Our fridges and dual battery system
When we started with our trips, to neighbouring countries, many years ago, we made use of a 70L 3-way absorption Zero Fridge, which at the time served our needs. The fridge could operate from one of three power sources: gas, 12volt battery power or 220 volt mains.
Zero 70L 3-way absorption Fridge
- It worked best connected to gas on a level surface.
- It was not very efficient connected to battery power while traveling, especially in hot temperatures.
- It performed reasonably well connected to 220 volt mains power while at home or at campsites where power was available.
- Being an absorption type of fridge the construction was bulky and it took up a lot of space.
- During high ambient temperatures it really suffered to cool down sufficiently and we would often end up with the top part defrosting.
Hence the decision was made to change to a battery/mains powered compressor type fridge.
After careful consideration and research about the different makes available, we decided on an 80L Weaco.
The Waeco served us very well over a number of trips and the only negative was that it consumed a large amount of available battery power. It would run non-stop during hot summer days.
Waeco 80L Fridge
On one of our trips through Botswana a friend’s Waeco packed up resulting in him having to cook most of the perishable foods. Other items we could save and store in our fridge.
When this happened, we realised that having only one fridge available when touring might not be such a good idea, and we started looking for alternative solutions.
We finally decided to sell the Waeco and buy two National Luna 52L week-ender fridges.
National Luna 52L Week-ender Fridge
This would give us 104L of space and should one fail during a trip, we would at least still have one available for the perishables. Surprisingly we found that the two National Luna’s consumed less power than the 80L Waeco did, even at high ambient temperatures.
One Luna is set for freezing and the other at minus 1 or 2 degrees to work as a fridge. Having them in the Land Rover turns out very convenient as we always have food and cold drinks available with us when we leave the campsite to explore.
Another improvement that we made was to take out the rear side windows of the Defender and install Frontrunner’s gullwing doors.
The two fridges are mounted at the back of the Defender right where the gullwing doors are. From here we found it very easy accessible.
We also fitted window vents in the two rears door windows to ensure that there will always be circulation of air in the vehicle even with all windows and doors closed.
Showing the Gullwing Doors and Window Vents
The Land Rover is equipped with a National Luna Dual Battery system and an 80W solar panel. The panel charges a 105amp hour’s deep cycle battery which streams power to the two fridges.
The system also connects to our off-road trailer (Donkey) ensuring that the battery in the trailer also remains charged at all times.
I will acknowledge that there might be more sophisticated and improved systems available in the market these days, but this setup works for me.
I can honestly say that we have been using this system for a number of years now without encountering any problems. If it ain’t broken, why fix or replace it?