Kea Conqueror – Replacement of Waeco CF80 Frig Freezer with Dometic (Waeco) CFX75

Eventually you may have to consider replacing your original Waeco CF80 frig freezer in your Kea Conqueror Camper Van.

Caution – there are two main variants of the Kea Conqueror Camper, and with different frig freezer arrangements. The following refers to the later type made by “Kea Campers” after about 2007, with V8 motor, and with frig sideways mounted behind the front seats, and in parallel with them. Satisfy yourself that the following is relevant to your own situation. Measure first, before any purchase.

Make doubly sure that any replacement will fit into your space, and in your vehicle, otherwise you might make a very expensive mistake. Your exact situation may be different to mine.

The reason that I am writing this article is to show that replacement can actually be done. Hopefully this article may reduce your stress levels even just a little in deciding what to do.


Choice Of Frig Unit

This can be difficult when your frig unit is built in to the cabinet work, and any replacement has to allow the pantry door to open etc.
I tried to buy another new Waeco CF80 as “New Old Stock, like my original CF80, but I could not find one. I was reluctant to buy a used item.
I agonised over most available replacement units and found that few had the low height and small length of the old CF80 unit. It was unique in this respect, and was used widely in vans and camper trailers.

Eventually I chose another (Dometic) Waeco unit, a CFX75DZW, a DZ “Dual Zone” frig and freezer with ”W” or “Wifi” option (which I do not use).
This unit is really a 70 litre capacity unit. Read the manual.

This unit only just fits in, and allows the pantry door to open, but you cannot use the original seat cushion on the frig top, as there is not enough clearance.
You can still use the passenger side "flip up lid" storage area, and you do not have to cut any surrounding cabinetwork. There are no problems when opening either frig or freezer top lids. But, there may be slight variations in your cabinet work.
The CFX75 unit only just fits in lengthwise, and so there is only 30 - 40 mm or so of end clearance, and therefore an exhaust fan must be used.

You must have 40 mm or so of clearance space for the frig unit to function, and you must use a vent fan.

I could not find any other frig freezers of similar capacity which will fit in the cavity space, unless you go down considerably in size, and even then, height tends to be the limiting factor.

The new Waeco unit is luckily a quality device, although a bit pricey.
You will forget about the price, one day into your next remote trip.

1 Waeco CFX75 in Kea Conqueror 2019 DSC07169.jpg2 Waeco CFX75 in Kea Conqueror 2019 Top View.jpg


Preparing The Frig Cavity to Fit a CFX75DZW


Remove old frig unit and any wiring.
Remove any frig cavity internal cabinetwork and also any floor panels or bottom matting or carpet or insulation.
My frig rests directly on the rear camper conversion floorboard.
There is one plywood piece lying flat at the cavity bottom against the floor on RHS, which has to be partially destroyed for removal.
There is one vertically mounted reinforcing piece of plywood at the bottom of the pantry side which should not be removed. It will not interfere.
The cavity outer walls are still sufficiently strong for purpose, but a little caution is required before any unusual type of activity, eg unusually large sideways pressure etc.. Ensure your situation is OK.
Photos

Totally clean the entire cavity.
Tighten up cabinetwork connectors.
Remove the original “vehicle front” aluminium air vent cover strip on the frig cavity. This will be replaced a by a vent fan unit.

Install some form of restraint which stops the frig from moving sideways, and to always allow some breathing space for the compressor on the RHS.
I used some 31 x 19 mm pine attached to two small vertical cleats, also from 31 x 19 mm, to act as a spacer strip at the driver’s side of the frig cavity.
Ensure that the vertical position of the strip is OK for your situation and does not interfere with the Control Panel.
The top of my strip is 50 mm down from the end panel near the pantry door..
Afterwards, I covered my wood strip with a loose piece of carpet type off cut on the top.
I have 5 mm clearance between strip and frig case.
Caution with size of screws used for attaching the cleats; there is a water tank under the pantry.

The CFX75 only just fits into the cavity in a vehicle fore and aft sense, and no restraining at all in this direction was required in my case.
Photo shows enough detail for work and construction.

3 Waeco CFX75 in Kea Conqueror 2019 - Cavity Prepared DSC07169.jpg4 Waeco CFX75 in Kea Conqueror 2019 - End Strip for Positionning.jpg5 Waeco CFX75 in Kea Conqueror 2019 - End Strip.jpg



Preparing the new Waeco CFX75.

All below in this sub section is optional.

Replace the original compressor fan, as it is too noisy in our van situation.
I used a silent PC fan, Jaycar YX2584 a 12 volt DC fan with similar airflow capacity.
The airflow direction is outwards, away from the condenser.
This is a direct physical replacement, but you will have to crimp new “blade” (spade) connectors on the fan leads.
The new fan has black and red wires for positive and negative, and a yellow “tacho” wire which is not required and can be cut off and taped back.

Caution – The push-on DC connectors on my Waeco CFX75 Controller Unit were relatively difficult to remove. Use pliers, preferably small “bent nose”, to remove them, and grab by the rear of the crimp connector only, not by the cable, not by the connector insulation, or else you will certainly destroy it.

Take photos of the original fan DC connections and general area before any work.
Do the above neatly so as to enable replacement of the original fan, if you wish to later claim warranty for possible other reasons.

Consider replacing the internal 10 amp ATC type blade “auto” fuse with a 15 amp fuse.
I can understand why Waeco use a fuse here as a “Technician Only” protective device, but I think 10 amps is a bit too low for device sometimes drawing 8 amps.
I distrust ATC blade fuses operated at only 120% of running current, as they are too variable in quality and reliability. Quite a few are dreadful in construction.
Your choice.

I used a quality 20 amp ATC fuse as a more durable “link”, as my frig has an external 15 amp circuit breaker for van DC system protection.
Remember to reverse this situation before any possible warranty claim.

If you remove any cable ties or tie down wires in the above, then ensure you replace them, as vibration in vehicle frigs is a large factor in frig failures, especially in vehicles driving over road corrugations.

Access to the CFX75 compressor area is by multiple screws on an “L” shaped end plastic panel, which then comes away with attached wiring.
This is only a little different to the old CF80.

Caution – there are four small plastic tabs protruding from the top of the removable panel, and which engage in the case.

Photo shows CFX75 internals and has the internal ATC fuseholder ringed in “blue”, the plastic tabs ringed in “yellow”, and the new fan ringed in “green”.


I taped up the junction of external walls and bottom plastic tray with good quality gaffer type tape.
Clean the areas with methylated spirits first.
This allows any possible condensation on external walls to run down the outside and not into the CFX75 case bottom internal insulation area.
There have been previous problems with this situation with CF80 units in these cabinet type installations.


6 Waeco CFX75 in Kea Conqueror 2019 - Tabs in Yellow, New Fan in Green, Internal Fuse in Blue.jpg



Enable The New Frig For Installation and Withdrawal - Handles

Because the fit of frig in the cavity is so tight, you have to have some method of lowering the frig into the cavity, and getting it out again, and also whilst on the road.
You may have your own idea, but this is what I did.

I removed the CFX75 handles, and put aside into storage.
You will have to do this in any case.

I made up four “lifting lugs” from 20 x 1.6 mm aluminium strip, drilled and bent into a "Z" shape, and attached to the handle positions with M6x20 screws with no washers.
The screw heads should not protrude beyond the “depression” profile of the end of the Waeco plastic case.
Pan head screws are best here as they are flatter with round edges, so as not to snag and scratch. Jaycar and Altronics sell these.

This allows removable handles with wire hooks to engage with the holes in my new lugs, for manoeuvring the frig in and out of the cavity.
The wire hooks are made from stiff and sturdy coat hanger wire. Handles are from scrap tubing.
Make the handle and hooks in such a way, that it all folds down for travel storage.
Round off the hooks to remove the sharp area of the wire cuts. Some triple layers of gaffer taper protect the Waeco case from wire hook scratches.

Make sure your hooks are small diameter, and practise the whole operation before use in the van, so that you know that you can remove the hooks in a tight fit situation.
Sizes are not critical, except for screw head size as above.
Photos shows all.
Note the gaffer tape "sealing" around the bottom of the frig case.


7 Waeco CFX75 in Kea Conqueror 2019 - Lugs and Handles and gaffer tape.jpg8 Waeco CFX75 in Kea Conqueror 2019 - Lugs and Handles in use.jpg



Choosing The 12 Volt Connection Method

This is THE most important decision you will make about your frig (or any frig) when running on 12 volts DC.
Bad 12 volt connections are the biggest cause of troubles with portable battery powered frigs.

Keep the DC lead as short as is possible, and use either crimp terminal lugs and screw type connections, or use Anderson plugs.
Use as large a cable as possible, even if it is 16mm2.
Don't use "Auto" type cable unless it has a large eg 6.0 mm diameter copper core.
If you use Anderson plugs, have the pins crimped by someone who has the correct tool and knows how to do it.
Do not solder any lugs in this situation; crimp them.
Jaycar and Altronics also now sell Waeco type DC cables.

You can use the Waeco supplied cigarette lighter type plug, but it is far from ideal, and you may have under voltage cut-out problems with the Waeco compressor controller.

I cut off the cigarette lighter plug on my DC lead, installed good crimp “eye” lugs.
I connect to battery power by screw connection strip block, protected by a 15 amp circuit breaker which is fed by 13mm2 copper cable from the battery via a 60 amp system protection Maxi Fuse.
My Waeco DC lead is now only 600 mm long to the connection strip.

Caution – if you cut off the cigarette lighter plug, you must test and mark the polarity of the cable positive and negative BEFORE you cut.

I have set my CFX75 DC voltage dropout to “Low” via the Control Panel.



Making Up An Extractor Fan Unit

You must have this or your CFX75 will not function well, and you will have condensation and multiple other problems.
In our case, it has to be external of the cavity, due to the size of the CFX75.

The fan should be permanently ON when running on DC or AC mains, and mine is DC fed from the house battery, in parallel with the DC connection to the frig itself.
When the Frig DC CB is switched ON, the fan comes on, irrespective of whether the CFX75 Control Panel is ON or OFF.
It draws very little DC power.
On remote trips, I carry a spare vent fan.

My fan is a 80 x 80 mm silent 12 volt PC fan from Jaycar.
It is a Duratech fan (Jaycar YX2580 ) Mag Lev 0.1A, 2000rpm, 28 cfm, 80x80x25 mm.

I made up a very rugged and durable aluminium case for my fan to suit the original front vent cut-out in the cabinet work wall just behind the driver’s seat.
Make the fan case quite durable as it is easily bumped and knocked here.
Make the case of such dimensions so that it covers the old vent cover strip, and will also allow fixing by a few long PK screws.

I have also used a switch to bring in a 7808 voltage regulator so the fan either runs at 12 or 8 volts, the latter for an even quieter situation. This is optional, but it makes an already very quiet fan almost unable to be heard. I leave it on “Low” mode, unless it is hot outside, or on cooling down for a trip.

If I were to make another vent unit, I would mount the fan at the bottom of the aluminium unit.

Photo shows enough details for design, construction and mounting.

Mount the fan unit for optimal air flow, ie centre the actual fan over the cabinetwork cutout, and ensure that airflow is outwards away from the frig.

Install the fan unit. Connect power later, along with frig.

If you thought about just installing a bare fan on the inside of the cavity near the vent cover strip, you will not be able to lower the CFX75 into the cavity.

You have to have some travelling regime of always having Frig DC ON.


9 Waeco CFX75 in Kea Conqueror 2019 Vent Fan Unit Internals.jpg10 Waeco CFX75 in Kea Conqueror 2019 Vent Fan Unit.jpg



Installing the Waeco CFX75 Frig

The Waeco unit is positioned in place by the cavity itself and the new end strip of wood only.
It is held down by its own weight alone. You may wish to weigh up other considerations.
Mine does not move around when it has “provisions” inside.

Turn Mains and DC supplies OFF.

Remove the new end wooden spacer strip temporarily.

Check that the Mains fuse in the CFX75 RHS Mains Inlet socket is correct as per manual.
Obtain a few spare fuses.

Install the DC and Mains power plugs on the CFX75 first. A right angle Mains plug is best for clearance.

Ensure that the little switch near the compressor area is in the “Normal” position, not “Emergency Use”.

Check that both CFX75 internal bottom drain plugs are pushed home.
I use a small terry towel laying flat at the bottom inside of the Frig section (only) to retain any possible runoff from internal condensation on the frig walls.
I do not want any water leakage past the plugs and into the frig cavity. This also catches light spills. This is checked every week or so.

Install the CFX75 unit, switch Mains and DC ON, and test run.

Ensure that the vent fan is always ON when the frig is ON.

Because the vent fan is powered by DC only, and not if the Mains only is used for the frig, I ALWAYS leave the frig DC external supply ON.


Frig Freezer Performance

I am very happy with my Waeco CFX75, and its installation.

The Waeco build quality is impressive.
It is physically sturdy.
It is made in China, and with a Waeco “Chinese version Danfoss” type compressor and controller.
The CFX75 works well, and as per Manual.
Instructions are clearly written.
The Control Panel is intuitive.
I set my Frig to +4 deg C, and Freezer to -14 deg C.

It appears to use one compressor and a two way gas valve for cooling each of the separate frig and freezer areas. I have not yet learned all the operating “technicals” of this unit.

The CFX75 has “mains operation priority” over DC, as per the old CF80. It cools down quickly.

I have a DC current meter installed in my vehicle.
When on DC, the CFX75 draws about 4 amps at start, rising to 5.5 amps after five minutes or so if it knows that the frig is just starting to cool down (it seems to “know” by measuring currents and temperatures).
It can draw up to 8 amps at times, and settles back to about 4 amps, when all has cooled down and it is idling along.
It actually draws a little less than I expected.
The duty cycle seems reasonable so far.
I have not yet observed its operation in hot weather.
I now use a dual wireless remote temperature gauge to separately monitor how the CFX75 is running for Frig and Freezer.

Good luck and best wishes to you all.

I have no associations with Waeco (Dometic), Altronics or Jaycar.