Portable Fridges - The Ultimate Buying Overviews Of Portable Fridges

Engel MT45F-U1: Fridge The Tank Overview And How To Equip It

Today we are going to discuss Engel MT45F-U1, a portable fridge and freezer that’s built like a tank. The first thing that came to my mind when looking at it for the first time was whether it can be placed on the back seat of the car. The answer is yes. Let’s take a closer look at its dimensions first:

Product dimensions: 25.5” (64.7 cm) x 14.3” (36.3 cm) x 20” (50.8 cm).



The numbers suggest it can be used for taking it to places where there’s no socket available, say, when camping, fishing, hunting or something like these. Yet this model can also be used as a stationary freezer - it is advertised as heavy-duty and equipped with the Engel Swing Motor Compressor. What’s special about this part is that it draws about 40% less than other compressors, which is really a benefit - and not only in terms of saving money, but also in terms of the battery longevity, since it is what matters in portable equipment.

Yet the external dimensions are what interests us when we think whether we will be able to put the fridge into some vehicle (all portable things are to be transported somewhere, right?). There’s one more parameter that its potential buyer really wants to know: “what happens if I buy a huge turkey and want to put it into the freezer?”. Or, if put in a more general way, what are the internal dimensions. Here they are:

Internal dimensions: 15.4” (39.1 cm) x 10.8” (27.4 cm) x 16.4” (41.65 cm).

As you can see, it’s big enough to store a large chicken. Actually, you can fill the fridge with lots of food for you and your party (or you alone if you tend to get hungry very fast). See for yourself:

Okay, it’s quite evident this model can be used as a fridge, but what about the freezer aspect?

The manufacturer claims it is capable of getting the temperature as low as 0 oF (-17.7 oC), and so you can make ice with this piece of equipment. That’s good, as it means the temperature inside the fridge can be adjusted according to one’s needs.

Another notable feature which is really good for those who want to take the fridge outdoors while camping is compatibility with solar panels. Imagine: you can have this fridge working even if the battery is low. Of course solar panels are not the best source of energy in terms of efficiency, but still the feature is cool because it is eco-friendly and adds one more opportunity to use the model in the most flexible way.

For those of you wondering whether it has an air filter: no, it does not. Though this drawback does not seem to affect the quality of work much.

The manufacturer took care about flexibility and added both AC and DC power cords, which means you won’t have to buy additional ones. All in all, the fridge can run automatically from 12 or 24 VDC or 110 VAC.

This model is easy to clean, but keep in mind that it tends to accumulate some frost on the inside walls if you use it as a freezer. The freezer is really quiet - the max noise is estimated at 38 dB. It weighs 66 pounds (30 kg). In terms of performance, it’s really worth the money (though it is definitely expensive (Amazon sells it for $910), but both the feedback and the manufacturer you won’t regret the purchase).

Another advantage is that this fridge does not drain truck batteries, so it’s very unlikely you won’t be able to start the truck because of the fridge. It makes it very good for those who travel long distances. If combined with the solar compatibility, the model gets really nice for travelers, van owners and truck drivers.

All in all, this model does not seem to have drawbacks: nearly all the Amazon customers who bought it were satisfied with the results: it really does what it is supposed to do, and all the parts are of high quality. Of course, one of the main features, that is low energy consumption, is what really makes everyone love this fridge.

Now that we have found out that this fridge is worth buying, let’s take a closer look at what you may need to make using this model more convenient. Or you can read about other popular models of portable fridges in this article.

Here is the list of appliances you might be interested in:

1. Engel Transit Bag

All portable things generally require something that protects them from accidental damages, the elements and spilt coffee. The item being considered is the bag that fits the MT45 model. Amazon offers it at the price of $167.90, which is rather costly. The bag weighs 5 lbs (2.26 kg).

For those of you wondering why this bag costs so much, here is the explanation: it is multilayered and features insulation layer as well as a heavy-duty foil layer which protects the fridge from the sunlight and long wave radiation (as the manufacturer claims). The outer layer is of gray color. There are pockets and vents on it to add convenience and better air circulation. There is a zipper on the top that makes it easy to open. One of the main characteristics of this bag is that it is supposed to protect the fridge if it’s operating in direct sunlight. The vents are designed as plastic mesh. As to the elements of the bag, it features carry handles, a storage pouch for power cords, power cord access hole, and temperature control access hole.

Besides serving as additional protection from sunlight, the bag helps you save energy, because less heating means less work for the compressor. As one its users claims, without the bag, the fridge draws nearly 2 amps when exposed to high temperatures, while the bag lowers this number to 1.1 amps on average. This is really a significant difference in energy consumption, and if you use solar batteries, you are likely to prefer having the bag rather than not having.

The only drawback that’s been reported is that the bag interferes with the latch on the fridge lid which means it is inconvenient to access the latch, and it can lead to damaging the foil layer of the bag.

The bag can even be used as a… seat! At least it’s been reported that there is a board on the top, so you can seat on the fridge. We haven’t tried doing so, though.

All in all:

if you intend to use the fridge on hot days and expose it to direct sunlight, this bag is said to be a must, because it both protects the fridge and saves energy.


2. Engel Hinge Lock

It actually does what it is for - it locks the lid of the refrigerator. Here is what it looks like when used:

The hinge lock keeps the lid of Engel fridges (35 and 45 types) from coming off the hinges when the lid is open. The item comes without instructions, so it seems that the right way to install the lock, as the Amazon users figured out, is to snap the two pieces apart, and the second pieces services as a spacer for the right hand hinge. Though several customers reported they liked the way the lock works, one of the verified buyers discovered that there’s no need for it, since the pin on the right hand hinge points inwards, which makes the lock unneeded. We decided to add the lock to the list, because other buyers found the item useful.

Amazon offers it at the price of $15.95.

3. AcuRite 00986 Refrigerator/Freezer Wireless Digital Thermometer

There are plenty of thermometers to choose from, but we will consider the AcuRite 00986 model. It is quite affordable (Amazon offers it for $24.84) and is characterized by many useful features. First, it monitors the temperature in your freezer/fridge. You can set the right temperature, and the thermometer will let you know if the temperature gets too low or too high by means of an audible and visual alarm.

It is wireless, which means you are free to move the thermometer and clip it to any part of the fridge shelf. The spring-loaded clips have rubber element so they won’t damage the surface. It is also equipped with detachable suction cups so that you could attach the sensors to the fridge wall. The digital display that is placed on the outer side of the freezer is magnet-mountable. If you do not want to use the magnet, there is a keyhole for mounting on a wall.

As to the above mentioned alarm, there’s no need to worry that it will trigger the sound when you open the door to take a bottle of milk. To prevent such cases, the system reacts to temperature changes only if the temperature is above or lower than the preset numbers for longer than 15 minutes.

The digital display also shows the max and min temperatures the device has ever recorded. These numbers can be reset if needed.

This thermometer display requires 2 AAA alkaline batteries to work (mind that they are not included in the package, so you’ll have to buy them separately). Each sensor needs 2 AA alkaline or lithium batteries (also missing in the package). Note that the display and the sensors need different batteries - AAA and AA respectively! Be careful when buying batteries for the device. Another recommendation (provided by the manufacturer) is to use lithium batteries for sensors if the temperature is below -4 oF (-20 oC).

Mind that if you use two thermometers for two freezers that are placed within a short range, there may be an overlap of signals, their ‘conversation’ will get messed up, because the thermometers operate on the same frequency. Though, others report that they do not experience such troubles, so it depends on how your freezers are placed.

Some more info for your convenience:

  • The temperature range is reported to be from -40º to 158º F (from -40º C to 70º C);
  • The wireless range is 330” (100 m);
  • The wireless frequency is 433 MHz
  • The data reporting frequency: every 3 minutes

There are other optional devices that can be bought along with this fridge, such as solar panels (to charge it when camping, fishing, etc.), connectors for the solar panels, containers for food and other things, so try to imagine how and where you are going to use the fridge and buy appropriate additional equipment.


4. Seville Classics Folding Hand Truck

As the fridge is rather heavy, you might want to buy a hand truck. We recommend this Seville Classics one, as its Amazon rating is high, and its price does not scare those surfing the e-shop (the current Amazon price is $27.99).

Before we start discussing the item, let us share a hint with you: if you plan to use your fridge more or less like a stationary refrigerator (even if it’s to be placed in a truck), don’t carry the fridge all the time you need to fill it with more food - take out the basket instead! It makes it very convenient simply to take the basket and load it rather than carrying the fridge with all its content.

So, the hand truck in question has 150 lb (68 kg) load capacity, and its folded dimensions are estimated at 15.35" x 2.36" x 25.2" (39 x 6 x 64 cm) (while the overall dimensions make up 15.35" x 16.54" x 39.37" (39 x 42 x 100 cm)), with a plate size of 11.04" x 15.35" (28 x 39 cm).

The item is made of aluminum, which means it’s lightweight (3.12 kg, to be exact) and easily portable. It has 5-inch (12.7 cm) rubber wheels that do not require refilling with air.  

The feedback concerning the hand truck suggests it’s very convenient to store and use (though some said it tends to get vertical instead of falling if loaded and not held). We recommend that you buy some bungee cord (like this one) to hold your fridge when the ground is not grass (say, if you want to move your fridge using this hand truck on a surface with lots of rocks).

5. Engel Thermal Fuse

If you want to have a spare thermal fuse in case the installed one fails, Amazon offers Engel Thermal Fuses at the price of $9.79. There’s not much to say about the part, it just works fine and included in the list so that it would be more convenient for you to find the part made by Engel.


6. Engel Smart Battery Box Series 2

Let’s be honest - this item is really expensive, as its price makes up about $500. There are models that are way cheaper (for instance, offered by MinnKota), but if you want to team your fridge with a battery of the same origin, your choice is Engel Smart Battery Box Series 2.

It charges at 7 amps for AC and DC. You can recharge the unit by using either 240V mains power (adaptor is included in the package) or your vehicle’s DC cigarette socket (the cord is also provided). Another option is to recharge it with solar panels (in case you have them), and it requires the Anderson socket.

With such a battery box you can be sure to have your fridge running for a very long time.

7. Renogy Foldable Solar Suitcase Kit (100W)

What can be better than a portable fridge? Of course, it’s a portable fridge powered by solar energy. The market is full of solar panels, so it is up to you to decide what efficiency and size you need in your situation. Let’s take a closer look at Renogy Foldable Solar Suitcase Kit (100W).

With an output of 500 watts hour per day (with enough sunlight provided) and dimensions of 19.9 x 27.2 x 2.8 inches (50.5 x 29 x 7.1 cm) when folded, this solar panel suitcase kit is perfect as a portable means of charging various devices, and the fridge in question is no exception. The panel features solar cells made in Germany, heavy duty handle, adjustable corrosion resistant aluminum stand with alligator clips, latches, and protective casing. There are two 50W monocrystalline panels. The wires with MC4 connectors are also included in the package. It weighs 26.6 lbs (12 kg).

Here is some more technical information:

  • Maximum Power: 100W
  • Open Circuit Voltage (Voc): 21.6V
  • Short Circuit Current (Isc): 6.17A
  • Maximum Power Voltage (Vmp): 18.0V
  • Maximum Power Current (Imp): 5.71A
  • Operating Temperature: −40°F to +185°F

In case you decide to buy this solar panel, don’t forget to take a charge controller, since it’s sold without one.

8. Renogy Adventurer Charge Controller

This device is equipped with a system that prevents batteries from over-charging or over-discharging. It’s 12 volt compatible and equipped with an LCD display. The manufacturer claims it increases the battery longevity due to regulation of the energy flowing from the solar panels to your batteries. Amazon offers Renogy Adventurer for $89.99.

9. Food containers

We recommend buying food containers if you intend to use the fridge in a truck or some other vehicle - otherwise you can accidentally spill your soup. There are lots of high quality food containers available both in common stores and e-shop.

If you think we have missed some of the possible useful appliances and accessories for Engel MT45F-U1, don’t hesitate to let us know about them and post your opinions in the comments below!

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