While living on the road, food requiring refrigeration is always a concern.  You can choose to use it up quickly, and do without refrigeration, or you can use a cooler, with ice.  There are also a number of powered cooler options available.  They fall into two categories, thermoelectric, or compressor.

The thermoelectric ones, you will usually see in the big box stores, and they will run you anywhere from $50. to $200.  These type of coolers, are just that, coolers, and most of them are not very efficient with power usage.  In fact, if you leave one on in your vehicle, and forget about it, you’ll likely come back to a dead battery.

Compressor-type coolers/freezers are much more efficient, but also, much more expensive.  They will usually run you anywhere from $400. to over $1,000.  They aren’t cheap, but, for constant use situations, they are the most logical solution.

I did a lot of research while trying to decide which refrigeration method would best suit the purpose that I intended it for, while keeping the cost as low as possible.  Being a single person helped, since I wouldn’t require a huge amount of space, so I could buy a smaller model.  It’s all a balancing act, and everyone’s experience will be different, but when all was said and done, I chose the Dometic/Waeco CF-18.


Dometic/Waeco cooler/freezer


Dometic has been a well-known brand name in RV refrigeration for a long time, and I figured that, by now, they should know how it’s done.  My research on other users experiences supported that assumption.

This model, CF-18, is their smallest unit, at, what I felt was, an affordable price of around $400.  These can get very pricey, as you go up the ladder in size, and features.  All I wanted was basic, reliable refrigeration, at the lowest possible power usage, and the CF-18 fit the bill.


Dometic/Waeco cooler/freezer inside


As you can see from this inside shot, there is a deep well, which will fit 2 litre bottles, and a shallower side which is located over the compressor compartment.  A cigarette lighter type adapter is supplied for connecting the unit to a 12 volt power source.  An AC adapter is optional, but I didn’t get that, because I feel that most of my time will be spent off-grid.


Control Panel

The control panel of the CF-18 allows for temperature adjustment, and, if preferred, you can set the whole unit to freeze.  I was amazed at how fast this thing cooled down, when I plugged it in to try it out.

Of all the cooler/freezer options I looked at, this one had the lowest power consumption of 35 watts.  I’m assuming that this is an average power consumption, since the unit only runs about 10% of the time, lets say 6 minutes out of every hour.  Of course, that will depend on ambient temperature, but we’re talking averages here.  That’s not a lot of power, but it will probably be my most constant power draw on the ‘house’ battery.



As in all refrigeration, there is heat generated to produce cold, and these vents must be kept clear of obstructions, to ensure proper operation of the unit.  It might make it even more efficient to put some type of insulating cover over the unit, but these vents cannot be covered.

So, all things considered, I felt this was my best option for refrigeration.  Again, as my experiences unfold, I will update how well, or not, this has worked out for me.





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