ARB 50 Quart Fridge & Freezer Review

ARB 50 Quart Fridge Freezer Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: The Perfect Overland & Off-Road Companion: ARB Fridge Freezer in Transit Bag

ARB 50 Quart Fridge Freezer Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: The Perfect Overland & Off-Road Companion

Over my many years of camping and traveling, the one bane of every trip was the cooler.

Digging through cold ice and water to find items, food becoming water-logged or floating on melted ice. Then there was the issue of having to head out just to find and purchase ice, taking away from time that could be spent quietly enjoying the outdoors.

While it was a large capital outlay, the purchase of a fridge freezer completely changed my camping experience.

All the negatives were gone and food and drink could now be enjoyed just like pulling the items out of my home fridge and freezer. I love milk but warm milk, not so much.

Now I can set the temperature on the fridge freezer and have a glass of nice, ice-cold milk anytime! Heaven.

Lots of Room for Food and Drinks

Lots of Room for Food and Drinks

My first fridge freezer was an Engel MT45.

It worked great but when the company I was involved with added the ARB product line, I had to make the switch.

For a number of years now, my ARB 50qt unit has been a staple of all my off-road adventures.

Installing a dual battery system with solar back-up in my 4Runner has made sure the fridge freezer works as it should and I’ve never had to worry about the starting battery.

ARB is an Australian company, well-known for its quality products for off-road use and all its products are extensively tested before being offered for sale.

The fridge freezer is no exception.

It is solidly built and offers variable cooling capacity, from 50F to 0F, so users can have frozen products at the bottom of the fridge and items like fruits and vegetables closer to the top. In fact, each ARB fridge freezer has fruit and a dairy compartment that sits above the compressor area; on the 50qt model, this section is 8.1” (H) x 11.2” (W) x 6” (D).

To get an idea of the inside capacity, depending on the fridge freezer size, an ARB unit can hold between 50 and 120 12oz pop cans with the 50qt model capable of holding 72 12 oz cans.

The main compartment in the 50qt, not including the fruit and dairy section is 15.5” (H) x 11.2” (W) x 13.3” (D).

Even with me being a steak and burger guy and my wife a vegan, we can fit enough food, along with beer, into the fridge freezer to last us a week away from civilization.

12v DC and 110v AV Power Connection

The ARB fridge freezer offers both 12/24V DC and 100-240 AC power and the control panel features a battery monitor mode where users can choose between Low, Medium and High cutoff settings.

This allows individuals to select just how low the battery will draw down before the fridge stops operating. The control panel also allows the setting of the interior temperature and selecting between Celsius and Fahrenheit.

The unit draws 0.86 amps/hour on average so typically it could be run off a starting battery if the vehicle was moving on a daily basis.

ARB Fridge/Freezer Options

Accessories:

The Classic series (available in blue or black) is what I currently have, but the models listed above now come with Bluetooth connectivity. The fridge freezer connect app allows for full control of the fridge from a smartphone with either IOS or Google apps.

The Elements fridge is a more expensive option but is designed to be mounted in a pick-up bed and stay outside 365 days a year.

Wire Basket to Hold Fridge Freezer Contents

Wire Basket to Hold Fridge Freezer Contents

The fridge is shipped with a reversible wire basket that is designed to protect the internal walls of the unit.

One side of the basket is higher offering the option of containing the fruit and dairy compartment or by turning it, allow longer items to laid across the top of the fridge.

An additional wire divider is included to help further contain the contents. At the bottom of the fridge freezer, a drain plug is fitted to help remove any liquids that spill inside the unit.

All fridge freezers come with a three-year warranty, have an interior LED light and on the Classic series, a removable lid.

Once you’ve made the investment in the fridge, there are a number of accessories worth considering.

ARB Fridge Freezer in Transit Bag

ARB Fridge Freezer in Transit Bag

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Protecting your investment means a transit bag is another good idea.

Made from tough, durable canvas, the bag offers not only extra protection but additional insulation in extreme temperatures.

The bag has a side pocket that can hold the power cord and openings for the fridge’s rubber feet, power cables and drain plug hole.

Strong Tie-down Brackets for Secure Travel

ARB 50 Quart Fridge Freezer Review For the 5th Gen 4Runner: The Perfect Overland & Off-Road Companion: Strong Tie-down Brackets for Secure Travel

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The tie-downs are a must as they keep the fridge firmly secured at all times.

On an off-road trip, we came across a drop where the ATV folks thought it would be good to build a bridge designed for them only!

This meant to continue on the trail, we had to drop down a six-foot, 85-degree rock face. Yup, we scrapped and bent some rear bumpers but the fellow with the navigation laptop had a cooler in the back of his truck.

As he dropped, the cooler full of ice and water fell forward, all over the laptop. It was ruined and it was a good thing we were near the end of the trail.

A Styrofoam cooler is light, an ARB fridge at 50+ pounds is not.

Fridge slide for Easy Access

ARB Fridge Review

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Depending on where you mount the fridge, a fridge slide might also be a useful addition.

ARB offers its classic fridge slide which allows the fridge to be firmly anchored but slide forward for access and the Full Extension Slide which offers extra storage behind the 37qt and 50qt units.

These units, while nice, are not inexpensive. I’ve been using a homemade wood unit for many years that I originally designed into a drawer system in the back of my Range Rover.

When I sold the truck, I cut the slide-out and it runs very nicely on Accuride slides for substantially less money.

ARB also has a selection of 12 and 24-volt wiring accessories which offer flexible placement options or the ability to hard-wire the fridge into your vehicle.

These accessories also help reduce any possible voltage drop as they use 6mm double insulated auto cable. The company also has a selection of specialty threaded sockets and surface mount housings.

Final Thoughts

I have to say I love having the ARB fridge freezer.

I use it for more than just camping and off-road trips as well.

Living at least 40 minutes from the nearest grocery store, the fridge lives in my truck from spring to fall and allows me to purchase frozen food and ice cream during the hot summer months and get it home without melting!

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Steve Carter
5 months ago

Thanks Colin. I was hoping for a simpler solution to just run a fridge, but I guess I’ll have to suck it up and look at something like what you did.

Colin
Colin
5 months ago

This how mine is set-up. https://trail4runner.com/2019/06/05/dual-battery-ctek-charger-solar-5th-gen-4runner/ I don’t have the solar panel fixed to the truck so I can have the truck in the shade and the panel in the sun. My fridge is set to around -1-2C. The fridge seems to work best when it is full of food as opposed to keeping it cold while empty.

Steve Carter
5 months ago

Some feedback on this fridge/freezer: I purchased one for a 5-week trip this spring, and am underwhelmed by some aspects of its performance.

When I received the first unit, I plugged it into the wall and set the thermostat for 37F. The displayed temperature fluctuated between the 20s and 40s, as I recall, and the internal temperature (as measured by two known-good thermometers) was about 50F. I called ARB and a tech support person said it must be defective and to return it. I did that, and ordered a replacement (all via Amazon). The second unit came, and did exactly the same thing.

I decided this must be a design “feature” and proceeded to experiment a bit. I found that if I set the thermostat at 27F, the actual temperature of liquid in a bottle in the refrigerator was a fairly stable 38F-39F. The displayed temperature fluctuates anywhere from 17F to 32F, so I have to just ignore that. I check the actual temperature of liquids with a fast-check cooking thermometer which I know is accurate. The temperature of the air in the cooler fluctuates a lot, so I ignore that.

With this caveat, I like the fridge, and it’s really nice to not have to mess with ice all the time, but I have to say I’m very disappointed that the temperature display has absolutely no correlation with the actual internal temperature. Is it worth $2K+ for fridge/battery combo? I’m not sure that I would do it over again, if I knew all the real-world complications (difficulty keeping the battery charged and vagaries of fridge temp controls). I’ll make it work, because it’s too late to go back now, but I’d be interested to hear feedback from other users on how they dealt with these real-world issues.

Steve Carter
5 months ago

I recently purchased this fridge and have been using it for the past four weeks on a trip. Here’s the thing: I bought a Lion Energy battery to run the fridge, and I haven’t yet found a way to reliably keep the battery charged. If I’m driving the 4Runner all day, there’s no problem — the battery will be charged enough to power the fridge overnight. But if the truck is not running much during the day, the battery does not get charged enough. I have the off-grid package with solar panel, but that’s only useful if the truck is parked all day (exposed to sunlight). If I’m driving to one location, hiking for a few hours, then repeating throughout the day, the solar panel is not a practical option but the battery won’t get enough charging time.

Has anyone else experienced this issue? It’s a generic issue for any fridge/battery combination. I’m thinking about adding a second, deep-cycle battery to the truck, charged directly by the alternator, which would power the Lion battery for the fridge, but that seems silly (and expensive) to have two batteries doing the job of one. I wish this issue had come up in the various reviews of fridge/battery scenarios, but it’s never been mentioned, at least that I’ve seen.

The only way I’ve been able to solve the problem for this trip is to purchase a 100ft extension cord, and park near an outdoor receptacle at every hotel/motel/inn where we’ve stayed. I plug in at night and unplug in the morning. This ensures that the battery has enough power to keep the fridge going the rest of the day. But that isn’t a sustainable solution, and I really don’t want to keep doing that on future trips.

Thoughts, anyone?

Eddie
Eddie
1 year ago

Hi Colin,
do you mind sharing info on how you installed the slide? From the first pic, it looks like you have a 3rd row (so do I) and I’m trying to figure out how to install. Thanks
Eddie

roverguy1
roverguy1
1 year ago
Reply to  Eddie

The top photo in the review is the rear of my T4R. I have a piece of 1/2″ plywood I cut to fit the cargo area. I drilled 4 holes about 1.5″ in diameter to expose the rear tie-down points. I bought some 1/2″ square wood trim and cut it the front to back length of my wood platform. I ran this through the tie-down brackets on the left and right side and secured it 3 – 1″ screws. This keeps the wood base from moving. I attached my homemade fridge slide to the plywood base. I don’t use the 3rd row seats, might even remove them at some point but it’s a quick matter of removing the screws, sliding the 1/2″ square wood pieces out and lifting the plywood base out if you need the rear seats.

Eddie
Eddie
1 year ago
Reply to  roverguy1

Thanks for the reply. I am not able to picture it in my head; I am a visual person. Any chance you can share a pic of the interior? I’m sure it will make more sense. Thanks!
@eddiezt4r

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