thermoelectric coolers--Are they reliable? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-27-2011, 06:15 PM   #1
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thermoelectric coolers--Are they reliable?

I have a nonworking Dometic 3-way and an old Coleman upright ice chest which travels in the john in the Burro. I am going to troubleshoot the Dometic but in the meantime exploring alternatives. Reviews for at least three of the producers of 12vdc thermoelectric coolers indicate that more are dead than alive after a few months. Anyone carry one of these? I like the Coleman upright but even a hundred bucks is more than I want to throw away on no workee added to minimal performance. I'd buy a Coleman Xtreme cooler if they made an upright with an ice bin and if I believed the "ice after 5" hype.

jack
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Old 08-27-2011, 08:58 PM   #2
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I have had thermoelectric coolers and if they do work, they only cool 20 degrees less than the ambient temperature. If they cost $200, for another $250 you can get a Waeco portable refer that will chill to -0- if needed. Waeco CDF-11 Portable Fridge
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Old 08-28-2011, 10:36 AM   #3
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We've used our thermoelectric coolers for at least 8 years with no problems. They don't cool much but are OK for drinks and Costco runs. I wouldn't use one as the primary cooler.
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Old 08-28-2011, 10:46 AM   #4
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Any cooler electric or not if used upright like your saying you want to do is not going to be very effective, every time you open door all the cold air is going to fall out, remember cold air falls. If you have an upright freezer in your house open the door and see if your feet get cold. As far as those electric coolers go, don't waste your money, all of the ones I ever used in the semi trucks would only cool about 40 degrees below the surrounding temps, figure if you don't have A/C in your egg and it's 90 degrees all day in your egg and now your Bologna is 50 degrees and starting to grow a beard.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:43 AM   #5
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Thank you for the evaluations which are much as I expected. I do like my old brown Coleman upright ice chest with trays and ice compartment and it has served well on a lot of camping trips sans trailer but it does dump chilled air while open. It should continue to serve for fringe season camping which is what we mostly do but I hate hauling that Dometic which wouldn't provide much utility per lb. of apparatus if it were working.

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Old 08-28-2011, 01:32 PM   #6
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I added a 12 volt external plug to the trailer and we set the thermoelectric outside during the day and if we are in bear or raccoon country then we bring it in at night or when we leave the campground. We just keep drinks and fruits that don't need to be kept too cold, like apples and orangess in it. For the four of us, this really helps when we go camping for three or more days.

As we take cold stuff out of the inside refer, we transfer the 12 volt cooled stuff. This keeps the inside refer fully stocked without adding warm items. I never run the risk of having to drink warm beer.

Since we live an hour from the nearest Costco and Trader's Joe's, we use the thermoelectric a lot when we go shopping.

We have a smaller one we keep in the back seat when we are driving so we always have cold drinks. Sometimes we put in an ice pack if we are driving more than 8 hours.
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Old 08-28-2011, 02:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbit View Post
I have a nonworking Dometic 3-way and an old Coleman upright ice chest which travels in the john in the Burro. I am going to troubleshoot the Dometic but in the meantime exploring alternatives. Reviews for at least three of the producers of 12vdc thermoelectric coolers indicate that more are dead than alive after a few months. Anyone carry one of these? I like the Coleman upright but even a hundred bucks is more than I want to throw away on no workee added to minimal performance. I'd buy a Coleman Xtreme cooler if they made an upright with an ice bin and if I believed the "ice after 5" hype.

jack
Black and Decker has a 1.7cf fridge thermelectric on sale at WalMart right now for $59, It looks like a regular dorm fridge, runs on 110V and advertises as much as 42degree temp drop. I here that they will last a long time, but MUST be liberally ventilated to dissipate the heat from the back.
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Old 08-30-2011, 10:06 AM   #8
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It's likely a situation where you get what you pay for. A friend has an ARB fridge/freezer in his VW Westfalia, and it is amazing. And for the price, it should be (about the same as buying a new Dometic 3 way fridge). They go down to 0*F, and he runs his off the coach battery in the Westy without problems.

ARB Fridge Freezers for 4x4 Adventures
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Old 08-30-2011, 12:47 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by KeithA View Post
It's likely a situation where you get what you pay for. A friend has an ARB fridge/freezer in his VW Westfalia, and it is amazing. And for the price, it should be (about the same as buying a new Dometic 3 way fridge). They go down to 0*F, and he runs his off the coach battery in the Westy without problems.

ARB Fridge Freezers for 4x4 Adventures
That may be true but some want apples and some want oranges, this thing is a dorm fridge with no freezer. and looks like a bargain so far.
It appears to be well made and more powerfull than the cooler types.
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Old 08-30-2011, 02:30 PM   #10
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As Brian pointed out I am throwing an orange into a bin of apples - yes the ARB coolers are compressor driven, not thermoelectric (reading comprehension is low on my part today). Definitely a case of bringing a gun to a knife fight!

As you were....
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Old 08-30-2011, 04:54 PM   #11
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I'd definitely go for a true compressor fridge. ARB, Norcold, Waeco, etc all make good units ( actually Waeco or Norcold might make for ARB ). I think they use swing compressors. Some of them do, anyway. Very efficient. My Norcold draws around 3A. The one in our Westfalia (which used a more traditional compressor design) could run 3 or more days without a problem, using the 2 coach batteries.

...lars
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:14 PM   #12
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Why not replace your frig with a new 3-way? I got back recently from a 3-week southwestern states trip (many days +100) and my 3-way Dometic frig did very well, meat I had in the freezer never thawed. I never used 12V this time, only propane, or 120V when available.
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:58 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by ThomasE View Post
Why not replace your frig with a new 3-way? I got back recently from a 3-week southwestern states trip (many days +100) and my 3-way Dometic frig did very well, meat I had in the freezer never thawed. I never used 12V this time, only propane, or 120V when available.
Intend to troubleshoot the one I have. It does work. A graph of performance over time would be a teacup. Temperature goes down then climbs back up on 120VAC. I think I've got the old spider problem in the gas orifice on propane. I really do wonder if the air syphon or cooling air column is sufficiently narrow and sufficiently sealed off from other areas to actually work? I have a lower access/air vent and an upper exhaust vent which is about two feet higher on the side of the trailer. Perhaps build a better "chimney" and add a couple DC muffin fans? My quest for alternatives has led me back to my upright Coleman ice chest in the interim.

jack
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Old 09-02-2011, 12:53 PM   #14
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Are they reliable? Well - they only have ONE moving part - the fan. (Guess which part fails?) Other than that - yes they are quite reliable, but they are NOT a substitute for a real fridge as they are :
Very Slow to cool (some will also heat if polarity is reversed)
Not able to lower temps by as much as a real fridge would do
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