Recently Setpower reached out to us about reviewing one of their portable Freezer/Refrigerator products. This was a very exciting offer for us because it would solve a lot of issues we've had in the past on the trails keeping our food fresh. I had to spend some time deciding which one to choose because they make multiple series of refrigerators to accommodate different needs. Here is a link to their website to browse their products. Setpower
Which Series We Chose
We chose the AJ40 Series Freezer/Refrigerator. There are 4 series offered by Setpower, the AJ series, FC series, TC series, and RV series. While reading the details of each series the AJ stood out in particular because it is advertised for overlanding use. It can handle leaning up to 30 degrees without taking damage. Our main use for the AJ refrigerator is for off-roading. We will often take overlanding trips for multiple days in remote areas. We also rock crawl, and we wheel our Jeep hard when we hit the harder trails. The rock crawling in particular puts our rig into some situations where the inclines are extreme. Seeing the AJ series can handle those angles and keep working made it the perfect choice for our use. I have yet to see any other portable refrigerator specify that it's designed for off-road situations.
One huge frustration we've had while off-roading is keeping our food products cold. Our previous coolers were ice chests. They worked for a while when you put the ice in, but through the day as the ice melted the temperature would begin to rise and all the food would begin floating around in the water. Depending on how the food was packed it sometimes ended up saturated from the melted ice leaking through the packaging.
The other issue we had with the ice was space. A 10-pound bag can take from 5 to 8 quarts of space in your ice chest. In order to compensate for the ice space, we would have to use a larger ice chest to get the capacity we needed for food.
The last issue we had with ice was availability. We often go off-roading to places where there is no store without driving through rocky terrain for hours. That makes for a huge inconvenience after the ice melts on the first day. When you're looking at a couple of days beyond that first day on the trails without a way to get ice the situation becomes very inconvenient. You are then restricted to the type of food you can take because you can't keep it cold and fresh.
AJ Series Setpower Refrigerator
Using the AJ series Refrigerator for 3 days was incredible. I took a 3 day off-road trip with a close friend to Padre Island National Seashore to try it out. This is a phenomenal 120-mile round trip drive on the sandy Texas beach. There is no store out there, thus no way to get ice. I wanted to cook a healthy stir fry meal for one of the evenings. I pre-cut all the peppers, onions, garlic, green onions, fried rice, and beef the night before we departed. I also made the sauce. Everything was packaged in freezer bags and refrigerated overnight. The next morning I packed it all into my pre-cooled AJ series setpower refrigerator, loaded it into the Jeep with the camping equipment, plugged it into the accessory outlet, and headed out. We cooked the stir fry on the second night on the beach. All of the items were still cold, fresh, and crunchy. No wilting occurred and the meat kept its rich color.
I had none of the ice issues from the past. No more digging through ice cubes, slush, or water. Nothing became waterlogged. All of the vegetables and meat stayed at 33 degrees which is what I set the AJ refrigerator temperature on. It was a fabulous meal and was quite welcomed after a long day of beach driving. That type of fresh healthy meal would have been very difficult without the AJ40 refrigerator to keep the food fresh into and beyond the first day.
Setpower Freezer/Refrigerator Durability
The durability of the AJ series was another point I wanted to test. Setpower claims the AJ series was designed for (quote): Work normally within 30° bumps, easily handle muddy mountain roads or steep valleys, perfect for Overlanding. I personally think that is a bold statement. Off-roading, even overlanding can get pretty rough. I put mine through a beach drive. You might think a beach would be soft and smooth because of the sand. The reality is the beach is extremely rough from the daily changes in sand washouts and rises caused by the tide. A full day of wheeling on the beach can literally beat you and your Jeep down along with everything in the back taking a beating from bouncing up and down.
I didn't go easy on the driving because of the refrigerator in the back. I drove as I normally would and let the refrigerator take its beating. I ratchet strapped it in the back so it would stay in place. During the beach driving, I would often hit a deep rut or bounce over a rise in the sand causing items inside of containers to radically slam up and down in the back. That also meant the items inside the refrigerator were bouncing around.
On the second evening after a hard day of wheeling, we set up camp on the beach and prepared for the stir fry. A quick temperature check of the AJ Series refrigerator showed it was still holding at 33 degrees. All of the food items and drinks held their temperature as well. That refrigerator took a huge beating all day and still performed flawlessly.
Powering The Setpower Freezer/Refrigerator
I was a bit apprehensive about powering the refrigerator through my vehicle accessory outlet. A battery drain could be dangerous in some of the remote areas like desert trails in New Mexico during the summer heat. We've wheeled in areas where we never saw a person for days. I did a voltage drain test with a voltmeter with the refrigerator running before we left to see how much it would draw. I was pleasantly surprised to find it only pulled about 2 volts when running on Max.
When we would stop for lunch and when we set camp for the night I would switch it over to my Jackery portable power station. I ran the AJ series refrigerator for 10 hours on the first night plugged into the Jackery and it only drew 20% of the battery. This made using the refrigerator quite feasible for future trips seeing as we could easily solar charge that 20% back on the Jackery in a few hours.
I am not just saying this for review purposes. If the AJ40 had failed or disappointed in any way I would have written about it and talked about it in the corresponding video. The refrigerator performed perfectly and exceeded my expectations. I used it hard and put it through some serious abuse off-roading that most users won't. It is well designed and well built. It probably exceeded in its performance from what Setpower says it can handle in its description. But Hey! Why not test it, and test it hard? The Setpower AJ refrigerator is a solid product and I would recommend it to anyone.