Let’s face it – there are a lot of Fridge options out there these days, and it can be daunting to try and make sense of which one to buy. Not only do you need to consider space and weight, but if you like to get off and stay off the beaten track like we do, then how energy efficient it is also becomes an issue.
I’ve had and used the latest model CFX 65W 65L Fridge/Freezer since my trip to The Big Red Bash in the Tvan. I’ve used it both in Fridge and Freezer modes, ranging from 3 degrees down to – 18.
Here are the key things I’ve found:
Compact Size and weight
The Dometic CFX-65 is one of the most compact fridges of its capacity in the market. It is noticeably smaller for its size than competitors, which was important to us because we could fit it in the smaller front boot on the Tvan, freeing up valuable space in the larger boot. In fact, of the brands we considered, the largest we could have fit in the same space was of a 47L capacity.
On top of this, it was a similar weight to the smaller capacity fridges that would have fit in the same space. An equivalent alternative fridge was between 2 and 10 KG heavier in weight, plus it was much bigger.
The Waeco unit has a unique VMSO2 (Variable Motor Speed Mk2) compressor, which means that it initially takes the compressor turbo speed to a higher RPM than before to reach the desired temperature faster, and then switches to an economy mode to maintain the temperature while improving energy efficiency.
I’ve found that in Freezer mode out in the desert, I had to keep a close eye on battery levels and regularly clean solar panels to ensure I didn’t flatten the batteries. However, at the same time, I also had to run a second fridge off the trailer which I hadn’t planned for, so while it uses a lot more energy in freezer mode, I haven’t had the chance to really understand the increase in power usage in Freezer vs Fridge mode. Perhaps something I’ll think about and get back to you on!
To be fair to the unit, it happily maintained an inside temp of -18 without drama, which meant we always had frozen poppers and Zooper Doopers ready to go for the kids (and this made our campsite a very popular destination amongs ttheir friends!). Plus, we were able to freeze down a lot of the food we took, increasing the amount of time we could go without doing a top-up shop.
In the fridge mode, running at either 2 or 3 degrees, I found that the 120W solar panel on the roof of the Tvan was more than sufficient to maintain the batteries indefinitely with the Fridge running and trailer being used by 4 of us.
The CFX 65W is well built, with reinforced corners, and stainless steel hinges. It is weather resistant, but not designed to ‘live’ out in the open (for example on the back of a ute tray). I found that the seal on the fridge was quite firm and I had to apply a bit of pressure to make sure that the lid closed properly (you could tell because of the audible click). I see this as a good thing because it means the thing seals well and you aren’t letting warm air in unnecessarily.
The current generation of Dometic CFX Fridges have a WiFi functionality, which you can enable or disable. You can then download an app and pair your fridge with your phone. This allows you to see the current battery voltage, get notified if the lid isn’t closed properly, and get a temperature warning if the temperature goes outside the parameters you set. Sure, this uses a little more energy, but it also keeps you informed about the status of the fridge without you having to physically go and check it.
Given that I’ve got battery monitors in the Tvan, this wasn’t really a feature that I found I used a lot, but I think that if I had the fridge in the back of the car, I would have found the feature quite useful. Our General Manager had an earlier model model in the HQGU and the app literally saved his bacon by alerting him that the temperature was rising when the truck experienced an electrical short somewhere between the engine bay and the rear electrical port (Read his story here).
Ease of cleaning
The CFX 65W is easy to clean. The basket comes out easily, and there is a drain plug in the bottom to help drain excess water. There are no really awkward areas that are difficult to clean.
To date, the CFX 65W has proven itself to be a very dependable combination of compact (for its volume), weight conscious, and fit for purpose (maintaining -18 in the desert). You will be hard pressed to find a fridge that better manages all of these things. Its large capacity for its footprint means it is big enough to be able to meet the needs of the family when heading away for up to a week at a time.
Configuration (as tested)
CFX65W with insulated cover
Fridge – $1,499.00
Insulated Cover – $169.00