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Another trick that can be used to keep food out of the melting icewater:
A wire rack, usually made for adding a shelf inside your kitchen cabinet.
I did this before switching to the separate bin in the cooler just for ice.
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I've been looking at the 40-50qt 12v fridge/freezers lately. We're planning extended roadtrips, a month or two at a time, starting next Summer or Fall. For THAT I'll get a 12v and ditch the cooler. I already have a bunch of MK gel batteries from a friend who gets them replaced under insurance for his wheelchair every year. 240ah/120 usable seems like plenty for my needs, and I can charge them while driving instead of going the whole solar route (I wouldn't be parked and not driving for more than a couple days at a time, and I don't use elec. for heating/cooling or cooking).
 

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After years of using coolers, we bought a Dometic fridge/freezer when we got the Transit. Will never go back! We can leave it running for days and solar keeps the batteries charged. Did a month long trip to the SW US last winter and never needed to plug in or buy ice.
 

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Like others, I bought a Dometic 12v fridge and it’s a game changer. It. Just. Works. Remember that without the ice taking up space, a smaller fridge (ie cheaper) can s handle the same amount of food as a larger cooler. And, depending on your power source, you can chill down non-perishable items like beer or soda’s as you free up space. Not really realistic with ice. So you may find that you can get by with an even smaller/cheaper Fridge than you think.
 

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The YETI Tundra 45 has somewhat pricey but optional divider and basket. There is a utube video on how to make the YETI divider out of a Walmart plastic table cutting board! Save $20!
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I've recently purchased this cooler fridge and slide - Reviews seem pretty good on amazon (if that's even worth anything these days...)

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When it arrives I will report on initial quality and show the install location etc. In theory it should have a better quality compressor than some of the cheaper alternatives out there.
 

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I highly recommend a good fridge with a freezer if your budget and electrical system can handle it. I haven't had to buy a bag of ice in over a year now. We use the van so much its rare I ever turn the fridge off. I keep a bunch of blue ice packs and frozen water bottles in the freezer so it runs more efficiently if empty, and I can throw them in my small Yeti 40 if we hit the beach or go kayaking.

I went with the Vitrifrigo C115IBD4-F-1 4.2cf 12v/120v. Its a workhorse, hardly been off since I installed it. Easily keeps temp even when the van is over 100* inside. A large freezer was the main reason I selected this model. The compressor is at the bottom instead of taking up valuable freezer space.

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
I appreciate the suggestions on the different types of fridges to use.
I think I'm going for cooler in the short term and aiming for a fridge in the longer term.
I will use a cooler for the time being, perhaps the next year, and consider getting a fridge later on. I need some time to study electrical options, such as the battery to battery charger mentioned here, the solar panel options. Putting solar panels on the roof would be useful, but before I do that I need to know more about how I'll use the van and the types of things I'll bring and whether or not I need a roof rack for storage, which if I do would effect roof mounted solar panels. Given all that has to be looked into and figured out, this will take some time and a few trips. In the meantime, I need something for my perishables.
I ended up finding a local seller of Orca coolers, which were rated more highly than Yeti coolers in their capacity for ice retention. So, the goal for the short term is to use a 40 qt Orca cooler with separate bins for ice, and perhaps the metal trays for food, and/or waterproof containers for all food items.

I still have a lot of other van conversion work to do, (most of the conversion remains to be done) so I think I'll focus on that first and then when that's done begin research on the refrigerator and powering of the fridge.
 

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We use a large Artic cooler (identical to Yeti and from the same Chinese factory but 1/2 the price). We cook and freeze all our food before a trip - which for us is easy as empty nesters we always cook 2-3 times as much food as we need and freeze the rest.
When we set out, we load the Artic up with containers of frozen meals and bottles of frozen drinking water from our freezer. Non-frozen perishables like spread, milk, eggs and fruit go on top.
This lasts us for 4-5 days without us needing to add ice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
We use a large Artic cooler (identical to Yeti and from the same Chinese factory but 1/2 the price). We cook and freeze all our food before a trip - which for us is easy as empty nesters we always cook 2-3 times as much food as we need and freeze the rest.
When we set out, we load the Artic up with containers of frozen meals and bottles of frozen drinking water from our freezer. Non-frozen perishables like spread, milk, eggs and fruit go on top.
This lasts us for 4-5 days without us needing to add ice.
That sounds ideal. I debated about the size of the cooler that would work best for me, and decided on a 40 qt which is a middling size, a bit small if I want to bring a lot of food, but I'm only one person and I don't need a lot of perishables. Mostly I want cream for coffee, eggs, cheese, yogurt, some fruit and veggies, a few cold drinks, perhaps some meat. I'm content with using a lot of canned or boxed or non perishable food like cans of sardines, tuna or beans, canned veggies, rice and bread.
 

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I appreciate the suggestions on the different types of fridges to use.
I think I'm going for cooler in the short term and aiming for a fridge in the longer term.
I will use a cooler for the time being, perhaps the next year, and consider getting a fridge later on. I need some time to study electrical options, such as the battery to battery charger mentioned here, the solar panel options. Putting solar panels on the roof would be useful, but before I do that I need to know more about how I'll use the van and the types of things I'll bring and whether or not I need a roof rack for storage, which if I do would effect roof mounted solar panels. Given all that has to be looked into and figured out, this will take some time and a few trips. In the meantime, I need something for my perishables.
I ended up finding a local seller of Orca coolers, which were rated more highly than Yeti coolers in their capacity for ice retention. So, the goal for the short term is to use a 40 qt Orca cooler with separate bins for ice, and perhaps the metal trays for food, and/or waterproof containers for all food items.

I still have a lot of other van conversion work to do, (most of the conversion remains to be done) so I think I'll focus on that first and then when that's done begin research on the refrigerator and powering of the fridge.
I think you have the right idea; see what you need before you spend big bucks on something you might not really use.

We came to our Dometic from 15 years with an old three way Dometic in our Fourwheel camper. The propane was a pain in the a** and, since it's a convection system instead of a compressor, being level was essential and it wouldn't keep cold when we were underway. We're frequently away from civilization for days at a time and we gave up on ice years ago, even though the blocks were great (and cheap!) in Baja.
 
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If using a cooler simply freeze water containers (1 gal, 2 gal) and put them in with your food. Then you have cool food AND drinking water without having icy cooler soup.
This is the route we took. We have a Yeti Tundra 65, and used a frozen WaterBrick (3.5 gallons) for a 5-day trip to Tennessee. We used the WaterBrick because we already owned it (actually, 10 of them). Ice melting wasn't an issue. The only issue we had was that a full WaterBrick was a. little too big, and limited our food storage. We bought a 1/2 WaterBrick after returning home, and have that in the freezer, ready for our next trip.

We have no regrets going with the Yeti cooler (I'm sure some of the roto-molded knock-offs are great, too) vs. a fridge. I wouldn't want to take the hit on the amp hours.

Craig
 

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After years of using coolers, we bought a Dometic fridge/freezer when we got the Transit. Will never go back! We can leave it running for days and solar keeps the batteries charged. Did a month long trip to the SW US last winter and never needed to plug in or buy ice.
How much solar do you have?
 

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We have an ARB and also use a combo of Yeti's and RTIC's depending on the trip. ARB is for food and the coolers are for the liquids. Has worked super well for years of multi week offgrid trips and also day trips.
 

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Going to wade in. I go for few months at a time in a Subaru Crosstrek with my dogs. My dogs eat fresh food & take meds. Bought 12 volt truck fridge & GZero 400. Found out 12 volt turns off with car. Plugged into GZero it lasted less than one night. So..got Dometic & haven’t looked back! Bought another GZero (1400) & a GZero suitcase solar panel. I hook up to solar panel about once a week. The compressor fridge is incredibly efficient. I sleep in suv & doesn’t bother me. All in, probably spent $3000 to keep my dogs good safe!!! I’m a vegetarian. I boondock for weeks at a time without worry. All my travels are West Coast, Utah& Montana.
Good Luck out There


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How much solar do you have?
We have 2 180 watt panels, so 360 total. I have never dropped below 60% battery though, so could probably get by with a bit less.
 

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I roll with a big Igloo IMX i have 2 wire baskets the fit in it for food, will hold 30 pounds of ice with the food baskets in. i like ice in my drinks, and it will last for a few days without reloading ice. I figure for the amount i use it, it would take a really long time to offset the cost of ice versus an $800 Dometic.
 

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If I only did 3 trips a year for a week at a time I probably would not have a 12v frig solar panel and big bank of batteries to run it all that's alot of time and expense.
The Walmart Yeti clone listed above will hold food for 5/6 days if you use best practices and I did 2 months last year with it. If you do normal ice though even block ice you need to fill it 80 percent with ice to last that long so you need a bigger cooler with any amount of food to maintain the ratio.
For 3x a year I would do the cooler and dry ice for trips over a few days it works great and gives alot more room for food and no chance to end up with wet soggy food.
Of course as mentioned for more serious or frequent tripping the 12 frig is the way to go just more upfront costs and learning curve for keeping it powered up.
 

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I once briefly worked plant maintenance at a dry ice plant. There was a 24 inch CO2 pipeline supplying the plant, About 1/3 of the CO2 in that pipeline was vented to atmosphere in the dry ice making process. The whole building was full of CO2 and I am sure I breathed massive amounts of it with no ill effect. We did have big fans bringing in fresh air from the outside though.

In a sealed container such as a cooler Dry Ice outgases very slowly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Going to wade in. I go for few months at a time in a Subaru Crosstrek with my dogs. My dogs eat fresh food & take meds. Bought 12 volt truck fridge & GZero 400. Found out 12 volt turns off with car. Plugged into GZero it lasted less than one night. So..got Dometic & haven’t looked back! Bought another GZero (1400) & a GZero suitcase solar panel. I hook up to solar panel about once a week. The compressor fridge is incredibly efficient. I sleep in suv & doesn’t bother me. All in, probably spent $3000 to keep my dogs good safe!!! I’m a vegetarian. I boondock for weeks at a time without worry. All my travels are West Coast, Utah& Montana.
Thanks, that sounds great. I noticed some fridges use more power than others....about 0.5 amps/hour seems to be the lowest. At that rate a Goal Zero 400 would last 2.5 days, as it has 33 Amp-hours (66 hrs is about 2.5 days, figuring it can't be drained totally empty) a Goal Zero 1400 would last more than a week without recharging, as it has 132 Amp-hours so it would last 264 hours (a bit less since it can't be used til totally drained) or over 10 days with a fridge using 0.5 Amps per hr. But the 1400 is considerably more expensive ($1900 vs $450 for the Goal Zero 400 lithium, so about 4 times as expensive), and is larger. So, if you really want a fridge it definitely makes sense to get set up that way as you're doing it.
I will look more into fridges and different power setups over time...

By the way, something I'm wondering since I have a spare car battery....if one takes a regular car battery (the one I have is this one: Vehicle Battery - Ford (BXT-48H6-610) | TascaParts.com which was also discussed on this thread on this forum Full specs for OEM 70Ah AGM batteries? )
and uses it to power various items with a power inverter, ( I just got a power inverter that contains clamps so it can run off a standard car battery) any idea how many Amp-hours a standard car battery would have??
I just did an online search on that question and I get an answer of about 45 Amp-hours. Though that thread on this forum has a figure of 70Ah.
This means that by using my Goal Zero 400 and a standard car battery, I then end up with 33 + 45 = 78 Amp hours or about 156 hours to power a fridge taking 0.5A/hr = about 6 days. I also have a "Super Start Power Pack" like this one https://www.oreillyauto.com/detail/...526183/super-start-jump-starter/55001/4742356 to do a jump start on my vehicle if needed...I have no idea how many Amp-hours that battery has.
 
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