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Portable 12 V Refrigerator Freezer for Truck Cab - 30 Pounds or less

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#1 ckent323


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Posted 19 February 2018 - 12:28 AM

We have long used an Igloo Contour 30 Sportsman Cooler behind the center console of our 1993 Dodge Ram W250 Clubcab truck.   The cooler hinges on the long side (width) and is easy for the passenger to access.


Now that we are taking longer trips we want to eliminate the frequent hassle of buying ice blocks or cube ice and then draining the cooler every few days. 


The Igloo cooler has a claimed 30 qt capacity and is 18.4 inches wide  x 13.2 inches deep x 16.8 inches high.  It weighs 6.4 pounds or 11.5 pounds with ice.  Actual usable capacity when full of ice is probably around 15 to 18 Qts.


The depth behind our truck console to the back of the cab is 23 inches.  I want to keep the refrigerator width less than 20 inches so that the cooler does not interfere with the reclining function of the seats.  Height needs to be less than 20 inches and more than 15 inches for passenger access convenience.


I have been looking at 12 V refrigerator/freezers from ARB, Dometic, Edgestar, Engel, Indel B, National Luna, Norcold, Snowmaster, Truckfridge (Indel B and Whynter -  (Waeco is now combined with Dometic).


Most of the coolers in the 18 L to 30 L range hinge on the long end which is not very convenient for the passenger as it requires more reach, particularly since many of them are right at or more than 23 inches deep. Further, several of the refrigerators have handles and the handles are typically not included in the dimension information.


I want to be able to remove the refrigerator from the truck when it is full and be able to easily set it on a table hence the desire for it to weigh less than 30 pounds.  I am guessing food and beverages will easily add 10 or 15 pounds to the total weight.


As far as I have been able to determine only Dometic and Norcold make 12 V refrigerators in 30 L size or smaller that hinge on the width rather than the depth.


The Dometic width hinging model is the CF18 (18 L, 19 Qts) which is 18.3 inches wide x 11.8 inches deep x 16.3 inches high. The lid is removable and the hinge is part of the injection molded lid.  It weighs 25 pounds.  Both the exterior and interior construction appear to be all injection molded plastic.  It is on the small end of what we would like but will work.  Price is around $511.


The Norcold width hinging model is the NRF-30 (30 L, 32 Qts) which is 22 inches wide x 15.7 inches deep x 15.6 inches high.  The weight is 39 pounds.  This refrigerator is a little heavier than I prefer but has a lot more capacity,  and a hinged top and it has a stainless steel interior.  Price is around $580.


As far as I can tell both use the Danfoss BD35 compressor and pull a similar amount of power.


I would appreciate reading comments from anyone who has one of these models.  (I have read a lot of comments on other models made by all of these manufacturers but there is not of lot of information or comparison data on the web for 12 V refrigerators that are smaller than 40 L, i.e these two models.


If anyone is interested I have created a comparison spreadsheet on many of the makes and models (not all models) and there may be some makes that I ignored because they do not seem to be readily available in the US - e.g. Ironman and a Opposite Lock). 


I look forward to getting some real world info on the Dometic CF-18 and the Norcold NRF-30 refrigerator/freezers.

Edited by ckent323, 19 February 2018 - 12:30 AM.

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#2 klahanie


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Posted 19 February 2018 - 05:14 PM

Craig, we have the CF18. Bought it a few years ago from AmerivcanRV (I think for $300). We purchased it to use as a small freezer only to compliment the fridge only in our camper. I love having a freezer especially for longer trips.


I remember being a bit disappointed by the interior dimensions, hadn't thought about the space the compressor would take. The interior opening is ~14x8.5" with a ~7.5" depth for half the length and ~13.5" for the other half.




The unit has held up fine and I expect it would last many more years . Used as a freezer, the thin foam seal sometimes freezes to the body and partly pulls away from it's track in the lid on opening but could prob be glued in. The bigger issue I had was in the AM I would sometimes find what I thought was a low voltage situation with the compressor not operating as it should. I added more battery capacity and made a complete cover from reflectix before realizing it was an overheating issue, prob from running it  at max cooling (it doesn't run flat out but most of the time). Adding a second cooling fan to provide forced make up air to the compressor compartment solved the problem and it will maintain -15C (just) provided there is good ventilation around the compressor and the ambient temp in not too high (for the cab, I recommend using a windscreen sun shield)


Do over I would prob buy the next size up and one that had a 110v power option for easier pre chilling.


You are wise to be considering the weight. I sure wouldn't want to be moving around a large fridge. We store ours on a no slip mat on the camper floor during the day and put it on the cab passenger seat at night (for room and fan noise). Even this moving about seems almost too much for us so, alas, we don't take it with us as much as I'd like.



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#3 ckent323


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Posted 19 February 2018 - 05:22 PM


Thanks for the comments, Most useful!

FWIW: There is an optional A/C adapter cord available from Dometic for powering the unit from 110 V but it costs about $99. However, other companies make A/C adapters that cost between $20 and $50.

In addition, an insulated cover is available from Dometic for the CF18 (and other models) it costs about $55.

Note: The Norcold NRF-30 also requires an A/C adapter if one wants to run it from 110 V which costs about $65 from Norcold (but as with Dometic there are third party A/C adapter options). Some of the larger Dometic refrigerators have A/C capability built in but I do not think any of the Norcold portables have built in A/C.


Edited by ckent323, 19 February 2018 - 06:41 PM.

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#4 ckent323


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Posted 19 February 2018 - 06:57 PM

In the event anyone else is searching for one of these smaller portable refrigerator/freezer units here is some additional information:


Doing a bit more searching I just found that Engel makes a 15 qt portable 12 V refrigerator/Freezer that has a lid which hinges on the width and weighs 28 pounds.  the price of $645 is high for such a small cooler.


There are thermoelectic units which meet the size and weight criteria but they can only cool to about 30 degrees F or 40 degrees F below the surrounding temperature environment.  Sitting in an air conditioned car while driving that would be fine but on a hot day and not in an air conditioned space they can't keep cool enough. Worse, based on reviews, the thermoelectric coolers are not as energy efficient as the much more expensive compressor refrigerators and use 3x to 5x as much power.  That is unacceptable for those of us camping without ready access to 24 hour a day110 V shore power.


So it seems there are presently three choices that met my criteria (mostly limited by the hinge direction and weight):


Dometic CF18

Engel MD14F

Norcold NRF-30


If my wife can accept and deal with a hinge on the long side then I can add several more to the list of choices:

Dometic CF25

Dometic CF30

Dometic CFX28

Indel B TF26 (or TF2001)

Indel B TB31 


The price of all of these, even the smallest units, are around $450 - $600



I am presently leaning towards the Norcold but I am going to try to find local Dometic and Indel B dealers and hopefully get a first hand look at the length hinging units.

Edited by ckent323, 20 February 2018 - 05:17 PM.

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#5 trikebubble


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Posted 19 February 2018 - 10:34 PM

I can't comment on the specific size requirements that you need, but our Dometic 50qt. has been an impressive workhorse of a fridge for a few years now. It seems to be very efficient, and will keep our food and bevvies as cold as required. I do not have the outer thermal wrap, and honestly don't think I need it. If I ever needed to buy another fridge, and Dometic made the right size, I'd buy another Dometic product in a heartbeat.

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#6 Wandering Sagebrush

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Posted 20 February 2018 - 04:09 PM

We use a larger Engel, and have been very happy with the performance. I assume their smaller freezer/refrigerator would be similar. The AC/DC feature is nice.
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#7 jimjxsn


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Posted 09 March 2019 - 07:41 PM

I wanted to mention that the TruckFridge TB31- DC Only Portable Refrigerator Freezer might be a good solution for use in the back seat.   It is $349.

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#8 Casa Escarlata Robles Too

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Posted 10 March 2019 - 12:06 AM

Craig we have a Truck Fridge TB 45. It sits inside the camper now but was used inside the rear

of out AC cab Tundra.

These are very good units.Several other members have this brand.

We had a Igloo Thermoelectic for many years and ran it on 12v with a block of ice in it.

Worked well for us before the TF.Worst drawback they do eat up a lot of battery.So you have to remember to unplug them.

We ran our TF for 5 days on the battery while on a ferry to Alaska and had no problem battery on the 5th day was just under 12v.

They are heavy though.Getting them in and out of the back seat it a challenge.


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#9 ckent323


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Posted 10 March 2019 - 04:21 AM

We bought a Dometic CFX-28 prior to our trip to Alaska this past summer.  I worked quite nicely during our drive up and back (total of about 27 days) and just barely fit behind the center console of the cab (but it did fit).  It is easy for the passenger to lift the lid while we are underway and retrieve a cold drink, sandwiches, whatever.


I found that it sips power although we were not using it in hot conditions.  I think max outside temps we encountered were in the 70's.


As I recall the weight is just under 30 pounds. While a bit heavy when it is full, it is not too hard to put in and out of the truck when unloaded.


It can freeze food or it can keep hot food hot. It only has one temp controlled compartment so can only have one temp setting at a time but it can be hot, refrigerator or freezer.

I am happy with the purchase.

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#10 Colorado Mark

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Posted 11 March 2019 - 11:20 PM

I wanted to mention that the TruckFridge TB31- DC Only Portable Refrigerator Freezer might be a good solution for use in the back seat.   It is $349.


We just picked up one of these.  They are out of stock on the 45.


Its a very nice size!!!  Our main use will be to freeze ice blocks for the other coolers we might take.  We always take one with our RZR when we go and not having to buy ice is a huge win.


It fits in the extended cab (back seat area) of our truck so its nice when traveling for sodas, ice tea & fruits when driving the truck. 

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