RVelectricity: Industry update – Dometic 12-volt DC refrigerator – first look impressions


By Mike Sokol

Dometic 12-volt DC refrigerator testing

Back in BC (Before COVID) I made a few acquaintances in the Dometic refrigeration division, and they promised to send me a 10-cubic-foot 12-volt DC compressor refrigerator as part of my study on refrigerator power consumption. I had almost given up on a test unit, when I received a call from my local trucking company about delivery. True to their word, a DMC4101 refrigerator has arrived for review.

I’ll begin a full review of its operation and power consumption in a few weeks, but for grins I simply loaded up the freezer with a 50% mix of frozen and room temperature meats and veggies, put a few 6-packs of warm beer in the fridge, set it to 5 Snowflakes of cold (yes, that’s the max cooling setting), and connected it to a 12 volt battery. So it got very cold, very quickly.

Baby, it’s cold inside…

Here’s a few quick pictures of how cold it got, and how long it took. As you can see, the freezer section was able to get down to a chilly 12.7 degrees F with a fairly decent load of consumables. While that’s not exactly a deep freeze temp of below 0 degrees, it’s more than cold enough to keep meats and veggies frozen for weeks on end. My wife and son are both ServSafe certified for proper food handling in the kitchen and during catering, and they concur with my conclusions about safe freezer temperatures.

There’s more than just cold, baby…

But my neat little Bluetooth thermometer has a logging function so you see how long it took to take the plunge. As you can see, it started at an ambient temp of 69.8 degrees, then plummeted to a minimum of 1.8 degrees air temp in about 2 hours. It eventually settled in around 12 degrees as shown above. And you can see the normal temperature swings of the thermostat, which look right on target to me. (Update: It was at an average of 4 degrees F this morning)

Note this was from a warm-start in a 70 degree room. That is, I didn’t pre-chill the fridge as recommended. I just loaded the freezer with a 50/50 mix of frozen meat and veggies, set it to 5 Snowflakes, and turned on the power.

The obvious comparison

Compared to a 3-way propane fridge, this is pretty amazing. Yes, you’ll still need an additional way to recharge your RV batteries either from solar panels, a small generator or CarGenerator™, or possibly a Flux Capacitor (just kidding). But these 12-volt DC compressor refrigerators with a Danfoss compressor not only are way more efficient than their 120-volt AC counterparts, they don’t lose conversion power stepping 12-volts DC up to 120-volt AC though an inverter.

More detail in a few weeks…

I have several other tests that I need to get through first, but I’ll have a few reviews on this refrigerator next month.

In the meantime, let’s play safe out there….

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

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7 months ago

Mike can you tell us how many amps it’s drawing in your next article.

Bill Massicotte
7 months ago

To add to my post, the Alpicool works on 12v DC as well as 120v AC.

Bill Massicotte
7 months ago

FYI: My Alpicool portable fridge/freezer does exactly the same thing! We bought it for added storage while camping. Our rig has a 7cu.ft small fridge. The added storage comes in very handy for added freezer space or refrig. addt’l space. Our outside fridge only works on 120v.
Thought you might want to know!

Stephen F Willey
7 months ago

Mike: I am glad to see a Danfoss Compressor used in the Dometic. But also I would like to mention a Canadian company in Vancouver, NovaKool, had made exact size replacement Danfoss compressor refrigerator/freezers for RVs for over 25 years. In our off-grid solar home I have a smaller Novakool 12 volt Danfoss unit wroking perfectly over 30 years of running. But I do not know the insulation efficiency comparisons between the Dometic and Novakool units. Might be a good test for you to publish.

Tom Boles
7 months ago

Hi Mike, I’m glad to see someone actually testing one of these new fridges and showing data! I’m sure you will be measuring current draw and voltage levels and showing those results in the weeks to come.
For this first test, I presume you are using a remote reading thermometer? Where you measuring air temperature by any chance? I imagine the fridge has an internal fan and so cold air circulation would be quite good, as your data shows.
I look forward to your up-coming results!

Mike Sokol
7 months ago
Reply to  Tom Boles

The thermometer was a remote Bluetooth unit placed if front of the food and out of the air stream. Yes, current and voltage tests to follow.