Mini Fridge? Chest Fridge? What's your zero-ice solution?

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Jas
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Mini Fridge? Chest Fridge? What's your zero-ice solution?

Post by Jas » Fri Apr 27, 2018 3:53 pm

I'm about 95% certain that I'm going for a mini-fridge this year. My plan would be to run one off of a deep cycle battery or two, or four, and swap them out while recharging via solar (well, ideally).

From what I've read, mini-fridges are totally inefficient for a number of reasons (thin insulation and vertical door), though I haven't given up on them yet because they're inexpensive.

Does anyone have a model they've used that's kept cool (some food, drinks, maybe a freezer up top) and not totally sucked on energy efficiency? I've looked at "chest" fridges and propane-powered fridges, but man they're pricey.

The other 5% of me is saying skip it all and get a YETI-style cooler, but I'm trying to avoid iced rigs at all costs.

What's your ice-less setup?

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Re: Mini Fridge? Chest Fridge? What's your zero-ice solution?

Post by motskyroonmatick » Fri Apr 27, 2018 6:32 pm

Medium sized top door Chest Freezer with a cooling thermostat in line on power cord set 34 to 38 degrees F. Keeps beer cold and no ice needed. We use generator power but could be ran off of solar and deep cycles but for an incredibly higher expense than just buying ice and a good cooler. If it would be a fun project and you have the resources... Go for it! Let us know how it turns out or better yet a play by play as you create your system.
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Re: Mini Fridge? Chest Fridge? What's your zero-ice solution?

Post by Popeye » Fri Apr 27, 2018 7:09 pm

A standard mini fridge runs off of 120V AC, using batteries means you will have to have an inverter to turn the DC battery voltage into AC. You will have up to a 20% power loss, depending on what inverter you use.

You can increase the insulation by gluing Thermax (the same stuff you make a hexayurt out of) to the outside of the fridge. Make sure you don't cover the condenser (grill like thing usually on the back of the fridg).

Ice will cool anything you put next to it faster than a fridge will. Conductance of heat vs radiation. Also, every minifridge I have seen has a small freezer on the top. Because this need to operate at a low pressure, compressor size needs to increase, adding inefficiencies if you don't need a freezer. The evaporator (the thing that produces cold :) ) is usually somewhere between -5 and +5 F, cold air falls off the evap and is warmed by product and slooowly cools the fridge. A fan inside the fridge would add heat.

I understand that you want to "avoid iced rigs at all costs". The best way to do this is to buy the largest fridge you can carry, get a Honda generator and add insulation. Keep the fridge in the shade and raised off the playa. If money is no object there are a few marine refrigerators working off 12V. Slow cooling and expensive. WestMarine carrys them.

To make a rough estimate of how much power you need check the amp draw on the back of the fridge, multiply that by 120 volts and multiply by 120%. The fridge will run 18+ hours per day. There are other threads on here showing how to size a PV system to power needs.
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Re: Mini Fridge? Chest Fridge? What's your zero-ice solution?

Post by Sham » Fri Apr 27, 2018 7:50 pm

I have a mini fridge with a top freezer. Our generator crapped out during the week so I switched over to a 400 watt Harbor Freight power inverter connected to a battery in a rental car. It ran extremely well for about 10 hours with the car off. We also ran the camp LED lights (and an extension cord for the lights in my trailer). The inverter shut down before the car battery got too low. I started the car for 30 minutes for a full charge. This set-up worked amazingly well.

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Re: Mini Fridge? Chest Fridge? What's your zero-ice solution?

Post by Captain Goddammit » Sat Apr 28, 2018 6:34 am

You could buy a Honda EU2200 for what all those batteries and solar cost.
You could buy a similar knock-off like a Champion for just the cost of all those batteries.
Then you’d have all the power you want for whatever fridge you want plus other stuff.
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Re: Mini Fridge? Chest Fridge? What's your zero-ice solution?

Post by ygmir » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:23 am

good advice here, and options.
I'd caution you about gluing insulation to the outside of a freezer. Some models have the heat exchanger tubing on the outside walls, and if those are insulated/covered, they can't get rid of the heat. You'd probably want to confirm where the freezer unit dumps the heat before covering that area...
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Re: Mini Fridge? Chest Fridge? What's your zero-ice solution?

Post by BBadger » Sat Apr 28, 2018 4:17 pm

What about a propane fridge? There are even some that will do all of 120VAC, 12VDC and LPG.
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Re: Mini Fridge? Chest Fridge? What's your zero-ice solution?

Post by ygmir » Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:59 am

BBadger wrote:What about a propane fridge? There are even some that will do all of 120VAC, 12VDC and LPG.
I have one I took out of an old camper and use it at my Hof. works great. just set it on a table in the shade, with a 5 gallon propane tank and regulator attached, and it'll be good for well over a week. A tank usually lasts me close to 3 weeks.
good call BBadger!
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Re: Mini Fridge? Chest Fridge? What's your zero-ice solution?

Post by DeGracht » Sun Apr 29, 2018 11:24 pm

I brought 2 coolers to the Burn last year. And an insulated bag.

One big Coleman extreme, filled with 10 deeply frozen 1-gallon water bottles , frozen wine in a box , frozen bottles of coke and my frozen precoocked food supply.
And another smaller cooler with frozen and cold drinks and food.

Once a day I took some frozen water and food out of the big cooler to put it in the smaller cooler etc.

Did my 1st ice run after the 9th day and even drank shitloads of cold beer that where in my hot car first :-)

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Re: Mini Fridge? Chest Fridge? What's your zero-ice solution?

Post by BBadger » Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:08 am

ygmir wrote:I have one I took out of an old camper and use it at my Hof. works great. just set it on a table in the shade, with a 5 gallon propane tank and regulator attached, and it'll be good for well over a week. A tank usually lasts me close to 3 weeks.
good call BBadger!
They use like 1.5lb of propane per day, and that's for a 12cu ft fridge, which is pretty big!
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