Many Vanagon owners have given up on the good ol’ original refrigerator. Ours worked on electric and battery, but we never fiddled with the gas setting. However, we knew that it drew a lot of battery power – as it was just not as efficient as the newer compressor systems. It also has a lot of wasted space with thick insulated walls and limited shelf arrangements. So we chose to remove it like many others.
In place of the stock refrigerator we added some wire shelving to create a food storage pantry. Then Mike reused the original outer skin of the fridge door as the pantry door. This keeps a clean, finished look when the door is closed. We covered the lower vents with a piece of metal to reduce dirt entering the pantry.
For our first three months in Baja we used an amazing ice chest from Canyon Coolers of Arizona. This was able to hold food cold for many days on very little ice. But even cold cheese is not pleasant when fished out of a watery bath. We quickly grew tired of the ice chest routine and started shopping for a refrigerator solution.
After much research on sizes, amperage draw and efficiency Mike settled on the Engel brand name. We were able to order a custom size from our friends at AT Overland (www.atoverland.com) The Engle 27 (a 22 liter capacity) fits right between our front seats.
We have modified seats in the van. (search the website using keyword “seats” for more info) These leather seats are slightly wider than stock seats and have a plastic trim base. They were second row seats in a VW Routan previously. The related information on this website tells how we installed these custom seats.
The Engel refrigerator draws very low amps. It runs on either shore power (household electricity) or batter power (12v auxiliary battery) and can run for many days without impacting our battery storage. We typically pack it completely full and leave the setting on 2. It goes as high as 5, but 4-5 are freezing. We have not attempted it, but reports state that it will make ice! I should note that we do not keep beer or wine on hand, only food storage. This is just the right size for two of us to travel with, however when we added another passenger we could have used more space. But since we are hooked on French Vanilla coffee creamer, we always find space for that in the refrigerator.
Here are a few photos of the Engel 27 in place between the seats. This placement of the refrigerator creates a flat area that is as wide as the van. Zeb, the director of security has chosen this as his bed. Each night he crawls up onto the passenger seat and spreads across the fridge. If he hears a noise outside he can look under the front curtain and assess the threat!
This is NOT a paid advertisement. I was not offered any products, discounts or other considerations for preparing this review. I do not work for any company mentioned herein and was not sponsored by them in any way. I simply wanted to share information with others.
5 thoughts on “Vanagon refrigerator option-”
Great question. We can hear it once in a while, when the world is totally quiet around us. The noise is a steady, balanced hum. No rattling or buzzing. But it would not be described as a noisy fridge!
One thing I like about the original refrigerator is that it is totally silent except those few times when the fan comes on. How noisy is the Engel?
Hey! Thanks for writing in. We do have to pull the fridge out of the “hallway” about 12 inches in order to swivel the seats. Then we slide it back in. We toss a blanket over it and it makes a bench for the dog to lay on!
Awesome! Cant wait to install a fridge in our van! Do you have to move the fridge when you swivel the front seats, or does it stay in its position all the time?