Expert Advice on Cool,Freeze & Heating Box
Electric cool boxes
Thermoelectric coolboxes use the Peltier effect as a cooling method. A Peltier cooler (or thermoelectric heat pump) is mounted in the lid of the coolbox, along with a fan system to disperse the heat to outside the box. The heatsink device transfers heat from the inside to the outside, with consumption of electrical energy. Some models of thermoelectric coolbox take advantage of the process to also provide a heating option - by reversing the polarity to change direction of the current, the box can be used to keep things warm inside instead.
The simplest thermoelectric coolboxes are powered from 12v only, like the Waeco U24 or the EcoCool Outwell 24l coolbox. For a little extra outlay you can get a coolbox adapter to use a 12v coolbox on mains, or you can choose a 12/230v coolbox which will run off either 12v or normal mains power, and will typically provide better overall performance. Good examples are the Outwell 12/230v EcoCool and the Waeco U32, or larger models like Waeco's W48 or G35.
Outwell's EcoCool coolboxes also have a slot-in divider flask which can be filled with cold liquid and kept upright, or even frozen beforehand.
Thermoelectric powered coolboxes like these will not actively cool the contents, but they maintain the low temperature of chilled food for longer (as compared with a passive coolbox). Because of this, they aren't suitable for the storage of medicines.
Absorption and Compression coolboxes use similar processes to transfer heat out of the box using a circulating refrigerant which alternates between a liquid and a gas phase (much like a household fridge/freezer but on a smaller scale).
An Absorption coolbox has no moving parts other than the refrigerant itself, and changes the gas back into a liquid by applying heat generated from either gas or electric power. 3-way fridges like the Dometic RF60, RC1200, RC1205 and RC2200 can work on either gas or electric (from a 12v or 230v mains). They're a popular choice with campers, as they are versatile and provide a stable temperature without being as expensive as compressor coolboxes.
Compressor refrigerators (like those in the CF and CFX ranges of Waeco coolbox) use vapor-compression, whereby an electrically powered compressor increases the pressure on the gas, and then condenses the hot high pressure gas back to a liquid. Portable coolboxes which use a compressor are more expensive, but they do cool to a lower temperature and are essential if you need the option to freeze.
In comparison with a compressor coolbox, the performance of an absorption coolbox is dependent on the surrounding ambient temperature: so although they're fine for normal British weather they won't perform as well in very hot climates or in a heatwave.
Some dual function coolboxes (like the Dometic B40) can alternate between thermoelectric and compressor cooling, so they will use less power while in transit (on 12v) but can then be connected to mains power at the campsite for full effect.
Most portable coolboxes have a top-opening lid, for better efficiency - because cold air sinks, it's quite easy to raise the inside temperature when a door is opened and the air can 'spill out'. Some larger models are more like a domestic fridge, with a front-opening door for easier access to a greater volume inside. The Dometic RF60 is a good example, along with Dometic's RM range of fridges for installation in leisure vehicles and boats.
Check out our camping fridge range including our 3 way camping fridge and quality portable ones. A good camping fridge is essential for keeping your food fresh and safe to eat. The 3 way camping fridges work using either gas, 12V DC or electric, the choice is yours and whats available but having the flexibility is helpful. Our range of compressor fridges are loved for their low power consumption and are very popular with motorhome owners.