Test of 40 qt Coleman thermoelectric "cooler"

Discussion in 'Camping & Outdoor Gear' started by e9999, Jun 28, 2005.

  1. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    well, I just tried/tested one of these popular thermoelectric coolers. This is a Coleman 40 qt one.
    Rating: 7.5 A fuse.
    Says it will cool 40F under ambient. Also works as warmer supposedly.

    Finding: forget the 40F cooling idea. I tested the thing empty. It took at least 2 hours to cool things down in there by about 10F. After several hours of leaving it on (while driving) I got about 55F in the cooler in an 85F cab. The fans are very weak, you can barely feel the air moving. And obviously the thermoelectric chip has a low heat transfer rate. It may give you a 40F difference but not at any reasonable heat flux.

    Conclusion: given that the above was with an empty cooler (only air to cool down), it is painfully clear to me that there is no way this thing will cool down anything more dense than air in a reasonable time. (All above assuming this one worked as designed.)

    Suggested use: would keep cold things somewhat cold. IOW put in some cold sodas or :beer: and it will help keep them cold. Put them in warm and there is no way this thing will cool them down in less than several hours. So no go for keeping meat or a sandwich edible in high heat.

    Too bad... Oh well...


    added: if you still want one, they are $68 at WalMart.
     
  2. VTFJ40

    VTFJ40

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    I got a marked down one at Costco a couple years ago and wasn't very impressed. Was pretty weak in the cooling when new and just got worse. I think its downfall was poor insulation. It didn't work very well with ice either.
     
  3. 97 FZJ80

    97 FZJ80

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    It's a cooler, not a fridge

    I have been using these thermoelectric coolers for quite a while with very good results. It functions very much like a cooler without the need for ice, and not as a full-blown refridgerator like the ARB. Under standing its functions and limitations are the key to having a good experience.

    For long trips, I run the cooler the night before with an AC/DC adaptor to get the cooler ready. The performance on these cooler is about ~35 degrees F below ambient so I make sure the cooler stays indoors or in the vehicle with the AC on. When I arrive at my destination, the cooler goes into the dwelling and connected to the AC outlet. The cooler keeps will keep chilled food and drinks cool, it is not designed to cool down food from room temperature.

    With that said, I also have a smaller cooler that sits permenantly in the 80. It's great for going to the mall and keeping the food cool without the need for ice.
     
  4. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    yes, but the box, ads and even owner's manual are very misleading. They make it sound like it will cool things down 40F in a reasonable time.
     
  5. chet

    chet

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    no what they are saying is it will keep things at 40 deg. below ambient. You use it like a cooler and they work quite well. I found you can stretch the ice out farther by using one. I got almost a week from one block a couple of years ago. And it was in pretty warm conditions too.
     
  6. 97 FZJ80

    97 FZJ80

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    :D :D
    The 40F is the maximum cooling temperature from the vent, which the cooler will almost never reach. The cooler also works *better* in the upright position - with the thermoelectric unit on top. Assuming normal thermo loss and warming, I usually get about 35F cooling. It has some distinct advantages over a regular cooler using ice: No wet mess, no need to buy ice, entire cooler capacity usable without the bulk of ice, and lighter than a cooler with ice.

    My local Walmart sells this cooler for < $70 with the AC adaptor. For about $40 more than a regular ice cooler, it's definitely worth it for me.


    John
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2005
  7. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    they say in the owner's manual *not* to use ice in these things as it will damage the aluminum fins and things (Moab TM)!
     
  8. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    agreed. if you use it like you would an insulated box, it's better than the passive latter.
    (although I don't thinkthe insulation is that great on the Coleman thing.)
     
  9. Shahram

    Shahram I ain't got herpes no more.

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    A couple of years ago, my wife got me a thermo cooler as a gift. It's small, just big enough to fit a sixer and some sandwiches. It kept cooled things cool when driving, but man, it had some serious draw. I put it onto the extra battery in the afternoon on a 70ºF day, and by 2AM the next morning the battery was dead. Until someone makes a reasonably priced small freeezer/fridge, I'll stick to my cooler. I wish someone made a really tiny fridge with super low draw, one that I could just use for a sixer and a few steaks.
     
  10. NorCalDoug

    NorCalDoug problems solved daily...

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    What's reasonably priced?

    ARB/Engel/Norcold is the way to go.

    :D

    Just do it. Once the initial sting of the $600 wears off, you'll be very happy.
     
  11. desertdude

    desertdude SILVER Star

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    In the past, I have spent more in ice in one year then the cost of the fridge - Until you bite the bullet and get one you just can't compare it. 24/7 fresh food - cold drinks - no ice, no water, no dripping, no kidding...

    I gotta fridge in the back seat :)
     
  12. Cruiserdrew

    Cruiserdrew On the way there SILVER Star

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    I agree with the spirit experssed here. Give up on the propane idea. You will not be happy. A single battery works fine with a fridge-really. Just don't go overboard. As you modify your rig, do a dual battery at some point. A propane fridge will not work at the angles encountered in the off-road environment. The Engel/Norcold/ARB is built with offraoding in mind. It is designed to work at angles of 30 degrees and more. Once you have one, you will wonder why you waited. It's the best mod for your truck, period.
     
  13. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    I'm talking about getting possibly a 3 way fridge, not a propane only... (see other thread)
     
  14. desertdude

    desertdude SILVER Star

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    Those three ways can be temperamental off road
     
  15. Cruiserdrew

    Cruiserdrew On the way there SILVER Star

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    That's cool Eric, but I'm going to go on the record to say that it's a bad idea, and overly complicated for your needs.

    My experience with 3 way fridges was in an RV, and it was tempermental (actually a complete POS) to say the least.
     
  16. Russ in California

    Russ in California

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    I agree. I bought the same one, Walmart. Have to return it as soon as I can.
    I'm setting up my dual battery for my Norcold as we speak.
    :cool:
     
  17. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    how's that?

    dang, this all belongs in the "propane" thread...
     
  18. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    ??

    actually, that would fit in my needs great for camping. Picture 2 weeks out in the boonies in Baja... (sigh...)

    The one in our camper (Dometic) works great! On High with propane it'll go below freezing pretty fast.
     
  19. Hants

    Hants

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    If its like the ones I've used them in the past, they are VERY sensitive to being level to operate correctly.
     
  20. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    yes, not a problem for a camper that you want horizontal to sleep in, right...?
     
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