Two things will ruin a trip away in the van for me. The first is not having enough juice to power a hair dryer, because then I’ll get nagged the whole time and told: “After all this money spent on a motorhome, we may as well be in a tent!”
The second is warm beer. The hair-dryer problem we may well cover in a later email, but this week’s tip is about the much more important issue. How to enjoy cold beer while away in your van. If you don’t drink beer, then as you read this, substitute the word beer for anything else you like to keep cold, Prosecco, Pinot Grigio, milk, hemorrhoid cream etc.
In your van, you will have one of two fridge types; One that works only on electricity; this is a compressor fridge, much like the one you have at home. Or a fridge that operates on electricity and gas. This is an absorption fridge. More about the different types later. But first, we’ll give you some tips on how to keep your fridge cold.
Pre-cool it long before you leave
Absorption fridges are best pre-cooled using mains electricity, say a minimum of 6 hours, but overnight or even a full 24 hours is good. If you want ice, it’s always better to add ice to the freezer compartment than make the machine fridge freeze you some. You’ll have more ice as well. Compressor fridges don’t need long at all and a couple of hours of pre-cooling is probably enough.
Fill it with Cold Things
Make sure that everything you put in the fridge is as cold as possible. In addition, we will often freeze a 4 pint container of water. This helps keep the fridge cold, and as it melts, it provides a few handy glasses of icy chilled water.
Don’t overfill it
Air must be allowed to move around the fridge cabinet. If it’s jammed full, it cannot, and parts of the fridge could get unhealthily warm. Need more room for beer! Throw out those eggs, the tomatoes and other fruit, they don’t really need to be taking up valuable space. Hard cheese too, it’ll taste better and will survive in a coolish place till you eat it.
Know what you want and where it is.
Think about it before you open the door. Browsing the contents of an open fridge, even for 10 seconds, warms it up quickly and wastes energy. Limit the time that your fridge’s doors are open. Keep your fridge organised and tidy so you know where everything is.
The following points are for 3-way absorptions fridges, remember they are the ones that use 12v, mains and gas.
The fridge will be more efficient if you are level. You don’t have to be spirit bubble perfect, but the leveller the better.
Check the vents
Your fridge will have vents to the outside. In the summer, ensure there are no winter vent covers in place.
These vents work best in the shade. In hot weather, if the vents are in direct sun, your beer is going to be warm. When it is hot, think about where the vents are and park to give them some shade from the heat of the day. If your vents are on the same side as your main entrance door and you want to park facing the sun, use an awning to put the vents in the shade.
Help your absorption fridge stay cool with additional fans
You can fit 12v fans in those vents that will help move the hot air out and assist the cooling. You can buy fans for specific fridges, but any fan will do. However, don’t fit them yourself unless you are confident you know what you are doing.
The Fridge manufacturer produces these fans, but there are plenty of
cheaper third party fans that you can buy
TOP TIP WHEN RUNNING YOUR FRIDGE ON GAS
When operating your fridge on Gas if you find your beer is not quite cold enough, try lowering the setting a little. Very often, ‘full on’ isn’t the coldest setting. As odd as it sounds; by turning it down a little you’ll often find a sweet spot that is more efficient and a little colder.