Dometic CFX50 Fridge Review, Overview and General Process on Mounting
So you want to install a fridge?
I’m sure many of you guys have seen others running ARB and SnoMaster fridges, but what does it take to run one in your 5th gen 4Runner? Well, I’m here to share with you just that, what its like to run a fridge in the back of your 4Runner.
I was able to find a sweet deal from a friend and picked up a Dometic CFX50. The fridge comes with an AC and DC cable, therefore, you might find it easy to just plug the fridge into one of your DC inputs and your fridge will run like the one you have at home, WRONG.
Unless your DC/AC are constant on, your fridge will turn off the moment your vehicle shuts off. If you don’t have a plug anywhere in your vehicle to run the fridge full time, anything left inside of the fridge will spoil. You can always do the always-on power mod before you get into installing a fridge.
But, if you do not have the always-on power mod, this approach will work. The method below is a little easier than the always-on power mod and will suffice for mounting a fridge and “always” having power.
Preferred Set-up for running a Dometic Fridge
- The Fridge: Check Price
- The Cigarette Lighter Socket: Check Price
- Positive & Negative Wiring: Check Price
- General Splice Connectors: Universal Kit – Check Price
- Multi-Use Wire Tool: Check Price
Upgraded Battery Options
The Odyssey 34 is a really good option for most owners out there. The Odyssey 34 is for running general aftermarket accessories; lightbars, headlights, winch, fridge, etc. If you buy an Odyssey 34 battery, you will need to buy the plastic spacer as well. If you need your battery to work for you while your 4Runner’s engine is off, you may want to look at the Odyssey 31. The Odyssey 31 is a great option for extended usage on aftermarket accessories and using your battery while your 4Runner is not running.
- Upgraded 4Runner Battery (Odyssey 34): Check Price
- Odyssey 34 4Runner Spacer: Check Price
- Upgraded 4Runner Battery (Odyssey 31): Check Price
Whatever battery you choose for your set-up, either of these options will work. Just know that the 31 is bigger, much more robust. The Odyssey 31 battery recommends (for better fitment) the addition of extended battery terminal cables because the distance between the terminals and cables is further offset on the stock battery terminals.
Hooking Up your Dometic CFX50 Off-Road Fridge?
Luckily its fairly simple to just run two wires ( red+ and black-) from the battery to the back or wherever you installed your fridge, pick up a marine grade cigarette lighter socket, connect that up to the two wires and you are pretty much set! Once my Dometic CFX50 had a constant power, I ran into another issue, the battery!
Upgrading your Battery
I was running a stock Panasonic starter battery, NOT a deep cycle which explained why my fridge kept shutting off after a few minutes. I know this is frustrating, but this is why you’re reading this now so you don’t run into these issues mid install of your new fridge.
I saved a few pennies and ordered an Odyssey (2150T) group 31 battery. The battery alone is pretty expensive but hey you’re an Overlander, and if you’re running camp lights/driving lights, you should be upgrading your battery system anyways. You can always go smaller with a group 34 battery or even a dual battery set up, its all up to you as long as you throw a deep cycle battery in there to maintain the fridge temps topped off.
If you upgrade the battery to anything bigger than the stock battery you will need to get a bigger battery tray and maybe some longer J hooks. I went to trusty Amazon and ordered a group 31 battery tray, some new J hooks, and a small box of M8 bolts to install the battery tray. Keep in mind depending on what battery you use that will determine whether or not you will have to extend your stock battery cables, meaning, you will have to buy aftermarket parts or bend your stock cables so that they reach the terminals like I have (not recommended but will work.)
Monitoring your Dometic CFX50 off-road fridge
So finally you installed a new battery, wired a new constant on cig plug, and have your fridge running. How do you monitor your fridge so that it doesn’t kill your battery and leave you stranded in a remote campsite? If you bought a quality fridge like ARB, Snomaster, or what I have, A Dometic CFX 50 you’ll most likely have the option to monitor your fridge from either on an app built in or from the buttons directly on the fridge.
The Dometic CFX50 iPhone App
The Dometic CFX50 has an app that connects to your smartphone through WiFi, it works great! In this app, you can monitor the temperature in the fridge, change the temperature, turn the fridge on and off, and even set up the Automatic Shut Off feature it has built in.
The Auto Shut Off feature is truly amazing! It gives you that piece of mind that you won’t be stranded in the middle of nowhere while you’re out adventuring. ARB and SnoMaster have a similar system but to my knowledge nothing that connects to your phone directly. Having this app is awesome. Being able to check on your fridge from the inside of your tent during the cold is awesome.
The inside of the Dometic CFX 50 is like all the others, features a removable basket that you can take in and out of the fridge so that its easier to pack your food and drinks inside of your home then store into the fridge. It has an LED light that works great and bright enough to illuminate the inside of the fridge. Finally, my last favorite feature is the removable lid, this helps if you want to change in which direction you want the fridge to open up from.
Running an Off-Road Fridge in your 4Runner?
Now let’s get to the bigger question, Do you really need a fridge in your 4runner?
I have used a cooler for years and only had minor issues with them. The slushy water that sometimes leaks into your trunk space, losing the cold temps inside from opening the cooler too many times, these were minor issues. Having a complete fridge system eliminates those minor issues but with a hefty price!
My experience running the fridge after all the mods were finished have been nothing but positive. I honestly use the fridge daily, keeping cold drinks at all times and even my lunch while I’m working. Before my deep cycle battery was installed, I was able to throw a 5-pound bag of ice in the fridge while traveling to Arizona and was surprised to see that it kept everything in the fridge cold without having to turn the fridge on.
I do plan on going on longer remote camping trips and that’s where having a fridge in the 4Runner will shine. I would recommend adding a fridge to your 4Runner if you plan on venturing into more remote locations, or are really sick of dealing with slushy water and spoiled milk from time to time.
Let’s go over my current set up to give you an idea of how to configure your fridge if you do decide on picking one of for yourself.
- Dometic CFX 50 fridge
- Odyssey 2050T group 31 battery
- Amazon marine grade Cigarette lighter plug
- @dfgoffroad Fridge Slide
- @overland_supply drawer system that was custom built to fit the Fridge slide, (located in SoCal area)
- NOCO Genius Boost GB40, I use this just in case the automatic shut off feature on the fridge fails.
Additional Shots of the Dometic CFX50 Off-Road Fridge set-up
Always carry a backup jumpstart when you are running power like an off-road fridge