TAB 400 Fridge Selection

I have to get my deposit down on new TAB 400 and continue to struggle on fridge choice. The '21's have either 2.3 cu ft 12v compressor or 3.7 cu ft 3 way.   I really like idea of 12v compressor but that sure sounds tiny.  My sales guy is telling me the TAB's are "really just designed for short trips" .  

What are the pros and cons of these two fridge choices?   Deep in analysis paralysis...
2022 [email protected] 400 Boondock coming August, 21;  2019 Honda Ridgeline
Sonoma County, CA
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Comments

  • ChrisFixChrisFix Member Posts: 538
    I have a 2021 400 with the 12V and it works wonderfully. It is small, but very usable (it's a lot deeper than it looks). My wife and I have no problem packing for 4 days in it, at which time you'll have to go the the grocery for more fresh foods if you need - which pobably isn't much different than if you get the slightly larger absorption fridge.
    The compressor fridges just work so much better than the old style absorption ones, I really don't think there is much of a decision to it...but that's just my opinion on what works for me. 

    After two years of looking and considering...finally the proud owner of a 2021 [email protected] 400 Boondock!
    2020 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E with Redarc Trailer Brake Controller
  • N7SHG_HamN7SHG_Ham Member Posts: 1,140
    Unless you are going off grid for weeks with no sun, I find the two way + solar will get you all you need. You get the wardrobe and slightly less, but far more efficient fridge. That was my reasoning and two years in happy with choice, the storage is adequate for two for a few days, that extra CF isnt going to buy you additional weeks without resupplying.
    2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite
  • Tabaz Tabaz Member Posts: 2,109
    Didn't someone mention that the 12V is nosier than the 3 Way on propane?
    2016 Outback 320 with a 2010 Ford Expedition.
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 3,292
    The compressor fridge in our 2018 TaB 400 is quiet.  Also, the Solo model of the 400 has a larger compressor fridge, around 3+CF, which gives you a third option if you want a larger fridge.
    cheers
    2018 TaB400 Custom BoonDock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • VernaVerna Administrator Posts: 6,820
    @Tabaz , the smaller two-way in the 400 was next to the bed and it never woke me up at night!

    I’ve only “mooch docked” once in the new 320, and that 12V was very quiet also. 
    Verna, Columbus, IN
    2021 [email protected] 320S  Boondock “The [email protected]
    Towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost “The Truck”
    [email protected] Administrator
  • AirBossAirBoss Member Posts: 694
    I have the 3-way and love it. Like options, very quiet, 50% larger, etc. Efficient, especially if it is kept fairly full. 

    Didn't feel the wardrobe was worth the trade off. Rather go out to the Tahoe to retrieve clothing if need be than for food, beverage, ice, etc. 


    2020 [email protected] 400 "OTTO" (build date 08/19)
    Factory Victron Solar; Norcold 3-way fridge
    '04 Chevy Tahoe Z71 DinoKiller
    San Diego, CA
    www.airbossone.com
    https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/owen-ashurst/shop


  • jerrilpalmerjerrilpalmer Member Posts: 2
    Own 2018 Tab with 2 way and love it. Small, yes but it keeps food cold and frozen. For long trips, we bring an Rtic cooler with some frozen foods and beverages. If without shore power, we do have a generator and can add some additional charge to batteries for longer stays greater than 5 days.
  • kmulhkmulh Member Posts: 34
    I always pack along an RTIC cooler as well as the fridge. We usually put the beverages in the cooler and everything else in the fridge.
    2021 [email protected] 400 BD
    2020 F150 3.5 ecoboost
    Columbus, OH
  • johnfconwayjohnfconway Member Posts: 179
    edited January 29
    You are probably all right in Northern California climate-wise for the 3-way. We will be swapping ours out because it measurably can't keep up with high desert long day heat. If @Denny16 is correct on the Solo, and if the larger 2-way is fitting the same cabinetry hole as the Norcold 3-way, that would be an excellent option for a "regular" 400. If that is not the case, another possibility is to ask nuCamp to leave the 3-way cabinetry hole open and install the Isotherm Freeline 115 Elegance. Highly efficient and just over 4 cu. ft. https://www.indelwebastomarine.com/int/products/fridges-freezers/cruise-marine-refrigerators/large-fridges-90-160-l/freeline-115-elegance/  It fits the cabinetry opening nearly perfectly.

    2020 [email protected] 400 BDL towed with 2019 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X  Silver City, NM
  • NorCalMikeNorCalMike Member Posts: 46
    BTW...I checked with NuCamp about putting bigger 4.6 12v fridge in location of 3-way but they said no go.   I bet they add this option in 2022 model year. 
    2022 [email protected] 400 Boondock coming August, 21;  2019 Honda Ridgeline
    Sonoma County, CA
  • ColoradoSunColoradoSun Member Posts: 109
    Based upon our experience with an Isotherm 2-way refrig in our previous camper (Four-wheel pop-up truck camper) I probably would have chosen the 2-way option. It was reliable and very efficient on 12V power. As long as your solar power generation was adequate it could go indefinitely. For a 3-4 day trip it had sufficient space for our needs.

    The primary reason we went with the 3-way option was not the propane alternative (although I hope that works out) or even the extra space. The primary reason was my wife prefers having the refrig mounted up higher rather down at floor level.  Easier access. Had there been an option for a 2-way mounted where the 3-way is located we would have preferred that. So far we have not actually put the 3-way in use yet.
    2021 [email protected] 400 BD, 2020 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab
    SW Colorado
  • CassieCassie Member Posts: 5
    I chose the 3 way on my 2021 [email protected] 400 BD for 3 reasons. First, I live in the PNW (Seattle area) where we get a lot of rain and not much sun especially in the off season, which is my favorite time of year to go out. I would not be able to keep a 12 volt sufficiently charged when boondocking on solar alone. I have a friend with a small compressor fridge who cannot go more than 2 days if the sun is not shining. Admittedly this may be an older style and less efficient, but still. Second, I agree with ColoradoSun’s wife that having the fridge up high is a big advantage especially if you have a bad back as I do. I had a small fridge low on the floor in my previous 320 and it was a real pain having to get things in and out. It is such a pleasure not having to bend over. And three, this was the clincher, it was the only option available at my dealer when I was ready to buy unless I wanted to wait months. I have been very happy with this fridge. I will also mention another possible point. I wonder if gas absorption fridges may have a longer life span. No real proof here except that I have had one in my cabin that has no electricity since 1980 that is still working with no repairs during that time frame. Also had no issues with the one in my 320. So as with many things your choice is a matter of personal preference and where it will be used.
  • berggerbergger Member Posts: 306
    We also went with the 3-way fridge.  I had one in my last trailer that worked great and the current one works just as well.  When plugged in it cools nicely and even better when on propane.  And the amount of electricity it needs when running on propane is almost nothing.  We also like the height of it and the larger capacity.  On long trips we still supplement it with a cooler for drinks.  
    2021 [email protected] 400 BD  "Vixen Gail" 
    2018 Nissan Titan Pro 4X "Big Bird"
    Leadville Colorado
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 3,292
    The larger compressor fridge in Solo is nit where the wardrobe is, it is on the pax side next to the galley.  The bed on the Solo occupies where the wardrobe/3-way is mounted. See floor plan below:
    A view of the larger 2-way compressor fridge in the TaB 400 Solo
    cheers
    2018 TaB400 Custom BoonDock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • Deb55Deb55 Member Posts: 213
    Our 2018 [email protected] 400 has the 2 way smaller fridge, which actually can hold a lot. We went for over 4 days running it (and everything else except AC) on batteries with solar. The days were only partially sunny, and our batteries were still 80-something % charged when we left. Our fridge still had food left in it, and the freezer kept things frozen. We also carried a cooler with ice and drinks. The big closet triples as a pantry, clothes closet, and place for other miscellaneous stuff when traveling. 
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 3,292
    edited March 21
    We have had a similar experience with our 2018 TaB400, went two days and one night on DC, battery only dropped to 70% and solar recharged in partial sun back up to 95%.  So four days and three nights would have been just as doable.
    cheers
    2018 TaB400 Custom BoonDock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • Dutch061Dutch061 Member Posts: 377
    edited January 30
    After having 4 RV's total, three with absorption refrigerators and now the 400 BDL with the 12 Volt DC. All I can say is that I will never go back to an absorption refrigerator, here are a few reasons:

    1. They are marginal at best in warm weather
    2. Seems like the interior temperature always rises as you travel to a level where food is not truly safe to eat
    3. Every time the ambient temperature changes, you either have stuff warmer than desired or frozen
    4. RV has to be nearly level in order for them to work, which may not seem like a big deal but if you stop for any length of time with the RV not level, you have the potential to permanently damage an absorption refrigerator if it is operating.
    5. They take up to 24 hours to cool off
    6. You shouldn't put anything "warm" in them, everything should be pre-chilled

    I could keep adding to the list, but I think I have made my point. The 12 VDC Compressor refrigerator simply works. Set the knob and forget about it. Nothing freezes, nothing gets warm while traveling, nothing has to be pre-chilled, they cool off in a matter of an hour or so, levelness doesn't matter. 

    If we need additional cool storage, I have 2 x Yeti coolers and if we take off FT this year like we may, I will buy an Iceco 12 VDC compressor portable cooler, maybe even a dual zone if we feel it is necessary. As many have already mentioned, there is plenty of room for 4 days if you pack consciously.

    Brad 
    2020 400 BDL
    2021 F-250 Tremor with PSD
    Concord, NC 
  • gulfareagulfarea Member Posts: 331
    I agree with Brad and in my Winnebago it tried to catch the coach on FIRE! Art
    2019 TaB 320 S Boondock Edge
  • awandlerawandler Member Posts: 20
    edited January 31
    I have the 2021 tab 400 Solo boondock with the bigger 2 way fridge and I love it.  I don't miss the closet at all.  It really just depends on your diet and other personal preferences.  I had the smaller 2 way in my 2018 Tab 400 and it was too small for me even for 2 days.  BUT I eat mostly fresh veggies and fruits so my pantry is pretty much empty.  You can definitely stuff it with food, but every time I needed anything I had to bend over and take out a bunch of stuff to get to other things in the back.  It was such a pain.  I LOVE the bigger fridge, it has made a huge difference.  And they are supposed to be much more efficient with the solar panels.  I've only taken it out 2 times but next month I will be camping with no electricity so I will really be able to test it.  Good luck!
    2018 TaB400, F150 (for now), Austin, Texas
  • 85Redwood85Redwood Member Posts: 38
    I stayed for a week and a half in Arkansas in mid 90s heat with crazy humidity and our 3-way fridge worked great on both AC and propane. 

    Another thing to keep in mind...opting for the 3-way fridge lowers the A/C vent in the bed area to basically pillow height.  You either get frigid air in the face of the person next to the vent or you can deflect air off the rear wall so it freezes out the inside person.  I finally installed an inline 4" duct damper behind the drawer below the fridge to reduce airfow to the bed vent.
    2021 [email protected] 400: boondock, 3-way fridge, microwave, solar
    2008 Toyota Sequoia 5.7 L
  • ScottGScottG Moderator Posts: 4,664
    So... the take home message is that everybody is happy with their own stuff. Sounds like you can't really go wrong either way!  ;-)
  • AirBossAirBoss Member Posts: 694
    @ScottG, Indeed! 

    It's really all about priorities and style of camping. In cases like this what's good for goose may not be good for the gander! 😉
    2020 [email protected] 400 "OTTO" (build date 08/19)
    Factory Victron Solar; Norcold 3-way fridge
    '04 Chevy Tahoe Z71 DinoKiller
    San Diego, CA
    www.airbossone.com
    https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/owen-ashurst/shop


  • GrandmasKidGrandmasKid Member Posts: 151
    So for boon docking on solar intuitively I think running the fridge on propane is the way to go, but I could be wrong. Am I wrong? When I went to get our 400 BD I thought I would be getting a two way because that's what the nuCamp brochure indicated but that's not what the dealer had so we got the three way because we didn't want to wait months to get a two way refrigerator.
    2021 400 Boondock/ 2021 Toyota Tacoma Off Road
  • berggerbergger Member Posts: 306
    Dutch061 said:
    After having 4 RV's total, three with absorption refrigerators and now the 400 BDL with the 12 Volt DC. All I can say is that I will never go back to an absorption refrigerator, here are a few reasons:

    1. They are marginal at best in warm weather
    2. Seems like the interior temperature always rises as you travel to a level where food is not truly safe to eat
    3. Every time the ambient temperature changes, you either have stuff warmer than desired or frozen
    4. RV has to be nearly level in order for them to work, which may not seem like a big deal but if you stop for any length of time with the RV not level, you have the potential to permanently damage an absorption refrigerator if it is operating.
    5. They take up to 24 hours to cool off
    6. You shouldn't put anything "warm" in them, everything should be pre-chilled

    I could keep adding to the list, but I think I have made my point. The 12 VDC Compressor refrigerator simply works. Set the knob and forget about it. Nothing freezes, nothing gets warm while traveling, nothing has to be pre-chilled, they cool off in a matter of an hour or so, levelness doesn't matter. 

    If we need additional cool storage, I have 2 x Yeti coolers and if we take off FT this year like we may, I will buy an Iceco 12 VDC compressor portable cooler, maybe even a dual zone if we feel it is necessary. As many have already mentioned, there is plenty of room for 4 days if you pack consciously.

    Brad 
    I guess we've all had different experiences.  Our 2021 400 has the 3-way fridge.  I also have a portable 12 DC fridge that is used for truck camping and to supplement the [email protected] on long trips.  I like them both and as mentioned in a previous post our current 3-way has worked great for the first year we've had it.  And it worked awesome for the 5 years we had one in our old trailer.  My experiences differ slightly from Dutch061.

    1. Never had an issue in warm weather.
    2. Yes the temps will rise a bit since I run ours on 12v when we travel but never had it rise to levels of concern.  Unless you run it on propane which is questionable depending on who you talk to.
    3. Never had things warmer but yes I've had eggs and meat freeze because it gets colder than intended. I'm okay with colder.   Definitely harder to maintain constant temps vs a 12 DC fridge.  Our 12 DC fridge is definitely easier to maintain constant temps.
    4. The [email protected] are trailers that will be parked on ground or travel on ground level enough that you won't have an issue with this.  They are not offroad trailers.  In my old AT Chaser trailer this was not the case which is why I used a 12 DC fridge. I took that to some crazy of camber places. 
    5. Yes I always pre-chill prior to a trip as they do take longer to initially cool down.  Not an issue as I prep for my trips anyway.
    6. Yes part of my prep is to prechill drinks that go in the fridge.  I also freeze meat as well.  Helps cool the fridge down quicker anyway.

    As an owner of both types I like them both.  In the [email protected] we chose the 3-way for it's versatility, eye level height, organization and larger capacity.  When boondocking I like the propane option, saves my battery for other things and easier to bring an extra propane tank if needed than worry about battery draw or upgrading batteries and solar.  We also bring our cooler or our 12 DC fridge in our truck on long trips for extra food/drink storage.  So the choice is clear as mud to you most likely.  Everybody likes each type of fridge for different reasons and based on different experiences.  Can't really go wrong.  
    2021 [email protected] 400 BD  "Vixen Gail" 
    2018 Nissan Titan Pro 4X "Big Bird"
    Leadville Colorado
  • berggerbergger Member Posts: 306
    So for boon docking on solar intuitively I think running the fridge on propane is the way to go, but I could be wrong. Am I wrong? When I went to get our 400 BD I thought I would be getting a two way because that's what the nuCamp brochure indicated but that's not what the dealer had so we got the three way because we didn't want to wait months to get a two way refrigerator.
    Nope you are correct.  Use propane when boondocking.  Use AC when you have electric hookups.   
    2021 [email protected] 400 BD  "Vixen Gail" 
    2018 Nissan Titan Pro 4X "Big Bird"
    Leadville Colorado
  • ScottGScottG Moderator Posts: 4,664
    bergger said:
    So for boon docking on solar intuitively I think running the fridge on propane is the way to go, but I could be wrong. Am I wrong? When I went to get our 400 BD I thought I would be getting a two way because that's what the nuCamp brochure indicated but that's not what the dealer had so we got the three way because we didn't want to wait months to get a two way refrigerator.
    Nope you are correct.  Use propane when boondocking.  Use AC when you have electric hookups.   
    Agree. I'll add that if you do try to run your 3-way fridge on 12V DC, you will quickly end up with a drained battery. On these models, the 12V DC setting is only intended for use when connected to a running tow vehicle. Without 120V AC, propane is your only real option.
  • GrandmasKidGrandmasKid Member Posts: 151
     I really do appreciate all the comments on this thread. Our new 2021 400 BD is replacing a [email protected] Outback that was crushed by a huge oak tree that wind from leftover Hurricane Zita pushed over. The same tree also got our bedroom and the one below it. On the Outback we used a themometer  to monitor the refrigerator while driving. We really struggled with keeping the refrigerator cool enough on 12 volt. We have a larger more tow worthy vehicle than we had for the Outback so I'm hopeful we won't have as much problem cooling. Here is the thermometer we used to monitor:
    2021 400 Boondock/ 2021 Toyota Tacoma Off Road
  • berggerbergger Member Posts: 306
     Yes with the 12v is hard to keep the fridge really cold.  That is why I pre-chill the fridge and all the contents in it prior to leaving, and freeze the meat.  We use the 12v when traveling and while the trailer battery does drain our truck has a 200 amp alternator, non-smart, and coupled with the solar it does okay to keep the drain on the battery reasonable.  But you'll need to test the alternator on your vehicle to see how it will do to supplement the solar while traveling on 12v.  On shorter trips, a few hours, you're usually fine just turning the fridge off completely when traveling as long as everything is pre-chilled and or frozen. 
    2021 [email protected] 400 BD  "Vixen Gail" 
    2018 Nissan Titan Pro 4X "Big Bird"
    Leadville Colorado
  • JeffroNCJeffroNC Member Posts: 263
    My sales guy is telling me the TAB's are "really just designed for short trips".  

    Woops! We accidently stayed in ours for 7 months last year and we camp host for months at a time as well.  :)

    We have the AC/DC unit and while we would love it to be higher up, we are not disappointed. We do use a DC cooler for our fresh veggies, drinks, and condiments. Works great while driving and we always arrive at the site with the battery at 100%.

    The grey tank is the only limit we have while boondocking.
    2019 [email protected] 400 BDL 2017 F150 3.5L Ecoboost
    Jeff & Amy
    Asheville, NC

  • xdrxdr Member Posts: 180
    Just got back from 3 days camping. It was just the two of us and the two pups and our  smaller 2-way fridge was wonderful. There is always plenty of space and then some. When we went on our first trip last year we pre-cooled the fridge but now we turn it on as we are packing up and it is fine. It gets Very cold so we usually keep ours at about 5-6 to keep the food from freezing. We never notice the sound of it.
    Every trip one of us says “I’m so glad we got the small fridge and big storage.” Both are good options so I guess it really comes down to individual needs. 
    mer 
    2021 [email protected] 400 BDL, 2020 Ram Rebel 1500  
    One man, one woman, two small dogs and a sense of humor.
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