I narrowed my choice to an Engel unit mainly due to the worldwide reputation the brand had, with internet searches finding numerous units older than 20 years still in use. Engel fridge/freezers have only one moving part, which is self lubricated, and there is no maintenance needed. By using what they call a Swing Motor, the design and associated resonance characteristics achieve a very high power output offering advantages such as great economy, compact size, lightweight, high efficiency (due to the resonance phenomena), low friction losses and minimum power consumption. When combined with Engel’s thermally efficient insulation, the result is a superior cooling performance.
In selecting which size to get, obviously we all want the biggest one we can get. However, size can be misleading in portable fridges. The ice used in a cooler takes up a considerable amount of space, which equates to the use of a smaller fridge than the cooler you would typically take for the same trip duration. The most common item I find in my fridge is a beverage, and I have found that by replacing them as they are consumed the size requirements get even smaller.
Placing a Engel MT35 and MT45 side by side in the rear of a XJ Cherokee, you can see that accessing the fridge needs to be taken into consideration due to the increased height of the MT45. Engel fridges use a fork style hinge that allows the lid to be removed by sliding the lid to the side, so it does not necessarily eliminate it in the selection process. For the TJ, the MT35 seems to fit like it was made for the Wrangler, with the lid staying flush with the top of the body tub.
In selecting a 12v fridge for our KJ Liberty, keep in mind that these are portable fridges so I wanted to select a fridge that could be transferred and used in all of our vehicles. I chose the Engel MT45, a medium to large sized fridge/freezer that holds 43 quarts (60 – 12oz cans). It is ideal for long term freezing, and can hold a steady interior temperature from 40°F to below 0°F regardless of the ambient temperature; however, it will not heat if the ambient temperature is below the maintaining temperature.