Is An Icebox a Waste of Money? - Page 5 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-06-2014, 02:06 PM   #57
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Since especially in hot weather it doesn't maintain a reliable under-forty temp throughout, I use my 3-way fridge as an icebox that makes its own ice.

Truly perishable items like raw meats are kept frozen until used by a sort of rotation method. I keep a soft cooler in the fridge directly beneath the freezer compartment and swap unused (and still-frozen) meats between the units every other day or so. Milk/other highly perishables stow in the same small cooler. Keeping it zipped up and in the coldest spot means it holds cold temps very well.

There's still enough room in the freezer for a couple of refreezeable gel packs, so one always goes in atop the high-perishables. Everything else in the fridge is "keep-cool" stuff.

For cold beverages: I mostly just drink water, but if/when cold drinks are desired, individual chilling of cans/bottles using the same gel packs only takes a few minutes and yields very satisfactory results.
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:27 PM   #58
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If block ice is unavailable, wouldn't it work about the same to put ice cubes into a container (tupperware-type or whatever) and place the container in the ice box?

I think I have figured out my 3 cubic foot fridge. I hung a fan outside the upper vent as a trial, to draw air through the backside. Inside temp has dropped 14 degrees (from 51* to 37*) in 3 hours. Last night at this time, with similar outdoor temps (80s), the fridge was still above 50* (although it did reach 37* by morning).
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:42 PM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Magee View Post
If block ice is unavailable, wouldn't it work about the same to put ice cubes into a container (tupperware-type or whatever) and place the container in the ice box?

I think I have figured out my 3 cubic foot fridge. I hung a fan outside the upper vent as a trial, to draw air through the backside. Inside temp has dropped 14 degrees (from 51* to 37*) in 3 hours. Last night at this time, with similar outdoor temps (80s), the fridge was still above 50* (although it did reach 37* by morning).
Glad to hear you figured that out. I found that on hot days if I open the outside vent and leave it hanging open a little bit and run a fan so that it blowing up and over the rear area gave the biggest improvement. Also covered the top and sides of the fridge with the reflex foil insulation. Also got some improvement by sealing off the fridge area from the inside cabinets beside it & making sure the outside area was fully sealed along the outside edges from the inside, all those items along with the interior fan... temps now need to be well over 100 and trailer out in fun sun before I start to be concerned with the old fridges performance.
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:43 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by Mike Magee View Post
If block ice is unavailable, wouldn't it work about the same to put ice cubes into a container (tupperware-type or whatever) and place the container in the ice box?

Yup it works but ice cubes tend to melt down much faster than a block so you will be looking to buy ice more frequently.
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Old 05-07-2014, 03:22 AM   #61
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A few notes about the thermo electric coolers.
If you are interested in a pre-built one, do yourself a favor and get a Koolatron.
Mine hold near freezing temps in almost any condition. I use a Koolatron P20 for long trips in my Suzuki. It fits behind the passenger seat sideways. We kept milk and fresh foods as well as cold energy drinks in it from Michigan to California and back again. We never worried about opening it too much, and actually had to defrost it twice by unplugging it when it was extremely humid out from a rain storm.

I left my Suzuki idling overnight for AC and to keep the cooler running. (Slept in the car, didn't have the Scamp yet for that trip!)
When we got home the milk was still fresh! It went 8k miles and spent a few weeks in the Koolatron. I have used it for years and it has never failed me. Other brands just don't compare. It is rated for 40 degrees below ambient, and will in-fact become a freezer if you keep it in a area that is too cool. However I have seen it go much below 40 difference when it is hot out. The usual temp is about 35-37 F.

This particular one blows the cool air downward so it isn't wasted every time you open it. Some models blow upwards and therefore out of the cooler. others have the peltier cooler on the door itself.


Okay so now a note on the home made ones! Something to keep in mind with these coolers is that one, they are not very efficient. They take power 100% of the time unlike phase change cooling.

Two, they exchange heat for cold quickly when turned off. The large heatsinks on the inside and outside of the cooler are connected with the peltier (or two) in-between.
As soon as you remove power from the cooler the warm and hot sides equalize. Then it is just a highway for the heat to travel right back into the cooler from that point on.

You can't run them then unplug them to save power because of this.
So here is where the home made comes in. Using PC water cooling components allows you to build a mini chiller. This breaks the connection between the inside and outside of your cooler setup. Once you power it off the water (coolant) stops flowing, so it stays cold. You also don't have to worry about frost build up requiring you to shut the system down every few days in humid weather. If you are interested in this setup let me know and I can help you out. I have lots of components needed for this available. Oh and one more pro to this is that the efficiency goes through the roof! The water cooling system brings the hot side of the peltier to almost exactly ambient, rather than much hotter like a simple aluminum heatsink. This GREATLY increases the achievable temp differential possible. This in turn allows you to use a thermostat like a compressor fridge, and the aforementioned break in the thermal path allows this to work.

I have modified an old coleman thermoelectric to this system and achieved freezing temps at only 65 watts, 50% duty, 75F ambient.
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:11 PM   #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenjiFox View Post

You can't run them then unplug them to save power because of this.
So here is where the home made comes in. Using PC water cooling components allows you to build a mini chiller. This breaks the connection between the inside and outside of your cooler setup. Once you power it off the water (coolant) stops flowing, so it stays cold. You also don't have to worry about frost build up requiring you to shut the system down every few days in humid weather. If you are interested in this setup let me know and I can help you out. I have lots of components needed for this available. Oh and one more pro to this is that the efficiency goes through the roof! The water cooling system brings the hot side of the peltier to almost exactly ambient, rather than much hotter like a simple aluminum heatsink. This GREATLY increases the achievable temp differential possible. This in turn allows you to use a thermostat like a compressor fridge, and the aforementioned break in the thermal path allows this to work.

I have modified an old coleman thermoelectric to this system and achieved freezing temps at only 65 watts, 50% duty, 75F ambient.
Interested in more info on the mini-chiller setup.......Any links you can direct me to on how it's often done for computers?
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:15 PM   #63
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#1: Had to stop and laugh at this: I asked for internal dimensions of an icebox. Got nearly 30 responses almost completely consisting of people's opnions on why they wouldn't want an icebox. Which DOES show Bob's point of how important a refrigerator is at resale!

I think I did figure out the answer myself. Formco #s their icebox models IB35 and IB75 after the internal capacity.....The IB 35 appearing to have approximately 3500 cubic inches of space, and the 75 having 7500 cubic inches.


So here's how we look at it:

95% of our trips will be 4 days or less. Probably 50+% will just be weekends. While we DO plan on doing some longer trips, not much plan for long term boondocking. Short term, yes. But a week+ away from anyplace without venturing out? No.

My wife doesn't like the current fridge. It works, but it's small.

I don't like worrying about venting the heat w/ propane, and the issues with outside vents leaking, etc.

We like simplicity. One could argue either is more simple. (Not worrying about ice could be simpler. Not worrying about whether a refrigerator works/needs propane, etc could be simpler)

We also will have a separate cooler that will stay in the car and/or outside the camper for beverages. We do this anyway, and thus need ice anyway. This also cuts down on number of times we open the cooler with more critical items/temps needed.

My wife isn't a fan of spending $700 for a fridge. (We'll use some of that savings to get a Propex heater instead of a new Atwood furnace. Smaller, quieter, less power usage, less heat cycling)

Cubed ice is easy to find, and usually cheaper than what was talked about here, at least around me. $2/bag at the state park we camped at last weekend. So refilling when needed doesn't seem to us to be that difficult.
We plan on doing the cat litter or similar container thing anyway, so 80% of the time should be on our own pre-made ice anyway.

We're removing the fridge in a couple weeks, and putting a cooler temporarily in the same spot. So I'll have all season to use it as an icebox and see how we do, and see if it works out as we'd like. I also plan on putting a datalogging thermometer in to see how temps go. Obviously this worked well enough in concept for decades, so we'll see how it goes for us this summer. If no real issues, I think we'll move forward with an icebox of SOME sort. Not sure if homemade, or if it will have a peltier in it as well, etc. yet.

Interesting to see how others view certain aspects. Like what was said earlier: Different strokes!
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Old 05-07-2014, 12:57 PM   #64
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Tell me more tell me more. that seems like a really good solution, and the only holes I would need to drill in my current cooler would presumably be for the liquid lines. Please post or send some pictures of your setup and a more detailed explanation of what you did. I understand the theory.
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Old 05-07-2014, 01:03 PM   #65
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Ice box different than cooler

The RV ice boxes are useless as people have pointed out since every time you open the door, any cold air you might have made in there simply drops out. This means your ice doesn't last very long. The three way fridges have the same problem, but have a lot more cooling power since they run on propane, so less of a problem. A cooler with a top opening works much better than the ice box and makes operating with no refrigerator possible and for some people (me) much better. The pimp electric refrigerators open on the top so they are much more efficient, also they are are quieter and more efficient to start with because.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate R View Post
#1: Had to stop and laugh at this: I asked for internal dimensions of an icebox. Got nearly 30 responses almost completely consisting of people's opnions on why they wouldn't want an icebox. Which DOES show Bob's point of how important a refrigerator is at resale!

I think I did figure out the answer myself. Formco #s their icebox models IB35 and IB75 after the internal capacity.....The IB 35 appearing to have approximately 3500 cubic inches of space, and the 75 having 7500 cubic inches.


So here's how we look at it:

95% of our trips will be 4 days or less. Probably 50+% will just be weekends. While we DO plan on doing some longer trips, not much plan for long term boondocking. Short term, yes. But a week+ away from anyplace without venturing out? No.

My wife doesn't like the current fridge. It works, but it's small.

I don't like worrying about venting the heat w/ propane, and the issues with outside vents leaking, etc.

We like simplicity. One could argue either is more simple. (Not worrying about ice could be simpler. Not worrying about whether a refrigerator works/needs propane, etc could be simpler)

We also will have a separate cooler that will stay in the car and/or outside the camper for beverages. We do this anyway, and thus need ice anyway. This also cuts down on number of times we open the cooler with more critical items/temps needed.

My wife isn't a fan of spending $700 for a fridge. (We'll use some of that savings to get a Propex heater instead of a new Atwood furnace. Smaller, quieter, less power usage, less heat cycling)

Cubed ice is easy to find, and usually cheaper than what was talked about here, at least around me. $2/bag at the state park we camped at last weekend. So refilling when needed doesn't seem to us to be that difficult.
We plan on doing the cat litter or similar container thing anyway, so 80% of the time should be on our own pre-made ice anyway.

We're removing the fridge in a couple weeks, and putting a cooler temporarily in the same spot. So I'll have all season to use it as an icebox and see how we do, and see if it works out as we'd like. I also plan on putting a datalogging thermometer in to see how temps go. Obviously this worked well enough in concept for decades, so we'll see how it goes for us this summer. If no real issues, I think we'll move forward with an icebox of SOME sort. Not sure if homemade, or if it will have a peltier in it as well, etc. yet.

Interesting to see how others view certain aspects. Like what was said earlier: Different strokes!
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Old 05-07-2014, 01:30 PM   #66
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I'm pretty sure our Parkliner came with the IB35 model as the outside dimensions look similar. We went that way as we didn't want propane onboard due to our style of venturing. That said, i agree with other posters who mentioned the units are only marginally usable for a "Cooler/Ice Box". Ours did do fine on the two trips we placed ~20lbs of crushed ice in it during ~75max temp 5 day outings. We also go out ~4 to 5 days between restock runs. What we do like alot are our two Engle Deep Blue 80qt coolers. They will keep a 20lb bag of ice for 7+ days with cooler temps never exceeding 40 degrees in mid 70 weather.
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Old 05-07-2014, 02:52 PM   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenjiFox View Post
A few notes about the thermo electric coolers.

<cut>

I left my Suzuki idling overnight for AC and to keep the cooler running. (Slept in the car, didn't have the Scamp yet for that trip!)
When we got home the milk was still fresh! .
must have been back in the days of cheap gas and no laws stopping you from leaving your car idling for more than a few minutes.

These days after a week or so of camping the cost of the gas burned while leaving a vehicle idling over night in order to keep the cooler running would make a nice little down payment on an actual rv fridge Not to mention the fine for doing it..
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Old 05-07-2014, 08:45 PM   #68
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Went Camping/kayaking this past week end....day temps in the high 80's low 90's * F night temps in the 50/60 * F range.

For this trip I added a small Fridge fan that run on 2 D cell batteries( the package said they would last 30 days if run all the time)....I know that it kept my inside temp way down and I could always feel the air moving everytime I opened the door. It looks like this


RV Fridge Fan Refrigerator Air Fan Mini Fridge Circulation Battery Powered Refrigerator Fan



I got mine at my local camper sales place, have often seen them at WalMart .I have heard that you can use them inside coolers and my friend in Mi uses hers inside her 12V kooltron.


Someday we plan to do the outside vent fan mod,but for now will see how this works.


Hope this little bit of information helps someone.


Happy Camping
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Old 05-07-2014, 10:16 PM   #69
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That's the exact same type of fan I just tried out, with no success. Not sure why it helps some users and not others.

The fan I hung over the external vent, though, helped my fridge achieve a 45* temp differential today.
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Old 05-07-2014, 11:02 PM   #70
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That's the exact same type of fan I just tried out, with no success. Not sure why it helps some users and not others.

The fan I hung over the external vent, though, helped my fridge achieve a 45* temp differential today.
Actually Mike it may have been doing more than you think it was. I have one, as well as the the external fan on the outside vent and I know from having forgotten to turn the inside fan on a few times that it does indeed make a difference. Put it in the middle of the bottom of the fridge and leave a few spaces of clear space on the shelfs above to allow the air to move though an it will make a difference but not as big as the outside fan does as you have noted... but every little bit helps.
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