Cold Food Storage For Camper Conversions

Picking a Fridge over a Cooler for your Camper Conversion is really going to depend on energy sources avaialbe, tolerance for soupy “cooler water” getting all over everything, and budget.

    • Our 40 year old coleman cooler
      • Free and functional, but wouldn’t keep ice longer than a day or two even if you’re very disciplined about opening the cooler (bet no couple has ever fought over that huh?).
  • A super efficient cooler like a Yeti or similar
    • Let’s you keep ice up to a week, but several hundred for the size we wanted. And once you’re talking several hundred dollars for a cooler, it’s a slippery slope to the $650 12V fridge of your dreams.
  • A “3 way” fridge (can run off propane, AC or DC power)
    • This was what would have come in the truck camper we were looking at.  It was big, opened like a home fridge, and from what we read, rather inefficient especially in hot weather.  And heavy. We didn’t like the idea of having such a big beast hard mounted, sucking up space and propane.
    • It did get us hooked on the fantisy of having food at a consistent temperature versus floating in “cold-ish” soupy cooler water.
  • A 12V/120V “2 way” super efficient fridge like the Dometic
      • This fit our modularity design principal, we could pull it out and set it on the ground for extended stays (we like cooking outside), we could put it on the back deck during holidays as an overflow fridge, etc.  And if we spent the extra money for a super efficient fridge we wouldn’t need to upgrade our battery storage or solar panels. It can even freeze and refrigerate – having ice created from solar panels in the middle of the desert sounds worth some extra expense, but wow are these things pricey.
        • We’re not alone though, people love these things.  You’ll see them all over youtube in people’s van builds.
      • Once we decided to get a fancy fridge, we quickly decided to get the biggest one we could comfortable fit in the cab (65L).  The additional capacity doesn’t add much to the cost and it will insure this thing can handle long trips and a growing family. Bonus – even though we forgot to measure it, we can actually open the lid in the cab by 3/4″, but only because we’ve pulled out the rear row.
      • By the time we talked ourselves into the fridge, the insulated cover seemed totally reasonable.  There are some convincing videos from Australians critiquing these fridges for not having enough insulation.  We thought about trying to rig something up ourselves, but didn’t have any great ideas for a design that would stand up to daily open/closing/moving and not be super heavy / bulky.  We’re going to do a post comparing the power usage with and without the cover in the southwest this summer, stay tuned!

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