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Which camping fridge to choose for your campervan

The options seem endless and terminology mind boggling but there are actually only 3 different types of camping fridges for your campervan and motorhome, though they go by many names.
Here is an overview of what they are:

1. Thermoelectric CoolboxPriscilla's Compact fridge for light weight campervan travel

The cheap option.

Also known as:
    • Electric cool box
    • Travel fridge
    • Plug in eski
  • TropiCool (Dometic – formerly Waeco)
Powered by:
    • 12v/24v DC
  • and sometime 230v AC
Cooling power:
    • Between up to 20°C below ambient for the cheap
  • Up to 30°C below ambient for the more expensive ones
Power consumption

30w – 80w

Price:
  • Low performance: £20 – £100 depending on size and quality
  • High performance £150 – £300 depending on size and quality

NOTES:

Cheap, portable, light weight. A 120w solar panel and 70AH leisure battery should keep it cool most days (long periods of warm overcast weather will be difficult). If the weather is mid/high 20’s it will struggle to maintain what you might expect from a normal fridge.

The high performance thermoelectric cool boxes and fridges use better insulation, smart ventilation and better electronics to achieve higher performance but this comes at about 3 times the price

2. Compressor FridgeIsotherm Comperssor Fridge with patinated copper front panel made from old water cylinder

Much like your home fridge but smaller.

Also known as:
    • 2 Way
  • Compressor cooler
Powered by:
    • 12v/24v DC
  • 230v AC
Cooling power:

Freezing and below ( -12°C)

Power consumption

50w – 75w

Price:

Starting from £250 going up to 10x that for full size marine fridge freezers

NOTES:

Can be in the shape of a fridge, cool box or even drawer.  Can include a freezer compartment which is not possible with the thermoelectric fridges.

3. Gas FridgeA fridge inside a campervan

Also known as:
    • 3-Way
    • Absorption
  • LPG Fridge
Powered by:
    • 12v/24v DC
    • 230v AC
  • Gas/LPG
Cooling power:

Freezing and below ( -18°C)

Power consumption

Price:

Starting from around £450 for a 20l built in fridge

NOTES:

Gas fridges can run silently which is a big plus in a confined space. Installation is more complicated and must be signed off by GasSafe registered engineer but you can run off grid indefinitely.

Our recommendations:

Many of the conversion listed on Quirky Campers are self converted and their owner’s have reported back repeatedly that the best combination is a good quality compressor fridge with a decent solar panel! You get the most output from a solar panel precisely when your fridge needs it most so they are a perfect match. We’ll cover solar panels in detail in a future blog but 120w should do it.

Compressor fridges are easy to install, there is no need to cut ventilation holes in the side of the van, they are durable, less like to go wrong than a 3 way and easy for customers to operate with zero instruction.