Best Battery (Generator) for Fridge (Dometic CFX50)

GlamperGA

New member
Hi,

I was hoping to safe a few $$$ and finding an alternative to the Dometic PLB40.
As we do have only occasional use I intended not to 'over-do-it'.

What I see and read so far is that all those new contenders and competitors have all some pros but also important setbacks.

Anyone here has a real good experience in regards to low voltage errors and quick recharging amps in comparison to the Dometic PLB 40 version?

Thanks a Bunch :) ;)
Mike
 

SoCal Tom

Explorer
Search amazon tor solar generator. Lots of options on there. If you find a few you like post them for opinions.
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
You want cheap? Buy a battery box for $15, a $100 Costco 100AH FLA battery and a simple 12v socket arrangement and be good to go. If you really want to save money that would be your best bang-for-the-buck.

It would be heavy but how much are you moving it around? You wouldn't necessarily have a way to recharge "on the fly" but depending on how long your trip was that may or may not be an issue.

As I've said in other threads on the topic my biggest concern with these lithium "power packs" or "solar generators" is that they're cobbled together from an assortment of parts of varying quality and if even one component fails, what you have is basically an expensive paper weight.
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Elaborating a bit, it really depends on how you're going to use it because there are a number of different options.

Do you travel long distances in the vehicle? Do you move every day or do you set up at one place and stay there? Do you have (or are you planning to have) solar panels, and if so how many? What time of year do you camp and what is the weather like?

What is your budget? How much technical knowledge do you have? Can you crimp a wire or use a soldering iron?

There are a lot of variables and that's why there's not a "one size fits all" answer.
 
As I've said in other threads on the topic my biggest concern with these lithium "power packs" or "solar generators" is that they're cobbled together from an assortment of parts of varying quality and if even one component fails, what you have is basically an expensive paper weight.
That is true if you are designing the battery from scratch using lithium cells. I looked into it for myself and wasn't confident in that solution (within the limits of my ability and DIY skills) from a safety, reliability, or longevity perspective. However, a much simpler DIY system using a reputable off the shelf LIFEPO4 battery is quite easy to put together and has several advantages (and some drawbacks as well) over a portable system that one can buy off the shelf. Even if you use top of the line components (terminals, connectors, fuses, and sockets) you are still better off for certain applications and can grow the system over time (not possible with 99.9% of the portable OTS units).

Most of those "Amazon options" don't have the regulated 12v output required to run a fridge/freezer.
Yeah and add to that some have an auto-off feature where the 12 V port switches off after a few hours of inactivity which could be problematic if one were using a fridge in moderate or colder ambient temp situations where it wasn't cycling inside that cut-off time. Though many 2019 and 2020 models have now addressed both of these issues but there are still older models around that will be problematic. With the LIFEPO4 chemistry, my understanding is that you will get excellent voltage even out to 85% discharge if you are below 0.5 C discharge rate. But very few OTS units offer that chemistry.
 
Last edited:

jonathon

Active member
Looking for the same solution myself and to be honest the options are overwhelming.

I personally want something somewhat portable. I don’t mind hard wiring the charger but whatever I end up with will be in the cab of the truck, which also serves daily driver duty. I think that pretty much rules out flooded lead acid batteries. We drive 3-4 hours to camp, sometimes we settle in for 2-3 days without driving so the ability to add a solar charger down the road to keep it topped off would be nice.

The PLB40 is attractive as a package. The form factor is compact. It has a DC to DC charger built in and can power devices while being charged by the vehicle or solar, something the cheap Amazon units cannot do. It can be used in multiple vehicles without extra wiring. For us that would be cool since we take the wife’s Outback on a lot of day trips. The cons are the max charge current is only 8a, the cost is high, and it will only run a 150w invertor if that matters.

For about the same money one could obtain a good 50ah LiFePO4 battery and something like a Redarc BCDC1225D that can provide 25a of charge current by either solar or alternator. Then you still need to wire it up and add sockets, so it ends up being more expensive than the PLB40 in the short term. If the battery was in a box it could be used for day trips where charging isn’t really necessary, but the charger would basically be married to the vehicle it’s installed in.

Of course an AGM battery is an option but a quality Group 31 is over $300 and is pretty heavy compared to a LiFePO4 battery. While the Group 31 AGM offers 105ah you really shouldn’t discharge them below 50%. A 50ah LiFePO4 is around $500 and can theoretically be discharged down to 80% 2000 times or more.

I’m just regurgitating what I’ve researched. I still have no idea what I am going to use.
 

alanymarce

Active member
The "best battery" is the one that came with the vehicle - we have not added another. If you're moving most days (no more than a couple of days without starting the engine) and you're not in very hot conditions, then a refrigerator which has an automatic cutoff to avoid a drained battery works fine. I believe that the CFX50 has this capability. If you're going to set up camp and not start the engine for a few days and if you're in hot climates (more than 30 deg C) then you'll need supplementary power, however this could be a solar panel and not another battery.
 
The PLB40 is attractive as a package. The form factor is compact. It has a DC to DC charger built in and can power devices while being charged by the vehicle or solar, something the cheap Amazon units cannot do. It can be used in multiple vehicles without extra wiring. For us that would be cool since we take the wife’s Outback on a lot of day trips. The cons are the max charge current is only 8a, the cost is high, and it will only run a 150w invertor if that matters.
The Goal Zero 500X charges faster but at 10 Amps it too is probably sub optimal if one is cycling it regularly. And for $800+ with taxes (with the 10 Amp DC charger) it is a bit too much if one wasn't interested in running AC devices (which I'm not). A reputable 50 Ah LIFEPO4 battery can be had for as little as $440 with a discount code and a 5 year warranty.
 

broncobowsher

Adventurer
Why does the battery have to live in the cab? The bed is a viable option for most. If not there is usually a creative chassis mounted solution for most vehicles if not the under the hood option.
 
The "best battery" is the one that came with the vehicle - we have not added another. If you're moving most days (no more than a couple of days without starting the engine) and you're not in very hot conditions, then a refrigerator which has an automatic cutoff to avoid a drained battery works fine. I believe that the CFX50 has this capability. If you're going to set up camp and not start the engine for a few days and if you're in hot climates (more than 30 deg C) then you'll need supplementary power, however this could be a solar panel and not another battery.
I was convinced that a larger AGM starter battery was the best for me when developing a system. I would have topped it up with solar. However, the more I looked at how I used the system the more I was convinced that it was worth investing in a portable second battery. We go on 3-4 day trips but also take longer trips a couple of times a year (10-12 days each). Last thing I want I would want is to cut the fridge because it was overcast or just having to run around and keep a constant eye on starter battery SOC and draw. My current setup which I'm working on now allows me to power all my house accessories (12 V fridge and camp lights) either via a Group 34 starter battery or via a 50Ah LIFEPO4 battery. I tried to avoid redundancy and save some money. But in the end I think this is a good way to go. LIFEPO4 batteries should last a decade or more in my use case so I'm set for a while.
 

67cj5

Man On a Mission
The biggest problem with any type of lead acid batteries is how slow they are at Charging back up, The PLB is not cheap but it charges fast, I have run the ARB47L / 50Qt from the PLB and I have also run the ARB78L / 82Qt fridge from the PLB in fridge and freezer mode,

I also have 3 Type 31 batteries and they are too slow to charge back up, I could charge them at a higher rate but High charging does not fully charge lead acid batteries like a lower charge rate does and if you charge them at a faster rate it will kill the battery over time which leaves very few options when it comes to useable power systems, And as of yet nothing beats the PLB-40.

The PLB is the only safe option when it comes to powering a fridge if you don't want to have a built in system in to the vehicle, because the power a fridge uses over night can be put back via Solar or the vehicles Cigar socket within a couple of hours or less with a lead acid battery that can take 4 to 8 hours if you want to avoid damaging the battery, Food for thought, (y)
 

pluton

Adventurer
In 2013 I got an Engel MT45. Powered it with a separate Group 34 Odyssey AGM, in Sears Die Hard Platinum livery. I use a National Luna automatic battery isolater/joiner with a matching Odyssey battery under the hood. (1997 4Runner, stock alternator, 70amps)
That 34 AGM would power the fridge (as a fridge, not freezer) for at least 3, sometimes 4 days in cold weather, without driving to recharge. Recently learned that in hot 90ºF weather, it runs about 2 days with the same fridge settings. Odyssey says it'll go for 400 cycles of 80% discharge, which I haven't come close to; It still works, even though the first few years all I had was a lousy 2A Battery Tender to fully recharge it upon return from camping trips. It still works, tests OK, but I may elect to replace it soon.
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

In 2013 I got an Engel MT45. Powered it with a separate Group 34 Odyssey AGM, in Sears Die Hard Platinum livery. I use a National Luna automatic battery isolater/joiner with a matching Odyssey battery under the hood. (1997 4Runner, stock alternator, 70amps)
That 34 AGM would power the fridge (as a fridge, not freezer) for at least 3, sometimes 4 days in cold weather, without driving to recharge. Recently learned that in hot 90ºF weather, it runs about 2 days with the same fridge settings. Odyssey says it'll go for 400 cycles of 80% discharge, which I haven't come close to; It still works, even though the first few years all I had was a lousy 2A Battery Tender to fully recharge it upon return from camping trips. It still works, tests OK, but I may elect to replace it soon.
Nice! I currently have an Odyssey 34 AGM as a starter and plan on running an Engel 40 L as well. I've decided to invest in an LIFEPO4 lithium battery but have had the Odyssey for a couple of years (a year plus on the 5th gen 4runner) and it has worked flawlessly. Just decided that a 14 lb 50 Ah (40+ usable Ah) aux battery was too good to pass on especially at only about an additional $150 or so compared to a second G34 Odyssey or just about $100 more than a Northstar Group 27F. 50 fewer pounds compared to a group-27 AGM and nearly the same usable juice.
 
Top