I recently purchased an Engel Fridge. Trusty little 40 Litre model, Transit bag, divider and a small Basket. I’m enjoying Cold Beer.
Most of the time when camping, we’ll be taking the trusty Rav4. Now, not being a full blown 4wd like my Good Old Days in the Prado or Patrol, I don’t want to rig up a permanent dual Battery system in the Rav4. There isn’t enough room under the bonnet and its a little un necessary. Although, I do need to power the fridge.
When driving, this isn’t a big issue. The Engel will happily run fine via the 12 volt lead and the cigerette lighter socket in the back of the Rav4. When camping though, its a different story as with the ignition off, the socket loses power. Powering it permanently is an option, but the Rav4 being an auto and the dread of a flat battery has me nervous for this solution.
Next I looked at some commercial options. Engel and Waeco both make a battery pack capable of powering the Fridge Essentially a battery in a box with some trickery. The trickery joins the battery once the voltage of the power source is high enough. these are bulky and expensive. I wanted to utilise the space under the floor of the rav.
I decided to possibly make my own Battery case. Using a Pelican case I had a sturdy solid case i could easily carry. These are quite expensive however. I found a cheap second hand case on Ebay, $30 for a Pelican 1400 case.
It was obviously used for some form of testing equipment, I ditched the foam.
I found Jaycar had a source of Sealed Gel Batteries that fit the case. I decided on 6 12 Volt, 7.2Ah batteries that I could wire together to get around 43Ah. The six batteries fit in the case with about an inch spare on 2 sides and a snug fit width wise. Height wise I was again, about an inch clear.
Once the batteries were in, I wired them up with some decent cable I had connecting all the positive and negative terminals. To power the box, I mounted an Anderson 50Amp plug on the bottom of the case, out of the way and protected by the moulding.
On the top, I mounted a surface mounted LED Light. It was something I had laying around so would be a good little added feature when camping. This is turned on by a switch on the top of the box.
In the top , side of the box I mounted a Surface mount Engel Power Lead. This lets me connect the Engel Power Lead and screw it in the case, ensuring a tight power feed thats secure.
The wiring on the inside. It isn’t pretty, but works!
To charge it whilst camping, I am about to buy a Protecta or Ctek Maintenance charger and Pure Sine Wave Invertor to power the battery either off a generator / 12 volt source or from the car whilst running.
It ran the Engel @ 0.3 Degrees Celsius from Friday afternoon to Sunday Lunchtime. The fridge was ‘used’ during this time. It should run the fridge over a standard weekend.
Its easily carried and fits under the floor of the Rav4. Long term, I may build a second pack to mirror this, and thus doubling my capacity. I have a few spare 1400 Pelican Cases, which i’ll mount the Battery Charger and Inverter.