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Caravan Fridges

  • Sabana Crowcroft
    Sabana Crowcroft on

    Hi, I’m looking for a new fridge in my old Mitsubishi Caravan, which seems to be difficult. Any help would be appreciated.  The space is 740 height, 520 width and 520 depth. The present fridge is an Absorption Fridge I think, as it’s able to switch from gas, to 12V to 220V.

    I can only find much bigger or mini Bar fridges so far. Any ideas where I can look for this size fridge that also has the capabilities of switching Gas to 220V.

    Thanks a lot. Sabana



    Fyko van der Molen
    Fyko van der Molen on

    Hi Sabana,

    The width (520mm) says it’s a Dometic absorption RV fridge. From the height I surmise it has no freezer compartment.

    You need to get the mode number and look for a second hand one. I don’t think that size of fridge has been made by Dometic for some time. There’s a general movement away from absorption fridges due to their very poor energy efficiency.

    Absorption still has a few die-hard fans but most accept that 12V compressor fridges are the new normal. For the sake of efficiency they are top-loading, which doesn’t suit your application either.

    You might want to consider converting that fridge space into a cupboard and converting to a top-loading compressor fridge/freezer that stands out in the tent. They are so energy efficient that they can easily be powered by mid-sized solar panel coupled to a solar regulator. Eight hours of sunlight provides enough energy for running the fridge for 24. The cost will be considerable but you’ll be investing in the future. And absorption definitely belongs in the past.

    CaravanSA on

    Good day Sabana,

    We do know of Mitsubishi caravans, but indeed of motorhomes and campers. But I am sure you mean either of the ones I mentioned earlier. Would you be so kind as to post an image of your caravan so we can identify the model? Also is this for 12v or 240v? This will help us advise you correctly. Thanks so much.


    Dan Perkins
    Dan Perkins on

    As correctly pointed out above the absorption system has gone the way of the dinosaurs due to it’s lamentable inefficiency. It requires a powerful heat source to evaporate  the ammonia that’s been absorbed into the water. That eat source can be a gas flame or an electrical heating element. The logical electrical power sources are the 12V battery and the 230V (or 115V) AC supplies.

    However an absorption fridge has no moving parts – its plumbing contains water, ammonia, and hydrogen gas under high pressure. The filling attachment is common to all, so any absorption manufacturer or repairer will be able to restore the contents of the plumbing to what it should be, and no spare parts will be needed. The heating elements, which are separate for each power source, are prone to going open circuit (burning out), but can be rewired.

    Fyko van der Molen
    Fyko van der Molen on

    To see how inefficient absorption fridges are consider this:

    The calorific value of propane is 46Mega Joules per kilogram

    A fridge typically burns 400 grams of gas per day – 46 x 0,4 = 18,4MJ per day.

    A 36Watt compressor fridge running a 50% duty cycle as a worst case since it’s normally substantially less will consume 36Watts x half a day,

    That’s 36 Joules per second x 43,200 seconds = 1,55MJ per day.

    So the absorption fridge consumes about 12 times more energy for not quite the same result.

    The absorption fridge remains a hostage to ambient temperature (they don’t work above 35 degrees C), and the freezer disappoints at any ambient temperature; while the compressor fridge is impervious to hot days as long as it gets some ventilation.

    The absorption fridge demands being kept exactly level while the compressor will work at any inclination.

    Absorption became popular because they can work without electricity, but today a single solar panel that can supply 4,5 Amps into a 12V battery for 8 hours per day supplies more than enough power to operate such a fridge at a 50% duty cycle for 24 hours.

    For free! What does a kilogram of LPG cost you?

    That’s why nobody wants absorption anymore – and hence why nobody makes absorption anymore.

    Simon Tasman
    Simon Tasman on

    Once again I see the OP can’t be bothered to even acknowledge the copious answers that have written to help her.

    It’s no wonder that knowledgeable contributors stay away.

    Some people just have the most appalling manners.

    Andries Doman
    Andries Doman on

    Hello, maybe you can help me with some info. Our caravan has a Dometic RF180C adsorption fridge. Anyone perhaps replaced a similar one without to many modifications?

    Fyko van der Molen
    Fyko van der Molen on

    Hi Andries,

    It might be a help if you could post a picture and some dimensions.

    BTW don’t try to post more than 1 image per post. The entire reply will be dumped by WP if you try to place more than 1 image in the text area.

    Andries Doman
    Andries Doman on

    Picture 1: name plate

    Andries Doman
    Andries Doman on

    Picture 2 : actual fridge

    Fyko van der Molen
    Fyko van der Molen on

    Hi Andries,

    There are others with more knowledge about this than I have, but I doubt that there is a direct replacement for this fridge either in absorption or compressor. Compressor would be easier than absorption since there are more producers of that type,

    However as I said before there are no moving parts in an absorption system, there is a closed system of pipes that contain ammonia and hydrogen under high pressure, and there are workshops equipped to clean and recharge these systems. I remember visiting Zero in Kempton Park and Dometic in Ekandustria, Bronkhorstspruit some years ago. When there’s only steel tubing and no moving parts there’s nothing to wear out and hence no parts to replace.

    From the specification image you posted one can see the expected gas burn is 20g per  hour, or 480g per day. That confirms what I said earlier – 22MegaJoules expended per day for absorption against less than 2MJ for compressor – and those 2 MJ are easily provided mahala by a solar panel.

    So in the short-term I’d try to get it repaired, and look for something suitable in the compressor range as a long-term solution. The trend is definitely towards top-loading 2-compartment compressor systems, unsuited though that might be to your purpose.

    Anton Fourie
    Anton Fourie on

    Engel makes an upright fridge/freezer slightly bigger than your avalable opening, so fitting it might require some modifications. I’ve seen a Mitsubishi motorhome where a 40 liter Engel fridge/freezer was fitted on slides – it does project a bit into the limited living space though.

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