Expert Advice on Cool Boxes
Available in many different designs and cooling methods, cool boxes a re a great way to keep foodstuffs cool when camping or out and about.
There are a few basic types, all of which have advantages as well as disadvantages. Coolboxes will take considerably longer than a domestic refrigerator or freezer to cool down the contents as they do not have the power of the Domestic equivalent.
The first type is the basic absorption cool box which is the cheapest type available and the simplest type. One thing to remember is that coolboxes will not perform well when in a hot car or small space, as the cooling components will overheat. They also all require an air gap around the cooling fan and vent area.
The lower price range cool boxes are thermoelectric coolers which use fluid that is heated electrically and then released into an enclosed chamber where it rapidly expands, this provides a cooling effect and requires no compressor to operate so they can be quieter.
A cooling fan is used on most models though which makes varying amounts of noise, because of this it is worth considering if this is suitable, especially if using in a small space at night when the noise can keep disturb sleep.
Absorption coolers rarely have a thermostat, so whilst they are not designed to freeze, they can if left on in particularly cold weather (such as a cold summer night) items can freeze inside unintentionally. This can cause damage to sensitive items such as eggs. These types of coolers can in most cases heat as well to keep food warm, such as a picnic with hot food or a trip to the take away.
Whereas compressor coolers use an electric compressor to compress refrigerant, this is by nature noisier than the equivalent absorption cooler.
Most coolboxes can run from either 12v (cigarette lighter socket from a vehicle) and 240v mains.
Some cool boxes have thermostats or eco and max power modes, but these max and eco modes on some coolboxes only function when running on 240v.
There is a simpler version of coolbox and this is the simple insulated cooler. They require no power so are extremely portable and are ideal for days out and parties/BBQ’s.
Working with bags of ice for cooling effect instead of electrics or gas operation. Coleman are the leaders in this field with the excellent Xtreme range of coolers. They are good value, robust and whilst they are no good for more than a couple of days without refilling the ice, they are comparatively cheaper than the alternative powered coolbox.
The Outwell ECOcool cool box is a great starting point for a quality powered cool box, and they come in a variety of sizes and colours.
Whilst these cool boxes have a low purchase price, they perform very well and can cool up to 18°C lower than the ambient temperature whilst heating up to 50 degrees.
This is a basic absorption cool box and offers superb cooling for the price.
If you want a cooler that can run from gas as well as electric and gas, the Dometic ACX40 is a good choice. These make very little noise when running as they operate without a cooling fan as they are absorption type coolers, they also can run from 12v and 240v as well.
These are better for use in awnings and larger tents and offer the portability of using gas to power it instead of electricity.
This type of fridge would require Butane Gas to be fed into the back of the fridge with a length of gas hose, this is useful if the fridge is being used in a caravan awning where the caravan has a gas outlet on the side.
The downside to fridges that require an external gas bottle or feed, is the lack of portability which can be an issue when camping.
A better and more portable alternative to the ACX40 is the ACX40G.
This runs off small gas canisters that stoves usually use, these small cylinders will run the fridge for around 24 hours under average conditions. This fits into a small chamber at the back and allows the fridge to be run wirelessly.
But what about a cool box that can run on 12v and have a functional thermostat?
Dometic have the answer with the Dometic Tropicool TCX21, this coolbox can cool to 30 °C below the ambient temperature.
It can be set to different levels of heating and cooling, perfect for keeping more sensitive items such as eggs cool, without damaging them by over cooling.
But if you want a higher performance cooler than those that have been discussed above, then a compressor cooler would be a better choice.
Compressor coolers operate in a similar way to a household fridge, so they are more efficient than an absorption cooler. Their operation is also not as noticeably affected as an absorption cooler, although they still need cooling room around the fan inlet otherwise they will still overheat (such as in a hot car boot covered in luggage and coats etc).
This Dometic CoolFreeze CFX 40w is a great all-round compressor coolbox and it also has the benefit of being able to freeze down to 22°C in the right conditions.
But cool boxes such as this can be used as a fridge too, so they are very versatile.
But what if you want a coolbox that has a fridge and freezer function? That’s not a problem as the CoolFreeze CF-65-DZ has both freezer and fridge sections allowing water, eggs etc to be kept in one section and the other can have frozen items.
So, there is a coolbox for everybody’s needs, from the budget conscious camper to the experienced glamper.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the sales team