REAL-world REAL-use Cooler Review
of the ARB 50 QT (72LT) Fridge-Freezer
How long does a home refrigerator/freezer last now days? 10 years? 12? We spend thousands of dollars on such an appliance, but yet we expect the same quality from a 12 volt portable cooler costing $50-$150? That just ain’t happening folks.
After much research, in preparation for my western trip, I decided on the ARB 50 QT (72LT) Fridge-Freezer. I bought it directly from ARBUSA as they offered me an exceptional savings at the time, and they contacted me back when Engel did not. This Fridge-Freezer has temperature control… not just a setting for a set temperature… and it would even freeze. I used it EXTENSIVELY for a full NINE months, and I tell you what, I don’t think I could have made it on the road without it! I installed a separate fused 12V DC receptacle in the rear of my van for powering this fridge-freezer.
Here are some of the specs:
- Can maintain an interior temperature of 0 degrees for true in-vehicle refrigeration and freezing
- Holds up to 72 12-ounce cans, and can also accommodate a two-liter bottle of cola
- Continues to actively cool contents while the vehicle is off, and features an adjustable automatic battery protection system that prevents vehicle battery run-down
- Includes two power cables: the DC power cable connects to your vehicle’s 12/24-volt DC power outlet, and the AC power cable plugs into a standard household AC power outlet
- Exterior Footprint: 27.75″L x 14.96″W x 20″H — Main Compartment: 13.27″D x 11.22″W x 15.79″H — Dairy Compartment: 5.95″D x 11.22″W x 8.11″H
I’ve kept things at 36F when the outside temp was in the upper 80’s… add another 30 degrees for interior temperature, even though I’d keep a window open a bit to try to let some of the hot air out. I loaded it up with supplies (sausage, bacon, eggs, milk, juice, soda, beer, cheese, yogurt, condiments, etc), kept the meat on the bottom, turned down the thermostat, and the meat was froze by the next morning. The stuff above it was kept cold. VERY cold. I might add that the interior light is exceptional; no problem finding what you need in the dark.
The next day I went down 12 miles of ex-TREME washboard roads in the Badlands National Park. My van was shaking so badly that I couldn’t go over 4 MPH. And half of the time I couldn’t even go over 2 MPH! The contents inside of my van were strewn all over the floor at the end! And yet I had no damage to the cooler-freezer whatsoever. At the end of that road, I had the unit at an incline over night; an incline that I am quite SURE exceeded the 30 degree tilt limit, and yet I had no problem keeping the meat froze and the other contents cold. Elevations of 8,000+ feet above sea level didn’t create any problems either.
I’d run it off DC (vehicle battery) for 9, 13, even 17 hours while at work, and had no problem keeping things cold, or having a dead battery, when “battery monitor” was set to medium. While parked at work, at the store, “out in the field”, etc, it ran off of my battery. While on the road, it ran off of my DC electrical system. While parked at camp, I ran it off 120V AC from either my generator or park power if that was available. It automatically senses when 120V AC is plugged into the unit, and it then stops drawing on the 12V DC. And vise versa… it’ll automatically go to 12V DC when the 120V AC is no longer present.
Here are some other specs:
Overall capacity 47 Litre (49.7 quarts)
Connection voltage (North America) 12/24V DC and 120V AC ~ 60Hz
12V DC – 7.0 AMPS
24V DC – 3.0 AMPS
100-240V AC – 1.3-0.7 AMPS (1.4 AMPS @ 120V AC)
Cooling Capacity – +50F to 0F
Weight – 48.5 pounds
I know that when I’m ready for an excursion, this ARB fridge-freezer will be ready too. My next trip will be either Nevada, Colorado, or Alaska, and I have no concern that the ARB will continue to serve me well. I’ve put it through hell, and hell froze over. If you want quality, I definitely recommend an ARB. Remember what they say: you get what you pay for.
I’ve been using this ARB fridge/freezer constantly in my home since September of 2015. I’ve been using it as a freezer and it stays at a constant temperature of 0F to -2F. Still love it, and it will be coming with my for my prospecting and mining adventures this summer!
ARB 10800472 Fridge Freezer- 50 Quart