Mini Fridge Review


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WingAdmin
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Mini Fridge Review

Post by WingAdmin » Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:30 am



I hate drinking warm drinks - I am not a coffee drinker, hot chocolate or tea, basically I like my drinks COLD. I have a cooler bag that I sometimes put my drinks in so I can carry them in my bike. I thought perhaps a small active cooler fridge might be a good option. After shopping around a bit, I decided on the Cooluli Mini Fridge on Amazon.

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This type of cooler, unlike a standard refrigerator which uses liquid/gas coolant, instead uses a device called a Peltier Junction to cool it. A Peltier Junction is an interesting device made up of a sandwich of dissimilar metals. When electrical current is passed one way through the junction, it moves heat from one side of the junction to the other. Reverse the current, and the direction of heat transfer also reverses.

Coolers such as these mount the Peltier junction to the inside of the cooler, and use it to transfer heat from the inside of the cooler to the surrounding air. Most also allow you to reverse it, to use the cooler as a heater - and this unit does the same.

Unboxed, it is an unassuming white plastic box weighing only a couple of pounds.

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The back of the fridge contains the venting for the fan, as well as the electrical inputs and control switch.

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The back of the unit has the fan outlet which runs continuously. The unit can run off standard AC, or can be plugged into a 12 volt automotive type outlet.

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Peltier Junctions are inefficient: while moving heat from one side of the junction to the other, they themselves create a fair amount of heat, so the heat emitted by the device is much more than it is removing. It uses a lot of power doing it: plugged into a 12 volt DC power supply, it draws 42 watts (3.5 amps). The good thing is: if you are using the unit to heat, all the extra heat generated by the Peltier Junction actually goes into the unit, so it can get quite warm inside.

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The unit is supplied with a standard 110VAC cord.

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It also comes with a 12 volt cord and connector.

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I checked, and the 12 volt cord does have a fuse inside (so many Chinese-manufactured devices skip this important safety feature)

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Interestingly enough, it also comes with a 5 volt USB cord, also intended to use to power the device. My testing showed that this was an utterly useless "feature", and that the amount of cooling generated by plugging this into a high-current 2 amp phone charger was negligible (that's only 10 watts of power).

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Switching the unit to "warm" lights a red LED on the back, and the fan starts up. It starts warming up inside almost immediately.

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Simiarly, switching it to "Cold" lights a green LED on the back. It starts cooling after a minute or two.

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The door has a rubber seal and is held closed with a magnet. Opening the door you can see the interior, along with a removable shelf.

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With the shelf installed, you can fit four standard 16 oz soda cans below the shelf, and two more on top of the shelf. Notice there are no vents inside - all cooling is done via conduction, NOT convection (like a typical fridge). For this reason, it works much better cooling cans than it does plastic bottles. Both will cool to the same temperature, but cans cool off faster.

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It easily fits four 16 oz cans as well, but you will need to remove the shelf, and cannot fit more on top.

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There is a tiny little holder on the bottom of the inside of the door as well.

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The fridge is easily lifted with the recessed handle on top.

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The first thing I tried was to see if it fit into the trunk of my GL1500 - it did, sitting up, with lots of room to spare.

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It also fit easily into my GL1500's saddlebag. I connected it up and let it run for several hours inside my trunk, as I have a 12V outlet in my trunk. I was disappointed. The cans inside were barely above room temperature, while the inside of my trunk got EXTREMELY warm, almost alarmingly so. And herein is the problem: the Peltier junction can only cool a certain amount below ambient temperature. If you don't vent the heat it produces (i.e. by closing it in a trunk), then the trunk gets very warm, and the cooler can only cool below that temperature.

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I then set it in my garage, plugged it into 110VAC, and let it run for four hours. I then measured the temperature of an aerosol can next to the fridge:

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Then I measured the temperature of one of the cans inside the fridge - the fridge had cooled the cans down by approximately 24 degrees F (13 degrees C). I later left it running overnight, and the cans inside were very cold - as cold as you would expect from a normal fridge.

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Some images from the packaging:

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The manual for the unit:

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Overall: I was disappointed in that my original intention for the device, having an active cooler running in my bike as I rode, was not workable. I would need to cut a ventilation hole in my saddlebag and actively vent air to/from the unit, which just isn't practible. However, it will work very well for its current use (garage cooler) as well as for camping, where I can use it to cool drinks - or even for cooking, as it produces more than enough heat (in warm mode) to heat up a "boil in the foil" type pouch.



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AZgl1800
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Re: Mini Fridge Review

Post by AZgl1800 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:07 pm

I have 3 of those things, a 24 quart used for long trips, it is only good if you set it on the truck's console with the A/C duct blowing straight at the fan.

They will drop 40* below ambient usually, mine did. so that a/c duct was blowing at 50*F and the cooler dropped into the freezing zone. made my cokes in cans very nice to drink.


I have a couple that will hold a six pack of coke or sandwiches. they are the same, if they have cold air blowing on them, they work great. so, when I was a pipeliner driving a pickup or big 4x4 those coolers set in the front passenger seat and worked great for me. 6 cans of soda pop, or water... as mentioned, plastic bottles don't fair so well.

for a bike? scratch the idea, it won't work good enough to make you happy.
e.g., the temps outside are 91* and the cooler will at best make it down to about 60* because the insulation is not good enough to survive a hot air blast.

if you have a real Refridgerator, it will work a bit better, but not much.
My RV toy hauler has a dual mode, propane and a/c. the a/c function is broken, so it runs on Propane all the time. once it gets cold, it stays cold. but we are very frugal about opening it, and closing the door fast. none of that open it and then start wondering what you want.... that kills a whole day's effort at cooling the fridge.
~John

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Re: Mini Fridge Review

Post by WingAdmin » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:27 pm

I have a Koolatron cooler, works on the same exact principal, but it's big - like ice chest big. I have to watch it, because left running for a couple days, it will freeze things left inside it, and the condensation inside turns to ice.

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Re: Mini Fridge Review

Post by Rednaxs60 » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:18 am

This would be a good candidate for those of us who do not want to tow a trailer but have a hitch installed. This unit is only 5 lbs so a custom trailer hitch rack built to suit like this one I have for my bike would work well:


My father used to use one for our camping trips and found that plugging it in the night before at the house helped with the cooling aspect in the car. Cheers
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AZgl1800
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Re: Mini Fridge Review

Post by AZgl1800 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 1:05 am

All RV type fridges benefit from being precooled 24 hours before you need them.

I load them with precooled contents also, do NOT expect them to cool down warm stuff, they can, but it will take much longer than you are willing to put up with.

I personally think that any of the 12 VDC Koolatron type units will not do a good job if left in the open air behind the bike with hot ambient air blowing on them. assume it is a 90* day, the best that cooler can do inside is maybe 40* below that, more like 30* because the construction is not made to within extreme differences in temperatures.

Just personal experience from using these things in the construction industry and leaving them in the hot sun.... the results are disappointing. they must be shaded, and have cool air blowing on the fans.
~John

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Re: Mini Fridge Review

Post by brettchallenger » Sat Jul 21, 2018 8:15 am

The carton says that the fridge will fit 6x12 fluid oz cans - which is 72fl oz = 2 litres. Or 4 litres. Which is it?
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Re: Mini Fridge Review

Post by WingAdmin » Sat Jul 21, 2018 1:10 pm

brettchallenger wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 8:15 am
The carton says that the fridge will fit 6x12 fluid oz cans - which is 72fl oz = 2 litres. Or 4 litres. Which is it?
It's both.

You can fit six 12-oz cans into it. But cans are round, so there is space between them.

If you were to pour water into the fridge cavity, it would hold 4 liters.

If you had square cans, you could fit 4L of canned beverages into it.

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Re: Mini Fridge Review

Post by brettchallenger » Sat Jul 21, 2018 1:30 pm

Business opportunity. Square beer cans.

In the days of sail, the Royal Navy had square plates so they could be stowed more efficiently - hence the saying, "three square meals a day".


Never trust a nation whose armed forces goose-step

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