lesson learned: the maligned Peltier cooler

I got sidetracked on the Lessons Learned project;  forgot at least two topics.  This one is about is about chilling drinks and food on the cheap.


A few years ago I picked up an Igloo Kool Made 32, a 32qt peltier cooler/warmer, at a thrift shop for $10.  For that kind of money I could buy it and use it for storage or something if it didn’t work.

But it did work even if it was much less efficient than a compressor fridge.Before I bought a used fridge ($50) for the S&B I used this to hold drinks and things like cheese that were unlikely to spoil.  It would get into the 40s in the air conditioned house.

For vandwelling purposes I cut off the brick from the AC cord so I would have the plug, and crimped on an Anderson Powerpole 15A terminal.  Powerpoles are my outlet of choice in the van.   Previous testing showed the cooler pulls 67-69W to do its thing.  The current isn’t  necessarily out of line with compressor fridges, but thermoelectric coolers like this typically run 100% duty cycle, instead of the typical 25-30% duty cycle one sees with compressor fridges.

Over 24hrs, this cooler might consume 125.5Ah (!) while the compressor fridge might use 31Ah.  This number could be cut in ~half to about 65Ah by using a temp control cutoff at 40F for those snowbirds chasing daily ambient highs of ~65F.

Daytime consumption is not an issue for me since my system is overpaneled and has lots of extra power in the daytime.  Since the cooler is plugged into an opportunity circuit it only runs when the batteries are fully charged.


I do want a compressor fridge at some point, but I will save my ducats for a while and use this $10 cooler until it doesn’t fit my needs any more.   It hogs power but solar power from an installed system is free.