Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s go back to basics. 3 way fridges (also known as a absorption fridges) got their name because they can run on either 12/24-volt, 240-volt or LPG gas. Rather than using a compressor, a 3 way fridge uses a gas flow heat exchange system in the back of the fridge. In other words, they remove the heat rather than create the cold.
There are lots of benefits to 3 way fridges:
- 3-ways fridges give you the convenience of choosing which power to run from. If you are on the road and away from mains power for long periods (and don’t want to invest in solar), this is your best option.
- They tend to have a longer lifespan than their compressor fridge counterparts, because you don’t need to worry about the compressor failing. 3-way fridges can last 20+ years compared to 10-15 for compressor fridges.
- 3-way fridges run extremely efficiency on gas – so they’re a great bet if you want to camp for longer periods. You can a 3 way fridge on a 9kg gas bottle for around 3 weeks (approx.).
- 3-ways fridges don’t make a sound – there’s no compressor.
Let’s take a look at how they measure up in our Dometic vs Thetford 3-way fridge comparison:
Initial Overall Fridge Considerations
The first thing you want to look at is size. Both brands have various sizes ranging from 90 litres to 224 litres. But when it comes to Dometic vs Thetford, Dometic has a greater range overall. That said, Thetford has a popular slimline model which is only 418mm wide compared to the standard 525mm, but the volume is still substantial with 140-litre fridge and a 15-litre freezer. The height is also increased to 1500 mm to perfectly fit the standard height of the majority of the RVs.
The best way to compare Dometic vs Thetford is to use the European Union (CEN) fridge performance standard. Ideally, you want to look for a T Rating (tropical), which is designed and rated to work up to 43 degrees C.
This is where both brands come in neck and neck. All of the Dometic RM range of fridges are T rated, except the RM2350, RM2355 and RM8501, which are ST rated (designed to operate up to 38 degrees C).
For Thetford, all absorption models are T rated.
Another way to narrow down your options is to look at the latest models. Dometic offers a new RUA Absorption Series with a tropical rated cooling system which ensures excellent performance in both low and high ambient temperatures. This range is offered in two sizes: 188L and 224L. Both models have a tall and narrow cabinet design, which allows for greater flexibility in the kitchen without compromising on valuable storage volume!
On the other hand, Thetford boasts the new T-Rated European N3000 refrigerators including the N3141A Slimline and the N3185E refrigerators. These are very popular due to their space saving features for RVs and have been developed to meet the heavy demands of the Australian market.
Warranty & Service Agents
Both Thetford and Dometic both offer a 3-year warranty on their 3-way fridges. But if we’re going to get into the details (this is a battle, after all), Dometic has a slightly more extensive service agents than Thetford. This means if something goes wrong, Dometic provides a slightly higher chance of finding a local service agent.
If appearance matters, Dometic has the edge over Thetford. Many Dometic 3-way fridges do not have an exterior door skin. Instead, the door is silver-coloured coated sheet steel, with black plastic trim. You can then fit a laminate panel or ply to the door to seamlessly complement your RV interior décor.
Other features and considerations
Still can’t decide whether on Dometic vs Thetford? Time to get into the smaller details:
- Both brands have models with either a manual changeover between gas and electric or AES (auto energy selection)
- Both have quality venting and fluing kits available as accessories to ensure optimal performance and installation
- Dometic has more 3-way absorption models available in larger array of sizes
Still can’t decide?
Consider the price and shipping costs to your location. Plus, look out for bonus items often offered with our Upright Absorption Fridge Range to help you make your decision! We also have an array of customer review videos on our My Generator Site and My Generator YouTube Channel.
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.
While 3 way absorption fridges have the ability to run off 3 different power sources (12V / 240V / Gas), they are primarily designed with gas operation in mind; they provide exceptional efficiency when running on gas. However for 12 Volt operation, this is only recommended with absorption fridges when the vehicle is running, otherwise it can exhaust your 12 volt power source (battery) very quickly.