The legend that is the Engel fridge has been on the back of trucks and trails for years. Exposed to the elements, with no care in the world. But are they actually waterproof or weatherproof? Are you potentially putting a thousand dollars of equipment at risk?
Engel fridges are not waterproof nor are they technically weatherproof. The fridge is designed and engineered to be splash resistant, but it is not recommended to be exposed to rain or direct contact to water.
In saying that, Engel fridges have an outrageous reputation for being “legends of reliability”. This toughness does extend to being water/weather resistant as confirmed by many customers.
Engel owners have proudly mounted their fridges to the back of their trucks and boats, exposed to harsh conditions to have them running for years to come.
Although Engel themselves do not recommend it, they are engineered very well and can tolerate exposure to rain, sun and other rugged conditions – however, it has limits and it is not guaranteed.
Lets see what information we can find about Engel’s being water or weatherproof.
Are Engel Fridges Waterproof?
Engel fridges are not engineered or designed to be waterproof. In saying this, they do have legendary reputation for taking a beating on the back of trucks and boats, exposed to the elements, and running for years to come.
It is clear in their Warranty Terms and Conditions (found at Engel Coolers) that exposure to the elements and neglect are not covered:
Normal “wear and tear” (including chips and scratches, abrasions, discolorations or fading due to usage, exposure to sunlight, and extreme weather conditions) is not covered by our warranty, nor is damage caused by neglect, unauthorized alterations or repairs, power surges/lightning strikes, water damage, ice retention or failure to follow recommended care and use instructions. Power cords and fuses are not covered by our warranty.
As with all equipment, there will be some failures, and according to the official Engel fridge manuals you should:
- Never expose the refrigerator to rain.
- Do not put a water-filled container. Water if spilled will degrade the insulation of electric components and may lead to a fire from electric leak.
- When the cigarette lighter plug comes in contact with water or salty substance, be sure to thoroughly wipe it off. Take extra caution when wiping off the head terminal of the plug.
- Water and salty substance, if remained on the tip of the cigarette lighter plug, will result in rust, causing poor conductivity and abnormal overheating and possibly lead to deformation of the plug and/or a fire.
- Never use this refrigerator inside a refrigerated compartment of a refrigeration truck, where condensation easily occurs, and water would drip onto the refrigerator and damage it.
These all point towards the fridge not being designed specifically to be waterproof.
Based on speaking to Engel owners and the word in the community, many have had their fridge sitting in the elements taking rain and sun, and lasting 7-8 years before the electronics begin to fail and parts corrode.
Using the insulated bag also provided some relief when in a pinch and were caught in the rain. Although the bag does get heavily soaked, it diverts most of the water away from the fridge components. It is important however to remove and dry both the fridge and cover – moisture is the enemy of electronics.
Even the transit bag will not totally protect the fridge from rain and dust etc as it still has the breathable piece over the grill. Due to the design, most of the water will automatically find its way out.
One forum user has toted that his Engel fridge became submerged for 15 minutes and was still working fine after. However, we do not recommend going snorkeling with your favorite fridge.
Any electrical connections exposed to moisture or direct contact with water will be subject to corrosion or damage afterwards.
It looked like it had survived a nuclear blast (and multiple rollovers).Forum user
Overall, it is not recommended to get them wet but they will tolerate a lot of abuse out on the road (or water).
Can Engel Fridges Get Wet?
Engel fridges can get wet; however, it is not recommended to keep them out of rain, moist or wet areas.
They are known to be put through the toughest of conditions, going on the back of trucks exposed to rain, being sunk in a bog hole, and still working.
As previously touched on, in “Are Engel fridges Waterproof?”, the manual directly says a unanimous no.
This does not mean that they are not water or weather resistant. Simply, Engel does not boast their fridges can take such a beating as the electronics and components were not designed specifically for this, but due to the quality and engineering can tolerate it.
Are Waeco Fridges Waterproof?
Waeco fridges are not waterproof. They are splash resistant, but they are not designed to be heavily wet, soaked or submerged in water.
The Waeco manuals point out that you should:
- Ensure that the ventilation slots are not covered.
- Do not fill the inner container with ice or fluid.
- Never immerse the device in water.
- Protect the device and the cable against heat and moisture.
- Never clean the cooler under running water or in dish water
This makes it quite clear, that the Waeco fridge is not waterproof.
Although this is written by the manufacturer, there have certainly been customers who have accidently left the fridge out or it has been submerged whilst a vehicle been stuck under water.
This does not mean they are made for this but can tolerate a good amount of abuse and exposure to the elements.
Does Anyone Make a Waterproof Portable Fridge?
ARB currently manufactures the Elements portable fridge/freezer. This fridge is the only weatherproof fridge on the market that claims to be water/weatherproof and its tough exterior and rugged design really shows that.
This Fridge is as tough as is looks with stainless steel construction and protective corner mouldings, it will definitely stand strong against harsh conditions.
The engineers are ARB did an outstanding job of focusing on design challenges faced to make it weather resistant. This fridge can go where ever you go and be exposed to the elements with no issues.
Again, it is important to note that this fridge does not claim to be waterproof (submersible) but can be put through the mother nature ringer. The weakness of any fridge is the electronics and vent areas – so be mindful when you are thinking of throwing this in the pool.
If you are looking for a fridge to stick on the back of your tray or take out on the boat, this might be it. It has been specifically designed to take a beating and keep your beers cold.
How Can I Make My Engel Fridge Water/Weatherproof?
Portable fridges do not appreciate a regular drench of rain or soak in the river due to their electronics.
Building an exterior barrier, box, or cover to protect the fridge will extend its resistance to the elements.
Remember, the fridge does need to breathe, and sufficient airflow and ventilation are required to ensure it runs perfectly.
The design of a weather cover should draw or direct the water away, whilst allowing sufficient air to flow to the vents of the fridge. The cover does not have to be watertight but covers most of the important parts of the fridge and channel water away as not to pool.
Fridge Covers on the Market
A mob called DrifSands Fab makes a portable fridge cover called the “Fridge Shield” that ticks all the weatherproof boxes.
Essentially, it itself is a box and is available in a variety of sizes to fit most fridges (ranging from 32L to 80L).
They are designed to be well ventilated, insulated and have the security aspect of being lockable. This means they are secured from sticky fingers from mates or theives lurking around the truck.
They are not submergible or fully waterproof but it does cover the fridge from the elements and direct contact to the rain.
Designed to shield your investment from the elements and the scumbags.
Another Australian company that put together a solid protective unit is DSM Toolboxes called the DSM Fridge Box. Again, it is not waterproof, but it does give the fridge that extra layer against the elements and secured. Worth checking out!
If you have built or seen a weather cover for a portable fridge, please share it with us, we would love to see it (let us know!)