Is An Icebox a Waste of Money? - Page 4 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-05-2014, 10:39 PM   #43
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Sounds like you fridge might be a bit clogged up inside, reducing circulation and cooling in the cooling circuit.

Two weeks ago, at Joshua Tree National Park, when it was hitting 90+ we were still keeping ice cream hard and beer cold in our 40 y.o. Dometic on gas only.
This is how it acted last summer also... when it was 2 years old.
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Old 05-06-2014, 06:18 AM   #44
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I'm trying out the new fan inside the fridge today.
Why don't refrigerator manufacturers or [better] trailer builders just put fans in and in back of refrigerators? Seems like a small thing to add to a build, while the wiring is being done.
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Old 05-06-2014, 08:26 AM   #45
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When most absorption refrigerators are running "as new", they don't need extra fans inside and out. Fans are usually added to compensate for reductions in cooling circuit capacity. In both old style and new style Dometics this can be exacerbated by running out of level.

When you look at how the cooling circuit works, there is nothing to wear out but, if circulation is reduced due to residue build-up in critical areas, cooling capacity is reduced. Here are a couple of links:

Absorption refrigerator - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
How Absorption Refrigeration Works - YouTube
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:00 AM   #46
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I hear you. This is what I did. I built a super insulated slideout icebox. 1/2 gallon plastic container full of frozen water lasts for about three days unless it is super hot.

The two things I wish for are a drain plug (seemed like a liability at the time I built it), and possible a thermoelectric cooler to augment when I have extra solar power. Also my dimensions were off when I built it and it could have been an inch or two bigger which would have made a difference.

My 1991 Scamp renovation
Interesting! What did you use for slides for this? (Or did I miss that mentioned somewhere?)
Does the box come off then for draining?

I like that method, it keeps it efficient,(Opening the top instead of the front.) and can make it the size that works for YOU, with the RIGHT amount of insulation!

And I've looked at the thermoelectric coolers too, having the same thoughts about using the power on shorter trips or when I am (rarely) plugged in to augment the cooling. I could see buying a peltier device and building that in to help cool this. They're cheap: Peltier Thermo-Electric Cooler Module+Heatsink Assembly - 12V 5A ID: 1335 - $34.95 : Adafruit Industries, Unique & fun DIY electronics and kits
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:05 AM   #47
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It's highly unusual, but I actually read the "instruction manual" that came with my Coleman Extreme cooler. It says not to drain the water in the cooler ( you're just throwing away the cold ).
That is a tough concept to grasp when your stuff is floating in the cooler. One of the first things we did in Refrigeration class at the Vo-Tec school was stick a thermometer on a block of ice, and then in the surrounding water in a cooler. Both would be the exact same (cold) temperature.
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:36 AM   #48
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Thanks that is great link. I was thinking I would need to dissassemble a thermoelectric cooler to get one.... now I am kind of excited about that.

I just used two sets of heavy duty drawer slides. You could get away with one set if you used them properly, but then you have to build a frame to attach them to. I just put all four sliders on the bottom. So far they haven't broken even though the cooler wasn't locked in place for driving once or twice and was flapping in the breeze for a while.
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:37 AM   #49
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All veg, cheese, meats etc. go in Zip-lock containers to keep them out of the water and for convenience.
Anyway, them's the old days. Have a 5 cu. ft. 2-way fridge.
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:43 AM   #50
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You can take the box off for draining.... but it is a pain in the ass. Hence my earlier comment about the drain plug. I would call my cooler, cooler 1.0, there must be a better way to accomplish the same thing. Maybe put the sliders on a shelf under the cooler, then have the box connect to the shelf. That way the cooler comes completely out of the camper and you can just dump it out.... Actually I really like that idea, do that.
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:50 AM   #51
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At several campgrounds in our area Ice is $4 to $5 for an 8 Lb bag of cubes (Block ice is not available) A refrigerator makes sense when ice is that expensive and you are already paying for electricity at your site . Even when camping with no electricity , propane is cheaper than buying ice especially if you have to drive 20 miles to get it . We go on several extended trips in the summer and IMHO ice is not the answer
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:15 AM   #52
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At several campgrounds in our area Ice is $4 to $5 for an 8 Lb bag of cubes (Block ice is not available) A refrigerator makes sense when ice is that expensive and you are already paying for electricity at your site . Even when camping with no electricity , propane is cheaper than buying ice especially if you have to drive 20 miles to get it . We go on several extended trips in the summer and IMHO ice is not the answer

Good point - I have found here on the west coast all the way down, that it is getting harder and harder to find blocked ice and have often not been able to find it within a 100 mille radius of where I am staying. Cubed ice melts way to fast for my liking. If your camping outside of an urban area you may find your spending way to much time out hunting for ice every other day. Going with a cooler only is fine if you are only doing a week-end trips and start out with blocks of ice made at home but if on a trip of a few weeks or more the problem with finding block ice can get a bit frustrating.

I use the fridge in the trailer for human and dog foods (previous dog was also on a raw diet) and dairy products, running it on either electrical or propane & a cooler for drinks and veggies in a container to keep them out of the ice water. Actually prefer not to have anything but drinks in the portable cooler when possible due to wild life attraction. Putting a cooler with food in a tug to keep it away from bears at night is a bad idea & ice will melt fast in a closed up tug in warm weather - bears are far more likely to break into a tug without any people in it then they are to try to get into a trailer with people in it (which is very very uncommon). They can do a lot of damage to a vehicle trying to get into it. Don't laugh someone in our area had a bear do damage to their car just to get at a small piece of a child's cookie off the back seat. Racoon's are also experts at opening coolers! LOL
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:16 AM   #53
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I wouldn't get to excited about those "Thermo Electric" coolers.
I tried two different brands and neither one would get cold enough to bring beer down to drinking temp inside a house. The operative word is "Cooler" and about 15-18 degrees cooler than ambient was about as good as they could do.
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:19 AM   #54
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Don't forget the hassle of taking everything out of the cooler so you can put the ice in, and then putting everything back into what is now a warm "cooler".
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:46 AM   #55
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To me the $5 bag of ice ranks right up there with the $5 bundle of firewood
We have easily gone through $50 in a weekend on ice and a couple of small campfires when camping with my grand kids . Add to that the $20 to $40 a night in camping fees ,and it can become an expensive outing
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Old 05-06-2014, 01:23 PM   #56
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I find that plastic cat litter containers make good ice blocks. Frozen at home they don't leak water and because of the wide mouth I can refill them with cube if I want to.

Ice box works and has the advantage of simple to operate and low upfront cost. Downside is on long trips and boondock camping where getting ice can be a hassle.

Personally I would not dismiss a camper just because it had an ice box instead of a fridge, I would however discount its price to reflect the less expensive option. Probably by the amount I figure it would cost to replace it with a fridge, so several hundred dollars. But I would still consider it to be in ready to go condition if everything else was functional.

Ice box is not a waste of money (especially if you mostly take short trips) and value simplicity and low out of pocket cost. It is a waste of money if you think you will really want a fridge later. In which case you will have done two removal / installations and be left with an ice box to sell, probably at a deep discount (loss).

If your fridge won't have required capacity your going to have to buy ice for the extra cooler you have to take anyway so maybe it won't make much difference.
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