I always found it a major pain keeping food fresh when camping and anything more than a couple of days was almost not even worth the bother, a succession of cheap eskies meant that even keeping ice for more than a couple of days was problematic. The issue was always trying to put too much food in and not enough ice and when I finally purchased a 12 volt fridge it was a revelation. The Dometic CFX 75 DZW is our third fridge and it isn't because the others broke down, they were changed as our vehicles or camper trailers changed and we couldn't fit the old one in. This is our second Dometic fridge, the first one was a 65 Litre unit that we had for about four years and lived out of it during our 7 month trip around Oz, it's now in the hands of my daughter and her husband and is serving them well.
We chose the 75 Litre as, among other things it fitted on to the fridge slide of our Black Series Camper. The other thing I liked about it was that being a dual zone meant that we could set one half as a freezer and the other as a fridge and the lower profile of the 75 Litre unit means that it's easier to access for the vertically challenged without the need to buy one of those horrendously priced drop down fridge slides. The lids open from the side and can be swapped around to open from either the right or the left. The controls are easy to operate and are fairly intuitive without the need to watch hours of YouTube tutorials or reach for the instruction manual every time you want to make a change in settings. You can set the display in either Celsius or Fahrenheit for those that like to BBQ and do smoked meats. It also has the usual low voltage cut out options to help protect your fridge and for the techno geeks you can download a bluetooth app to your smart phone and monitor and control the fridge's temperature via bluetooth. There's a handy USB output for charging small electronic devices as well. The fridge is supplied with both mains power and 12 volt Ciga socket style leads and automatically detects when the mains is plugged in and switches over to 240V from 12 Volt.
Enough of the tech, you can get all of that from the sales brochure, how does it perform? We love it. As previously mentioned the 75 litre Dual Zone unit is of a fairly low profile and standing at only 472mm high, access to the two compartments, measuring 30 litres for the front and 45 litres for the rear is easier than the previous taller and narrower units that we have owned. Dividers with in the compartments baskets helps keep things in place as the load reduces. We found the best way to cool the fridge from ambient temperatures is to fill it with cold produce and drinks and se we generally turn it when we start loading it at home and for longer trips the frozen stuff goes in the larger rear 45 Litre compartment and food and drinks in the smaller front compartment. The great thing is though is that you can easily swap it around if it works best for you as you choose the temperature settings for each compartment. As far as settings go we generally set the freezer section to -18C and the fridge section down to +2C but I do alter them through out the day in effort to assist in power consumption. So what do I mean by this? well when we are driving I will set the freezer to -22C as it's effectively running from the vehicles charging system and not overly taxing our 100Ah deep cycle AGM battery, then once we have arrived at our camp site for the weekend I will increase the temp to somewhere between -16C to -18C. The freezer will last for quite a few hours before needing to turn on again to cool back to set temps, then in the cooler evening temps I'll turn it back to -18C to -20C before turning in, the theory being that as the ambient temperature drops and there's no-one getting stuff in and out of the fridge for the next eight hours it again can run more efficiently. Then in the morning I turn it back to the daytime temps of -16C to -18C. Bare in mind there's no science in my madness, it just makes sense to me and I'm a born fidgeter so tinkering with things fridge temps and battery levels keeps me occupied until campfire time.
As I've mentioned we run our fridge off a 100Ah deep cycle AGM battery which resides inside an ArkPak battery box which you can read a more detailed review of here. The ArkPak has an inbuilt DC to DC charger for use when driving and also has an Anderson plug input into which we plug a 160 watt regulated solar panel, we use the Kings variety and there's a review here. With plenty of sun the panel keeps the battery topped up and we've ran the fridge for extended periods of up to a week or more at the aforementioned temperatures. I haven't recorded any figures for actual power consumption and whilst I will endeavour to do so in the future and incorporate them into the review it's sufficient to say that the fridge hasn't ever caused us any concern with it's consumption. As an aside another couple of things we do to help with the efficiency side of things is move frozen foods from the freezer to the fridge to defrost a couple days in advance of it's intended use and we also carry some ice packs in the rear draws of the Prado that we add to the freezer as space becomes available, the idea being that the fuller the fridge/freezer the easier it maintains temps.
The construction of the fridge is robust enough to have not caused us any grief but we do take very good care of it and it's been in an insulated cover from day one, more to physically protect the fridge as opposed to helping with it's insulation qualities. The front smaller compartment has two baskets, one on top of the other and one large basket in the rear compartment with a divider in the middle, to maximise space we sometimes remove the divider and you'd be surprised how much more space it creates, four or five T-Bone steaks on a month long trip makes all the difference to your re-provisioning needs.
Overall we have no complaints about the Dometic CFX 75 DZW Fridge and would happily buy another. We paid around the $1350 mark for ours from BCF using their club membership to save around $300 on their marked R.R.P. They also pulled a few extra bucks off to price match one of their competitors advertised specials. More comprehensive technical specs on the fridge can be found on Dometics website here.
Oh I did read a couple of reviews lately of there being some problems with the low voltage cut out not being low enough to take advantage of the new super low discharge capabilities of Lithium batteries. We haven't used them so can't comment but when our current AGM expires we will be replacing it with a Lithium unit so will update this review accordingly.