Refrigerators

shays4me

Adventurer
My wife has been wanting to upgrade from a cooler to a fridge this year if things go well and I’m completely clueless when it comes to the portable fridges. The common brand names seem pretty pricey and there are some others like Iceco that appear to be the same thing for a lower price. I generally subscribe to the buy once cry once school of thought but I do have a problem paying a lot more for one brand over another if they come from the same third world country. I don’t mind paying more for a quality product that is made in a developed nation and has good product support and often times this is the path I take. So what’s the skinny on fridges? It’s going in my Jeep so a more compact version is needed and I don’t require a lot of extra bells and whistles. Are there any still made in Australia or USA, etc…?
 

blacklbzbeauty

Active member
I believe there is an EP fridge review from a year or so ago that you can find on here. May answer some of your questions. Sorry, I do not have the link.
 

RAFoutdoors

Retired Explorer
I bought an ARB 50qt fridge back in 2014 and know the quandary of justifying the expense. I did not share the cost with my wife until I was able to show (prove) to her the value of this investment. She loves it. It has been running pretty much non stop since we got it. Not only is it handy when we go camping but when we go to the grocery store, we fill it with the foodstuffs that need to stay cold until we get home. It has proven invaluable during our cross country road trips since we can bring lunch stuff and stop at rest areas or scenic overlooks to enjoy a quick meal instead of gas station sushi or stopping at restaurants. It has almost paid for itself just for that reason. I can’t speak to other manufacturers as there were not as many different manufacturers when I made my purchase but these refrigerators have more uses than you realize.
 

kmacafee

Adventurer
10+ years of regular use of a National Luna Weekender and its never let me down. More expensive initially but you get what you pay for.
 

dstefan

Well-known member
I bought an ARB 50qt fridge back in 2014 and know the quandary of justifying the expense. I did not share the cost with my wife until I was able to show (prove) to her the value of this investment. She loves it. It has been running pretty much non stop since we got it. Not only is it handy when we go camping but when we go to the grocery store, we fill it with the foodstuffs that need to stay cold until we get home. It has proven invaluable during our cross country road trips since we can bring lunch stuff and stop at rest areas or scenic overlooks to enjoy a quick meal instead of gas station sushi or stopping at restaurants. It has almost paid for itself just for that reason. I can’t speak to other manufacturers as there were not as many different manufacturers when I made my purchase but these refrigerators have more uses than you realize.
This ^^^^ except my 50qt ARB dates from 2010. Pretty much the same story. I’ve also run it in the house on freezer mode at 15° for 6 months straight recently.

One thing not to forget is that you have to consider how to power it. Flooded lead acid batteries just don’t cut it. In my old Tacoma I had a dual AGM battery system. The fridge ran with no drama off a 60AH Odyssey charged off the alternator with an IBS isolator, including periods of up to 3 days without moving or starting the vehicle.

ARB makes a very nice wiring loom with 10 gauge wire and a locking plug. You can easily run it to the back of whatever vehicle. I put one in my 4runner as well so we would swap the fridge out on road trips where we took the 4runner. In that vehicle I am using a group 27, 95AH Northstar battery as both starter and source for the fridge. I’ve never had trouble with it running off that single battery overnight, and never seen the voltage drop below about 12.3 overnight.

So, just gotta have a plan for power, and if you don’t have a dual set up and have a FLA starter battery only, you’ll likely I want to use a hybrid/deep cycle AGM for both starter and fridge duty. That said, I did run my ARB in the forerunner on the FLA starter battery for a short period until I swapped in the AGM. It’s just that the FLA starters can’t stand up to constant drawdowns, especially overnight for very long.

Fridges are the best mod ever!
 

NatersXJ6

Explorer
I have an ARB 50 and a Dometic CFX28. The ARB is far superior in design of lid, latch, cover, and seems to use less power (although I haven’t cared enough to measure). The CFX got kicked down to beer fridge duty in the pantry and crapped out after a few years with no particular cause identified. The ARB is close to 8 years mostly non stop in the back of a Jeep that lives in the desert and sees 120 ambient outside temps regularly. Yes, it cost as much as a kitchen fridge. Yes, I would buy another for all the reasons listed above by others.

A few notes on power:

1) Everyone advertises the ARB wiring kit as 10 gauge. It is most definitely NOT 10 AWG. I don’t know if Australia has a different gauge standard, but you can do much better for about the same $$ if you have any skill. I ran my own 8 AWG back to a rear fuse block and also power a few led lights. My wife’s car used the ARB harness and we had constant problems with voltage drop cutting out the fridge.

2) I also ended up with a group 27 serving as combination starter and fridge battery. I have 200w solar panels that keep it topped off and haven’t had any issues since doing this. This is admittedly more panel than needed, they often don’t really have any significant output in a day. Before that I cooked and or destroyed several batteries, including a 34M Odyssey that I bought thinking I was awesome because of the name. Expensive lesson.

All things considered, the fridge is brilliant for both every day life and camping. I don’t know why more cars don’t come equipped with them stock.
 

jadmt

ignore button user
I, like one of the above posters have had my arb50 since 2014 and it has been used almost every single day since that time. I it has been on a ton of offroad trips and when not in my rig it is in my house keeping my beer cold. my yeti cooler has just collected dust since getting my ARB50. I ran my ARB off my jeep starter battery for years without issue and recently bought a jackery 1000 and that thing will run my fridge for days in the heat with no problems. to say it was money well spent is an understatement for me.
 

dstefan

Well-known member
Got curious about the gauge issue, so pulled out some leftover pieces of ARB loom that I had trimmed for length and compared it to marked 10awg PV cable and 8awg from Powerwerx. Don’t have a … well, gauge gauge, so took a couple comparison pictures. This loom was bought about a year ago, so maybe they’ve changed something?

Regardless, it’s been plenty good for a long run, and the fridge runs great on it.

8 awg would be even better, I’m sure but to my mind the reason to pay for the ARB loom is the locking plug.

The ARB is slightly thicker than the 10awg PV cable to my eye. ARB on left or bottom. PV next or on top, then 8awg in red in first picture only.
1642365384060.jpeg
1642365501881.jpeg
 
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shays4me

Adventurer
Sorry, I haven't been getting updates on this thread for some reason! I was surprised to see how many responses I've had. Thank you all for that! I did a little youtube watching and besides just about every overland channel promoting their new free Iceco fridges as the one to own the most recomended is the ARB 50. The consensus is the more extras you have the more problems you'll encounter which seems to be common to everything in this world! As for power, I have a dual battery tray that takes yellow tops on their side to fit under the hood of the Jeep and that was the plan. We have made a decision at this point however and it was that a fridge is not right for us yet. My daughter sleeps in the Jeep and sometimes one of my other daughters will join us for a trip and sleep inside too. We do not want to limit the availability of space for my second daughter and we don't want my youngest to deal with a compressor keeping her awake at night. So the answer to that was to just get a high performance cooler for now. We chose the Lifetime 55, because it has great reviews, holds ice for a long time and is made in Utah. It also helps that it was a third the price of a Yeti and is therefore less likely to get stolen when we're camping in a campground on the coast and I leave it out. I really see a fridge in our future, and when I do it'll probably be the ARB 50, but not quite yet.
 

VA-CMac

Member
We picked up the ARB Elements about two years back. Main buying point was that this fridge was designed to run while sitting out in the rain/dust of a Jeep Gladiator. It's all stainless steel and requires no thermal jacket whatsoever. When ours isn't lugging food/beer, it's on the bench in the garage, plugged in and running in the "alert 30" role. It hasn't missed a second in two years.

The first time you camp without water-logged food and flipping coins to see who's making the ice run...you will ask yourself why you waited so long to get one of these. This ARB is 63 quarts and it's all space for food/beverages--it's amazing how much volume is completely wasted on ice. PRE-CHILLING the fridge is key. And pack it full: the fuller it is, the longer it takes to warm up. You wouldn't believe how much space is 63 quarts, when none of it is ice.

Price point is NOT for the feint-of-heart...we paid $1,200 for this gangster, but now the same fridge is right at $1,500. I'd buy it again this morning if I had to.

Someone already said the fridge is the best mod. I completely agree with that. Just buy one....and never again look back.
 

shays4me

Adventurer
I thought I’d better update this thread. There was a good sale going on at Lolo overland over the weekend. It was good enough for us to decide to spend some of our savings and pick up an arb zero 47 quart fridge. With everything shooting up in price from inflation, our savings account sitting there not earning much of anything plus the fact that I had never seen an arb fridge so cheap I ordered it along with a transit bag and the receptacle. I hope it turns out to be a good purchase. It was actually cheaper then the classic 50 qt model at $860 and only a tiny bit more than the iceco. Every item I’ve bought that is arb brand has been very good quality so I’m hoping this fridge doesn’t disappoint!
 

NMBruce

Adventurer
Congratulations on your purchase.
I would Just say what everyone else has said.
I got my ARB back in 2015 and it’s used a lot. Now I also got a Dometic CFX75 fridge/freezer from a friend that sits in my pickup and the ARB will go into the trailer for really long trips, maybe used as a freezer since it should get opened less.
I still have ice, but now it’s the ice balls that I can freeze and use in soft drinks, mixed drinks and cheap whiskey if that’s what’s available, good whiskey is neat.
 

billiebob

Well-known member
On the opening theme of " The common brand names seem pretty pricey and there are some others like Iceco that appear to be the same thing for a lower price." I'm there too.

I bought the cheapest fridge on Amazon, on day 1 the latch fell apart and by day 3 the hinge had broken. I made a claim and the seller offered to send another fridge or give a 50% refund. He refused to refund the full amount. I did what Amazon calls Escalation and a week later the seller was gone from Amazon and Amazon refunded the full amount. I stepped up a few $$$ and bought a new fridge, still under $400. The hinges are much better but the latch is very weak, insecure, I know the lid would bounce open but since it will have a strap over it in transit that is not a concern..... no trips with it yet but it will soon be travelling.

In conclusion..... ARB etc are really not expensive. But I only need/want a 35L fridge, I want the lid to open width wise like a traditional cooler, and it will be fixed, not on a slide. I hate things that move in a camper.

This was the 3 day wonder. I don't think ARB or Dometic make anything comparable to fit my space.

IMG_0908.jpeg
 
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