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How’s your 2-way fridge holding up in the heat?

I’ve been a fan of 3-way fridges and their ability to run “forever,” and we’ve managed ok in the heat by keeping the driver’s side fridge vents in the shade when parked or camping.  On our current trip, however, we had major failure: driving west through Tennessee and Arkansas with temps in the high 80s and the sun beating down, the internal fridge temp rose to 50.  Now we are using the fridge for vegetables and a cooler for more perishable items.  Not ideal, so we’re considering the value and benefits of a 2-way fridge.

My question goes out to those who’ve been in extreme conditions with their 2-way fridges, particularly those with a driver’s side fridge in their 400.  Being as specific as possible with info on temperature, sun position and other variables you’ve found to be relevant, when has your fridge reached its “breaking point” and not been able to maintain a 41 degree temp?  Thanks in advance for any info.

2019 T@B 400
2017 Highlander Limited


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    manyman297manyman297 Member Posts: 1,263
    I’ll chime in but we have the smaller Isotherm fridge on the passenger side. It does well until the temps outside get into the 90s. Then it starts to struggle. I have a thread somewhere on here about our struggles. 

    It will run constantly at those temps unless you are running AC inside…but for us that’s usually not an issue since we’d be running AC anyway if it’s in the 90s outside. 

    The problem is if you are going to be away from your camper. We boondock so we can’t let the AC run. It will probably be ok for a few hours but I wouldn’t leave the camper for more than maybe 4 hours. 

    This could just be a problem with our fridge but others have had similar issues. Without doing some major ventilation work we’ve just decided to roll with the punches. 
    2021 400 BD
    2020 Tacoma TRD Off-Road 
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    RMoRMo Member Posts: 155
    edited June 3
    Thanks for that @manyman297, I’d read the other thread and it had surprised me that the 2-ways struggled at all - I’d seen them as the magic bullet.  Given the expense of the change I’m hoping to collect more insights like yours. Thanks.

    We spoke with a couple in an Alto Safari who were driving in the same conditions as us and they said they had no issues with their 2-way?!
    2019 T@B 400
    2017 Highlander Limited


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    berggerbergger Moderator Posts: 1,072
    We have the norcold 3 way in our 400 and love it. Works great and the few times we’ve been in the 100 degree temps we’ve not had any issues. But we’ve always been in dry heat so maybe that helps. That said we also carry an IceCo compressor fridge in our tow vehicle and it does amazing. At camp we keep the truck windows down or partially down to keep the cabin temps lower but even when they are up and it’s hot in the truck the fridge does great. I think the problem with installing a compressor fridge in a trailer is that since they don’t use propane and don’t produce as much heat manufactures don’t vent them. However they should vent them for heat dissipation and if they installed a fan it would be even better. 

    I don’t know what trailer you have but I assume you have a vent and possibly a cooling fan since you have a 3 way fridge. If you replaced it with a compressor fridge I bet it would run very well in that space. Just make sure you have the battery capacity to run it. 

    Or do what we did. Get an IceCo and a battery station like a Jackery to power it and keep your 3 way fridge.  We usually keep drinks in the compressor and food in the 3 way but if it’s super hot we can always put food and dairy in the compressor fridge. 
    2021 T@b 400 BD  "Vixen Gail" 
    2018 Nissan Titan Pro 4X "Big Bird"
    Leadville Colorado
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    manyman297manyman297 Member Posts: 1,263
    Nucamp was mindful of venting for the Isotherm 65 but I don't think it's enough in our case. If you do install a 2-way try and get a copy of the installation beforehand to see how the manufacturer recommends venting. The vents for the 3-way will be great to have though. Nothing beats venting to the outside...just try and do what you can to direct that heat outside. 


    2021 400 BD
    2020 Tacoma TRD Off-Road 
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    BrianRBrianR Member Posts: 19
    I installed a 2-way Dometic last year in my 320. In the warmest weather it worked pretty hard and I definitely didn't have enough venting. I have improved air flow now and expect it to be better this year. The other thing to keep an eye on are your door seals. Mine fridge is a used unit and I flipped the door seal and adjusted the hinges to improve things. 
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    K_C_915K_C_915 Member Posts: 36
    I have mixed feelings on the 12V in our 2021 320 BD.  In the Arizona winters, it does great keeping things cool, but the 3 amp draw when it runs does get me nervous while boondocking. (100 AH AGM and Solar).  In the summer, it will run 24/7 if the cabin temperature is in the 80's or more.  There is no venting behind the fridge to keep it cool.  It only stops running after a day or two in cooler weather.  Because of this, I don't even use it on summer boondocking trips, even in the mountains.  I go back to an ice chest and non-perishable camp foods.
    From my limited experience, a 3 way would run just as much due to its less efficient nature, but will not have the current draw.
    Hope this helps.
    2021 T@b 320 S Boondock
    2020 F150 2.7l V6 Turbo
    Tucson, Arizona
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    berggerbergger Moderator Posts: 1,072
    Again I have no experience with the compressor fridges used in the T@bs but do have a portable one we use all the time.  With just the fridge running off our Jackery 1000 it does great.  It can run for several days depending on the heat.  I'll also hook up a solar panel to it every few days to charge it back up.  If I had a compressor fridge in our T@b I would not feel comfortable in hot temps with just a single lithium battery powering the fridge and everything else in the trailer.  I'd certainly add a second battery.  
    2021 T@b 400 BD  "Vixen Gail" 
    2018 Nissan Titan Pro 4X "Big Bird"
    Leadville Colorado
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    kevmonkevmon Member Posts: 28
    I have a 320 (Cruise 65). I spent three days in Rocky Mountain and it stayed 30-35F running on setting 2-3 running on battery. Temps were only 75 or so during the day. 

    Was just in Taos with 95 temps and initially couldn’t get fridge below 41 on shore power. Added two smaller frozen water bottles and the next morning the fridge reached 30. I left fridge on for 8 hour drive home and temps reached a high of 101 outside. Fridge stayed low 30s. So, it seems to do pretty well if given the chance to cool. Also avoid opening as much as possible. I’m pretty impressed. 
    2023 T@B 320
    2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee 
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    StepheninDenStepheninDen Member Posts: 38
    I pulled the compressor fridge out of my CS-S a couple of years ago and replaced it with a yeti roadie cooler on a heavy duty pull out shelf from Home Depot. I have a second cooler mostly for drinks in the TV. I mainly boondock and the fridge was draining the battery in 1-2 days during the summer. Combo of block ice and freezer blocks in the cooler will last a week in 80 degree weather (I have a little hand pump to drain water). The shade and ventilation of the CS-S hatch also helps. I have portable solar but never need it on shorter trips without the fridge draw. With the pull out, it also adds nice extra counter space!
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