All the wanderlusts must be very well aware of selecting the best portable fridge for their next camping or road trip. Running off our car batteries, buying the best one is a struggle of its kind. The cost factor; the efficiency; the type vis-a-vis two-way or three-way; and all such things to consider before buying the best portable fridge for camping is nothing short of reading an encyclopedia. So today, here we are addressing the most basic things that pop in our minds before buying one.
What are some of the things I should consider when buying portable fridges?
Whether you’re buying the portable fridge for your home or camping van, considering certain aspects before making the purchase always helps to make an informed decision:
Power consumption is a must to consider to prevent your car’s battery from draining completely too soon. Knowing it becomes all the more important for a 12-volt fridge. Hence, it is vital to go for a model that doesn’t shorten your car’s battery life, eventually in the long-run too.
The cigarette lighter plug that most of the portable fridges come with isn’t made to draw huge current flows. Hence, it is imperative to have the right connector that is powerful enough to take the load.
A good-quality compressor is what decides the life of your fridge. Look for the one offered by the likes of Waeco or Fuji.
Sturdy construction with durable casing and strong hinges is a must to make the fridge take all the weight and bumps along the road.
To prevent your fridge from tipping over during the journey, a piece of good mounting equipment is a must. Covers are also essential for letting the fridge draw less current. Ensure to use them leaving the space of vents and other outlets.
Two-way or three-way portable fridges?
Two-way fridges are the ones that run on electricity and use compressor technology just like the ones at our homes. Contrary to this, three-way fridges can run both on electricity and gas and run on heat exchangers rather than compressors. Having either of them is subjective but here is the comparison table that can help you in making an informed decision vis-a-viz your needs:
|Basis||Two-way fridges||Three-way fridges|
|Performance||They perform very well even when the temperatures are quite hot to bear.||When it comes to hot temperatures, they perform average and can’t run as well as two-way fridges.|
|On-road performance||They are custom-made for uneven terrains or while on-the-move.||They need to be leveled well to let them work efficiently. Hence, they aren’t as suited for journeys.|
|Efficiency||They are designed specifically to run on 12 volts batteries efficiently.||They aren’t as efficient and are infamous for quickly draining the batteries.|
|Power source||They run only on electricity and the batteries need constant charging to prevent them from running out too soon.||Being versatile regarding power sources, they can run for many weeks on a single gas fill.|
|Noise||The noise from the compressor can be quite noticeable on a calm campsite.||These types of fridges are almost silent.|
|Ventilation||They do not need to be placed at open places to stay ventilated.||They need regular ventilation, thus, making them unfit for keeping inside a closed camper van for longer hours.|
|Dual-functioning||A few of them can double-up as freezers too.||They have just a single function of refrigerators and lack the freezing technology.|
What size of portable fridges do I need?
The size of a portable fridge is an extremely important consideration, especially when you have a family or a group of friends to accompany you on your on-road excursions. That said, having a large fridge on-the-go also means less space for your brood to fit in. But we have made an estimation list of how many liters fridge you would need for your brood size and days you’ll be out on the road:
25 liters– This size is ideal for you and a friend of yours’ out for a day. It can very well store as much as around 27 cans of drink.
37 liters– This size is ideal for two of your weekend trips. The can holding capacity can be worked out at around 47.
40 liters– The ideal ‘standard size’, this one is apt for the two of you for an extended weekend on the road. To have an estimation of food storing capacity, packets equivalent to 60 cans can be stocked.
50 liters– This size is ideal for a whole week for two or a family’s weekend trip. This sized portable fridge can accommodate as much as 72 cans.
60-65 liters– A great sized-fridge for a whole group of friends or a large family of around five, it can very well sustain food storage equaling around 106 cans.
80 liters– This size is ideal for large groups or families opting for week-long getaways and can store as much as 120 cans. But the weight and the space that is taken up by such large fridges need to be considered too.
Which compressor is best for portable fridges?
A compressor is fondly called as the ‘heart of the fridge’ and having the best one for your unit is imperative. To choose the best compressor, follow certain guidelines:
- The temperature limit of the area where the fridge is required to work in is an important consideration for looking out for an efficient compressor. For hotter regions, choose a high-quality trusted brand like Sawafuji or Waeco.
- Compressor capacity decides the cooling power of it. Measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute) or CFH (cubic feet per hour), the higher it is, the higher is the cooling capacity of the compressor.
- Lastly, also look for the efficiency of the motor in terms of horsepower. The one with a lower horsepower rating may not be the best in terms of efficiency.
What about thermoelectric?
Thermoelectric fridges run on the Peltier cooling technology of drawing heat energy out from an insulated chamber to keep the temperature below that of the surrounding. There is no mechanism to add a cooling effect to the temperature by around more than 5% of all the electrical energy consumed. This makes them good just for a day trip to keep your food and drinks cool. Store your pre-chilled drinks in it and it will maintain the temperature unless you reach your office or picnic location. If your purpose of having a fridge is to keep your food cool for longer periods, investing in a high-quality portable fridge is the best alternative.
How much do portable fridges cost?
The prices of the portable fridges vary depending on the size and technology you opt for:
- Starting right from $250 for a mini in-car cooler fridge, expect to pay anywhere between $800 to $2,000 for a two-way portable fridge. The most common size, i.e. the standard size of 40 liters can cost around $1,000. The price goes up to $2,000 for a big-sized upright fridge.
- For a three-way portable fridge, the lower price is around $350 which can go up to around $1,300 depending on the size and other features.
- That said, all this is just the cost of the basic cooling unit. Add all the required accessories to it to aggregate the exact cost estimates. Such accessories might include a dual-battery system, mounting equipment kit, covers, or other modifications to let your fridge fit into your vehicle for best functioning.
What is the best portable fridges?
There are generally three types of portable refrigerators namely; compressor refrigerator, absorption refrigerator, and thermoelectric cooler. But the 12-volt compressor types are deemed as the best due to the following reasons:
- Can be used as a fridge or freezer;
- Functions well both on leveled or inclined surfaces;
- The compressor allows you to set the desired temperature;
- Lowest power consumption which is generally as low as 1 amp;
- Do not drain your car’s battery;
- Can keep the unit cool enough even on hotter days;
- Keep food safe for as long as you want.
Buying a portable fridge for your short or long hauls takes a lot of research and costs equally huge. Thus, it is always advised to have a detailed and thorough know-how of all features that must meet all your needs for your excursions.