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  #1  
Old 08-21-2014, 04:18 PM
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Default Long Travel and Fridge Question

It's been a while, but I value the feedback of this group and have a few questions. We just returned from a month long, 4700 mile camping and exploring trip of the Pacific NW. It was amazing, makes re-entry into the normal world tough.
I'm now sporting a 2013 4 door Tacoma (shortbed) with a FourWheel Camper Finch shell on the back. Everything about the trip was great, all equipment worked flawlessly...except the ice chest, and the Eezi-Awn awning, but that's another thread.
I've decided a 12V fridge set-up is an imperative for future trips. Due to space in the camper I'm limited to a few options, they all have to be under 17" high. I've found the Engel 35, and ARB 37 or 63.
For those with a smaller fridge, a 35 or 37, just how much can you get in there? These smaller models seem, well, pretty small; as in one 1/2 gallon of milk, one container of OJ, and then just a few odds and ends.
At the same time, a 63 sounds sort of massive.
Any and all comments welcome.
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Old 08-21-2014, 10:31 PM
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You could fill the 63 no problem, Carlton. I have the 45 in the fj60 and im often using a cooler for extra space.

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Old 08-21-2014, 10:50 PM
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Since you don't have ice and can put drinks in as you go, they size smaller than ice chests
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Old 08-21-2014, 10:58 PM
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I agree, if you can fit the 63 I'd go for it as it extends your time between fill ups and you can bring more of your favorite goodies.
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Old 08-21-2014, 11:43 PM
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Default Agree with all the fridge stuff.

Yeah I agree with the fridge suggestions, that is, go 63, you'll have more cold drinks, higher quality meals, and so on. Add a 100w solar panel too...as Ron Popiel would say. Set it and forget it. For longer trips like that, I'd do it for sure. Marco has a cool setup on his 60. Simple, and from his feedback works well. I'll end up with something similar in the future.

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Old Yesterday, 05:27 AM
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We have the MT45 and compared to a standard Coleman kind of thing figure you can reasonably take 50% more in it since there's no ice. There are reasons why you select one size over another and you don't always want the largest one in this case.

So while considering size always be mindful to only get as much as you need. We've never felt inclined to upsize although we've thought many times having a smaller fridge would be nice. On overnighters I usually have to put in water bottles to take up space. We're just packing for two and we usually travel solo. We also don't have a second battery or alternative charging methods, so I'm conscious to minimize overall energy consumption. Not to mention the MT45 already takes up a lot of space and payload, I couldn't imagine anything larger or trying to load and lift it in there.

The larger the fridge the more power it consumes from your battery. Fridges are most efficient when they are full, so a packed 35 or 45 will run less often than a partially full 63. It will also cool stuff down quicker and the nice thing about a fridge is that you don't have to worry about adding warm stuff like Cokes and beer. You don't have to put in a week's worth of cans and keep dumping ice on it.

So how you pack changes a little from coolers. It's also much more convenient to resupply, just stop at groceries periodically and throw in another carton of eggs or 1/2 gallon of milk. Add warm stuff in the morning when leaving camp and it'll be cooled by lunch. But the key is never trying to cool air, always keep the fridge full even if it's just water bottles. Our fridge runs typically about 5 or so minutes once or twice an hour overnight and we can go about 2 summer days of typical use before state of charge on the battery starts to be a concern. I'm just running a Optima Red Top.

If you need more cold storage on very long trips you can use the fridge as a freezer and run a cooler. I've only done this as an experiment, using the Engel to freeze water bottle ice blocks. It works but the fridge runs a lot, which wouldn't work in our case. Ideally you'd use a Yeti cooler that wouldn't require so much ice.
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Old Yesterday, 11:46 AM
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We have a edgestart 63qt fridge and the size seems about right. For week long trips its crammed but for short ones everything goes in there like all the beer, water, snacks, whatever just to add mass. Anyways, As Dave says you do have to keep them full or they run a LOT. Full though they work well and one battery with no sun usually lasts a few days like Dave said.

I added a 100w panel to my roof rack and have two batteries and with that setup it'll run *almost* indefinitely in Colorado/Utah (sunny) as long as it's full and the windows in the car are rolled down. A hot car really works them too since the coils aren't much hotter than the air trying to cool them.
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Old Yesterday, 12:06 PM
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The 35's and such are IMHO too small. They might be right depending on your need if you carry very little refrigerated food.

The 45qts are just right but I don't like how tall they are vs wide. The 45 was fine for our family of 4 for the weekend or extended weekend trips. for week trips we couldn't pack everything in there we usually added to it mid or late week and rotated drinks in.

I finally went with a 63qt and it's much nicer to have the room even if it's not needed. As Dave noted we always keep the extra space filled with beer and water or kids drinks. It's nice to have a week of meat, veggies, cheese, breakfast etc.

Barry is selling a 45qt.
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Old Yesterday, 05:02 PM
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I have the Engel 45 in my cruiser and wish I had a larger fridge personally. I tend to camp with lots of cold items. We recently put a 30 liter Intel B (Equipt) in Marianne's Subaru. It will hold a gallon of milk upright but that's pretty much the max height. Probably could fit four gallons in there plus that little cubby for produce.

We lived out of a Engle 35 in AU for a week. It can be done. But you can't carry a gallon of milk around all the time. I generally do and that's probably the number one reason I'd like a bigger fridge. Now if we need extra fridge space we just put her's behind my seat.
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  #10  
Old Yesterday, 05:28 PM
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I have an ARB 45 and I love it... While I sometimes feel I could use more room, I find at the end of the trip that I really didn't need it... If you ask nicely I may let you borrow it and see if you like the size...
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