Finding a suitable VW campervan fridge freezer
In this article we will look at the most popular VW Campervan fridge freezers for use either on a campsite (240v) or off grid using LPG or 12V supply.
Choosing the perfect VW campervan fridge freezer set up for your campervan conversion is an important decision that you will potentially have to live with for many years.
With a wide variety of designs and dimensions and types you should aim to get the right one first time around to avoid interior alterations later down the line.
Editor Top Picks
Below are the top 3 firm favourites in the UK for professional VW Campervan conversions. Each one offers fantastic cooling ability and unrivaled reliability.
We personally run the Dometic 21.5 Litre coolbox in our T4, this gives enough space for a few drinks, meat and dairy. You can also turn the temperature right down and use it as a freezer which works nicely for ice!
The bigger 45L suits conversions where the fridge is on display in the typical 3/4 rock and roll bed with side unit lay out.
- Manufacturer - Dometic
- Model - Dometic Coolmatic CRE-50
- 41.2 litre Fridge capacity & 4.4 litre detachable freezer capacity
- 12 or 24 volt power supply - with the ability to run on 240 volt
- Manufacturer - Dometic
- Model - CDF 26 Portabe Compressor Cooler and Freezer
- Approximately 21.5 Litre capacity
- Runs on 12/24 V DC or 100-240 V AC
- Manufacturer - Smad
- Model -XC-40A 3 Way Campervan Fridge, LPG/12V/240V
- Available in 40L 60L 70L or 100L
- Runs on LPG, electric AC240V and DC12V.
Considerations when buying a VW campervan fridge freezer
- Will the fridge be on display when in place? Choose between a Cool box or Mini fridge design. Both options work well but cool boxes are best tucked away!
- What is your VW campervan fridge freezer budget?
- Lower end £80 to £100 will get you a Thermoelectric fridge,
- Middle budget £100 to £250 will get you a fridge compatible with 240v or 12v input (AKA 2 way)
- Higher end budget you can pick up a very decent gas fridge that also runs 240v or 12v (Aka 3 way).
- Fridge size required. They range from a small 20L upwards. Most common sizes used in Transporters are 40L to 60L but some go bigger or smaller depending on use.
What is the difference between a 2 way and 3 way fridge?
A 2 way Fridge Freezer is what you might expect in a typical home kitchen and has the best cooling qualities out of the two under normal operating conditions.
However, for use as a Transporter fridge where power consumption, ventilation and running noise become important factors, many conversions opt to use 3 way absorption fridges.
Fridges that are 3 way usually win on all three of these important Transporter qualities for use during off grid camping however do need an external flue installing if you are running it on gas – See example flue kit below.
The 2 way campervan fridge options win the day if you plan to do mainly campsite stays with electric hook up.
How to install a LPG VW campervan fridge freezer (3 way)
This is a generic guide to installing a 3 way fridge, make sure you observe the installation guide of your fridge as first point of call but this gives you an idea of simplicity.
- Install fridge on a flat surface (most do not operate well on a tilt especially compression fridges)
- Ensure you allow venting space for circulation around the fridge, this ranges by manufacturer but absolute minimum will be 2.5cm around outer edges and usually 10cm to the top. Even with the install of a flue, you will need to leave space for air flow to unit as they can run warm.
- Keep away from heat sources such as stoves/hobs as much as possible
- Gas installation needs to be as per regulation (Click here to view HSE guidelines)
- For use on LPG the vent for gas needs to exit vehicle and ensure an adequate seal to ensure gas cannot escape into the living area. Most flue kits require a 10-15cm hole drilling into the floor of your vehicle.
- Ensure you use the manufacturers recommended flue kit if one is not provided.
Transporter 2 way or 3 way fridge
This really is a personal choice at the end of the day. There are pros and cons to both options which ultimately boils down to your intended use and budget.
The 2 way compression fridge freezers by Dometic for example are expensive but probably achieve some of the best cooling properties from any of the campervan fridge range. They cool the quickest, are simple to install, and use low power consumption. For this reason, they work well with solar panels.
The 3 way Smad fridge is slightly cheaper than the Dometic 2 way but are harder to install requiring an external flue to vent. The 3 way options also generally struggle to cool adequately from a standing start on gas and most advise to run them on electric first to get them to temperature, before then switching them to gas.
If you have solar panels or are mainly camping on a campsite, I would go for the 2 way compression. If you are off grid and no solar panels then go for the 3 way LPG.
Thermoelectric coolbox cooling qualities
With thermoelectric cool “boxes” being the cheapest option, the cooling qualities are not as good as 2 way or 3 way using compression or absorption technology and is best suited for day trips/keeping drinks cool rather than long term camping.
Many thermoelectric cooling boxes claim to reduce the temperature by up to 20 degrees inside the box however from experience this is not always adequate when the inside of the Transporter on a hot day can exceed 30 degrees!
Safe storage of meat and dairy generally require a steady temperature of between 3 and 5 degrees which is not always achievable with a cool box.
For this reason most cool boxes using thermoelectric technology have not made it onto the review.
Best VW Transporter campervan fridge reviews (2 Way)
Dometic CRE50 Fridge cre50 Waeco CR50 CRX50 12v compressor campervan fridge
Best used for
Dometic is one of the most popular fridge freezer options used in high quality conversions.
These units are renouned for drawing low consumption but offering unrivaled cooling ability. Unlike other units, the Dometic’s also have a built-in low voltage protection. This means if your battery supply is running low, it will automatically try to conserve the power draw.
The CRE is the go to fridge freezer for VW Campervan conversions if you have a higher budget. It has a 4.4L pop out freezer section which makes this product quite unique. If you prefer extra fridge capaticty you can just remove it.
- 12 or 24 volt power supply (with the ability to run on 230 volt with a Dometic/Waeco mains adapter)
- 41.2 litre fridge capacity
- 4.4 litre detachable freezer capacity, the freezer compartment can be removed to increase overall internal fridge space to 45 litres
- Soft touch control panel with service maintenance lights
- LED lit compartment with IR sensor for automatically switching on the light when the door is opened
- Fully hermetic (airtight) refrigerator compressor unit with new heat-sync fan which improves performance and efficiency
- LED services lights, blue LED indicates that the compressor is running while orange indicates compressor is switched off
- Low voltage protection
- Internal shelves, compartment and large door mounted drinks holder
- Patented double door lock system with the ability to keep the door on vent while not in use
- At a smidge over £500 they are very expensive pieces of kit however they do hold their value even on the second hand market.
Smad Caravan Fridge with Lock, No Noise DC12V/AC240V Compact Fridge
Best used for
Smad is one of the better producers of mid-upper tier campervan fridges and come with a good reputation. This is a really smart looking 40L fridge that will fit nicely into the cavity of most standard campervan conversions. It is best suited for those that will spend most time on camp sites where there is a ready supply of 240v.
It will also function 12v if you have a leisure battery.
This is one of the better 2 way fridges on the market that suits campervan use as it uses absorption technology rather than the nosier compressor style fridges. Making for a silent night sleep & suitable for sleeping areas.
- Size of just 40.1(width)x46(depth)x55.1(height)cm.
- 2 Way Power – 240V and 12V input.
- Absorption based cooling system – making it run silently.
- Capacity of 40L.
- Only needs venting space on top side of between 6-12 cm, and 12 cm space at the back.
- Reversible door meaning you can set it to open outwards in either direction to suit your needs.
- Shelves are adjustable/removeable to work with a range of content.
- For some the 40L may not be enough, however they do a bigger 60L version to cover this negative
- It only comes in the one colour – Black however you can buy vinyl separately to change the look to suit your interior design.
- Locking mechanism isn’t particularly robust
- On the whole has very good 5 start reviews on Amazon however a few negatives relating to poor packaging and the seal not working as well as it could around the door.
Dometic CoolFreeze CDF 26, 21 Litre Portable Compressor Fridge Freezer, 12 V/24 V
Best used for
This a great “Cool box” style fridge producer that uses compression technology that delivers a robust steady cooling system to it’s contents. This style fridge is especially good for campervans with limited space where you will perhaps only be doing short stop away trips over weekends where you want cool drinks for a enough for a BBQ and breakfast.
Best used in campervans where you are not bothered about having a fridge on show and suits those self build conversions rather than the more conventional fridge/sink/cupboard down the right hand side of the Transporter style.
- Slim design offering 21.5L storage for drinks and food
- Compression technology allows the product to cool items as low as -18 degrees meaning to can store frozen food also.
- Compatible with 12v, 24v DC and 100v, 240v AC making it very versatile
- Low energy consumption of 59kWh
- The whole range of the Coolfreeze products covers 10.5L right up to 39L so you can shop accordingly if you need bigger or smaller
- Digital thermostat on the top of the box means you always know how cool the content is. A very valuable feature.
- In built interior light – something quite rare on a cool box
- Only 12.7KG
- It isn’t quite as silent as an absorption fridge.
- Needs a bit of venting space to the left of the box (recommend at least 12cm however the more you can manage ideally)
- You need a higher budget for this high end product
Reggio RF38L 2 Way 12/240 Volt 38 Litre Camper Caravan Motorhome Fridge
Best used for
Ideal for those with a medium budget on short trips away that don’t mind a little bit of background noise whilst they sleep. The Reggio is one of the better products that uses thermoelectric technology operating on 12V or 240v. It is a nice looking product offering 38L of capacity and fits nicely into the standard layout of a Transporter conversion.
- Medium budget product offering good value for money.
- 31db is fairly quiet for a fridge of this type which limits background noise to a minimum.
- 38L capacity
- 41 x 43 x 51 cm dimensions.
- Cools down to 5 degrees which is suitable for most food storage but best suited for drinks.
- 2 Way 12v or 240v power supply making it compatible with leisure camping.
- Interior light
- revisable door making it compatible with most Transporter layouts.
- It uses thermoelectric technology and cooling quality is not as good as the compression or absorption style.
- Lowest cooling setting is 5 Degrees which is borderline too warm for storing meat
- Needs 240v supply to cool initially, the 12v supply will only maintain the cool meaning long trips without 240v is not possible.
Klarstein Happy Hour Minibar Mini Fridge – Refrigerator, Cooler, 32 Litres
Best used for
This is a medium priced product ideal for short trips away. With a 32L capacity and slender design it fits a Transporter well. The fridge uses a silent pump which is great for Transporters where the sleeping area is close by.
- 32L capacity
- Nice looking design and model style
- Slender design with dimensions of 43 x 40 x 54 cm
- Cooling range 5 degrees up to 12 degrees making it ideal for drinks
- Adjustable temperature settings so you can choose how cool you want the contents.
- A* energy rating
- Needs a decent amount of venting space at back and sides of refrigerator
- Only works on 240v so only suitable for campsite use
Russell Hobbs RHTTLF1B 43L – VW Campervan Fridge Freezer
Best used for
Low cost option for Transporters requiring a mini freezer as well as a fridge. A really good quality product from a recognised brand. This uses compression technology to deliver a robust cooling solution for your campervan and is one of the best budget options for a Transporter installation.
- Low cost but good quality product
- Uses compression technology meaning a reliable cooling solution for use on a campsite with 240v power
- 43 Litre capacity, enough for a short stint away over a long weekend
- Freezer option for ice-creams and cubes
- Dimensions of only 47.2 x 49.2 x 45 cm
- Comes with warranty
- reversible door for different Transporter layouts
- Makes noise when in use (42db) so not ideal for light sleepers
- Needs room to vent at rear and sides.
- Only works on 240V requiring constant supply so no good for off the grid camping.
Subcold Eco50 Mini VW Campervan Fridge Freezer Black
Best used for
A slightly dearer, larger option than the Russell Hobbs offerings above. Ideal if you need a mini freezer as part of your Transporter conversion.
Only operates on mains power so is best suited to long trips away where you will be on a campsite with power supply.
- 50L capacity making it one of the bigger fridges in this review. Also available in 75L and 100L!
- Has an internal mini freezer that can hold ice-creams for the hot summer days.
- Lockable fridge preventing unwanted access.
- Compression technology delivering a reliable low temperature for safe storage of food.
- Slim fit design of 48 x 44 x 50 cm.
- Reversible door allowing for opening either way depending on preference.
- A nice modern looking product.
- Makes noise when in use (42db) so not ideal for light sleepers.
- Needs 240V supply so only really good for campsite use.
Goolsky VW Fridge Freezer Cooler Portable DC 24V 12V 15L Auto Fridge Compressor Quick Refrigeration Home Picnic Icebox
Best used for
This is a really nice little compression refrigeration box that actually cools below freezing if desired.
It is an ideal Transporter fridge for short weekends away where large storage of food is not required.
It is also easily portable so you do not have to leave it in your Transporter the hole time, you can take it out for a picnic etc very easily.
- A very high quality premium coolbox / Ice box
- Holds 15L which is around 20 cans of pepsi
- Very portable, making it one of the best options if you want to take the cool food or drinks out and about with you
- Shock resident, and robust design.
- Temperature will go as low as -20 degrees if you wanted to use it for frozen food or ice.
- Runs on 12v DC and 240AC no problem. Suitable for leisure battery use.
- Temperature control, digital display so that you always know the temperature of your food.
- Compact diameters of 570mm * 320mm * 260mm
- With it using compression technology, it is a little noisy at 45db. Not ideal for sleeping.
- Fairly expensive for its capacity.
- Needs vent space at front of unit.
Best VW Transporter campervan fridge reviews (3 Way)
Smad 3 Way Campervan Fridge, Portable Gas LPG/12V/240V Fridge, Quiet Camping Fridge for Caravan, RV, Leisure Motorhome, Cabin, 40L, Black
Best used for
This is one of the best valve 3 way absorption Transpoter fridges and a common choice for a lot of Transporter conversions. They run on Electric 12v/240v as well as LPG gas hence the name “3 way”. These are ideal if you do want to camp off the grid without electric. They consume very little gas and are relatively straight forward to install.
The most important part of the installation of any 3 way fridge is to ensure that you use a flue kit to vent the gases properly.
- 3 Way fridge so runs on LPG gas and electric.
- 40L capacity and 46.0(Width)*45.0(Depth)*60.0(Height).
- Also sold in 60L form
- Absorption technology making it virtually silent.
- Cools as low as 0 Degrees so perfect for meat/dairy as well as drinks.
- Simple to switch power sources with gas, electric and temperature settings on the front of the unit.
- Totally green – no pollution/greenhouse gases within this refrigerator.
- Can be used indoor or outdoor very easily as no electric power source is needed.
- Does need proper ventilation with flue if you are planning to use it with gas within the Transporter, making the install a little harder. (view Flue kit here)
- Only comes in black.
Smad 3 Way Fridge for Campervan, 3 Way Camping Fridge for Motorhome Caravan Van RV 12V/240V/Gas LPG, 60 Liters, Black
Best used for
This is the same manufacturer as the 40L refrigerator above but with the extra capacity. It is ideal for larger conversions where you need extra storage of food or drink for longer off the grid camping. 60L fridges are ideal for use in LWB Transporters as you have the extra room to accommodate the wider diameters of a larger fridge.
With it being 3 way you will also need to ensure that you install a flue if you are running it on gas.
- 60L especially useful for long off the grid camping trips where there is no electric supply.
- Smad are a very popular choice of brand in the UK for campervan conversions with a good reputation.
- Vent kits for these are only £30 (HERE) making for a cheap install.
- Reversible door for easy installation and use.
- Cools as low as 0 Degrees so can be used with meat and dairy.
- Dimensions of 46.2 x 65 x 45.1 cm.
- Silent running due to absorption technology.
- No greenhouse gases.
- Medium/upper budget for a refrigerator although still good value for the capacity.
- Controls are at the bottom of the fridge which is a little annoying for some (especially if you have children)
Bluefin 3-Way Absorption Mini Fridge Freezer 43 Litre | 60 Litre| AC | DC | Gas Power | 12v | 230v | LPG
Best used for
This is a high end 3 way fridge that is compatible for quality Transporter fridge conversions and well worth the money if you can stretch for it. It comes as 60L capacity as standard with a modern feel in terms of design. Ideal for long family get aways where electricity is not an option. It cools as low as -18 Degrees and has a mini freezer compartment for ice.
This 3 way LPG fridge will need a flue installing for external venting of gases.
- LPG/Electric power so can be used off grid (note that it only freezes when on Electric power)
- Absorption technology making it silent.
- Small Freezer for ice – cools as low as -18 Degrees
- UK design and manufacture making for good support of the product for the UK market.
- Very low gas consumption of 11-13 g/h
- Dimensions of 64.5cm (height) x 48.2cm (width) x 48cm (depth)
- Does need proper ventilation for flue gases. Also gives off residual heat when running so make sure it give it space around the edges.
- Only freezes when on electric power.