Welcome to our review of the Dometic Coolmatic CRX50 fridge. We’ve been using this campervan refrigerator for nearly a year now so feel well placed to give you a proper lowdown on it.
Dometic Coolmatic CRX50
In this blog post we’ll be covering all the pros and cons of the Dometic Coolmatic CRX50. Giving you details about the specific features. Plus running through the wider considerations you’ll want to have when making a choice about which camper fridge is best for you.
The first thing to understand is that a campervan refrigerator is going to be different to the refrigerator you would have in a house. Not only in size, but also in how it is powered.
And you’ll need to make a decision about which motorhome refrigerator to get fairly early on during your van build. This is because it will determine your kitchen cabinetry design and electrical system size.
If you are building out a van for more than just the odd weekend getaway, or like us to live in full time, your van conversion fridge isn’t something you really want to compromise on. A quality and efficient model is 100% the way forward.
Cheaper older models can be a huge drain on your batteries, especially during hot summers and cold winters when you have heating on. This is because the warmer the ambient temperature is in your van, the harder the camper refrigerator will need to work.
However, campervan fridges are really quite expensive. So it’s well worth putting some time and consideration into your purchase to find the right one for you.
Hopefully this blog post will help with that.
Front Loading or Top Loading?
A front loading camper fridge freezer is a similar design to that which you would find in a house. The door swings open on a side hinge and the contents are arranged on shelves so you can easily access everything.
They are easy to build into your van kitchen as they don’t need a heavy duty slider drawer or any additional locking mechanism to keep them in place.
The other style of campervan refrigerator is a top loading, or cooler type fridge. Some people just prefer these and they do tend to be quite a bit cheaper. But a downside is having to stack your food on top of each other and take stuff out to reach things in the bottom.
Another location people opt to put top loading camper fridges under seating areas. As opposed to integrated into their actual kitchen. Which isn’t a problem, as it’s a small space. It’s hardly like going into another room to get the milk.
But where possible we designed our DIY campervan so that you didn’t have to move things to get to something else. Especially for frequent use things, i.e. a motorhome refrigerator.
12V Compressor Fridge
So this is in our book, is ideally what you want. But unless you’re already a fridge aficionado, you may be wondering what does that actually mean? We’ll do our best to explain.
Also known as a 2 way fridge, these types of camper fridges run off either a 12/24V DC battery supply or a 110-240V AC mains supply. Meaning there’s 2 ways of powering the small compressor unit that cools the fridge.
In contrast, you have 3 way absorption fridges which also run on LPG. Absorption Fridges rely on a gas flow heat exchange. They are more complicated to install, must have a gas drop out vent and need to remain level to function properly.
Although noisier in comparison, compression fridges are much more efficient overall. They get colder quicker and maintain their temperature better in hotter weather.
So although you also have another fuel option, we wouldn’t recommend an absorption fridge for those reasons.
Best Campervan Fridges
Now you may be thinking, well if you can run a 2 way fridge for camper off a 110-240V AC mains supply, why not just install a normal household fridge? After all, not only are they so much cheaper but there’s way more choice.
Well, hold your horses! Because while it certainly is possible to install a 230V AC mains powered fridge in a campervan, to use it while off grid will take a lot of power. This is because it will need to be constantly running through your inverter.
And you may need to spend more on a bigger inverter to cope with this on top of other mains powered appliances such as laptops, blenders, hair dryers etc.
If you are considering this option, one other important thing to note is that normal household fridges are not designed to be mobile or used at an angle. And they are also not so well insulated by comparison.
Because we live completely off grid and hence don’t have a shore power supply hook up in the van, this wasn’t something we even considered.
A convenient, albeit extra expense, option you have with the Dometic CRX50 fridge is that you can add a smart switching control unit. Billed as ‘fit and forget’, it detects and prioritises mains power, thus automatically switches between leisure battery and hook up power source.
That way, if you do plan on spending considerable time on campsites with a mains power supply you do have that option with this Dometic campervan fridge.
Dometic Coolmatic CRX50 Specifics
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 380 x 534 x 500mm
- Weight: 17kg
- Power Consumption: 40 Watts
Dometic CRX50 Fridge Key Features
- Removable freezer compartment
- 45 litres, including a 5 litre fridge compartment
- No exterior ventilation required
- Runs off 12/24V DC
- Door can be hinged left or right
- 4 different temperature settings
- LED lighting inside the fridge
- Large bottle holder & compartment in door
- Salad bin compartment
- Two shelves, one with adjustable piece for taller items
- Five different temperature settings
- Low noise operation, night mode
- 30° tilt tolerance
- Soft touch control panel
- Double lock mechanism for transit
Dometic Fridge Freezer
Okay let’s talk a little more about the removable freezer compartment. Because one of the features we love about this 12V Dometic fridge is that it can be used as a fridge/freezer, a full fridge or full freezer.
As mentioned we only ever power our Dometic Coolmatic CRX50 fridge off 12V and it makes for a surprisingly effective freezer. Ideal for ice cubes and ice cream in the hot weather.
Another cool little feature we love is that if you accidentally leave the fridge door open, the interior light will start flashing to alert you. It’s like a disco when it gets going, you can’t miss it.
It also has an optional drain plug at the bottom of the fridge. We only never plumbed this in because at the time that we installed our 12V Dometic fridge we hadn’t drilled many holes in the van and weren’t that comfortable in doing so.
But definitely something to think about in terms of placement, so that you have space below it outside of the van. If we were to ever take the kitchen apart for any reason we’d probably add it, but it just feels like too much hassle at this stage.
Waeco Campervan Fridge
You may have seen this same product listed as a Waeco fridge CRX50. So just to quickly clear that up. The Waeco And Dometic brands merged, so it’s the same fridge. It’s just called different things by some suppliers.
So Dometic Waeco CRX50, Waeco CRX50, Dometic Coolmatic CRX50, Waeco Coolmatic Dometic CRX50 – all the same campervan fridge.
Waeco Fridge CRX50 Performance
This waeco campervan fridge is capable of maintaining a consistent temperature of 5-7°C even in hotter temperatures. The fan speed automatically adjusts in line with the ambient temperature so it will work just as well in summer as it does in winter.
This upright camper fridge is specifically designed to have a low energy consumption, so can comfortably run off solar panels.
But for the purposes of factoring it into your campervan electrical system calculations, at an ambient temperature of 25°C, the average energy draw is as low as 1.1Ah per hour.
CRX50 Fridge Review Cons
Obviously for this to be a fully rounded Dometic fridge review, we need to talk about the things we don’t like about this 12V compressor fridge.
The first negative aspect is that it does need quite a lot of ventilation space, which is a campervan is somewhat frustrating because it can feel somewhat like wasted space. But it is super important because otherwise the compressor will just overheat and go bang.
You can create ventilation space for the Dometic Coolmatic CRX50 fridge in a couple of ways. Either out the back of the unit. Which is ideal if you’re designing your kitchen so the fridge overhangs the sliding door area and actually doesn’t waste any space.
But because we wanted our campervan cooker in that spot and our campervan fridge freezer along the partition wall between our cab we needed to create ventilation space at the top.
We did this by making the drawer above it quite shallow and putting a kind of false drawer front over it so it’s not just a gaping hole. It works pretty well but it can get warm in the drawer in hot weather so it’s not the place to store your chocolate stash.
Another downside to include in this Dometic CRX50 review is that this 12V fridge freezer does need defrosting fairly regularly. Unfortunately we find the ideal temperature setting for us is somewhere between 3 and 4, which means ice can and does build up at the back.
Having said that, it’s not really any drama because it defrosts very quickly so is easy to incorporate just as part of a routine fridge clean before you do a big shop.
Then as we’ve mentioned, there’s also the cost. These puppies definitely ain’t cheap!
Dometic Fridge Review
One final thing to mention is that this Dometic 12V upright fridge comes with a 2 year warranty. Which should give you peace of mind, not only in that you are covered if something goes wrong, but it also shows that they are confident that their product will last.
In our opinion the Dometic Coolmatic CRX50 is one of the best campervan fridges out there. We’re glad we chose it over a cheaper top loading one. And we can certainly vouch for the efficiency and effectiveness.
If you have any unanswered questions, drop them below & we’ll do our best to help.
More Van Build Resources
- Dometic Coolmatic CRX50 Fridge Review
- Campervan Cladding: How To Do It
- How To Install Campervan Wifi