12V Fridge Freezers are a game changer

If you’ve never had a 12V Fridge or Freezer, I’m here to tell you that they are one of the single biggest improvements to your 4WD and camping setup, ever. They are literally a game changer.

We travel with an 85L Bushman Upright Fridge in the Dmax , and an 82L Evakool Fridge/Freezer in the camper trailer. In actual fact they can run as fridges or freezers (or both), but we’ve set them up this way for a number of reasons. Having a 12V fridge and freezer is a game changer, and allows us to camp in comfort for weeks at a time.

On a different note, we’ve written an Evakool Review for those who are interested!

A fridge in the 4WD is fantastic

One of the best accessories you can fit to your 4WD is a 12V fridge. No matter where you go, you always have the car nearest to you.

We use our car fridge a huge amount, and whilst on day trips out and about its great to be able to pull over, fold the table down and open the fridge, grabbing out what ever it is that you feel like eating.

I did consider having the freezer in the car, but it would be totally useless 95% of the time, and they use more power which means you need a bigger 12V electrical system to run it.

Evakool Fridge Freezer
Having a fridge and kitchen setup in your vehicle makes life so easy (our old setup)
Lunch on the table
Our new 85L Upright Fridge is another step in the right direction

You are better to run a fridge and freezer separately

The Fridge Freezer in our Reconn R2 is currently run as a fridge/freezer, in that about 35% of it is freezer space, and the other 60% is fridge. This is always a compromise, as its very hard to keep your fridge at fridge temperature, and your freezer at freezer temperature without some cross over.

If you put vegetables, or sensitive food in the fridge section close to the freezer, it will often freeze, and then it goes bad real quick.

The ideal scenario is to run two separate units, or a lot of new units are coming with splits in the middle and separate controls, which is brilliant. It’s so much more simple to have two units with one as a dedicated freezer, and the other a dedicated fridge. However, having both a fridge and a freezer makes it worth it, regardless. 

12V fridge
Splitting a fridge and freezer up never works well, off the same controls

Fridge and Freezer size

You can never have too much fridge or Freezer space (just watch your weights!). For a family of 3, we can just squeeze what we need into a 55L Evakool for a week. However, having an 82L on top of this is gold, and its not hard to be at 70+% capacity between the two units when travelling for longer periods.

Fridge space
On remote trips (especially for fishing) we take a third Engel unit

Getting a freezer

When we started camping in our 80 Series, we just had a single fridge in the back of the car.

The real game changer for us though, was when we decided to run a freezer in the camper trailer. Back then, this was in our soft floor camper trailer, and we ran a dedicated 55L Evakool Freezer. I had to do a substantial 12V electrical upgrade in order to run this, and we used the older of the two Evakools as the Freezer. This was partly because it had no digital thermostat, but also because it used less power.

The original design and build was done for Steep Point, where we spent 9 nights camped out at a fairly remote place; the western most point of Australian mainland. We brought back a fair bit of fish, and having frozen meals ready was fantastic for our little son in terms of easy meal preparation and overall enjoyment on the trip.

Since then, we’ve done a 3 month trip up north, where we prepared a vacuum sealed food, taking it with us in the freezer. We had ice cream, pasta sauces, various marinated meats, pre mate spaghetti bolognaise and a whole heap of other delicious food.

The freezer was completely full when we left (including a loaf of bread) and slowly emptied as we travelled. We bought more food along the way at the bigger places where it was cheaper, and froze it to have with us.

Vacuum packing food for the NT
Preparing food at home and throwing it in the freezer makes camping very easy

Having a freezer has made camping so much easier. When you are camping with a toddler things are tedious enough without having to prepare food from scratch every time. If we had a long day, we would simply pull out a bag of lovely home made pasta sauce, boil a pot of water and cook the pasta in, drop the bag of sauce into the water to warm it up, drain the lot and combine it.

One pot, one stove and literally about 10 minutes for some delicious home made pasta, or butter chicken, or soup, or what ever we chose to have. Of course, there were days where things were far cruisier, and then we’d pull out a chunk of pork, or a roast lamb and cook it over the fire from late in the afternoon.

The freezer has been brilliant; you can laugh at the fact that ice cream is a luxury, but the benefits of being able to take a fair bit of food with you has been fantastic for us, and I’m really happy with the way our electrical system is handling it.

Today, we get away with running a much smaller freezer (probably about 35 litres, but it does us just fine.

82L Evakool Fridge Freezer
Our Fridge Freezer, run as a split unit isn’t perfect, but it works!

If you’ve been considering adding a 12V Fridge or Freezer to your arsenal, they are a game changer. What do you use now?

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  1. Hey Graham,

    You are very welcome. Nice work with the yacht; sounds awesome. Good question, and one I’m not really sure of. If you were going for a fridge I’d recommend looking at the upright options. There’s a couple that stand out from the crowd; National Luna, Snomaster and Engel. If you literally live out of it, the expense is probably justified

    All the best

  2. Graham jacups says:

    Thanks for a good factual artical. I agree re freezer ,i live on a 43ft yacht i built in Sydney Harbour, i have run an old Engel 22 Litr always as a freezer ,freezing bricks i use in a eski, im upgrading in size to prob 75 L Freezer and use engel as fridge , i always have bricks in one end as a “cold sink” , im deciding which 75 to get , any ideas? thankd