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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am thinking about getting a car fridge for camping. I met an owner with a Acopower lioncooler (32 qz) and it's the right size for me. I plan to get a solar panel to help charge it. I was wondering if there are other brands to consider. I want to see what other people like.
 

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The lion cooler looks pretty new to the market, for the price I’d personally stick to a brand that’s been around a little longer. I love my ARB zero fridge.
 

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I'm currently in the middle of a solar/freezer build myself.

i own the Iceco VL45 and love it! I've used it several times and is exactly what i needed.

Renogy 100watt solar panel (installed) it was important for me to remain a low profile so the panel sits perfectly almost flush between the bars. i still have room for my surfboards, etc.

i have not installed as of today but already have:
Renogy BT-1
Renogy controller 30amp
Blue Sea ML-ACR
misc. stuff (breakers, cables, etc.)

my build is being held up by a few parts arriving next week.
C4 Fabrications auxiliary battery tray
Auxiliary power bracket

i can add another 100watt on the roof if needed. i read plenty of recommendations and pros/cons about a roof top solar and being in the shade when camping. my system will have an option for my foldable 220watt for times that i camp in the shade. i thought i could have the best of both word. i didn't want to be fussing with unfolding my solar and chasing the sun when my roof top can solar do the job easily. not to mention i can run both. or at least that's the final outcome when i'm done.

also, coincidentally, the panel came with the corners in blue matching the FJ. i did not plan it. a very serendipitous situation.

I'm also working on several mock-ups for the drawer system. the one on the picture is a third iteration.

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I'm currently in the middle of a solar/freezer build myself.

i own the Iceco VL45 and love it! I've used it several times and is exactly what i needed.

Renogy 100watt solar panel (installed) it was important for me to remain a low profile so the panel sits perfectly almost flush between the bars. i still have room for my surfboards, etc.

i have not installed as of today but already have:
Renogy BT-1
Renogy controller 30amp
Blue Sea ML-ACR
misc. stuff (breakers, cables, etc.)

my build is being held up by a few parts arriving next week.
C4 Fabrications auxiliary battery tray
Auxiliary power bracket

i can add another 100watt on the roof if needed. i read plenty of recommendations and pros/cons about a roof top solar and being in the shade when camping. my system will have an option for my foldable 220watt for times that i camp in the shade. i thought i could have the best of both word. i didn't want to be fussing with unfolding my solar and chasing the sun when my roof top can solar do the job easily. not to mention i can run both. or at least that's the final outcome when i'm done.

also, coincidentally, the panel came with the corners in blue matching the FJ. i did not plan it. a very serendipitous situation.

I'm also working on several mock-ups for the drawer system. the one on the picture is a third iteration.

View attachment 1207833

View attachment 1207834

View attachment 1207835
I hope you got the DCC30S 12V 30A Dual Input DC-DC On-Board Battery Charger with MPPT. It has been excellent features you did not know you needed or wanted


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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I hope you got the DCC30S 12V 30A Dual Input DC-DC On-Board Battery Charger with MPPT. It has been excellent features you did not know you needed or wanted


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
No MPPT for now.. but will look further into your recommendation
i got the Wanderer-Li 30A PWM on sale for $25.00 I figured i could update later as needed.
 

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There are lots of options available. Just be sure to buy a compressor type unit as the electric coolers draw a huge amount of current and will flatten your battery very fast.
Not only do they continuously draw a lot of current, but even the best thermoelectric coolers can only cool to about 30 - 32 degrees F below ambient, which isn't low enough to keep food safe when temperature inside the vehicle is 80 or 90F.
 

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some helpful data below.

link below for more data and discount codes. I used the discount code this year for my ICECO VL45.
Portable Power Station Buyers Guide - Jasonoid

i would suggest use this format and add the data for the ones you are looking at (if not already on the list) and see how it compares to some of the top performing units.

Rectangle Font Slope Parallel Pattern



excellent video comparison below from the author of the attached spreadsheet .

 

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We bought a 30 liter Massimo from Harbor Freight for an amazing $149, but it proved to be too small for our uses. I returned it. We have an Iceco VL45 on the way. I was trying to do all of this on the cheap, but the Iceco was the answer for us. I guess that is in-between cost, still 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of an ARB or Dometic.. Know what you are getting in to. A premium fridge, dual battery, solar... you could spend several thousand easily.

I am still working out the power supply. It may be that we run off the battery all of the time, or use a "solar generator" at night. I will get the fridge and experiment.

Think carefully about how you will use the fridge. For one example, many of the refrigerators available are too tall to fit under a pickup bed cover. Also, don't blindly think that bigger is better - some of them are huge.
 

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cost for the solar system currently at $900
I expect to be at $1,000 when complete. the system is scalable so adding another panel would not cause change to the infrastructure.

I live in Florida and it's an investment. During the next hurricane power outage, I'll be living in the FJ and making ice.
the below doesn't include the inverter and misc power distribution from the battery which I already own.


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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
There are lots of options available. Just be sure to buy a compressor type unit as the electric coolers draw a huge amount of current and will flatten your battery very fast.
The lioncooler has it's own separate battery to draw power. I haven't looked at other fridges yet. I'm about to.
Not only do they continuously draw a lot of current, but even the best thermoelectric coolers can only cool to about 30 - 32 degrees F below ambient, which isn't low enough to keep food safe when temperature inside the vehicle is 80 or 90F.
Is this really true? So are these fridges not usable during the summer? The regular highs where I live in Nevada is in the lower 90's. Anyone here have any experience with this?
We bought a 30 liter Massimo from Harbor Freight for an amazing $149, but it proved to be too small for our uses. I returned it. We have an Iceco VL45 on the way. I was trying to do all of this on the cheap, but the Iceco was the answer for us. I guess that is in-between cost, still 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of an ARB or Dometic.. Know what you are getting in to. A premium fridge, dual battery, solar... you could spend several thousand easily.

I am still working out the power supply. It may be that we run off the battery all of the time, or use a "solar generator" at night. I will get the fridge and experiment.

Think carefully about how you will use the fridge. For one example, many of the refrigerators available are too tall to fit under a pickup bed cover. Also, don't blindly think that bigger is better - some of them are huge.
I plan to get one about your size or a little smaller. I only want enough space for just myself and maybe another person at max. For solar, I was going to go the foldable solar panel route.
cost for the solar system currently at $900
I expect to be at $1,000 when complete. the system is scalable so adding another panel would not cause change to the infrastructure.

I live in Florida and it's an investment. During the next hurricane power outage, I'll be living in the FJ and making ice.
the below doesn't include the inverter and misc power distribution from the battery which I already own.


View attachment 1207854
Damn, this might be more complicated than I thought. My budget is about $1000 for both the fridge and solar panel if that isn't too laughably low.
 

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If the cooler you mention has it’s own battery how is that charged? Via the car? Same difference…

yes coolers typically only achieve a figure below ambient usually about 20C so really a poor solution and bad investment long term and not much more use than an ice box
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
This is kind of odd. So why do people buy these fridges then if it only supposedly cools a little? I want to believe you but I need verification. It doesn't feel right.
 

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This is kind of odd. So why do people buy these fridges then if it only supposedly cools a little? I want to believe you but I need verification. It doesn't feel right.
there are multiple conversations occurring.

A thermoelectric cooler (coleman 12v) Cools without ice to stay up to 40 °F colder than surrounding temperature. i've owned one and they are fine for beverages but overall, it's a horrible choice for any serious camping/pverlanding. you can never trust your meet will be safe for consuming in warm climates.

A compressor type cooler will reach freezing temperatures (between 0°F to 50°F(-18℃~10℃)) regardless from its' surroundings. of course the ambient temperature will effect wattage consumption as the warmer the ambient, the more the compressor will run, however, the unit will still produce freezing temperatures

a thermoelectric cooler can be purchased for approx $150 but you get what you pay for. When ZerosFJ above said "bad investment", i entirely agree.

however, I personally believe a compressor type refrigerator is a great investment. I have not purchased a single bag of ice, nor dealt with water at the bottom of the fridge with food floating, etc and have kept my foods at the appropriate temperatures without fail. when i consider how much camping i have done over the years, i could sum the bags of ice and discarded foods, and probably paid for a refrigerator a long time ago.

 

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How long do you go camping per trip? I understand the "cool factor" pun intended, with a refrigerator and solar panels, but, My $220 Igloo rotomolded 55qt cooler keeps temperatures cold for 5 days as long as outside temps are under 95 degrees. Usually if I'm out for more than 5 days, at some point I am near a store to replace one bag of ice for a few bucks. Yep, not IG worthy, but so much cheaper and easier with out all the BS.
 

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it doesn't matter if its one day or one month. i chose to thrive and not survive. my time is too valuable to be planning my trips around ice. it doesn't mean my results are better. you can absolutely be successful with a "cheaper" igloo cooler and achieve similar results. Simply put, I do because I can.
 

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Really happy with my Dometic fridge/freezer. Cools down really fast and seems to have a low current draw. Havent used the solar panel yet but will do a test in a week or so in prep for a week long desert trip.
 

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+1 for compressor fridge. I have an Alpicool C20 which is on the smaller side, but will suit one person on a 3-4 day trip fairly well, provided you don't need to keep ALL your beer cold all of the time. It sips power--I see about 0.5v drop overnight. Quality seems ok, design is hideously ugly. The display is starting to show some dimming in some areas, and a friend with the same fridge had their display die, which renders the fridge useless. It's an easy replacement, but will leave you in a bind if it fails in the field. Fridges tend to have much less insulation than a cooler of comparable volume, so you'd be swapping out ice pretty frequently if the power fails. As for size, I'd suggest getting the smallest thing that will accommodate your largest typical trip length and party size. An empty fridge takes up the same space as a full one, and the less full it is the more frequently it has to run to stay cool due to the lower thermal mass inside. I think 30L is the sweet spot for two people for a <5 day trip. Even at that size, you will have a partially full fridge much of the time.
 
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