Are you keen to get your hands on one of the Brass Monkey portable fridges or dual fridge/freezer units? Wondering whether they live up to the hype?
In this Brass Monkey fridge freezer review, I run through their pros and cons, the main points of difference with other popular models like Engel and Dometic/Waeco, plus whether I think that they are a good buy!
To begin with, let's take a look at a quick comparison of the most popular models in this range!
$349 at Snowys
$399 at Snowys
$449 at Snowys
$499 at Snowys
585 (L) x 335 (W) x 350 (H) mm
723 (L) x 360 (W) x 365 (H) mm
723 (L) x 360 (W) x 455 (H) mm
723 (L) x 360 (W) x 545 (H) mm
Let's also see how each of these fridges compare against our database of the most popular portable fridges in Australia. The chart below shows how they stack up on criteria like price, volume, weight and more:
Pros & Cons
There are two main types of Brass Monkey units - single zone units that can be used as either a fridge OR a freezer (by setting the temperature appropriately) or dual zone units that can be run with one compartment as the fridge and the other compartment of a freezer.
The dual zone units can be run as dedicated fridges or freezers as well, if you so desire.
Within these two broad categories, the fridges come in a wide variety of sizes and designs. Sizes range from the tiny 9L model all the way up to the monster 100L unit.
They also run 2 main designs. One is a black/gray, plastic encased design which is their standard offering. The other is a metal cased, chest freezer type design with a LG compressor for reduced power consumption.
The black plastic models often come with wheels and extendable handles (like your suitcase) for easy transport between your car, boat, caravan etc. You can easily take them out of the car and pop them down next to the campfire.
The metal finished units are less portable and more suited to being set up as a car, caravan or boat fridge that won’t be moved around too often.
There are a ton of different combinations of the above types. Have a think about what type will suit your needs.
For most people, the black/gray type will be best. It is lighter, more portable and cheaper than the metal finished version. You can easily pull it out of the car and pop it down by the campfire, or next to your chairs while you’re fishing.
Despite being made out of plastic, they still feel very sturdy and seem to be able to handle plenty of abuse without packing it in. In saying that, they don’t feel quite as solid as the Engel fridge/freezers.
These portable fridge/freezers can be set at temperatures ranging from -20°C to +20°C. Bear in mind that this is based on an ambient temperature of 25°C, so on really hot days, your freezer may struggle to get right down to the low temps.
On Brass Monkey dual zone models, the freezer compartments can be set to be up to 15°C cooler than the fridge compartment.
Many have commented that the units do a good job of reaching the set temperature, compared to other brands where you always need to set the unit a few degrees below where you want it to actually be.
The BM fridges and freezers can be powered in a variety of ways. An included 100-240V AC adapter allows you to plug them into mains power when you are at home or at a powered site. The adapter will automatically transform the voltage/amperage down to 12V.
Alternatively, they can be powered directly from your vehicle using your cigarette lighter connection or even using the newer Merit connection on some models.
They come with the necessary 3.5m lead for connecting your fridge to 12V DC power.
The units seem to fall into 3 rough sizes. The smaller units have a power consumption of 45W when in use, so they have a current draw of 3.75A when on 12V DC power.
The medium sized units consume 60W of power and consequently draw 5A at 12V DC.
Finally, the larger units consume 75W of power and therefore draw 6.2A at 12V DC.
According to Brass Monkey, their medium size models (rated at 60W power consumption) consume about 0.25 kWh of energy over a typical 24 hour period. This means that they expect their units to be on and running for about 4 hours per day to maintain temperature.
Based on my calcs, if you are running them off a 12V battery, you can expect them to use 21 Ah (amp-hours) in a 24 hour period, or 0.87 Ah per hour.
Of course, this will be the absolute bare minimum, as this figure assumes that you aren’t opening the fridge at all, nor adding warm contents to the fridge.
This figure will also vary heavily based on the temperatures that you set in the unit, as well as the ambient air temperature.
These units also come with 3 stage low voltage battery protection, which will turn off the fridge if it detects low voltage from the power source (ie. your battery).
A number of models come with extra features, some of which are very useful!
Most models come with an internal light, which is great if you are trying to find something in the fridge late at night or while it is buried under a ton of other gear in your boot.
Extension Handle and Wheels
The newer versions often come with extension handles (like your suitcase) as well as wheels, which makes it easy to wheel it into position, wherever that may be. Not having to lift the whole thing saves your back too!
USB Charging Port
A USB port is very handy if you are out fishing or by the campfire and don’t want your phone, tablet or e-reader to go flat.
Purchased separately to the fridge/freezer itself, solar panels can be used to run the fridge and charge your battery via a Andersen to 12V cable.
This will allow you to get a lot more use out of your fridge and battery, especially if you are not at a powered site every night.
Extra Battery Storage
BM separately sells batteries which can fit into dedicated battery storage spaces on their newer models.
They are designed to be used in conjunction with the solar panels above, allowing you to store up energy during the day and use it overnight or whenever the sun doesn’t shine.
They come in 7.8 Ah or 15.6 Ah varieties.
Bluetooth App Control
These fridges can now be controlled via a smartphone app which uses Bluetooth to communicate with the fridge.
The app allows you to check the temperature of the fridge, battery voltage, as well as turn the fridge on/off, adjust the temperatures and see other useful information.
If you want to reduce power consumption and make your battery last longer between charges, consider purchasing an insulating cover for your fridge. The covers will reduce the amount of heat that is absorbed by your fridge while it is in use.
BM sells a wide variety of these covers to suit their different models. The covers include the necessary ventilation panels to ensure that the fridge can dispel hot air.
Use the button below to take a look at these insulating covers.
If you are planning on installing your fridge in the back of your car or ute, consider getting a genuine fridge slide drawer. This will allow you to slide your unit out from your vehicle and easily access the contents.
Build Quality & Warranty
These fridges have been out on the market for a while now and there have been very few complaints about them from their users.
On the whole, they seem well built and rugged enough to handle the demands of an Australian camping trip.
They are also very quiet, running at just 38dB. When you’re out camping or at the beach, you won’t even be able to hear it running.
The main issue that people have with this fridge are concerns about tilting. According to the BM manuals, these fridges should be kept level (<5° tilt) when in operation for long periods. For short periods, they can continue to operate at up to 45° tilt.
Perhaps there is a problem with refrigerant pooling in the fridge when it is kept on an angle?
This is a little concerning, as it’s quite common to park your car on a hill which would definitely exceed 5°. I haven’t heard of anyone breaking their fridge due to operating it at an angle, but it is something to keep in mind.
Another thing to think about is the required side clearances. According to the manual, the unit needs 200mm of clearance at the back and 100mm at the sides to give it enough space to dispel hot air.
If you plan on tucking it right up against the walls of the boot of your 4WD, think again. Do this and you may risk overheating the fridge.
These fridges are covered by a solid 3 year warranty. This isn’t quite as good as the Engel 5 year warranty, but considering that it’s a fraction of the price, 3 years isn’t bad at all.
I haven’t heard anything about what the warranty claim experience is like, so I can’t really comment on how well they honour their warranties.
Price is where these fridges really shine. For the same size, their fridges are typically one third the cost of their main competitors like Engel and Dometic/Waeco.
Whereas a 60L Engel or Dometic would cost you around $1,500, the equivalent BM fridge costs just $500!
This is a huge saving and is the main reason that these fridges have become so popular. They offer a quality fridge that is probably about 80% as good as these premium models for just a third of the price!
Feel free to use the buttons below to check the latest prices.
Conclusion - Brass Monkey Fridge/Freezer Review
Brass Monkey fridges are reasonably high quality units at a fraction of the price of the competition.
They come with dual zone fridge/freezer compartments that can be set as low as -20°C, run nice and quietly at just 38dB, and they are fairly efficient units.
Their newer versions now even come with Bluetooth app control, allowing you to easily keep an eye on how your fridge is going.
If you are willing to shell out a bit more money, you can get some nice extras like solar charging, an insulating cover to save power, or even a slide drawer for easy access.
Overall, these fridges/freezers are outstanding value for money and I highly recommend them.
If your budget can stretch a little further and you want something that's a bit higher quality than the BM range, check out my Dometic CFF45 review! It's an outstanding fridge; well-built and made to last.
You can see all of my recommended brands and models in this full list of the best car fridges!
I hope that you have enjoyed this Brass Monkey fridge freezer review! Did I miss something? How has your experience been with your BM fridge? Let me know in the comments below!
Review Date: 2021-04-14
Reviewed Item: Brass Monkey Fridge Freezers
Author Rating: 4.5/5
Product Name: Brass Monkey Fridge Freezers
Price: AUD $169
Product Availability: Available in Stock
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