Provisioning the Camper Ice Box? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-07-2018, 08:49 AM   #1
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Provisioning the Camper Ice Box?

In 2011, when we purchased our 13' Scamp, we chose an ice box over a refrigerator for it's basic simplicity: put in a block of ice and you're done! Well, that's all fine as long as you can find blocks of ice along the road (it's becoming a rare commodity). Yes, one can use bags of ice, but they melt faster. The size of the storage area is greatly diminished due to the space taken by the ice. On the other hand we still prefer it's simplicity.

So, I have researched our Forum as well as the Internet and have not found a brilliant, nor adequate, solution as to how to provision, store and pack the ice box. I'm asking my fellow campers for ideas and solutions. Please include photos.
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Old 05-07-2018, 08:55 AM   #2
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The easiest thing to do is pack food that doesn't require an ice box or refrigerator. For idea on this you might try one of these books. LINK
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Old 05-07-2018, 12:50 PM   #3
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The OEM icebox is extremely inefficient for cold storage (and in our case way too small for 4 people). Insulation is thin, the front-opening door allows cool air to spill out every time you open it, and allowing melted water to drain is counterproductive.

We use the "ice box" for dry food storage (for which it works very well, being protected and temperature stabilized) and a 70qt. Coleman Xtreme for cold storage. Short of the super-heavy, super expensive Yeti-type coolers, I've found it to be one of the best available. Costco 20# bags of cubes, when available, are cheap and last 3-4 days depending on temperatures. Cubes melt faster but cool better (it's a trade-off). Rubbermaid bins keep contents out of the melted water.

If I were to use the icebox for cold storage, I'd add insulation around the box, install plastic flaps over the opening behind the door (like a walk-in fridge), and use lots of pre-frozen foods in addition to a block of ice. Cook as they thaw. In the field, you often end up with cubes because that's all that's available. Putting ice in a container to retain melted water improves cooling.
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Old 05-07-2018, 01:38 PM   #4
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Assuming you've made your own block ice at home (using milk bottles or such) but need longer term advice, and that you open it as little as possible (I've seen a suggestion to tape a schematic diagram of what's stored where to the outside, which I guess could save precious seconds), you've may have already gotten the best advice; don't use it for cool stuff. In addition to shifting to a carry cooler, maybe a 12-volt cooler in the car?
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Old 05-07-2018, 01:46 PM   #5
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I must say, this is a cool topic!
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Old 05-07-2018, 01:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilda View Post
Well, that's all fine as long as you can find blocks of ice along the road (it's becoming a rare commodity). Yes, one can use bags of ice, but they melt faster. The size of the storage area is greatly diminished due to the space taken by the ice. On the other hand we still prefer it's simplicity.

So, I have researched our Forum as well as the Internet and have not found a brilliant, nor adequate, solution as to how to provision, store and pack the ice box. I'm asking my fellow campers for ideas and solutions. Please include photos.
Gilda,

There's been a lot written about the issues with propane (absorption) refrigerators. Although I really like having one, I have to agree that they can be a real pain in many respects.

However, the newer 12V compressor refrigerators are very simple, reliable and are reported to perform quite impressively. Some are refrigerator-freezers which can make ice. There are many chest-style units that would avoid the need to redo your in-trailer installation, and a few cabinet-style that might be "installable". They don't require sidewall vents in your trailer to install.

One of their biggest drawbacks is that they are expensive. Engel, ARB, and Whynter are all known name brands. I see there are also now some inexpensive brands being offered on eBay and Amazon which I've never heard of including SMAD and Alpicool; I don't know how good or bad those might be.

Anyway, it's something you might want to consider as another option.
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Old 05-07-2018, 02:28 PM   #7
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Icebox ?

Gilda and friends, Julie and I also have a 13' Scamp that came with an Icebox. But we removed it and installed a wooden cabinet with two shelves that slide way out on rollers. An icebox is not very useful for shelves because you lose a lot of space to the insulation ; our 'cabinet' is much deeper, wider, taller. and the door is thinner. If your built-in icebox is on the side of the trailer that is facing bright Calif sun, ice hardly lasts at all !
We use a very good Ice Chest , but just a moderately priced one. It can travel in the trailer where we eat, or be put in the Pickup if we are taking a day trip, and it can be moved to the cool side of the PU bed or even brought into the air conditioned cab. And we always try to park in the shade even in the desert, or we run the magic fan with windows open and a big white painters dropcloth over the trailer or windows. Never put warm beer or drinks in an ice chest; charts show it brings up the temperature immediately. I freeze gallon cartons of ice in milk cartons, plus even milk and orange juice, any liquids. And have read that when the ice melts from a block of ice, don't drain it. The cold water helps maintain the cool temps.
As someone mentioned, unless you are where there are no stores, don't bring much perishable food, or even canned food. Boondocking is a different situation, but some of the same ideas work then too.
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Old 05-07-2018, 05:58 PM   #8
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Walmart sells a Yeti knock off in lots of sizes. Much Less than half the price compared to Yeti. Store it in your tow vehicle and use the original ice box for food storage as someone else recommended.
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Old 05-08-2018, 09:31 AM   #9
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Hi Gilda,
Have you tried those Blue Ice packs? Probably last longer than ice bags, and not messy.
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Old 05-08-2018, 09:33 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by francene View Post
Hi Gilda,
Have you tried those Blue Ice packs? Probably last longer than ice bags, and not messy.
After they thaw, unless you have a means to refreeze, they become dead weight. For a weekend... maybe.
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Old 05-08-2018, 09:38 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by DavidG View Post

As someone mentioned, unless you are where there are no stores, don't bring much perishable food, or even canned food. Boondocking is a different situation, but some of the same ideas work then too.
Just curious about the canned food comment, in relation to refrigeration/cooler. If you're willing to consume a can of soup or the like, without leftovers, I don't see why it's an issue (other than controlling general storage space).
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Old 05-08-2018, 09:50 AM   #12
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In addition to ice, some of the food in the ice box can act as additional ice with reasonable results. Cartons of milk and bottles of juice are examples. I assume turnover in an icebox is rapid. So frozen strawberries for smoothies or cocktails could work. Same with frozen meat. Not only do they add to the chill, they aren't relying on the ice to stay chilled, in the short run.
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Old 05-08-2018, 10:45 AM   #13
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I'm Thinking an icebox,insulated like a Yeti,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
The OEM icebox is extremely inefficient for cold
storage (and in our case way too small for 4 people). Insulation is thin, the front-opening door allows cool air to spill out every time you open it, and allowing melted water to drain is counterproductive.

We use the "ice box" for dry food storage (for which it works very well, being protected and temperature stabilized) and a 70qt. Coleman Xtreme for cold storage. Short of the super-heavy, super expensive Yeti-type coolers, I've found it to be one of the best available. Costco 20# bags of cubes, when available, are cheap and last 3-4 days depending on temperatures. Cubes melt faster but cool better (it's a trade-off). Rubbermaid bins keep contents out of the melted water.

If I were to use the icebox for cold storage, I'd add insulation around the box, install plastic flaps over the opening behind the door (like a walk-in fridge), and use lots of pre-frozen foods in addition to a block of ice. Cook as they thaw. In the field, you often end up with cubes because that's all that's available. Putting ice in a container to retain melted water improves cooling.
A little ice maker works great,don't draw much current,makes cubes quick.
Then put the cubes in the ice box.
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Old 05-08-2018, 10:57 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Eddie B. View Post
A little ice maker works great,don't draw much current,makes cubes quick.
Then put the cubes in the ice box.
Might work, but it takes a whole lot of cubes to maintain a safe temperature due to the inherent inefficiencies of the icebox design. Seems like it would be more efficient to cool food directly with 12V power.
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Old 05-08-2018, 11:04 AM   #15
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Might work, but it takes a whole lot of cubes to maintain a safe temperature due to the inherent inefficiencies of the icebox design. Seems like it would be more efficient to cool food directly with 12V power.
12. Volts dc draws too much current.
The little ice maker we have makes a gallon of cubes pretty Quick.
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Old 05-08-2018, 12:47 PM   #16
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Forgive me for being skeptical, but from my high school physics class I seem to recall it takes a certain amount of energy to change the temperature of a certain mass a certain number of degrees.

It seems like it would necessarily take more energy to change water to ice and then use that ice to cool an icebox of a certain size than to cool that same space directly due to energy losses in the process.

Obviously it depends on the relative efficiency of the two appliances. It would be interesting to compare the specs on the icemaker versus a good 12V compressor fridge. Does the ice maker run on 12V or 120V?
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Old 05-08-2018, 01:14 PM   #17
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https://www.amazon.com/RCA-ICE102-Re...able+ice+maker
I bought the above icemaker(120vac), with the IGLOO name on it from WM last year, on sale for 79bux...it will turn out 26#s of ice per day if you keep the water reservoir full and ice tray emptied...I run it about 10-12hrs per and get a large(10/12#) bag of ice...it is not a freezer and the ice will start to melt almost immediately(drips back into water reservoir)...I start a trip with a 65qt Igloo 5day cooler full of beer and water along with 4 bags of ice...as long as I keep up with the water and ice dumping(from ice maker) it will last indefinitely...you can even add more drinks...as the ice melts in the chest, I drain a bit out(not all) to keep room for new additions...
That is the good news, the bad is, the ice is not as cold as what you get from your freezer or from an ice house(blocks) and it will melt faster but, it has kept me from having to leave camp every couple or three days, just to replenish ice.

Jon, that is called the first law of thermodynamics or, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch(in this case).........
madjack

p.s. the little icemaker turns out 9, semi-hollow, bullet shaped cubes every 7-8min and takes a short hour to fill the storage tray...since it has a fan/compressor, it does make a very low noise as it does it's job, but,it is not annoying...of course, I have a Mach8AC as well, sooooo................mj
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Old 05-08-2018, 01:36 PM   #18
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Since it runs on household current, that means you're plugged in and have essentially an unlimited supply of energy. In that situation there are all kinds of options: icemaker, dorm fridge, 12V compressor fridge running off the converter,...

I guess I assumed this conversation was how to make an icebox work when you don't have shore power.
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Old 05-08-2018, 01:36 PM   #19
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That is the good news, the bad is, the ice is not as cold as what you get from your freezer or from an ice house(blocks) and it will melt faster but, it has kept me from having to leave camp every couple of days just to replenish ice.
The good news here is that the phase change from water to ice, or the reverse, entails exchanging 80 calories of heat per gram. So, melting a gram of ice will remove 80 calories of heat from your "system" (stored food & enclosure).

Changes in temperature above and below freezing entail only 1 degree C per gram of either water or ice.

So, once you've made ice (at 0C = 32F) you've stored the ability to do a lot of cooling.

Having ice that is colder is relatively less important, only giving you the ability to remove one additional calorie of heat per each degree C.
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Old 05-08-2018, 01:49 PM   #20
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I'm not going to try to change your mind about how you're outfitting your adventure. Sure, there are other ways to skin this animal, but you've chosen one that has worked for you so I'd like to share an idea with you that was passed to me several years ago while camping from my motorcycle.

A friend and I decided to overnight and suggested that I freeze water in used pop/soda bottles. He referred to this as "smart water" because as it melted, you could drink it (same water from home) or simply let it stay in the cooler to maintain the space as a level of increased efficiency like the Yeti people recommend; i.e. keep your cooler full with something and it'll work better. I frequently fill the empty space with handfuls of Walmart bags just to fill the space. Then I have the bags for another use as needed.

Another twist on this idea that I've adapted was to cook up some chili for dinner and freeze it before putting it into the cooler, making the chili itself a cooler "ice" block while reducing my work on the road. In the case of the chili, I froze it in the pot that I wanted to cook it and didn't need to occupy additional space in the saddle bags of my motorcycle/cooler bag.

Just another idea. Using the frozen water has turned out to be a great benefit on a hot afternoon after completing camper set-up.

Happy Camping!

bill (not laura)
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