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Thread: Solar Powered Cool Box

  1. #1
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    Default Solar Powered Cool Box

    Has anyone used a solar panel to power a 12v cool-box?

    I have a cheap and cheerful cool box that plugs into the lighter socket in the car - works very well when in the car!!

    I'm aiming to do a week long trip later in the year and was hoping to power it using solar energy. Ebay has many solar "trickle chargers", but dos anybody know if these have a high enough output.

    Alternatively, what are the alternatives for keeping my beer and butter cool?

    Cheers, Owdbloke

  2. #2
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    Hi Owdbloke

    I have run a coolbox from a solar panel.
    I used a 60 watt amorphous panel on my cheapo Lidl coolbox and it worked
    quite well. The thing to watch out for is that most coolboxes are not designed to run for prolonged periods of time and unless it is switched off every so often it may burn out the motor. You can either remember to turn it off regularly or fit a low voltage timer switch, alternatively look out for a more expensive box like the ones truckers use. Make sure the solar panel throws out more power than the coolbox too, no real need for a battery because it is cooling your beer during the hottest part of the day and keeps cool through the night. You might also want to think about buying a cheap voltage regulator although I never had one on mine. Good luck and any more questions...

  3. #3
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    Alternatively, what are the alternatives for keeping my beer and butter cool?
    Butter and the like, in a tupperware - wrapped in a damp towel and exposed to a draught - stays cool enough if kept in the shade.

    Tinned beer floats - so don't put it in the river, or it'll be away downstream before you know it.

  4. #4
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    I've been thinking about this too. Has anyone used lakewater to keep things cool. How about sinking a drybag with butter, milk, Beer etc, in about 4ft of water while at camp to keep things cool?
    Big Al.

    Only when the last tree has died
    and the last river been poisoned
    and the last fish been caught
    will we realise we cannot eat money.
    ~Cree Indian Proverb

  5. #5
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    I have run a coolbox from a 12V power supply connected to the mains when 'camping' with no problem, but away from the mains; the 48W (4A at 12V) that it draws is hard to supply for any time. A suitable solar panel (greater than 60W preferably greater than 100W) is very very expensive and large. Deep cycle batteries are a non-starter unless you only want to run it for a day or so.

    I do lots of portable ham radio and for that I use sealed lead acid batteries or sometimes a small honda generator. It is only when you start trying to supply 'normal' amounts of power off grid that you realise just how much we all consume.

    After much thinking on this question we decided only to have milk when we bought it fresh; to drink black (green) tea and coffee. generally this means that we have toast (or homemade bread type products) with jam and hardboiled egg for breakfast - and no washing up!

    The beer is best chilled in a stream, but be careful, my son came back once with armfulls of canned lager. I asked him where he got it and he said that he found it lying in a stream! We took it back and there were many laughs - they even gave us a four pack

    Graham

  6. #6
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    oops! I didn't answer your initial question - the trickle chargers on ebay will NOT be suitable. Most are not even suitable even for trickle charging.

    You have set me thinking now - I wonder if one could make a small hydro-electric setup??!!

    Graham

  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the advice so far. The butter may have been a red herring (????). Clearly beer and any stuff in sealed containers can be sunk in the river, lake, or whatever other water is close by when not on the move.

    I was hoping to somebody may have a low tech bushcraft type solution for keeping the bacon left over from breakfast and the fillet steak for tonight cool while on the move during the day.

    On further investigation myself, I realise that the coolbox would just laugh at a trickle charger.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamC
    You have set me thinking now - I wonder if one could make a small hydro-electric setup??!! Graham
    I've now been surfing the tinternet (without success) to find a wizzo Heath Robinson heat exchanger ot some such that I could knock up in a jiffy with a magnet, string and a couple of feet of copper tube - or something.

    Or maybe we'll just have to eat non-fridge requiring food.

    Owdbloke
    Last edited by MagiKelly; 4th-July-2007 at 09:22 AM. Reason: Quote tags

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamC View Post
    oops! I didn't answer your initial question - the trickle chargers on ebay will NOT be suitable. Most are not even suitable even for trickle charging.

    You have set me thinking now - I wonder if one could make a small hydro-electric setup??!!

    Graham
    Yeah I've wondered about the possibilities of a portable hydro setup as well.

    Something along the lines of a collapsable vinyle cone to collect and compress the water and then a small turbine which could be used to charge a battery.

    Hmmm.


    I've got a farily substantial solar panel on the roof of my camper - but there is no way it would sustain running the 3way fridge. The fridge takes between 5-6 amps, not really sustainable even with a leisure battery.

    From what I understand gas is the only really viable solution.

    Roly.


  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamC View Post
    oops! I didn't answer your initial question - the trickle chargers on ebay will NOT be suitable. Most are not even suitable even for trickle charging.

    You have set me thinking now - I wonder if one could make a small hydro-electric setup??!!

    Graham
    In the dark recesses of my memory is an image of a pump driven by a waterwheel - the clever bit was that the whole plot was mounted on a boat, moored mid-current and tethered by the hosepipe......

  10. #10
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    I think your all mad, go out and get yourself a cow, sit her in the bow and you got yourself fresh milk n cheese n stuff and balast not to mention help with portages all thrown in and when you've loaded up at the end of your trip you've got a big ole BBQ feast.

    I'll get me coat


    I used to think i was in love and then i bought a Supernova


  11. #11
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    One old tec method of cooling your wine beer etc. is to put it in a woolen sock, soak it in the stream/river/loch/sea and then hang it up in a breeze, the water evaporation from the tight fitting sock cools the bottle/tin. It doesn't exactly chill it but it does keep it cool.

    Ian

  12. #12
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    Default Freezing?

    For keeping bacon (breakfast) and burgers / sausages (BBQ) cool for a multi-day trip - I have individually packed them in bags and then frozen them.

    Trouble is - this is a bit hit and miss. Even 12-24 hours later, some are still frozen.

    I guess milk could be frozen (we often keep cartons in the freezer in case of running out at home). It would slowly thaw over a weekend and then supply small amounts of cold milk.

    Not sure about butter though.

    How about squeezy tube margarine?
    The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.

  13. #13
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    UHT milk? but OK in extremis
    Or powedered milk.....

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamC View Post
    oops! I didn't answer your initial question - the trickle chargers on ebay will NOT be suitable. Most are not even suitable even for trickle charging.

    You have set me thinking now - I wonder if one could make a small hydro-electric setup??!!

    Graham
    Hi, I have been looking into small hydro schemes for a while now I do not think that there is anything of the shelf that would be suitable in fact it may not be feasible at all
    It would need to be:Floating, and also it would need to be fairly high output which probably means geared in some way probably with belts and pulleys
    During the bosian war I remember seeeing newsreel footage of washing machines being tethered in mid stream in a set-up similar to above where the motors where being run backwards to produce power for lights

    Cheersranoo!
    Mick

  15. #15
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    Default Keeping things cold

    I've got a car plug-in cooler (Halfords). The first time I used it, it drained the battery on the car and I had to bump start it (the car that is). So I only use it now when car is moving.

    At one of our canoe club camps a few years ago someone had a commercialy produced little fridge which consisted of an outer metal skin with lots of large holes in it, cotton wadding inside, and then an inner skin. The idea was that you soaked the wadding and as it dried in the breeze so it cooled the interior box. This seemed to work very well - keeping butter and milk fresh, but I've never seen them being sold. Any one got any ideas ?

    Like everyone else we just give up on milk, butter and anything which might go off - especialy when you are out for a few days.
    Steve Red Beard
    You know you're a canoeist when you have to look down at every river you pass, just to see if it might be runnable !

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Red Beard View Post
    At one of our canoe club camps a few years ago someone had a commercialy produced little fridge which consisted of an outer metal skin with lots of large holes in it, cotton wadding inside, and then an inner skin. The idea was that you soaked the wadding and as it dried in the breeze so it cooled the interior box. This seemed to work very well - keeping butter and milk fresh, but I've never seen them being sold. Any one got any ideas ?
    There is an evaporation-cooled fridge here:
    http://www.vwcurtains.com/easicool.htm

    Is this the one you meant?

    Cheers,

    Huon

  17. #17
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    When I was small (just before dinosaurs roamed the earth) we had a gas fridge - a fridge with a chimney - and you can still get them.

    Here

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huon View Post
    There is an evaporation-cooled fridge here:
    http://www.vwcurtains.com/easicool.htm
    Huon

    Now we're talking. In my search had just found this which clealry works on the same principle

    https://practicalaction.org/docs/agr...ng/FC29_34.pdf

    Now I just need to find suitable materials.... or a donor.... or a cow....


    Owdbloke

  19. #19
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    Default Keeping things cool

    Yes the evaporation box is similar to what i saw before, though the ones now look a lot posher.

    Talking to the wife about the evaporation box (she is engineeringly minded and loves thinking up things I could make !) she came up with the suggestion of trying to take apart an old large cool box (if they come apart ?), drilling lots of large holes in the outer to aid evaporation, and then replacing the gap between the inner and outer with wadding. Then putting it all back together again. As she said, we don't care what it looks like as long as it works ok. Does anyone think this might work ?
    Steve Red Beard
    You know you're a canoeist when you have to look down at every river you pass, just to see if it might be runnable !

  20. #20
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    Yes it will work after a fashion but you would be better off to make an inner box of Aluminium as this will have better heat transfer properties than the inner plastic lining of your cool box, which would end up insulating the contents from your efforts to cool them. I would also think that you need to keep your holes near the top (or at least the top half) so that you had a reservoir of water for the wadding to soak up, I suspect that on a hot day the rate of evaporation would be quite high.
    No experimental basis for the above by the way, just my tupenceworth.

    Ian

  21. #21
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    Wot you need is one of these:

    http://www.holycowcanoe.com/

    not sure how you milk it

  22. #22
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    Big cool box, lots of ice, and regular stops at pubs every few days to top up the ice. Otherwise the only thing that works is good old water. Most Scottish lochs are below 10C.
    Chris


  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by owdbloke View Post
    what are the alternatives for keeping my beer and butter cool?

    Cheers, Owdbloke

    Another stereotype shot down! ??????

    And here I'd always heard Brits were known for their love of warm beer.

    We are much more primitive in our cooling methods. Nothing requiring cooling lasts beyond the second day. Fresh meat is kept in a cold pack (a cold pack is whatever you want kept cold frozen inside an oilcloth bag) in the freezer until just before the trip.

    After supper the second day it is all dried stuff - unless we are near the ice caves on Alice Lake. Even into August you can find ice there some years.
    The perfect canoe -
    Like a leaf on the water

  24. #24
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    Wot you need is one of these:

    http://www.holycowcanoe.com/

    not sure how you milk it

    Hi Willpower,

    if you go to the prospector page our canoe (the very one) is photographed tied up to the dock. Never tried milking it though! I didn't think anyone else had ever heard of these guys. Great service and a beautiful paddle.

    We've got a gas fridge in the cabin from the 50's though it must weigh 250lbs - a little too heavy for the portage!

    DS
    Paddling.....liquid medicine for the soul

  25. #25

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    Newspaper carries the answer to so many things! If we're away for several days we tend to freeze anything fresh that we want to take along, then wrap it in newspaper just before putting it into the cool box. This means food thaws out more slowly due to the insulation from the newspaper. It also means less of the chill escapes every time you open the cool box.

    And you can use the paper in your kelly kettle or on the fire.

    Soggy

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by owdbloke View Post
    Has anyone used a solar panel to power a 12v cool-box?

    I have a cheap and cheerful cool box that plugs into the lighter socket in the car - works very well when in the car!!

    I'm aiming to do a week long trip later in the year and was hoping to power it using solar energy. Ebay has many solar "trickle chargers", but dos anybody know if these have a high enough output.

    Alternatively, what are the alternatives for keeping my beer and butter cool?

    Cheers, Owdbloke


    I had a similar problem. This is my solution and worked well for me.

    http://eddiestalkperch.blogspot.co.u...r-wanigan.html



    10 DAY TEST

    Day 1....7.6* below freezing
    Day 2....0.2* below freezing
    Day 3....0.1* below freezing
    Day 4....0.0* freezing
    Day 5....0.0* freezing
    Day 6....0.1* above freezing
    Day 7 away
    Day 8 away
    Day 9 away
    Day 10 = 3.5* = & still cold enough for food & beer

    The above test was done in an integral garage with an average temp of +10*C
    The box was not opened during the test to replicate the opening during the trip of at least once a day but will do another test to replicate this too and also do this with a warmer ambient temperature.
    Click on my Mini-Me to visit my Blog


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