Engel vs ARB fridge pros and cons

6x6pinz

Adventurer
Both decent brands that you would not regret having. One thing I find with people making the switch to a fridge from an ice chest is they forget that unlike an ice chest you can add to the fridge along the trip. That is to say I put in more drinks (usually in the evenings) and unopened containers that once opened need refrigerated. Space becomes available as items get consumed so it never has been an issue. Size and power consumption are the two main factors in choosing your fridge with a secondary thought to how large of a capacity you can get by with. One of our Pinz members uses his fridge to just freeze ice packs for his coolers. he keeps nothing in the fridge except ice packs and thus uses a smaller unit. Of course we have a little more space than most rigs.
 

1911

Expedition Leader
Where are you guys measuring the temp "manually" to compare with the digital readout?
I haven't measured mine manually, but when it runs at an indicated 27 F for days and water in it doesn't freeze, you know it's off by at least 6 degrees. Probably more, since the water isn't even close to freezing.
 

moto-treks

On the road
I measured my ARB and it runs about 5 degrees warmer. To measure I used a large pitcher of water that I put in the frig overnight. I would then measure the temperature of the water rather than just the air temperature.

I was also testing how long a battery will power the ARB. I just replaced my battery in my new JKU so I setup the oem battery as a stand alone unit. Then I filled the frig will all kinds of items, and cooled everything to 42 degrees indicated with AC. Next, I plugged in the batter. 6 days later the ARB signaled low power. During this time I tried to simulate usage by opening the lid a few times a day by replacing items or refilling water containers. Ambient room temp was 65 - 75 degrees.
 

Scoutn79

Adventurer
I bought my Engel in 2005. I use it about 3-5 wks a year, half of the time it sits in a camper and half the time it is in the back of the Scout on Moab trails so it gets jostled around a lot. Never had an issue.
The only thing I don't like is the temp knob could get turned accidentally since it isn't protected...Not a big deal as I give it a quick look when I open it to make sure it is where it should be set. It does hold a set temp well. When I got the unit I set a thermometer in it and would run about 2 hors on each setting and log the temp at each setting, I wrote this down on a cheat sheet and affixed it to the top of the fridge for future reference. I usually run just above freezing while driving and turn it up to about 40 F to save battery power if I am not driving for a day or so.
I have no experience with the ARB version.
Darrell
 

loup407

Adventurer
I have an Engle in our Horizon and an ARB in the back of the FJC. As many have noted, the Engle has a knob and no temp readout if any sort, so you have to experiment to find the setting you want. We've frozen food and drinks when we hadn't planned on doing so. The ARB, regardless of its accuracy, gives you a more quantitative idea of the desired temp.
By inadvertently freezing some beverages, to the point of the container bursting, we discovered one additional advantage in the ARB design: ability to clean. The ARB is a one-piece interior. You could fill it with spaghetti sauce, and clean it thoroughly in short order.
The Engle, on the other hand, has its refrigerating panels held a few mm away from the sides. If you spill something inside, you'll have to dismantle the inside to make sure it's very clean. Doing so isn't easy.
This issue isn't a minor thing if you are using the fridge often, and haven't done empirical testing as Scoutn79 did above. This alone has caused us to be very thoughtful about what goes in which fridge.
Both are excellent and have changed the way we eat when in the middle of nowhere.
 

Mike S

Sponsor - AutoHomeUSA
The swing compressor in the Engel is more efficient than the Danfoss unit used in the ARB. Both work fine, however.
 

Ramjet

Explorer
I have an Engle in our Horizon and an ARB in the back of the FJC. As many have noted, the Engle has a knob and no temp readout if any sort, so you have to experiment to find the setting you want. We've frozen food and drinks when we hadn't planned on doing so. The ARB, regardless of its accuracy, gives you a more quantitative idea of the desired temp.
By inadvertently freezing some beverages, to the point of the container bursting, we discovered one additional advantage in the ARB design: ability to clean. The ARB is a one-piece interior. You could fill it with spaghetti sauce, and clean it thoroughly in short order.
The Engle, on the other hand, has its refrigerating panels held a few mm away from the sides. If you spill something inside, you'll have to dismantle the inside to make sure it's very clean. Doing so isn't easy.
This issue isn't a minor thing if you are using the fridge often, and haven't done empirical testing as Scoutn79 did above. This alone has caused us to be very thoughtful about what goes in which fridge.
Both are excellent and have changed the way we eat when in the middle of nowhere.
I have to agree about cleaning out the Engel, I keep it in the house and put beer in it and my stone turned it down to freezing. Needless to say, it was a pain, but not bad. I can run the Engel all night an my battery and the car still starts no problem in the morning.
 

VATACO

Adventurer
I'm running a 63qt ARB and while it takes up a large chunk of my bed in the Tacoma it is completely worth it. It can run a full day and night at the beach while I fish and relax and not put a major hit on my Diehard PM1. I don't run the radio or other electronics while I'm stopped though.
 

andrews99

New member
I have a 47L ARB and find it very good. I've never used an Engel so can't offer much in the way of comparative info (and some of the comments below may apply equally to the Engel) but some comments I'd make on the ARB are:
* easy to clean - pull the bung, hose it out, wipe it clean, put it back in the truck;
* like the inbuilt temperature display and "settable" temperature;
* like the inbuilt threaded feet for bolting it down;
* it'd be good to be able to bypass the 'low voltage' cutout - I had a deep cycle second battery that was pretty much dead but I was trying to limp home on it - but the fridge cut out when the battery voltage dropped to about 11 volts (bit of voltage drop in play also). But maybe an unusual situation as I'd accepted the battery was cactus and I'd have run it right down just to avoid spoiling the contents of the fridge ;-)
* ARB have always given me good customer support when required (at a head office level, some of their franchised outlet and resellers in Oz are not too helpful)

cheers, Greg
 

TexasD-90

Adventurer
We run the 50qt ARB. Have been using it for over a year now at least 3 days a week. I think it is the best purchase I have made as far as camping goes. It really changed the way we packed food and drinks. Constant temp without the problem of melting ice soaking your food is great. My wife uses it all the time to go to the grocery store (we live 40 miles from town, usually grocery shops then runs errands then makes it home several hours later). We are a family of 4 and can easily live out of the fridge for a week. As mentioned before you can add drinks as you travel. I would think the 63qt would use more energy to operate, and can't personally see any need for that much space. Just my $0.02
 

Wyowanderer

Explorer
I've had an Engel 43q for nearly a year with no issues.
I don't miss having an accurate thermometer as I bought a high quality temp gauge locally.
Engel's lid hinge lock, slide lock, slide lock feet and MPAN posi lock socket are all made of cheap feeling plastic: my hinge lock came in the package with lots of flash on it. My slide lock feet were poorly finished, and the slide lock release piece broke a few months after I bought it. In the end it all got sorted out, but was pretty disappointing considering the quality of the fridge vis a vis the accessories. If I were to do it again I'd buy the fridge and not the accessories and build my own mount.
Nevertheless, there are many here that have purchased all of the above items I'm grousing about who have had little or no trouble. I CAN heartily recommend the Engel 43. It's a great unit and I expect it'll serve me for years. I bought mine from Kurt at Cruiser Outfitters (nicest guy on the planet). As far as size, buy as big as you have reasonable room for. You never have enough room in the fridge.
Now if you want an Engel that looks like an ATM, they do make this: https://www.engel-usa.com/products/...ading-models/engel-mr040-ac-dc-fridge-freezer :sombrero:

Whatever you buy, do it sooner than later. You'll kick yourself for waiting.
 

ExpedH3T

Explorer
Thanks for the responses!!!!!!!!

Thank you all for the responses! I ended up going with the ARB and used it at OX13. Plenty of room, was not a power hog (solar back to the second battery kept ahead of the fridge. The feedback I got was Engel or ARB....you couldn't go wrong... ARB was a little less costly...and I'll be careful with the lock.

Wife was happy we could have 'regular food' on our 5 day get away...which included......Dill Salmon in olive oil, Rice pilaf, and steamed broccoli .....Italian Chicken Sausage with Bow tie pasta, tomatoes, olives, with pesto, Mexican breakfast burritos (egg, sausage, potato, onion, cheese and salsa...and frank"s hot sauce).........cold beer...and Zin at the right temperature!!!!!!

Thank you again to the community......you made me look like a hero!!!!!

Now.....if I could get some pointers on how to sell getting a Defender 130 and taking a 2 month trip that would be great!!!!!!!!!!!!! :smiley_drive:
 

Yulli

Yulli the Yeti
I can't say the ARB is better than the Engel cuz I've never used one. But I have the ARB 50qt. and it's one of the best things I could add to my camping gear list. All my food stayed fresh and never had to worry about ice. I remember first seeing the fridges at some of the 4x4 shops and thinking, "wow, that's dumb, I'd never spend money on a fridge." But I totally ate my words cuz so many people are running them now and they're extremely useful.
 

pugslyyy

Expedition Vehicle Engineer Guy
Personally I like the engel over the ARB, mainly for the accessories. the Engel Slide Lock is without a doubt the most pain free way to secure your fridge. And I've rolled a truck with one in it and can attest that it will hold the fridge in place.

DSC06751.jpg
 

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