Refrigerator Advice Wanted , Please!

msiminoff

Member
I'm in the process of building a new camper, it's a Total Composites box on a Ram 3500 chassis... and I'm feeling stuck on the fridge/freezer selection. I'm looking for an upright 12V compressor type because the wife doesn't like the chest fridge's and we won't have enough propane on board to run an absorption fridge. Also, we're a family of 4 so bigger is better. I want a refrigerator that keeps food at 35-40ºF and a freezer that keeps ice cream rock-hard regardless of ambient conditions. I'm willing to have dual-compressors if necessary (have plenty of solar and battery capacity).

The fridge in our current truck camper is a Vitrifrigo DP2600. It has been super-reliable for 3+ years, but the temperature control between the fridge and freezer compartments is inconsistent, especially in high ambient temps & high humidity (I've addressed that issue, but it took a lot of effort). I'm concerned that the other models in the Vitrifrigo family may have this same issue. Also, at 8.1 CuFt (230L) the DP2600 is as small as we'd consider going in the new camper.

The current units on our shopping list are (in order of preference):
- Vitrifrigo DW360IDX4-EFV
- Isotherm Cruise 320 Combi
- Isotherm Cruise 271
- Vitrifrigo DP2600IBD4-F
- Isotherm Cruise 220 Combi

Are any of these units better than any other? Is there something I should be looking at that's not on my list? What are the rest of y'all using? Any and all recommendations cheerfully accepted!
Thanks!
-Mark

PS. I had previously thought I'd found the perfect fridge... Furrion's (a brand that's known for mediocre quality) new Arctic refrigerator has some very promising (read: too good to be true) spec's... 10 cubic feet capacity, low current draw, 42dB operation, stainless steel finish, charcoal odor filter, "air flow loop" ventilation, etc.
I ordered one up to see if it lives up to the hype... No surprises here: It doesn't. The freezer gets cold, but the refrigerator compartment never cools below ambient air temp. I've already sent it back to Furion.
 

john61ct

Adventurer
Indel-B is the manufacturer of both Isotherm and Vitrifrigo,

Also Evakool, Truckfridge, Tundra,

OEM for Peterbilt & Kenworth

All well respected brands.

Ironman 4x4 used to be, apparently no longer but still good, and excellent aftermarket service.

Engel & ARB have best inherent reliability / longevity.
 

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Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
I have a smaller Truckfridge (Indel-B OEM, as stated above) and it has been dead reliable. One thing that may be helpful is that I've seen several Truckfridge owners replace the temperature controls with an external PID-style unit. The Truckfridge (being the low-end offering) just has the knob for setting "1" to "7", whatever the hell that means. A proper PID controller offers you a more direct thermostat type control as you'd have a set-point and the controller will throttle the compressor to keep it nailed to that set point.

I thought I had a bookmark on someone who'd done this, but can't find it at the moment. I may go down this path for myself soon anyhow.
 

plh

Explorer
I have a smaller Truckfridge (Indel-B OEM, as stated above) and it has been dead reliable. One thing that may be helpful is that I've seen several Truckfridge owners replace the temperature controls with an external PID-style unit. The Truckfridge (being the low-end offering) just has the knob for setting "1" to "7", whatever the hell that means. A proper PID controller offers you a more direct thermostat type control as you'd have a set-point and the controller will throttle the compressor to keep it nailed to that set point.

I thought I had a bookmark on someone who'd done this, but can't find it at the moment. I may go down this path for myself soon anyhow.
like an Inkbird?
 

Darwin

Explorer
To combat the temperature issue, I would think you would want a unit with dual compressors. Not sure if your ventrifrigo had that or not but some unites just use a single BD-80
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
like an Inkbird?
Yes, but you'll want to watch the ratings - the only 12V powered Inkbird I see on Amazon has relays rated to 10A. The manual from my Truckfridge recommends a 20A rated switch (which is equivalent to what the PID controller will do - switch the unit on and off to manage the temperature). Easiest solution would be to use the 10A relay to drive a 20A+ solid state relay.
 
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msiminoff

Member
We have been using a NovaKool 6800 for 2 years, very happy with the unit.
Great advice on Nova Kool Joe917 and john61ct, thanks!! Their RFU9000 looks like it fits the bill perfectly :). I just sent an inquiry to them to get pricing and availability.

I would think you would want a unit with dual compressors.
Dual compressors are fine with me.
I fixed the issue in my Vitrifrigo DP2600 (single compressor) by adding 2 digital controllers; with one temp' sensor in the freezer compartment to control the compressor and the and the other sensor in the fridge operating a small spillover fan between the freezer and fridge compartments. The controllers I bought are made by Esumic, and identical to the Inkbird. The compressor thermostat wires in to the thermostat terminals on the BD50's electronic control unit, so a high-current relay is not needed. This setup works great, but I do wish it wasn't necessary.
 

john61ct

Adventurer
Note that I've heard / read very little about Novakool over the years.

I believe they use Danfoss (Secop) brushless DC compressors, great but that is true for most discussed here.

I don't think they are an Indel B brand

 

ExpoMike

Well-known member
I put a Novakool fridge in our FWC and had it 3 years before selling the rig. The new owner has not said anything about it not working (he does keep in touch with me) and that was about 4 years ago when I sold it.

Novakool is popular in the marine world.
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Ventrifrigo seems to be the standard for the high end builders (Earthroamer and GXV). Very rarely see anyone complaining about issues.

That is the route I am leaning. I am liking the drawer style versus the door.

I had an Isotherm in my 2018 FWC Hawk and it was horribly inefficient compared to the ARB I had in the truck.

Several of my friends ordered 2018 FWC's at the same time I did and I was the only one that didn't need to send mine back to have the fridge replaced. FWIW.

Have a build thread? I'd love to follow
 

msiminoff

Member
Last edited:

Darwin

Explorer
I have a Novacool, but I haven't been impressed with the build quality of it at all, but it is also about 4 years old. The seal around the door does not seem like it seals that well, the insulation seems like it could be thicker, I have had the door open and all the contents spill out a few times when driving off road. and the food and things etc. in side seem to get tossed around pretty bad inside the fridge. The locking mechanism is pretty chintzy. It's the 4500 model for reference. It's so bad that I for my next build it has me thinking about going with something like a national luna chest fridge or a Isotherm drawer model.

Have you considered a national luna or other type of fridge? It seems like it would solve a lot of issues I have had, and I know they are probably twice as efficient as any other novacool or other style fridge.
 

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RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
It's so bad that I for my next build it has me thinking about going with something like a national luna chest fridge or a Isotherm drawer model.

Have you considered a national luna or other type of fridge? It seems like it would solve a lot of issues I have had, and I know they are probably twice as efficient as any other novacool or other style fridge.
Same here. The door on my Isotherm in the FWC was quite chinsey and even locked it opened and spilled contents Offroad more than once.

I’ll definitely be going with either and top loader style, like my ARB fridges I’ve always had good luck with and are super efficient, or a pull out drawer style. I’m still undecided on which
 

msiminoff

Member
Other brands are not immune to having their doors open. I've had the (latched) door of my Vitrifrigo swing open on a rough off-road trip and a 6-pack of beer fell out... Glass and beer everywhere, not pretty (and I was thirsty!).

I also own a Dometic CFX 95DZ chest fridge/freezer and use it a lot. It's a fantastic unit, very energy efficient!
I drew up several floorpans for the new camper that had a pair of chest fridge's under the lower bunk bed and/or under a hinged section of counter top. I was intrigued by the possibility of having 4 separately controlled temperature zones (two 2-zone chests). However I was unable to get my wife on board with the idea of having something that didn't look and feel like a residential fridge.

I think that I have finally settled on the Nova Kool RFU9200, which is the dual compressor version of their 9000.

-Mark
 
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