Refrigerators for cabins and RVs

How to pick the best refrigerators for cabins and RVs. Solar Books (Collyn Rivers) article outlines that now feasible and affordable, and can be run from solar.

Engel 60 litres slide-out fridge is powered by two 100 watt solar modules and a 110 amp hour AGM battery. Pic: 

Cabins usually have roof space for the 200-300 watts solar capacity required. Also feasible are portable solar modules placed outside when you use the cabin.  RVs have less available space for solar modules. For these, buy only those that are 20% or more efficient. At one time these were monocrystalline modules, now the top polycrystalline have caught up.

Another and effective way you can do it is via a 12 volt (100 amp hour) battery. You can charge it via a 230 volt battery charger powered by a Honda/Yamaha inverter/generator. You will need to run the generator for only three or so hours a day. See article Generators for cabins and RVs.

Refrigerators for cabins and RVs – generator back-up

Twelve-volt electric fridges vary in efficiency. Buy only those known globally such as Engel, Waeco etc. Avoid the ultra-cheap look-alikes. Any saving in price is offset by far more energy needed to run them.

To cool efficiently you must install a fridge them correctly. Sadly, few installers do. Cold air must be able to pass over and through their cooling fins. That now-heated air must be able to escape to the outside. A few fridges have metal sides and top that dissipate the heat. These must have a 50 mm air-space at their top and sides. In addition, 12 volt fridges must have ample-sized connecting cable. Very few have. Our books (see below) explain why – and the sizes to use.

Refrigerators for cabins and RVs – three-way operation

Where solar is less feasible, consider a Dometic three-way fridge in its LP gas mode. This works well too for the smaller RVs that lack space for solar modules. However, be aware their energy draw is far too high for solar. Their major benefit is that there will adequate solar for other purposes!

Correctly installing fridges is not hard for you to do. It is not however obvious. Our books Solar That Really Works! and Caravan & Motorhome Electrics explains all.