Companion Lithium 75L Dual-Zone Rechargeable Fridge Freezer review
- Efficient and quiet performance
- The lithium battery is a game changer
- Smart design and feature rich
- Wide for this capacity
- No basket organising dividers
- No in-built solar inverter
Let's not beat around the bush. No matter where you travel in Australia, it's going to be hot. And even if it's not, you're still going to want to watch that glorious sunset with a cold beer or crisp glass of wine. And the next day, you want those sangers, bacon and eggs to be fresh, and the milk for that coffee to still be "on".
At least I do. And I'm guessing if you're reading a review of this fridge, you do too. Perhaps you've already read our guide on how to choose the right camping fridge. I got my hands on the Companion 75L Dual-Zone Fridge prior to a 4-week road trip from Sydney to Kangaroo Island and back, via the desert on the way down and the Great Ocean Road on the return. About 6,000km under Australia's ruthless sun.
I camped in the red sand for days on end, had picnics on pristine beaches in the middle of nowhere, ate out of the back of the car like an animal, switched between camping, caravan parks and Airbnbs, and went long periods without shops or electricity. I fed a family of 5 the whole time out of this fridge.
So, how did it go? Did I get that cold beer? Is the Companion 75L Dual-Zone Fridge the best option for your family when you hit the road? Let's dive in.
When you look across the range of dual zone fridge freezer options in Australia, the Companion 75L certainly sits in the premium price range – albeit it at the lower end of that bracket. Thankfully, it comes with all the bells and whistles required to justify that price.
The big win here is the removable lithium battery. I will talk about how awesome this feature is in practice when we talk about performance, but it doubles as both a power pack and, thanks to its 2 USB-A ports, a charging dock. It's simple to pull in and out (not that you need to remove it to charge it) and also provides a great storage spot for cables, phones, fishing gear and so forth.
The claim is that the lithium battery will power the fridge for 16 hours once it's unplugged from AC mains, DC (think cigarette lighter) or solar, but as I will go into later, I think that is underselling it. However, I do wish it came with a USB-C port for greater flexibility, or even an AC port so it could stand its own against dedicated power stations.
The fridge-freezer itself runs on a reliable dual-speed Secop compressor (backed by a 3-year warranty) and consumes 2 amps per hour. It runs off 240V AC or 12V/24V DC connections (cables included). A 3-stage battery monitor provides protection if you've got it plugged into your car for long periods of time too.
It does come with Anderson ports (and a cable) for direct connection to solar panels. However, there's no in-built inverter, so that'll need to come into play from the solar panel side of the relationship.
There are 2 additional USB-A ports on the front panel of the fridge as well as the 2 on the battery, so you don't have to remove the latter to charge your devices.
As for the front panel, it's a bright LED that gets across all the information you need at a glance. Namely the current temperatures and how much juice is left in your battery. I found no problem operating it, although pushing the buttons in the right combination to set the temperatures in the 2 zones is overly convoluted. Perhaps separate buttons for each zone would have been more straightforward.
The Companion 75L Dual-Zone Fridge Freezer is smartly built. It's wide for its capacity (thanks to the lithium battery) but it retains a low profile. It's short and stubby, with great handles that are not just comfortable to hold, but are recessed into the chassis. It fit perfectly into the back of my Toyota Kluger – like a glove. And it doesn't catch on anything sliding in or out, even when in its cover. Plus, the low profile means there's space in your boot to pack stuff on top.
The fridge is made of plastic, but the build quality is excellent. It's got a real, hardy strength to it. Not only could it comfortably hold my 100kgs when used as a seat, but it doubled as a stepladder when required too.
I'm also happy with the flexibility the design allows in how you position the fridge-freezer. The lids open both ways, and there are AC and Anderson ports at either end. As such, it's easy to place the fridge in whichever direction works best for your car or campsite.
The lids close with a nice firm, wide seal, doing a great job of keeping cold air trapped inside, while an LED light gives you a bit of vision during night hours. However, I did find that one of them required a firm slam to shut after only a week or so of use. It was as if the lid was slightly missing its spot upon landing. I'm not sure if this is because it was used roughly at one point by my kids or me, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't disappoint me.
Over the months since, the problem hasn't gotten worse or materialised on the other lid.
Packing in and out
The vents for the compressor are low and to one end. At first, I was worried about this as the fridge spent a lot of time jammed in the back of my car with clothing, bags and so forth. But – and this in large part talks to its efficiency, which I will go into later – it presented no problems packed in tight even on long trips.
What I'm less enthused about is the provided baskets. When I reviewed the Companion 60L fridge, I lamented the sizing of the mesh and how it was too big, letting food slip through and making it hard to balance bottles. The 75L Dual Zone tightens up the mesh, which is good, but it still doesn't compartmentalise. Perhaps 2 baskets on a side that sit on top of each other and perhaps a vertical divider in the other would have provided easier access and greater flexibility. I started to get annoyed with not being able to easily organise and then access specific elements – namely having to yank out food to find a cold beer at the bottom!
But, in general, the Companion 75L Dual-Zone Fridge is thoughtfully designed. Bells and whistles – such as easy access to the screen even when it's packed in a car, 2 bottle openers, built-in storage space and draining plugs – ensure it ticks all the boxes.
I'm ecstatic with the performance of Companion's 75L Dual-Zone Fridge. It does a great job at efficiently reaching and maintaining its temperature. Because it's so well-insulated – and I highly recommend the cover to improve that – I found that the compressor was relaxed, happy to buffer off and on only when absolutely needed. This keeps the noise down (not that I would call it noisy anyway) and the power demand low.
The game changer for me was the built-in lithium battery. It's worth every penny. I got a lot longer out of it than the advertised 16 additional hours too in your typical Australian "sunny and 25" conditions. That's well into a second day of peace of mind that your food is going to stay fresh, even if you can't plug it in or obtain solar.
To be fair, I didn't come up against any 40-degree heatwaves, but any fridge is going to struggle in those circumstances.
For the best part of the last week of our trip, where we were frequently doing drives to see the sights near our accommodation, it never ran out. I would just throw it into the 12v cigarette lighter, and it would bump up the battery enough that it never even got close to low. Soon enough, it was the fridge that came with our group on day trips, as it could happily sit in the car staying cold all day while we were hiking or at the beach.
I personally didn't feel a need to take the battery out of its place to recharge it or to power devices, but I suspect that will become more useful in future trips. I do appreciate the fact that it is removable, and it couldn't be easier to take in and out.
Earlier in this review, I had complained about the included baskets and the lack of an in-built solar inverter, so there is room for improvement. But these are minor complaints, really. On the big-ticket items, it's all very positive. It's user-friendly, flexible, sturdy and performs admirably as a fridge. Then the included battery takes it all to another level.
Is the 75L Companion cover worth it?
It would be amazing if the Companion 75L Dual-Zone shipped with the cover, but alas, you'll need to fork out another $130 to $150 for it. The cheapest I've seen it is $129. However, if you're thinking of some serious time out in the bush, it's worth the investment. It's easy to get the fridge into it, you retain access to all the key ports – including the bottle opener – and it provides some very handy storage pockets.
I did find I had to open the cover at least two-thirds, if not all the way, in order to access just a single side of the fridge. That does get tiresome, and I wonder if a zip down the middle allowing you to open either side could have been a better design. But thankfully, the cover doesn't bulk out the dimensions of the fridge too much, or catch easily on other gear. As such, I didn't find it impacted my ability to bring the fridge in and out of my car.
Should you get the Companion Lithium 75L Dual-Zone Fridge Freezer?
- Buy it if you want a well-sized family camping fridge without having to stress about it always receiving power.
- Don't buy it if you have limited storage space or are only looking to store food and drinks for 1 or 2 people.
Pricing and availability
The Companion 75L Dual Zone Fridge retails for $1,779.99. However, you'll find it a fair bit cheaper at most retailers. You can expect to pay around the $1,400 to $1,500 mark, which is good value for a fridge with so many features. Similarly, the cover retails for $179.99, but we've seen it for less than $140.
How did we test?
I used the Companion 75L Dual Zone Fridge for multiple months across a few camping trips and a long road trip. During that time, I went from the desert to the sea, and stocked it with enough goods to keep a family of 5 well fed.
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