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Overland News :: Four New Fridges Hit the Market

For 2020, there are several new fridges to hit the market from respected manufacturers, from the classic and reliable Engel, to the efficient and industrial-grade National Luna. For this news update, we cover the best new units to hit the market for the new year.

The first 12-volt fridge I ever owned was an Engel, and it was well used when I got it, having run for nearly a decade in my neighbor’s garage. Even under the abuse I gave it for another decade, it never stopped working, and went on to continue service with our CBDO, Brian McVickers (it still works). The key to the product is the Sawafuji swing motor, which has a low startup voltage and can operate safely at more extreme angles.

Engel’s Platinum model features a few key updates, including an entirely new temperature setting panel which provides additional information on the setting dial, and an LED cabinet temperature indicator. The LED display and additional modes also allow for selecting a battery protection range using the built-in voltage monitor. The cut-in and cut-out voltage can be set to Lo or Hi for either a 12- or 24-volt system. Another improvement is integrated voltage sensing, enabling auto-switching between 12/24 DC and 120 AC. Both plugs can remain connected, and the fridge will default to shore power when available.

ENGEL | PLATINUM MT45F
The Classic Overlander’s fridge/freezer gets a thorough updating.

PROS
Legendary reliability
Improved display and temperature setting
Adjustable low-voltage disconnect
Very low startup amperage works with factory outlets

CONS
Less insulation than some competitors
No side opening option

$1,049 | ENGELCOOLERS.COM

In the last five years, we have watched Dometic take the overland fridge market by storm, offering high-quality units at affordable prices. Their newest 12-volt cooler is part of the CFF line, combining the space advantage of a single compartment with a lower price point achieved with a different compressor and construction methods.

There are a few features that stand out in the new cooler, including the clean design and dual-sided lid. Being a single- compartment fridge, it maximizes interior capacity for the type of food most overlanders travel with: drinks and refrigerated items. Frozen foods can be placed at the very bottom, which will keep them cold longer. While there is not a dedicated freezer compartment, the temperature can be set as a freezer only. The CFF is more compact and lighter than other options, but this comes at the price of insulation efficiency. The compressor is also a slightly less efficient Secop model, and not as tolerant of extreme angles and vibrations as the Waeco compressor in Dometic’s CFX models.

DOMETIC | CFF 45
This industry powerhouse launches a new single-compartment option.

PROS
Clean, modern design
Space efficient
Excellent value

CONS
Compressor mounting limits suitability for prolonged vibration
Less efficient compressor and insulation design

$860 | DOMETIC.COM

ARB has always been about durability and innovation, from their world-renowned bull bars to their successful fridge line. The new Classic series has several notable upgrades, including an advanced electronic control system, where most features are available on the dimmable backlit touchpad or via a mobile app. As a thoughtful touch, the fridge display also shows 12-volt input power to gauge the depth of draw. The exterior is a powder-coated steel shell with a plastic interior casing. The drain plug is appreciated.

What is most interesting are the fully connected features, which pair to a smartphone, tablet, or ARB Linx system via an optional transmitter. This allows monitoring of fridge temperature, power draw, battery protection, display brightness, and preset temperature settings. It will even warn you if the lid is left open. Available accessories include a fridge mount and an all-new heavy-duty transit bag which improves insulation; there are several pockets and even a bottle opener. The colors on the fridge have changed to a desert tan with dark gray accents, and the cover is an attractive gray canvas.

ARB | CLASSIC SERIES II 50QT
Introducing the first fully connected fridge/freezer.

PROS
Attractive new colors and cover
Fully connected via Bluetooth
Three-stage battery protection system

CONS
Locking latch can be temperamental for new users
Lid is only front opening

$1,032 | ARBUSA.COM

Times are changing in the global economy with tariffs and other pressures driving up costs or making supply chain management more challenging. As a result, and due to new competition in the premium fridge space, National Luna has reinvented its premium fridge/freezer with new technology, better insulation, and a proprietary off-pavement compressor.

The new specification compressor is specifically designed for the rigors of backcountry travel, while also lowering 12-volt power consumption and providing an operating voltage range of 9.6 volts to 31.5 volts. The AC/DC converter received some improvement as well, with auto-switching for both 120-volt and 240-volt shore power, although buyers should note the start-up amperage of over 10 amps to ensure the socket and wiring gauge is appropriate. In addition, the Legacy line includes better insulation, which lowers the overall energy consumption, and a new eight-year warranty on the compressor. One of the unique attributes of the National Luna is their attention toward total insulation coverage, thickness, and R-value (which is also why they win so many tests). All of their fridges are manufactured in South Africa and are constructed from stainless steel and other premium materials.

NATIONAL LUNA | 52L LEGACY
The performance leader steps up their game – again.

PROS
Stainless steel construction
Eight-year compressor warranty
Class-leading efficiency
Clever lid design allows multiple orientations

CONS
Rear-mounted LED display position may be difficult to see or access
Start-up amperage may exceed some factory outlets

$995 | EQUIPT1.COM


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Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and include three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar travels include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. He lives in Prescott, Arizona