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Essential guide to buying a 12v fridge

After a tough day tackling a dusty corrugated track, who wouldn’t enjoy an ice cold beer? But how to keep it cool? Anyone who has travelled for more than a weekend knows that a cool box is no use. After a couple of days, it will become nothing more than a storage box filled with soggy contents and melted ice slopping around the bottom. If you’re on a longer expedition, then a 12v fridge is an essential piece of kit for keeping your food fresh and beer cold. Unless you’re going to the Arctic in winter. (I’ll tell you a story about that one day). A 60 litre chest fridge will consume half of the back seat. They’re heavy, need securing and are incredibly expensive so you want to choose the right one for you and your vehicle. With so many models on the market, when you’re buying a 12v fridge, knowing which one is right for you can be a challenge.

Essential guide to buying a 12v fridge

In an article by Unsealed 4×4, Australia’s premier off road magazine, Evan Spence provides an essential guide of things to look for when buying a 12v fridge:

1: Reputable Compressor:Don’t expect them all to be created equally.
2: Decent Insulation: Better insulation results in less stress on the compressor.
3: Tie Down Points: Sounds silly, but fridges are heavy and should be secured.
4: Low Voltage Protection: Save your battery from being overly discharged.
5: Quality Internal Seals: Again, simple stuff, but cold air in a fridge is good.
6: Included Accessories: If the fridge needs a transit bag, it should be included.
7: Power: The ability to run a fridge on mains 240V and 12V is really handy.
8: Warranty: Decent warranty means the manufacturer backs its product.
9: Drain Plug: Look for an easily accessible drain plug (larger the better!).
10: Spare Parts: Things do go wrong, so parts backup is vital.


Essential reading: Van life kitchen essentials we won’t travel without


12v fridge reviews

This same article provides a comparison of 10 of the “coolest” fridges around. A few of these 12v fridges are available in the UK. The ARBs, Engels, Waeco’s and National Luna can be bought from the usual UK 4X4 suppliers; others can be bought by mail order from Australia. Regardless, the article is a good read and will give you some useful insight when you’re deciding on which 12v fridge is right for you. After all, I reckon on the Australians being the world experts and most demanding off road audience for cold beers at the end of a hot day!

Where have you had your coolest beer?

Where have you had your coolest beer on your overland travels? Let us know and send us some photos.

You can read the full article here:

Buying a 12v Fridge

Featured Photo Credit: Marjan Lazarevski

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