ARB (12V Fridge/Freezer)

Expect to pay in the range right around $1100.  (2011 Pricing)  With perhaps a $300 range on either side of that based on interior capacity.  ARB in particular has multiple sizes.  We recommend the 82qt model for serious campers.

The high efficient ARB, the type we have.  We have tested, for numerous years in actual use.

It easily maintains -100°F below ambient temps.  It has been sitting in a trailer in Las Vegas desert heat, mid summer, yet maintained 0°F, for numerous days.  Weeks even.  All off solar.

Interior Trailer Air Temperature on LEFT 104°F  –  ARB maintaining 0°F Internal Temperature on RIGHT

Not only are these units high efficiency, they are also very well insulated.  Which means, our actual consumption of power was around  1 Ah@12VDC.  The unit actually only runs less than 50% of the time.  The actual draw on our battery equates to about 1.0 Ah.  The units specs rate it at 2Ah.

Our actual consumption is while maintaining cold temperatures…..while sitting in desert heat.   We power ours totally off solar/batteries, perpetually, with no other charging source.

While we use the ARB brand (82 quart model) there are a couple other brands out there.  We have compared the tech data on many units.  We have seen the other brands in actual use.  Either observing ones we owned, or observed units of other campers we have camped with over the years.

We would really enjoy testing out a variety of these to provide our own opinion on.  To date we can only really speak about the ARB and Isotherm.

Our recommendation is you research and compare the specs.  The low amp draw compressor variety.  Don’t even consider the “Cooler” types.  But technology does change and so may our recommendations.

ARB even has a wireless transmitter so we can remotely monitor the internal fridge temperature.  Great for driving down the road while it sits in the hot trailer towed behind.

Over the years we have morphed our use with our ARB.  We use to set it at about 27°F and found it would maintain frozen food in one area for several days, and non frozen food in another area.

Now we keep it on 0°F with two spare half gallon water bottles [old plastic milk containers] in it.  We find we normally need all the space for frozen goods on long outings.

We also have our standard old fashioned 5 day ice chest along.  We keep 2 more half gallon jugs of frozen water in the ice chest instead of standard ice.  We swap the frozen bottles now thawing, out of the ice chest, with the rock hard frozen ones from the ARB.  We keep all our frozen goods in the ARB.

Things like milk butter, eggs and such are in the ice chest.  With the cold set of frozen jugs.  The ARB can easily refreeze thawed jugs overnight, as needed.  We do this swap daily and can stay out perpetually with lots of frozen food, and never buy ice.  Unless we keep a bag of ice in the ARB for drinks.

All kept frozen or cold, via the sun (solar).

The lighter in weight, ice chest, is kept outside by the picnic table.  A more convenient set-up since we always cook outside.   Having ice cream along in the ARB on a hot day…..well…. you figure that one out!