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Old 02-25-2011, 12:26 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Power Mini Fridge while traveling

We plan to do some long distance/cross country tent camping this summer. We have a small mini fridge to keep things cold during traveling and later for the tent. Is there a simple way to provide power from our 2011 2.5 Outback to a 600W mini-fridge?
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Old 02-25-2011, 12:55 AM   #2 (permalink)
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This may give you some ideas. On our 28foot - 9000lb sailboat with a nice sized ice box and two very large group 31 batteries - we buy a block of ice not a bag but a block. In northern CA we get 80-100 degree weather and that block of ice will last us 3-4 days easily.

Your small fridge will eat your super small battery in your car and otherwise be a complete waste of money and effort. Even on much larger sailboats equipped with far more efficient coolers and power systems they take large battery banks - and large alternators driven by diesel engines to keep the power system happy.

Camping we do lots of that also. We use a block of ice not cubed but a block in a nice colman ice chest and will get 3-4 days easy out of it. A block of ice costs about $4. Going high tech for somethings simply isn't the best answer. SF to Oahu sailing race. We packed frozen prepared food in foam ice chests packed with dry ice. We ate like kings for 8 days. The last few days we still ate well and in that situation you burn about 4000-6000 calories a day in 16 days we all lost our land lubber fat 8-12lbs depending on who you checked. No fridge on the boat given the power demands would have been unacceptable for the need.

The general rule is that you need 4inches if foam insulation around a top opening cooler for the best results regarding cooling and being efficient etc. Most sailboats in stock form tend to vary between 2-3 inches of foam in the counter top opening coolers. A portable fridge like yours probably has less than an inch of foam insulation so you can kinda see where thats headed regarding power needs and cooling efficiency.
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Old 02-25-2011, 08:54 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You have a couple options.

They make coolers that have built in refrigeration systems that can be run off a car's cigarette lighter socket. Here is one example.

Coleman Thermoelectric Cooler, PowerChill, 40 Quart - Walmart.com

If you want to use your existing fridge, you are going to need a power inverter. 600 W is getting up there and they will need some involved wiring. YOu won't be able to just plug an inverter like that into your lighter socket. Here is one example:

Amazon.com: Cobra CPI 880 800 Watt 12 Volt DC to 120 Volt AC Power Inverter with 5 Volt USB output: Automotive Amazon.com: Cobra CPI 880 800 Watt 12 Volt DC to 120 Volt AC Power Inverter with 5 Volt USB output: Automotive

The final option is to buy a small generator. You are probably looking around $200 for a 1500W portable generator.
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Old 02-25-2011, 09:13 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I totally agree with subiesailor, as I've been in sailing situations, in very warm weather.

You can use a Coleman or Igloo, insulated container with ice blocks, and not worry about electricity. Generally, we have found Igloo to be better insulated. The warehouse stores have generally better pricing. If you are tenting and leaving car in one location, you'll have issues finding electricity to maintain cool temp.

An option: my brother in his Prius has a 12V little frig which is not much larger than two six-packs, to keep some real necessities cool, for just the two of them, maybe drinks & sandwich materials; no camping, just road trips.
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Old 02-25-2011, 09:52 AM   #5 (permalink)
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does anyone know if you can get a small heater that plugs in the same way as the fridge?
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Old 02-25-2011, 09:55 AM   #6 (permalink)
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that would kill your battery...
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Old 02-25-2011, 09:56 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treeguy01 View Post
does anyone know if you can get a small heater that plugs in the same way as the fridge?
Is the heat in car not adequate? Use a small down quilt for passengers; I have one about 50"x50" (very inexpensive in a large department store), which also serves to cover anything I want to be less visible from outside. I bought gray for that very reason.

I am unaware, BUT there are many 12V appliances made.
However, I don't know exactly where to find them; I'd wager at nautical catalogs/stores, or RV related store.
Intelligently designed hotels in Europe have 12V-24V systems in the guest room outlets, for anything we can think of.

YES, lots of drain on battery, unless engine running.
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Old 02-25-2011, 10:49 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treeguy01 View Post
does anyone know if you can get a small heater that plugs in the same way as the fridge?

cooler/warmer


Big one

Neither of these would be a good idea to run very long when the alternator is not running.
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Old 02-25-2011, 10:52 AM   #9 (permalink)
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another

Koolatron 300 Degree 12 Volt Portable Stove
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:09 AM   #10 (permalink)
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As long as… The OB fusebox has Circ-13 20A Socket and Circ-20 10A Accessory Power Outlet, this provides you (wimpy) 240W and 120W capacity.

For road trip ‘Are we there yet’ electronics/devices, set up a sized/fused direct-battery circuit. Forget the Subaru 110VAC acc, an independent circuit is more reliable and has more capacity. Control the circuit with a relay > terminate it with a 12VDC female socket > ‘Kids, we’re here’.
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