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Got Both: Refer/Freezer and Ice Box

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


Dual thermostat controls both temps of this dynamic spill-over design; beer icy cold and ice cream solid馃榿
~ 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.
馃槻 Dometic CFX-95DZ-3 - $1250 delivered. Same price, no work. Fridge great. Freezes ice-cubes, keeps ice-cream solid. Though I think it's 0F lowest - seems to be enough. And make it ALL freezer or fridge if you like. I pulled 24H draw info on it at some point... can't recall now. Pretty quiet even when cycling. Worked so well for five years in the last rig, we bought the same for this rig. That's it on the right (mounted above all the electronics - including the batteries).
152339
 

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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!!
Thanks for keeping up on the thread and especially the last update. We are awaiting our 21 Transit to be delivered and I am looking at upgrading our current pop top Element's Yeti cooler, frozen water in milk jug setup that we have used for years.
My question is were you plugging into the cigarette charger while traveling for the Yeti1500x? seems like driving would have recharged that Yeti far faster than a 50 watt panel alone and it was't clear if you had plugged it into the cigarette lighter charger when traveling also.
We use a 100 watt solar panel to boost the AGM and small lithium house battery for our current electronics in the Element ( CPAP running all night and electronics) but no frig. I always also have it plugged in to charge when we start the motor for any reason. With the much more space in the Transit I am leaning hard toward a freezer/fridge but hoping to use the same 100watt solar and small lion battery with dual agm's in the Transit with one of the upfitter switches for the charging load while driving. Our solar panel is foldable and on a cord and put away while driving, so I can keep it in the sun while the car is in the shade when possible.
 

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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.
One thing I like about my Dometic CFF45 is that you can open the lid in either direction and you can easily take the whole lid off. Taking the lid off makes it easier to load.

Having the fridge/cooler for our recent 3+ week trip was so great. There is no going back to a cooler for me. And the thing really sips power. We only have a 1200wH battery and at most we were using 20-25% capacity a day. Mind you it wasn't hot but that also includes all our other power usage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #64 ·
My question is were you plugging into the cigarette charger while traveling for the Yeti1500x? seems like driving would have recharged that Yeti far faster than a 50 watt panel alone and it was't clear if you had plugged it into the cigarette lighter charger when traveling also.
We use a 100 watt solar panel to boost the AGM and small lithium house battery for our current electronics in the Element ( CPAP running all night and electronics) but no frig. I always also have it plugged in to charge when we start the motor for any reason. With the much more space in the Transit I am leaning hard toward a freezer/fridge but hoping to use the same 100watt solar and small lion battery with dual agm's in the Transit with one of the upfitter switches for the charging load while driving. Our solar panel is foldable and on a cord and put away while driving, so I can keep it in the sun while the car is in the shade when possible.

That's a very good question, and reminds me that I had intended to ask a question related to exactly this on this forum.
Essentially, I bought the Dometic only about a week before leaving on my trip, so I didn't have time to ask whether it would be okay to charge the Goal Zero YETI battery via the 12v outlet in the vehicle connected to the engine battery, while the vehicle was in operation driving along the road. From something I'd read on another post about charging one's lithium battery, I had gotten the impression, perhaps mistakenly, that there might be some issue or complication in charging the lithium battery from the vehicle's engine battery while the vehicle was driving, such as that one needed additional equipment to do this safely. So, I avoided doing this while on the trip out of an abundance of caution. But, if it turns out that this can easily and safely be done, then certainly I'd do that, as I did quite a lot of driving on the trip, and there would be plenty of time to charge the battery up.
 

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That's a very good question, and reminds me that I had intended to ask a question related to exactly this on this forum.
Essentially, I bought the Dometic only about a week before leaving on my trip, so I didn't have time to ask whether it would be okay to charge the Goal Zero YETI battery via the 12v outlet in the vehicle connected to the engine battery, while the vehicle was in operation driving along the road. From something I'd read on another post about charging one's lithium battery, I had gotten the impression, perhaps mistakenly, that there might be some issue or complication in charging the lithium battery from the vehicle's engine battery while the vehicle was driving, such as that one needed additional equipment to do this safely. So, I avoided doing this while on the trip out of an abundance of caution. But, if it turns out that this can easily and safely be done, then certainly I'd do that, as I did quite a lot of driving on the trip, and there would be plenty of time to charge the battery up.
Looks to me like you just have to buy the Yeti adapter, designed to do just that :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #66 ·
Looks to me like you just have to buy the Yeti adapter, designed to do just that :)
Well that would be good news! I have that adapter already...I also have a 500 watt inverter, which plugs into a 12v outlet in the vehicle connected to its engine, and allows 120v items to be plugged into its outlets. So if I could charge the battery with either of those methods then I'm a really happy camper! :p:geek:
 

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I went with the Isotherm 130. mainly for power consumption and weight, no reviews as the van is still in build mode, but others have had great feedback on it.
 

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Norcold DE-0041 refrigerator/freezer, 2.5 amps at 12 volts, Has worked great for five years and it keeps ice cream rock hard.
 

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Somebody may have mentioned this already, but ice melts from the outside edges. That is why block ice lasts longer than cubes.

With coolers, I buy a case of the 16.9 oz bottled waters and pre-freeze a bunch of them. Then I use the frozen water bottles to keep perishables cold in the cooler. The sealed plastic bottles in this size are easy to pack in the cooler and arrange around your food, so you can pack more food in the cooler. With a quality roto molded cooler you should be able to get 5 plus days out of this. As the bottles melt, no water gets inside your cooler and as a side benefit you get ice cold bottled water to drink.
 

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Somebody may have mentioned this already, but ice melts from the outside edges. That is why block ice lasts longer than cubes.

With coolers, I buy a case of the 16.9 oz bottled waters and pre-freeze a bunch of them. Then I use the frozen water bottles to keep perishables cold in the cooler. The sealed plastic bottles in this size are easy to pack in the cooler and arrange around your food, so you can pack more food in the cooler. With a quality roto molded cooler you should be able to get 5 plus days out of this. As the bottles melt, no water gets inside your cooler and as a side benefit you get ice cold bottled water to drink.
We use half gallon and gallon bottles in our Orca. Also I don't recall seeing in this thread, but one thing we do that helps is to pre-cool the cooler. A day or so before we go on a trip we'll put a couple gallon jugs in it, so when you are ready to go, you're putting cold things into a cold cooler.
 

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Discussion Starter · #72 ·
Somebody may have mentioned this already, but ice melts from the outside edges. That is why block ice lasts longer than cubes.

With coolers, I buy a case of the 16.9 oz bottled waters and pre-freeze a bunch of them. Then I use the frozen water bottles to keep perishables cold in the cooler. The sealed plastic bottles in this size are easy to pack in the cooler and arrange around your food, so you can pack more food in the cooler. With a quality roto molded cooler you should be able to get 5 plus days out of this. As the bottles melt, no water gets inside your cooler and as a side benefit you get ice cold bottled water to drink.
Yes, I was doing that with my ORCA. It worked very well....but I did have to get cube ice at least every 2 days, to add to the cooler, to keep the block ice cool. I went on a 7 day trip in August 2020 when temperatures were over 90 for multiple days, and the block ice that I started out with, was about 30 to 40% unmelted when I got back 7 days later! So this demonstrated the effectiveness of the block ice.
 

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...I started out the trip with a YETI 1500x and a YETI 400, and a Nomad 50 solar panel...
Thanks for the update, I've been considering the same question (cooler vs. fridge) for some time now. I already have a Goal Zero YETI 400 Lithium batter (circa 2017) as a backup for my household electronics during a power outage. I am considering a small fridge for the main purpose of long distance road trips (and also some weekend car camping). I am considering an Alpicool K18 as a way to keep drinks and snacks cold. If I use the Yeti 400 to power the fridge, it seems that it could be charging during the 3-6 hours of daily driving and then last through the night until the next day's driving. Does this seem reasonable to you?
 

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Discussion Starter · #74 ·
Thanks for the update, I've been considering the same question (cooler vs. fridge) for some time now. I already have a Goal Zero YETI 400 Lithium batter (circa 2017) as a backup for my household electronics during a power outage. I am considering a small fridge for the main purpose of long distance road trips (and also some weekend car camping). I am considering an Alpicool K18 as a way to keep drinks and snacks cold. If I use the Yeti 400 to power the fridge, it seems that it could be charging during the 3-6 hours of daily driving and then last through the night until the next day's driving. Does this seem reasonable to you?
Yes. I just took a trip with a YETI 1500x battery and a YETI 400. Because I had somehow gotten a vague idea that it might be problematic to charge these batteries from the car battery while driving (which has since been corrected) I didn't do that....but what I did find with my YETI 400 is that starting from full charge, it went to 57% charge when used for one day to power my Dometic fridge/electric cooler from 9am to about 6pm. And keep in mind this was on a day when it was quite warm, with outside temps between 75 and 95 degrees. I presume that 3-6 hours of driving while charging it could certainly bring it back up to full charge....when I got home, the YETI 400 charged back to full using a 100W solar panel, in less then 8 hrs. And I think the solar panel would charge it more slowly than a car battery....based on the time it took to charge a camera battery from the car battery, I believe the car battery will charge things in about the same amount of time they would charge if plugged into 120v outlets at home.
 

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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!!
For this area, which can be quite warm but also subject to hazy and overcast skies, my recommendation for using a 12 volt type fridge is a minimum of 300 watts of solar, 450 watts if you can.

That way you can just leave the fridge on 100% of the time even if you are not driving. Having the fridge running all of the time is a convenient place to store spices, and food related items with a lower risk of insects and mice.
 

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My youngest child recieved a hand me down 3.5 cu. ft. 120vAC fridge when she started college in 2012 from someone that had bought it new and had graduated in 2011.

It says in the manual not to plug it into an inverter, so of course I did. It pulls 25~30 amps for 20~30 seconds when it kicks on but then settles in to run on 6~7 amps. It would need to run nonstop for 10 hours to use up my current houe battery capacity (plans are to increase this capacity).

My refrigeration tech friend says "eventually" the motor will quit because of the run up time when starting on an inverter, but until then the food & drinks are cold. No messing with, or giving up valuable real estate to ice.

When it croaks I'll go the same route again. Hopefully finding a little larger unit that is inverter compatible. New mini 120vAC fridges are dirt cheap. This one was free.

Also have a shore power 120vAC outlet within cord length / reach to plug it into when the van is plugged in at a campsite or in driveway.
 
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