When it comes to choosing a caravan fridge freezer, you need to look for more than just space for the beer and wine! Take a look at our top tips to get the right fridge for your recreational vehicle.
Today, there is a huge range of fridge-freezers designed especially for caravans, motorhomes, camper trailers, boats, horse floats etc. In fact, it can be quite overwhelming trying to find the right caravan fridge freezer for your needs. Here, we share the different types of fridges you can select from, as well as the key things to look for.
This article looks at the upright fridge freezers installed inside your recreational vehicle. If you are considering a portable camping fridge to move in and out of your vehicle, you can read this article: Camping Fridges Buyers Guide
TYPES OF CARAVAN FRIDGE FREEZER MODELS
There are two main types of upright caravan fridges:
- Compressor fridges: (also known as a 2 Way Caravan Fridge Freezer) these fridges use a compressor as a cooler and run on either 12/24V battery power or a 240V electrical hook-up from mains power or a generator. One of the most popular brands for compressor caravan fridge freezers is Waeco – especially renowned for their ability to perform well in hotter, tropical environments.
- Absorption fridges: (also referred to as 3-way fridges) Arguably the most common type of fridges used in motorhomes, caravans and other RV’s is a 3-way fridge. The benefit of a 3-way caravan fridge is that it has three types of power sources: 12/24V, 240V and LPG gas. It doesn’t have a compressor, but instead uses evaporating ammonia as a cooler. The big appeal with this type of fridge for your RV is the efficiency you get from running on gas – you can free camp for around 2 weeks running on a standard gas bottle. One of the top brands in Australia for 3-way fridges is Dometic.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
There are lots of things to consider when buying your caravan fridge. Start by answering the following questions:
How much space do I need?
In terms of capacity, caravan fridges can range from 30-40 litres right up to 230 litres. If you’re planning on “going ‘round the block”, you want to look at the larger fridges with a capacity of between 120-220 litres. They tend to be designed as two-door fridge-freezers complete with a crisper section.
However, if you’re only using your caravan for long weekends and short breaks, a 48-litre compression fridge provides plenty of room to chill your veggies, snags and beer. There are even compressor drawer fridge-freezer models which are great for internal or external compact spaces in your vehicle.
Some models have a freezer section that can be unclipped and removed – perfect for when you need a little extra space.
Remember, bigger isn’t always better – the best strategy is to choose the smallest possible fridge for your needs, as this will save on unnecessary power consumption and costs. Also, you obviously need to consider your interior recreational capacity and what sized fridge (in terms of dimensions) will fit with your vehicle – look for the ‘cut-out required’ dimensions in the specifications.
The 3-way fridge provides the option of three alternative power sources, including LPG. However, a 2-way compression fridge will only have 12/24 volt or 240 volt options – but they will be more efficient when running on 12/24 volt power source. As mentioned earlier, the compressor driven fridges will also better handle the hotter environments.
The real benefit of a 3-way absorption fridge freezer is that they can use gas, so you can take the fridge off the electrical system altogether and save battery power. As a rough guide, an absorption fridge typically consumes about 15-20g of gas per hour, so an 9kg gas bottle should keep the caravan fridge freezer running for up to two weeks (perfect if you’re travelling in the outback!).
For added convenience, some 3-way absorption fridges can automatically switch between power sources using the Automatic Energy Selection (AES) feature.
Overall; if you’re heading up north into the hot, tropical environments then a compressor driven fridge will perform better. If you are free camping for longer periods and don’t want to use your battery power, then an absorption caravan fridge freezer is a good option.
What are the safety features?
A caravan fridge that runs off LPG gas comes with the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. An odourless, tasteless, invisible gas, carbon monoxide is produced when LPG gas and other fuels (including oil, kerosene and wood) are burnt. The good news is Dometic 3-way fridges are fitted with an automatic flame failure device to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Also remember that Absorption 3 way refrigerators need to be installed and certified by a qualified and licensed gas-fitter, as improperly or illegally installed products will void the manufacturer’s warranty, and could pose a safety risk.
2 way compressor caravan fridge freezer units can be installed as per the product manual.
How much noise is generated?
Absorption fridges don’t have the working components like compressor fridges so they run silent. And that’s a definite bonus when you are living in a compact space! Compressor fridges will make a small noise when the compressor kicks in.
The fridge is probably one of the most important pieces of kit you will buy for your caravan – so be sure to do your research and choose wisely – Check out our full range of Caravan Fridge Freezer models for more info!