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Adventure Forum A place for outdoor side of your XJ/MJ. Discussions revolve around camping, equipment, and camping trailers. As well as outdoor activities that take off from your XJ/MJ like hiking, geocoaching, and rock climbing. Also the place to discuss tips and hints for the best places to camp off the beaten path.

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  #1  
Old June 14th, 2011, 23:57
Milford Cubicle II's Avatar
Milford Cubicle II Milford Cubicle II is offline
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Why are 12 volt regrigerators so expensive?

Any 12 volt fridge I've seen (ARB, Engel, etc.) is craaaazy expensive and I'm wondering why. I realize that they tend to have more insulation, for fairly obvious reasons; to keep the power consumption low. Also they tend to be "rugged," whatever that means. But the refrigeration system is exactly the same as any other AC or household refrigerator. Hell, I can pick up a good mini fridge for well under a hundred bucks. So why is it that when it comes to portable 12 volt refrigerator, the price goes through the roof? You'd be hard pressed to find one for under $500, which IMO is ridiculous.

And no, I'm not including those thermoelectric BS jobs that you can get from Target for 30 bucks, I'm talking about actual refrigerators.

The compressor, which is the heart of a refrigerant system, is driven by an electric motor. Electric motors are by nature, DC devices, not AC. So it seems to me that it would cost more to make an AC compressor than a DC compressor. But in reality it seems to be the other way around. Good quality DC motors are a dime a dozen, and all a DC refrigeration system is, is a DC motor instead of an AC motor. Am I missing something? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot???
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  #2  
Old June 15th, 2011, 05:17
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ehall ehall is offline
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Re: Why are 12 volt regrigerators so expensive?

Most things like this the price is because of limited demand, which requires development and production and ROI to be spread across fewer units.
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  #3  
Old June 15th, 2011, 05:35
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SleeperXJ SleeperXJ is offline
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Re: Why are 12 volt regrigerators so expensive?

The Engle runs from both 12 vdc and 120 vac. I'm sure that adds ~$5 to the price of components for the rectifier circuit
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  #4  
Old June 15th, 2011, 08:13
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Original_MudButt Original_MudButt is offline
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Re: Why are 12 volt regrigerators so expensive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ehall View Post
Most things like this the price is because of limited demand, which requires development and production and ROI to be spread across fewer units.
^^^ This...

It's a niche market. I bet for every one 12v fridge sold, there are 5000 dorm room fridges sold....
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  #5  
Old June 15th, 2011, 08:56
CherBear CherBear is offline
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Re: Why are 12 volt regrigerators so expensive?

I have thought about getting a CL mini fridge for cheap and just buying a converter for it to work.

This:
http://indianapolis.craigslist.org/app/2441636365.html
+
This:
http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...=1308153280553

Puts you at under 70 bucks easy. Add more insulation if you want better inefficiency. But really, I am not going to pay 10x as much for an ARB model.
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  #6  
Old June 15th, 2011, 08:56
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Re: Why are 12 volt regrigerators so expensive?

It's probably because they are made for the expedition market and just like everything else built for that market, they want 10X the cost.

I heard a term kicked around over on Expedition Portal. Exposexual.

Basically the sexiness of the tools made for that nieche market drives the cost up.

That being said...I paid $700 for an ARB fridge and I haven't regretted it ever. Out of everything I carry it's probably the one item that brings a smile to my face every time we are on a trip. To reach in, grab a nice cold frosty beverage and never have to worry about soggy anything makes it all worth while to me.
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  #7  
Old June 15th, 2011, 08:59
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Re: Why are 12 volt regrigerators so expensive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CherBear View Post
I have thought about getting a CL mini fridge for cheap and just buying a converter for it to work.

This:
http://indianapolis.craigslist.org/app/2441636365.html
+
This:
http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...=1308153280553

Puts you at under 70 bucks easy. Add more insulation if you want better inefficiency. But really, I am not going to pay 10x as much for an ARB model.
That would work as long as you don't plan on shutting your rig off for any amount of time. One of the big advantages of a 12v fridge built for a vehicle is that they draw almost no current. I can leave my jeep off for three days and still start it. The fridges made for vehicles also have low voltage cutoff switches to prevent them from leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere.
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Old June 15th, 2011, 09:51
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Re: Why are 12 volt regrigerators so expensive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrMoab View Post
That would work as long as you don't plan on shutting your rig off for any amount of time. One of the big advantages of a 12v fridge built for a vehicle is that they draw almost no current. I can leave my jeep off for three days and still start it. The fridges made for vehicles also have low voltage cutoff switches to prevent them from leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Yes... Plus I think I read somewhere that it takes 3 watts input for every watt output on an inverter.
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  #9  
Old June 15th, 2011, 12:02
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Milford Cubicle II Milford Cubicle II is offline
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Re: Why are 12 volt regrigerators so expensive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Original_MudButt View Post
Yes... Plus I think I read somewhere that it takes 3 watts input for every watt output on an inverter.
Most inverters are about 80% efficient, good ones can reach 85-90% so it's more like a 5 watts in, 4 watts out ratio.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CherBear View Post
I have thought about getting a CL mini fridge for cheap and just buying a converter for it to work.

This:
http://indianapolis.craigslist.org/app/2441636365.html
+
This:
http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...=1308153280553

Puts you at under 70 bucks easy. Add more insulation if you want better inefficiency. But really, I am not going to pay 10x as much for an ARB model.
I've thought about doing that too. I'll admit that an actual ARB style "expo" fridge would be much better suited, for the reasons already mentioned by Moab. But for short camping trips instead of "expeditions,' I bet it would work just fine.

An idea to keep in mind is that if I'm not mistaken, the 12 volt compressors are usually variable speed. Which helps efficiency because instead of shutting off and having to restart (start up drawing a lot more amperage), they can just run at a lower speed (drawing very little power) to maintain a constant temperature instead of the constant fluctuation of traditional fridges.

But here's the kicker, I found compressor out of an ARB fridge and even the compressor itself is pricey, compared to other compressors:

https://www.hvacusa.com/store/danfos...200-p-90143520

Which is this compressor:

http://www.danfoss.com/Products/Cate...14fbc7175.html
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  #10  
Old June 15th, 2011, 12:41
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Milford Cubicle II Milford Cubicle II is offline
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Re: Why are 12 volt regrigerators so expensive?

So I just found something very interesting on the Danfoss website in the link above.

I noticed under "motor type" it says DC/PM. If by PM they mean "permanent magnet" then that just means it's a regular brushed DC motor driving this compressor. Meaning that it's not a brushless "DC" motor that's really AC, meaning that these compressors are not just using brushless DC motors with inverters to run them.

All that means is that these freakin compressors should be even cheaper than regular AC compressors. Brushed DC motors have been around for like a hundred years and they're cheeeeap
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  #11  
Old June 15th, 2011, 19:53
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Re: Why are 12 volt regrigerators so expensive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ehall View Post
Most things like this the price is because of limited demand, which requires development and production and ROI to be spread across fewer units.
Again, it's the number of units sold. That's a fairly specialized piece of equipment, for a very low-volume market. There are probably about as many cars in the US as homes, but how many cars have refrigerators in them? Almost none.

Also:
Look at that pic at the Danfoss web site again. Do you see the compressor motor? No. You can't because it's a hermetically sealed compressor. The motor can not be serviced. Not only can the brushes never be changed, the dust off them can't contaminate the refrigerant the motor is running in. It's not just a standard brushed DC motor. It's a very specialized DC motor that is engineered to run in a R-134 vapor environment, without throwing off sparks, dust, or any other contamination.
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  #12  
Old June 16th, 2011, 11:15
bert01xj bert01xj is offline
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Re: Why are 12 volt regrigerators so expensive?

go to your local truck stop you can find one that isn't that expensive.
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  #13  
Old June 16th, 2011, 19:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bert01xj View Post
go to your local truck stop you can find one that isn't that expensive.
Yes, and wake up after an overnight camp out and deal with a flat battery.
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  #14  
Old June 17th, 2011, 14:36
bert01xj bert01xj is offline
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Re: Why are 12 volt regrigerators so expensive?

Well you get what you pay for.
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  #15  
Old June 21st, 2011, 10:28
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Re: Why are 12 volt regrigerators so expensive?

This is the one that I got

http://www.compactappliance.com/FP43...ances-Freezers

I waited until one showed up in the scratch and dent section shipped to my house for $280. Nothing was wrong with it and I dont think I could ever go back to a cooler.
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