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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're debating these two options.
We like the side load (traditional) for the lean in from outside to grab something out of the fridge benefit.
We like the top load for not spilling all the cool air out of the fridge with each opening benefit.
What other pros and cons should we be thinking about?
What are some good larger models?
Are there good 12v options or should we consider AC?

thanks in advance.
 

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Fridge

- I feel the top load fridges are more efficient- they stay colder and cycle less- I have the Engel MT 60 which includes a nice freezer as well- they are AC/ DC compatible
 

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There's more to a top-loader than just cooling efficiency--which, by the way, is hotly debated by some. Consider this: when you want to fill up a box, do you turn it on its side? With no concern for anything falling out or shifting, a chest fridge can be filled much more compactly, yet everything can be just as accessible as in a front-loader--often more so. I suspect my Engel MT-45 (1.4 cu ft) holds as much as a substantially larger front-loader. Recently, it held 5 days of food for two people, including large salads, meats, cheeses, eggs, condiments, and a gallon of milk, plus there's almost always a half dozen soft drinks at a time. I also find it much easier to look down into this fridge than to try to see the back of a front-loader. You might guess that for me the choice was a no-brainier.

If you have the space, you can't go wrong with the Engel MT-60 just described.
 

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At the risk of alienating all my "chesty" friends I must vote for side doors.

If you want to have to move everything around in your top fridge every time you want something that is fine but I like to carry a lot of food with me and I want it all visible and reachable at a moments notice. If you want a chest fridge just buy a styrofoam cooler and a bag of ice everyday and bank the $695 you would save.

I just bought a Truckfridge 130 (4,2 cf/130 l) to replace my $60 dorm fridge. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the dorm fridge (other than a bit small) but I wanted to go 95% all 12v. Now I only need turn the inverter on for 5 or 6 minutes a day, at most to microwave my gourmet diners at night.

The TF130 is fantastic and was $699 including shipping!. It's built for mobile use unlike a dorm fridge, and things don't move around inside it. This was never a problem with my dorm fridge (after I put a door latch on it). It is so quiet I don't even know it's running. I've had it on, set at 30°f 24/7 for a week and it's used 1433wh or about 200 wh a day mostly at night obviously as my 300 w of solar run it from dawn to dusk and still keeps my house batteries fully charged up at 13.5 to 14.3 volts!
 

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"f you want to have to move everything around in your top fridge every time you want something that is fine but I like to carry a lot of food with me and I want it all visible and reachable at a moments notice."

This is a misperception. Only a small portion of the contents of a front-loader are on the front of the shelf, just as only a small portion of mine are on top. With baskets, even that comparison shifts in my direction. I know where everything is and everything is reachable at a moment's notice. To maintain lines of sight would be terribly wasteful of valuable space.
 

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I believe it depends on you more than the fridge. The loss of cooled air is an insignificant cooling load as has been calculated and reported on a similar thread earlier. I agree with MsNomer that you can get more in a chest than in a front loader of the same size and not risk a fall out, however much larger front loaders can be fit in a van and have access easier so not jamming them full is more normal. I saw KOV’s new fridge and the Engel and while I believe the Engel the best chest fridge you can buy it is much more expensive, smaller, holds much less, has no dedicated freezer but uses less power to cool. If I were looking for a fridge to carry in my desert rig a 4Runner with sleeping platform, I’d go chest, but for a van, front loader. I have a Norcold NR 751, 3.0 cu ft with the freezer. It’s interior is not real convenient as it is deep not high- BUT it fits my galley great and we could not have fit a chest fridge of nearly that size in our 136” van
Other chest fridges seem to mostly be China products sold through Amazon or eBay and sketchy service due to that. ARB makes a nice one but is nearly the cost of the Engel. Wynter makes a larger one and it has a dedicated freezer. I have put URLs for all below from the same source to compare prices, and put the sizes in cu ft. Shop around for better prices.

Here is a 2.0 cu ft Engel:

Here is the Truck fridge 4.2 cu ft:
[ame]https://www.amazon.com/TruckFridge-TF130-Refrigerator-Commercial-Vehicles/dp/B01J0WQ4CG[/ame]
 

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You wouldn't have a chest fridge in your home so why would you want one in your camper? ;)

I must admit (reluctantly) that both MsN & ProEd's Engels work well for their particular conversions and as RD says they make sense in the back of a SUV but I'll take a real fridge any day in my van!

Now, what's better - gas or diesel, low top or high top, full windows minimal windows, white or sandstone? ;)
 

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Are moderators allowed to harass the members? LOL

Front load, diesel, high top, 136”, sandstone pearl, Espar, dinette, UC-3, iPhone, Fantastic Vent, and bike rack on back. Why does everybody hate me?

Oh yes Quest- Leatherman!
 

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Aside from the fact that the Engel's power use (or lack thereof) is amazing, I like the Engel because....

In my setup and MsN's, the chest top is at counter height, so everything is easy to see and access.
In about 5 minutes, I can take mine out of the van and put it in our SUV for a non-camper vacation...DC to lighter plug and go...
To load before a trip, I pull out the basket, take inside and load, drop back in
I use plastic bins from rubbermaid that fit my Engel perfectly and keep it all organized for quick access. The most I have to move is one container to access a lower level item.

My only wish for my Engel? a digital temperature control instead of the non-numbered, single knob that goes from fridge to freezer.

KOV, gas, high, full, GRAPHITE!
 

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You wouldn't have a chest fridge in your home so why would you want one in your camper? ;)

I must admit (reluctantly) that both MsN & ProEd's Engels work well for their particular conversions and as RD says they make sense in the back of a SUV but I'll take a real fridge any day in my van!

Now, what's better - gas or diesel, low top or high top, full windows minimal windows, white or sandstone? ;)

Don't forget, Leatherman or Gerber???
 
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Are moderators allowed to harass the members? LOL

Front load, diesel, high top, 136”, sandstone pearl, Espar, dinette, UC-3, iPhone, Fantastic Vent, and bike rack on back. Why does everybody hate me?

Oh yes Quest- Leatherman!
Only certain ones.
 

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"You wouldn't have a chest fridge in your home so why would you want one in your camper?"

If space and power were as much a consideration as they are in the van, you bet your booties I'd be using s chest.
 

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Let’s not anyone hurt anyone else here! Please know MsNomer, ProEddie, KeepOnVaning, and myself (and others) are friends who have camped together and lest anyone think differently we all respect each other’s work, choices, and would never criticize those. Preference, van plan, and our needs dictated what we did. All were great choices. When you plan your van- if a place for a chest or wall refrigerator is planned in and fits, I suggest you make it large enough for your need, think about freezer space and ease of access. Either type is handier if raised. Mine is probably the lowest about a foot off the floor,in the galley.

Don’t make a choice because you like that I am the best looking, or that MsNomer is a better woodworker, or that KOV is a Super Moderator, or that ProEddie has the most interesting conversion design. Make it because you have thought it out. All 12 volt fridges will work well, all can be run on 100 watts of solar but you will want 200 or a bit more, all are reasonably quiet, all are well made and should last the life of your van.
 

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I hated the chest fridge/freezer we had. Getting anything out of it was a PIA.

That's why I sold it and just bought a 4 cf dorm fridge. The thing is quiet and only draws .8 amps when running.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
You guys are a hoot. Thanks for the valuable advice and spirited dialog. Your banter keeps me coming back over and over to keep reading this forum. thanks
 

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It helps if you have several beers before logging on.

But, between all the BS is the answer to the real question - whatever works for you is the best way. It's your van do what makes you happy!

Everyone has their own needs and if you can compare your needs to others then you can make reasonable choices that you will be pleased with.

As everyone can see there is no one "best" way only the way that makes you happy.

Drink up ;)
 
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