Buying a fridge for your motorhome is, quite frankly, a great idea. The first time you uncork that cool bottle of chardonnay, uncap a frosty beer or add fresh, uncurdled milk to your tea or coffee you’ll be glad you made the investment. Travelling in even cooler countries warrants the use of a fridge or cooler. Your food lasts longer and tastes better - plus, if you choose the right design, they needn’t impact space or energy consumption too much.
This guide to choosing the best fridge for your motorhome will give you all the information you need to make the right choice for you and your fellow travellers. We’ll look at important considerations when choosing your motorhome fridge, the types of campervan fridges available and who they would suit. Finally, we’ll recommend a few of the best products out there right now.
Important considerations when choosing your motorhome fridge
Here are some questions to answer before you begin your research. This will ensure you have a clear idea of the best product for you and your vehicle.
- How much money do you have to spend?
- What is the available space on board?
- How big do you want your fridge to be?
- How often will you use it and for what sort of products? This will help you work out the dimensions you need. If you will be using it mainly for short trips, a smaller version, between 10 and 45 litres should suffice. For longer trips, or larger groups, you might want to consider a 50 litre or more campervan fridge.
- Do you want a fridge/freezer or just a fridge?
- How will you be powering your fridge? Will you be mainly off-grid or able to power your fridge at mains hookups?
- Will you be mainly camping on flat ground or have levelling blocks?
The different types of motorhome fridges
Once you have a clear idea of your requirements, you can get to grips with the types of campervan fridges on offer.
Compressor fridges are the kind you have in your kitchen at home, though for obvious reasons, not as powerful. You can run these campervan fridges through a 12V battery or 240/110v mains power with an inverter. Compressor fridges operate using an electricity-powered compressor unit. If you choose to run your fridge through an inverter you should be aware that up to half the energy could be wasted. Compressor fridges don’t need to be on level ground to work, making them ideal for people who travel regularly or might be on uneven terrain.
Compressor fridges would suit travellers who: Want a fridge that is easy to maintain, is energy-efficient (with the 12V version), who don’t mind a little background noise and have a bit of money to spend.
Thermoelectric coolers are on the cheaper end of the scale. These campervan fridges run on 12V and during travel can draw from your motorhome or tow vehicle’s accessory outlet, using the engine, alternator and battery for current. Thermoelectric coolers don’t get to very cold temperatures so are better for keeping things fresh rather than frosty. Some versions can also keep your food warm, so great for those take-out curry leftovers.
Thermoelectric coolers would suit travellers who: Aren’t looking for a particularly energy-efficient model but would like a budget-friendly, quiet fridge with the option to use the fridge outside the vehicle too.
Also known as 3 way absorption fridges due to their ability to be powered by gas, 12v or mains (240v/110v). Instead of relying on a compressor, a 3 way fridge uses a gas flow heat exchange system in the back of the fridge. So, they remove the heat rather than create the cold. 3 way absorption fridges are far more energy-efficient when running off gas than 12V.
These motorhome fridges are quiet and it’s great to have the flexibility of different power supplies. However, they do require a bit more maintenance than other products. They need to be installed to the right standards with proper ventilation and require regular servicing by professionals. They also need to be level to work.
3 way absorption fridges would suit travellers who: Can prioritise using gas or mains power and either usually camp on level ground or carry levelling blocks. People who don’t mind committing to a bit more upkeep.
Top loading/chest fridge or front loading fridges? Which is best for motorhome travellers?
As with your fridge at home, motorhome fridges are available in top loading or chest designs.
Top loading fridges can be a pain if you want to store items on top of it or above them. Top loaders are more energy-efficient though you have the age-old problem of the item you want always being at the bottom.
Front loading fridges are far easier to organise though make sure your door is securely shut during transit! These models can be a bit more tricky to get good deals on, but if your heart is set on a front loading fridge, it’s worth shopping around.
Recommendations for motorhome fridges
Great motorhome fridge for space-saving
The Dometic Waeco CD-30 Drawer Fridge
The Dometic Waeco CD-30 Drawer Fridge is a fantastic buy for people with smaller campervans or those who simply want to devote space to other items. It usually retails at around £760 (though there were a few good deals in the sale at the time of writing) so it’s pretty good value and consistently gets great reviews. The Dometic Waeco CD-30 is energy-efficient and has a capacity of 30 litres which isn’t bad when you see how easily it tucks away. It is run from either 12v and 24v DC and cools between -2 °C and +12 °C depending on ambient temperatures.
Find out more about the Dometic Waeco CD-30 Drawer Fridge.
Great motorhome fridge for energy-efficiency
The Dometic Coolmatic CRX80
Another great product from Dometic, the Coolmatic CRX80 has a low energy consumption (0.34kWh at 25°C), so it can be used with solar panels. This front loading campervan fridge is pretty big with 78 litres of space in the fridge section. Plus, there is a removable freezer compartment offering 7.5 litres of additional storage. The fan speed automatically adjusts to the ambient temperature making it nice and quiet. The shelves can be configured in a variety of ways and it has separate baskets and a bottle holder.
Prices at the time of writing were between £550 and nearly a thousand pounds so it’s certainly worth shopping around for the best deal.
Find out more about the Dometic Coolmatic CRX80.
I don’t know about you but I am now thoroughly in the mood to pitch-up in front of a glorious view and enjoy a cold beer. When you have decided on your ideal campervan fridge it's important to keep it working at its most efficient. As with your fridge at home, you should always keep it loaded, even if that means filling the space with a shoebox or similar.
Try to buy your food and drink directly from the shop’s cooler to give your fridge less work, keep the door closed and open slowly when you need it. Above all else, keep it stocked with lovely treats for you and your group to enjoy on your travels. Once you get a new fridge, you might want to revamp the rest of your motorhome kitchen.
Motorhome fridges are an excellent investment, but they don’t come cheap. If you want to offset the cost of your new canopy, why not hire out your motorhome to trusted Goboony customers? Find out more.