Product Road Test

Cool or not so Cool … our 12v Fridge Guide

Well we are now into March, and hopefully the colder months are behind us, so keeping food and drink cool in your truck for those coming summer trips may become that re-occurring thought for you again.
Owning a 4×4 means you can go pretty much anywhere but sometimes the adventure 12v-volt-fridgescan be restricted by the practicalities, it is nice to know you’ve a cold drink and access to fresh food at the end of the day. 12 or 24v fridges are not cheap with prices ranging from £500 – £1200, they are a serious commitment and you need to know they are up to the task. With some older models of refrigerators, experienced on previous caravan trips, after a couple of hot days in the UK, food was only good for the bin. With this in mind, how can we trust a portable fridge to operate correctly in Europe or further a field in a warmer climate?
We decided to take a look into the new portable fridge and freezer products on the market and how things have improved, with 5 questions to answer for the first time buyer.
1, Has modern advances really produced a product I can trust?
Travel fridges are now using compressed gasses not heat-exchange units, with recent versions now allowing you a temperature setting rather then a dial choosing a level between min to max. Hence overall performance is much better. Separate fridge and freezer machines are now available, or combination units too. 12v-fridge-freezer
2, Will it kill my battery?
Some later versions come with an adjustable sensor that will shut down when the unit senses the power supply is getting low. Consumption varies with each product, size and your temperature requirements but they are not designed to run constantly without engine battery charging. ARB and National Luna boast 60 hours plus before you need to recharge your power source/ start your engine. Not surprisingly there are now solar powered ‘freezers’ capable of temperatures from -19 to 10+.
3, How easy is access and how noisy will it be?
Ever unplugged a camping cool box and been welcomed with a deafening silence or tried to sleep with what seems an ever increasing racket at two in the morning. Silent fans now feature in some of the model spec lists.
Access to the fridge depends on your vehicle setup and distance from your power point but getting to your food is now made much easier with internal baskets. … Yeah! No more squashed sarnies or empting out the complete contents every time you want something from the bottom, the integrated baskets improve on air circulation around the food too.
4, Why is a Fridge better then a powered Cool Box?portable-refrigerator-68843-4105243
The biggest difference is probably ability. A plug in cool box is just that, a short term solution with no cooling adjustments, no compartments and usually needs the aid of cool blocks or ice to ‘maintain’ a cool temperature. On a hot day the cool box is only “cool” for a very short time before the warm air prevents the heat exchanger operating efficiently. Using cool blocks to assist the unit loses precious space and inevitable drips moisture within causing further issues.
5, Will I get my monies worth?12v-portable-fridge
Yes they can be expensive but they don’t have to be restricted to ‘that once in a lifetime adventure’. Weekends away where you can take your own drinks can save a fortune. Camping holidays can become more economical even if it’s just storing your choc-ices and lollies. Shopping trips in summer become less of a gauntlet with this gem in your boot, no more rushing to get home and put everything away. Christmas, parties and BBQ’s when fridge space in the house becomes a premium, this is that little bit more space we need.


If you want to know what choices are out there, check out this buyers guide #1.   buyers guide #2
For solar powered units, click here.


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