Ford Transit USA Forum banner

41 - 60 of 76 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
127 Posts
It seems most fridges that would hold more than a few days of food draw at least 1.5 amps or more which can really add up. Having a dead battery would mean alot of wasted food and $.

A bit fiddly but for static camping you can get a cheap 100 watt portable lightweight solar panel to charge your battery but without a pretty good battery bank your always going to be marginal at best.

The Goalyeti 1200 at $999. says it will only power a frig for 20 hours. That would buy you the 12v frig, proper solar panel 200 watts or so and some left over to put towards batteries for a more workable solution.
If your really worried about dry ice fumes you could always leave the cooler outside at night. Or just crack a car window like when running a propane heater inside.
 

·
Registered
2018 350 XLT Passenger 3.5 CCV Poptop
Joined
·
21 Posts
One additional idea to make your cooler ice last. A river guide cooler trick is to use foam insulation inside your cooler. Yes, even in a Yeti. Try not to open your cooler anymore than absolutely necessary, and when you do open your cooler pre-plan on what you are going to get and move quickly. I use an additional smaller cooler just for things I want frequently like beverages. My ice last several days as in 5 to 7. Do pre-cool your cooler the day before you put in your travel ice. I use dry bags to keep my ice separate because I already have them.

When I first decided I wanted a Transit I looked for people that had made the plunge with some miles under their belt in a unit similar to what I wanted (and finally got). I wanted a Westfalia replacement. Pop-top low tech camper. The folks I more or less copied had an ARB fridge they ran off their stock two batteries under the drivers seat. They bought the ARB hookup kit. They said that the ARB would run for three days before they needed to hit the road to recharge. I rarely sit for more than 3 days so that suits me. To be honest I haven't spent the $1000 for the ARB yet. I already had a YETI 65 and 45 that work really well, but I plan to go for the ARB and some point.

And, if you are curious about the pop-top; I went with Colorado Camper and I love it. I've not found any installation errors. They could be better with after purchase follow through on email, but on the important stuff like decent fit and finish, I'm happy.
 

·
Registered
2020 High-Extended AWD EcoBoost Cargo with windows
Joined
·
682 Posts
Jumping in with the 12V fridge support. We have had the dual-zone Dometic for a few years now. It's so great not to need to think about it. With the solar on the roof, we usually just leave it on even when the van is parked at the house. We run the small side as freezer, large as fridge and load it up without thought or concern. It has also helped as over-flow storage - double-freezers when the grocery stores were a mess early-Covid - and served as our only fridge when the mountain condo fridge died recently. So... no regrets having it here; so much less headache than a cooler used to be. (But spendy, of course.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Your plan to try a cooler for a while and figure out your electrical needs is a good one. I camped for years with coolers and then I used a Yeti for a couple of years. Finally got sick of the whole hassle worrying about the ice, keeping things dry, worrying about the food temp, etc. It really comes down to how much work you’re wanting to put into it. A cooler is great if you don’t mind it being a PITA to deal with the ice. I moved to a Dometic 65 CFX and never looked back. Man, it’s convenient as heck. Sips amps. I’m using their PLB40 lithium battery pack for now, just until my electrical is finished. It goes for days, recharges via the cigarette lighter jack for now. Later, solar. It’s fantastic. Btw, quiet as can be, no worries there. Good luck with your build.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
129 Posts
Discussion Starter · #46 ·
Thanks for your advice @FordVanner . I may end up getting a refrigerator....but for now I am very impressed by the 40 quart ORCA cooler I got. I just took a 7 day trip with it. This trip involved quite hot temperatures -- a drive through California's Central valley on HWY 5 in record heat (temps between 100 and 113 degrees F), and time spent in Southern CA and Central CA along the coast where temps were 84 to 95 inland and 75 to 85 along the coast. At least half the trip involved daytime temps over 90 degrees.
Before heading out, I did as someone on this forum suggested and froze water in some half-gallon plastic bottles, to make ice blocks, which are unfortunately harder to find for sale in the gas stations and markets. I put two of these homemade ice blocks in the ORCA cooler and one in an inexpensive 20 gallon Rubbermaid cooler I also brought along. Then, I added cube ice to top off each cooler atop the food and drinks in them.
On my trip, I had to buy one 7 to 10 bag of ice each day to keep the coolers replenished. This involved a cost of $2-5 per day.
The block ice I'd put in the Rubbermaid, was mostly all melted by the 2nd day, with just a small amount remaining, and was gone by the 3rd day.
However, for the ORCA cooler,I discovered upon my return from the trip, that I still had 65 to 75% ice remaining of the two blocks of ice I'd put in it before leaving! I was mightily impressed with this cooler!

Another experiment to try with the Orca cooler might be to create either 3 medium sized or 1 large sized custom-made ice blocks, of sizes to fit well in the lower half of the cooler, and add no additional ice during a trip, and see how well these function to provide cooling for an entire outing of 3 to 7 days. It's possible that without additional ice added daily, the blocks would not last as long, but I'm curious to see how long they would last, b/c that would give me info on how long I could go without having to add additional ice, which may not be available eg if I am spending a few days in a remote area.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,298 Posts
I'm considering a fridge in the $300 range. It will only be used 5-10 days at a time a few times a year.
Some of them have metal sides, some ABS. Most have the controls on top, I don't like the Costway or others with controls on the handle because I'll likely take the handles off.

Are there any features I should look for? Like which way the lid is hinged? Type of control panel? I'm kind of thinking the plastic sided ones would stay looking better longer, and maybe have a bit more insulation; but I could be wrong.

So far, this is the one I like best at this price-point:
 
  • Like
Reactions: surfgeezer

·
Registered
Joined
·
129 Posts
Discussion Starter · #48 ·
That fridge looks good, particularly in terms of the low price. It has a few reviews that say people got defective ones, but also has many great reviews. The one thing I would be most concerned about with a refrigerator would be the noise. I would have a problem w/ noise while I sleep, particularly as the ideal is to be experiencing MORE quiet, not less, as I go camping. This might be one of the bigger obstacles for me with any refrigerator. But if I wanted to try one, I think going with a less expensive model like this would be good. Also concerned with the weight...can it be readily moved in and out of the van?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,298 Posts
I wouldn't have it running while sleeping. I'd just let it sit like a cooler all night. I doubt it would gain more than 10-15 degrees overnight, unless it's just a cardboard box with no insulation.

Not worried about weight, either. I move the 3-person seat in and out of the van about as much as I'd move this cooler in and out.
 

·
Registered
2020 AWD mid roof shorty normally aspirated.
Joined
·
10 Posts
This may sound a little crazy but I’m considering a small counter top ice maker in conjunction with a decent cooler. My 2KW Yamaha genset should run it and maybe I can send Mum scouting for fire wood while I tend to the ice making duties. Three cubes for my glass and the rest for the cooler. Well at least a guy can dream. Hope springs eternal.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
Thanks for your advice @FordVanner . I may end up getting a refrigerator....but for now I am very impressed by the 40 quart ORCA cooler I got. I just took a 7 day trip with it. This trip involved quite hot temperatures -- a drive through California's Central valley on HWY 5 in record heat (temps between 100 and 113 degrees F), and time spent in Southern CA and Central CA along the coast where temps were 84 to 95 inland and 75 to 85 along the coast. At least half the trip involved daytime temps over 90 degrees.
Before heading out, I did as someone on this forum suggested and froze water in some half-gallon plastic bottles, to make ice blocks, which are unfortunately harder to find for sale in the gas stations and markets. I put two of these homemade ice blocks in the ORCA cooler and one in an inexpensive 20 gallon Rubbermaid cooler I also brought along. Then, I added cube ice to top off each cooler atop the food and drinks in them.
On my trip, I had to buy one 7 to 10 bag of ice each day to keep the coolers replenished. This involved a cost of $2-5 per day.
The block ice I'd put in the Rubbermaid, was mostly all melted by the 2nd day, with just a small amount remaining, and was gone by the 3rd day.
However, for the ORCA cooler,I discovered upon my return from the trip, that I still had 65 to 75% ice remaining of the two blocks of ice I'd put in it before leaving! I was mightily impressed with this cooler!

Another experiment to try with the Orca cooler might be to create either 3 medium sized or 1 large sized custom-made ice blocks, of sizes to fit well in the lower half of the cooler, and add no additional ice during a trip, and see how well these function to provide cooling for an entire outing of 3 to 7 days. It's possible that without additional ice added daily, the blocks would not last as long, but I'm curious to see how long they would last, b/c that would give me info on how long I could go without having to add additional ice, which may not be available eg if I am spending a few days in a remote area.
We have been relying on our RTIC cooler for the last 18 months of trips and cant see ever needing anything else. We do go one step further though. We pre-freeze our meals for the trip in sealed containers along our bottled water before setting out. We completely fill our RTIC cooler with the frozen food and water and don't use any ice at all. Things like milk, spread, wine etc., that only need to be cool but not frozen are pre chilled and go inside a soft thermal bag, before going into the cooler - so they don't end up frozen. We find that everything inside cooler stays cold for at least 5 days when we are camping in the CA and NV desert.

This may sound more complicated that it is. Being empty nesters and avid cooks, our SOP is to cook every meal to be big enough for two meals and then freeze 1/2 of it. So we always have at least a weeks worth of frozen home cooked favorites ready to go.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
37 Posts
I have a Costco cooler that is rated for 5 days and easily keeps the ice for that long if used properly. There are 7 day rated coolers which should be even better for longer trips.
No need for an expensive solar setup for occasional use. I will eventually do a solar install but not with Li batteries, those are outrageously priced, I do have them in my motorcycle
for weight savings but no such need in a T350 HR van!.

AGM deep cycle battery at Home Depot, 12v, 200Ah, $350, 128 lbs: Renogy Deep Cycle 200AmpHr AGM
12v, 200Ah Li batteries are in the range of $2500. That's absurd unless you want to flush you money down the drain.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
I have a Costco cooler that is rated for 5 days and easily keeps the ice for that long if used properly. There are 7 day rated coolers which should be even better for longer trips.
No need for an expensive solar setup for occasional use. I will eventually do a solar install but not with Li batteries, those are outrageously priced, I do have them in my motorcycle
for weight savings but no such need in a T350 HR van!.

AGM deep cycle battery at Home Depot, 12v, 200Ah, $350, 128 lbs: Renogy Deep Cycle 200AmpHr AGM
12v, 200Ah Li batteries are in the range of $2500. That's absurd unless you want to flush you money down the drain.
Agreed - and they get shredded and sent to landfill at EOL unlike the AGMs which are 100% recycled.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
129 Posts
Discussion Starter · #55 ·
We have been relying on our RTIC cooler for the last 18 months of trips and cant see ever needing anything else. We do go one step further though. We pre-freeze our meals for the trip in sealed containers along our bottled water before setting out. We completely fill our RTIC cooler with the frozen food and water and don't use any ice at all. Things like milk, spread, wine etc., that only need to be cool but not frozen are pre chilled and go inside a soft thermal bag, before going into the cooler - so they don't end up frozen. We find that everything inside cooler stays cold for at least 5 days when we are camping in the CA and NV desert.

This may sound more complicated that it is. Being empty nesters and avid cooks, our SOP is to cook every meal to be big enough for two meals and then freeze 1/2 of it. So we always have at least a weeks worth of frozen home cooked favorites ready to go.
I like this approach. I could see how it would be simple to do if you cook meals in advance and freeze them. I may try this for my next trip! At least in part....because I really like sandwiches, so that's not something I can easily freeze....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,298 Posts
My refrigeration needs are not so complicated, since my road food is basically fruit/cheese/bread/bag'o'chips. I only need to keep beer ice cold, and cheese chilled. My "cooking" is mainly heating water for coffee, but there will be 1-2 days when campfire food is made; hotdogs, burgers, so the meat will also stay in the cooler for a day or so. My life accomplice eats salad 80% of the time, so a large portion of the cooler is salad mix, and kimchi. Since greens don't last all that long, it's replenished every couple days anyway, no need to pack away a week's worth.

My main source of concern is that the beer be as cold as possible. I tried dry ice a long time ago, but found that it froze anything close to it. Now I'm wondering about dry ice on the bottom with a layer of real ice on top as a buffer. The dry ice would keep the real ice frozen longer.

Which reminds me, not all ice is equal. The colder the ice, the longer it will last. Many stores have their ice coolers turned down just enough to keep it frozen and no colder, to save on electricity. Often the ice is 25-30 degrees (f), and you can tell because it's a little "melty" already in the ice cooler. If you have one of those non-contact thermometers, use it to get the coldest ice you can find. Some places will have their ice freezers set to 0 degrees (f).
 
  • Like
Reactions: surfgeezer

·
Registered
Joined
·
129 Posts
Discussion Starter · #57 ·
Update: I bought an electric cooler. a Dometic CFX3 55IM Dometic CFX3 55IM - Powered Cooler, 53 l

For the first 8 months of owning my van, I used an ORCA cooler. I did 4 trips during this time, varying from 4 days to 10 days. Once I got some tips on how to use the cooler, it worked pretty well, using pre-made block ice (in plastic half-gallon milk bottles) and sealed containers to keep food from getting soggy, adding cube ice every couple days. During this time, I was not needing a lot of refrigerated goods, so if I had continued with the same habits and types of trips, the cooler would have been fine.

However last month I ended up changing my diet so that I wanted to eat a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables. The ORCA cooler would no longer suffice to bring along and preserve all that I now needed w/ my diet change.
What I realized about the cooler, was that for an object of its size, the amount of space available for food is a lot less than in an electric cooler or fridge, given the thickness of the insulated walls, plus the space needed for ice. Also, there was the need to buy ice on a regular basis, at least every couple days.

I bought this particular Dometic electric cooler because it was about the same outer dimensions as the ORCA 40 qt cooler I'd been using, so it would fit in the same space in my van. It had about the right amount of space for the amount of food I wanted to bring along. It has an icemaker, but I don't really need that: and that functions separately.

I just went on an 11 day trip through deserts and mountains of the West, from northern Nevada, to southern Idaho (Craters of the Moon park) through Sun Valley Idaho and by the Sawtooth mountains, out to eastern Oregon and then NE California. The Dometic cooler was absolutely delightful. The fruits and veggies I put in on day one, that had not yet been consumed, were still in perfect condition on day 11 of the trip. No need to think about ice, however, due to a misunderstanding about the specs, I thought it would use less power than it did, so I had to try to conserve battery life. I started out the trip with a YETI 1500x and a YETI 400, and a Nomad 50 solar panel. When I saw that the first day out, in less than 12 hrs the Dometic had used 15% of the YETI 1500x battery charge, with temperature set at 39 degrees F, I raised the temperature to 41 degrees. I also unplugged the fridge for about 12 hrs each night, which was very doable since most nights the temperature was below 44 degrees, sometimes down to 32 degrees. The Nomad 50 was a bit small of a panel to charge the battery, --- on future trips I'd take a larger panel along. It did work well if I sat in a sunny campsite for more than a couple hours each day.
By the end of the trip, the YETI 1500x was down to 2% charge and the YETI 400, which had only been used for one day, was down to 57%, so I just squeaked through 11 days with this arrangement.

The last couple days were significantly warmer...generally temps were around 55 to 65 during the day, but when I hit NE California, temps went up beyond 90 degrees (Susanville was 95 degrees...in APRIL!! Gawd!!) and I noticed more battery charge was used for the fridge the last couple days as a result of this.

One thing I REALLY like about this Dometic electric cooler, is that it runs very quietly. I had mostly left it unplugged at night, but on the last night, due to the high temps, I left it plugged in for half the night, and the low hum it makes when running is not a problem at all given that the Dometic was sitting right next to my bed. Very pleased with this cooler!!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
91 Posts
We have a Yeti cooler. We freeze a few plastic bottles with water before the trip and put them in the cooler. After a week of camping, we start buying ice every other or third day, since the ice in the bottles has melted by then (water in the bottles is still cold.) In the future, we plan to buy an electric freezer/cooler, freeze plastic bottles during the day and transfer them to the cooler compartment for the night. This will allow us to turn off the freezer/cooler for the night.
Jacek,
You may find that starting the fridge or freezer and bringing it down to temperature is the hardest work for the fridge and may use more power by cycling than maintaining temperature throughout the night. Some newer 12V fridges come with a night mode that slows down compressor cycling as the fridge is not anticipating to be be opened during the night.
 

·
Registered
2020 AWD Transit 250 MR
Joined
·
325 Posts
I love having a 12v refrigerator, I haven't had to pack a cooler all ski season! I hate packing a cooler and having to keep adding ice and dumping water out all the time!
I've only used my Isotherm 130 in the winter so I'm not sure how much power it'll use during the summer? During the winter my batteries are always at 100% except when I'm cooking.
I'm going to keep it running all the time and keep beer in it during the summer. I was actually thinking of making some ice cubes today and see how long it takes them to freeze.
20200708_183636.jpg

20201031_120526.jpg


20210112_153313.jpg

Unfortunately, I've got a few scratches and a ding on the door!
 

·
Registered
2017 T-250-MR-148-3.5-ARB AIR-LOCKER REAR
Joined
·
118 Posts
Got Both: Refer/Freezer and Ice Box

Yeti 125 @ $450 and refrigeration system @ $800 + incidentals $ and creative time....
152314


Dual thermostat controls both temps of this dynamic spill-over design; beer icy cold and ice cream solid😁
~ 3.0-3.5A @ 12vdc.

Definitely not a plug and play design, but it can make the ice cream rock hard at -15 F.

Regarding shutdown at night, compressor/fan noise did not disturb my sleep. I have considered cycling blue-ice blocks between the freezer to refer during night time shutdown, but have not done this experiment yet.
 
41 - 60 of 76 Posts
Top