Review and Comparison of Whytner and Dometic 12 Volt Compressor Refigerators
I told you in a previous post that I was changing the way I was eating and that required that I get a new, larger refrigerator. I bought a new Whytner 65 quart 12 volt compressor fridge. This post is a review of the new fridge and comparison of it with my old Dometic CF25. First let me give you my overall impressions of the Whytner: I love it! So far I consider it superior in nearly every way to the Dometic:
It is much better insulated than the Dometic so it stays cold much longer. For example, in the evening I turn down the thermostat to 34 degrees and once it goes down to that temperature I turn it off so it isn’t drawing any power over night. The next morning, after being off for 10 hours, the temperature has only gone up to 38 degrees. I then plug it back in and it drops down to 34 within an hour or two. It’s outstanding insulation means it only runs about 4 fours a day.
Because it run so little the Whytner ends up using aout the same amount of power as the Dometic. The one way that the Dometic beats the Whytner is that it uses less amps per hour. But, because of its inferior insulation and door seal, the net result is that it uses more power per day. I don’t know the exact draw of the Dometic because mine is 12 volt only (that isn’t a knock against the Dometic, mine is a low end model, all the others have 110 as an option) so I can’t measure its exact draw. But they claim it is only 36 watts (or 3 amps) and that seems right to me based on how easily I am able to power it on my 190 watts of solar on the trailer. Because the Whynter is both 110 volt as well as 12 volt I am able to test its draw using my Kill-a-Watt meter (it tests 110 volt items for their volts, watts and amps). Whytner claims it draws 4.5 amps and according to the Kill-a-Watt it draws 60 watts which works out to 5 amps. That is a more than the Dometic but it runs for less time so it still uses less power per day. My 190 watts of solar has no problem powering either fridge even through some extended cloudy days.
The Whynter cools very evenly. My biggest complaint with the Dometic was the bottom area was always much colder than the top. So I might freeze food at the bottom trying to keep the top cold enough. I know that because I have a thermometer with a remote and I would put the remote on the bottom and the display on top which gave be two different readings. So with the Dometic, I had to be sure everything that had to be kept really cold went on the bottom. But the Whytner is within 2 degrees of top and bottom so I don’t have to give that a thought, I can just put things wherever is convenient for me.
The Whytner has an excellent quality lid, hinge and seal around the lid. The lid and hinge on the Dometic is a piece crap! It had these three terrible flaws: 1) It opened the wrong way, the length of the fridge instead of on the side. That meant it had to be longer which meant it needed more room overhead to open all the way. Although the Whytner is nearly three times larger, it doesn’t need any more overhead room that the Dometic. 2) The hinges on the Dometic lid only has little plastic pins that slide into a groove to hold it in place. If you lifted it wrong, it would pop out and be a pain to put back on. 3) The seal around the bottom of the lid was non-existent. It just has a tiny strip of tongue-and-grove plastic that did little good at all.
The Whytner solves all those problems! The lid runs the length of the fridge so it doesn’t need as much over-head room. The hinges are strong metal and well attached—they look like they will last forever! The seal around the lid is rubber and an inch wide. It also has latches up front to squeeze down even harder on the seal. The bottom line is that after it has been closed for a while and you go to open it, there is a vacuum established and you have to pry the lid open to break it–just like on any quality refrigerator. I think the superior seal around the lid and the thicker insulation are the main reasons it stays cold so much better than the Dometic.
It’s much easier to find a safe place for the Whytner than the Dometic. All the 12 volt compressor fridges need a very good flow of ventilation to keep the compressor cool. The compressor produces quite a bit of heat and so they all have fans to blow the heat away from it. The result is that the exhaust area around where the fan blows the heat out gets pretty warm and if it doesn’t have enough room to move the heat out the compressor will get hot and fail prematurely. The Dometic puts the air outlet at the back side of the fridge. That means you have to leave the front of it open to have access to open the lid, but you also need to have the right side largely open so there is plenty of ventilation. Needing both the front and right side open makes it much harder to find a place in the van to put it. The exhaust vent on the Whytner is right on the front wall under the lid, so it is much easier to find a place with good ventilation. That may not sound like a big deal but in the very limited space of a van it becomes very important.
There is one reason to buy a Dometic instead of the Whynter, and that is because the Dometic uses a Danfoss compressor. The Danfoss has a reputation for excellence and reliability that almost made me choose it over the Whynter. Plus, the Dometic has proven itself to me after 4 trouble-free years of continuous use. Adding to my concerns about the Whytner was the fact it looks exactly like the Edgestar brand of 12 volt portable fridges that have been around a few years now. They are a cheap Chinese knock-off of the Engle and Dometic. Ultimately there were three reasons I took a chance and bought the Whytner.
- I have numerous friends with both the Edgestar and Whytner and they were all happy with them. Universally, they all said they were trouble-free and worked well.
- When I lived in a house I bought the cheapest chest freezer I could find which was a very cheap Chinese brand from Walmart called Haier. I owned it for 3 years and then gave it to my sister who owned it for another 6 years and in all that time it worked perfectly and was trouble-free. Making a quality compressor is not hard and the Chinese can do it just as well as anyone.
- It was so much cheaper than the Dometic and all the features I listed above were so compelling that I just had no choice but take a chance on it.
At this point I am extremely pleased with it and strongly recommend it over the Dometic. Only time will tell if it is as reliable and in a few years I will update you on it. Right now (August 8, 2013) Amazon.com has the 65 quart size (just like mine) on sale for the incredible price of $479! Here is a link to it. If you buy it through my site I will make a few dollars and it will cost you nothing extra.
Whynter 65-Quart Portable Refrigerator/Freezer
Whytner makes smaller models, but they are more expensive and not that much smaller so I recommend the 65 quart like mine. However, they do make a combination fridge-freezer combo that looks perfect! It has two lids and one opens to a fridge and the other opens to a freezer. I didn’t need that because I just turned my Dometic into a freezer, but otherwise I almost certainly would have bought it instead. It is also a total of 62 quarts but it is a lot more expensive! Right now it is $757.
Whynter Dual Zone Portable Refrigerator/Freezer, 62-Quart
IHere is a link to the Dometic 33 quart fridge on Amazon.com if you want to compare them. It is almost half the size but costs nearly $200 more than the Whytner.
Dometic WAECO 33 QT AC/DC with Touch Control Refrigerator and Freezer
I also recommend a Kill-a-Watt meter to help you in power management. It will tell you the amps and watts of any 110 volt item.