Everything You Need to Know about Portable Fridges

Whether you’re a humble weekend camper or you’re caravanning around Australia, portable fridges are a fantastic camping accessory that will make your experience far more comfortable and convenient. Once you’ve had your first taste of a portable fridge, you’ll never go back to the esky and ice setup! Available in a range of sizes to suit all occasions, portable fridges are typically powered from your 4WD’s 12V electrical system but can also be solar powered and plugged in at powered campsites. Not only do they make your food and drinks nice and chilled, but you don’t have to worry about dipping your hand in the foul stench of your esky’s tepid water ever again!

Although they are obviously more expensive than esky and ice, portable fridges are ideal for those wishing to camp for extended periods of time. If you’re interested in purchasing a portable fridge for your camping setup, today we’ll be discussing the various factors which should be taken into consideration so you make a well-informed decision.


The size of your portable fridge is very important as the bigger the size, the more vehicle space is needed to transport your fridge and the more power it consumes. You also need to decide whether you want a freezer compartment or not as this generally takes up a fair bit of space too. Weekend campers can get away with a 40 – 50 litre fridge for two to three people, but those on a month long caravanning trip will ideally want something larger (around 65 litre). On the other hand, if you want to keep your costs down and only pack light with condensed milk and canned veggies, you can easily get away with a 25 – 35 litre fridge.

Types of fridges

There are two types of portable fridges, two-way and three-way. Where two-way fridges are powered by electricity, three-way fridges give you the option of being powered by gas or electricity. Both types of fridges have advantages and disadvantages which be discussed in the following section.

  • Two-way fridge

Similar to the fridge you have at home, two-way fridges are categorised by having a compressor which can run on both 12V and 240V outlets (and solar power). They are designed to be used with your 4WD’s electrical system without drawing too much current, however they will require regular battery charging. They aren’t designed for extended camping or caravanning trips but they do maintain good performance even in hot 4WDs and can be positioned on uneven surfaces.

  • Three-way fridge

Rather than having a compressor, three-way fridges can be powered by 12V, 240V, and LPG using gas flow heat exchangers. Three-way fridges generally don’t perform as well as two-way fridges as they draw more current, require decent ventilation, and must be positioned on even surfaces. Despite this, they are quieter than two-way fridges and can be used on extended camping trips as one LPG cylinder will last for several weeks.

Additional features

Now that you have an idea of the different sizes and types of portable fridges, some additional factors to consider include:

  • Reputable brands are typically better as they have a longer warranty and spare parts are easily accessible
  • Fridges with better insultation generally use less power (fibreglass is best, followed by plastic then metal)
  • Look for a robust fridge that has a strong cover and durable hinges to withstand rocky outback roads
  • With two-way fridges, good quality compressors are vital for longevity so look for brands such as Waeco, SECOP, or Sawa Fuji
  • Consider models with a dual battery system that has inbuilt battery protection
  • Consider the heat of your vehicle and airflow as these two factors will influence how much current is drawn to power your fridge. Good airflow is the key to a well-functioning fridge
  • Ensure you have the correct connector for your 4WD
  • Look for features such as a thermometer and the ability to set your fridge at a specific temperature

For those who like extending camping or caravanning trips, portable fridges are a terrific accessory that keeps your meat, veggies, and drinks cold for weeks on end. Keep in mind that there are numerous factors which must be considered when purchasing a portable fridge and generally the more you pay, the better the fridge.

For a range of portable fridges along with expert advice, get in touch with the specialists at TJM Australia by phoning their staff on 07 3865 9999.

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