Portable12v/24v Compressor Camping Fridge. Buying Guide Review

All you need to Know about Portable 12v/24v Camping Fridge Freezers Everything you need to know including the variations between Portable Fridges, Choosing the correct fridge, Power Consumption, Dual Battery & Solar Systems.

What to consider when purchasing a 12v/24v Portable Compressor Camping Fridge.

I am assuming you have been trawling the web researching all there is to know about Portable Fridges and have found that there is a lot to learn and a great deal of confusing and contradicting information .

The decision to buy a camping fridge is a smart move.
You can keep your food and drinks cold while camping, put them on the back porch as a beer fridge or even safely transport your food from the supermarket without having to rush home.

Here are some of the fundamentals regarding 12v/24v Portable Car Fridges.
Portable Compressor fridges normally have the option to run from 12 & 24 Volt and can also be plugged into a standard 240v power socket either via an external or internal AC adaptor.

Portable compressor fridges come as either a unit you can use as a split fridge and freezer at the same time or as a unit that can be operated as all fridge or all freezer.
Some units such as our EvaKool - FridgeMate & Fibreglass range have the option to have any combination you require.

The size and price of the fridge you choose should be compatible with number of people using it, the space you have and of course how much you spend will be dictated by how often it will be used and the features you need or simply how much you can afford to spend. This is why I have a range of different units in my store from budget - to premium, small to large.

Some questions for you..
Are you going away on a long trip where you may want to freeze meat etc, or are you just heading away for a short trip where a freezer is not necessary?
Decision:  Fridge Freezer Split or Fridge or Freezer unit?

Will you be using the fridge constantly on many trips or only every now and then?
Decision:  Budget or Premium Unit?

Are you a big family who needs to keep a lot of food or a big drinker who needs to keeps cartons of beer ice cold or are you a minimalist solo traveller?
Decision:  Large or small fridge?

Are you travelling in harsh hot outback conditions and extremely reliant on power consumption?
Decision:  Icebox style heavily insulated fridge such as the EvaKool Fibreglass or FridgeMate

A quick rundown of the fridges that I have on this site...

The Australian Direct Range is available in 55 & 80 litres; our most popular fridge due to its excellent pricing, value for money & warranty. The AD Fridges come complete with a 240v Power Supply, Transit Bag and an EvaKool Two Year Warranty Australia Wide they can be operated as a Fridge or Freezer.
The EvaKool IB Range is available in 30, 40 & 50 litres with the German Danfoss Compressor and an EvaKool 5 Year Warranty Australia Wide. These fridges are almost identical to another brand on the market without having to pay for the branding, need I say more? The EvaKool IB Range operates as a Fridge or Freezer.
The Creme De Le Creme of the 12v Fridge world is the EvaKool RF Fibreglass Fridge/ Freezers which are available in 40, 47, 60, 85, 110 & 150 Litres. Featuring a Fibreglass Cabinet hand made by EvaKool in Australia, Danfoss Compressor, 5 Year Warranty. These units are based on EvaKool’s famous Fibreglass Ice Boxes designed to keep ice for up to 10 days. They look amazing are super power efficient and do not retain smell due to the no porous finish.
The EvaKool FridgeMate is a Split Fridge Freezer designed as a cost effective version of the EvaKool RF Fibreglass Range. Available in 55, 70 & 95 Litres FridgeMate utilises a Plastic Icebox designed by EvaKool to hold ice from 4-5 days with a Danfoss Compressor and 5 Year EvaKool Warranty Australia Wide. FridgeMate is tough, power-efficient and great value for money. These units are very very popular due to the affordable price, power efficiency, warranty & durability.
The BCD Range are our upright two door fridge freezers which are very popular for caravan & remote power installations. They feature low power draw, latchable doors and a split fridge freezer combination.  Supplied with a 2 Year EvaKool Warranty Australia Wide.

So let's talk a little more about fridges, batteries and more...

It is very important that the fridge you choose is power efficient as it will be running mostly from a battery source generator or solar panel so lets talk about power consumption and some of the basics..

If you are simply driving from one place to another without stopping at all, then you can run the fridge right off your vehicle’s cigarette lighter socket as the alternator which is powered by the engine will charge the battery and power the fridge but if you would like to stop for an afternoon, overnight or a weekend you will need a Dual Battery System to run your fridge.

The standard battery in your vehicle is NOT designed for running appliances for any long period of time.  A dual battery system whether it be mounted under your bonnet or a portable system, such as our Thumper Battery Systems will charge up as you drive along, then when you switch the vehicle off, it will automatically separate itself from the vehicle’s starting battery so that your fridge can operate without flattening your vehicle’s starting battery.
The batteries used in these systems are called Deep Cycle Batteries which are designed to operate appliances for a long period of time in comparison to your vehicle’s starting battery which is designed  to provide a lot of power in a short burst to get your car started. The longer you want your fridge to run from these dual battery systems without recharging them the larger  deep cycle battery you will need!

(Of course you can recharge your battery by driving your vehicle, Solar Panels & Portable Generators with a suitable Battery Charger connected).’

12v Fridges and Power Consumption (Now we get a little technical)

12v Power Consumption is measured in what is referred to as an “amp hour” which means how many amps per hour a device draws. Think of a battery as a container of water, holding lets say, 100 litres and each litre represents an amp hour of power. For example if a fridge was to draw 1 amp per hour then the fridge would run for approximately 100 hours. Make sense?

The way we measure the power consumed by a 12v refrigerator is to fill it with a reasonable amount of food & drink, then run it for 24 hours on a day with an average temperature of say 28 degrees, taking into account it is colder at night than during the day. We then measure how much the fridge has consumed in Amp Hours over that 24 hour period and divide it by 24 which gives us an average consumption in Amps Per Hour or A/H.

(If you get lost here feel free to call us for some advice on 07 31234715)

So what makes some fridges more economical and how can I reduce my power consumption?

Just like your home refrigerator, portable fridges have compressors which cycle on when the temperature goes above the temperature you have set and then switch off when they cool back down to the temperature you have set. So here are the main factors affecting power consumption...

  • How cold you have set the fridge vs. the temperature outside the fridge. ‘Running the unit as a Freezer will draw more power than running it as a fridge only.’
  • The size of the fridge, how much and the density of the food and drinks are inside the fridge also how tightly you have the unit packed. (A little airflow around the contents of the fridge will help the cool air circulate faster) The more you open the fridge and let air escape the more power the fridge will use also.
  • A well insulated fridge will draw less power as once your contents are cold the insulation will keep it cold which means the compressor will not have to run as often. A perfect example of this is both the EvaKool FridgeMate range and the EvaKool RF Fibreglass range which you will find in my store as they are built on an Icebox designed to keep ice for 5-10 days.
  • A  fridge in a cool place under a shady tree will use less power than another locked up in the back of vehicle on a hot day where temperatures can reach 50 degrees or  more.

How long do you want to run the fridge for? (now we get even more technical!)

Lets say your fridge draws an average of 1.6 amps per hour and you want to run it for 2 days without recharging your batteries.
This is how you would calculate what you need: 2 x 24 hours = 48 hours then 48 Hours times 1.6 A/H which is the average power consumption of the fridge so the fridge would draw 76.8 amps over 48 hours. You would choose a battery with a capacity of around 100 Amps to give you just a little bit extra than you need.

If you wanted to run the fridge for a longer period of time you could either go for a drive and recharge the battery, recharge the battery with a solar panel or use a generator combined with a battery charger or lastly you could charge the battery from mains power with a battery charger.

For help setting up a system such as this or any other questions you may have please  give me a call on 07 31234715 as I am more than happy to help, in fact, assisting my customers is the foundation of my business..

P.S If you feel there is anything missing from this article please drop me an email so I can include it for everybody’s benefit.

Article by Klaeton Sheehan founder of Australian Direct

‘The Portable 12 Volt Fridge, Dual Battery & Solar Specialists.’