The Engle brand tends to be somewhat polarizing in the outdoors/off-grid community – They’re either loved for their efficiency or hated for their somewhat baseline construction and elevated noise levels.
Review: Engel MT45
The Engle MT45 series portable freezer/fridge hits on all the right notes for a successful, well-built travel freezer, but does it stand up in a crowded field of competitors? Or have modern newcomers left this classic brand behind in the junk pile? Our review has all the details below.
Energy Consumption & Temperature Control
One of the first places an Engle devotee will tell you to look is the unit’s energy consumption, and the MT45 is a definite winner in this category – Thanks to the legendary Engle swing compressor motor this freezer/fridge will use less than 12 watts per hour under normal conditions, which is far, far less than its competition.
For temperature the unit is rated to drop down to a nice, frosty -4°F, and showed only a minor average temperature variance of about 1.3°F in our testing. This may not make the Engel MT45 the coldest unit on the market but if you absolutely need a refrigeration unit that will drop lower than -4°F you’re already looking at that as your top priority. Just know that for the average home user, the MT45 will get cold enough to keep your sandwiches & sodas nicely chilled.
Portability & Storage
The Engle isn’t exactly the most toteable travel freezer we’ve come across, with its long profile not really helped by the detachable handle on the front; though it’s nice to have the option to remove said handle, something a bit grippier and easy to hold would have been appreciated. Thankfully weighing in at 52 lbs when empty the unit isn’t particularly heavy, but the odd shape and handle placement can make it a bit trickier to move than it should be – If you’re keeping this unit in the back of an RV or truck we highly recommend seeking out a rail mount kit for ease of use.
The interior compartment manages to hold just over 42 quarts worth of goods, or around 9 or so six packs of cans – Not a huge space considering the exterior dimensions of the freezer but enough for a good weekend out. A wire basket inside can help either keep goods organized or be removed for a bit of extra space.
The Portable Reridgerator For You?
There are MANY comparable products and we tried to round them up in our comprehensive list of the most popular portable refridgerators available on the market. You can click above to access it and see how this model stacks up.
Construction & Features
To say that the Engle series of travel freezers is known for being “spartan” would be putting it mildly – Where most others have moved to molded plastics and soft curves the Engle manufacturers have said no thank you to modern design and decided to capitalize on their ruggedness; the Engle MT45 is all galvanized steel, from top to bottom, and though the exterior can suffer from its share of scrapes, scratches and dings this unit is designed to take hits like a champ, and can suffer falls and bumps with little issue. That said we would like to have seen some kind of protective covering shipped standard with the unit; you can buy a hood cover as an addon, but given the price of the base unit it would have been nice to see it included gratis.
The swing compression motor adds to the reliability of the unit, letting it work on rough terrains and inclines where other standard compression engines would have trouble – The Engle is often used as an off-roading powered refrigerator and with good reason. Expect plenty of noise, though, as Engles have long been known for higher volumes while running due to said swing motor. You may be lucky enough not to be bothered by this, but we feel it can make trying to take a quick nap before hopping back on the road an exercise in frustration.
For features the Engle is fairly bare bones, to the point of having some rather confusing exclusions. The instrument panel is serviceable, if not fancy, and features an LCD readout telling you the internal temperature, a dial for setting said temperature, and buttons for switching between the various modes of operation. Two things we don’t understand are the omissions of an internal light source, as is fairly standard on modern units, and the lack of a drain plug, making the unit infinitely harder to clean. The lack of light source can almost be forgiven but no drain plug is something that should be there, and the additional difficulty this adds into cleaning the unit is not something that should be discounted.
Price-wise you are going to pay and pay heartily for the Engle brand name – Expect new MT45 units to run a minimum of a grand, give or take. Not chump change, particularly considering the lack of features the brand seems to almost proudly eschew. Compare to the Dometic CFX-75DZW, routinely retailing at 20% more – More storage, a less damageable exterior, and a hood light, all for just a few bucks more. While you may get a few extra years of life out of your Engle I’m not convinced it’s worth the price difference for something we feel is demonstrably better..
Bottom line: The Engle brand is known, trusted, and has been around for a long, long time. But does that make them good? In truth, when we look at the lack of features and the price tag all in comparison with similar models, we find ourselves just wishing the MT45 had more – More features, more external protection, more storage, more something to help justify the over-inflated price tag.
But when it comes to Engle powered freezers and refrigerators what you see is what you get, and that isn’t always a bad thing; there’s a certain glory in simplicity. When you’re trying to charge $1100 for a travel freezer, though? I at least want to see a lamp in that thing. Don’t discount the Engle MT45, but shop around for alternatives before you drop the cash; there’s better options out there.