Fridge with digital temperature control?

motas

Adventurer
Hi all,

Anyone know if any 12v fridges have a proper digital temperature control system to hold a reasonably steady temperature? Would prefer upright but would be happy with chest options as well.

I've had Engels over the years but I'm sick of constantly adjusting the dial to stop warm or frozen food as the ambient temperature changes so much over the day. It seems most fridges have the same simple warmer-colder dial. Doesn't seem that hard in this day and age to have a digital control system.

Cheers.
 

nwoods

Expedition Leader
I think my second generation ARB 50qt has digital control. However, its all relative, and I mean that literally, I am not an expert on this, but my understanding is that the compressors have an effective range, so they will only cool down to a certain range from ambient. If you have your fridge set at 36 and it has a range of 40 degrees, the warmest ambient temperature it can maintain 36 degrees in would be 36+40 = 76 degrees ambient local temp. Maybe not the best example, but its easy math :)
 

motas

Adventurer
Fwiw,
My low budget Alpicool uses a ’digital’ control.
Last month I used it a couple weeks. At the temp setting I was using and with a Govee transmitter laying inside on top of the contents, which records to a phone, shows interior fluxuates -.5° to +2.5°C as compressor swtches on/off.
Normally I keep the fridge in ’max mode’ which should keep temperature closer to its set point by running more frequently.
I never messed with ’eco mode’. I expect that will create wider temperature swing to maintain an average.
Thanks for the suggestion, that’s not a terrible temperature swing, definitely better than my not low budget Engel. I’m not too fussed about power draw just want my food to stay cold but not frozen!
I think my second generation ARB 50qt has digital control. However, its all relative, and I mean that literally, I am not an expert on this, but my understanding is that the compressors have an effective range, so they will only cool down to a certain range from ambient. If you have your fridge set at 36 and it has a range of 40 degrees, the warmest ambient temperature it can maintain 36 degrees in would be 36+40 = 76 degrees ambient local temp. Maybe not the best example, but its easy math :)
ARB was what I was thinking, but can’t go look at them at the moment and hard to tell online how the controls work. I understand there are limitations on the cooling, but I haven’t had the Engel at full bore even in the middle of summer.
I would think that it the fridge is not full it will swing more high and low then if it was filled. If it is empty when this happens then add s bottle(s) of water to fill up the extra space. The volume should control the temperature and stabilize it.

I believe that most fridge freezers have the temperature sensor on the outside skin of the inside cooling panel. What You are not getting is the center of the fridge temperature where the food is. This is the temperature you want not the skin temperature.

To check this temperature you could get a thermometer in the middle of the goods carried and check that to see how steady the temperature is during the day.

Da Frenchman
It definitely helps but the swing from 30c to 0c overnight is enough to go from normal fridge temperature to frozen overnight if I forget to change the dial (or guess badly). I just think it should be easy enough for the fridges to include a thermometer in the compartment to use as a feedback loop.
 

SBSYNCRO

Active member
Has your Engel always had this problem? If not you may have a bad thermistor.

I know that my Dometic CFX has a digital temp setting and will hold temp to within 3-4° F regardless of ambient temp. It will freeze food when it is 100°. F outside, but it will run the compressor constantly.

To maintain 36° in 75-80° weather it will cycle for 30-45 seconds every 3 minutes if not opened. (Pulling 45 to 60 watts while doing so)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

motas

Adventurer
Has your Engel always had this problem? If not you may have a bad thermistor.

I know that my Dometic CFX has a digital temp setting and will hold temp to within 3-4° F regardless of ambient temp. It will freeze food when it is 100°. F outside, but it will run the compressor constantly.

To maintain 36° in 75-80° weather it will cycle for 30-45 seconds every 3 minutes if not opened. (Pulling 45 to 60 watts while doing so)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Multiple Engels. You can't actually set them to a temperature, just a dial which I assume is duty cycle so I don't think it's an issue with the fridge, it's an issue with the design.

I actually found a test of a variety fridges which shows the issue I'm talking about. Looks like opposite lock and national luna are the two most consistent.
 

SBSYNCRO

Active member
Interesting. Well, at any rate, I know the Dometic units use a thermostatically controlled compressor and allow you to set the temp with a digital display. Snomaster is the same.
 

motas

Adventurer
Interesting. Well, at any rate, I know the Dometic units use a thermostatically controlled compressor and allow you to set the temp with a digital display. Snomaster is the same.
I think Dometic and Waeco are the same brand now?
That sounds like old school Capilary Tube Thermostat.
I know crap about Engel, but I cant imaging anybody building a fridge what controls temperature by simply adjusting its dutycycle.
Fwiw,
If your fridge uses a mechanical thermostat whats gone duff, but otherwise fridge is still sound and functional.
I suggest changing to a digital control. Amazon, ebay, et.al are awash with inexpensive controls parts.
I had an old Engel and a new Engel (and have seen a REALLY old Engel) and from the outside at least the control system hasn't changed. There's a dial and clockwise is colder. I generally set it to 0.5 overnight and 2 or 3 during the day and hope for the best, leaving it on either option by itself ends up with frozen or warm food. I don't think it's a broken thermostat and I no longer own either Engels.
I have a Acutite thermometer that has a wired sensor and sensor built in the base unit. I place the remote sensor inside of the fridge near the center of the food. I have watched it and I only get 2 to 3 degree F. change between day and night or between the hours when I check it. This is generally the same digital reading as the fridge shows or within 1 degree. My Engel fridge is a 45 QT. unite

The fridge cycles on and off at between every 15 to 30 minutes for around 2 to 5 minutes. It varies between the cooler nights to warm and hot days. When I add warm sodas to replace the ones I drink it will run a bit longer, until they cool down.

I have made a silver mylar bubble wrap cover for the out side of the unit.I had done this on my fridge from day #1 so I do not how much this has helped.
That sounds WAY better than all my Engel experiences! How warm does it generally get during the day where you are vs at night? It's been particularly noticeable at one campsite that's always freezing at night but hot during the day.

I think I'm going to get either a National Luna or a Trailblaza with an upsized compressor.
 

JMacs

Observer
I have an ARB 50qt Series 1, chest type. It has a digital display. I did test the accuracy when I first got it, thermometer in a glass of water. I was within a degree or two. It will do better than 40-degree below ambient. I kept ice cream sandwiches frozen for my daughters volleyball team for a couple of weeks during their season. Single digit temps if I remember correctly. Ambient probably went up to around 80 a few times. After around 7 years of bouncing around in the back of my truck, I think it is about time to replace it.
 

67cj5

Man On a Mission
The Digital displays as pointed out by the people who make the Fridges Are only a Guide, There are many things to take in account,

1) The Fridge sensor is in the bottom in most cases and as the cold Air sinks the Temp at the bottom will swing by a couple of degrees where as the Temp at the Top can vary as much as 5*c OR 9*f That is Normal depending on how high the cooling plates come up the sides.

2) Fridges that have a stainless steel or Aluminum lining that goes from Top to Bottom like Engel, National Luna and Snomaster are much more temperature stable than fridges like ARB or Dometic where the Cold Plates only come up 80% of the side, The Downside of the Full Plate versions is they can not be used as a DuelZone fridge where as the ARB and the Dometic versions can where you can set them to -10 and still have the Dairy area and the top area of the main compartment around 0*c/32*f +/-.

3) With the full plate versions in order to use them as a Duelzone you really need to buy one that has 2 thermostats / and displays with either One or Two Lids, Being Duel Controls they will use more power than using a Single Zone Type fridge like the ARB or Dometic being as a Duel zone fridge,

If you have a limited power supply the ARB's and the previous model Dometics are the way to go and even if you do have a twin Battery setup a Duel Zone/Twin or Single Lid fridge Like the Snomasters and National Luna's are still going to give your batteries a Good workout where as their single versions won't as much but you loose the duel zone option, The other choice is to run two fridges, Where as if you need the extra storage space but only want to run one fridge thenthe ARB60L/63Qt or the ARB78L/82Qt version can save you power as well as give you the best of both worlds using them as Duel Zones using only the power of a single zone,

The temp Variations can be used to your advantage depending on they type of fridge you buy, I know this first hand having bought and tested many New fridges in the past 5 years, All of the above is more important than the name/brand because you have got to live with them for a long while and get it wrong and you will hate it, If any of the above matches your needs then buy the fridge that opperates the way you need it too because all of the above work differantly and the Brand you want may not work the way you need it too, Work out what you want it to do and Go from there.

Hope that helps.
 

67cj5

Man On a Mission
Multiple Engels. You can't actually set them to a temperature, just a dial which I assume is duty cycle so I don't think it's an issue with the fridge, it's an issue with the design.

I actually found a test of a variety fridges which shows the issue I'm talking about. Looks like opposite lock and national luna are the two most consistent.
The Oppositelock is Actually the 40L Snomaster and its a mighty little fridge.
 

devero4

Adventurer
Interesting to read the concerns with your Engel! I've owned two and while I live in a fairly warm climate I've always set my dial at 1 - 1.5 and let 'er rip. I use a analog thermometer hanging from the basket to monitor the temp every time I open the lid. It's always been between 35-40 degrees F, though I will occasionally turn it to 2 if it's stupid hot out
 
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