During the last trip, we had the opportunity to test a compressor refrigerator provided to us by Dometic Poland. Dometic refrigerators were known to us before, because we have been using the CFX 40 in our Opel Vivaro for 3 years. This time we checked how the maxi-refrigerator will work in a minivan.
The Dometic brand itself does not need to be introduced to tourism enthusiasts on board a motorhome or with a trailer on a hook. It is also worth knowing that this Swedish company known for the production of caravanning equipment is also the world's largest manufacturer of portable refrigerators.
When buying a cooler, most people choose between a thermoelectric cooler or a compressor cooler. The former will be cheaper, but also less efficient. Manufacturers state that under favorable conditions, the temperature may be up to 30 degrees lower than the ambient temperature. But in hot weather, this difference will unfortunately be much smaller. In addition, thermoelectric coolers usually have a small capacity - about 20 liters and consume more electricity.
Compressor refrigerator is different. The temperature in it is virtually independent of external conditions, and energy consumption is highest in the first phase of cooling. The CFX series has an electronic compressor control system. When the refrigerator reaches the desired temperature, it then only turns on occasionally to keep it. This has a very positive effect on the low power consumption. So in virtually every aspect (well, maybe apart from the price), the compressor refrigerator beats the thermoelectric one.
The CFX 100W is a large device with a capacity of 88 liters . The refrigerator is 957 mm wide, 472 mm high and 530 mm deep.
The equipment, however, entered the Opel Vivaro without any major problems. We do not have a middle row of seats, thanks to which the refrigerator fits perfectly under the table, between the rear seat and the driver's seat. Even our son, Maks, had an easier entry, because he first climbed on the fridge and jumped into the car seat from there.
In the middle of the refrigerator, there are tall bottles with drinks , including even standard wine bottles. Interestingly, the lid is concave on the inside, which further increases the capacity. Dividers in the basket allow for convenient segregation of food products into 3 groups.
A very practical solution is the ability to independently change the side on which the door opens. This is very important, because the device must be positioned in the right direction to have access to the buttons, and the fans must not be obstructed.
The removable stopper at the bottom of the refrigerator works very well when washing and pouring out the condensate. The device is quite heavy, so it would be problematic to rotate it to pour out the contents.
Insulation and energy saving
The CFX 100W model is equipped with a 3-stage battery protection sensor . This great solution is of great importance in vehicles that do not have a battery other than the starter battery.
Thanks to good insulation, the refrigerator keeps the temperature very well - even in a heated tent! One day we had to leave the fridge in our friends' tent, where the temperature was around 50 degrees C. After our return, the temperature inside it was still 7 degrees C - just like it had been arranged.
The refrigerator works on both 12V and 230V . In addition, it switches itself between the voltages. Where both types of power are available, priority is given to mains power (230 V). Thanks to this, when I came to the camping, I did not have to unplug the 12V plug - it was enough to connect the car to a 230V socket.
The control on the CFX allows the speed of the compressor to be varied linearly. As a result, immediately after starting, the refrigerator works at high speed to cool the interior to the set temperature as quickly as possible. After reaching it, it goes into the "ecological" sustaining mode (it is activated rarely and at lower revolutions). The advantages of this way of working are most noticeable when we run the refrigerator overnight. CFX works very intensively, but for a short time, and then no longer disturbs a restful sleep. All in all, the device turned out to be relatively quiet, although compared to our private one, it was a bit louder.
The refrigerator is so solid that it gives the impression that even a fall down the stairs would not damage it. Anyway, on the Dometic website you can find user reviews, including that the refrigerator of this series survived a car accident, after which it worked without any problems. I can believe it!
The handles are very strong and you don't have to worry that they will break off when carrying the refrigerator, even with 80 liters of water inside. Anyway, the same goes for the entire CFX series. Our private CFX40 model travels with us 30 thousand. km per year and is very often taken out of the car. And yet, after 3 years of intensive work, it still works without any problems.
With remote control
As a curiosity, it is worth mentioning that the refrigerator has a built-in WLAN transmitter that allows you to remotely control the settings. This means that we can quickly connect to the refrigerator using a smartphone to change the temperature, set the battery protection sensor and change other settings. This facilitation, however, is rather a gadget, because the same can be done with the buttons on the console.
Another gadget is ... the USB socket ! Thanks to it, the refrigerator can be used, for example, as a phone charger.
Speaking of electronics - it is worth mentioning one more, even more very useful function. The refrigerator was equipped with an emergency switch . By turning it on, we will force the compressor to work constantly. This can be useful in the event of a failure in the control electronics. So even if the controller is damaged, the refrigerator will work and we will not lose food while traveling.
There is no rose without thorns
Each product has some imperfections and it is no different with the CFX 100W model. In everyday use, the weight of the device turned out to be the most burdensome. Large dimensions and a weight of 32 kg are the reasons why the refrigerator - portable by design - is difficult to move. Of course, Dometic also offers smaller models, but they, in turn, have a smaller capacity (the smallest - 26 l).
Built-in wheels, such as in suitcases, would be a great convenience - thanks to this, transport would be much more convenient. The more so because these types of refrigerators are used not only in cars, but also at various types of events, where easy movement of the loaded device is even more important.
What we were missing (apart from the wheels) was the lid lock. If the car with the refrigerator is not on a perfectly flat ground, then you have to hold the lid with one hand and take out or put things in with the other hand. This can be tedious.
It is also a pity that the refrigerator is not waterproof, which makes it impossible to keep it under a cloud. If it were possible, it could additionally serve as a 2-seater bench at the table.
The entire series of CFX refrigerators is very successful, and the 100W model also convinces with its capacity. If someone has a place in their vehicle for such a device, it is worth opting for it and not thinking about what to do with drinks and food while traveling. In our case, fruit and vegetables took up a lot of space, and in the CFX 100W refrigerator they had a separate compartment for themselves. Thanks to this, they did not get in the way when we needed to take out other products. It turned out that even in a small van, a large refrigerator is a real treasure.