by Dragostin Lazarov February 25, 2023
Are you looking for the best van life fridge? There are a lot of options on the market and this article will help you choose the right refrigerator for your van. This article will cover only 12 volt compressor fridges. 110V fridges are cheaper but they need a lot of power. You will have to run your inverter and it will drain your house batteries faster. This is why 12 volt fridges are better. They are more expensive but way more efficient for a van conversion or a bus build. It is worth it to spend a little more pennies to save on power consumption in the long run. They are easier to install and they don’t need a lot of solar power. You can run them 24/7 without any problems. There are multiple door opening options and you will have to make a choice.
The upright refrigerator is my personal choice because the door opens from the front like a residential fridge. The food is more accessible and you can see everything inside by opening the door. It's the only option that makes you feel like home and it's easier to find what you’re looking for inside.
A chest style fridge opens from the top like a cooler. You have to load your food from the top and it will be harder to access the stuff that is at the bottom. The chest style refrigerator is very easy to install and doesn’t take a lot of space in your van. You can set it on heavy duty drawer slides or buy a slider for a specific model. It is available as a single zone or a dual zone fridge. You will have to get a dual zone chest fridge if you want a freezer compartment. This product is small, versatile and portable. Therefore, it is not the most practical option.
A drawer refrigerator can be a great option for your campervan conversion. It looks exactly like an upright fridge but opens from the front as a drawer.
These refrigerators are very popular in Canada. They are quiet and they are made to last. They have a built-in freezer compartment and come with a black front panel. The door panel is replaceable to fit your van's design. You have multiple options and sizes from 68 liter capacity to 100 liter capacity. Nova Kool offers a lot of voltage options: DC only (12 and 24 volt) and AC/DC. A 12 volt setup is ideal for a campervan conversion and the R3100 87 liter model would be a perfect fit.
Nova Kool R2600 68 liter Refrigerator / Freezer
Nova Kool R3000 70 liter Refrigerator / Freezer
Nova Kool R3100 87 liter Refrigerator / Freezer
Nova Kool R3800 100 liter Refrigerator / Freezer
This refrigerator is built to increase efficiency and offer great performance. The door is rock solid, very well insulated and easily reversible from left to right. It has adjustable shelves and the tall bottles can stand upright. It has a small freezer compartment. It is quite small but it does the job! You can easily install this fridge to your 12 volt circuit. It can support AC and DC current. You have multiple options and sizes from 49 liter capacity to 130 liter capacity. My number one choice would be the Isotherm Cruise Elegance 85 liter model. It has a good compact size and is perfect for a van conversion. It is quiet and energy efficient.
Isotherm Cruise Elegance 49 liter Refrigerator / Freezer
Isotherm Cruise Elegance 65 liter Refrigerator / Freezer
Isotherm Cruise Elegance 85 liter Refrigerator / Freezer
Isotherm Cruise Elegance 130 liter Refrigerator / Freezer
The Dometic CRX fridge series are very energy efficient and perfect for your solar power setup. You can control the temperature and the compressor speed with the integrated soft touch control panel. They are very quiet and automatically adjust to the ambient temperature. The interior is well organized with shelves and a separate fruits / vegetables compartment. They offer multiple sizes and options from 50 liter to 140 liter capacity.
Dometic CRX 50U
Dometic CRX 65U
Dometic CRX 110S
Dometic CRX 140S
The Dometic CFX3 55 is an electric cooler with an integrated ice maker while the Dometic CFX75 Dual Zone has a separate freezer compartment. You can set each side to a different temperature via the CFX3 phone app. These 2 fridges are very convenient and compact. They can easily fit in your van, installed on heavy duty drawer slides or as counter space. They both have strong aluminium alloy handles for transportation.
Dometic CFX3 75DZ Refrigerator / Freezer
Dometic CFX3 55 Refrigerator
These portable fridges have a versatile door that can be easily opened from each side. They have an integrated USB plug for charging your phone. They are compact and will fit perfectly in a small van or bus. You could use them as extra counter space if you don’t have a lot of space in your van. The VL60 ProS can be used as a fridge or a freezer.
ICECO VL45 ProS
ICECO VL60 ProS
The ICECO VL75 ProD comes with a versatile lid that can be opened from each side without removing it. You can use it as a fridge and freezer at the same time. You can also shut down one of the zones and use it as a single zone fridge or freezer. It has a 75 liter capacity.
The ICECO VL60 Dual Zone has been built to resist impacts and survive the apocalypse. It comes with an insulated protective cover, steel handles, ultra solid corner-cap and durable paint shell. This fridge has a 3-level battery protection and it can work at a 40° tilt angle. It is perfect for those off-road extreme vanlifers! You can control the temperature of each zone and set it as a whole fridge or a whole freezer. It has a 60 liter capacity.
ICECO VL75 ProD
ICECO VL60 Dual Zone
This fridge/freezer has two zones. The freezer compartment uses only one quarter of the space. You can separately control each zone’s temperature. This portable fridge has a solid case and removable wire baskets in every compartment. It could be a great option for your van conversion.
Whynter FM-62DZ 62 Quart Dual Zone
This drawer style fridge is a luxurious option for your van. It has a sliding door and an integrated drawer. You can control the temperature with a turn knob like a residential fridge and it has a large freezer. The Dometic CD 50 offers 47 liters of storage in a very compact design. Perfect for a small space.
Dometic CD 50
The Isotherm Drawer fridge comes in two options: 85 liter and 130 liter capacity. Both models have a stainless steel door and high storage capacity. They have a bottle rack on the main counter door. The storage space is very well organized with two inner drawers and a large drawer freezer compartment. You won’t be disappointed by these top quality fridges and they are worth the extra pennies.
Isotherm DR 85 Inox
Isotherm DR 130 Inox
If you're still reading this article, maybe you didn't find exactly what you were looking for. There are some other brands that could offer you the camper van refrigerator of your dreams:
As I said earlier, an upright fridge would be the most convenient option for a van. The stuff inside is easily accessible and it makes you feel just like at home. I would go with the Nova Kool R3800 100 liter Refrigerator / Freezer. We love to cook in our converted school bus and 100 liters is enough space to last for a couple of days. We like to carry a lot of fresh ingredients that need to stay cool and it is easier when you don’t need to go get groceries every two days. Nova Kool offers a fair price and their product suits our needs perfectly. If we had a smaller van, a portable refrigerator would be an excellent choice. I would go with a dual zone fridge because having a freezer in our van is a must.
In my opinion, 12 volt compressor refrigerators are the best for a campervan conversion. They are energy efficient, can fit in a small space and do not draw a lot of power. Most vans have an off grid electrical system with solar panels. Those fridges are simple to install to your electrical system and you can run them all day without any problems. They are more expensive than other types of campervan fridges but they are more convenient in the long run. It is a very good investment.
If you are looking for something different, you could check out absorption refrigerators, propane fridges and DC 110 volt fridges. To power a propane fridge you will need to carry a propane tank and refill it very often. It will get expensive over time. If you want a normal residential fridge, you will have to upgrade your electrical system to be able to run your inverter all the time. These options are totally possible but more expensive and tricky to install.
Having a fridge in your campervan is very important. Plan your van conversion wisely and leave enough space for the refrigerator that suits you the best!
Happy travels and see you on the road!
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