Twenty years ago there weren’t many big names in the portable fridge market. Sure, there was Engel, but most of the other manufacturers were smaller, backyard operators, albeit with some very good products.
These days, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you would have heard of Waeco. Owned by Dometic Group, Waeco is the most heavily marketed portable fridge brand in the country.
In the early days of Waeco fridges in Australia, there were some not-so-memorable products, along with some iffy reliability, but that is no longer the case. In fact, I’ve not had a problem with a Waeco fridge on test in more than five years. This is an important point to make because, when you’re in an isolated location, a reliable fridge is almost as important as a reliable vehicle.
There’s plenty to like about the new range of Waeco CFX fridges, including the CFX40 tested here. With a 41-litre capacity, this is a popular-size fridge for travellers with a 4WD wagon. You can fit a reasonable amount in the fridge, yet the unit doesn’t take up too much space in the cargo area of your vehicle.
Lift the sturdy lid and you’ll see the fridge has a stepped compartment with a removable basket with an optional divider. There’s enough depth in the basket section to accommodate wine bottles or 1.25L soft-drink bottles in an upright position, and a recess in the lid offers a little extra space. The smaller section next to the basket is an easily accessible space to stow a few soft-drink cans. There’s also a bright LED light inside the fridge, making it easy to find things at night, especially when the fridge is in the back of a vehicle.
The width of the fridge’s walls is a good indication of how much insulation is in there, which adds to cooling efficiency and will extend battery life when running off your vehicle’s 12-volt power source.
Despite its generous interior, the CFX40 has a few clever features designed to minimise its exterior dimensions. For instance, although the carry handles are big, sturdy items, they’re spring-loaded and fold down to the sides of the fridge; the handle on the lid is recessed; the power cord has a 90-degree angle where it plugs into the fridge; and the digital control panel and temperature display is a flush-mounted unit so there are no protruding knobs or switches.
Another neat touch is rounded exterior edges, so there’s nothing to catch on or tear luggage packed around the fridge. Threaded inserts in the underside make it easy to hard-mount the fridge in a vehicle.
Operating the fridge is simple – just set the temperature. Operational features include low-voltage protection, which can be set to protect your vehicle’s starter battery, and automatic reverse pole protection.
When it’s running, the CFX40 is a particularly quiet fridge, which is a definite advantage if it’s sitting next to your tent at a campsite.
On the gimmick front, there’s a USB port for your phone or tablet, which is only operational when the fridge is plugged in – I guess this could come in handy when holding a camping party or watching a movie on your iPad.
The Waeco CFX40 is a competitively priced, well-designed unit that’s ideal for family camping trips.
RRP $1149 www.waeco.com.au