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Old 03-18-2018, 08:44 PM   #1
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Default Mod: Portable Fridge/Freezer

Our Westy fridge/freezer serves as either a fridge or a freezer. If one had an additional portable fridge/freezer, one could have both. In addition, the portable fridge/freezer could serve as a backup or even as the primary fridge/freezer if the Westy one goes on the blink. Apparently, one James Cook owner used a portable fridge/freezer as their main one for several years when the Westy Dometic one went on the blink.

Most portable fridge/freezers are chest-style in different sizes.

For size comparison, our Westy fridge is 60L or 63 Quarts or 2.1 cubic feet (rough conversion).

Factor 1: The choice of compressor seems to be the main distinguishing factor.

Danfoss/Secop BD35F:

The most well-known reliable compressor used in the portable fridge/freezers is the Danfoss/Secop BD35F. This is the same compressor used in our Westy Dometic fridge.

Danfoss was purchased by Secop in 2008/2010 or so. Manufacturing of these compressors is no longer just in Germany (mostly Asia now?).

With the right control, the compressor can be used as a variable compressor.

There are apparently different variations of this compressor, including a heavy duty one specifically for attachment to a high vibrating semi-truck chassis.

This Danfoss compressor is used in the most expensive portable fridges/freezers made by National Luna. National Luna portable fridges/freezers are used for vaccines transport and expeditions.

Sawafuji Swing Compressor:

Another compressor which may arguably be better in reliability and energy use than the Danfoss/Secop is the one-moving-part Sawafuji swing compressor. The well-regarded Engel portable fridges/freezers use this compressor.


There are some anecdotal complaints that this swing compressor is noisier than the Danfoss.

ARB used to use the Sawafuji compressor.but have now switched to Danfoss/Secop. Norcold also uses this Sawafuji compressor (need to confirm for current models).

Other Compressors:

There are other less known compressors out there. The top-ranked Opposite Lock portable fridge/freezer used a Snomaster compressor.


The Dometic Waeco brand apparently uses its own compressor, as perhaps the Whynter and other brands.

Factor 2: Other Operating Parts and Efficiency

Besides the compressor, there are other parts like the control, condenser, evaporator, cooling fan, etc.

The whole package may result in different efficiencies (in combination with insulation and construction).

Factor 3: Insulation.

The insulation used in the better fridges is polyurethane. The thickness of the polyurethane may vary.

There may be other types of insulation used as well.

Factor 4: Construction

The box may be stainless steel or some type of plastic. Hinges and handles are important --some tend to break.

Factor 5: Warranty and Service

Some have longer warranties. Service centers may be plentiful or scarce.

Factor 6: Accessories

Some brands have lockdown kits, carrying cases, etc.

Note: Article from Expedition Portal on choosing:


Last edited by OldWest; 03-18-2018 at 11:52 PM. Reason: Add Note, fix typos.
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Old 03-18-2018, 09:04 PM   #2
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Default Re: Mod: Portable Fridge/Freezer


So many choices. Setting aside sizes, here are the general groups of portable fridges/freezers--primarily by price and reputation/competition. Not necessarily accurate so please feel free to comment and move brands around.

1. National Luna

Expensive. Uses the Danfoss compressor.

2. Engel or ARB

Engel uses the more reliable one moving part but possibly noisier Sawafuji swing compressor. ARB used to use the same compressor but now uses a Danfoss compressor. ARB may be slighly cheaper and may have a longer warranty.

3. Indel B or Isotherm or Webasto or Vitrofrigo or Truckfridge

Indel B is apparently a manufacturer who paired up with Webasto to market Isotherm fridges/freezers. Indel B and Vitrofrigo may have done the same thing. Truckfridge is the cheapest of this group and is also made by Indel B.

There may be slight or significant differences in the different namebrands although their products look very similar. These all use the Danfoss compressor.

4. Dometic Waeco and CFX

May use its own compressor but some Waecos state they use a Danfoss compressor. Difficult to know where Waeco brand falls within the general competition (e.g., competes with Engel and ARB or with Indel.B?).

Dometic also has the CFX line of portable fridges, which apparently use a Waeco compressor.

5. Whynter, Edgestar and Other Brands

Don't have much info on these brands but may be cheaper than the others listed above. Would want to see if these have a Danfoss compressor.

NovaKool is a well-known brand but don't know where it competes. May not have any portable fridges.

Thetford Norcold has a couple of portable fridges, NRF series. http://www.thetford.com/products/ref...refrigerators/

Last edited by OldWest; 03-18-2018 at 10:26 PM. Reason: Add NovaKool, add Danfoss compressor used by Indel B group; add Thetford Norcold and Dometoc CFX.
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Old 03-18-2018, 09:11 PM   #3
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Default Re: Mod: Portable Fridge/Freezer

Where to buy?

As.these portable fridges/freezer weigh quite a bit, look for free shipping or calculate in price comparisons.

Besides Amazon, Camping World may sometimes have good sales.

Truckfridge.com sells the Indel B fridges under the Truckfridge name. They sometimes do group buys and/or discounts with the variois truck forums--so may want to search for a discount.


Westyventures says Vitrofrigo and Truckfridge are the same other than trim levels (from Indel B):


Same with equipt1.com which pops up on various truck forums.


Last edited by OldWest; 03-18-2018 at 09:34 PM. Reason: Add Westyventures link
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Old 06-25-2019, 02:11 PM   #4
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Default Re: Mod: Portable Fridge/Freezer

Lots of great info here, and accurate too from my recent experience over-researching portable fridge/freezers. I joined here last night to make a small contribution to your well thought out post.

An almost two year old comment on Amazon about the Dometic CFX50 using a Danfoss compressor caught my eye, as I saw a recent review that claimed otherwise. I received this answer on Dometic's website yesterday: "All of our current CFX models will use a Dometic/Waeco compressor".

So they did but now they don't, at least in the CFX line.

I'm a trucker with a built in 12v Norcold fridge, but it has one of those tiny box freezer areas in the top that doesn't even keep ice cream frozen. So I've been eyeing these fridge/freezers for the same reason you suggested; to have both.

I ordered an Engel MR040 yesterday directly from their site. Amazon wants $849 plus tax (to CA), with the standard 3 year warranty.

Engel has them on sale NOW for $700, no tax and free ground shipping. They also extend the warranty an additional 2 years for a total of 5. I'm impressed with the Sawafuji swing motor, not to mention a trucker turned me onto the name over twenty years ago on the CB.

I called them because they offer several rather expensive additional shipping options, including Fedex ground, in addition to FREE ground shipping. I was told their FREE ground is Fedex also, and should arrive from South Florida in 5 business days, after a day or two processing. That was the only question I had with their online ordering, which went smoothly. Credit cards or Paypal, which I used.


I was tempted to go with a larger capacity, but the relatively light weight (48 lbs) of the MR040 thanks to its polypropylene case convinced me, not to mention the sale. I can lug this one into a motel if need be.

These Sawafuji compressors, designed by a German, license purchased by Sawafuji in 1956, have been produced since 1957, the year of my birth. It is not uncommon for this maintenance free compressor to last over 20 years! Aussies swear by it.


My toaster oven arrives today too. Pizza party soon!

No affiliation whatsoever, I just wanted to share what I think is a great deal.

EDIT: Shipped today, 06/25/19, with Fedex tracking.

Last edited by workingklasshero; 06-26-2019 at 03:16 AM.
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