In his wonderful book, Chris is pretty clear about taking a fridge to Africa: you don't really need one and if you decide that you do, take an Engel. These things don't come cheap and I 've found out that the second-hand market for them is impressively shallow i.e. forget it.
Since I don't like my beer luke-warm, I've looked into other fridges and come across Waeco. These are available second-hand and I wonder if anyone has any experience with Waeco fridges?
I have used a Waeco fridge on short desert trips here in the Emirates. It worked best if you plugged it into the mains overnight and left your drinks inside to pre-cool. I found that if you placed drinks at room temperatures inside it during the day, they didn't get particularly cool.
However, please bear in mind that this was in the height of the Emirates summer (i.e. 50 Degrees plus in the desert) and my vehicle did not have a second battery, so I couldn't leave it in the car with the fridge running when I stopped the engine. With a second battery and a power connection not through the ignition, it may perform better.
Middle East Off-Roader
Sorry, I also use an Engel (bought in Australia, so cheaper)(and swear by it!), but:
Using a less power efficient unit is not so important when used in conjunction with a solar panel (you can get a reasonable sized unit (about 1m by 40cm) for approx £120). Email me for details...
This saves your battery in a big way. Other cunning plans:
Fill any air space in the fridge with paper
Park vehicle in shade (or ensure that fridge side is 'down-sun'.
Try and keep airflow moving through the car when stationary.
If winter travelling, keep a few bottles of water in the fridge. Just before going to bed, take them out and put them on bonnet etc. Come dawn, grab them (now nice and cold) and pop them back in your fridge. This little daily chore is REALLY effective.
You can even save yourself loads of money, because this technique is fairly effective just with a 'pic-nic' style coolbox.
Don't forget about putting your beer/coke cans in a wet sock - free, and also good.
Finally, have a really good think before opening the box/fridge during the day - you lose loads of 'cool' very quickly!
Became a bit of a fridge-o-maniac during 5 months in the desert in Australia!!
PS If you want ice in your Gin and tonic, you need an Engel, otherwise you don't.
I have to agree with above. We've also got an Engel 29lt and was worth every penny. (even if we could have got it £300 cheeper later) Ours is now about 5 years old, looks a bit battered and dusty but still performs great. You can even freeze stuff if you need. I'm not surprised that you'll find it difficult to buy 2nd Hand- they are useful for travelling and for visits to the shops. We did find there is a huge price difference so shop arround. Avoid the expedition shops, Boat yards were cheaper and if you have any contacts in South Africa you could save several hundred pounds.
We met loads of people with Halfords and similar £70 fridges on our travels, OK for the UK but they just pack up after a few days in a hot country so its dead money.
I run with a minus 40 bought at a great discount in the UK (ex demo model)
but import direct from south africa
Minus 40 - 40 litre is about 4500 rand
But the rand is 18 to the pound so 250 quid - can't even buy a caravan fridge for that, I have some contacts if your interested - just email me direct
Thanks for all your help and advice guys!
Sam's suggestion to take solar power has been on my mind for a while. And started to puzzle me a bit. Especially if you're not moving (not sure how often this would happen) a solar unit would have to cover your total daily energy consumption. Next, your batteries would have to have sufficient storage capacity.
To properly set up a little system, you would start by calculating your daily need and this is where I get a bit puzzled: what is the 24 hour consumption of a compressor fridge? Does it (need to) run for 24h/d and does it run at 10/20/30% of rated power assuming temperatures of say 30C/15C daytime/nighttime?
If all you were running was the fridge and assuming it ran for 24h at 20% of rated power of 50W would imply a daily usage of 240Wh. With a 24V system that works out to 10 amps. Looking at solar systems currently available that's pretty hefty for just a fridge.
Wonder if any of the above is making sense?
I've had my Indel Fridge for 5 years now. Its been very good and keeps all I put in it cold, even in the Sahara. I think it was about £300 back in '97. They were (2000 Billing show) imported by BUKL Diesel in Poole, Dorset 01202 668840. You will ned a split charge system and a good deep cycle battery though. A 240 volt battery charger is a good idea too, as an alternator will not fully recharge the aux batt. Charge it up occasionally when you're in civilisation. Like Sam's tips! I'll implement a few of those myself.
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