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Old 07-18-2021, 07:40 PM   #1
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12v Coolers

Greetings everyone. I am heading out on the road for a month soon and I am considering the purchase of a 12v cooler to augment the refrigerator in the Escape. Does anyone have recommendations or comments regarding 12v coolers? I would very much appreciate any input.
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Old 07-18-2021, 08:16 PM   #2
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What do you plan to store in it? If you are planning to put food in it then you really should have a 12V refrigerator rather than a 12V cooler. The refrigerator will be able to maintain a much larger drop from ambient temp and has a thermostat so you can be sure you are keeping food at a safe temperature (or you can use it as a freezer). It also consumes much less power. Of course the cost is much higher but I've seen some on Amazon that seem to run about 1/2 of what we paid for our ARB about 12 years ago.
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Old 07-18-2021, 08:32 PM   #3
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We tried a 12 volt cooler ( Coleman ) and it never cooled down at all. Went back to regular ice chest. I know other have had great results but they’re not worth the money to us.

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Old 07-18-2021, 08:50 PM   #4
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Have you looked at ARB? They are pricey but really good. They can also act as freezers if you like, I agree with Daniel108 that you should look for a 12V portable fridge versus a cooler if you are looking to store food safely. The ARB is a fridge/freezer. But get ready to pull out some serious money.
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Old 07-18-2021, 09:26 PM   #5
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There are two very different types of cooling system used in portable electric coolers.

The less expensive design use a thermoelectric or Peltier device, or "solid state cooler". That's simple, but limited in the temperature difference it can maintain between the surrounding air and the interior temperature, and not very efficient. I've had a couple and they can be very useful... but I wouldn't want to count on them maintaining a safe temperature of food that requires refrigeration. This is what Daniel is calling a "12V cooler".

The more expensive units, such as from ARB, use the same type of compressor-based cooling system as a home refrigerator. They are usually controlled by a thermostat, are more efficient than the cheap coolers, and can usually maintain proper refrigeration temperature. This is what Daniel is calling a "12V refrigerator".
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Old 07-18-2021, 09:44 PM   #6
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We have the ABS exterior Engel. We like it a lot. It will run all
The way down to 80 degrees below ambient . Amp draw is .8 to 2.8 per hour. Usually in keeping food at 34 degrees the cooler runs about 20 minutes out of an hour. The solar that we have does not know it’s there. By 10 am the batteries are full from overnight drawdown most days. We have had it three years. No problems. We keep the stuff that has to stay cold in the Engel. The 8555 Dometic does an ok job most of the time and we use it for drinks, and food that just needs some cooling. The frozen stuff rides in the 8555 freezer and does well enough that things don’t thaw.
Our goal is frozen stuff frozen, meat at 34 degrees, lettuce forty to 50 degrees is ok but below is better. The 8555 will not stay below 40 If it’s like 95 degrees. We were in Fort Hays Kansas a couple years ago, it was 108F. Forty degrees below ambient doesn’t do it when it’s that hot. YMMV.

Boge Johnson was a flag man at the Knoxville Speedway. I knew him and his son Gary. Gary had a stock car but not much money and the car was not real dependable (small block Chevy in a 1956 Chevy body. Engine good, suspension not so much. When Gary complained that the car was taking all his money. Boge said “ It costs money to go racin.” I never forgot that.
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https://engelcoolers.com/products/mr40-overland-fridge
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Old 07-18-2021, 10:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by liveoakal View Post
Greetings everyone. I am heading out on the road for a month soon and I am considering the purchase of a 12v cooler to augment the refrigerator in the Escape. Does anyone have recommendations or comments regarding 12v coolers? I would very much appreciate any input.
We purchased a Dometic CFX-3 this spring and used it in Arches NP until June. While stored in a sealed garden shed and running on 110VAC it kept our ice cream quite hard. I have no reason to doubt it's ability to perform equally as well on 12VDC but haven't had the opportunity to test it for more than a few hours. Dometic wouldn't have been my first choice - based on experiences with some of their other products - but it was available at the time I needed it.
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Old 07-19-2021, 07:59 AM   #8
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Dave, please describe your solar setup. The fact it’s enough to run your Engel is encouraging to learn.
Thanks. -Tom
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Old 07-19-2021, 08:08 AM   #9
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When Gary complained that the car was taking all his money. Boge said “ It costs money to go racin.” I never forgot that.
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Yes, it costs money to have fun also, life gives and takes it from you.......enjoy the ride!
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Old 07-19-2021, 08:29 AM   #10
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Engel Refrigerator/Freezer

We just have the single solar panel installed aftermarket by Escape on our 2017 21. It is a 170 watt panel. Dual 6 volt interstate batteries. We camp about 2/3 of the time with shore power to the campsite and about 1/3 of the time with just the solar. Our overnight drawdown with the Engel, water pump for showers, max fan on low, interior lights, phone charging, etc is to about 12.8 volts on the batteries. Back up to full charge by 10 AM in sun, a little later in mottled shade. The low draw of about .8 amp hours to maintain the 34 degree target and a maybe 33% duty cycle is the key. This is possible with a swing compressor and will run at a 30 degree angle. The cooler, as you will read is made for a maritime application.

Sometimes where shore power is available we don’t change cords, just leave the Engel on 12 volt and run the rest of the camper on the shore power. When we are on the road with the camper, we have the Engel on a rug on the floor of the camper. It weighs 55 lbs empty and a lot more once you put the basket full of food in it.

There have been instances where we had the Engel in the Highlander and ran it on the 12volt DC outlet. In 2019 we bought some dressed chickens from a lady my daughter works with in Fort Wayne. They were frozen and packaged in food saver bags. We took the Engel when we went to Fort Wayne and put 6 chickens in the basket, turned the dial up and they made the 400 mile trip home at about -12 degrees F. Normally we run it at about 2.2 out of 5 and that maintains 34 degrees F.

We camped last week for a couple nights. It was hot so we used the Engel for the meat, and things that needed to stay cold. The 8555 worked ok and we wouldn’t have had to use the Engel but with a 4 year old along the opening and closing of the Escape refrigerator was averted and the Engel recovers in a short time when accessed. We camped next to some folks who have an ARB and it worked well for them. Those Engels come on sale once in a while with a pretty good discount and free shipping.

We like our Engel. Hope this and the pictures help. Sorry they are wacky. Also last of the big Day-lilies, to brighten your morning, been a good year for those.
Have a great day
Iowa Dave
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 07-19-2021, 10:52 AM   #11
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I would check with Professor Hobo before I purchased anything.

I would!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVs...qwIq_gd0rTJF9g
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Old 07-19-2021, 12:21 PM   #12
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We've just recently purchased this portable fridge from amazon
https://www.amazon.ca/BougeRV-Portab...s%2C244&sr=8-2

It comes with some very good reviews and a 2 year warranty that can be upgraded to 3 when you register your purchase. I've done some preliminary testing with it. I'm quite impressed with how well it works and how little electricity it draws. Two 40 watt panels can easily keep the battery fully charged. Even running it all night the two panels quickly bring the battery up to full charge in the morning. For another $100 you can buy a cover which will help protect it and provides extra insulation.
My only two critiques are
1: I wish they had made it wider and not so tall.
2: They should have put the hinges on the long side of the lid.
Other than that I'm really pleased with it. It's long term reliability remains to be seen.
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Old 07-19-2021, 02:11 PM   #13
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12v fridge

Before we got our Escape 19 last March, we had a 21 year old Casita. The fridge in the Casita was not reliable so we got an inexpensive 12v fridge:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It worked great. Looking at this link today, it's been changed slightly from the one we bought last year, but fundamentally the same. It was quite inexpensive and worked reliably. Based on that experience, we opted for the compressor fridge in our Escape.
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Old 07-20-2021, 07:54 PM   #14
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12v Cooler

Thank you to everyone for your input. The Engel product seem to have the highest endorsement. I am curious, though, about noise and ventilation as I would likely carry this in the interior of my F150 Supercrew while on the road. You all are such a great resource and I would love to hear any further input.
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Old 07-20-2021, 09:19 PM   #15
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The Engel has a very low volume hum to it. It is nothing that bothers Rita or me. When it kicks in, there’s no clunk like the air conditioner makes. It’s very quiet. I’d make a video but can’t post it. As far as ventilation we’ve run it several times in the Highlander and we don’t pack stuff tightly around it but we don’t take special pains, it doesn’t get “hot” and there’s no
Electric motor “odor” like there is on a big, hot 20 horsepower swimming pool pump motor in a below ground sand filter pit where water running down the walls was the norm.
Iowa Dave
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Old 07-20-2021, 09:38 PM   #16
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12v Cooler

Dave,
Thank you for that endorsement! Although I may be having second thoughts as the idea of having water running down the interior windows of my truck would keep everyone well humidified!


Thanks again to everyone. I am ordering the Engel!
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Old 07-20-2021, 09:51 PM   #17
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And handling those 150 lb. cylinders of gas chlorine including putting them on a scale and hooking them up to the chlorinator while wearing the Scott air pack. Sweaty and it was the summer of Bopaul India. Things are fortunately different now.
Iowa Dave
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Old 07-20-2021, 10:13 PM   #18
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... it doesn’t get “hot” and there’s no Electric motor “odor” like there is on a big, hot 20 horsepower swimming pool pump motor in a below ground sand filter pit where water running down the walls was the norm.
Whether what you identify as the odour of the operation of an electric motor comes from arcing at the commutator (of a DC motor) or something else getting hot, you shouldn't get it from any small refrigeration compressor because they have the motor sealed in the compressor housing with the refrigerant.
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Old 07-20-2021, 10:33 PM   #19
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On our big pool,600,000 gallons, built in 1940 and operated until 1986 we had two phase electrical service.
They disconnected it up on the pole in September and wired us back up the next May. There was only a couple utility guys that did it and they were old friends of my foreman. They were glad when we built a new pool in 1987 and so was I. Remember basket rooms, foot showers, open air changing rooms, Slo poke suckers, choco tacos and life guards who would blow that shrill whistle and yell “No Running”? The guards would put a big ring of keys or a rock on the pa microphone key, put a radio in front of the microphone and play the Top 40. Had to overhaul those tube amplifiers about every fall.
Good times.
Iowa Dave
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Old 08-04-2021, 10:15 AM   #20
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12V cooler

We have an Alpicool ($240.00) that we use as a refrigerator for drinks only and a Dometic 35 ($899.00) to use as a freezer. I will let you guess which one does the better job LOL!!! However, we actually love both of them! We will NEVER go to back to a traditional "ice chest." Trying to dig items out of water does not go down will with me
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