A couple of weeks ago there was a long thread about a Costway 52 Quart refrigerator
, wondering if it was any good. I have been researching refrigerators for a long time, since I wanted to put one in after my solar setup was complete. Well, I completed that (and will post more about it in my build thread soon), and I had narrowed down my choices to a Dometic CF-50, because it was the right size and, most importantly, the door opened the right way (hinged on the long axis, not the short one) so it could fit under my bed but still be opened fully. But it's $825, and I had a hard time paying that.
So I looked at the different Chinese alternatives on Amazon and settled on this one:
It is a metal Chinese model with decent reviews for $369. Most important for me, it has a hinge that goes either way. I received it on Friday, plugged it in, and went on a three day trip to Teddy Roosevelt National Park, four hours from where I'm staying. Here's what I experienced:
The fridge has two power modes: "Eco" and "Max". On "Max" it took about 30 minutes to cool it from 66 to 30 degrees F, empty. I put in 20 12 oz cans, half cool, half warm, and it took another 30-45 minutes to finish cooling those off. Power consumption on a relatively cool (60 degree) day was 50-75 watts (~4-6 amps) while it was running. Both "Eco" and "Max" modes were relatively quiet - it sounded like a dorm fridge, maybe a little quieter, without the vibration-I had no problem sleeping through the night with it running. "Eco" also has an occasional sound like water flowing through pipes.
I switched it to "eco" for the trip. At room temp (70), it ran once or twice per hour, consuming 35-50 watts (3-4 amps). I set the temp to 35 degrees, and it would cool down to 33 and warm up to 41 before kicking in. (I had it at 33 initially, but I saw it dip to 30 and was concerned it would freeze.)
The cans of beer and seltzer stayed cold without freezing. The unit has a removable wire basket (well made) where I stored the small amount of food that I was taking for the short trip. That food included a bagged salad that did not freeze.
Today, I left the fridge on in the closed up van with about 20 cans of cold seltzer and beer. I checked on it periodically - it was 80 degrees and sunny, and the interior of the van reached 102 degrees. Once I saw "eco" mode pulling 70 watts, but the fridge remained cool (between 33-41) and it was not running constantly.
The build quality seems good - the handles could perhaps be a little more beefy, but otherwise it is metal inside and out. The lid also seems sturdy enough to sit on. It was well packed and had no shipping damage.
The manual is good enough and includes instructions on how to set a number of parameters like the temperature ranges (how many degrees above the set temp it will kick in) and other stuff I'd probably never touch. One thing that isn't documented is the battery shut off voltages, but support got right back to me with that (low 9.6, med 10.1, hi 11.1). Apparently some GoalZero units don't work well with some refrigerators because they don't supply a steady 12 volts, so I set the fridge to low and haven't had any problems.
Obviously, durability is the final test, and I'll post any updates on that front to this thread. The pictures in the Amazon posting are accurate but I took a couple more in case someone was interested: