Choosing the right type of campervan refrigerator is very important when you are designing your campervan.
Enjoying a cold beer and keeping the food chilled on a hot day is a little luxury and one of the benefits a campervan has to offer over basic camping.
Refrigerators work by circulating a chemical (refrigerant) around a network of pipes. The refrigerant changes from liquid to vapour form, which is the process that draws the heat out of the food storage compartment. The vapour then cools and the cycle starts over again.
There are two types of refrigerator that are available and both have their pros and cons. The choice of refrigerator also depends on the power supply in your campervan and how you use your campervan whilst on vacation.
Compressor refrigerators like domestic ones use a compressor to circulate the refrigerant. Compressor fridges are powered by the 12v system or can be powered via the mains using an adapter.
Absorption refrigerators use a heat source to provide the energy to drive the cooling system. These types of fridges are known as ‘three-way’ fridges as they can use power from different sources:
- 12V DC power (Leisure Battery or Solar Power)
- 230V (Mains Electric)
If you like to camp off-grid or away from campsite electricity, these fridges offer you an alternative to compressor fridges. On the downside this type of fridge requires ventilation through the external sidewall of your campervan and needs to be level to work correctly.
- External ventilation not required
- Does not need servicing in the same was as a three-way fridge
- Doesn’t have to be on a level plane like a three-way fridge
- Less variety than absorption fridges
- If away from mains a lot of demand on leisure battery which will require recharging
- Noise from compressor
- Silent operation
- More variety with larger models available
- Choice of power supply
- Ventilation required
- More expensive
- Requires servicing and may need removal from your vehicle (always read the manufacturers operation manual)
- Needs to be level
Automatic Source Selection
Some manufacturers have this as a feature on their absorption fridges that automatically selects the most suitable power source usually: mains first, then 12V and lastly gas. If you opt for this system carefully read the manufacturers literature for important information on the products usage and safety.
If you frequently camp with an electrical hook-up then a compressor fridge may well be suitable. Three way fridges offer you the option to keep your food chilled whilst camping away from it all, but do have more drawbacks than compressor fridges. Careful consideration will ensure you get the correct fridge which can cater for your needs.