Offroad Trailblazers and Envoys

Thermoelectric Cooler

Discussion on how to enjoy the outdoors.

by dvanbramer88 » Wed May 08, 2013 2:05 pm

I trashed picked this cooler/fridge this morning. Testing it out now. Only been going for a few minutes and the air coming out is pretty cold. Haven't tried the heating feature yet. I'll get out the multi-meter with thermocouple leads and get actual temps shortly. If it still works well enough, this might expedite my dual battery modification.



EDIT: The ambient temp is 73-74* and the air coming out of the cooler in the fridge is 61*

Now I know this sort of thing is more to keep cold things cold than it is to actually make warm things cold, but as far as I know, a 12 degree drop is pretty good for refrigeration/air conditioning equipment.
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by dvanbramer88 » Wed May 08, 2013 2:28 pm

already down to 50 degrees and still going. I think it is safe to say this thing works. Mind you it is empty and sitting out in the sun too.

EDIT: It's hovering right around 45 degrees. It might still go down but it seems to have reached a steady state.

Waiting for the more experienced guys to chime in, but I think this fridge will work just fine. Especially full of already cold stuff and ice packs.
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by bgwolfpack » Wed May 08, 2013 2:57 pm

I have one also. It works well in mild temps and will hold at 45% or so. I've not used the heat option.

IIRC, Do not use with Ice.
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by HARDTRAILZ » Wed May 08, 2013 3:03 pm

The one I got never worked. Guy ripped me off.
I hate to advocate weird chemicals, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone...but
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by dvanbramer88 » Wed May 08, 2013 3:20 pm

Yep, there is a warning on it, no water or ice inside unit.

I just went out to run errands, came back 20 minutes later, and it dropped from 45 to 34 degrees.
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by navigator » Wed May 08, 2013 3:21 pm

Dave, did you say you found that dumpster diving?
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by dvanbramer88 » Wed May 08, 2013 3:22 pm

navigator wrote:Dave, did you say you found that dumpster diving?


Yes, I very literally found it in a dumpster.....
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by navigator » Wed May 08, 2013 3:47 pm

one man's trash....
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by dvanbramer88 » Wed May 08, 2013 3:50 pm

My dad and I are huge trash pickers. We scrap so we grab every little bit we come across while out and about. But when it comes to non-metal items, We grab them too and either keep them, use them for something else or for parts, or if t works and we don't need it, sell it on Craigslist.

Stuff like bikes and metal saw horses for example, I clean up and try to sell for a few bucks before it goes to the scrap yard.

We generate a good bit of extra cash doing this.
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by fishsticks » Wed May 08, 2013 3:54 pm

That's a hell of a find.
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by The Roadie » Wed May 08, 2013 4:59 pm

It's worth a couple of bucks more than you paid for it. :coffee:

For more reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoelectric_cooling

Summary, they can be had for $20-40 more than the cost of the cooler they're built into. In trade for being position insensitive and silent, they are horribly inefficient and will suck your battery overnight while only giving you 40-50 degree max temp drop with a very small heat transfer capacity. Meaning you can't use a cooler full of warm beer for 2-3 days after you put them in. Nothing to take on an expedition, but they can be a cheap alternative to a garage fridge if you give the beer a week to cool down.
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by fishsticks » Wed May 08, 2013 5:37 pm

Because it doesn't say ARB and cost $800+ means it's useless. Obviously. :facepalm:

Dave, you're right on the money with pre-chilling things. Also, I wouldn't dump ice directly in there, but Blue Ice packs are just fine. Also, if you line the inside with a heavy gauge trash bag, you CAN put regular ice in them. Condensation is your enemy here though.

It works like any other insulated device. Keep it as full as possible and keep it closed when not in use. I've used one to keep things cold for about a week when camping before. Room temperature beer will draw down to "acceptable" drinking temps in a few hours.

Make sure your battery is up to snuff.
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by dvanbramer88 » Wed May 08, 2013 5:56 pm

I'll agree its not the best thing ever, but it should work for me just fine. Like I said, it went from 74 and humid ambient temp to 34 degrees in less than an hour sitting on my driveway in the sun. It was also empty. Like I said, if you fill it with cold stuff and an icepack or two, it should have no problem maintaining cold temps for a few days.

It also says right on it, no ice or water in the unit. Ice packs and frozen water bottles would obviously be fine. Bill is right, it is virtually silent. It ran in our driveway for an hour and the battery on my dads truck didn't even know it was there. And like I said earlier, this will expedite my dual battery set up to the top of the mod list.
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by navigator » Thu May 09, 2013 8:38 am

dvanbramer88 wrote:I'll agree its not the best thing ever, but it should work for me just fine. .......


I've been tempted to try to pick up one just for road trips.

Full of cold drinks and sandwich fixings, it should work great.
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by HARDTRAILZ » Thu May 09, 2013 8:54 am

They do work well. We use bartons on the tecore trips and its great.
I hate to advocate weird chemicals, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone...but
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by Cable810 » Thu May 09, 2013 10:34 am

Parents have one and they love theirs. They let it run a day in advance to any long trips we take! Works like a charm and we love ours!!
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by plaen » Thu May 09, 2013 2:16 pm

The Roadie wrote:It's worth a couple of bucks more than you paid for it. :coffee:

For more reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoelectric_cooling

Summary, they can be had for $20-40 more than the cost of the cooler they're built into. In trade for being position insensitive and silent, they are horribly inefficient and will suck your battery overnight while only giving you 40-50 degree max temp drop with a very small heat transfer capacity. Meaning you can't use a cooler full of warm beer for 2-3 days after you put them in. Nothing to take on an expedition, but they can be a cheap alternative to a garage fridge if you give the beer a week to cool down.



I have a smaller one(2 6 packs of soda sized) that runs a fan on top to increase the cooling slightly. Never used it for more than a few hours on day trips, but never had an issue. The manual does state to pre-chill items prior to use, and if possible to throw the thing in the fridge to cool it down before use.

On a side note, I do run a TEC under my waterblock on top of my processor in the performance/gaming/video encoding computer, keeps things nice and chilly under heavy loads.
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by Trail X » Fri May 10, 2013 9:47 am

dvanbramer88 wrote:I'll agree its not the best thing ever, but it should work for me just fine. Like I said, it went from 74 and humid ambient temp to 34 degrees in less than an hour sitting on my driveway in the sun. It was also empty. Like I said, if you fill it with cold stuff and an icepack or two, it should have no problem maintaining cold temps for a few days.

Instead of postulating, why not measure the current draw from this thing and calculate how many amp-hours would be required to run it for a few days.

These coolers don't generally have a low-voltage shutoff, and they have no thermostat. So they will just keep pumping heat until there's no more stored chemical energy in your battery.

That is the biggest concern, especially when camping. If you have dual batteries, and a good disconnect system, it's not as much of a deal, but even then, you probably wouldn't be able to recharge your second battery enough during the day's driving cycle to be sustainable.
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by Gordinho80 » Fri May 10, 2013 10:01 am

I've got a similar cooler and it killed my battery on my last camping trip in Oct. I contemplated wiring up a thermostat cut of switch, but figured spending money on this thing was a moot point. Use it for what it is... a single day use cooler for tailgating or the likes, and get a real fridge for longer trips.

Nice find though.
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by The Roadie » Fri May 10, 2013 11:27 am

JamesDowning wrote:..why not measure the current draw from this thing and calculate how many amp-hours would be required to run it for a few days....
A quick Googling suggests they demand 2.5-5A and they would run at 100% duty cycle unless the contents were put in there colder than the setpoint and the ambient isn't too high. That's going to drain a deep-cycle battery in 10-15 hours. My Engel draws 3A, but at 80 degree ambient, the duty cycle is around 10%. And when you dump warm things in it like 30 bottles of beer, the time it takes at 100% duty cycle to cool them off is only about 4 hours. The BTU/hour cooling rate is part of the difference, along with the current draw. The ratio of those two numbers is a measure of efficiency along with the insulation specs of the enclosure.
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