If you’ve never ventured into the world of van life travel before then, you probably won’t know that fridges are a bit of a hot topic (or should I say cold topic?!). There is just SO much choice and, if you’re a complete beginner, then it can be challenging to know where to start. For most people, a fridge is one of the van life essentials even if you’re a weekend warrior and only going out for a couple of days at a time, it’s nice to be able to take things like milk and cheese with you.
Whether you’re trying to build an affordable camper and are converting a van yourself or updating an old motorhome, it’s important to choose the right fridge for you as they can be one of the more expensive van life costs.
To help you on your quest for the perfect fridge we’ve compiled a list of the best campervan fridges.
Before we dive into revealing what we think are the best campervan fridges, it’s important to get your head around the different types of camper van fridges that there are on offer.
Best Campervan Fridges
There are three types of refrigerator that you can fit within your camper: a compressor fridge, a three-way fridge or a thermoelectric cool box. When I first started looking into van life, and was trying to decide if living in a van was for me, I had no idea what any of this meant. If you’re also feeling a bit confused then let me break it down for you.
1. Compressor Fridge
A compressor fridge is the sort of fridge that most people will have in their houses. However, this doesn’t mean you can simply purchase any old refrigerator for your campervan. This is because a regular 240V house fridge or even a mini-fridge is going to use way too much power for your leisure batteries to deal with. This is where the 12V or two-way compressor fridges come in.
As these can run off of 12V (as well as 240V, hence the two-way title), these fridges are perfect as they don’t use much power so are easy on your batteries. The compressor of a fridge only turns on when the fridge rises about a specific temperature (which varies depending on the settings of your fridge) to cool it back down again.
This means that the fridge is only drawing power from the batteries when the compressor is on, which is usually only two-three times an hour for a minute or two. Compressor fridges are safe, easy to install, reliable, efficient and, in our opinion, the best campervan fridges out there.
2. Three Way Fridges
Three-way fridges are names such as they can run in three different ways — from a mains electric supply (240v), using 12v electrics or by using LPG gas.
A three-way fridge could be a good option for you if your van doesn’t have a solar panel and you want to try off grid living for a while as your gas supply can keep it running. A 3-way fridge could be one of the best campervan fridges options for you if you are travelling in a large group, in a large vehicle as you can get much larger 3-way fridges compared to most compressor fridges or thermoelectric cool boxes. A fridge running off gas is also completely silent so good be a good option if you are living in a compact camper van and are sensitive to noise.
While gas fridges are efficient and long lasting they can also be tricky to install and it is highly recommended that this is done or checked by a gas technician as a gas leak in a van is extremely dangerous. Using gas to power your fridge will also mean you use more gas while living the van life, raising the cost of travelling.
3. Thermoelectric Coolbox
A thermoelectric cool box is your final choice of fridge type and are good if you are trying to work out how to build a campervan on a budget.
Thermoelectric cool boxes aren’t quite as sophisticated as the other two options and work simply by using electricity to remove hot air from within the cool box. Your average thermoelectric cool box can make the temperature within the cool box up to 20ºC cooler than the air outside the cool box. A cool box is a great option for those travelling in a van for short periods of time or anyone aiming to build a really cheap camper.
However, cool boxes will struggle in warmer climates, are usually smaller than fridges and won’t get as cool as the other camper van fridge options.
First on our list of the best campervan fridges is the Waeco CRX50. This is a 45-litre compressor fridge and includes a 4.4-litre freezer, meaning you don’t have to give up ice cream when you hit the road!
This fridge measures 17x53x38cm and is designed to fit neatly under the counter. The design is just like the one you would find in a home with the door on the front meaning everything within the fridge is on show and easily accessible, compared to the design of a chest fridge/freezer.
The Waeco Coolmatic CRX50 weighs 44kg and draws 40watts of power. This is an efficient fridge that would work brilliantly in conjunction with a solar electrical system.
Next on our list of the best campervan fridges is the Dometic CoolFreeze CFX 35. This is a great chest style fridge/freezer and is even compact enough to sit between the two front seats in most vans, freeing up more space for storage in the living area which is excellent news for any small campers.
This fridge measures 69.2×39.8×41.4cm and weighs in at just 17.5kg. The fridge boasts an internal LED light, perfect for those nighttime snacks and even has a USB charging point for your smartphone.
The Dometic CoolFreeze CFX 35 has an internal capacity of 32 litres and can be used as either a fridge or a freezer (not both at the same time) with a Temperature Range of +10 to -22ºC.
Third on our list of the best campervan fridges is a Mobi Cool W40, brought to you by Dometic. You can see that the Mobi Cool W40 is substantially cheaper than the other options on our list, at £110, and this is because it is a thermoelectric cool box.
The product measures 56 x 38 x42cm and weighs much less than the fridges at just 8.4kg. This is good news as the Mobi Cool W40 is designed to be portable with two wheels and an extendable handle meaning you can easily take it out on any picnic trips with you.
This cool box can carry 39 litres of food and is designed so that 2l drinks bottles can be stored upright. The cool box runs off of 12V electrics and can cool up to 18ºC below the outside temperature.
Next on our list of the best campervan fridges is the Dometic Waeco CD-30 Drawer Fridge, a great option micro campers.
This innovative drawer design measures 44 x 25 x73cm and, if you’re struggling for space, the cooling unit can be fitted up to 1.5m away from the fridge, taking its measurements down to 44 x 25 x 56cm.
This is perfect for fitting below a seat within the living space of your camper. The Dometic Waeco CD-30 Drawer Fridge weighs just 19kg and can store 30 litres of food. The fridge drawer has a safety locking system so there are no chances of the drawer opening while drivin, gand this can be released and the fridge opening in one movement.
Finally, last on our list of the best campervan fridges is the Dometic RM8400 3 way fridge. This is an example of a fridge that can run off of gas as well as 12v and 240v electrics.
The Dometic RM8400 3 Way Fridge is also the largest fridge on our list, measuring in at 82.1 x 48.6 x 56.9cm meaning this would be a the perfect fridge for a larger RV.
The freezer can be removed if needed so that you can have the full 90 litres as fridge space if preferred. This large fridge weighs in a just 28kg and has a locking system with finger-tip opening.
We hope that by reading this quick gu
Whatever you do, just don’t do what I did and buy a regular 240V fridge and hope it will work off of a solar electrical system through a British winter. It won’t. Let us know your thoughts by joining the Van Clan on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.