Gas Fridge vs Compressor Fridge

It is not always easy when choosing which fridge will best work for you, here we discuss the benefits as well as the drawbacks of a Gas Fridge vs a Compressor Fridge.

Quick Summary of Gas Fridges

  • How they work
    • They work off heat so most efficient when running on gas
    • Silent operation
  • They perform best when
    • In a stable level situation
  • Best Suited to
    • Motorhomes
    • Homes
    • Long term camping
  • Benefits
    • No power needed – A bottle of gas will last for weeks
    • Up-front costs minimal
  • Maintenance
    • The burner needs to be kept clean and should be inspected every 6 months

Quick Summary of 12V Compressor Fridges

  • How they work
    • They run off a low power 12V / 24V Compressor
  • They perform best when
    • All the time, providing the cooling unit has adequate ventilation
  • Best Suited to
    • Will handle any fixed or mobile installation
  • Benefits
    • Compressor fridges have a fast cool down time
    • Can run for years on a solar set up
  • Maintenance
    • Compressor fridges don’t require any ongoing maintenance

How to choose between a gas fridge and a 12V compressor fridge

LPG Gas Fridge

A gas fridge uses heat to cycle the refrigerant through the absorption cooling system. LPG gas is the most efficient way to run an absorption fridge, as the LPG gas instantly produces a very hot flame.

240V power will also cool an absorption fridge well, although the heating element needs to produce the same amount of heat as a gas flame, so it is not as efficient as on LPG gas.

12 V operation in an absorption fridge is often considered a holding or travel mode only. The temperature of the fridge will remain steady, but the fridge will not have the power to cool down quickly.  This occurs because the small 12 Volt heating element cannot produce the same amount of heat as a gas flame, so it uses a lot of electricity trying to keep up. A stable, level surface is required to operate an absorption fridge in the most effective way. So a moving car, caravan, motorhome or boat is not an ideal situation.

2-Way and 3-Way are terms referring to absorption fridges which can operate on 2 or 3 different power supplies. This is usually a combination of LPG Gas and 240 Volt (2-Way) or LPG Gas, 12 Volt and 240 Volt (3-Way).

12V Compressor Fridges

A compressor fridge uses electricity to run a low-power compressor, which in turn pumps the refrigerant through the cooling system.

DC fridges use a dedicated 12V / 24V compressor which is designed to operate in a moving vehicle. Most compressors will operate on angles up to 30º. In general terms, a compressor fridge will also perform better in extremely hot and humid conditions. This combination makes compressor fridges the first choice for mobile use or off-grid situations where 12V power is readily available.

A stable DC power supply is generally provided by a car battery or battery bank. Your batteries will need to be topped up regularly. You can do this is a variety of ways; using your car engine, boat engine, solar panels, a petrol/diesel generator, a 240V smart charger or any combination of these.

In Summary

Gas Fridges are perfect when used predominantly on LPG Gas, on a stable and level surface. They also have low up-front costs.

12V Compressor Fridges are the best choice when 12V or 24V power is readily available and are recommended for mobile situations.