JK's Guide to the Best Fridges for Your Campervan

JK's Guide to the Best Fridges for Your Campervan

Written by the JK Team
Published 14 November 2023
Just Kampers

If you’re looking for the best fridge campervan fridge for your camper then you’re in the right place!

We’ve put together this helpful guide to help you cut through the jargon, identify which type of fridge is best suited to you and your camper, and help you get a great fridge at a great price.

Whether you’re looking to replace your old fridge with a new one, or you’re converting your van into a camper, this quick guide will help you select the best fridge or cool box for you.

Picking the Best Fridges & Cool Boxes for Your Camper

Use these links to jump to different parts of this article, so you can quickly find the information you’re looking for:

Understanding the different campervan fridge power sources

One of the first things you’ll need to think about when looking for a fridge for your camper is how you’ll power it. All fridges require energy to keep their interiors cool, and where they’ll get this energy from is an important consideration.

Josh from the JK Team using our JK Cool Box

Fridges designed for campervans can generally be split into three groups, based on how they’re powered:  
• Compressor fridges,
• Three-way fridges, and
• Thermo-electric cool box.

Compressor fridges:

These are very similar to the fridges you would typically have at home, only they use far less power.

These usually run using 12 volt electricity, and can also run on 240 volt electricity when it’s available. Generally, the power coming from your camper’s leisure battery will be 12-volt, and you’ll get access to 240 volt mains electricity either at home or when parked up at a campsite. Compressor fridges are the most common choice amongst avid campers due to their reliability, efficiency, and easy installation.

Three-way fridges:

These are named because they can be powered in three different ways: 240v electricity, 12v electricity, or using gas.

Three-way fridges are usually much larger than compressor fridges and thermo-electric cool boxes, meaning they can be the better of options for larger groups of people.

If you want to use a gas supply to power this type of fridge, it’s recommendable to seek the help of a licenced gas engineer.

Thermo-electric cool box:

Similar to a compressor fridge, these units use 12v electricity to remove warm air from the cool box, instead of keeping it at a set temperature.

Because they don’t need to be connected to a gas supply or 240v electricity you’ll be able to move a thermo-electric cool box around much more easily, and it can be removed from the interior of your camper if you don’t need it, to free up space.

Our JKF50 Fridge-Freezer. Image originally taken for VWT MagazineOur JKF50 Fridge-Freezer. Image originally taken for VWT Magazine
Our JKF50 Fridge-Freezer. Image originally taken for VWT Magazine

Comparing 3-way fridges and compressor fridges

If you use your campervan for long trips or travelling abroad, you’re probably going to want either a compressor fridge or a 3-way fridge, but which one is right for you?

Compressors tend to be slightly more expensive, but so long as there’s plenty of power going to the compressor fridge, then it will run efficiently and will need minimal attention.

You may find that a compressor fridge puts a lot of strain on your vehicle’s leisure battery, since it can only be powered by electricity, but this will depend on how often you camp at sites with 240v electricity and how long you spend between such sites.

A 3-way fridge offers more flexibility on how you power it, but does require you to get a gas system installed into your campervan if you don’t already have one. Some people are a bit cautious about having gas in their campervan due to the potential safety risks, but as long as it’s properly installed and checked by a licenced gas engineer there’s nothing to worry about.  

Overall the choice between a compressor fridge or a three-way fridge for your camper will likely be down to whether you’ve got a large enough leisure battery to keep a compressor fridge powered up, or whether you have (or want) gas in your campervan.

A guide to the different fridge door styles available

The phrase ‘door styles’ is the best way we could think of to describe the way in which a camper fridge opens up.

Depending on the space available inside your camper, the way the doors opens up may have more of an impact on your choice of fridge than how it’s powered.

There are three main types available:

• Front-loading fridges,
Top-loading fridges, and 
Drawer style fridges. 

Front loading fridges

These are fridges open the same way as your fridge at home, and have a vertical door on the front which swings open. Most will have shelves on the inside of the door, and many have a freezer compartment at the top and vegetable area at the bottom.

Pros:
Easy to access everything inside,
Can be installed in lots of different places,
Fit easily into classic VW camper interiors,
Very similar to your fridge at home.

Cons:
Can be less energy efficient,
May not store as much as other designs.

 

Top loading fridges

Sometimes called chest fridges, these units have a horizontal door which opens from the top. They can be harder to find a place for in your interior, but may be designed to double up as a bench seat to help utilise space.

Pros:
Excellent internal storage area,
Highly efficient, since the cold air inside doesn’t flow out when you open the door,
Some designs also serve as seating.

Cons:
Difficult to find a space for in your interior, as they open upward,
Won’t fit in classic VW camper interiors,
Can be harder to find, as they’re less popular.

 

Drawer style fridges

This style of fridge is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, and opens much like a front-loading fridge, except that the contents slide out on rails much like a drawer.

Pros:
Easy to see everything inside the fridge,
Can be installed in lots of different places,
Fit easily into classic VW camper interiors.

Cons:
Can be less energy efficient,
Some items in the fridge may be harder to access.

In general, most people will opt for a front-loading fridge in their camper, as they’re easy to use, easy to install, and work the same way as your fridge at home.

Still, other options are available and may work better for you if you’re creating a bespoke interior for your camper from scratch, so all are worth considering.

The VW T25 Magnum Edition which we did an engine swap on came with a top-loading fridge which doubled up as a seat

Camper fridges at Just Kampers

We’ve got a great range of different fridges in stock here at Just Kampers, from some of the best brands available. We’ve even made our own, to give you a more affordable option without compromising on quality.

 

JKF50 Fridge-Freezer

Power source: Compressor
Door style: Front opening
Internal capacity: 42 litres

We might be biased, but we're really impressed with the Just Kampers JKF50 refrigerator! We created it to offer campervan owners a super-efficient fridge-freezer which used top-end components, but at a more affordable price.

Available in black or silver, the JKF50 has a with removable freezer unit, shelves which can be repositioned, and a door that you can have open to the left or right.

Key features of this fridge include:

Quiet, highly efficient LG compressor to regulate temperature responsively,
42-litre capacity, including a removable 8-litre freezer compartment,
User-friendly control panel (with an LED display),
Intelligent battery protection system.


Dometic CoolMatic CRX50

Power source: Compressor
Door style: Front opening
Internal capacity: 48 litres

Easy to install across a variety of camper conversions, this Dometic fridge has space that can be modified to clear room for your food storage. This fridge/freezer is great for long hauls and offers camper owners flexibility for the long road.

Key features of this fridge include:

Adjustable interior storage, allowing for extra space,
Automatically adjusts temperature,
Noise reduction.

 


Webasto Cruise Classic CR49

Power source: Compressor
Door style: Front opening
Internal capacity: 49 litres

Spacious by design, this Webasto fridge is great for camper conversions given its flexibility to adjust shelving and compartments. This fridge has great temperature retention, with a thick outer wall. Complete with fixable mountings to finish off your modern conversion.

Key features of this fridge include:
Extra insulation – lower power consumption,
Intelligent vent-lock system to prevent mould over inactive periods,
Innovative fitting removes the need for a mounting frame.

 


Just Kampers Electric Coolbox

Power source: 12v
Door style: Top opening
Internal capacity: 45 litres 

This portable fridge-freezer is ideal for food storage on your travels and also doubles as convenient seating. Complete with two compartments – the larger of which can function as a fridge or freezer, and the smaller drawer is always a little bit warmer, better for storing things like salads and fruit.

Key features of this fridge include:

Dual compartments for greater temperature control,
Doubles as extra furniture, for example seat or table,
Low power drain product.

 


Indel B LiON Cooler Portable Refrigerator

Power source: 12v
Door style: Top opening
Capacity: 30 litres

Designed to be easily transported with a pair of sturdy wheels and an extending handle, this mobile cooler from Indel B is a great option if you're going to be enjoying food or drinks away from your campervan (or your car!) while you're off on an adventure. 

Key features of this fridge include: 
Up to 21 hours of battery time, 
User friendly digital control, and Bluetooth connectivity, 
Compatible with a special Indel B solar panel or additional battery (available seperately). 

Covering your camper’s fridge with vehicle insurance

If you're fitting a fridge to your campervan and it didn't previously have one, or replacing an older fridge with a new one, it's worth taking the steps to ensure that it's covered by your vehicle insurance.

Some fridges can be covered by agreed value

For fixed fridges, which you install and leave in the vehicle, you'll want to make sure that the addition of a new fridge (and anything else that you might be fitting at the same time) is reflected in your camper's agreed value with your insurer.

This will mean that, if the worst should happen and you need to make a claim on your insurance policy, the value of your new fridge will be taken into account.

Other fridges can be covered by contents insurance

If you're using a cool box style fridge, then this will fall under your contents insurance, as it isn't a permanent part of your camper.

Again, it's definitely worth ensuring that valuable items like cool box fridge/freezers are included in your campervan's vehicle insurance policy, just so you know they're protected in case anything untoward does happen.

Our colleagues at Just Kampers Insurance have been dealing with specialist vehicle cover for campervans since 1998, so if you’ve got any questions about agreed value policies for campers, or contents cover, they’re here to help.

Image credit: Balkan Campers, via Unsplash.

Fridges and battery power

Another factor you’ll need to consider when choosing the right fridge for your camper is how much power it will draw from your battery.

Most fridges will provide information about their energy consumption, and you’ll want to look for the Amp-hours of the unit. This measurement shows how much energy it consumes every hour, and can help you calculate how long your camper’s leisure battery will last when your fridge is hooked up.

Don’t forget to also factor in other devices which will be drawing power from your leisure battery, to avoid it running flat.

Battery protection

Speaking of flat batteries, some camping fridges are equipped with technology to protect the health of your leisure battery. This is done by using a battery protection circuit.

This clever set up removes the battery from the circuit if the load or current is too high. In addition, it will prevent the battery from being drained of too much power as this can cause your leisure battery great damage.

Our JKF50 fridges are fitted with battery protection circuits to keep your batteries safe. Afterall, it’s better to have a slightly warm sandwich than to have a totally fried leisure battery, which you now need to replace!

Image credit: Want To Create, via Unsplash.

Fridges and gas safety

As mentioned before, some people are a bit wary of three-way fridges because they use camping gas as a power source, and they may not be comfortable having a gas system in their camper.

This is understandable, as gas leaks can be a serious risk, but it’s a risk which can be managed and mitigated by having the system installed and checked by a certified gas safe engineer. You should also install a carbon monoxide where the gas bottle is stored, and ensure that there’s a gas vent hole which would allow the gas to escape in the event of a leak.

If you want more information about safely using gas in your campervan, you can click here to read our summary of gas safety information for campers

Summary

We hope you've found this guide useful, and aren't feeling totally overwhelmed by all of this new information!

You're unlikely to struggle to find the right fridge for your campervan, as there are a lot of great options out there with more being developed all the time. Consider how you want to power your fridge, and how you want it to open up, and then pick one which will fit nicely into your interior without draining your leisure battery. 

You'll find a great selection of different options here at Just Kampers, as part of our ever-growing range of campervan parts and accessories. Click here to see all of the fridges and coolboxes we've got on offer

About Just Kampers

We’ve been part of the VW community here in the UK since 1989, and are always here to help – whether you’re just starting out with your first camper, or you’ve been driving around in classic Volkswagens since you were a kid.

This is just one of the guides that we’ve put together to help you make the most of your camper (whether it’s a Volkswagen or not) and get stuck in to your own adventures.

Did you know about Just Kampers Insurance?

If you're new here, you might not know that Just Kampers Insurance has been helping people find affordable, great quality insurance policies for campervans (and a whole host of other vehicles) since 1998.

In fact, if you insure your camper with Just Kampers Insurance, you'll get a 10% discount on orders here at justkampers.com for the duration of your policy, which means you could save 10% on one of the new fridges you've just read about!

Go to justkampersinsurance.com to get a quote, and see how much you could save on insuring your camper.

7 months ago