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A fridge test, battery power consumption comparison between a household 240 volt 140 litre bar fridge, and a 12 volt 140 litre Waeco fridge, for camping.
Article by Val Rigoli ©, free advice freely given, my personal thoughts and advice gathered from in-excess of 45 years of practical hands-on experience, learned skills, and industry knowledge. Please check out my other informative articles too >> found here<<

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Please note this test and article was first done (in 2003) as a reply to a question on the Motorhomes Australia forum,
so if it reads a little strange, well that's part of the reason :-)

Updated**NOTE Please**  this test was done back in January 2003, now because of improvements in fridge efficiency over the years, this article may no longer be a true reflection of what you would find today if you were to do the test using more modern fridges.

For instance, now 'some' of the new larger household 150L plus fridges can be much more efficient, they can be a very viable fitting in a caravan or motorhome, as long as you buy a new one with the
*new* star rating of 3.5 or better, and run them through a quality 12V to 240V PSW inverter.
They can be much less expensive (including the inverter), and often more efficient (will use less of your batteries than a 12V compressor fridge).
Just take into account that most of these newer 240v (household type) fridges have their condensers built into their side walls, so the sides may need some clearance for cooling.

**However, the smaller bar fridges like the domestic 240V household fridge tested here have not improved much at all, and are still not a good choice for camper/caravan/motorhome unless you have heaps of solar, or go to mains powered sites most nights.

On that note, just how crazy super cheap are solar panels these days, it may be well worth while covering your whole roof with solar, you know that it is a fact that you can never ever have too much solar :-) 

By the way, if you are paying more than $1 per Watt when buying your solar, you are paying too much, so please do your research and do not get ripped off!

Hi Folks,

I have completed my comparison testing of two 140 Litre fridges, one a 240 volt domestic type running through an inverter, and the other a 12 volt unit.

Well the question has been asked many times, can I buy a cheaper household (domestic) fridge for my motorhome/caravan etc and run it through an inverter?

And the answer is yes you can, but you have to ask the question, will it really save you money?

Now to understand the reason that someone would want to do this is simple, a 12/240 volt fridge made for motorhomes, caravans etc, costs a great deal more than a same sized 240 volt domestic one.

The two fridges that I tested were both 140 litres, though I suspect that the domestic 240 volt one was really 131 litres, it is an ‘LG’ brand model GR-131SSF, cost $299.00, The 12 volt one is a Waeco APR –140RF, cost $1,595.00.

This comparison was purely to find out how much power each of these fridges would consume from a 12 volt battery over a 24 hour period.

Running at the same load and in the same room at the same temperature both inside the fridges and out, these tests were performed under controlled and ideal conditions, the battery voltage was a constant 13.65 volt whilst under load.

I won’t go into all the detail of the monitoring/charging/inverter/battery system at this stage, but it was state of the art and linked to a computer.

My target temperature for inside the fridges was 5 degrees Celsius (second bottom shelf), this was adjusted and set during the 24 hours run up time prior to the test period for each fridge.

The room temperature ranged from 26-29 deg throughout the test (air-conditioned).

The results:

Current consumed during the 24 hour test period.

‘LG’ 240 volt fridge………….99.6Ah TOTAL, with a 7Amp average whilst in the 'on' cycle and  42.2Amp peak on start up.

‘WAECO’ 12 volt fridge……..42.2Ah TOTAL, with a 4.5Amp average whilst in the 'on' cycle.

Now here is my angle on this.

Without going into all the pros and cons of a domestic fridge verses the purpose built fridges for motorhomes etc, like that the insulation in the domestic fridges is not as good, but hey that’s easily fixed with a tube of liquid-nails and some sheets of polystyrene foam right ;-)

Lets look at the practical side of it.

If you are going to be parked up with 240 volt power connected every night (caravan park etc), then the 240 volt fridge is an option worth considering.

If however you like to bush camp a lot, and for extended times, consider this, the extra 57.4 Ah required each  to run the 240v fridge over and above the 12v one means at least one extra 120Ah deep-cycle battery will be required...... $$$... and extra weight!

Oh and them Amps have to be replace everyday too, so if solar is your main battery charging source, then you will need at least an extra 200 Watts of solar panel area, and ....$$$, either way you will have to get the extra power from somewhere.

Hows the cheap fridge looking now?

Any questions folks? :-)

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