What could be possibly better than sitting out in the surf on a beautiful arvo knowing that the beers are icy cold and waiting for you after that last wave in? AND you don’t have to drive anywhere after! Keeping perishables cool keeps you independent and on the road for a lot longer.
The budget method; The tried and tested Chilly Bin, the esky. Not to be sneered at, a 40L chilly bin with a decent amount of salt ice will keep things unspoilt for days. If you’re camping escapades are limited to a weekend then this may be all you need.
Can’t be bothered with melted ice and soggy bread? The next step up, in fact a huge leap is a 12v/240v cooler. They look very similar to a chilly bin. For about $1500.00 you can purchase a 40 litre fridge/freezer, Waeco, Dometic and Engel are common brands. These draw very little power, about .10 amps per hour and have automatic low current shut off meters built in. If you have solar panels this type of fridge will run forever. If you have shore-power they will automatically detect it and swap to 240v.
Bin or chest type coolers that open via a top lid have a massive design advantage over front door opening fridges. Cold air is heavier than warm air. In a chest type cooler the cold air can’t escape because you are opening from the top so they are far more efficient.
Using exactly the same motors and tech are more conventional front opening fridges. There are benefits like the ease of stowing your perishables on horizontal shelving as opposed to stacking and invariably fishing around pulling half the contents out the find what you are after. The downside is, when you open them the cool dense air inside escapes, so they draw more power to re-cool than the chest fridge design.
A newer and clever variant is drawer coolers, again using the same tech as above, a couple of these well placed in your RV layout could be a really good combination of storage and refrigeration.
Three way caravan fridges are common in professional and older builds especially in caravans.
Also known as absorption or gas fridges, the design avoids use of moving parts, this makes them resistant to wear and tear and operate silently. They run on 12V, 230V or LPG. The gas mode allows owners the freedom to camp away from powered sites without needing a large battery bank. A standard 9kg gas bottle can run most fridges for around 3 weeks. Some fridge models even have an AES (Auto Energy Select) where the fridge tries to run on the cheapest power source. It prioritises 230V power, if not available then 12V from a towing vehicle and finally by firing up the gas. If AES senses 12V or 230V later becomes available, it will turn off the gas and again run on the best source. The installation does require a bit of planning as they are generally installed against a wall with a sealed cabinet built around them. You will also need side vents fitted in the outer wall to cool the back of the fridge compartment – which requires plenty of ventilation to perform correctly.