The Ideal Compact Refrigerator for Tiny Houses, RV Garages and Camping Under $1500 (2022)

What characteristics make up a good fridge anyway? When it comes to tiny houses and camping accommodation, the size of the fridge of course plays an important role. It needs to blend in nicely with other appliances and furniture. If one element sticks out from the rest in such a relatively small space, you may be bumping your little toe on it more than you’d like to! At the same time, sufficient storage space is important. Right, so we have to look for the best of both worlds; compact sizing, but enough storage space. Also, like many people, I cannot live without a freezer so I added that element to the wish list as well. During summer, I often pick foods from nature such as berries and I’d like to store them until at least autumn to make jams and pastries with them.

People sometimes say that there’s a difference between a house and a home. The same applies to a tiny house, of course. It needs to be a place where you can comfortably live, especially if you spend a lot of time indoors. So whether you want to quietly read a book, watch Netflix, or have a conversation with someone, you don’t want to hear an annoying buzz in the background while doing so. Reason to make sure that your future fridge does not produce any unnecessary noise. Since many people who live tiny choose to do so in a quiet, natural environment, sound pollution coming from the inside of your home should not be bothering you either.

Last but not least, the powering options are crucial to decide whether the choice fits your personal situation. If you simply utilize the electric grid for daily living, then you obviously would want to have a fridge that can run on electricity. For people who have limited access to electricity, or those who choose to live off-grid willingly, powering via propane offers a quick and easy solution. For those that travel around, or anyone who interchangeably lives on-grid and off-grid, a combination of the two is most ideal. This last scenario is applicable to my own situation as well, which is why I started my quest for the ideal ‘tiny fridge’ with aforementioned characteristics. 


The SMETA SCD-100 Fridge
After a meticulous search and comparing various models, I eventually decided to go for the SMETA SCD-100. SMETA is a normalized and professional enterprise in household appliances since 2006, which I considered a good start. The refrigerator itself is a sleek, 3.4 cubic ft. unit with a freezer compartment on top. This sizing is great to store a wide variety of foods and beverages while not taking up unnecessary kitchen space. The freezer compartment allows one to store items for an even longer period. Whether you use it to store ice cream, bread, meat, or any other product that you might enjoy, you won’t have to worry about the expiration date when you leave on an extensive trip. The freezer compartment has a temperature range of -0.4℉~32℉ (-18 ℃~0). All stored items in the fridge are easily accessible due to the simplified single-door design and slide-out storage shelves.

SMETA Propane Refrigerator with Freezer 12V/110V/Gas LPG, No Noise, Fridge for Dorm Office Garage, Single Door, 3.5 Cu.Ft, White
  • Propane electric absorption refrigerator with freezer. Approximate gas consumption per day: 0.6 lb
  • 3-WAY Powered: Propane(LPG)/ AC110v/DC12v, ideal for dorms, campers, RVs, garages
  • Product dimensions (W*D*H): 20.6*23.2*32.2inch, 3.0 cu ft refrigerator and 0.4 cu ft freezer
  • Large storage areas with slide-out storage shelves and clear plastic crisper drawer
  • No noise and easy to operate: piezo ignition, flame indicator, gas/electric thermostat


Because the fridge is a freestanding unit, you can even take it with you on a trip with your significant other or during a family trip. Whatever the situation, it will work both on-grid or off-grid via propane. This aspect of the product is a huge plus for me personally. On the one hand, it allows me to power it via the solar panels on my tiny house for the majority of the time. On the other hand, I can easily use propane powering when I take the fridge on longer (off-grid) trips in my RV. This way I can always store plenty of items for a tasty barbeque, among other things. The fridge can be used outdoors, so you can always keep it close to where you need it.

Overview of the fridge and freezer compartments and an impression of the storage capacity.



The two power supply converters that work with the fridge are AC110v and DC12v. For these options, the input power required is AC 150W and DC 150W, respectively. If you’re a person who wishes to live off-grid, or if the circumstances call for it, the unit is also easily powered via the propane (LPG) option. The unit keeps your stored items nice and cool, right to a specific degree. Even in 90-degree weather, this fridge will have no issues in providing great cooling. The approximate gas consumption per day is 0.6 lbs. (280 grams). These features make the fridge convenient and cost-efficient to use. The energy efficiency is also reinstated by the 4 stars on the Energy Star rating scale. For more info on this, see energystar.gov.

Then there’s another elephant in the room. We are probably all familiar with ice build-up in the freezer compartment and the nuisance of stored items being frozen stuck together. Well, thanks to the automatic defrosting mechanism of the SMETA SCD-100, those issues will be a thing of the past. Simply grab what you need and start cooking! The time spent on manually cleaning ice build-up from time to time can surely be better spent elsewhere too.

Overview of external knobs (piezo ignition, flame indicator, gas/electric thermostat, regulator valve) and operation instructions.

Note for off-grid usage: propane burning produces a small amount of carbon dioxide (CO). Air venting to the outside thus is essential to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. For general safety, I would recommend to always install a carbon monoxide detector as soon as possible in any closed-off space. Due to the odorless, tasteless, and colorless properties, it’s not perceivable by humans. Hence, it’s not worth the risk to live without said detector.

With dimensions of ‎20.6 x 23.2 x 32.2 inches (52.3 x 58.9 x 81.8 cm) and a weight of 76 lbs. (34.2 kg) the unit can easily be moved around. This is ideal for situations such as off-grid camping trips or while reorganizing your accommodation. It’s also possible to install the unit inside a cabinet. To do so, please keep clearances in mind to make all elements fit well. The sides need around 3,94 inches (10 cm) of clearance. In some situations, where free space is limited, it may be beneficial to have the fridge door open up the other way. SMETA confirms that the door can be montaged in reverse if you wish to use it in that configuration. For a more detailed guide on general instructions, please refer to the installation guide that can be found on the SMETA website.

To use the fridge in situations where elements of instability may be introduced, such as on a boat, using the propane powering requires absolute leveling in order for everything to work reliably. If you’d like to use the unit in situations like these, it’s up to personal judgment whether you think it meets the criterium.

Pros and Cons

Pros:
Stylish design
– Compact size
– 3 cubic ft. fridge capacity / 0.5 cubic ft. freezer box
– Three-way power options (Propane (LPG) /AC110v / DC12v)
– Usable off-grid
– Automatic defrosting
– Environment-friendly LED lighting
– Low in weight


Cons:
– Only available in white
– A bit susceptible to denting during delivery
– Propane tank not included
Propane powering requires air vents due to carbon monoxide production
– Gas vent kit not included
– Propane powering may not work on boats unless absolutely leveled
– It occasionally may become too convenient to store high-caloric snacks 😉

Conclusion
So, are you also looking to improve your quality of life? Or are you simply looking for your very first ‘tiny fridge?’ Then the SMETA ‎SCD-100 is a perfect choice for you. It offers a stylish but simple design that will fit in any kitchen space. With 3 cubic ft. Fridge Capacity and 0.5 cubic ft. Freezer Box it also offers plenty of storage space for personal use and/or family trips. All this awesomeness comes in a very practical compact size of 20.6 x 23.2 x 32.2 inches. With only 76 lbs. on the scale, we can consider this fridge a relative lightweight. Great for transporting it and utilizing it for (off-grid) trips without breaking your back.

That’s right, because the fridge works on both propane (LPG) or electricity (AC110v and DC12v), it can be used in a variety of settings. Whether you want to use the electric grid, or use it off-grid via propane or solar power, the SMETA SCD-100 got you covered. No more hassle of switching between two separate units. 

The return of investment for me has been great so far. The fridge simply does what it needs to do. Cool and freeze items. My craft beers and self-made ice cream have been in safe hands since I acquired one. Plus I sleep like a baby now that I don’t hear any buzzing and humming noises at night that are typical with most fridges. Reading books and playing chess have also become more pleasurable since I’m less distracted by background noise. Lastly, there’s no need to invest in a separate refrigerator that can be used off-grid. The SMETA SCD-100 covers both the on-grid and off-grid fronts, so all you have to do is put it in a different place from time to time. 

Overall, within the budget of $1500, the fridge has offered all I was looking for. So, if you are currently in search of a qualitative, yet affordable fridge for your tiny living, don’t hesitate and get yours here on Amazon.

SMETA, established in 2006, has become a normalized and professional enterprise in the appliance industry and offers a 1-year quality warranty with the purchase.

FAQ

When it comes to planning a new purchase of significant value, we of course like to be well-informed about a product before actually hitting the buy button. For one because handling returns can be quite the hassle. Plus, why waste time trying to figure everything out by yourself? Therefore, I searched for a few frequently asked questions regarding the SMETA ‎SCD-100 which I will now present to you:

Question: What are the details on powering the fridge?

Answer: The SCD-100 uses a three-way powering system. It can be powered with propane, AC110V or DC12V. For the latter two options, the input power required is AC 150W and DC 150W, respectively.

Question: Can the unit be built in a cabinet? If so, how much clearance is needed?

Answer: This is indeed possible and will require 10cm clearance on the sides, or 3.937 inches.

Question: Can I simply attach any regular propane tank to the fridge and make it work?

Answer: To connect the refrigerator with the propane tank, a Propane Adjustable Regulator is required. The link to the Propane Adjustable Regulator is https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076J69FXY?tag=tll2626-20. For additional questions regarding this topic, one can reach out to the company e-mail [email protected]

Question: Would the propane energy source work on a sailboat?

Answer: It should work if the unit can be kept stable and absolutely level. This up to personal judgment.

Question: How much propane will the unit use in an RV of camper van? 

Answer: The consumption of propane will be around 280g per 24 hours. 

Question: What vent should I get for my RV?

Answer: A recommended venting kit for the SDC-100 can be found on Amazon by searching for B079Q9PWWX. For further question the company e-mail [email protected] can be contacted.

Question: Does the door lock to safely travel with it?

Answer: The door closes by a magnetic mechanism and holds pretty tight.

Question: Are the doors reversible?

Answer: Yes, they are.

Question: How does the internal lighting work?
Answer: The internal lighting is created by LEDs and runs on AA batteries (battery compartment is placed at the backside, with a small black cover).

Question: Where can I find the installation and product manual?

Answer: These documents are available for download on the SMETA website.

Question: Do I receive a warranty?

Answer: Yes, SMETA offers a one-year quality warranty with your purchase.

Question: Are SMETA and SMAD the same company?

Answer: Yes, they fall under the same group.


Alternatives & accessories
Is the abovementioned item not entirely what you were looking for? Then please check out some other options offered by SMETA:

SMETA Propane Freezer Gas/Electric
SMETA Propane Refrigerator with Freezer (6.1 cubic ft.)

More buying guides
Are you currently on a shopping spree to upgrade your tiny living experience? Or are you simply curious to learn more about useful items to your situation? Then look no further and check out some of our other buying guides:

The 5 Best Tiny Home Dishwashers

Top 18 Best Tiny House Furniture Ideas

17 Best Tiny House Appliances

25 Best Tiny House Gadgets