Portable Fridge Freezer considerations
Due to the expense and very low use (e.g. 3 x 1 week camping trips per year) found buying a very good esky and ice the cost effective alternative to portable fridges.
Did buy 2 second hand 3 way fridges but these only seemed to work on 240V as demonstrated. Tip: impossible to know if running on gas, so don't buy unless you have some comeback or have tested by a service agent.
Did a year long trip with a camper trailer with Electrolux 3 way fridge with no problems. Tip: make sure you can access the fridge when camper folded down to store shopping. Fitted camper with solar panel and deep cycle battery for remote camping and having own power supply meant savings in using unpowered tent sites paid for the power supply very quickly- do the maths. Also independent power supply added value at sale.
What are we interested in?
Now in retirement, the trips away from home will be much longer and more frequent, justify the expense of one or more fridge / freezers. What is the best option - it depends on the user/s, length of stay and the remoteness of destinations. Considerations would be:
What do you use your fridge for?
Buy it for 7 day + camping trips or extended car / boat travel. But very useful as over-flow fridge / freezer once home for keeping that superb catch, bulk buys or party / Xmas goodies .
Where is your fridge?
While travelling in the car and / or boat. At destination at campsite, in the home (preferably close to the kitchen i.e. laundry or garage) or remain in car / boat if that is the only power source or if one of two units.
Fridge, freezer or both?
Need both functions. Freezer for keeping frozen food and bait and freezing the catch. Freezer can manufacture ice (water bottles) for eskies use (as fridge) for daily consumption at camp and with vehicle.
On the go or at campsite - 12V from car alternator /dual battery, ground (at campsite) and car roof mounted solar panels. 240V at rental accommodation.
At home as overflow freezer (bulk buys or great fish catch) would try to use camping / vehicle solar panels in preference to 240V. At holiday accommodation use 240V.
3 way fridges work well in remote campsites, share a portable fuel (gas) with camp stoves and will operate when the sun is obscured for a week. 9 kg bottles can supply energy for every day use up to 2 months for fridge and stove. However, they are inefficient and have limited ability to freeze in very hot weather. Further electric power is preferred as safe lighting inside tents and campers.
So currently you still need 2 power sources for remote area cooking, refrigeration, lighting and electricity generation and storage. Having a 3 way fridge freezer for the campsite and a 12V fridge freezer for the vehicle may be the solution.
Remarkably thermoelectric devices such as the Biolite Campstove 2 can do all that except refrigeration just by burning readily available kindling wood - but on a limited scale. The future looks promising. https://www.simplyenergystore.com.au/BioLite-CampStove2
1 large or 2 small. Handling weight and bulk and power consumption.
While 1 x 90L fridge is much cheaper and smaller in bulk than 2 x45L fridges (extra external insulated wall area) it's weight and bulk when full is likely to require multiple persons to lift. Also, 2 fridges maybe more power hungry.
Of course with 2 units, 1 can stay in the car whilst the other remains at camp. The need still remains for both freezer and fridge but this can be handled by freezing water in bottles for esky (fridge) use. 2 units would be more reliable in remote areas.
Efficiency when packed in vehicles.
When packed tight inside a vehicle or under a tarp, restrictions of air flow will greatly reduce efficiency as fridges being heat pumps need to be able remove the heated air from the fridge's surroundings. A ventilation shaft or duct would greatly help.
What sort of temperature ranges does your fridge typically experience?
What do you put in it?
Freezer - frozen prepared meals and meats and fish catches. Fridge - Defrosted foods, dairy products, wine, soft drinks and short life F&V.
Is your fridge always on, or do you just use it when you need it?
When I need it and when power available - which maybe when power generated from vehicle or solar panel or when back at 240V source such as rented accommodation. Fridge likely to be without power over-night - therefore insulation very important.
And is there anything else you'd like us to look for?
Can the fridge / freezer cope with a remote Northern Australian summer trip e.g. Cape York or the Kimberley's?