Discuss Running a 240v fridge in a vehicle, unusual situation in the Auto Electrician Forum area at ElectriciansForums.net


New EF Member
Hello Folks,

I have a query regarding running a 240v fridge in vehicle. Any advice would be welcome.

I have a catering business and I'm fitting out my vehicle. It is a single cab chassis with a large square steel canopy. I want to be able to carry hot and cold food, so getting a standard refrigerated coldroom unit isn't entirely ideal for my situation. The hot food doesn't require power so that doesn't need to be considered.
I have considered using large 12v fridges, but they don't work well with the dimensions of the large containers and packages I use. I need one large cavernous 300L+ space.

My current thought is using 240v commercial bench fridge. It wouldn't be permanently running, mostly in 30-60min stints, usually only once per day. It would be great to be able to run it on standby, when the vehicle isn't running. My experience in electronics is virtually non existent, but I have my old man to help on the project, who has lots of caravan experience.

I understand I will need an inverter and second battery for this.
I'm getting confused because the fridges I'm looking at all have different types of power ratings.

There's are the maximum I've found, so I guess this is the ball park.


So what sort and size inverter would I need?

And what would I need to do to be able to operate it on standby ie can I get it powered by mains 240/generator as well as the dual battery setup?

Am I missing any glaring reasons why this isn't a good idea?

Thanks in advance.


Regular EF Member
SW. London
What about a bottled gas fridge, when I had a fridge in my van it was alot more economical to run it on gas. 12v to 240v inverters zap the batteries unless the engine is running. I had a small fridge running all the time on gas an it lasted a month or more between changes. Remeber to run a vent outside.
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Electrician's Arms
If the fridge isn’t designed to be fitted in a vehicle, then using a normal (domestic or commercial) fridge in a vehicle may not be a good idea, as whenever a fridge is moved (in a vehicle) it is recommended the fridge be positioned in its place and left to stand a few hours before connecting to power. A fridge unit from a caravan may be your best bet, as they are designed to be in moving vehicle and can operate whilst in motion.

Adam W

Very mysterious.

You could use smaller packages and containers, you could incorporate a bespoke cold room into your vehicle, possibly using the kind of chiller used on refrigerated vehicles, or you could use the same system as everyone else who has had the same idea as you.

... The next answer is 'yes they do', and if they don't do exactly what you're envisioning then there's a very good reason for it.


Respected Member
Hi,the 12/24V DC fridges really hammer the power,so adding an inverter in the middle,will only be as onerous.
If the fridge is large,and the power requirement larger than,say,a camper van,why not consider a engine driven set-up? As the ice-cream vans use.

Another option,is having a super-insulated,cold-bed type storage container,where the cooling is built up overnight,off a mains supply.

A super-silent,variable frequency generator,could power things as needed,and are a capable,reliable unit.

At the end of the day,you cannot get a gallon,from a pint pot,and certain compromises will need to be sought.


Regular EF Member
If you want to run a domestic type freezer off an invertor, then you first need to see how much power does the freezer require ? this information should be available with the product info.
Then you need to consider the start up surge.
So the surge capacity of the invertor is the critical thing, these freezers will pull many times their normal running current, to start up, it's only for a second or two, but it's power the invertor needs to cope with.
Not to mention batteries that can supply this current.
All this is possible, but not cheap
you will probably need an invertor of 2Kw


New EF Member
Hello again, and thanks for your advice.
I feel that the vibe from most messages is correct, the pint glass analogy makes a lot of sense. Pushing sh#t up a hill is another phrase that comes to mind!

I have been exploring another option, which is to get a snack van/smoko van that already is partly refrigerated, and transfer it onto my chassis in place if the canopy.
I've found one that is suitable and runs off the air con compressor. It doesn't have a standby set up, is it possible to set one up in this situation? Also will the regular air con in the cabin run when the fridge is running?
Thanks again

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