Replacement Refrigerator

S4nsc

Active Member
Jan 30, 2021
114
St Augustine, FL
Seeing the posts by others has gotten me thinking about replacing the 3 way absorption refrigerator with a compressor model in our Ranger.

For those of you that have switched, are there any brands to stay away from? Any that are particularly better than others? I have seen NovaCool, Engel, Norcold and obviously Dometic. Any that I am missing here? I would prefer a standard mini-refrigerator style to the slide in/out cooler idea.

Looks like unless you find a NovaCool in stock at one of their dealers it is a decent wait to order. Engel you can order direct and they have a few models in stock. Norcold seems to be available (not sure this is a good thing?) and I haven’t really looked at Dometic. The Dometic models that fit in the Ranger seem to have a disproportionally large freezer that I don’t really care about. I am kind of leaning toward the Norcold because of availability but not dead set on it.
 
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bondebond

Super Active Member
Aug 14, 2008
2,243
Let me ask...how important is it to you to camp off grid, especially no electricity?

If you do a substantial amount (left up to you to decide what that means, clearly), then a 2- or 3-way is a good option (don't get me started on thermoelectric). None of the small refrigerators have ever met my expectations but I've only had Dometic and NorCold. They take forever to cool down, don't recover well and struggle in the summers to the point of me having to implement all kinds of mods to increase cooling performance.

Or, if like me, you camp *most* of the time with Shore Power, I had zero problem with a dorm or wet bar style compressor refrigerator. It cools quickly, can hold the temps for most same-day traveling (load up the cold perishables at home and arrive at the camp site within a few hours...still cold), and performs regardless of outside temps as long as it's not blisteringly hot.

And for those times we'll be off grid like a planned big trip this summer, we'll be using an ice chest. It doesn't offend my sensibilities to still use an ice chest as a trade off for a majority of the rest of the time having a fully functioning and nearly bulletproof fridge.

Oh, did I mention it is a quarter to half of the price of a gas absorption model?

But it depends on your style of camping.
 

tfischer

A bad day camping beats a good day at the office
I'll just say that we like to camp in State Parks, and here in MN it's virtually impossible to get a weekend electric site at a state park unless you book while there's still snow on the ground.

However the no-services sites you can often book during the week before the coming weekend. I'm very happy to be able to camp in parks because we aren't tied to a power cord. We've never had any issues with our 3-way fridge. Sometimes it actually freezes stuff and we have to turn it lower.
 

bondebond

Super Active Member
Aug 14, 2008
2,243
Location, location, location. State parks in Arkansas often have electricity at tent only sites, much less RV sites. It's hot and humid here. That's what I mean by "depends on your style".
 

Dnodoz

Member
Apr 15, 2020
89
Our Novakool took 3 months to come in and cost about $1000. Takes about 90 minutes to get to temperature in 90 degree outside temps and keeps temp perfectly.

We can still dry camp in 3-4 day stretches minimum and longer if we get good solar charging. It’s rated at 2.2 amps when compressor is running. Dorm fridges aren’t engineered the same and usually use much more amperage.

If you always have a power cord a dorm fridge is a much more economical solution. We like to alternate between dry sites and hookups to keep our camping site fees down so we went to high efficiency ac/dc fridge.
 

Grandpa Don

Super Active Member
Sep 5, 2018
1,631
Southern California
I don't even bother to use my 3-way Fridge anymore. Two years ago I bought an Alpicool C-40 12 Volt compressor. It has worked well for me. I just got back from a week-long Boondocking camping trip. The C-40 ran for the entire time. It uses very little power. My 100 Watt Solar panel kept the battery charged the whole time. I'm happy with it!
 

S4nsc

Active Member
Jan 30, 2021
114
St Augustine, FL
I know some people have success with the absorption refrigerators but that has not been our experience in Florida. It cools down adequately in the mornings but by mid afternoon is unsafe for food storage. I am tired of messing with it.

The AC/DC compressor models seem to be a better fit for Florida camping. We usually have Shore Power and if not I have 2 100 watt solar panels to keep the battery charged.

Not really a question if I am keeping the absorption or switching to a compressor, just looking for input on manufacturers.
 
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Grandpa Don

Super Active Member
Sep 5, 2018
1,631
Southern California
I know some people have success with the absorption refrigerators but that has not been our experience in Florida. It cools down adequately in the mornings but by mid afternoon is unsafe for food storage. I am tired of messing with it.

The AC/DC compressor models seem to be a better fit for Florida camping. We usually have Shore Power and if not I have 2 100 watt solar panels to keep the battery charged.

Not really a question if I am keeping the absorption or switching to a compressor, just looking for input on manufacturers.
I think, but do not know for sure, that most of the compressor Fridges are pretty much equal in reliability. Most folks who have one will defend their choice of brands to the death! I don't want to go down that road. My choice in the Alpicool was based solely on price and the fact that a very prominent camping Youtuber bought and is still using the Alpicool C-40. The first one he bought turned out to be too small for his needs. When he upgraded, he stayed with the Alpicool brand.

As far as power consumption is concerned, I use only one 100 Watt Solar panel to keep my battery charged. I have yet to fully drain the battery while running the C-40 24 hours a day on camping trips. The assumption is, the more you pay for one, the better it is. I don't think I agree with that!
 

S4nsc

Active Member
Jan 30, 2021
114
St Augustine, FL
I think, but do not know for sure, that most of the compressor Fridges are pretty much equal in reliability. Most folks who have one will defend their choice of brands to the death! I don't want to go down that road. My choice in the Alpicool was based solely on price and the fact that a very prominent camping Youtuber bought and is still using the Alpicool C-40. The first one he bought turned out to be too small for his needs. When he upgraded, he stayed with the Alpicool brand.

As far as power consumption is concerned, I use only one 100 Watt Solar panel to keep my battery charged. I have yet to fully drain the battery while running the C-40 24 hours a day on camping trips. The assumption is, the more you pay for one, the better it is. I don't think I agree with that!
I agree cost does not indicate quality.

Just wanted to see if anyone had particularly bad feedback about any of the usual suspects.

I was not considering Alpicool so will take a look at them. Thanks for your experience and feedback.
 

bondebond

Super Active Member
Aug 14, 2008
2,243
I have yet to truly care about brand in the several dorm size refrigerators I have. I have 3 different ones operating in my realm right now. One is in my non-climate controlled shop, was bought used for $20 about 6 years ago. Another is behind me in my office (a Danby model). Clearly, you're looking for a brand, but I haven't regretted buying any one compressor fridge over the other.

I bought one for the highwall based on dimensions. Since the countertops are almost residential height, I was able to put a bar refrigerator in there. I only had to come up with a small trim strip to hide the gap on the side. I just slid it into the existing hole, anchored it down, used the existing power outlet, and capped off the gas line to put the original 3-way back in for the next owner (and let them deal with it), and away I went.
 

S4nsc

Active Member
Jan 30, 2021
114
St Augustine, FL
Ordered an AC/DC compressor unit from a distributor in Minnesota. UPS label already created and should go out this afternoon!

Paid a bit more but we do some boondocking so wanted the ability to run on AC or DC.

While not made in the USA they are at least made by our northern neighbors in Canada.
 

Grandpa Don

Super Active Member
Sep 5, 2018
1,631
Southern California
Ordered an AC/DC compressor unit from a distributor in Minnesota. UPS label already created and should go out this afternoon!

Paid a bit more but we do some boondocking so wanted the ability to run on AC or DC.

While not made in the USA they are at least made by our northern neighbors in Canada
I'm excited for you! What brand did you get? Running the portable compressor Fridge on AC or DC is not unique to just some brands. They all have that ability. I run mine on AC in the garage before a camping trip so that I can load it up with food items. Then I put it on the front seat of my truck and plug it in to 12 Volts DC to transport it to the camp site. I think the compressor type Fridge is the best thing to happen to camping in a long time.
 

Canvas Cur

Member
Sep 29, 2016
86
South West Florida
Our 2.9 CF Dorm Frig by Galanz (a WM special) cost us 139 + tax about a year ago. We have been taking it camping and would set it up on a folding table with the 2 burner hotplate next to it. It worked just fine in our Ranger last week when temps were in the the low 90's. Our spot, although right on the water, did not have much shade. My little 6" fan (a clip on personal size) fit right behind the frig, and by using a 3-way plug and leaving the switch "on", came on automatically when we plugged in, it kept it cool and blew warm air out the bottom vent. This CG was not far from our home, but we wanted to do a trial run of the Aliner (New to us) and see how we fit inside. The frig was still cold (around 50) when we arrived home (about a 45 minute drive) so we did not have to do an ice stop for the return trip. I would say that most little fridges like this are made about the same. In the $150 or so range even if it lasts for 2 or three years, it won't be too bad on the budget. I do feel it should last around 5 years though, and it is so nice to have a mini freezer up top, and an actual thermostat to control the inside temp (we left ours on 5 out of 7 and it maintained 38-40 inside). That's my 2 cents. BTW this draws only 50-75 watts when running (per my Kill-A-Watt) and my Inverter (1000 watt) should be able to keep it running in an off-grid situation and still have capacity for fans and such. My experience with the install is posted under "Replace Dometic 2193).
 

S4nsc

Active Member
Jan 30, 2021
114
St Augustine, FL
Our 2.9 CF Dorm Frig by Galanz (a WM special) cost us 139 + tax about a year ago. We have been taking it camping and would set it up on a folding table with the 2 burner hotplate next to it. It worked just fine in our Ranger last week when temps were in the the low 90's. Our spot, although right on the water, did not have much shade. My little 6" fan (a clip on personal size) fit right behind the frig, and by using a 3-way plug and leaving the switch "on", came on automatically when we plugged in, it kept it cool and blew warm air out the bottom vent. This CG was not far from our home, but we wanted to do a trial run of the Aliner (New to us) and see how we fit inside. The frig was still cold (around 50) when we arrived home (about a 45 minute drive) so we did not have to do an ice stop for the return trip. I would say that most little fridges like this are made about the same. In the $150 or so range even if it lasts for 2 or three years, it won't be too bad on the budget. I do feel it should last around 5 years though, and it is so nice to have a mini freezer up top, and an actual thermostat to control the inside temp (we left ours on 5 out of 7 and it maintained 38-40 inside). That's my 2 cents. BTW this draws only 50-75 watts when running (per my Kill-A-Watt) and my Inverter (1000 watt) should be able to keep it running in an off-grid situation and still have capacity for fans and such. My experience with the install is posted under "Replace Dometic 2193).

This was one of the threads that made me decide to do this.

We drive from NE FL to the Keys several times a year and do boondock everyonce in a while so I wanted to have the ability to run off DC. Otherwise I would have done the same as you an just installed a dorm style refrigerator.
 

S4nsc

Active Member
Jan 30, 2021
114
St Augustine, FL
Nova Kool R2600 installed today.

.5 cubic feet larger than the old 3 way refrigerator but overall smaller than the original opening.

Cut a piece of 3/4" plywood to sit under the unit and that made the height perfect.

Cut some strips to go on the sides to close the gap and while it works I'm not super pleased with how it turned out. Probably not so upset that I will redo it but not exactly how I wanted it to turn out. It is behind the frame so it can't be seen so that helps.

Unit is cooling down now, will see how it holds tomorrow when the sun gets on it but don't expect any problems.

IMG_1995.jpeg
 

Grandpa Don

Super Active Member
Sep 5, 2018
1,631
Southern California
Nova Kool R2600 installed today.

.5 cubic feet larger than the old 3 way refrigerator but overall smaller than the original opening.

Cut a piece of 3/4" plywood to sit under the unit and that made the height perfect.

Cut some strips to go on the sides to close the gap and while it works I'm not super pleased with how it turned out. Probably not so upset that I will redo it but not exactly how I wanted it to turn out. It is behind the frame so it can't be seen so that helps.

Unit is cooling down now, will see how it holds tomorrow when the sun gets on it but don't expect any problems.

View attachment 84454
That sure looks nice...! Open it up. Let's see inside.
 

jmkay1

2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
7,488
Northern Virginia
Very nice. If I didn’t know better it looks like it was made for that spot. I like that the shelf doesn’t go all the way to the other side as it allows room for taller drinks etc.
 




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