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Old 01-12-2009, 18:33   #1
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12vdc Coolers

Any thoughts on 12 volt coolers for an alternative to refrigeration and the power draw they consume? These coolers, like the Engels advertise 40 degrees in 90 degrees outside temperature and draw a mere 2.5 amps. They're pricy so any advise would be helpful before I pull out my credit card.
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Old 01-12-2009, 19:12   #2
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We have a Dometic CF-50 works as advertised, will freeze down to about zero, cool to whatever you want, and only has about a 40-50% duty cycle, when cooling and draws on average about 3-3.5 amp.
Of course, we are always in warm climes.
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Old 01-12-2009, 19:21   #3
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Are you talking the peltier effect thermo electric coolers, or the icechests that have a standard compressor/condenser/evap plate setup?
These are no different than a built in refrigeration system other than box size and insulation......ie fewer amps drawn.
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Old 01-12-2009, 21:49   #4
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i use the waeco / dometic cf 50 cooler works fantastic freezes fast low power draw excellent quality. tried the thermo electric found it to be a piece of crap powerhog and didnt cool that well.
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Old 01-12-2009, 22:46   #5
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I've used one of those 12 volt thermo electric coolers in my pickup. They work pretty good if the ambient temperature isn't over 85 Ferenheight. In the pickup in the middle of summer the temperature can reach 120 or more. Then the drinks don't get get warm. If you have a cool place to store it then it should work fine.

I have forgotten a few times and left it on all night and my pickup still started in the morning, so they can't use very many amps.

Scott
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Old 01-12-2009, 22:59   #6
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We have a Engel MT45 DC/AC cooler which goes down to 0 F at 2.5 amps/hr.
It worked great on our last 3 week trip up into Canada. Never once did I have to worry about power loss w/ (2) gp. 27 Batteries. We had frozen meats and ice cream left over after the trip.

And at the dock we just switch cords and run off of shore power.

These low amp units take a long time to chill non frozen items or to make ice but if you load the freezer with already frozen items it keeps them frozen, w/ no problem.

Also, if you fill them to the very top the top items seem to be less cold. I noticed that ice cream at the top was softer then when at the bottom. And for sail boats, that have less available power, it's better to get a top loading box. Cold air is heavy and rolls right out of a front door unit.

The only down falls are location of the power outlet and what space you want to sacrifice.
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Old 02-12-2009, 19:09   #7
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Originally Posted by delmarrey View Post
We have a Engel MT45 DC/AC cooler which goes down to 0 F at 2.5 amps/hr.
Do you use this in addition to some sort of built-in fridge/freezer?

Extemp.
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Old 02-12-2009, 19:21   #8
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We love our Engel -- we use it as a freezer only, and it gets cold fast and stays cold with minimal amperage. We went to the trouble to install it and in the end, it's much cheaper than building an icebox into existing cabinetry.

/jon
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Old 02-12-2009, 23:44   #9
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Do you use this in addition to some sort of built-in fridge/freezer?

Extemp.
I have an ice box as well built into the galley. I still buy ice to keep drinks, veggies and jar goods cool. But the freezer is mostly for meats, pre-made dinners, juice concentrates and ice cream.

For coastal cruising it's a good set up. But for off shore I would probably not use the ice box (except for storage) and keep dry stores in conjunction with the freezer. For cold drinks I can still use the freezer to make small amounts of ice.

When I ran the motor for an hour each day it was enough to keep the batteries up for the GPS, VHF and the freezer. When I go offshore I would be adding an AIS and radar (sometimes) to the list. The wind and speed instruments are solar powered. I'll be adding a wind generator soon to carry the extra load. And so on.........................._/)
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Old 03-12-2009, 05:04   #10
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We have a Waeco, we use it as a freezer and making ice for our icebox. We did have one small problem, the AC side of the unit stopped working. I contacted Waeco and they sent me a replacement same day, they were very helpful. The unit has worked very well for us. Did not have to purchase ice all summer and will keep ice cream frozen.
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Old 03-12-2009, 08:12   #11
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Hi all: how about the norcold ? Like most of us ,am limited by budget, amps,and space . for me this is an acending order;i.e. $ less important than the other two, but want to keep all as simple as possible (i've learned to like warm rum after the ice melts).LOL
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Old 03-12-2009, 09:03   #12
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Dometic seems to be taking over this part of the marine marketplace. And my 2-month old Dometic CF-50 draws 4.7 amps, so not comparatively very efficient when compared to an Isothern 12V holding plate system we have that cools four times the space for 6 amps and on a lower duty cycle. Definitely a nice-to-have item but hardly energy efficient by today's standards, in my experience.

Jack
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Old 03-12-2009, 09:43   #13
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i have found with my cf-50 that it only draws 4 -5 amps while the compressor is running. i monitored it for 2 hrs one day and it seemed to average 2.5 - 3 amps
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Old 03-12-2009, 15:40   #14
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How big a fridge are you thinking of? we have a Waeco CF18 in addition to the built in fridge. Superb bit of kit. For us 240v or 24v or 12v. Probably uses 2-3 amps an hour but haven't really measured it. Froze me sandwiches the first time I used it, now 6 years old, been sat on the beach regularly, left on board a rib over winter and generally abused and still runs. Not cheap but we only want to buy one of these things, like generators, we bought the honda.

The one thing I would say is to make sure you use over sized wire or the start up load can trip the fridge on high settings.

Pete
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Old 04-12-2009, 08:00   #15
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One of us with these 12v 'coolers' should also mention that the manufacturer may offer an insulating jacket. My Dometic CF-18 unit offered an optional jacket for $50 that I was very impressed with, and this is especially helpful if hoping to use the cooler as a freezer when the variance between ambient & cooler temps will be 50-70F, a HUGE spread. My guess is that folks who are pleased with these units when used as freezers are more than likely located in temperate climates and running the units at dock power/charger 'on' voltages of 13+V. I doubt an energy conscious, <100 AH/day cruising boat will find them viable as a freezer when used in climates typical for cruising.

Lots of apples & oranges comments here related to energy consumption of these units. Using my CF-18 unit as an example, here are apples lined up with one another:
-- Dometic sez: 2.9 amps is 'average power consumption', a gross generalization at best. As a fridge or freezer? Tropical or New England wx conditions? 2.9 amps X 24 hours each day?
-- My CF-18 as a fridge: 4.7 amps @ 13.2V DC ~ 15 mins each hour in FL fall weather and with the insulating jacket in place; consumption is therefore ~30 AH day. Not a terribly high number but equivalent to what my Isotherm 12V holding plate system uses for fridge & small freezer function & 4 times the capacity
-- My CF-18 as a freezer (with remote temp sensor showing avg temp of 15-18F): ~30 mins each hour under same (for a cruising boat, almost ideal) conditions as above; consumption is therefore ~60 AH/day. Interestingly, that's not much less than what our average daily consumption is when cruising (~70 AH/day).

BTW I find, at the above freezer temps in the 'teens F, that water in ice cube trays doesn't freeze hard - it only gets slushy. The temp sensor I'm using is accurate within a few degrees. Any thoughts about this?

Jack
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