No piece of gear is more important than your 12V caravan fridge. Except perhaps the caravan itself. So how do you know you’re making the right choice? It can be as simple as looking at the brand.
My Generator has tested caravan fridges for years (on our own adventures, as well as for our business) and during that time we’ve tried out a lot of well-designed, robust models. We could give you a rundown of all the fridges and their features. But if we had to tell you one of the key secrets to determining the right 12v caravan fridge for you, we’d say look at the brand first.
Here, our experts reveal the 12V caravan fridge brands that reign supreme:
If you’re looking for a portable 12V caravan fridge that ticks all the boxes, Waeco has it covered. Owned by Dometic, Waeco has the best all-rounders on the market. They’ve got all the details sorted, like built-in USB charging points or drop-down handles to create more space in your caravan. The latest Dometic Waeco CFX models even let your monitor the 12V caravan fridge remotely using your smartphone. They are also one of the few brands that have their own compressor running the fridge – and the famous Waeco compressor is built with the harsh Australian conditions in mind… many other caravan fridge brands use the same universal compressor from the likes of Secop (Danfoss). But Dometic are a market leader and their waeco compressor is designed for their fridges, so you get a nice synchronicity throught the design and operation of the whole fridge.
Even the best-laid adventures don’t always go to plan. So, in the event that something goes wrong, Dometic Waeco offers as much as a 5-year warranty for some portable fridge models, including its famous Waeco CFX models.
Aside from Seinfeld and Smells Like Teen Spirit, a few other good things came out of the 90’s. Evakool is one of them. It might have started small, but today this brand offers a humungous choice of 35-plus portable fridge models. And here’s the kicker – they’re awesome value for money.
The fibreglass models are worth a special mention. As Evakool’s premium offering, these 12v caravan fridges deliver exceptional insulation and performance, even in extreme heat. The fibreglass models reach low temperatures quicker than plastic cabinet fridges. They’re easy to clean and won’t absorb any smells – which makes them a good option for fishing trips. And camping, caravanning, 4WD trips…
The only downside? They’re a little bit more expensive and being fiberglass means that they are slightly easier to damage compared to the poly or metal cabinet fridges. If the fiberglass models are bit out of your budget, then check out the rest of Evakool’s portable fridge range – there are some great quality models at very reasonable prices.
When you’re talking about portable fridges, Bushman is as Aussie as they come. The 100% Australian owned family business have been around since 1982. This means they know how to make a seriously tough fridge for Australian conditions.
Check out the Original Bushman Portable Expandable Fridge 35L-52L. Firstly, it boasts tough features like; powder-coated steel cabinet and heavy duty anchor points and steel slip hinges. We have customers telling us their Bushman has served them for over 20 years! But most impressively, it is hugely versatile with the ability to run a smaller 35-litre fridge for your shorter trips, 52-litres for longer trips, and 45 litres for any adventures in the middle.
If you’re looking for a brand that has been manufacturing fridges for more than fifty years, then look no further than Engel! These fridges are built tough – most of the range have a rugged steel construction and they all feature their famous Sawafuji Swing Motor. This motor only has one moving part which is the reasoning behind their longevity! The Engel Digital Platinum Series and Digital Platinum Combi Series portable fridges are extremely popular with farmers, bush folk and campers due to their durability – they have a reputation to never die! All models come with a 3 year warranty and just like our other best brands, Engel is backed by a national service agent and spare parts support network.
There’s something very special about a global brand that designs products and some of their componentry especially for the Australian market. And that’s why we love Dometic Waeco. Unlike most brands who use a universal compressor, Dometic has built a compressor with the Aussie environment in mind. We’re talking about world-leading technology that is extremely efficient. For extra peace of mind, the company also offers a two-year warranty with its upright fridges.
Additional nice touches include their LED interior touch controls, reversible door hinges, and for their smaller models, you can remove the freezer compartment all together so the unit can run either entirely as a fridge, or as a freezer.
Evakool is another brand that knows how to build upright fridges for Australian conditions. Exhibit A: The Evakool Platinum series. This range of 12V caravan fridges delivers maximum cooling capacity in the harsh Australian environment. What’s their secret? We reckon it comes down to the incredibly thick insulation (walls up to 80mm thick). This is thicker than the other 12v caravan fridge brands, which helps the Evakool models operate in temperatures up to and above 45 degrees celsius!
On paper, you might say this brand is an outsider. After all, their fridges are made in Italy – what could they know about the Australian conditions? A lot, as it happens. Vitrifrigo fridges are especially good for marine exposure as well as RVs. They come with a built-in compressor and air-front operated lock so the door stays tightly sealed (this is a huge bonus on the road). Many of their models are stainless steel material, meaning you will pay a bit more for them.
You’re still covered if things go wrong too – Vitrifrigo Fridges are backed by the Camec national service agent and spare parts network.
Dometic delivers everything you need in a 3-way fridge. Probably because they’re the ones who pioneered the absorption technology back in 1922. But that hasn’t stopped them from continuing to pack them with even more high-performance features. Like the Automatic Energy Selection (AES), which means the refrigerator automatically selects the best energy source available, maximising efficiency. It doesn’t compromise on support either – Dometic fridges are of course backed by national service agent network.
If you want to run your caravan fridge on Gas, then a Dometic Absorption fridge is for you. Just note that whilst it can run on a 12/24v power source, it is only designed to do this whilst your vehicle is running. These absorption fridges are primarily designed to run on gas and can run for several weeks on a single 9kg gas bottle.
Thetford is the only other brand to measure up to Dometic in the 3-way market! Their absorption fridges are extremely popular in the Australian climate as they all are T Rated (tropical rating), meaning they are designed to work up to 43 degrees C! If you’re looking for a slim fridge to fit into your caravan or RV, then the Thetford N3141A, 3 Way Absorption Slimline Fridge may be for you! The fridge is only 418mm wide compared to the normal 525mm! The fridge however still boasts more than 140L! Just like Dometic, Thetford fridges are also designed to run on gas, and all models have a 3-year warranty.
What should you NOT choose?
Good question. While we can’t steer you away from specific brands, we can say this: always go for a 12v fridge brand that has a national service agent and spare parts support. Avoid no-name brands (like those on eBay), even if the price-tag is irresistibly low. They won’t be there for you if anything goes wrong, so you’ll end up paying more in the long run.
Check out our full range of market leading 12V caravan fridges HERE.