Caravans make great little homes away from home, and most people like their homes to include refrigerators. That means buying a caravan fridge. Since fridges do not last as long as caravans do, even if the caravan comes with a fridge, eventually the user has to buy a new fridge. Shopping for a new refrigerator is not particularly complex, but does involve a couple of important choices. A fridge that does not work right, or one that uses too much energy, can really cause a problem on holiday. Making sure the fridge can fit in the caravan, and choosing a fridge that is easy to operate and has power supply options that work with the users' holiday plans, can help buyers make an informed choice.
Caravan fridges come in several sizes and several different basic types. Which type is the best depends largely on how the owners plan to use the caravan. People who like staying in established caravan pitches, for example, do not need to rely on battery power, so they do not need to consider how their fridge affects battery life. Size and ease of use are also important considerations.
There are two basic types of caravan fridge: three-way absorption fridges andcompressor fridges. Absorption fridges lack a compressor and instead have evaporating ammonia as a cooler. Both types can run on either 12V battery power or a 240V electrical hook-up. Absorption fridges can also run on gas power.
Compressor fridges need much lower running current, which means that after the machine starts up it needs very little power to keep going. For this reason, they are a good choice for extended stays outdoor. However, even a compressor fridge still needs a lot of electricity. Absorption fridges can use gas; therefore, users can take the fridges off the electrical system, which saves battery power where solar power is not an option. Some three-way absorption fridges switch power supplies automatically. Remember never to run the fridge in gas mode while the caravan is in motion.
It is always a good idea to choose the smallest fridge capable of meeting the buyer's needs. Not only does a small fridge use less power than a larger one, but a full fridge uses less power than an empty fridge of the same size. It is always possible to supplement with a cooler, for occasions when there is a lot of extra stuff to keep cold, but there is no way to make a fridge shrink. Err on the side of too small. A smaller fridge is also much easier to move when it wears out.
For maximum efficiency, make sure that the fridge ventilation and insulation are appropriate. Not all caravan fridges come with enough insulation, so the buyer might have to add extra insulation. Consider getting a top-loading fridge; cold air sinks, so when a standard side-opening fridge is open, the cold air falls out the door and warm air rushes in to replace it. Top-loading fridges contain cold air much better. It is a good idea to add a thermometer, if the fridge does not come with one, since power supply type and outside temperature can change how cold the fridge can get. Food not kept cold enough goes bad faster and can presents a health risk. For safety, the fridge needs to be below five degrees Celsius, or bacteria can begin to grow.
A second aspect of efficiency is how easy the fridge is to operate. Some fridges have their controls on the bottom, forcing the user to kneel down to switch power modes or temperature settings. Kneeling down is easy for some users, but difficult for others. Some fridges change modes automatically, which some users find more convenient.
While absorption fridges do use more power than compressor fridges and take longer to cool down fully, they have the advantage of running silently. Silence is a definite advantage while the caravan users are trying to sleep. Absorption fridges also contain no freon or other ozone-depleting chemicals. They are more popular as caravan fridges because they can use gas instead of electricity.
If an absorption fridge stops working or does not work well, the first thing to try is to switch the power mode. Usually, the problem is specific to just one mode and switching modes helps isolate what has gone wrong. Often, the problem is that the gas system has plugged up or has developed a leak somewhere. The owner can clean the plugs, but more complex repair requires a licensed professional. Installation problems sometimes lead to poor ventilation and overheating. Attaching a small fan can help. The owner needs to turn older absorption fridges upside down for a few minutes to get them working again, but this is not necessary with modern fridges and attempting it could damage the machine.
New and used caravan fridges are available on eBay, often at good prices. To browse the listings, do a basic search for caravan fridges. Alternatively, use the Advanced Search feature to look for a specific model. For the best prices of the day, try eBay Deals. For any questions, use the contact link on the seller's profile page. The profile page also lists the seller's feedback score and return policy.
Caravanning is a lifestyle that includes not just the freedom of the open road but also the responsibility of maintaining the caravan itself. Looking after the camper and its components, such as the fridge, takes some getting used to, but before long it becomes part of the fun.