camping fridge

YOUR GUIDE TO BUYING A PORTABLE FRIDGE

Relaxing in the great outdoors conjures up images of enjoying beautiful views and sunsets with good company and a few cold ones. But to bring this dream into reality a portable fridge is essential. They don’t come cheap but a good portable fridge can help make all the difference on a fishing or camping trip.

HOW WILL YOU USE THE FRIDGE

If you intend to get your car hooked up to a dual battery system, a compressor fridge will be ideal. The fridge runs off the second battery so you won’t be stuck the next time you need to start the car and usually require a 12-volt battery. If you regularly stay in campsites with access to electricity, an AC adapter will allow you to use a compressor fridge with AC mains electricity. These are the most common type of portable fridge for typical campers.

For weekend campers who enjoy day trips into the country, a thermoelectric fridge might provide the best option. These are perfect for short-term refrigeration but are not up to the challenge of maintaining a cool temperature for longer trips. These models run off the car battery and can be quite noisy. For day trips thermoelectric models are a good way to keep your drinks and food chilled, but, for the price, an esky might be the better option.

If you are like me and prefer to take yourself off the grid to the more remote locations Australia has to offer then absorption models provide the best all-rounders. They can hook up to gas or electricity sources, so you don’t have to have a battery running for the duration of your trip. Using a mixture of the dual battery of the car and gas sources is a really useful way of conserving limited energy and gas supplies.

WHAT TO CHECK BEFORE BUYING

The size of the fridge seems an obvious thing to check but many prospective portable fridge owners forget that the fridge will need ample space around it for ventilation. Piling clothes and bags on top of it could cause it to overheat and do lasting damage. The weight is also worth considering. If you are a solitary camper, would you be able to move it alone? Will you need to move it at all?

Check the current that the fridge is likely to draw. This is usually a figure between 1 and 5 amps. If your fridge is left running without the battery source being charged, you may want to purchase some thermal covers to insulate the fridge and save power.

Taking portable fridges offroad can be tricky, you don’t want your food and drink flying around the car like missiles as soon as you hit rough terrain. Does it have sturdy points to secure it? Is the door sealed to handle steep hills?

Make yourself aware of the temperature adjustment and controls before and as you get used to using it.

WHAT IS A FAIR PRICE

Compressor models range between $600 and $2000 dollars while absorption models typically go for a little cheaper, between $350 and $1300. The most economical model is the thermoelectric model, which you can get for a little as $40, but a good quality thermoelectric model will be closer to $300. There’s always a bargain to be had so make sure you have a good look around online. And that’s extremely important to shopping these days because it is often difficult to purchase something in a store that is as low cost as it is online. I often use stores to have a look when I have the spare time but ultimately I make the purchase from a reliable online store.

 


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Oli Ward
oli@dinga.com.au

Oli has camped and hiked his way around Australia and most of Europe. He also loves writing about his experiences and sharing his knowledge.