LPG Absorption or DC Compressor?

Here’s a question we get asked often.   What is the best type of upright fridge for my situation? 

Our Recommendation

LPG Absorption Fridges perform their best when they are primarily operated on LPG in a stable and level situation, like in a houseboat, an off-grid house, cabin or camp site. LPG fridges have a small gas flame so they need to be installed correctly and well ventillated. For this reason we do not reccommend LPG fridges for use in small or enclosed spaces like a caravan, boat or tiny house. One of the main benefits of an LPG fridge is the small up front cost - You only need to invest in a bottle of gas and you are up and running for weeks or months at a time.

DC Compressor Fridges are the best all-rounders as they are suited to all environments. They will perform better in mobile situations when a stable and level surface is not always available; like in a caravan, camper trailer, boat or RV. They are also a great choice for any off-grid house or tiny house where there is a steady supply of 12V or 24V DC power.

More Detail...

LPG Absorption

An absorption fridge uses heat to move the refrigerant through the cooling system.

LPG is the most efficient way to run an absorption fridge, as the LPG can instantly produce a very hot flame.

240 V power will also cool an absorption fridge well, although the heating element needs to produce the same amount of heat as a gas flame, so it uses quite a bit of electricity. For example, our XCD280L uses a 300 Watt heating element on 240 Volts.

12 V operation in an absorption fridge is often considered a holding mode only. The temperature of the fridge will remain steady, but the fridge will not have the power to cool down quickly.  This occurs because the small 12 Volt heating element cannot produce the same amount of heat as a gas flame, so it uses alot of electricity trying to keep up.

A stable, level surface is required to operate an absorption fridge in the most effective way. So a moving caravan, motorhome or boat is not an ideal situation. For all mobile refrigeration needs, we strongly recommend considering a compressor fridge.

2-Way and 3-Way are terms referring to absorption fridges which can operate on 2 or 3 different power supplies. This is usually a combination of LPG and 240 volt (2-way) or LPG, 240 volt and 12 volt (3-way).


DC Compressor

A compressor fridge uses electricity to run a low-power compressor, pumps the refrigerant through the cooling system.

DC fridges use a dedicated 12V / 24V compressor which is designed to operate in a moving vehicle.

We use Secop Danfoss branded compressors which will operate on angles up to 30º.

In general terms, a compressor fridge will also perform better in extremely hot and humid conditions.

This combination makes compressor fridges the first choice for mobile use or off-grid situations where 12 V power is readily available.

A stable dc power supply is generally provided by a car battery or bank of batteries. Your batteries will need to by topped up regularly. You can do this is a variety of ways; using your car engine, boat engine, solar panels, a petrol/diesel generator, a 240V smart charger or any combination of these.


Absorption fridges are best used mostly on LPG and in a stable situation. They have a very low up-front cost – just a bottle of gas.

DC compressor fridges work better in mobile situations or when a stable DC power supply is readily available. The up-front costs are higher; batteries and either solar panels, a generator, or a smart charger. But after that you are up and running for years.

More Info

Check out our range of fridges:  LPG Absorption or DC Compressor

Like to see one in person? Visit your Closest Dealer.

Still got questions? Keep browsing our Buying Guides or Contact Us directly anytime.