The van life has become an extremely popular way for adventure seekers to explore the world. Many of them will limit their camping time to just weekends while others actually live in their van full time (sure is cheaper than a house!).
Whether you’re living in your Sprinter or simply squeezing overlanding trips in whenever you have time, you’re going to need a way to keep your food and beverages cool.
Coolers and ice packs are a way of the past, as far as I’m concerned. They’re still great for family picnics but I have to admit, I’m sick of wet, soggy food. That’s where a 12 refrigerator like the Bodega RV fridge comes in.
If you’ve been following along with my blog or Youtube channel, you’ll remember that I use a SetPower portable 12v fridge in my Toyota 4runner. But when my brother in law decided to build their brand new Sprinter out for family camping, I didn’t recommend it to him for one main reason:
With a vehicle that huge, you can take advantage of all the extra space by permanently mounting a fridge from an RV. My fridge takes up a ¼ of the trunk space in my 4runner. Mercedes Sprinters definitely don’t share the same problem. As a matter of fact, they’re gigantic inside.
Sure, you could build-in a portable fridge if you wanted to but you’d be wasting space. Things like the handles and wheels require extra room and provide no value in that case. That’s why a fridge that’s meant for an RV is perfect.
Why The Bodega R50 RV Fridge Is A Good Option
We chose the R50 model from Bodega for the Sprinter for a few reasons. First of all, it’s an upright design with a swing-out door that mimics a traditional fridge in your house. That makes it much easier to build in under a countertop or sleeping platform.
A portable fridge is more like a cooler with 12V power because the contents inside are accessed through a door at the top. That means that in order to mount one of these in the same location, you’d need to use a fridge slider to be able to pull it out every time you wanted to use it.
It can be really handy to have a dual zone fridge/freezer like the R50. You likely won’t want to store the kids’ popsicles at the same temperature as the ketchup bottle! Being able to set 2 different temperatures is definitely helpful.
One thing I appreciate about this Bodega fridge over my SetPower one is that it comes with a mobile app to control it. It’s no fun to have to pull over to adjust the temperature or double check that the fridge is turned on. The mobile app allows you to control it and see the real time temperature from your phone.
At roughly $500, you get a fridge with a 2 year warranty that takes up the least amount of space and runs quietly (20db). The Bodega fridge also has battery protection if you aren’t using a secondary power source like a battery pack or solar panel. The last thing you want is to not be able to start your engine in the morning (although at least you’ll be able to enjoy some cold drinks while you wait for the tow truck).
Downsides of the Bodega RV Fridge
There are indeed a few things worth mentioning here. First of all, many users have reported a strong chemical smell coming from inside the fridge. In my experience, this is the case with the fridge in my 4runner too. It tends to go away once the fridge cools down to operating temperature so I don’t think it’s much of an issue.
The back of this fridge is not closed in. The compressor and wiring are all exposed. This isn’t a problem if you build it into your van as intended because the surrounding panels will cover everything up. But it does mean that you won’t be unbolting this fridge and taking it with you when you reach your destination. It’s meant to be mounted to the vehicle and stay there.
As you can see, my opinion is that it makes more sense to use a fridge like the Bodega R50 in a van like a Mercedes Sprinter. To me it’s simple – if you’re going to treat your van like a motorhome, you might as well build it with parts from a motorhome.
This unit allows you to keep your food and drinks cold while making the most of your interior space. Bodega is a reputable company and seems to have plenty of positive reviews.
A name brand refrigerator from one of the really well known companies can easily cost you twice or even three times the price of the Bodega. With great build quality and a 2 year warranty, I’d say this is the smarter choice. I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to spend your money when outfitting your Sprinter van for overlanding!
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