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Few things beat the feeling of pulling an ice-cold beer out of your camping fridge on a scorching day in the middle of nowhere. Spring has sprung and the world is opening up with summer holidays just around the corner. So, now is the time to dust off the gear and get ready to hit the road to somewhere undiscovered.

If you plan on putting that ice-cold beverage to your lips in the middle of the bush, it’s important to ensure your 12v fridge freezer has the best chance of success at any temperature. Solar options (panels and batteries) have greatly improved efficiency and storage over the last few years but there are a few things you can do to reduce energy consumption and keep the beers cool and lights shining while on the road.

10 Tips to Save Energy and Improve Your 12V Fridge Freezer’s Performance

1. Get a high-quality 12v fridge freezer

Your first step to energy efficiency is starting our right with the best equipment available. You rely on your portable fridge/freezer for the critical task of keeping food fresh and drinks cold which means quality and reliability are your allies.

Ambient temperature can make difference in performance and price. If you plan to travel in extreme temperatures, it’s worth considering a fridge with additional insulation such as the SnoMaster Expedition series. The Snomaster Classic Series is a firm favourite with camping, Overlanding and 4×4 enthusiasts and is suitable for most of South Africa’s climate. For less demanding usage, take a look at the SnoMaster Traveller or Snomaster Leisure series options.

With a high-quality energy-efficient camping fridge, you are off to a good start. All that’s left is to follow some simple, yet practical advice to get the best out of your investment.

2. Give your 12v fridge freezer a headstart

Cool your food and drinks before packing them.

Don’t put room temperature items in your fridge as it makes it work harder and use more power. It is always better to pre-chill items before putting them in your 12V fridge. This might not be feasible on the road but is recommended where possible.

3. Don’t cool air

Keep your 12v fridge freezer full.

A full fridge works more efficiently as there is less air to cool. If your food stock is running low, putting bottles of water as space fillers in the fridge works well. Once these bottles of water are cool, you’ll save a bunch of energy and have cool drinking water.

4. Shade your 12v fridge freezer

Keep your 12v fridge freezer out of the sun.

There is a significant difference between a 12v fridge operating in 20 degrees and 40 degrees Celsius ambient temperature. The higher the temperature outside the fridge, the more energy is required to keep the inside cool.

SnoMaster's line of 12V fridge freezers were specifically designed to withstand a wide range of ambient temperatures
SnoMaster’s line of 12V fridge freezers were specifically designed to withstand a wide range of ambient temperatures

While you can’t control the weather, you can control where you store your camping fridge. Parking under a tree and opening the back of the vehicle (or doors) will help to reduce the ambient temperature and reduce energy consumption. The same applies at the braai, picnic or on the beach; keep the fridge in the shade for more economical operation and energy saving.

5. Don’t rush. There are no deadlines in the bush.

Open the 12v fridge freezer’s lid slowly.

If you unlatch and snatch the lid up quickly, the rapid movement sucks a large amount of cold air out of the fridge. When you close the lid again, the fridge has to work extra hard to cool down the hot air that entered to fill the void left by the cold air when it escaped.

Patience is the name of the game. Simply crack the lid slowly until it’s about 10cm open and then open it normally. This technique prevents most of the cold air from escaping and notably reduces power consumption.

6. Let your 12v fridge freezer breathe

Ensure Airflow around the compressor.

None of the above-mentioned energy-saving tips means much if the compressor can’t breathe freely. Make sure the compressor has enough room around it to draw clean, cool air without working too hard. Try to avoid mounting the 12v fridge in an enclosed area or use a computer fan or small vent to enable circulation if you have no other option.

7. Keep it under wraps

Use a fridge cover.

Fridge covers don’t just make your 12v fridge freezer look cool – they keep it cool too. Fridge covers protect your camping fridge but they also act as additional insulation from ambient temperatures which helps performance and energy consumption.

8. The other lockdown

Close your 12v fridge freezer’s lid properly.

If hot air can get in or if cold air can escape, your 12v fridge freezer will work harder and use more energy to keep its contents cool. It is worth taking the extra two seconds to do the latches up and seal the lid properly.

9. Make it a quicky

Open the lid as little as possible.

Make a habit of grabbing what you need and closing the lid. The longer the fridge is open, the more cool air will escape and need to be cooled when it’s closed again. When cooking, plan ahead and grab everything you’ll need from the fridge in one go so that you don’t need to open the lid multiple times.

10. Check your 12v fridge freezer’s power supply

If the wiring in the power supply to your 12v fridge freezer is under-sized, your fridge will quickly lose efficiency. The issue most often creeps in from the battery to your fridge powerpoint, so make sure the wiring is adequate.

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