The campervan fridge is set at 3 degrees and is working fine but, despite it being May, it is actually slightly colder outside! So, the beers will sit out there this evening while I bask under the Eberspacher heater to warm up. Yes, it is varnishing time in Scotland and it will pose the usual climatic challenges. I’m staying in the van because you are not allowed to stay on the boat while it is in the shed. As it happens the boat wasn’t able to go in the shed this week but that is another story. But its not all bad news, there’s not a midge to be seen!
I’ve never had a fridge on the boat and probably never will. Apart from the fact I don’t have any spare power to run it, I also don’t really need it. The boat, being made of wood, has a very stable temperature with the great added advantage that the bilges are water cooled – generally from the outside but not always! I also have stainless steel water tanks under each saloon berth. The top of the tanks provide a cool flat surface for dairy products and salads. The bilges are obviously full of beer when coastal cruising but we restrict ourselves to water sacks when offshore. Even in the Caribbean I didn’t feel the urge to need a fridge.
Vans are rather different. In the summer, if you leave it locked up, the temperature will soar. Luckily our van is pale coloured, we were strongly warned against dark colours when we were researching what to buy. There is no cool bilge nor any stainless water tanks, so a fridge is much more tempting.
We bought a very small Dometic CF 11 fridge freezer. It will fit between the front seats if we want and the lid is strong enough to stand on, which is handy for getting up top. As it happens, we prefer to keep it just behind the passenger seat. It uses very little power and will freeze things if we want. It has a 10.5 L capacity and will hold a small milk bottle, a slab of butter, some bacon and cheese, a litre of fruit juice and some sausages or suchlike. Just enough for a weekend. It has a shoulder strap so in theory you could take it on a picnic or indeed you could take it to the boat. It weighs 8.5 kg though when it is empty, so don’t try anything too ambitious.
Most people with campervans seem to choose bigger fridges which they store under the shelf at the rear (VW Californias). Some Norwegians who are keen on fishing have a really big fridge to freeze their catch and keep them fed on long trips. Many people use a solar panel to power their fridges, this makes a lot of sense because when the sun is out is when you tend to need the fridge. Each to their own. The Dometic CF11 will run off 240 V AC or 12 V DC.
Beware of cheap fridges which draw a lot of power. The Dometic CF11 will cost about £500.00. Ours is about two years old, lets see how long it lasts.