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The Club’s technical team answers your pressing questions. This month we look at keeping your fridge cool on a long ferry journey.
A Well firstly, not by leaving it running on gas, as we’ve seen suggested online recently. Gas systems must be switched off on a ferry for safety reasons.
You can’t rely on the 12V supply either – generally, the 12V supply to the fridge will only be via the towcar or base vehicle while the engine is running (that is obviously not permitted during a ferry journey) and not via the leisure battery. In any case, the power requirements of a fridge, and especially of a fridge freezer, are such that there would be significant risk of flattening a leisure battery over a lengthy crossing.
The better practice is to thoroughly cool your fridge (using mains electric or gas) in advance. Note that use on 12V is really only intended to keep things cold – not to cool down from ambient temperature – so just powering the fridge freezer from the vehicle while driving may not be sufficient.
However, do keep it cold while driving until as late as possible before boarding the ferry using the vehicle 12V supply or gas (but remember to switch off before boarding). Pack it as full as possible, adding ice packs and chilled or ideally frozen water/fruit juice –and then don’t open it!
Do check that the 12V supply from a towcar is actually working before relying on it in this way – it is surprisingly common for towbar wiring installations to omit this functionality. Also check that it does work correctly (ie only on when the ignition is on).
If not, there’s a risk of the fridge continuing to run from the car battery while on the ferry, with a good likelihood of it flattening that battery during a lengthy crossing.
This is a less common wiring issue, but not unheard of. For peace of mind, some people unplug the caravan from the car while on the ferry, but if you do this, it’s a good idea to leave a note on the instrument panel to remind you to plug it in again before disembarking.
Club members commonly report that frozen contents will remain unthawed for 24 hours or more without a need for external power if the above advice is followed.
The other option, of course, is to travel without anything requiring refrigeration, then plan an early stop on arrival to stock up. This suits some journeys better than others, depending on arrival time and ease of finding a convenient supermarket.
As most long ferry crossings will involve travelling into the EU, however, remember there are restrictions on importing certain foods (see camc.com/overseas-holidays/useful-information/travelling-after-brexit for further details), which might make this a necessary option anyway. Be aware that there are also restrictions on what you can bring home – you can check for the most up-to-date information at gov.uk/bringing-food-into-great-britain (there are different rules for bringing food into Northern Ireland).
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