Electricity -vs- Ice

Anything electric, AC or DC

Here's how I keep stuff cold in my teardrop trailer

I have a refridgerator for when shorepower is available, otherwise I use ice
I found an energy efficient refridgerator that wont run my battery dead
I had one but got rid of the darned thing and switched to ice
Ice is all I use
Total votes : 50

Electricity -vs- Ice

Postby Guest » Thu Apr 14, 2005 11:58 pm

I've always used an ice chest while camping.
While considering to build a teardrop to get away from tent camping with my kids... The galley, with it's instant outdoor kitchen is what put me over the top.
So... in that killer kitchen, I thought that a refridgerator just had to be included. Early on, I learned from reading posts that the inexpensive units hooked only to shore power were being employed.... Just too many dead batteries running those through an inverter.
I found what I thought was a nice portable unit that opperates on 12/24 volt dc and 110 ac... It's called a Coolmatic CF-35.
A bit spendy at $665.00.
After talking with my brother-in-law who works for Kenworth, he told me, "Oh Yaa... A lot of truck drivers are using them and they seem to work great."
Well, come to find out... His company can't get the CF-35 but... They carry two larger built-in units, the smaller of which I can make room for in my galley. It's called a Coolmatic RPD-150 which goes for $689.00, but his cost is 564.00.
That's a good buy for that unit, but it's a pretty spendy item for a teardrop and I don't understand the power consuption charts.
The Coolmatics are shown at this website: http://www.waecousa.com/
If someone who knows how to convert watts used to what that would be in amps and what that means in demands placed on my battery source, I'd sure appreciate their input. (I'm planning on going with two Blue Top Optima batteries)
If the Coolmatic won't suck my battery power dry, I'd really like to go with it, even at that price.
On the other hand...I see that there are ice chests out there now that are listed as 5 day ice chests. I've camped for extended periods throughout the Summer, leaving my kids at the campground with my sister during the weekdays and commuting to my jobesites and I have replenished everyone's ice chests on the evening return trips, so getting more ice isn't such a big deal. (I think ice lasts about 2-3 days in my current ice chest)
If an electric refridgerator is just going to end up giving me a dead battery, a 5 day ice chest looks like the way to go.

Postby Syekick » Fri Apr 15, 2005 5:22 am

Amps = Watts/Volts

CF-35 model using 45 watts (averaged)
45/12 = 3.75 amps
45/115=.39 amps

Based on the math you can easily understand why the Yurpeans love their 220V standard for their houses. Smaller wires can be used due to less current (amps.)
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Postby madjack » Fri Apr 15, 2005 7:08 am

...Dean, if you want to "spend the money" checkout this unit http://tinyurl.com/8eo4e it was featured in another thread a few days ago and since it is triple powered, it may be a better choice
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Postby JunkMan » Fri Apr 15, 2005 9:12 am

I use one of the 12 volt Igloo coolers hooked to a 110 volt adapter when we are camped and have shore power. As long as your stuff is cold when you load it, it seems to work pretty good (of course I don't live or camp in the hot :? south).
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Postby Rob » Fri Apr 15, 2005 9:49 am

I had an igloo electric cooler, but it never seemed to keep things cool enough when plugged into the car. I got rid of it. It may work well enough in a TD when plugged into shore power, but I'll never know. :thinking:

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Postby Guest » Fri Apr 15, 2005 9:51 am

Mad Jack,
I'm once bitten, twice shy about those three way units that use propane. The travel trailer I had to take to construction sites had one of those and it only seemed to keep things cold when it was hooked up to shorepower.

I think I understand that... You divide the watts into the volts to get the amps, right?

All in all... I just want to make sure the darned thing is going to be efficient. I don't want to spend that kind of money if it is only going to be able to be hooked up to shorepower. Like I say my brother-in-law is getting good feedback from the truckers, but my teardrop isn't going to have a bank of batteries like an 18 wheeler. :lol:

Postby Woody » Fri Apr 15, 2005 11:21 am

The Igloo/Coleman electric coolers only cool down to 45 degrees below the ambient air tempetures. Although they might be sufficent in cooler weather (75 -80 degrees or less) anything hotter than that only makes perishable items cool. Dependant on exposure to the sun or enviroment and on shore power it still would not be that great in an hot enviroment. Peltier coolers are power hogs to begin with and the ambient tempeture variables make either ice or a small dorm refrigerator a viable option for proven performance on making and maintaining at least a cold beer or two. Enjoying life in cold 12 oz. increments is the way to go
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Postby Guest » Fri Apr 15, 2005 12:42 pm

Although I live in a pretty mild climate and I'm not one to seek out the heat, prefering to stay in as mild of a climate that I can...
That statement of yours may have just killed my refridgerator plan....
I see all the Coolmatic's power ratings are based at 41F although they can be set to lower settings, even freezing temps.
I too enjoy my sodas and drinking water ice cold. :thumbsup:
Looking at those 5 day ice chests, I bet that I could build something myself that would be more efficient and keep ice for a longer period of time.... :thinking:

Postby John Foote » Fri Apr 15, 2005 1:07 pm

Dean in Eureka, CA wrote:Mad Jack,
I just want to make sure the darned thing is going to be efficient. I don't want to spend that kind of money if it is only going to be able to be hooked up to shorepower. Like I say my brother-in-law is getting good feedback from the truckers, but my teardrop isn't going to have a bank of batteries like an 18 wheeler. :lol:

Waeco is right there with the best in efficiency (and a whole different ballgame compared to the igloo coolers), but all refrigeration sucks juice. The waeco runs about 40% of the time, sucking roughly 25 A/H per day.


Where are these amp/hours going to come from? What other demands are you going to put on the system? Lights? A radio? A computer? There's another 15 A/H+/- per day.

It's the eternal question of sizing your electrical system to suit your toys, with enough extra capacity to avoid stressing/killing expensive batteries. (The Waeco does have a battery monitor to shut itself off in low-voltage situations, but of course it's entirely useless once it shuts itself off.)

I can't see running a waeco for more than a long weekend without at least a pair of 6v deep cycle golf carts and a decent charging system to take care of them. That's 200 amp/hours, but then you don't want to discharge them more than 50%. Absolute Max. Most people recommend recharging at 85% to optimize battery life.

That borderline batt-busting weekend capacity will cost nearly as much as the refrigerator itself, and weigh about twice as much. If you plan on being out for more than a weekend, you'll need a way to recharge those batteries. Genset? Solar? Both? More money and weight.

It can be done, and it would be posh, but it won't be light, easy or cheap.
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Postby twc3 » Fri Apr 15, 2005 1:39 pm

I use mine (Coleman) a little bit for all of the above. The thing is not worth a crap when you have no shoreline. I found I do use it when traveling and keep it plugged in only to the truck and only when moving (turn it off at night). Most the time I still use ICE for things that does not matter if it gets wet. Not fun if you leave it plugged into the truck and leave it on overnight and perhaps part of the morning and have to get jump-started.

Actually most of the time I use the 12V Electric cooler in the room of the kitchen for a cooling cabinet for when I make chocolates I have found it works better than the refrigerator, less condensation buildup when the chocolate sets up. Less Bloom. :)

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Postby An Ol Timer » Fri Apr 15, 2005 1:44 pm

All the talk about electrical devices for teardops makes me think of when I was a kid. I wanted to hook a generator to one rear wheel of a small cart and a motor to the other and have someone push me till I got going. I sure lost a lot of friends in a hurry.

There's no free lunch! For all the extra stuff you take with you of this type you are going to have to either take power from home, shore power at a site or use a generator. I guess that it's all up to a person on how much they wish to invest in time and money.

I'm not into building flow charts, but maybe someone could make one up for site users. Something like a teardrop on the top center branching down to columns of lighting (AC & DC), refrigeration, microwaves, ect. Under each they could list the different options to be had and where they might be obtained as well as related costs. This could be expanded on as they went along. It would give newbies a good source to draw on as they developed their projects.

Maybe more charts could show the same thing for subjects like frames and suspensions or coverings such as aluminumn, paint, ect.

Just a few thoughts
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Postby Shiro » Fri Apr 15, 2005 2:11 pm

My tear came with an Igloo 12 volt cooler. I have never used it. I don't charge the battery while we're out and I figure I can get more ice (if needed) a lot easier than getting more 'lectricity


We have two coolers: a marine one that stays in the galley and one that stays in the back of the car for drinks and stuff. The one for drinks is a 5-day cooler and it is great. We put ice in it this last Sunday before leaving on a trip and it still has ice in it today, Friday. Cool weather here, but that's a looong time to hold ice
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Follow up

Postby John Foote » Fri Apr 15, 2005 3:33 pm

A heavy and expensive electrical refrigeration system only starts to make sense if you're an absolute maniac about maintaining self-sufficiency over long, extended journeys.

Like me... :? I'm actually trying to build a tear that I can live in. Indefinitely. :crazy: I'm building my tear specifically for extended remote photographic safaris. It doesn't sound like near as much fun without cold beverages, eskimo pies and electricity, wherever I happen to be. Out in the boondocks, electricity is comfort, and self-sufficiency is the freedom to stay there, waiting for the light.

I plan on having one waeco CF50 for refrigeration, plus another CF35 for a freezer, both mounted in super-insulated compartments. That’s 40-50 A/H per day, just for refrigeration. To keep it running, I'm planning to use 4X6v AGM golfcarts (400 A/H), an autostart 3KW Yamaha genset to charge them as quickly and quietly as practical, a MagnumEnergy 2500w inverter to be the brains of the system, plus 128w of solar panels to quietly return at least some significant power to the batts and keep the genset off for as long as possible.

That's a medium RV sized system, adding roughly $5k and 500 lbs worth of stuff. I'm basically designing my whole tear around this package. For average teardrop use, say... weekend camping, plus 3 week-long trips a year, this is absurd overkill. I would save a LOT of money buying ice.

But the thing is, I like electricity. It's always been my favorite bill, by far. Refrigeration is just another in a long list of electrical virtues I want close at hand. It also powers my computer, internet, printers, lights, tools, A/C, electric blankie and most of my amusements. Given my appetite for the stuff, I'm trying to do it right in the first place.

Or go broke trying... :D
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Re: Follow up

Postby mikeschn » Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:10 pm

Hey John,

So how big is this teardrop that you are designing?

And did you already consider the 3 way fridge, you know, propane, 12v and 110v? Why did you decide against it?

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Re: Follow up

Postby John Foote » Fri Apr 15, 2005 5:15 pm

mikeschn wrote:Hey John,

So how big is this teardrop that you are designing?

And did you already consider the 3 way fridge, you know, propane, 12v and 110v? Why did you decide against it?


How big? Pretty dern big. 12.5X5X5, plus tongue.

Picture a fairly basic 11X4X5 tear, sitting on top of a 12" basement with (from front to back) drawers, pass thru storage, water tank, battery bank and aft facing drawers. Then put an 18"X5X5 tongue box on the front. Set the genset in the center/bottom of the tonguebox, and flank it with two 18"X18"X42"'tall locker/closets. The genset actually sticks out the front another 18", but that fits inside the A-Frame, to be enclosed by a bump-out for security. The A/C mounts above the genset (between the closets), and there's a full width 18X18 shelf (minus the tear-radius) above that, accessible from inside the cabin above the headboard.

As for the propane refrigeration, it's just a preference deal. I've never had any experience with one that worked well. Besides, I don't like the idea of leaving my propane on all the time. If it's just to cook with, and heat water, I can turn it off at the tank when I'm done. Peace of mind.
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