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Camping Fridges reviews

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    Andy CampbellParticipant

    Are there any up to date reviews available for best options for camping fridges please?

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    Johan Wessels
    Johan Wessels on

    Haven’t seen any for quite a while now and it was always quite a controversial topic.

    Personally I have been using my 40lt 3-way Dometic fridge\freezer for some 7 years now and have never been let down as yet. Our longest trip was Cape Town, Namibia, Botswana and back.

    No need for a duel battery system, solar chargers etc.

    Whilst travelling used the car battery to run the fridge/freezer

    Whilst camping used 220v campsite supply

    When no electricity at the camp site used gas.

    A 5kg gas bottle can last me up to 4 days continuous 24 hr use with my Dometic.

    So I found this combination suited me just fine.

    The only modification I made was to fit a small “computer” type fan below the radiator coils at the back of the fridge to improve air flow to remove excess heat on some of those very hot days (>30 degrees C). Other wise the freezer section kept the frozen stuff frozen and the fridge prevented the milk going sour,l meat fresh but more importantly I always had a cold beer on my arrival at each camp site.

    Hope you find something suitable

    Cheers

    Johan

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    Simon Tasman
    Simon Tasman on

    I also have a Dometic absorption fridge in my caravan, and it works OK until you look at the energy wastage compared to a compressor fridge.

    Using your figures of 5kg of gas every 4 days, that works out to 1,25kg per day, or 57,5MJ per day.

    A compressor fridge on the other hand draws 3A from the 12V supply, with an average duty cycle of about 50%, which works out to 3(A) x 12(V) x 12(h) x 3600(J/h) = 1,5MJ per day, or 2,5% of the absorption fridge’s power consumption.

    The only advantage of the absorption fridge is that it can run on gas. That’s nice to have, but it’s also a very expensive nice-to-have.

    One solar panel that can deliver 4,5A (which all the full-sized ones can) for 8 hours per day, will deliver the entire 1,5MJ-per-24hour requirement, and any excess energy can be saved in a battery for a cloudy day (when the solar will still deliver some energy).

    So yes, the solar panel, plus a regulator (essential) and a suitable battery will cost the same as many kgs of gas, but the writing is nevertheless on the wall for the dinosaur gas-guzzler absorption fridge.

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    Fyko
    Fyko on

    Hi Simon. I’ve often wondered why the absorption refrigeration system was so inefficient, and extensive research has not produced many answers.

    The energy cost of running a compressor fridge are twofold:

    • The friction and electrical losses in the motor/compressor assembly,
    • The quantity of energy removed from the fridge contents.

    In the absorption system there is no compressor, in fact no moving parts at all, so the friction and electrical losses fall away, leaving only the cost of extracting the energy from the evaporator side of the circuit.

    BUT then there’s the latent heat in water that gets vapourised as a by-product of the ammonia being boiled out of the water in the heating section. That water vapour will condense out in the cooling coils. That energy is dissipated in the initial cooling phase where the water trickles back to the tank and is energy entirely wasted.

    It’s impossible to know how much exactly water is vapourised in this way, but I’m pretty sure this is at least part of the answer. And sadly there’s no cure for it that I can see.

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    Johan Wessels
    Johan Wessels on

    Oh dear I didn’t mean for this to become another who’s right who’s wrong debate sorry for raising it but was just giving my own personal point of view. The science behind both forms of refrigeration are equally interesting and both have their pro’s and con’s   I dont believe either is better than the other as it all depends on what they are to achieve under varying conditions.

    Yes obviously the compressor type will be more efficient but that is not what I was trying to portray. (even though we know absorption fridges are extremely efficient running on gas).

    My mention of the time that a 5 kg gas cylinder will last is based on the most inefficient use of the gas wherein  actual reality a 5 kg gas cylinder should last just over a week running at approximately 30gms/hr.

    Firstly I generally would not be using gas continuously over a long trip as most of the time either electrical supply is available or 12v whilst travelling. But when there is no electrical power available two 5kg bottles of gas would give me at least two to three weeks of refrigeration before having to refill the gas bottles.

    That was my point and with a compressor fridge with no electrical supply other that say the two deep cycle batteries and solar panels and a week of poor weather like lots of rain etc then it would become an issue, sure one can start up the vehicle every second day and charge the batteries at the cost of the fuel to run the engine/alternator.

    So once again it was not to say which system has a better COP as we know the answer to that or even the cost of running either systems.

    I certainly would not say that the absorption fridge is a dinosaur (or gas guzzler) as I can assure you the absorption fridge technology is very much alive and continuous developments are still taking place and research been done to still improve the performance of this type of refrigeration. Already they are looking at nanoparticle technology to be incorporated into the system. So rest assured the 3 way absorption fridge is not going away by any means just yet. Even though it’s been around since the middle 1800’s and in the good old days we had both an absorption fridge and a freezer both operating on paraffin, as a heat source, and for decades they worked well as we still had no electricity at our beach cottage on the wild coast.

    I do agree the compressor fridge is more efficient even though they are expensive and are more prone to wear and tear and the back-up technology more complex and also not cheap.

    I don’t think modern caravan manufacturers, like those in England and Europe, would still be fitting absorption fridges into their caravans in 2021, if it was not justifiable or they were dinosaurs!

    So finally yes the compressor type is far more effective but maybe we shouldn’t discount the absorption type either.

     

     

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    Simon Tasman
    Simon Tasman on

    My experience of absorption fridges (I used them exclusively for the 10 years I lived in the Mozambique bush) was that they burned 0,4kgs per day, say 18MJ.

    Apart from the cost of the gas, which you grow accustomed to, my major beef with the technology was that the effectiveness of their cooling would drop off rapidly when the ambient temperature exceeded 30C. I put that down to the failure of the ammonia gas to liquefy under the given hydrogen pressure, which must have been about 12bar, though impossible to measure of course. It may indeed be premature to use the term ‘dinosaur’, though as with the diesel engine, followed by the petrol engine, they are on their way into history.

    Happily I won’t be alive to see it but the world is going all electric, either nuclear or renewable electric, but electric nevertheless. Our grandchildren will preside over the transition to world where no energy is derived from combustion of any kind. And absorption fridges are just on the wrong side of history, along with lots of other useful devices.

     

     

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    Fyko
    Fyko on

    Apart from the cost of the gas, which you grow accustomed to, my major beef with the technology was that the effectiveness of their cooling would drop off rapidly when the ambient temperature exceeded 30C. I put that down to the failure of the ammonia gas to liquefy under the given hydrogen pressure, which must have been about 12bar,

    You’re right in that they target 35°C as the highest ambient operating temperature. And by increasing the hydrogen pressure to say 20 bar you would increase that to closer to 50°C, but the resulting problem would be that the evaporation temperature of the ammonia would increase commensurately, meaning even more gas required to run the fridge, not to mention higher temps all around the chimney and a longer cooling coil before the evaporator.

    Better to bend with the wind and go for a low-power compressor system. They just work a whole lot better.

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