The best way to power a camping fridge/freezer
Taking your 12v fridge/freezer with you when you're camping or enjoying a picnic can elevate your trip to the next level. As well as keeping food and drinks fresh and cold in any weather, it means the health-conscious or those with dietary restrictions don't have to compromise their food choices when out and about. It also enables you to indulge in more sophisticated foods without worrying about them being spoiled.
A 12v fridge/freezer can help facilitate families or the budget-conscious to keep the cost of a camping holiday under control by enabling you to bring a range of healthy and nutritious homemade dishes with you. Not to mention - as anyone who's been on a fishing holiday will attest - there's no better way to store your catch-of-the-day than with a dependable camping fridge/freezer.
The great thing about fridges/freezers designed for camping is you're not restricted to accessing mains power. There are many ways you can power a camp fridge in your car while still enjoying your favourite off the grid camping, fishing or picnic spot.
Choosing the best way to power a camping fridge comes down to how often you will be using it. If you're going to use it in short bursts (e.g. one to two nights or a weekend), the energy demands won't be as high as what you'd need if regularly disappear off the grid for a more extended stay.
For longer getaways, having a dual power supply (commonly known as a dual-battery system) is vital. However, no matter what your usage, there are some hassle-free solutions for every situation.
One of the first solutions for powering a camp fridge that comes to most people's minds is a portable generator, especially if you need to power more than just a camp fridge. The downside of a portable generator is they usually require their own fuel source, they can be noisy and there are many places - national parks, in particular - where generators are flat-out banned from use.
If you're a weekend or short-term camper and decide a generator is the way to go, ensure the unit you choose can supply enough energy for your campsite's needs. You should also consider its size, fuel requirements and decibel readings (the quieter, the better, so you won't be upsetting your fellow campers and disturbing the serenity).
For many people, the best way to power a camp fridge is battery power.
While a huge range of portable camping fridges and freezers come with AC/DC power connections, they also have 12-volt power adapters (12v), which make it easy to power your fridge via your car or 4WD's battery. In this day and age, most vehicles - especially 4WDs - are equipped with a number of 12v power sockets. For older makes of cars, the cigarette lighter socket will be just as sufficient.
When you connect via a 12v cigarette lighter socket, the fridge will be kept chilled by the car's battery while you drive. But here's the rub: Once the engine is switched off, it will keep drawing power from the car, meaning you could inadvertently end up with a flat battery. A battery isolator switch is a great tool for avoiding this situation.
Many campers refuse to leave home without packing an auxiliary or deep cycle battery in their vehicle. These types of batteries are dedicated solely to providing 12v energy when you're camping, so you don't run the risk of draining your car or boat's battery and being left stranded when it's time to head home. You just need to ensure the battery is charged to capacity before leaving home, and that it's regularly checked and cleaned when not in use.
Many people consider using solar energy as the best way to power a camping fridge. This might seem extravagant but there are affordable solar panels and solar blankets capable of powering a wide range of appliances beyond your camping fridge.
Many solar panel kits store flat when not in use, which means you don't have to compromise on the amount of room you have in your car, caravan or 4WD. For many campers, solar makes a great complementary energy source to mains and battery power for that extra peace of mind.
Power saving tips
While there are great fuss-free ways to power your camp fridge, there are also some handy tips you can employ to reduce your fridge's workload. No matter what the weather, you can still enjoy icy cold drinks and tasty, nutritious food without running the risk of draining your main energy source and leaving you and your family in a potentially hazardous situation.
Making sure your camping fridge/freezer has a reliable seal is a great energy-saving measure. Because the seal literally seals in the cold, it helps ensure the fridge stays colder for longer, meaning you don't need to keep it connected to your car battery as a power source for extended periods of time.
Putting items into your fridge pre-chilled will ensure the contents of your fridge stay colder for longer without the need to be continually running power to it. Additionally, good ventilation is important to reducing your fridge's energy use. The compressor in a fridge produces heat, so make sure there's plenty of space for this heat to escape from your fridge. More ventilation results in better efficiency.
Wherever possible, keep your fridge in the shade and out of direct sunlight.
Powering a camping fridge sensibly and according to your camping needs are important for people who want to enjoy a range of camping experiences beyond a powered campsite.
Ensuring you have enough power to run your fridge/freezer without draining your car, boat or 4WD's battery is important, and there are a number of ways to power your camping fridge without compromising access to fresh, healthy and nutritious food (or breaking the bank) across the entirety of your secluded camping adventure.