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Dometic CFX-40W in Model X (6-seat) Unboxing and Initial Imptression

Discussion in 'Model X' started by ecrsail, Aug 27, 2017.

  1. ecrsail

    ecrsail Member

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    [I've seen some recent postings asking for info and experiences with portable refrigerators and the Model X. Since I recently purchased one after some research, I thought I would post my initial impressions with my selection. Hope this is useful for others....]

    After taking many short and long road-trips in my P90D Model X (6-seat) configuration, I had grown tired of trying to keep the ice fresh in the 16 qt (~15 L) Stanley Adventure Cooler that had occupied a place somewhere in the X during every road trip I had taken since the spring of 2016. And even when I did, there was the constant need to drain the cooler and repack it. For short trips of a few days, this wasn't much a problem, but for longer trips, I often found myself skipping breakfast and not making the effort to keep some simple breakfast and snack groceries in the vehicle. This bothered me, and as the odometer approached 30K, I began to research powered mobile coolers that would fit in the X.

    I quickly focused on the Dometic CFX 40W, whose physical dimensions match up almost perfectly with the space between the two seats of the second row of the X. With an advertised dimensions of 15.7" x 18.1" x 27.2", the Dometic CFX-40 is a snug fit, which I hoped would serve to keep the unit well secured while driving while not interfering with the comfort or function of the second row seats. Placed between the second row seats in my 6-seat configuration X, the CFX 40W would not just deliver easy access to more than twice the volume (38 L) of cool drinks and snacks while on the road, but would also provide a nice alternative to a second row center console for any passengers seated in the second row. I also noted that the unit's cooling vents would vent underneath the second row seats without obstruction by the seats. With the unit appearing to fit well and Dometic's reputation as a quality provider of products established, keeping my breakfast and snacks properly refrigerated using the X's 12V DC system (or maybe even a solar panel?) seemed like a smarter way to travel than searching for ice while on the road....

    Or so I hoped. It was time to take the plunge and order a new toy.

    Dometic makes several models of portable refrigerators intended for automobile and RV based use. The CFX 35 and CFX 40 series are physically similar, with the CFX 35 series being slightly shorter. Based on the advertised dimensions on Dometic's website, any of CFX 35 or CFX 40 variations should fit the Model X (6 seat) configuration as described above. Plus, these two models are equipped with a lid that opens from the rear of the unit, making it especially convenient to access the contents of the refrigerator from the front seat as well as either second row passenger seat. The "W" models include a WiFi function to allow for some rudimentary smartphone based control and also appear to be newer and more power efficient than the slightly older models. Shop around and be sure you know what model is being advertised when comparing prices.

    It took some time to find the best price and delivery arrangement to my home in southern California. I ultimately purchased the CFX 40W from Dyers Online, and other than having a minor issue with their website (which they corrected promptly via email), the purchase proceeded smoothly. I had not purchased from Dyers before, but I would consider doing so again, as not only did they offer the best price, but also free shipping! The order was placed on a Monday, and before the weekend I found the following waiting for me earlier than expected:

    package-delivery.jpg


    Unboxing was easy and the unit seemed to have been well packed and protected for shipment:

    unboxing1.jpg unboxing2.jpg unboxing3.jpg

    At about 40 lbs empty, the CFX 40W unit itself was light enough that I was able to remove it from its packaging by the handles on either side in order to lift it out of the box. The handles also made it easy to carry the unit and place it on a nearby table for further inspection.

    tabletop.jpg


    As mentioned earlier, one of the features important to me was the ability to easily open the lid of the unit and reach inside from any seat in the front or second row of the vehicle. This was the first feature I confirmed upon delivery. The lid closes firmly but opens easily. It is certainly much easier to open than my old Stanley cooler.

    tabletop-open.jpg
    tabletop-open2.jpg

    As seen above, the interior is comprised of two refrigeration areas: a larger deeper area and a shallower smaller area. The unit's compressor and front-panel electronics appear to take up the "missing volume" beneath the shallow container where the instruction manuals and power connectors for both 120/240 VAC and 12/24 VDC were packaged for shipping. Both areas are cooled when the unit is operational.

    Dometic also provides a wire frame rack for the larger refrigeration area to keep items upright and/or separated. My first thought upon seeing it was to hope that it doesn't rattle when the vehicle was in motion.....

    instruction-cables.jpg


    With the unit unpacked, I was ready to test and explore the basic operation before trying to fit the CFX 40 inside the Model X and test its operation there. Details of this coming up in a posting below (assuming there's interest!).

    [ For those that cannot handle the suspense or are considering purchasing this unit already, after several weeks of testing, I'm generally happy with the CFX 40W and would recommend it if you also have a 6-seat configuration Model X. If you plan to keep the refrigerator in the rear trunk area, a different model might be a better fit. The only issue with this type of mobile refrigerator arrangement within the X that I've found so far is that most (all?) Model X's will turn off interior 12 V DC power after some period of time, which means the refrigerator will not operate when your Model X is parked for long periods of time. See this thread for more discussion on this topic. As a result, and for other reasons, I have been exploring alternate ways of powering my CFX 40W when on extended road trips. More on this in a later post.... ]
     
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  2. ecrsail

    ecrsail Member

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    The CFX 40W unit can be powered by either 120 VAC or 12/24 VDC. Power inputs are on the lower rear of the unit and power cables for both interfaces are provided:

    rear-power.jpg

    I initially tested the unit indoors and hence used the 120 VAC interface and wall power.

    Upon providing power and pressing the power switch on the front panel, the unit turned on and presented the interior temperature in degrees Celsius. It's easy to change the settings to Fahrenheit if you prefer. According to the manual, the green LED indicates that the compressor is on -- in other words, the unit is actively trying to cool the interior.

    powerup-26C.jpg
    powerup-79F.jpg

    With the lid closed and the unit empty save for a single water bottle, it did not take long for the unit to cool the interior:

    After about 10 minutes, the temperature had fallen from the ambient 79 F to 59 F:

    cooling-59F.jpg

    After about another ten minutes, the interior had chilled past the set point of 37 F and the compressor had turned off (indicated by the orange LED).

    chill-34F-USB.jpg

    While the unit was chilling, I confirmed operation of another feature of the unit -- a USB power interface on the lower front panel by charging my phone (not shown) via the green USB cable (purchased separately). This feature is admittedly not very interesting when installed in a Model X given the plethora of USB interfaces available, it's still a nice touch.

    Within a few minutes the unit warmed up to the set temperature of 37 F and remained there until I unplugged it from wall power in preparation for installation in the Model X.

    chill-37F.jpg
     
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  3. ecrsail

    ecrsail Member

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    Initial placement of the CFX 40 unit between the two second row seats of the Model X 6-seat configuration was as easy as could be hoped for. The unit fits very snugly between the two seats, but not so snugly as to cause concern that the pressure against either seat would present a problem.

    x-initial-placement.jpg

    Viewed from the side, the unit provides a "center console" feeling to passengers in the second row. Passengers who had previously sat in the second row before the CFX 40 was installed later would describe the presence of the CFX 40 as an improvement due to the fact that it provided a well positioned arm rest. In addition, it seemed to help those who had previously struggled with finding the socket to secure the seat belt find the correct position faster.

    x-side-view.jpg

    Another important point of compatibility was to confirm that the unit's cooling events were unobstructed on both sides under the seats:

    x-side-vents.jpg

    And finally confirmation that the DC power cable would reach the rear 12 VDC power socket:

    x-rear-power.jpg

    When viewed from the front seats, the unit appears a little bulkier, but from this angle, my primary concern was that the front passenger would be able to reach around and access the unit if needed. It's possible, but not as easy as I had hoped.

    x-front-view.jpg

    Overall, the CFX 40 fit within the second row of this 6-seat Model X as well as I had expected based on the published dimensions of the unit and my own measurements of the Model X interior. There is absolutely no movement observed during driving, including when braking.

    My concern that the unit will chafe the leather sides of the seat over time has been somewhat alleviated by how snugly the unit fits within the seats; however I am watching for potential wear and may place some felt between the seats and the unit's plastic sides for protection.
     
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  4. K-MTG

    K-MTG Sunshade Captain of TMC

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    Why does the cooler say wifi info? Does it have wifi?
     
  5. cstromme

    cstromme Member

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    Can you take two more pics from the front, but angled slightly to each side so we can see how much it squeezes the seats?
     
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  6. carteriii

    carteriii Member

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    For anyone that already has a Dometic cooler, have any of you owned a thermoelectric cooler and how would you advise someone when considering a purchase?

    For anyone unfamiliar with the simpler thermoelectric coolers, here's a Coleman one just for reference: 40 Quart PowerChill™ Hot/Cold Thermoelectric Cooler

    I've owned a thermoelectric cooler for ~15 years now and it's generally done what I needed. There is no thermostat or explicit temperature control, so the interior temperature can vary, but so far I've rationalized that's ok. It simply cools the air 30-40 degrees below the exterior temperature. When used within a vehicle on road trips, or in a hotel room, it seems comparable to what a real refrigeration unit like the Dometics would do. For keeping drinks & snacks cool on a trip, it generally does the job. I put things I want coolest closer to the vent to get the coldest air.

    Whenever I see someone post about a Dometic cooler, I start to want one, but then I have a hard time justifying the extra expense. I also fear that a true compressor won't last as long or be too noisy compared to a thermoelectric cooler where the only moving part is the fan.

    Would you say that for drinks, the Dometic isn't worth it, but for a sandwich with mayonnaise it is? I have occasionally wanted to keep something frozen, and the themoelectric coolers will never do that, but I understand some Dometic models are capable of keeping things frozen so perhaps that's the bigger value for the money. Please help me justify (or not) the extra expense.
     
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  7. Ruffles

    Ruffles Member

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    Thank you for the detailed review!
     
  8. ecrsail

    ecrsail Member

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    Yes, the "W" models have a WiFi function that allows one to monitor and set the thermostat when within WiFi range of the cooler. You can find the iOS app here.

    I had higher hopes for the WiFi function. It works, but you have to join the cooler's WiFi network to see the cooler.

    There does not appear to be a way to get the cooler to join an existing WiFi network. Being able to do this would significantly improve the utility of the WiFi function. If this is possible, I have not figured out how.
     
  9. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your very helpful posts. Here is the data I'm really interested in for that unit:
    Energy consumption ([email protected]/32°C) 0.665 kWh/24h

    That seems to be very energy efficient. In fact it is so low that it is almost unbelievable.

    But for my purposes (using a camper trailer away from campgrounds with power) I need something larger and I don't need a separate freezer compartment, so am interested in this unit CF-05AC CF-050AC PORTABLE REFRIGERATOR/FREEZER | Dometic - Mobile living made easy.

    But the energy consumption is orders of magnitude higher. That doesn't seem right. It is shown as:
    Energy consumption ([email protected]/32°C) 78 kWh/24h

    Why so much higher than the CFX 40W? Some of the other CF models have no energy consumption numbers listed in their specs, but the CF-025DC is also listed as 78 kWh/24h.
     
  10. aaydemi

    aaydemi Member

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    78 kWh/24 hrs is more than twice as much as my entire house uses in 24 hrs in the middle of summer.
     
  11. Peteybabes

    Peteybabes redneck drivin' a tesla...

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    this is awesome, i will literally find a way to remove my middle seat in row 2 for this. :D

    6 seaters are better than 7 and this would help cover up the hole left behind by removing the middle seat.
     
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  12. ecrsail

    ecrsail Member

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    I think you found that number on the website and I suspect there's a misprint with this figure on the website. In the manual which came with the unit, and which you can find online here, power consumptions is quoted per annum, and not per day. Look on page 27 (excerpt below). My calculations translate 64 kWh/annum to about 175 Wh per day. I believe this aggregate power consumption estimate takes into account average usage conditions.

    The maximum rated current consumption at 12 V is listed at 7.0 A, or only 84 W.

    technical-data-snapshot.png
     
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  13. ecrsail

    ecrsail Member

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    I may have misattributed the question, but see my post above. I believe there's a misprint on the website.

    Yes, the CFX series seems particularly energy efficient, especially the updated models. This was another factor in my decision to pay extra and go with Dometic.
     
  14. ecrsail

    ecrsail Member

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    Hopefully these pictures will help. I am easily able to squeeze my finger between the seat and the unit. It's snug, and there is some pressure -- but it's applying a fairly light squeeze.... the deformation is not zero, but it's small.

    fit-right.jpg fit-left.jpg

    fit-finger.jpg
     
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  15. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Thank you. I hope it is a mistake on that website. It seemed crazy high. Your calculations make sense.
     
  16. ecrsail

    ecrsail Member

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    I am somewhat jealous of the new 7 seat configuration that folds flat....
     
  17. Peteybabes

    Peteybabes redneck drivin' a tesla...

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    at a local tesla meet up and july 4th tesla parade, the organizer was saying that you could now sit in the 3rd road and rest your legs on the folded down bench seat in the new 7 seater. :D

    that sounds good, but the only negative is that i'm kinda tall and the 3rd row doesn't tip back further.
     
  18. K-MTG

    K-MTG Sunshade Captain of TMC

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    That would be nice but the headroom
     
  19. hly

    hly Member

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    I wonder if the CFX 35W would be more flush with the third row folded, for lying down :)
     
  20. P90D

    P90D Member

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    Insanely thorough.
    Just how I like it.

    Given the 105 degree weather today, highest ever recording in foggy San Francisco (pish posh this climate change hoax!) I wish we had better than an insulated shopping bag and freezer bricks to keep the vegan ice cream cold on the way home ...)

    1) use microfiber cloth to prevent surface-to-surface problems (e.g. color transfer or adhesion or scuffing)
    2) for comparison, if want the best stuff for your car camping, it's Engel Engel Website
     

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