Bringing your 12V fridge or freezer to camping trips have a lot of perks. It adds comfort as you can pack a lot of food items and enjoy them fresh, plus, having a camping fridge on your outdoor adventures help you save since you won't have to buy your meals all the time.
When choosing how to power your fridge for camping, the first thing to consider is how often you will be using it, since this will determine the energy demand that you will need for your trip. You can go for an inverter generator for shorter stays, a solar panel especially if you have an RV, or a portable battery. This is the most recommended way according to most campers, especially if it's a deep cycle lithium battery or LiFEPO4. Lithium iron phosphate batteries are famous for their safety features, higher capacity and lightweight design which makes them the perfect camping battery pack or caravan battery.
How much power does a camping fridge use?
The power consumption for fridges is stated in Ampere-hour (Ah/h). Normally it runs around 1-4 a/h on a 24-hour period, but if you're using it as a fridge only, it can go between 1-3 a/h. If you're going to use the freezer alone, you can expect something around 2-4 a/h. For 12V camping fridges, they mostly consume in between 1 amp and 6 amps with 2.5 amps being the average per hour. However, note that this is still dependent on factors including size, compressor style, temperature, insulation, and what you use it for. Also, while a fridge doesn't run 100% of the time, some models may take more power even for a short period of time. This is why you should look at an average of 24 hours when considering your camping fridge's overall power consumption.
What size battery do I need for a 12V fridge?
Aside from a 100Ah battery, you can power a 12V fridge/freezer with a 200Ah or 50Ah AGM, as well as lithium batteries. The size of your battery is also determined by how long you will be running your fridge. For a clearer overview, let's look at the different types of fridges with a quick comparison of the number of hours they will run using a lead-acid battery and lithium battery.
A 12V fridge powered by a 100Ah lithium battery can last 55 to 80 hours, while a lead-acid battery of the same capacity can keep it running for 36 to 50 hours. For mini-fridges, the average run time with a 100Ah lithium battery is around 32 to 40 hours, and 20 to 28 hours on a lead-acid battery. Full-sized fridges run for the least amount of time at 12 to 16 hours on a 100Ah lithium battery and 8 to 10 hours on a lead-acid one.
Most people think that as long as the fridge is running, the battery has enough power left in it. This is not the case as running your portable battery below 50% of charge can decrease its lifespan. For example, if you're using a 100Ah deep cycle battery, you should only consume 50 amps of its capacity which will last about 1 & 2/3 of a day without any other consumption.
Tips to reduce your fridge's energy consumption
Reducing the energy consumption of your fridge does not need to be complicated—in fact, most of the ways are pretty simple and requires minimal effort. First, try not to put items in room temperature inside your fridge. As much as possible, pre-chill them beforehand to avoid excessive use of power. Keep your fridge full too, since it works more efficiently compared to an empty one.
Do not make a habit of opening your fridge from time to time. The longer you leave your fridge open, the more it has to cool down after you close it again. Think about what you need first before opening it and quickly shut the lid afterwards. Also, crack the lid gently and open it at about 10cm only. Yanking the lid suddenly draws a lot of cold air out and fills it with hot air from the outside, which makes it harder to cool down again. You can use fridge covers for this to help lessen the heat that gets in and to prevent more cold air from getting out.
More from Outbax
Battery-powered fridges definitely take off-grid camping to another level. Make sure you pair yours with a good battery pack such as a LiFEPO4 as they are considered the best way to power a camping fridge. Outbax has a range of this, as well as other power sources including generators and solar panels. We even have a team of expert outdoor enthusiasts who can help you select the right battery for your needs and give you advice on usage and maintenance. Shop now!