tiny Alpicool compressor fridges

41wt4cw8mdl-_ac_sx200_sy200_In the last day or so I’ve run across a few instances of Trebor talking about the little Alpicool fridges.  They are tiny inside (15L, 20L, etc) but inexpensive and tiny outside, too.  I take Trebor’s opinions quite seriously; he is a thoughtful and informed fellow.

And I don’t need much fridge space.  I have a 32q peltier cooler that I use a tiny corner of.  I’d use it a while longer but there is a chance I will be moving to a hotter area this summer.  More on that later.

So I did some googling and amazoning.  The 15L has gone up from ~$200 to ~$240 but reviews are quite good.  And some reviewers have taken decent measurements:

Tests where done indoors, with ambient temperatures ranging from mid 60's to mid 70's. Due to the ambient temperature varying, and each test only being done once, these comparisons are only approximate. In Max mode, set to -20, it averaged about 23 watts an hour, using about 552 watts in 24 hours. In Eco mode, set to -20, it averaged about 18 watts an hour, using about 447 watts in 24 hours. In Eco mode, set to -10, it averaged about 10 watts an hour, using about 240 watts in 24 hours. In Eco mode, set to -5, it averaged about 6 watts an hour, using about 144 watts in 24 hours. Eco mode seems to use less watts while running, but running for longer. Max mode averaged about 51 watts when the compressor was running, while Eco averaged about 42.

These measurements (in Celsius) were taken from the AC adapter, so actual power draw will likely be a little lower.  Me likey.

what’s up with these “protection plans?”

While flipping back and forth between the 15L and 20L I noticed the 3-4yr extended warranty were wildly different:

fridge c15 Screenshot at 2018-06-30 21-04-24

fridge c20 Screenshot at 2018-06-30 21-04-45

That’s weird.  I don’t think it’s due to actuarial data, since the 20L is just the 15L with a deeper lid.  It’s not like one would should fail 4x more often than the other.

A clue comes from the name of one of the plans:  “$200-$249 auto accessory plan”.  I think the 15L falls under that lower tier and automatically has a much lower rate.

Now I am not one to buy extended warranties;  I think they are generally a rip-off.  But in this case (unknown reputation, somewhat expensive item, challenging environment) it might be a good idea.  Especially for $8.03 over 4 years.

Of course in reality it’s only a 3 year extended warranty because it starts after the manufacturer’s 1yr.   But apparently there is free shipping both ways and no deductible.

fridge square trade Screenshot at 2018-06-30 21-06-51

Amazon Prime also has free shipping on returns within the 30 day window.  So the exposure for having to ship the fridge to a service center is between months 2 to 12.


Because I am the kind of guy who whips out a calculator to see what size pizza is cheapest per square inch, I punched the costs into a spreadsheet.  Note the totally unscientific and made-up metric “liter-years”:

fridge liter-years Screenshot at 2018-06-30 21-28-51

  1. cheapest per liter-year is the 15L with 4yr plan, $4.12

  2. rather surprisingly (before I ran the numbers) was the 20L with 4 year plan, $4.18.  A good deal for the space but I’m not willing to pay the extra $87.75 to get it.

  3. then a big jump to 20L with 3yr, $5.10

  4. and a middling jump to the 15L with 3yr, $5.47

  5. ginormous leap to 20L with no added warranty, $13.95 - not shown

  6. and a merely huge leap to 15L with no added warranty, $15.93 - not shown

Of course, this assumes the fridge dies right when the warranty expires; I guess we are really talking about liter-years of guaranteed functionality.  Even if the 15L with no extra plan lived for all four years we would only have wasted $8.03.

 but wait, there’s more!

The first time I looked at the item in Amazon the plan was provided by Asurion.  But later I saw SquareTrade.  That’s weird.  So I refreshed the page over and over and found that it toggled between Asurion and SquareTrade at the same price.

Did some google-fu and it seems folks hate SquareTrade slightly less than Asurio.  So I refreshed again to get SquareTrade and pulled the trigger.

We shall see.