Those who camp with a recreational vehicle know that the refrigerator is practically mandatory. The extra space that allows less “portable” refrigeration equipment, which is more practical and fixedly installed, ends up configuring one of the differentials of RV’s. In larger models, refrigerators of the same size as those we use at home are allowed. As in Brazil there are no large refrigerators specifically for motorhomes, it is common to convert residential models with the well-known 12V COMPRESSORS. The Gelbox , reference this market has not only the compressors for these conversions, but also sells ready refrigerator. It was exactly one of them that the company sent us for REVIEW.
CONVENTIONAL FRIDGE + INVERTER:
As much as one can defend its use, especially in view of the initial cost, this combination is definitely not the most suitable for a recreational vehicle that values its itinerant fundamentals. First, because conventional 110V / 220V compressors are not designed to work with bumps in the road. The service life of the motor will not be the same, except in the case of high quality pure wave sine inverters. Second, because the use of an inverter causes a lot of energy dissipated in heat to be lost during the transformation process, in addition to requiring that it has a much higher power than the refrigerator’s nominal power due to the “starting peak” of the motor. In summary, if your search is for AUTONOMY and battery energy savings, opting for a 12V compressor will immediately guarantee a savings of at least 40%.
In addition to being specific for on-board use, the compressor that works in direct current has a much lower consumption, given the requirements mentioned above. As they are made for specific use in vehicles, they are ready to receive the swings and bumps of the roads. Contrary to what some disseminate, a 12V compressor is not a conventional device with a built-in inverter.
We were happy when GELBOX decided to send a model of yours for review, because in our research, we saw a great public satisfaction for the brand. Including service, quality, effect and energy savings.
WHY DO WE CHOOSE THE COMPLETE REFRIGERATOR?
It is more than evident that the person can buy a refrigerator of his own taste and opportunity and then convert it (purchase a 12V compressor and change the original 110V / 220V). Undoubtedly it is much more affordable, in addition to the range of models and brands being greater. However, we wanted to abbreviate all stages, in addition to having all the installation and care already enshrined in GELBOX . The model already pre-chosen by us was already the Electrolux DC35A.
We chose the Electrolux DC35A model for several reasons. First because it is a model with separate FREEZER, popularly known as duplex. Second for its dimensions that are quite compact and compatible with the interior of a home engine and at the same time offering a very large internal volume (260L). To be converted into 12V it is very important to take into account that the refrigerator cannot have either a digital panel or an automatic defrost system (Frost Free). This is because all of these systems also work from 220V or 110V and cannot be converted. In a traditional refrigerator with only mechanical sensor internal lighting and analog thermostat regulation, simply changing the compressor and the internal lamp already converts it completely to 12V (or 24V). This is the case of this model from Electrolux, which already offers an internal drawer, grid shelves, multiple shelves at the door and a great freezer to house frozen food. Everything relying on a design that pleases us a lot, having the handles integrated in the doors freeing the circulation (corridor) of external handles. Another thing that attracts us is the refrigerator has a rear heat dissipation grille (the most modern ones have it hidden, but in RVs the rear ventilation is not as effective as at home). Finally, to compensate for the non-existence of the “frost free” system, the model has a manual defrost system that promises a slower and smarter accumulation of ice and a defrost drain system that makes this service more practical. In this set, the refrigerator already has an internal DRAIN system, which is very important for intermittent use. There is a drain in both the freezer and the bottom of the refrigerator, draining all the defrost water to an external rear tray.
Unboxing: The Gelbox sent in the fridge already completinha and converted via carrier. After a very long wait due to the mess of the beginning of the pandemic / quarantine, it finally came into our hands. It arrived in the same packaging as the original Electrolux, obviously violated since it was opened for Gelbox to do the conversion. All plasticized, it also came with a styrofoam base, superior protection and angles. Inside the components all attached with tapes so that nothing is damaged during transport. The Instruction Manual was also inside.
What stands out the most at first glance is the original Electrolux material. A very well built refrigerator with very fine finishes and good materials. Turning its back, we could see the new compressor very well installed, fixed and accommodated in the “cockpit”. The “head” of the new compressor matched the drain water tray, where its heat helps in evaporation. In addition to the welded piping, we could see the attached electronic unit and some wiring strange to common refrigerators. The thick brown and blue wires are from the 12V power supply, which has already been accompanied by the appropriate vehicle standard fuse. The thin red and black wiring, on the other hand, are from the LED indicator that was installed on the refrigerator’s internal control panel.
The freezer compartment has large 53L in a well-sized format that fits a lot. There, Electrolux lacked an internal shelf to accommodate small belongings and the ice tray that is optional and must be purchased separately. The door is also not used, but we know that this guarantees greater thermal insulation. The refrigerator is not frost free. There is this same model with the function on the market, but it is not possible to convert it to 12V, since it uses electrical resistors and circuits that would all have to be changed, also resulting in a higher consumption of batteries. For those who travel by motor home, they are used to having to turn off and clean the refrigerator when returning from the tour, which ends up forcing the defrosting work. However, the model used for conversion to 12V by GELBOX has a “cicle defrost” system. It is a system of built-in side compartments so that ice accumulates there and not in the Freezer chamber, greatly delaying the effect of ice formation in the freezer. The compartment also has an internal drain that sends the defrost water (when carried out) into the refrigerator, avoiding having to pull that water and wet the floor. There is a cover to block this drain.
The bottom part that makes the refrigerator function, has 207L of internal volume. They are very well distributed, taking all the comfort of a residential refrigerator into the home engine. The shelves are wired, which is most effective in a recreational vehicle (the glass shelves of the most expanded residential refrigerators end up getting dirty and scratching with the movement of the roads). There are three shelves, 4 spaces, since the top of the drawer also supports many foods. The large vegetable drawer can also accommodate various organizations for travelers. Internally the compartment is illuminated with a 12V lamp that replaced the original in a well molded panel that also incorporates the thermostat temperature adjustment. The door can be used with three shelves, one of which can be used on both sides, or as a door for five cans or accommodating the basket of eggs that also accompanies the product. The lower shelf has a height to accommodate large bottles and a fastening system that helps a lot when traveling. It failed to say that the internal shelves of the refrigerator have several level positions to be chosen. The icing on the cake for this in-vehicle refrigerator is its internal drain system. At the top of this compartment there is a cooler plate at the bottom. Recommended never touch anything with it. ice is formed and water is also condensed there. Both this condensed water as well as the water from defrosting the freezer run down the back of the refrigerator, detached from the shelves, reaching a lower drain. This drain is destined for a tray that is glued above the compressor that uses its heat to help evaporate the water. For cases where an even more efficient drain is required, it is possible to adapt a hose from this tray to outside the car. We leave this task for the future.
One aspect of this model of refrigerator that perfectly applies to equipment for recreational vehicles is the drain. This is because in addition to suffering a strong temperature variation during the day, which can result in isolated defrosts both in the freezer and in the refrigerator, in the trailer or motor home, we do not use the refrigerator as at home, that is, always on. It is common that after spending weekends, vacation weeks and etc., we turn off, defrost and clean the refrigerator much more frequently and this results in defrosting and water formation. With a drain system, either clean or even dirty water does not need to be collected. You can even turn it off during the trip back where the water naturally flows through the drains. The Freezer has a drain that drains the water from the top to the refrigerator. The refrigerator, on the other hand, has a drain under the bottom that sends the water to an external tray positioned on the compressor and that uses its heat to assist evaporation. A great and easy option is to adapt a drain in this tray through a hose to the floor.
TOP DRAIN (FREEZER)
EXTERNAL DRAIN AND TRAY
To start installing the new refrigerator on the home engine, we first prepare its niche. As the original was a Gas Consul (ammonia), the compartment had a chimney. This will be preserved now, because as the heat from the refrigerator and compressor grating tends to rise, it will naturally be exhausted by the outlet in the ceiling. To avoid a common occurrence of birds nesting in that chimney, we installed a small mosquito net. We also fixed the old 220V wiring that has now been diverted for use in the kitchen hood. It’s time to send the refrigerator into the vehicle.
With the help of our friend Castor, we entered the device through the vehicle door. This is one of the advantages of this model, which has a somewhat smaller width than usual. As most RVs have doors from 50cm to 60cm, the 54.8cm width of the refrigerator was very suitable for the opening of our door, which is 58cm. Even so, as the side of the motorhome is curved, the bottom of the open door ended up narrowing this gap in the bottom, forcing us to lay down the device for its entrance. Its almost 50kg weight requires at least two people to work. Once inside, it is easier to lift it for displacement alone.
First we put the refrigerator inside the niche to study how we would do the fixings. One thing that we never liked in some motor homes is the fact that the original legs and feet are kept, and the configuration in this type of installation is built-in. In addition to losing a huge space, there is a very large gap between the floor and the refrigerator, in addition to interfering too much in the design of the environment. Therefore, our studies were based exactly on the removal of the feet and those pipes that would be too coarse in the joinery.
After removing the feet and the mufflers from the refrigerator, the best idea for fixing the appliance to the home motor soon came. All four feet are threaded, three of them with “male” thread, being formed by screws with the plastic base involving two heads. The fourth foot is a nut, with the screw rod attached to the refrigerator exactly where the door hinge is. So, we put the refrigerator back in the place we wanted and marked exactly where the original feet were located. Withdrawal, we were able to drill the four holes that drove the floor and the floor plate of the home engine.
Now positioned without the feet, we start placing the refrigerator from that threaded rod fixed in the base, inserting it in the corresponding hole. Not before taking the opportunity to review the settings of the doors that are right there and the screws that we removed and replaced to remove the canopies. Then it was only necessary to access the lower part of the floor from the outside of the home motor to insert the nut in the rod shank. Then we just fixed the other 3 screws that we used by the way of the original feet, removing the plastic bases. Ready. The refrigerator was in position and firm on the base as it would never be in a residence.
Then it was time to remove the protection from the screws on the upper hinges to also review the adjustment of the doors. There, we also used the protective plastic to use as a mold and wear the top wood batten that will make the composition of the cabinet on the refrigerator. Although the refrigerator is firmly attached to the floor, the road swing can still make its upper part swing. In this way, we provide side and bottom wooden blocks to prevent this movement.
Then it was time to adjust and reassemble the upper cabinet that lost a few centimeters due to the new refrigerator being a little taller than the original gas. In addition to the 12V electrical connection, the task of making the two finishes of the side spans we made in white to compose with the refrigerator panel was left.
On the floor, no finishing needed to be done, since the refrigerator is supported very close to the floor, leaving a few millimeters for ventilation. Nothing else can be seen leaving the finish in the perfect decorative context and befitting a recreational vehicle.
OPERATION:After a few months of use, the refrigerator proved to be totally effective. The thermostat, which has never crossed the midline of the regulation, already makes the refrigerator freeze a lot. We confess that after many years using a minibar in the trailer, we lost ourselves in the immensity of the 2O7 liters of the refrigerator that spent a few weeks cluttered and disorganized in the motor home. The lighting covers the entire interior of the refrigerator and the practicality of the shelves and drawer works optimally. In the Freezer, such an optional shelf is really needed. The price is not even high at the official Electrolux store, but the same or higher value freight makes us give up buying it immediately. The compartment fulfills its promise, freezing and conserving everything very well. Two and a half months since we started using it, a lot of ice hasn’t accumulated on the walls (just something acceptable),
Although we have purchased the complete refrigerator already converted into 12V, you can transform any existing fridge or freezer with GELBOX compressor. They have different models ranging from 25BAR, passing through 30, 35 to 65 so that it can be applied according to the internal capacity of the refrigerator. With the compressor that already comes with the electronic control panel, just replace it with the original 110V or 220V welding the input and output of the copper pipe circuit. Any refrigeration technician can do the job. Then, special attention is needed to connect the new wiring. Finally, the refrigerator’s lighting will be out of date, and the internal lamp should be replaced by a 12V (or 24V) worrying about the polarity. In time, it must be said that there are 24V options of GELBOX compressors for application in trucks or motorhomes that use bus chassis and rely on the 24V electrical system.
In the case of our compressor, despite having arrived installed, we were able to check its entire electrical system. There are 8 connectors on the electronic unit, the first two of which are 12V. Then there are the connections for the analog thermostat and outputs for lighting supply, pilot led and also an optional fan for the compressor.
CONNECTION IN 110V or 220V: Despite being 12V or 24V in direct current, a source or converter is enough for the refrigerator to work in the outlet without the need for any battery. It is only necessary that the source has the necessary power to start the engine. The company markets a specific converter. In the home motor, there is an intelligent charger (float) plugged into the 220V that keeps the battery charged and powers the refrigerator when camping.
The Gelbox sells separately, if necessary, only the converter without the electronic unit or only this controller unit.
FEATURES (REFRIGERATOR): Total storage capacity 260L; Freezer storage capacity: 53L; Dimensions: Height 1,62m, Width 54,80cm, Depth 61,30cm; Weight: 49kg; Reversible door: No; Usable freezer door: No; Cold water dispenser: No; Ice dispenser: No; Refrigerator shelf: Lined; Can holders: Yes (5); Bottle holder: yes.
FEATURES (COMPRESSOR): Model: BAR35; MOTOR: HERMETIC 12 V OR 24 V AUTOMATIC; Rotation Speed: DE 2000 TO 3500 RPM; KCL / H 51.9 A 86.5; BTU / H 204.6 A 341.0; Volume of oil in the compressor: 160ml; – TYPE OF EFFICIENCY: ¨FC¨; “CE” CERTIFICATE.
PRICE: At the time of this review, the COMPLETE REFRIGERATOR was sold for R $ 3,800.00 at GELBOX + Shipping. For the option of converting a refrigerator of this type, the compressor + controller was sold on the SITE for R $ 1,300 + shipping.
WHERE TO BUY: On the GELBOX website , via phones or whatsapp (47) 9.8856-2530 or 9.8816-9880 , email ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). The factory’s headquarters are located in Rio do Sul – Santa Catarina.