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2014 136” HR
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Discussion Starter #1
I know most of you would not consider this option, but I'll throw it out anyway for any lurker who might be on the fence: consider a chest fridge. I have never liked motel fridges, and I try to avoid leaning my head to the side because of occasional vertigo, so the choice was a no-brainer for me. (I even have a top-loading clothes dryer.)

RD has commented on how small my fridge is, but I'd love to see a side-by-side comparison of what fits in it compared to a front-loader. On this last trip, this 43-quart (40-liter, 1.4cuft) fridge held at one time starting out: 6 soft drinks, a gallon of milk, 6 eggs, 12 sausages, 6 muffins, 7-oz margarine tub, 2 12-oz jars jelly, 4 oz block of cheese, 15 cheese sticks, 8 oz sliced Swiss cheese, a full making of Kraft Mac&Cheese (in two containers), 6 oz meat loaf, about 6 oz ham, a head of lettuce, a green pepper, 4 radishes, 9 oz spinach (1.5 bags not smushed), 4 oz ranch dressing. The fridge was full, but not solidly packed--no special effort needed to make things fit.

It would be unusual for us to go more than three days without access to a grocery--running out of milk would be a crime--and this was plenty of cold stuff to last three days with soft drinks and milk replenished as needed. When we had eaten down the veggies and meat a bit, we had room for another half gallon of milk bought before the first gallon ran out, but instead of washing empty containers, I just left them in the fridge til we got home.

Everything fits upright, so no risk of leakage from a loose cap. No risk of anything falling out when the door is opened. I suspect the ability to pack more tightly contributes a bit to the efficiency.

It's easier to retrieve from the bottom of this than from the back of a front-loader. The full-size basket comes into the house for filling before a trip and emptying after. Two shallow baskets on top for small stuff and milk jugs fit perfectly underneath.

The only negative I can think of is that you can't just slide it under a counter. I will be building a counter section that is a torsion box with polyiso center between slabs of luan with a Formica face. My prototype is quite lightweight and strong. This will also further insulate the fridge. A positive, though, is that its 14" depth fits in my 16" cabinet. Not a single front-loader that I have seen would do that.

Choices, choices.
 

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2014-159 HR in CT
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Ms,

Since you've mentioned yours, that's the one I've been most interested in. I can't seem to find a better deal than $910. That's a lot of $$$. I suppose that eventually I'll convince myself it's worth it. Best bet now is to wait and get it in May for next summer!

I like the chest design better. Seems like when we were shopping for home refrigerators, everyone said the cold stays in when you open the lid better. I do notice a rush of cold air on my feet when I open our side-by-side ref/freezer.

Anyone have any thoughts on the 40 marine version?

Ed
 

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Its not a fridge, but I have frequently used an Igloo 12v solid-state cooler for many of my pre-BoB car-camping adventures. It cools to about 25-30F below ambient (and its old). I think its labeled as a 40qt capacity. I have used it in BoB several times now as well.


For my mind it works well enough for a single layer of items, but once stacking is involved, not gonna happen. Granted, I don't have a basket to lift out the top layer, but that's not something I want to deal with.


Also, as you mentioned, the access is different, and its most likely to be mounted or setting at floor level. I do understand your comment about tilting your head to the side, I try not to do that as well. One thing that is planned with my fridge installation is that it will be off the floor by about 20", this will make it easier to access the bottom (and back) of the fridge. I do wish it was a bottom freezer though.


I do envy the efficiency of the chest fridge though, especially ARB or Engel. Very nice in that regard.
 

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2014 136” HR
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Discussion Starter #4
Zyzzx: My fridge is 20" deep mounted 14" above the floor. There is stacking with either model.

Eddie: That $910 appears to be a set price. I've never seen it lower. The marine version does not have the same features. Do your homework.

These guys http://www.orccgear.com have a new model MB40 that's more money but would be a cleaner install. I bought from Amazon before I found these guys, but bought baskets from them. Super, super nice guy will chat with you as if he's your best neighbor. At no extra charge, he overnighted me a basket so I'd have it in time for a trip.
 

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MsNomer,
Don't misconstrue my comment to indicate a chest refer is not a great idea for all the reasons you mention. I looked long and hard look at them but didn't find the place to put it in my build. I tried to have it in a drawer under the dinette seat but it couldn't be drawn out enough to really work. BTW I had settled on a Whynter FM-62DZ Dual Zone Portable Refrigerator/Freezer, 62-Quart to have a freezer part. It is not an Engle but I understand they preform well and are good quality. Cheap too:
[ame]http://www.amazon.com/Whynter-FM-62DZ-Portable-Refrigerator-62-Quart/dp/B008VX01P2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1450134655&sr=8-2&keywords=whynter+refrigerator%2F+freezer[/ame]

I still feel 1.4 cu ft is not big enough for us despite your delicious list. Our Norcold NR751 is twice as big, easily filled (if vertigo were not an issue- sorry) and has a freezer in addition which allows us to have ICE CREAM! It is raised up so its top is 35 inches above the floor. I hear you that yours works for you. Different strokes again.
 

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You can build the fringe on a slider and then have counter space on top.
Me prefer chest type fringe/freezer like yours. Just chuck your stuff in and go...
Mine goes 24/7 with one 100 watt solar panel. Very low power unit and super quiet.
You can get more stuff in a chest fridge than a front loader.
 

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I keep my Dometic Cool/Freeze cf-18 in the same spot in the van as Backroader which is a little tough to access but I may steal his slider tray idea. Our under counter fridge is a regular 3 way Dometic with a small freezer so the cool/feeze is for ice and booze. The bottom can be kept above freezing while the ice stays frozen in the top. Counter intuitive but that's the way that fridge works. The one I had in my last van was the same way. It was same model.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I would love to have been able to put it on a slider and spent a lot of time trying to make that work, but it just was not compatible with my layout. If I were buying now, I'd spring the extra $75 or so in a heartbeat and get the new Engel made to be built in.
 

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Chest Fridge

I know most of you would not consider this option, but I'll throw it out anyway for any lurker who might be on the fence: consider a chest fridge. I have never liked motel fridges, and I try to avoid leaning my head to the side because of occasional vertigo, so the choice was a no-brainer for me. (I even have a top-loading clothes dryer.)

RD has commented on how small my fridge is, but I'd love to see a side-by-side comparison of what fits in it compared to a front-loader. On this last trip, this 43-quart (40-liter, 1.4cuft) fridge held at one time starting out: 6 soft drinks, a gallon of milk, 6 eggs, 12 sausages, 6 muffins, 7-oz margarine tub, 2 12-oz jars jelly, 4 oz block of cheese, 15 cheese sticks, 8 oz sliced Swiss cheese, a full making of Kraft Mac&Cheese (in two containers), 6 oz meat loaf, about 6 oz ham, a head of lettuce, a green pepper, 4 radishes, 9 oz spinach (1.5 bags not smushed), 4 oz ranch dressing. The fridge was full, but not solidly packed--no special effort needed to make things fit.

It would be unusual for us to go more than three days without access to a grocery--running out of milk would be a crime--and this was plenty of cold stuff to last three days with soft drinks and milk replenished as needed. When we had eaten down the veggies and meat a bit, we had room for another half gallon of milk bought before the first gallon ran out, but instead of washing empty containers, I just left them in the fridge til we got home.

Everything fits upright, so no risk of leakage from a loose cap. No risk of anything falling out when the door is opened. I suspect the ability to pack more tightly contributes a bit to the efficiency.

It's easier to retrieve from the bottom of this than from the back of a front-loader. The full-size basket comes into the house for filling before a trip and emptying after. Two shallow baskets on top for small stuff and milk jugs fit perfectly underneath.

The only negative I can think of is that you can't just slide it under a counter. I will be building a counter section that is a torsion box with polyiso center between slabs of luan with a Formica face. My prototype is quite lightweight and strong. This will also further insulate the fridge. A positive, though, is that its 14" depth fits in my 16" cabinet. Not a single front-loader that I have seen would do that.

Choices, choices.
MsNomer,

Thank you for your well written post!

Its very timely for me as I have not made a purchase yet and my layout is not locked in.

I intend to buy a chest for a drinks fridge and had planned on an upright fridge/freezer (set well off the floor) from Novakool http://www.novakool.com , but after reading your post I'm going to give it some more thought.

Installing a chest in a slider would provide more counter space and give a more open feel to the living space.

I fall into the category of needing a bigger volume and freezer as we at times require up to a week with out shopping.

More thought required.........

Cheers,

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I have what I believe is a solid consumption figure for the Engel, now that I have a TriMetric meter. Van is parked in the driveway, so no consumption for lights, etc, to complicate the calculation. Parasitic consumption (LED's on ports) is 0.1A, thus 2.4AH per day.

In exactly 5 days, exactly 40 AH were consumed from the house battery. Parasitic consumption is 12AH (2.4 X 5) of that total, leaving 28AH for the fridge. That is 5.6AH per day.

Conditions:

Van temperature has ranged from mid-40’s to mid-90's. Daytime temps mostly mid- to upper 70’s, IOW, good hiking weather. Fridge temperature is a steady 38°.

Fridge is empty (worst-case). It has been opened a number of times as I measure around it, but not as often as if we were camping.

I had room to add a layer of Thinsulate on two sides of the box and about 1/4" of closed-cell foam on the third. I'm into the land of diminishing returns, but because I can, I will also put Thinsulate underneath and a Thinsulate "bonnet" on top.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Another Data Point for the Engel MT45

Ambient temperature today in Southern NH was 97°. Van interior reached 106° with MaxxAir fan running at 40%. I unplugged the shore power for 4 hours.

The system consumed 6AH during that 4 hours. Of that, 5AH were from the fan and parasite USBs, leaving 1AH used by the fridge. This is consistent with its usage at much lower ambient temperatures.

The difference was that the fridge's internal temperature rose from 39° to 41°. This fridge does not have a regular thermostat but instead has a dial from 0 to 5. I have it set a bit past 1, maybe 1.2-3, so it has a huge amount of unused cooling capacity that I could have used.

Since my earlier measurements, I have added Thinsulate to 4 of its 5 exposed sides, which I'm sure has enhanced its already amazing insulation. This was a "why not" decision--I had the left-over insulation and the space that I couldn't use for anything else. Probably most important, because it is a chest fridge, I am able to lay a blanket of insulation over the top. I will soon add insulation underneath also.

Another data point as to capacity: Although it is described as only 1.3 cubic feet, I was able to store three 2-pound boxes of strawberries plus 1.5 gallons of milk and various other items. I have not yet seen a front-opening fridge in a camper that can so easily swallow large items.
 

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..and then there's this!

A while back, I got the Engel MR40. It is the very slightly smaller, plastic outside version of MsNomer's MT45.

It got a good workout on our CT to FL and back 3 week trip last month. It was used continuously for the whole trip. On many days down South, the interior temp of the van was over 100 degrees. I set the Engel at 1.5, which kept the temperature to around 37-38 degrees.

It cycled on about 3 or 4 times an hour for about 2 minutes per cycle. For 3 days when visiting with friends, in the 100+ degree van, it lowered my 2 100Ah AGMs from 12.6 to 12.5 volts. No charging during that time. Auto switch-over to AC was a great feature when I plugged in at a campground.

Yesterday I needed to pick up burgers/dogs for a picnic today. It held 60 1/3 pound burgers (20 pounds), 5 pounds of hot dogs, 6 16oz Diet Cokes and had room to spare.

I too prefer the top opening fridge. Easy to get in and out and everything is accessible. Mine is mounted so the lid is about belt height.... I'll see if I can find a picture!

Ed
 
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