If you want to have a truly off-grid Van Life experience, food refrigeration is one of the most critical items to consider. This means ensuring your current refrigerator is up to par or updating to a better one.
When it comes to choosing the best fridge for a caravan or motorhome, it all comes down to personal preference. For example, if you’re travelling in a smaller campervan, you’re going to want a smaller, more compact fridge to fit inside your van without taking up too much space. Other factors to consider include your budget and your chosen fridge’s potential power consumption.
Continue reading to learn more regarding choosing the best fridge for your caravan, factors to consider, including fridge styles and types as well as the top 20 caravan fridges and more.
The Best Fridges for Caravans, Motorhomes and Campervans
A refrigerator is a must-have component for any campervan, whether you’re planning a long road trip or a weekend getaway. However, with so many options available, deciding on the best camper fridge in 2022 can be a difficult challenge.
What is Considered the Best Campervan Fridge?
Overall, the Dometic Coolmatic CRX80 is the considered best campervan fridge due to its low energy usage of 0.34kWh at 25°C, compatibility with solar panels, the removable freezer section, and silent operation.
After all, the Dometic Coolmatic CRX80 is a respected brand that has been producing refrigerators for decades. This fridge is also designed to store food for two people. Many vehicle layouts also benefit from the front-loading concept.
Factors To Consider When Purchasing a Fridge for Your Campervan
Considering the Size and Volume of Your Fridge and Motorhome
When buying a new fridge for your caravan or motorhome, one of the first things to think about is the size and volume. For example, if you want to use your van for short weekend excursions, a smaller refrigerator (between 10 and 45 litres) would suffice. However, if you intend to live in your van or spend a significant period of time off-grid, you will require a larger refrigerator.
Keep in mind that having a freezer area in your refrigerator will also reduce the amount of space available in your fridge. As a result, only acquire a fridge with a freezer if you plan on freezing things along your journey.
Your fridge’s size will also be determined by the size of your motorhome. A Mercedes Sprinter, for example, can fit a significantly bigger refrigerator than a VW Transporter.
Considering Your Budget
Many people’s budgets are the most important concern when purchasing a fridge for their camper. When it comes to campervan refrigerators, you typically get what you pay for, so if you want a good one, you’ll have to spend some money.
After all, a good refrigerator is a fantastic investment for any RV, but they are rather expensive. Some 12v fridges, for example, are priced similarly to a home refrigerator. Prices can range from $300 to $2000, depending on your requirements. So, budget ahead, and try to stick to your plan.
Considering the Potential Power Consumption
The size and capacity of your refrigerator will determine how much energy it consumes. After all, a fridge consumes a lot of energy and can quickly deplete a battery if left unattended for many days, so selecting the right fridge for your power source is critical.
For example, compressor refrigerators function well with batteries, whereas absorption refrigerators work better with gas. Therefore, if you want to spend most of your time off the grid, you’ll need a fridge that can run on the power generated by your solar panels.
Take note of your power requirements before making a purchase and before each journey to avoid being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery.
Do Motorhome Fridge’s Have Different Styles?
Front Loading Fridges
The majority of individuals have front-loading refrigerators in their houses. These are especially popular with van lifers since there is no difficulty with useful space above or below the fridge. However, these fridges can not hold as much as top loaders, but everything is definitely more accessible.
A front-loaded fridge’s compartments also make it simple to organise food and drinks. Milk or juice, for example, can be simply placed in the door without the risk of spilling.
Top Loading/Chest Fridges
Top-loading refrigerators are quite popular among motorhome enthusiasts for two main reasons. First of all, top loaders are more energy efficient than front loaders and they can also hold more food.
As you may be aware, making the most of available space is critical while living in a van. As a result, top-loading refrigerators, may not necessarily be the most efficient use of space since you can’t put anything above them.
Depending on the layout of their caravan, owners can be creative when solving this access solution. For example, fixing the fridge on a sliding cabinet or placing it within a sitting arrangement are some solutions to address the access from above dilemma.
Front Loading Drawer Fridges
Front-loading drawer refrigerators are identical to top-loading refrigerators, except the compartment slides out to the front of a drawer. Everything is stacked similarly to a top loading refrigerator; therefore, it holds more food than a standard front-loading refrigerator but less space than a top loading refrigerator.
Front-loading drawer refrigerators are also less efficient than top-loading refrigerators since the entire drawer must be opened to obtain access. Nevertheless, if you want a top-loading refrigerator without having to create a sliding drawer cabinet around it, this design is useful.
What Are the Different Types of Motorhome Fridges?
Absorption refrigerators are referred to as 3-way refrigerators because they can operate on 12/24-volt, 240-volt, or LPG gas. A 3-way fridge employs a gas flow heat exchange system in the rear instead of a compressor. They work by removing heat rather than creating cold.
Since absorption refrigerators are primarily powered by gas, customers must guarantee enough ventilation. When run on 12-volt power, however, these absorption refrigerators are inefficient and would drain the batteries considerably faster than a compressor refrigerator.
Refrigerators with compressors are similar to the refrigerators you have at home. They’re also known as 2-way motorhome fridges since they can run on 12/24-volt or 240-volt electricity. This means they can be connected to your car and camping batteries, as well as a powered site or portable generator.
They also tend to be quite effective even under severe temperatures, in addition to being efficient with electricity. As the temperature rises, all fridges will lose their cooling ability; but the compressor fridge mechanism will work admirably in these extremely high conditions.
Thermoelectric coolers are becoming increasingly popular due to their small size and portability. While they make excellent drink or picnic coolers, they are not genuine refrigerators.
The Peltier effect is used in these thermoelectric coolers. As a result, when a DC electric current passes through your cooler, heat is transferred from one side to the other, making one side cooler while the other becomes hotter.
While this may seem appealing, thermoelectric coolers are only designed to provide cooling in response to the ambient temperature. As a result, they are unable to perform the same functions as a refrigerator.
Coolers, Ice Boxes, and Portable Fridges
An icebox is the cheapest way to keep your food and drinks chilled when travelling in your caravan or motorhome. After all, with a cooler, there’s no need for 12V; simply fill it with ice or ice packs and you’re ready to go.
However, one disadvantage is that you will need to continue filling your cooler up with ice. In addition, unless your sandwiches are securely wrapped, they will get damp when stored in an icebox.
What Are The Top 20 Caravan Fridges?
1. Dometic Coolmatic CRX80 Refrigerator
The Dometic Coolmatic CRX80 is a smart refrigerator with a stainless-steel effect front, a capacity of 78 L of cool storage and 7.5 L of frozen storage. The CRX 80 also produces minimum noise by automatically regulating its fan speed in response to the ambient temperature.
The Dometic Coolmatic CRX80 also incorporates clever electronic compressor speed management, which improves efficiency by up to 25%. This model is definitely one intelligent fridge when combined with the amazing temperature management via the newly built soft touch control panel.
2. Dometic DM2682RB1 Refrigerator
The Dometic DM2682RB1 camper refrigerator has a total storage capacity of six cubic feet with right-handed doors. This makes it an excellent choice for motorhome kitchens with the fridge to the left of the rest of the cooking and sink area.
For extra durability, this fridge also boasts a full-surround steel frame with click locks on the handles. This ensures that the doors are properly closed before you walk away, which can be a problem in certain caravans, resulting in food flying out of the fridge while driving.
This refrigerator can also run-on propane gas or electricity, and it can switch between the two at the press of a button. As a result, if you unexpectedly run out of one of those resources, you can still maximize your fridge’s efficiency while still keeping the contents of the fridge cool.
3. SMETA Electric 110V/Propane Refrigerator
The SMETA Electric 110V/Propane refrigerator includes a base refrigerator storage section and an above freezer chamber. This refrigerator can also withstand temperatures of 32 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, while the freezer can withstand a temperature of 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit on average.
Instead of depending on a compressor, this SMETA fridge model also employs absorption technology to keep its contents chilled. This technology is extremely energy-efficient, silent, and ecologically benign. It also has a longer life expectancy than compressor-based refrigerators.
The single huge crisper bin at the bottom of the SMETA Electric 110V/Propane refrigerator is another great feature. This allows you to keep all of your fresh vegetables in one handy location. The refrigerator compartment’s shelves can also be adjusted to accommodate taller beverage containers.
4. Norcold Polar 2-Way Refrigerator
The Norcold Polar 2-Way Motorhome refrigerator comes with an adjustable thermostat that lets you to customise the temperature of both the freezer and refrigerator sections to your liking. This refrigerator’s controls are also at eye level, so you won’t have to strain your neck or go down on your hands and knees to change the settings.
The Norcold Polar 2-Way also boasts outstanding seals, which prevent frost and condensation from forming on the rear wall, which may be an issue with certain other motorhome refrigerator models.
5. Norcold N3104AGR 3-Way Refrigerator
The Norcold NA7LX.3R Refrigerator is ideal for those who desire maximum flexibility in terms of how they can power their new refrigerator.
Propane gas, a 110-volt AC power supply, or a 12-volt DC connection can all be used to operate this 3-way refrigerator- so, no matter how your motorhome’s electrical system is set up, you won’t have to worry about compatibility with this refrigerator. However, you must ensure that the measurements of this refrigerator, which are 24″ x 23.5″ x 52.875″, will fit in the cut-out in your motorhome.
Nonetheless, despite its small size, the Norcold NA7LX.3R Refrigerator has a storage capacity of seven cubic feet and can withstand temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, this is an excellent refrigerator for full-time travellers who go to cooler locations on occasion.
6. Norcold Polar AC/LP/DC Refrigerator
The Norcold Polar AC/LP/DC Refrigerator is a fantastic choice for a smaller refrigerator because it is one of the few compact refrigerators of its size with separate freezer space.
Due to its size and flexibility to adapt to different power sources, the Norcold Polar AC/LP/DC Refrigerator is also rare. This gives the fridge a lot of flexibility, allowing it to work with a wide range of RVs.
Food gates that attach to the shelves of this fridge can be adjusted to protect your food from slipping out while you’re driving. This reduces the risk of food falling out of your refrigerator as soon as you open the door.
7. Dometic RM 1350 Refrigerator
Look no further than the Dometic RM 1350 2+2 Refrigerator if you’re looking for a Motorhome refrigerator with the most compartment capacity. The outside measurements of this model are 63.16″ x 32.34″ x 26.16,” and it has a storage capacity of 13.5 cubic feet.
This Dometic refrigerator also comes in a side-by-side configuration with four doors. As a result, all of the doors open in different directions, swinging out and away from each other. Therefore, if you want to assure access to all of your food, you’ll need to place this refrigerator in a spot where the doors can swing open in both directions.
8. Dometic CD-50 DC Refrigerator
The Dometic CD-50 DC Refrigerator is a smaller refrigerator that is best suited for caravans and motorhomes with shorter lengths. Its dimensions are 19.7″ x 21.3″ x 15″ and it has a total storage capacity of 1.65 cubic feet.
This refrigerator’s cooling system is based on a completely hermetically sealed compressor with integrated control electronics that allow you to adjust the internal temperature to your preference.
The whole drawer pulls out from the refrigerator’s body, making it a one-of-a-kind design. As a result, rather than having a door swing open, it provides access from the top, which can be useful in a camper van or motorhome with limited room.
9. Norcold NRF30 Portable Camper Refrigerator
The Norcold NRF30 Portable Refrigerator, with dimensions of 22″ x 15.7″ x 15.6,” is the most portable camper fridge for a small caravan or camping vehicle. Despite this, it has a storage capacity of 1.1 cubic feet and can be powered by the provided DC power connection, which can be connected to a conventional cigarette lighter.
Despite its modest size, this model has a two-in-one feature that allows it to be used as a refrigerator or a freezer. As a result, whether you’re merely keeping beer cool or need to keep meat or veggies frozen, the electronic control panel makes it simple to adjust your desired internal temperature.
This refrigerator is also composed of tough, corrosion-resistant plastic, ensuring that it will withstand the rigours of RV or truck camping.
10. Dometic CB 40W Refrigerator
The Dometic Coolmatic CB 40W refrigerator is ideal for small rooms. There are plenty of features to appreciate on this 40 L fridge, including low energy usage and a removable cooling unit.
A convenient 1.5 m lead provides for positioning freedom, and the temperature range of +10 °C to –12 °C allows for a wide range of applications. Simply turn the thermostat knob to the right to turn on the refrigerator. It will then take roughly 60 seconds for the compressor to start.
However, take note that these fridges are also inefficient with power and can quickly drain your batteries, so you’ll need to have a battery charger or alternator going.
11. Dometic RM 5310 Refrigerator
With three-way AC, DC, and gas power, the Dometic RM 5310 Refrigerator allows you the freedom to move. The Dometic RM 5310, now in its newest iteration, delivers more than ever before.
This fridge’s surprisingly big interior, as well as its adjustable shelf system and quiet operation, make it the ideal compact fridge for mobile living.
This much-loved Dometic classic has been renovated with a modern look and technological enhancements in the 5-series. After all, this 60-litre refrigerator with a 5-litre freezer is made for travelling.
12. Dometic Coolmatic CRX 50 Fridge and Freezer
The Dometic CRX50 Coolmatic built-in 45L refrigerator is a 2-Way fridge-freezer that operates on 12/24 volts DC and 100-240 volts AC.
This new CRX50 model replaces the old CR-1050 model from Dometic. As a result, the new CRX line has the same physical dimensions as the previous CR models but offers significantly increased performance in terms of temperature control, noise reduction, and energy economy.
13. EvaKool 110L Portable Fridge and Freezer
The EvaKool 110L 12v Fridge and Freezer offers the most unparalleled power consumption and cooling output thanks to its Secop PBC 2.5 compressor. Even though there are many other compressor brands on the market that are excellent for warmer regions, they are not as powerful as this one.
The Secop compressor also aids in the efficient and comfortable operation of your refrigerator by delivering the correct flow of refrigerant gas. This function, when paired with extremely thick insulating walls and a clever heat dissipation design, ensures that you always have extra fresh food and beverages on hand.
14. Vitrifrigo DP150i Refrigerator
Within the caravan fridge sector, the Vitrifrigo DP150i fridge and freezer is regarded as the pinnacle of perfection. This refrigerator offers a big capacity and large, separate freezer chambers for long-term food storage.
This top 12v stand-up caravan fridge has two doors and a separate 30L freezer with an internal cooling unit. As a result, the customer may run this cooling unit on 12V or 24V DC, depending on their needs.
Overall, the Vitrifrigo DP150i refrigerator’s best feature is its appearance. It features a silver handle/lock and a black finish. It also has a large capacity and the convenience of a residential refrigerator, as well as a bright interior LED. Furthermore, because of its sharper draws, it is a popular choice for RVs and caravans.
15. Dometic Coolmatic CRX110 Fridge & Freezer
For built-in transportable applications, the Dometic Coolmatic refrigerator line delivers superior energy-efficient refrigeration. Even in slanted postures and high ambient temperatures, the Dometic Coolmatic CRX 110 operates reliably. Overall, this fridge model is cost-effective, silent, and perfect for use with solar panels.
The Dometic Coolmatic CRX 110 is the natural option for your caravan or camper, with a modern and beautiful appearance and a well-organized and useful interior.
16. Bushman DC85X Refrigerator
The Bushman DC85X 85Ltr fridge and freezer is a beautifully designed, high-quality, low-power fridge with a soft, matt black surface. Our new DC-X refrigerators are specifically intended for installation in caravans, camper trailers, boats, and recreational vehicles.
You can stand up larger bottles with a freezer that is deeper and narrower. The shelves may also be adjusted in height, and the big door balconies have built-in safety rails to keep objects from rolling about while in travel.
After all, Bushman refrigerators are extremely efficient and dependable. So, you can be certain that if you pick a Bushman fridge for your next camping trip, caravan, or off-grid lifestyle, you’ll be in excellent hands.
17. Dometic Coolmatic CRX140 Fridge & Freezer
The Coolmatic CRX140 fridge freezer is the most spacious of the CRX fridge and freezers for caravans. Since this fridge is the only one with built-in mains, no further adapters are needed to run it on 230v. It can also operate between 12 and 24 volts.
The CRX140 is, therefore, suited for all bigger caravans and motorhomes due to its sumptuous interior and high-quality stainless-steel finish. This refrigerator also has a total capacity of 130 litres, including an 11-litre 3-star freezer unit at the top.
18. Bushman DC130X Refrigerator
The Bushman DC130X dual fridge and freezer is a stylish, high-quality, low-power fridge with a smooth, matt black surface. The new DC-X fridges are built-in refrigerators that can be installed in caravans, camper trailers, boats, and motorhomes.
You can even stand-up bigger bottles with a deeper and narrower freezer design. The shelves on the Bushman DC130X can also be adjusted in height, and the big door balconies have built-in safety rails to keep objects from rolling about during travel.
19. Thetford N4141 Refrigerator
The Thetford N4141 refrigerator is a slim-fit refrigerator model that maintains a steady temperature and ensures a precise cabinet temperature independent of the power source. This refrigerator is just 418 mm wide, rather than the typical 525 mm, but it still has a large space of nearly 140 litres, which includes a 15-litre freezer and an exterior bottle drawer.
Thetford’s N4141 3-way Caravan and Motorhome Fridge Freezer is also designed for neat, organized storage, with features like an exterior bottom pull-out bottle drawer, a slide-out container, and door bins to keep your belongings secure while your caravan, motorhome, or campervan is in transport.
20. EvaKool Platinum
The EvaKool Platinum is a 12-volt/24-volt freestanding refrigerator. There are also both fridge and freezer capabilities. This model also has a sturdy metal cabinet with reversible doors, a self-diagnostic fault system, smooth internal walls, wire shelves, and a crisper, among other features.
Evakool’s concentration on ensuring that these motorhome fridges work at optimum cooling capacity even in the hottest of conditions is primarily responsible for the Platinum range’s popularity. This range’s design elements, such as wall and door insulation thickness, as well as the externally located condenser, also make it a popular choice for recreational vehicles travelling to hotter areas.
What Are The Top 5 Tips for Keeping Your Motorhome Fridge Cold?
Pre-freezing foods to help keep the temperature down, packing smart, providing shade, and not opening your fridge while the motorhome is in motion can all help keep your food cold.
1. Make Sure to Refrigerate Your Grocery Items at Home Before Putting Them in Your Caravan’s Fridge
In order to help your fridge, stabilize at the beginning of your journey, it is best to refrigerate your food in your fridge at home before you leave on your road trip.
The temperature of your fridge will also rise if you put warm liquids or food in it. Therefore, before putting drinks in the refrigerator, make sure they’re cooled. Freezing any liquids, like water and juice, can also assist to help keep the heat at bay.
2. Pack Smart
What you store in your refrigerator and how you pack it will make a big difference in how cold it is when you get to your destination. Make sure your belongings are packed firmly so they don’t shift about.
After all, everything in your RV refrigerator doesn’t have to be there. For example, I n a side cooler, you can keep condiments, beverages, and snacks that you want to be accessible to reach. Ice packs can also be used to separate things and keep them cool.
3. Maintaining Air Flow Between the Fridge Unit and Outside
To allow heat to escape from the top rear of the fridge, make sure the upper vent outlet has a clear circulation. Look to check whether there’s a vent fan in this location- if that’s the case, double-check that it works. If not, consider adding a fan if there isn’t one already.
4. Shading Your Motorhome’s Fridge Side
On hot, humid days, the fridge has to work extra hard to keep its chill. Shading the area where the refrigerator is positioned on the outside of the rig can assist it in this respect.
Since there are two detachable vents on the outside, it’s easy to figure out where the fridge is on the exterior of your motorhome. One should also always attempt to choose a parking position with plenty of shade. Travellers can also put an awning on the refrigerator side of the caravan, to reduce the temperature.
5. Keeping The Fridge Closed as Much as Possible
When you open a refrigerator, particularly one that is not plugged in, some of the cold air within is discharged. Unfortunately, the longer you do this, the colder air you will lose, and you will not be able to recover any of the lost coldness.
As a result, keep the door on your motorhome fridge closed while travelling. If you’re worried about the fridge bursting open, tie it with a bungee cord. A rope can also be used to hold the doors shut.
Overall, selecting the best fridge for a camper or motorhome is a matter of personal choice. If you’re travelling in a smaller rig, for example, you’ll want a smaller, more compact fridge that will fit inside your container without taking up too much space. Other considerations to consider are your budget and the possible power usage of your chosen refrigerator.
Nonetheless, the Dometic Coolmatic CRX80 is regarded as the best campervan fridge owing to its low energy use of 0.34kWh at 25°C, compatibility with solar panels, removable freezer portion, and quiet operation. After all, the Dometic Coolmatic CRX80 comes from a reputable company that has been manufacturing refrigerators for decades. This fridge can also store food for two people.
Other popular and reputable fridge models for your caravan to consider include the Dometic DM2682RB1, SMETA Electric 110V/Propane and Norcold Polar 2-Way.
Keep up with our full-time van life travels over on our YouTube channel! If you enjoy our videos, please give us a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel 🙂 – Three As A Bird – Vanlife Travel – YouTube
You can take a look at some of our other van life posts which include lots and lots of hints and tips on all things van life here – Van Life – Travel Information, Hints, Tips and Advice (threeasabird.com)
If you’d like to follow more of our adventures or keep up to date with our travel hints and tips, please join our Facebook group, we’d love to connect with you all! –https://www.facebook.com/groups/309295536220437
Also, if you have Pinterest, please give us a follow for your van life travel inspiration! – https://pin.it/770Cq1Q