Welcome to PriusChat

We'd love to have you join our community and participate in the conversation! Sign up for FREE today.

Sign Up

Help me find the best ice chest/cooler ever!

Discussion in 'Fred's House of Pancakes' started by darelldd, Sep 3, 2007.

Social Buttons

  1. darelldd

    darelldd Prius is our Gas Guzzler

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Messages:
    6,042
    Likes Received:
    355
    Location:
    Northern CA
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2006 Prius
    Howdy gadget-lovers!

    I have several "standard" ice chests (and a powered one or two as well). What I don't have is a really well insulated ice chest that has high-tech insulation instead of just super-thick walls like you find in the current bunch of "extreme" coolers from all the major makers. There are many ways of insulating - and the cheapest way is to just use more of the same - thus the "extreme" coolers that have super-thick walls. The problem, of course, is that we all have limited storage space, and I want something that insulates as well as these thick-walled coolers - but without the extra bulk. For the ouside dimensions of these things, they sure don't fit much inside!

    I'm looking for something that is roughly 12" x 24" inside. Just to give an idea of the size I'm interested in. I don't mind paying a bunch of money for something that is durable and really well insulated. I'm tired of packing stuff in ice, and needing new ice the next day!

    For bonus points, I'd love to find a powered cooler that is totally quiet!

    Thanks guys... looking forward to the replies!
  2. phumpher

    phumpher um...oh...uh...wa...er

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    where gold was discovered
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2006 Prius
    Hi Darell,

    Check these;
    Yeti
    Icee
    Frigid
    Ultra

    Hope one of them will work for you.

    We use the Icee's for river trips, with diligent management we have ice for our drinks on day 10 in the Grand Canyon.
    Would like to move to Yeti's as I think they are nicer, but it's a lot to spend for a small gain.
    Have seen, but never used the Frigid's and the Ultra's.
    Don't think I would buy the Ultra's, they look a lot like Yeti's old design.
    I would consider the Frigid's if I could get them for a good price, but it's hard to beat the price we get on the Icee's and Yeti's.

    Good luck,
    Mike
  3. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Messages:
    10,665
    Likes Received:
    541
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    I have a 54 litre Igloo cooler
    http://www.igloocoolers.com.au/legend_series.htm
    I can go camping for a week with my son and still have ice in the esky on my way home.
    I freeze everything I can freeze including my drinking water and I leave a block of ice in the esky over night before I pack it in the morning.
    I use 2 litre bottles of frozen drinking water and 4 litre icecream buckets to make blocks of ice a week before a trip.
    Cold drinks are stacked at one end, salad veg and fruit kept up high in containers or they will freeze and the ice and frozen meats down low. Don't open the lid more than you need to and avoid putting anything in the esky unless it's near freezing. Keep the esky out of the sun, when traveling put your prius windscreen sun refletive shade over the top with a towel on top of that.
  4. darelldd

    darelldd Prius is our Gas Guzzler

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Messages:
    6,042
    Likes Received:
    355
    Location:
    Northern CA
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2006 Prius
    Thanks for the great input guys! So, if I'm not mistaken, there's just no getting around thick polyurethane insulation? It would seem that a layer of reflective foil (think space blanket) laminated to the interior walls would go a long way toward needing less bulk. The Quality and durability are just dripping off the units that Mike linked to... but where is the high-tech insulation that I just assumed would be out there somewhere... at some price? Has anybody ever attempted a vacuum insulation on something this big?
  5. PA Prius

    PA Prius Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2007
    Messages:
    448
    Likes Received:
    29
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2004 Prius
    A few months ago I was doing a similar search for a cooler for our cross country trip. In the end we decided to use our cheap thin walled cooler and made sure we packed other things around it to exponentially improve the insulation. This worked well.

    If you are more adventurous, try this-- leave your spare tire at home and take along one of those Fix-a-Flat kits. Tap and plug a hole in the bottom of your spare tire storage area (to drain water). Spray the inside of that lower storage area with insulating foam. Use a piece of 2" blueboard for the "lid," making sure you have a tight fit.

    PA P
  6. hyo silver

    hyo silver Awaaaaay

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    Messages:
    15,163
    Likes Received:
    1,403
    Location:
    off into the sunset
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    I was thinking you should have your own line of hybrid coolers out by now. :)

    I have a small thermo-electric (Peltier) cooler that is quiet and does a reasonable job. As long as things are cold when they go in, and I keep the unit running and out of the sun, it's fine. I try to wedge it in among the sleeping bags when I'm packing the car, for better insulation. But for longer trips, and California heat, I think something better would be more to your liking. The Stirling-cycle powered coolers sound great, but I haven't tried one yet.

    As for making your own, some foil on the outside to reflect radiant heat could be effective. Do you have any old down sleeping bags lying around? ;)
  7. naterprius

    naterprius Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2004
    Messages:
    1,843
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    USA
    Your Vehicle Year:
    Other Non-Hybrid
    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(darelldd @ Sep 3 2007, 09:51 AM) [snapback]506298[/snapback]</div>

    Darell, the foil is good for radiant heat. In space, since there is no air, and lots of sun, the foil works well.

    On earth, inside a cooler, where it is dark and full of air, it is kind of useless, since you are trying to stop conductive heat.

    What would work well is a vacuum cooler, like a thermos.

    Nate
  8. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Messages:
    10,665
    Likes Received:
    541
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    Did you click on the link to Frigid? http://www.frigidrigid.com/index.html
    http://www.frigidrigid.com/results/test_results.htm
    They did tests on the coolers including the Igloo. The Igloo has half the wall thickness yet in some tests only took an 20% hit in efficency. Should you cover the top with a cheap windscreen sun deflector you would get most of the 20% back I think and especially if you bought 3 and covered the whole thing but for the bottom.
    Engel car fridges can be assisted with an insulated cover, this would be the same sort of thing.
    That's my opinion anyway.
  9. hyo silver

    hyo silver Awaaaaay

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    Messages:
    15,163
    Likes Received:
    1,403
    Location:
    off into the sunset
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    How about this one? You can leave this or any other electric cooler running in a locked Prius by removing the mechanical key from the fob. Lock the doors with the button on the armrest, and flip the window button up. The car will turn on and off as needed to recharge the battery.
  10. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2006
    Messages:
    18,046
    Likes Received:
    2,957
    Location:
    Northern Michigan
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2006 Prius
    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(darelldd @ Sep 3 2007, 11:51 AM) [snapback]506298[/snapback]</div>

    I've done extensive research on this topic for sailboat ice boxes. They are built-in, but the same principles apply. It comes down to durability and cost. There are many types of insulation with better R values than blue board, but each comes with some baggage.

    Some types of foam work well when dry, but rapidly absorb moisture and loose most of their insulating properties. Blue board is impervious to water.

    Vacuum panels are incredible, and can used for large ice boxes. The limitations with vacuum panels are cost, inability to cut to size, and short life span. While they have great R values when new, in a couple of years the panel will loose its vacuum and then it's not nearly as good as plain old blue board. You also have trouble insulating the corners between the panels, and the whole assembly tends to be fragile.

    Silica tiles like those used on the Space Shuttle would work well, but the price is also in low earth orbit.

    What we found is that all of the higher tech insulations provided an R value gain only at great expense with limited life. Plain old blue board has the best overall characteristics. We use four inches of it all of the way around, and cover the outside with a heat reflective material, such as aluminized mylar. We line the inside with layed-up GRP (fiberglass).

    Tom
  11. priussoris

    priussoris New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,005
    Likes Received:
    2
    Darrelldd, when we lived in AZ. we needed a cooler that would keep ice and food good for a few days at a time.
    What I did was to use an older cooler we already had that was thick shelled and I drilled a few holes on the underside of the cooler all the way around it ( just a couple on each side)
    then used that " foam stuff insulation in a can" it worked great , so great that when the wife and I moved our daughter asked to keep the cooler, she still lives in Phoenix.

    So I am glad you brought this topic up, as I need to make another ' Super Cooler"

    I will have her take a picture and email it to me to post you can't even tell and it does not add to much extra weight at least I do not think so.

    good luck in your quest.
  12. darelldd

    darelldd Prius is our Gas Guzzler

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Messages:
    6,042
    Likes Received:
    355
    Location:
    Northern CA
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2006 Prius
    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(hyo silver @ Sep 3 2007, 09:14 AM) [snapback]506306[/snapback]</div>

    My Peltier cooler is good for what it is. But you sure don't want to pack stuff tightly around it while it is running. That would block the fan, and wouldn't let out the heat that the system generates.

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(naterprius @ Sep 3 2007, 10:07 AM) [snapback]506327[/snapback]</div>

    Dang it. I hate being trapped here on earth. If I were in space, I likely would need insualation to keep everything FROM freezing, so there are several issues. :) A very good point about conductive being the big enemy here - assuming the thing can always be kept out of the sun. I toss a space blanket on top of the thing whenever I think there will be direct sun hitting it.


    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(patsparks @ Sep 3 2007, 04:02 PM) [snapback]506460[/snapback]</div>

    I did follow the link, but missed the tests. Thanks again for the pointer. They start off with 20% difference, but apparently end up with a 200% difference? A bit confusing how they talk about it... Still, 20% is pretty significant in my book.

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(hyo silver @ Sep 3 2007, 10:25 PM) [snapback]506641[/snapback]</div>

    Wow. I'd love to try one of those... except that I don't want everything frozen (ever tried to drink crunchy beer? The head sort of suffers). I wonder if it has temp control that can be dialed down. And while I do understand that it can be kept powered via the HSD, the LAST thing I'm looking for is a gasoline-powered cooler! Ug.

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(qbee42 @ Sep 4 2007, 06:42 AM) [snapback]506731[/snapback]</div>

    Thanks for your great input. Obviously there's much here that I hadn't considered. I definitely need something that's durable even if I give up a bit of initial effectiveness! Bummer that they haven't figured out the perfect, non-leaking vacuum system yet.

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(priussoris @ Sep 4 2007, 06:53 AM) [snapback]506735[/snapback]</div>

    I tried that very thing with some of my old coolers. And what I found was... there was no more room for my foam since they seemingly squirted in expanding foam to make them in the first place! You're saying that the walls of yours were NOT all the way filled from the factory? Definitely room for improvement there!
  13. hyo silver

    hyo silver Awaaaaay

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    Messages:
    15,163
    Likes Received:
    1,403
    Location:
    off into the sunset
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(darelldd @ 2007 Sep 4 12:22 PM) [snapback]506882[/snapback]</div>

    Yes, the extra packing goes only around the sides, without blocking any airflow. It's also important to be sure the plug's in right, since the Peltiers can work as heaters, too. No need to ask me how I know this.

    True, a gasoline-powered cooler is not ideal. I just think it's cool that it can be done. I'm sure the Coleman Stirling has adjustable controls, so there's no need to go camping without head. Or cold beer. :rolleyes:
  14. RobH

    RobH Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2006
    Messages:
    1,670
    Likes Received:
    326
    Location:
    Sunnyvale, California
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2006 Prius
  15. darelldd

    darelldd Prius is our Gas Guzzler

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Messages:
    6,042
    Likes Received:
    355
    Location:
    Northern CA
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2006 Prius
    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(RobH @ Sep 4 2007, 02:56 PM) [snapback]506943[/snapback]</div>

    Just a few thousand bucks, and I can do the whole car! :)

    R50 per inch. That is EXACTLY that I'm talking about. Anybody know about durability of this stuff? And why nobody seems to make a cooler with it?
  16. Godiva

    Godiva AmeriKan Citizen

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2005
    Messages:
    10,340
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2005 Prius
    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(darelldd @ Sep 6 2007, 04:15 PM) [snapback]508131[/snapback]</div>


    Uh...because no one wants to buy a $500 cooler?
  17. darelldd

    darelldd Prius is our Gas Guzzler

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Messages:
    6,042
    Likes Received:
    355
    Location:
    Northern CA
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2006 Prius
    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Godiva @ Sep 6 2007, 06:47 PM) [snapback]508273[/snapback]</div>

    Well, THAT ain't true. Here's the money. Where's the cooler?
  18. Boo

    Boo Boola Boola Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2007
    Messages:
    5,049
    Likes Received:
    451
    Location:
    Flushing, NY
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2007 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Godiva @ Sep 6 2007, 09:47 PM) [snapback]508273[/snapback]</div>

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(darelldd @ Sep 6 2007, 10:38 PM) [snapback]508300[/snapback]</div>

    I'm with darelldd on this. I get it, I think.

    Reminds me of a true story. Ever since I was a kid, for some inexplicable reason, I have always loved thermoses and coolers. When I was studying for the bar exam, I became friendly with someone who studied in the same room as me. I told her which law firm I was joining, and she said that she had a friend who was also going to the same firm and that she would introduce her to me. A couple of days later I was studying in the room with my thermos of coffee on top of my desk, and she comes in with her friend to introduce us. The first sentence out of her friend's mouth was "Hey, I like your thermos." The second sentence was "I love thermoses ... I also like coolers". Wow. A real kindred spirit! I should have proposed to her on the spot.
  19. darelldd

    darelldd Prius is our Gas Guzzler

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Messages:
    6,042
    Likes Received:
    355
    Location:
    Northern CA
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2006 Prius
    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Boo @ Sep 6 2007, 08:39 PM) [snapback]508344[/snapback]</div>

    Hey, great story...Ahem. I'm married. To a woman.
  20. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Messages:
    10,665
    Likes Received:
    541
    Location:
    Adelaide South Australia
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    N/A