A fridge is an essential part of a trip, especially if you are self-catering. Sitting around the fire just before lockdown we discussed some tips, as well as mistakes, that can be made. In my case, it involved putting a six-pack of cold drink in an empty fridge and travelling about 500 km on gravel roads. On arrival at our destination I found that one can had chafed against the base of the fridge and burst to cause a mess of note. Other stories involved folk not connecting the fridge to current or leaving the AC cord at home, rendering the fridge useless when reaching their destination. But some good info was shared and valuable information was gleaned. Most of us were used to the bush and camping, but interestingly all had something to share.
Follow the “last in first out” principle when packing your fridge. Simply pack the items in the order that you are going to eat them and remember that vacuum-packed meat takes up less space. Avoid opening the fridge more often than is necessary – if possible only open it at the end of the day when you prepare a meal. This will keep things colder and reduce excess power consumption.
A basket in the fridge will allow you to separate items and will ensure better air circulation. If you do not have a fridge slider fitted in your vehicle, you should strap your fridge securely to the tie downs fitted to the load bed of your vehicle, as a loose fridge is prone to failure if subjected to excessive bumps and vibration.
When packing your vehicle always ensure that the ventilation slots are clear and that you have not packed anything around them. If you block them it will raise the fridge’s operating temperature and cause excessive use of battery power. Always close the locking latches after you have opened the fridge. This reduces the loss of cooling via heat penetration and ensures that the lid is sealed to the main unit.
A few useful tips when packing;
Drinks in a can tend to cool faster than plastic bottles.
Storing food in airtight containers that are tightly sealed reduces the risk of contamination should food or liquid leak into the fridge. This generally results in bad odours and is difficult to clean.
Try to keep your fridge as full as possible at all times as this is more power-efficient.
Remember that square containers pack better than round containers as they are more space-efficient.
Putting hot or even warm leftovers in your fridge is not a good idea as it forces the fridge to work harder and use more battery power.
A protection jacket will help reduce the ambient outside temperature in direct sunlight, especially those that are foil-lined. If at all possible, you should avoid parking in direct sunlight as the rise in the internal temperature of your vehicle will cause the fridge to work harder and draw more power. If possible try to park in a shady spot and keep your windows down (if your vehicle is close by and visible). One can even drape a wet towel over the fridge to keep the ambient operating temperature low and reduce the draw on battery power.
After a trip clean the fridge out with a soft cloth and lukewarm soapy water. If it has frozen, allow it to defrost first and remove the ice and water. Once you have cleaned and dried the fridge, leave the lid slightly ajar as a precaution – there may be some moisture that could turn to mould should it be tightly closed and sealed.