Is a 12-volt refrigerator freezer REALLY a gamechanger?
I have been procrastinating about buying a 12-volt refrigerator for YEARS! I have owned and used numerous ice chest coolers for camping and living in outpost cabins, far off the grid. I have used block ice, frozen milk jugs, and ice cubes inside dry sacks. For week-long fishing outpost camps in the hottest July weather, we have packed the coolers with food and then frozen the entire unit overnight in a walk-in freezer. Our “kitchen” also included an additional cooler filled to the brim with ice cubes to top off the food coolers as they thawed.
I built an off-grid log cabin that we furnished with an expensive propane refrigerator. I have also owned several 12-volt Coleman “chillers” for over-the-road trucking and boondock camping. In a truck, the cooler was plugged in 24/7 and only kept food around 50 degrees inside the air-conditioned cab. Fragile perishables needed to be rotated at least twice weekly. For boondocking in our van campers, we added a bag of ice to the cooler to bring the core temperature down to 40 or below and maintain the cold overnight when the van was parked, and the 12-volt power was off. A standard bag of ice cubes would last three days.
Buying ice is cheap, but it is still a hassle. We minimized the mess by enclosing the ice in a waterproof dry bag – to keep the water INSIDE the bag and away from our food. This is the best option, but a far cry from the convenience of a refrigerator.
12-volt refrigerators have always been ridiculously expensive.
You can buy A LOT of ice for the cost of a 12-volt refrigerator. Still, every “overlander” and #vanlife advocate insisted that a 12-volt refrigerator was the “game changer” that made comfortable camping possible. Then they detailed the many logistical details required to keep their refrigerator operating in the boonies. Every “overlanding” article and video obsessed over back-up batteries, solar systems, dual charging systems, and other ancillary costs to the ownership of the fridge. (It seems that “Portable Power Stations” are probably the SECOND biggest “game changer” required for the modern 12-volt overlanding lifestyle.)
Finally, after several YEARS of cumulative camping nights I have purchased my first 12-volt refrigerator/freezer. I chose the Quicksand Dual Compartment Electric Fridge Freezer from 4x4 Colorado. The reason I chose this model is that I didn’t need to add any batteries, circuits, or charging systems to either my overlanding truck or my off-grid cargo trailer camper conversion.
The 4x4 Colorado 12-volt refrigerator freezer is the first model I have found that INCLUDES its own internal battery.
Like all competitive models, it uses a digital control panel to set the temperatures in each of the dual compartments. However, the internal 15600mAh battery will run the unit when it is disconnected from 12-volt (or 120-volt) power. It is designed to operate the refrigerator/freezer for up to 12 hours in normal conditions. Since the refrigerator is well-insulated, the folks at 4x4 Colorado have reported running the whole weekend at the recent MOORE Expo completely disconnected from ALL external power – starting with a full load of refrigerated food and in cool weather conditions.
GONE are the necessities of adding back-up power or circuits to your rig or camper to avoid killing your starting battery! At a minimum, the smallest Jackery power station will add over $250 to the cost of any refrigerator without an internal battery. And you don’t need to disconnect the 4x4 Colorado refrigerator/freezer from your vehicle overnight because the control panel features a built-in battery protection system. The unit will disconnect from an external power source when the voltage drops below 11.1 volts to maintain your starting battery. (IF you have an external battery, you can reset the disconnect to either 10.1 or 8.5 volts.)
The dual compartments allow you to set the temperatures independently for each. This means either side can be a refrigerator or freezer. Packing lots of meat? Use the larger left side (approximately 40 quarts) as a freezer. Carrying bulky liquids? Make the left side your cooler and use the smaller right side (approximately 20 quarts) as the freezer section. The larger left compartment has a drain plug to allow the use of ice – if desired.
The Quicksand Electric Fridge Freezer includes a 12-volt power cord that connects to any outlet in your rig. Also included is a 120-volt charging cord for use when shore power is available at campgrounds or at home. As a bonus feature, the unit includes an outlet for direct connection to a solar panel to charge the battery – up to a 100-watt panel with a maximum output of 50-volts or 10-amps. (Note: due to the natural fluctuation of solar power, it is recommended that the refrigerator be turned OFF when the solar panels are being used to recharge the battery. Or - connect your solar panel to a battery, and then the refrigerator to the battery )
Altogether, this 12-volt electric refrigerator freezer is a SMART piece of equipment for all your camping and outdoor adventures.
This high-quality fridge freezer is designed to keep your food and drinks cool and fresh, no matter where your adventures take you. It is also a sensible piece of preparedness equipment between camping trips in the case of a power outage at home.
The fridge is made from rugged and durable materials. The tough exterior can withstand the wear and tear of camping and outdoor activities. The interior is light and easily cleaned. There are removable baskets in each section. Sturdy metal handles latch the lids closed, and LED lights operate automatically when each section is opened. The control panel includes a USB outlet so you can recharge your phone from the refrigerator. A cutting board is stored under the left lid. There is even a handy bottle opener on the outside!
I can give this refrigerator my full endorsement. I have been impressed with the operation in the back of my overlanding truck and in my boondocking camper. This really is a “gamechanger” based on the exclusive and innovative features that 4x4 Colorado has packed into this unit. The current list price is $749.00. As I mentioned, this includes the 12-volt and 120-volt power cables AND the internal 173-Watt hour battery.
Whether you're planning a weekend camping trip or a longer adventure in the great outdoors, the Quicksand 12-Volt Electric Refrigerator Freezer is the perfect companion. Its rugged durability, ample capacity, and advanced features make it a must-have for any serious outdoor enthusiast. I invite you to check out the selection from 4x4 Colorado - and tell them that The Great Out There sent you!