Fridge cover...yes or no?

TantoTrailers

Well-known member
I got a fridge and the cover that came with it. The fridge will be stored away in galley with a 270* awning for shade so I can’t imagine the fridge actually ever seeing sunshine directly. The cover is black, reflectively lined, and about 1/4” thick. Does anyone have any first hand testing with their own fridge and a cover? Does it help any if it’s always in shade? Would it prevent the fridge from effectively cooling itself by trapping the compressor compartment heat? The cover has cutouts for all vents. Curious what you guys think.
 

67cj5

Man On a Mission
I got a fridge and the cover that came with it. The fridge will be stored away in galley with a 270* awning for shade so I can’t imagine the fridge actually ever seeing sunshine directly. The cover is black, reflectively lined, and about 1/4” thick. Does anyone have any first hand testing with their own fridge and a cover? Does it help any if it’s always in shade? Would it prevent the fridge from effectively cooling itself by trapping the compressor compartment heat? The cover has cutouts for all vents. Curious what you guys think.
The effectiveness of these covers is hard to establish because no one has done any testing in a LAB to prove other wise, But in real world testing it is impossible to see any difference because the weather is always changing, So an in LAB Test would be the only way to find out for sure. But it does not increase the Run times or decrease them from what I have noticed it may make the fridge stay turned off longer which would reduce the amount of power it uses over a 24/48hr period.

The One thing that is even more important to me is keeping My Investment In the same Condition as I bought it, These are Big Dollar Items and I want to protect my investment the best I can, Covers are not pretty but they Work and work well, 3 years 2 months of using one of my ARB's and it still looks like the New One I just bought and Still not a mark on it and clean as a Whistle, All I have done in that time is Last month I removed the Cover and the Panel that hides the Compressor and Vacuum out any dust etc and clean the Fan and then put it back together and Put the Cover back On,

Cover's are a good thing for sure and I won't use either of my fridges without one, End Of.

hope that helps.
 
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Airmapper

High-Tech Redneck
My fridge doesn't have a ready made cover for sale, but I'd like to make one for it. On a trip this summer it struggled to maintain temp and never kicked off at all, but it was a hot weekend. I happened to have my jacket in the truck, and between it and some towels wrapped it up best I could without blocking the fan vents. It actually helped it out significantly, I could feel coolness under the jacket and condensation from it somewhat insulating the ingress of external heat. It even dropped a few degrees on what it could maintain and could kick off now and then.

This was inside my truck in the shade, windows down or cracked and reflective shades in the windows. Also a RTT and rack shielding the roof from the sun.

With a better fitting and more insulated cover than my improvised hack, I imagine you could gain a significant advantage in battery use and maintaining temperature with a good cover. Especially if the quality of insulation the fridge was built with is lacking in any way.
 

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DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
The effectiveness is probably marginal but as long as the cover doesn't impede air flow for the compressor it should be no worse at least to have a little insulation and a small air gap.

I have a cover on my Engel and when it gets hit by sun the surface of the cover is warmer than the silver lining on the inside of the cover, which means the outside of the fridge is noticeably cooler than it would be otherwise. So I think it has value for that even if the strict insulating value isn't much.

But more than that the cover takes a lot of wear and tear off the fridge. It's filthy with dust and stains while my fridge still looks good.
 
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TantoTrailers

Well-known member
Good stuff guys, thanks for the input. I will keep the cover on even though I was hoping to sticker the hell out of the fridge haha! Over winter I may "lab" up my garage and run some bench tests in as stable of an environment as possible. Any more input or real-world experience please post up! My fridge was nowhere near the investment of an ARB or one of the other top of the line machines but I still wouldn't mind keeping it looking good to appease my OCD.
 

jadmt

Well-known member
I keep my ARB50 cover on all the time as it keeps it from getting banged up. No matter how careful you are things get pushed against from time to time. Plus the ARB cover has a pocket to store the manual and cords and I forget from time to time how to set it the temps if I need to reset them for some reason lol.
 

67cj5

Man On a Mission
Good stuff guys, thanks for the input. I will keep the cover on even though I was hoping to sticker the hell out of the fridge haha! Over winter I may "lab" up my garage and run some bench tests in as stable of an environment as possible. Any more input or real-world experience please post up! My fridge was nowhere near the investment of an ARB or one of the other top of the line machines but I still wouldn't mind keeping it looking good to appease my OCD.
TT,

It don't matter what brand of fridge you have or the price paid, All that matters is you have got one and how much you enjoy using it,

A Cold Beer or a Fresh Steak will Taste just as Good regardless of the Name on it, So Fire it up and Fill It up and enjoy every minute of it.

take care and have fun. 👍
 

ducktapeguy

Adventurer
There was a thread where this topic was just discussed, I can't find it anymore and don't know what happened to it. IMO, a cover is useful in shading the fridge from sunlight, but in an enclosed space I think it's effectiveness is limited. I think better investment in time and money would be adding additional ventilation to lower the ambient temperatures around the fridge.

I have my fridge stored in an somewhat enclosed partition, and the self heating is very noticeable. I added an additional fan to exhaust the hot air and it seemed to help a lot. I haven't done any measurements yet to quantify the improvement, but just feeling the surface of the fridge after having run the fridge it's apparent that the ambient temperatures are much lower.
 

Wilbah

Adventurer
I have my fridge stored in an somewhat enclosed partition, and the self heating is very noticeable. I added an additional fan to exhaust the hot air and it seemed to help a lot. I haven't done any measurements yet to quantify the improvement, but just feeling the surface of the fridge after having run the fridge it's apparent that the ambient temperatures are much lower.
Thanks for mentioning this. I hadn't thought about the impact of recirculating the exhaust air in a closed space but it makes sense.
 

Airmapper

High-Tech Redneck
IMO, a cover is useful in shading the fridge from sunlight, but in an enclosed space I think it's effectiveness is limited. I think better investment in time and money would be adding additional ventilation to lower the ambient temperatures around the fridge.
I agree on ventilation, but insulation is insulation. The more the better. The more insulated the fridge is the better it will maintain temperature at lower energy consumption, enclosed, in the open, sunlight, or shade. The percieved difference may be more in the worst case senario, but insulation is benefiting the fridge at all times.

It is important to get hotter than ambient air away from the fridge, but at some point, ventilation becomes an enemy. Once you've removed any heated air your ventilation is then fighting your insulation by bringing in a constant supply of fresh ambient temp air to try to dump it's heat on your fridge that hasn't already done so by being next to it.

Hot air rises, so it would probably be better all around to make sure it has ample room to escape on it's own with clearance than to actively push air over the whole fridge and accelerate heat transfer as a whole. The internal fan in the fridge moves enough air to get it out of the inner workings. A secondary fan might be an option in an extreme case, but at that point you probably painted yourself into a corner with poor fridge placement.

Bottom line, insulation on the body of the fridge to supplement it's internal insulation is never a bad idea or not helping. Actualy in the case of the too enclosed and trapping it's own heat issue, it's going to help more because it may offset the loss of effeciency by having to move more air around it to shed heat.
 

ducktapeguy

Adventurer
I agree on ventilation, but insulation is insulation. The more the better. The more insulated the fridge is the better it will maintain temperature at lower energy consumption, enclosed, in the open, sunlight, or shade. The percieved difference may be more in the worst case senario, but insulation is benefiting the fridge at all times.

It is important to get hotter than ambient air away from the fridge, but at some point, ventilation becomes an enemy. Once you've removed any heated air your ventilation is then fighting your insulation by bringing in a constant supply of fresh ambient temp air to try to dump it's heat on your fridge that hasn't already done so by being next to it.

Hot air rises, so it would probably be better all around to make sure it has ample room to escape on it's own with clearance than to actively push air over the whole fridge and accelerate heat transfer as a whole. The internal fan in the fridge moves enough air to get it out of the inner workings. A secondary fan might be an option in an extreme case, but at that point you probably painted yourself into a corner with poor fridge placement.

Bottom line, insulation on the body of the fridge to supplement it's internal insulation is never a bad idea or not helping. Actualy in the case of the too enclosed and trapping it's own heat issue, it's going to help more because it may offset the loss of effeciency by having to move more air around it to shed heat.
In term of efficiency, there is no downside to properly done insulation, but the effectiveness diminishes very rapidly. If you look at insulation vs thickness graph, more insulation is improvement, it's just a question of how much improvement are you getting vs. the cost and trouble of insulating. It's a cost vs. benefit ratio. This is a generic graph, but the overall shape of it should apply.

If it were so easy to improve the efficiency of these fridges just by adding a another layer of insulation, why wouldn't the manufacturers do it in the first place? Spray foam Insulation is essentially free, and of course efficiency is one of the biggest selling points for these portable fridges. If the manufacturers thought they could noticeably reduce their power draws just by adding another half inch or so of insulation, it would've come like that from the factory. But the fact is. if you look, almost all the fridges and coolers from every manufacturer are about the same thickness and roughly have the same amount of insulation, so there must be some break even point in which added insulation really isn't providing much benefit.



r-value-thermal.jpg

For added ventilation, I don't think there's a downside if done properly, except for cost and complexity. The point of extra ventilation isn't to flow more air around the whole fridge, but just the working part that's generating heat. The compressor of the fridge will always be hotter than the ambient temps no matter what, so improving airflow through that area will always be a benefit. There's also a point of diminishing returns for fans too, but for a fridge that's used in enclosed spaces, like most area, I think this might be a better way of improving performance than added insulation.

I haven't had a chance to take detailed measurement of my testing, but I'm guessing the reduction in surface temps will more than offset the additional 0.15W of power draw the added fan is using.

I do think a cover makes sense if the fridge sees any sunlight at all. The exterior of the metal fridges get really hot the sun, so any type of cover that provides shading would make a huge improvement.
 
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TantoTrailers

Well-known member
I ran the fridge for 48 hours in the enclosed galley last weekend. Saturday it got hot and sunny, and when the sun was setting was when the galley got the hottest since the sun was right on the rear door sneaking around my awning and walls. Hottest the galley went up to was 86*. The air temp outside got up to 87* during the day Saturday. After the sun set, temps in the galley started to drop. Sunday morning galley was at 68*. I think if I keep my rear door in the shade of my awning I do not think I will have heat issues. The fridge was wearing its undies and it kept everything nice and cool inside.

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old .45

Observer
Fridge covers yes! and for added insulation I cut pieces of a windshield reflective cover for all sides and the top under the cover... fasten with small pieces of double stick tape. I don't know how much but I can't help but think it improves the fridges ability to work... not much$$ involved. Can't hurt!
 

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SirCampalot

Adventurer
I have the Engel MT45 Platinum fridge with the insulated cover. The cover definitely keeps the metal shell of the fridge cool to the touch. Without the cover, the metal shell will get very hot from sun exposure. I also like the fact that the cover protects the expensive fridge from dings/dents/scratches.
 

Hilldweller

SE Expedition Society
I'm the administrator of a test and measurement training lab, chemical analysis instruments, and I test and measure everything. It's a disease...

Controlled environment, my garage, 86 degrees all day.
My fridge's surface temperatures ranged from 74 to 72 degrees (not near the compressor vent where temps were higher than ambient).
They don't make an off-the-shelf cover for my fridge so I cut 1" closed-cell foam mat to fit the exterior of the fridge, around the vents, etc.
Surface temps of the foam later in the day were 1 or 2 degrees lower than ambient. Those 10 to 12 degrees were being held inside now (sorta...).

I didn't want to sit there all day and count the duty cycles of the compressor. But I did compare how much it depleted my house batteries before/after during an evening of running.
.5 volts before and .2 volts after ------ not a very valid test though since it was a warmer evening for the before measurement.

I think we're overlooking how much these wraps cost. Over $100 for the ARB and I bet it cost them $6 to make it.
I'm a fan of insulation if you can fit it.
 
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