Engel Fridge for Van Build: 6-Month Review

Engel’s portable fridge/freezer series incorporates first-rate designs and modern tech to help you get — and stay — off the beaten path. I put the SR70F refrigerator through real-life testing in my van build for this review.

There’s a laundry list of options when it comes to portable fridges, from compressor and gas-powered fridges to thermoelectric options that come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

So deciding which one is appropriate for your end-use can be stressful. We used the SR70F with an eye toward efficiency, effectiveness, and durability.

Engel began designing fridges in Japan in 1962, finally bringing its products to the U.S. market in 1999. Now, Engel boasts an extensive line of products for RVs, van conversions, marine use, and more.

The brand’s portable fridge/freezer units range from 14 to 85 quarts, with some easily carried on your shoulder. When given the opportunity to test out two of Engel’s more robust models, I happily obliged.

In short: My partner and I decided on integrating the SR70F into our RAM ProMaster build. After 6 months of full-time use and numerous trips off the grid, I’m impressed with the efficiency and durability of this small fridge/freezer built into my cabinets. But there are a few things I’d like to see changed.

Continue reading for the full review.

20190811_144528

Engel SR70F Fridge/Freezer Review

After finalizing the layout of my 2016 RAM ProMaster, it was finally time to tackle appliances. I did a bunch of research and contacted Engel, who was kind enough to give me the SR70F for my build. Thanks, Engel!

And while the brand did gift me the cooler, I’m going to share the good and bad I’ve experienced so far with you. I decided on this model because its optimal size, solar compatibility, and general spec sheet made it a no-brainer.

Efficiency

Like many portable refrigerators meant for in-vehicle use, the Engel SR70F is extremely efficient. According to Engel’s product page, the SR70F unit’s power consumption varies from 0.5 to 2.7 amps (12V DC). Thus far, this metric has been accurate.

I incorporated three 100W solar panels and two 12V 100AH AGM marine batteries to store energy. On full-sun days, I tend to pull anywhere from 3 to 5 amps, while the fridge uses around 0.5 amps in its normal state (1-2 amps upon startup).

So I’ve had no problem keeping this fridge running on my panels and marine batteries alone.

VanDOIt Adventure Van Build
Space-Saving Solutions for Campervan Living

A van provides a great space to build a custom adventure vehicle. But while vans have more interior space than many cars and trucks, they still have limited square footage. Here, we offer tips to plan your van build. Read more…

To be sure, I do a decent amount of driving with the van acting as my main vehicle. This means the batteries often have time to regenerate beyond the use of solar. Regardless of how it’s regenerated, the SR70F is extremely efficient using around 1-1.3 AH over 24 hours.

DSCF8371

Ample Space

For my RAM ProMaster, the SR70F is an ideal size. With external dimensions of 20 x 23 x 21 inches and a weight of 44.8 pounds, it was easy to handle and install into my cabinet-like space.

Engel specifically sized the SR70F, along with its SB70F and SR48F units, to fit industry-standard cutouts. To me, it seems like the right model for smaller van builds like mine. Engel also makes bigger models for RVs and yachts, too, as do other brands like Dometic.

But for a van-life build, the SR70F’s 60-quart volume doesn’t leave me wanting much in terms of space. One can easily stuff it full of fresh fruits and vegetables to eat the morning before a big ride, or stock it full of their favorite cold beverages to enjoy afterward. If you’re like me, it will most likely be a mix of both.

This is a must-have when living full-time out of your vehicle. Additionally, the side-opening door is convenient for everyday use and is extremely helpful for keeping food and beverages organized. The door is also reversible and can easily be switched depending on the needs of the space.

Engel SR70F Effectiveness

The SR70F keeps food and drinks cold. It integrates a simple dial-knob above the door that has five settings. My unit generally sits around setting 2, which is perfect for keeping fresh fruits and fragile vegetables like berries, spinach, and broccoli from spoiling.

Any setting higher than this is generally too cold. I do keep a steady eye on this, as temperature swings can lead to unwanted condensation within the fridge or on frozen foods and beverages.

This model has a small freezer compartment built in. I find myself using the freezer component more often than I initially figured. I do wish it was a little bigger, but it’s large enough to fit a few of your favorite cold desserts or leftovers from dinner.

Another minor drawback is the inability to turn the freezer component off completely. At times it would be more efficient to use the entirety of the unit as a fridge. This would free up additional space and, most likely, take care of any issues related to condensation.

With that said, this is a trivial inconvenience, especially with the amount of ice cream that gets eaten in my van.

DSCF8376

To date, the SR70F has also held up terrifically to over 10,000 miles of driving — split between smooth highways, pothole-laden city streets, and backcountry maintenance roads.

There’s little to no show of wear and tear, with no compromise to the integrity of the unit or its usability. It’s built into the cabinet structure with little room to move, but even so, I’ve been impressed with its durability.

Engel SR70F Fridge Freezer Specs

  • MSRP: $730
  • Model: SR70F-U1
  • Volume: 60 qt
  • Power consumption: Variable from 0.5 to 2.7 amps (12V DC)
  • Power source: 12V/24V DC (hardwire) & 110V AC
  • Cutout dimensions: 18.27″ L x 20.63″ D x 20.43″ H
  • External dimension: 21″ L x 23″ D x 21″ H
  • Net weight: 44.8 lbs
  • Warranty: 3 years