Summer upgrade: our Engel fridge.

So after posting in April about cruising without a refrigerator, what did we decide to buy?  A refrigerator of course.

Honestly, if we were only going to cruise for one more year we wouldn’t have bothered.  Not having a refrigerator was working out fine with our Yeti cooler, but I’ll admit that by the end of our third month in the Bahamas I was getting a bit tired of our standard meals.  Going back to the States helped with that, but then we saw that Engel was having a sale on the refrigerator/freezer that would fit in our quarter berth ($150 off plus free shipping and double the warranty).  After talking about how much longer we hope to cruise, we decided to pull the trigger.

Engel refrigerator/freezers have an excellent reputation within the cruising community for being trouble-free and energy efficient.  It uses A/C or D/C power so installation for us was a breeze.  We simply set it in the quarter berth and plugged it into our 12v socket.  It was truly plug and play.  Jeff also installed tie downs so that the Engel won’t shift around in sporty conditions.  We were initially a little concerned about the fit (we ordered it while we traveling on the West Coast because we didn’t want to miss the sale), but we were thrilled to still have easy access to both the battery compartment and the extra storage compartment.

The Engel in our quarter berth – also known as our “garage.”

Do we regret cruising for the first ten months without a refrigerator?  No.  We were able to evaluate our actual power needs in real life (vs. theoretical needs on a piece of paper) so we knew we didn’t need to add any batteries or solar panels.  If we had bought one right away we would have thought (based on our paper calculations) that we needed a third battery and solar panel, so waiting saved us quite a bit of money.  We also now know what truly doesn’t need to be refrigerated, which optimizes the space in the Engel for items that actually need to be kept cold.

We aren’t quite used to having a fridge which has resulted in a bit of food waste on occasion, but we are quickly adjusting and enjoying things like yogurt for breakfast again on a regular basis.  It’s the little things in life, you know!

2 thoughts on “Summer upgrade: our Engel fridge.

  1. Engel’s are great kit for sure! We have been very happy with ours. That low power draw does mean it doesn’t cool things really quickly (not a big deal as long as you’re aware of that, i.e. don’t stick really hot leftovers in there and expect them to be cool in an hour like a home fridge would be) but it’s such an efficient compressor that it’s worth that.

    Since you have good sewing skills you might consider sewing a wrap that further insulates the cooler itself (while still allowing good air exchange around the compressor) to make it even more efficient… the box isn’t quite the same level of insulation as, say, your Yeti is.

    On short trips we use our as a fridge, on longer trips we use it as a freezer freezing some food and also rotating gallon water jugs as ice blocks that rotate into our icebox, we then get a freezer and fridge setup with just one device drawing power (granted draws a lot more power when running as a freezer than fridge, and initial freeze of 6 gallon jugs of ice takes, literally, days, but once frozen two jugs get rotated every 24 hours while four freeze and that works well).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad to hear that you’ve been happy with Engel. We really like it so far, and the power draw really has been minimal. Thanks for the great tips! I think the Engel will be particularly useful when we are planning multi-night passages, since we’ll be able to make meals ahead of time and then just reheat them on the stove. Kimberly


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