Adding A Refrigerator To My Van

I purchased a portable AC/DC electric cooler/warmer thermometric Mini Fridge for my van back in April from Amazon. It holds 15 Liter/18 cans, it’s large enough for my needs like a weekend vamping trip.

Battery usage

Depending on the settings this unit uses different wattage.

  • 12 volt DC Cold 48 Watts
  • 12 volt DC Hot 40 Watts
  • 120 volt AC Cold 58 Watts
  • 120 volt AC Hot 52 Watts

I currently have 2.5 kilowatts of battery in my van. If nothing else is running in my van I can run the refrigerator for about 70 hours before totally draining my batteries.

Mini Fridge 15 Liter

One challenge with this type of refrigerator (thermometric) is that the running temperature inside is 30 degrees below the ambient temperature in the air. If it is 90 degrees in the van then the temperature inside the refrigerator is about 60 degrees, which isn’t idea for preserving food.

What I really like about the box is that I can use it with 120 volt AC shore power or 12 volt battery.

Unboxing my new refrigerator.The back view.

Making it colder inside

There is one fan on the back that pulls air in to cool the aluminum heat sink inside. The side vents are where the heat dissipates. The fan is really quiet and does a good job pushing the air, but that heat ends up inside the van. It works great for those chilli nights, but not when the temperature is above 65 degrees.

To decrease the inside temperature of the refrigerator and keep the van cooler I had to increased the air-flow around the unit so that it thinks the ambient temperature is cooler and direct the heat out of the van.

Supplies/Equipment

  • Three 3″ duct
  • Gorilla duct tape
  • Foam board
  • Computer Fan
  • Potentiometer
  • Switch
  • Gutter Filter
  • 3 to 4 inch

Make a fan

This 4-3 inch reducer’s diameter is a perfect fit for cooling down the unit.

I purchased this reducer from Lowe’s. My duct is 3 inches and the computer face is about 4 inches. A perfect fit.

I cut this pc fan down so that it fits right into the reducer.

I removed the processor fan from a old computer. Processor fans usually run at a higher rpm than other component fans so this was the best choice.

I drilled a hole for the wires, then hot glued the fan permanently to the reducer. I used Gorilla duct tape to hold the wires down.

I used foam poster board to make a case for the fan.

I used Gorilla duct tape and foam poster board to make a box to control the air flow into the tube.

Then I attached it using duct tape to the refrigerator.

I attached the blower to the vent on the right side of the refrigerator and blocked the other side so that air flows into the tube.

I attached the blower to the vent on the right side of the refrigerator and blocked the other side so that air flows into the tube. Next I ran the wires to a potentiometer to control the fan’s rotation speed.

To control the rotation speed I added a potentiometer to the circuit.

Controlling the speed

I extended the control panel by designing and building a new face plate for the fan’s speed controller.

Built a control face-plate for the fan.
Cut a hole for the fan controller.

Exhaust

The fan will now push hot air through the tube out the other end. So I cut into the window vent and added an exhaust vent.

Gallery

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