The PLB40 Power Station + CFX45 Portable Fridge Mounted on AJC Gear Plate is Great for Exploring & Daily Driving – A Perfect Setup for the Weekend Warrior!
We all seem to be in search of the most efficient refrigerator and power set up for our 4Runner and general car camping needs. There are tons of options on the market, including super robust drawer systems with built-in refrigerator slides, solar panels wired two dual battery setups, big beefy power stations, and much more. The options for running a fridge and powering that fridge are endless when it comes to the car camping and off-roading lifestyle.
If you are like me, you know how enticing it sounds to run a fridge when out exploring. Although enticing, it’s a bit intimidating to power that fridge, especially if your first thought is to power that fridge off of your starter battery. I don’t know about you but I hesitate at the constant draw of a portable refrigerator off of my starter battery.
And even though it’s such a low amp draw, running anything off of the starter battery is always a risk. Then the second thought is wiring in a secondary battery. Which, at the end of the day is pretty simple but it also takes up space in your engine bay that can be used for other accessories. At the end of the day though, it all comes down to what makes sense for you, your family, and the way you specifically travel.
Dual Battery or Power Station?
At this time, I just haven’t seen the personal NEED for a dual battery, I would rather use that real estate for something like a dual air compressor because I get more use out of that as opposed to something like two AGM batteries. I tend to wheel and explore more than I depend on secondary power.
So with all that being said, I think the PLB40 offers incredibly stable long-lasting 12-volt regulated power and when paired with the CFX 45 offers one of the best combinations of refrigeration and power setups on the market today. Under both of these accessories though, you need something for them to mount on. Today, I am going to give you my 2-cents on why I think the PLB40 + CFX45 sitting on the AJC gear plate or Goose Gear Plate is an amazing setup for not only the explorer in all of us but the daily drivers and car campers alike.
CFX 45 + PLB40 = 12vdc Paraside
Yes, it’s true. The CFX 45 plus the PLB40 might just be the best refrigeration and power setups I have run in the last 8 years. If you really want to take it back to the days of old, then the last 25 years camping with my family growing up in Northern California. We never had a portable refrigerator is growing up but hot damn, if this was an option back in 1998, I can tell you right now this would be my safe haven for everything on the entire trip.
These two units work perfectly together. The PLB really is the perfect match for their fridge lineup and many other brand refrigerators alike. The 12V regulated unit will power your CFX until its last 1% – a beautiful thing. For a detailed look on why these units are so perfect for each other, read this review and overview Max wrote on the PLB40.
Dometic CFX 45 (46L)
After running the 29L KAcooler fridge, an off-brand portable refrigerator straight from China, the Dometic was quite the upgrade. Some of the notable upgrades include a Bluetooth temperature monitor through an IOS app, a built-in USB charger, a lid that actually had a locking latch (no more bungee cords for me), a super easy-to-use interface, and much more. The larger CFX45 upgrade was needed for an upcoming two-week trip through Colorado and Utah – and it was so worth it. Having the CFX45 put my mind at ease knowing that the dependable Dometic brand name had my back.
It’s important to note that I have the 45 which is one of the only models that open from the front, not the side. This is SOOO nice when you want to roll down the rear hatch window and throw something in really quick. Not possible with the side-mounted fridges they offer. With that said though, there are many reasons why you would opt for a side-mounted access lid as well so don’t count it out. It really depends on your needs.
Enough for a two-week road trip?
The 46L Dometic was more than enough to carry everything I could pack in it for two weeks on the road through 4 states. I packed everything; steaks, veggies, salami, cheeses, the to-go item or two when on the run through town, and so much more. I really, really like the Dometic CFX. It’s also been plenty of room for our family of three on small weekend trips. We’ve never said, “damn, I wish we had more storage in this fridge”. It’s been great for our family so far.
The Dometic plb40 was made for the 5th gen 4Runner. The size fits perfectly between a passenger-side mounted refrigerator and the factory inverter location near the 12-volt DC Outlet and 110 AC outlet. It rests just under our MOLLE panel and the handle provided on the PLB40 allows you to quickly pull down the handle, press the power button, and see how much power is remaining on your unit. On top of that, the power station offers dual USB ports for you to charge your phone or whatever else you need while you’re out exploring.
Find it online:
- Dometic PLB40 Portable Battery: Check Price
- Battery Type: Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4)
- Battery Capacity: 40Ah @ 12v
- Dimensions: 10.02”H x 7.76”W x 7.76”D
- Weight: 16.10 pounds
- Operating Temperatures: 32ºF to 122ºF
12-Volt Regulated Power
Why is it so important that a power station has 12-volt regulated power? Let’s back up, What is 12-volt regulated power?
This ensures the output voltage on your power station will always stay at the rated value of the power supply, regardless of the current that the device is consuming. This is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT when you are running a fridge because most refrigerators require at least 12V when the compressor kicks on. If you are running an unregulated power station, the voltage output is not being regulated. With an unregulated power station, you aren’t guaranteed a constant 12V. This means the power station output will often drop below 12V.
So why is this bad again?
When a compressor turns on and requests that 12V but the unregulated power station only gives 11.1V or even 11.9V, it’s not enough voltage so the compressor will shut down thus making your fridge power down as well.
I recently wrote a big post on the Lion Energy unit and how it does not have a regulated 12DC power receptacle. Please reference that post if you want to understand why it’s so important to have a constant 12V output if you are running a fridge.
In common sense terms, it’s needed so your fridge doesn’t stop working on you while you’re out exploring.
The PLB40 power station will power your fridge until its last 1%. It’s a constant 12V regulated output. It will ALWAYS provide constant 12V to your fridge – no matter the amperage draw of your fridge.
Having a 12V regulated power station like the PLB40 is so important when running a fridge. The only other well-known 12V regulated unit is the Jackery inverter. The only challenge with the Jackery power station (specifically for the cubby spot on the 5th Gen 4Runner) is that their ports are on the side which might prevent quick access from the rear hatch. Other than that, I’ve heard really good things about the Jackery.
Designed for the 5th Gen 4Runner Cubby
The PLB40 fits perfectly in the side cubby area near our inverter. The handle on the PLB40 allows you to quickly pull the unit down in order to see the remaining power. The two forward-facing USB ports are also nice if you want to plug your phone or something else straight into the power station.
The platform the refrigerator is mounted to is the AJC Gear Plate. It’s very similar to a Goose Gear Plate. Either one of them will get the job done. The beauty of these gear plates is that you can mount literally any refrigerator slides to them as long as you have a drill bit and/or aren’t afraid to drill screws into the plate. This is obviously much easier than figuring out a way to mount the refrigerator slides directly to the floorboard of your 4Runner. I have a US Cargo Control L-Track tie-down system sitting off to the side, mounted on the plate so I can tie down my boxes from the center to the driver’s side hatch tie-down point. I love these L-Track systems.
Great for Explorers
This refrigerator setup is great for the weekend warrior in all of us looking to load up a refrigerator and power it easily with a 12 volt regulated power station. This is a very dependable setup that is sure to last you through the weekend and even longer if you need it.
How Did it work for me?
I ran this setup for two weeks through Colorado and Utah all without charging the power station once!!!
You read that correctly, I ran the PLB40 off the 4Runners 12Vdc output and then powered the fridge off the 12Vdc output on the PLB40. When the 4Runner was on (which was pretty much all day wheeling or driving to a trail) it would charge the PLB40 which was powering the Dometic CFX45.
While the 4Runner was off at night, the PLB would continue to power the fridge through the night, maybe using 10% of the battery overnight. There were some days where we got to camp early (6 pm) and left camp late (12 pm) which demanded a little more power from the PLB40 (maybe 20% at the most) which proved to never be an issue.
These two together are freaking amazing!! Love these two products when put together.
Great for Daily Drivers
The beauty of this setup is being able to remove the refrigerator and the PLB40 when you don’t need them. For most of us, our 4Runner is the daily driver so it’s nice to be able to utilize the entire space of the rear cargo area on a daily basis. Not running large drawer-style refrigerator slide-out systems allow you to remove the refrigerator and leave the slide-out tray in place – mounted to the gear plate. This setup is obviously not perfectly flat, however, it does allow you the same or similar amount of storage space as the factory setup.
Brenan, Love this write-up. I’m about to purchase mine, although I have a Jackery power supply. I have been up in the air with purchasing the CFX45 or the CFX3 55IM. Regardless, I love this post. Thanks Brenan
Thanks for the write up. How do you plug in the PLB 40 to charge when driving, do you plug it into the built-in inverter in near the cubby in the 4runner? I assume you would then need to the use the provided AC plug in that case to keep it going. Thanks for insight. Want to pull the trigger but wonder about logistics.
The PLB 40 charges/plugs into the 4Runner 12v DC – it’s a constant charge when the 4Runner when is running. If the 4Runner is on, it charges the PLB 40. Then the PLB 40 charges the fridge. It’s a constant 12v DC current. No AC is used for this setup. It’s a killer setup.
I’m sure the Dometic PLB is fine, but it’s also $850 vs. the Jackery 500 which is $500, which I have been running for two years now with the same result as the PLB. With the savings of $350, a person could pick up one of those Zarges cases, which I also have several of, and they are fantastic.
PLB is 40Ah – Jackery 500 is 24Ah so it is not apples to apples.
I did not know that. Good point. Also, after re-reading the article and seeing that it fits in that space next to the fridge is really nice. Finding an efficient spot for the Jackery where I can route the cables and clearly check the display has been challenging.