IT’S OFTEN said that two is better than one, but I find that’s not always the case. For example, take 12-volt camping fridge/freezers. I’ve sampled a few dual-zone units and find most fail to achieve the desired result of creating two totally separate zones of different temperatures.
Some units simply incorporate their evaporator on one end of the fridge and have a (removable) inner wall to separate the zones. It then relies on the coldest air wafting from the zone you are trying to freeze to the other end that you’re attempting to use as just a fridge. Removing that wall then supposedly converts your fridge/freezer into a single-zone fridge or freezer. Sadly, it doesn’t always work as planned with this method, and I’ve been left with frozen food and drinks instead of nicely chilled.
Other units have two separate zones with two separate controls that allow individual temperature settings. Technically, this will work better than the above method but, sadly, some fridge controls don’t work as intended and I’ve ended up with frozen beer, limp lettuce and a car-load of unhappy campers.
Having recently tested many single-zone fridges (September, 2016) and finding the then newly released Opposite Lock fridge to be ahead of the rest, I figured I would put the (also recently released) 72-litre combination fridge/freezer to a long-term test.
Before setting off on yet another adventure, I connected the unit with 240 volts in the shed just to monitor temperatures in both zones. I set the 32-litre section to -21°C and the 40-litre section to 3°C and the results were positive. I then reversed the temperatures within the zones and achieved perfect results yet again. Fiddling with the temperatures in each zone to see how clever the Opposite Lock electronics were also returned pleasing results.
Plonking the fridge box into the Troopy revealed how large it is. At 71.5cm long x 45.5cm wide x 60.5cm tall, and weighing 30kg when empty, you won’t be carting it around by yourself when full. And therein lays my only gripe with this dual-zoned fridge/freezer: the higher a box is, the harder it is to easily access the contents. Something will almost always be under something else, making it harder to access compared to a longer and lower unit which allows more side-by-side packing.
The internal removable basket is similarly tall and narrow, but it can at least allow the contents of the larger zone to be lifted out for easier access. The other (smaller) zone has no basket. It’s impossible to have a large fridge without either taking up a lot of floor space or incorporating tall walls. Basically, you have to have one or the other. The final decision may well depend on your 4x4 set-up. With my Troopy, I have plenty of in-cabin height, so it’s not a drama.
Having been chugging away on 12 volts in the back of my 4x4 for well on five months now, this Opposite Lock 72-litre fridge/freezer has performed impeccably with regards to maintaining pre-set temperatures as well as efficiency. It has run the battery flat a few times given it’s sat in the driveway for more than a few days at a time – yes, I know I should have turned it off, but with the variable voltage cut-out settings of 10.0, 10.7 and 11.8, not too much damage can be done to the deep-cycle battery given it will switch itself off at the pre-set voltage.
A useful feature I find invaluable is the standard wireless remote temperature readout that plugs into a ciggie socket. With readouts for both the compartments, as well as battery voltage, I know the fridge is working as intended while driving. The ciggie power plug easily converts to a merit-style by removing the red end-cap, and this provides an improved connection point that is less likely to fall out over rougher roads.
The included canvas (outer) and reflective (inner) travel cover keeps direct sunlight (and heat) off the fridge, so it can help with battery longevity via less compressor run-times.
Being able to offer the kids icy poles and ice cream while out camping, as well as keeping frozen meat and veggies in the freezer section, is pure camping indulgence and something I’ve not been able to achieve before. In combination with having crispy, cold lettuce, icy cold (non-frozen) beer and milk in the other zone, the fridge has kept all of my family members more than happy.
Given both sides (or zones) of this unit can be used as either a fridge or freezer, or the whole thing used as a dedicated fridge or as dedicated freezer, makes this a versatile and user-friendly combination fridge/freezer.
This impressive dual-zone fridge is a real winner, and given its quality 60mm-thick, polyurethane-injected and insulated cabinet, variable-speed 66-watt Snowmaster compressor with auto and economy settings, excellent fridge seals, internal LED lights (in both of the zones) and over-centre lockable latches on the two separate lids, it should keep my whole crew happy – that’s the theory at least.
It also has an open-lid alarm, which should prove invaluable when the kids try to nick another icy pole.
Available from: www.oppositelock.com.au
We say: Reliable, brilliant and a must-have.