battery, so running it should not be an issue. I will k
    likely add a generator in the near future as well as a back up for the whole system, and allow several days without worrying about battery depletion if we are boondocked somewhere.

    Dometic seems to come out on top, or one of the top e-frigs/freezers in all reviews I have found. So far I am leaning to the Dometic CFX3 55im for large, but not giant, storage. I have until late August to decide.

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    232
    Domestic CFX here, full-time use for the last 1.5 years, no issues. 400w solar and 200 ah Li, never think about the fridge.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    Location
    Idaho
    Posts
    1,224
    I went the iceco route, have used it successfully several times. Depending on your layout the control screen and plug "might" be a factor to consider.

    Perhaps someday a 2nd smaller unit as a dedicated freezer might be a nice addition. Gotta have ice cubes.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Ventura Highway in the Sunshine
    Posts
    22,308
    I am thinking the same. Dometic and others make duel models, but they get so big and bulky, and I don't need a freezer most of the time, so am considering a small unit to just set to freeze.

    BTW the Dometic 55IM equals ice maker. It has a little compartment the just fits two small ice trays...seems like a win/win.

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Access to Granlibakken
    Posts
    10,132
    Back in 2016 the ARB was considered very reliable, so I got it for our Transit…no complaints. A bear partially broke the latch and ARB sent a free replacement right away. 200 W solar and 200 amp hr Lithiums, the fridge consumption even on 95 F days eats up maybe 5% of that when parked in shade all day. We went with 50 qt, no freezer.

    I have friends in the van conversion industry who steered me away from Chinese brands like Iceco. Threads like this https://expeditionportal.com/forum/t...-iceco.227650/
    kinda confirm ? that CS might still be an issue.

    OTOH, my $800 ARB has jumped to $1200 so in today’s market maybe I’d go with something cheaper and hope for the best.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2022
    Posts
    1
    I have the same thoughts. Due to the fact that twin versions from Dometic and other manufacturers are so large and unwieldy and that I rarely require a refrigerator here, I am thinking about buying a tiny freezer instead.


    By the way, ice maker here is the Dometic 55IM. It includes a little chamber that can only hold two tiny ice trays, so it sounds like a win-win situation.
    Last edited by m28f54; 09-05-2022 at 06:18 AM.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    cordova,AK
    Posts
    3,303
    I am running dometic cfx3 45. Set that thing to -7 and stuffed it full of spot prawns. Kept them frozen for 3 day road trip. Would recommend. Using it and enjoying it way more than I thought initially. Nice to grab an ice cold water bottle after a ride.
    off your knees Louie

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    8,290'
    Posts
    5,047
    if anyone considering going cheap....

    Review:

    Vevor Mini Fridge 10 Liters of Capacity, its internal size is 7.9" x 5.9" x 11.2" $55

    At 71 deg F outside ambient the mini fridge posted up at 45 deg F on 110v
    At 92 deg F the mini fridge posted up at 65 deg F on 110v
    I did not test the dc as after getting unfavorable results on 110v I was done
    I did not test the heater part

    I am not satisfied with this purchase
    www.freeridesystems.com
    ski & ride jackets made in colorado
    maggot discount code TGR20

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