12V Freezer not freezing well

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that we are on the big lap of Australia, and have an 82L Evakool Fridge Freezer in our Hybrid camper that we run as a complete freezer, generally around the -15 degree mark. We left Perth with a very full freezer, ready to hit the road and stay away from the shops for a good couple of weeks.

After a big shop at Port Augusta, we headed into the Flinders Ranges, and a couple of days later I opened the freezer to find that most of what we’d purchased wasn’t frozen yet, and even worse, a whole heap of things that were frozen no longer were. The freezer was awfully full, and we’d shoved a heap of meat in to allow us 3 weeks comfortably in the Flinders Ranges, but it wasn’t looking promising.

Food shopping and packing
Packing a huge food shop into the Dmax and Camper

The first thing I did was drop the temperature to the lowest it would go, which was -20, and then we decided to only open it when we absolutely had to, which was generally once a day to get the evening meat out, or in the mornings if we wanted some frozen bread out for toast.

What followed was interesting; if I left the fridge out and in a nice ambient temperature (especially overnight when it was safe to do so), it would hit -20 and shut off. However, during the day, it would run all the time and by the end of the day, particularly if it was warm, it would be up at -15, and working its guts off.

Camper and Dmax
The front box of the camper gets really hot during the day

After two days though, I noticed things started to change; it would only go to -18 degrees during the day, and cycle on and off far more.

The learnings are simple

12V freezers are nothing like your home freezer

If you expect to buy a heap of meat and put it in your 12V freezer, and have it frozen within a few hours you are out of luck. 12V freezers are pretty amazing bits of gear, but they aren’t nearly as powerful as a freezer at home, and you should do your best to put frozen food in where possible.

82L Evakool Freezer full
You need to help 12V freezers along a lot more than you would at home

Keep the freezer cool

Where possible, you should be doing what you can to keep your freezer cool. Ours sits at the front of a black hybrid, and if its in the sun on a hot day can get seriously hot, which makes the compartment that the freezer in hot, and makes the unit run even harder.

The difference between a cold night and a hot day is chalk and cheese in the cycle times, and we do our best to slide the fridge out when its in shade, or open the hatch to let hot air out if possible.

Keep the freezer out
If you can, keep the freezer out where its cooler

Turn the temperature right down before, and after a shop

If you know you are going to put a heap of non frozen items in your freezer, you should be getting everything inside as cold as possible prior to the shop, and then leaving it as cold as it can go until everything is completely frozen.

Think of the items in your freezer as a battery; by chilling them right down you are maximising the stored energy, and your freezer has to work less hard to get everything else to the same temperature.

Buying in bulk isn’t always a good idea

Unfortunately for us, we didn’t have much of a choice, but we could have purchased less non frozen meat and we would have had much less of a problem. Sarah’s suggesting that we buy some meat at each shop, so its not a giant shock load when we go shopping.

Stocking the camper and car up
We’ll be more careful about how much meat we purchase in one go

We love our freezer

We’re really happy to be able to have a big freezer with us, and its working really well. We keep frozen vegetables, meat, a few loaves of bread, hash browns, chicken nuggets, pre cooked meals, some Icey poles, blue berries and other random bits and pieces, and it makes our travels much cheaper, more convenient and easier. We’ll just be a bit more cautious when shopping, so we don’t have a heap of food unfreeze next time!

Portable fridge
The freezer is hugely valued for our travels, and we’ll learn from this!

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