I am currently finishing up my van build and I am curious about what kind of fridge would be best for me. I am leaning toward a standard mini fridge that will consume about 220 kWh annually because of the cost, but I am wondering if it is worth it to go with a 12 volt Dometic or similar type of fridge. My solar system consists of 300 watts of solar and a 220 amp hour lithium ion battery. Is that enough solar and storage to comfortably run the mini fridge as well as take care of other electrical needs? Other than efficiency, what are the other benefits of using a 12 volt fridge? I would really like to have a freezer along with my fridge and have seen that a fridge freezer combo in a 12 volt will cost nearly $1k. Does anyone have some suggestions or alternatives to that? What would everyone recommend if I were to choose the mini fridge?
Greetings & Welcome!
Mini fridges are usually a much better choice than the expensive 12v compressor fridges unless you can find a 12v dorm fridge that uses a wall wort to convert shore power to 12v.
The biggest problem with them is the inverters needed draw power even when not in use. This problem can be solved with a temperature sensor, and a relay installed between your battery and the inverter. With this setup, the inverter only runs when the fridge runs.
You’re probably going to want to double your solar. Short and cloudy winter days cut solar production by 75%+ from during the summer. I strongly suggest you add an isolator to charge while driving, along with a generator and a battery charger. Most full timers have ditched solar all together.
A typical 12V compressor fridge like Dometic uses average 1amp / hour. In reality it will use a lot less in idle and jumps to 4-5A when compressor runs.
Dometic’s own UK website states
Current consumption (AH/H) at +20C ambient temperature with interior temperature of +5C: 0.32
This is for certain model only (https://www.waecofridges.co.uk/freezer/cfx35.htm).
I have a local electronics shop selling their own rebrand of Evercool ECF-40. 32% off until next sunday so it’s only 270e including all taxes. I heard good things from other users, it’s power consumption is similar to Dometics, so about 1Amp overall with peaks up around 5A when compressor is running. People’s complaints are mostly it is big, heavy and temp gauge isn’t 100% accurate. Everyone says it keeps stuff cold and is energy efficient. So I’m going to pick one up this weekend.
It’s chinese and 25-33% of similar sized Dometic’s price, so… why not. I am not going to order it online myself, I will get it from a local shop that also provides 24 months warranty for it.
I’ve had a lot of success with this one https://www.amazon.com/Ausranvik-48-Quart-portable-refrigerator-freezer/dp/B07FMC4LFW and only pull about an amp an hour if that. Customer service is good but hard to understand. They sent me an entire replacement fridge when I complained about the handle breaking. Which they will when full so I just took them off. for $300 (really $150 for me at this point) if it lasts a year or two I’m ok with it, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t last longer This is not a combo, but it will definitely freeze things. If you pack it right you may be able to keep a section frozen.