Having an electric cooler is akin to owning a small refrigerator. The compact size of this cooling unit allows it to be used in ways that other cooling devices cannot. For instance, electric cool boxes are a popular camping accessory because of their portable design. They help keep food and drinks cold while you’re on the move and even continue to operate when you set up camp.
It’s important to know how to run your cool box. As with any electrical appliance, you’ll need a power source to use electric coolers. There are different ways to supply the necessary power to your cool box which will be discussed in this post.
Powering Your Electric Cooler from a Wall Socket
Most thermoelectric coolers draw power from a wall socket using a 12V adapter. These power adapters typically have an electronic transformer which converts AC mains power to direct current and steps it down to 12V. This explains the reason why it’s possible to connect a 12V cool box to a 110-220V power outlet.
As a result, you can pre-chill your electric cool box from home using the household AC mains power before hitting the road. Some campsites also offer 110V-AC sockets, thus making it possible to keep your cooler running even when on a camping holiday.
How to Power an Electric Cool Box from Your Car
Cool boxes are designed to run on direct current. Therefore, it’s possible to power them directly from a car battery. All you have to do is connect the cool box to the cigarette lighter socket in your vehicle. This cylindrical socket usually accepts a small push in plug and most modern vehicles now provide one.
Your cool box manufacturer should provide the auxiliary cable required to draw power from a vehicle’s battery. This plug draws 12V via a fused link from your car’s DC power, so it’s very safe to use. Being able to power a cool box from a car is convenient, especially for avid outdoor enthusiasts who travel a lot.
Best Ways to Run Your Electric Cooler
There is a lot more to running an electric cooler than just knowing the basic ways to supply your unit with power. Below are some dos and don’ts that can help you get the best performance from your cool box.
- Acclimatize or pre-chill your cool box: Cool boxes are designed for maximum thermal retention of both hot and cold temperatures. Never store your cooler in hot conditions when trying to keep food and drinks cold. If you store an empty cooler in direct sunlight, a warm room or hot vehicle, heat is absorbed from the surroundings and retained inside the box. This can interfere with cold retention, so the best practice is to store your cooler in a cool, shaded area and away from direct sunlight. Plugging in your thermoelectric cool box to a power source while empty for approximately 3 hours prior to use can boost cooling performance.
- Draw power from a secondary battery or start the car engine occasionally: Some automobiles and boats run on a secondary battery. When possible, connect your cool box to the secondary battery. This way, you can avoid draining the main battery completely to the point where your car cannot start. If there is no secondary battery to draw power from, make sure to run the engine occasionally so that the alternator can recharge your car battery.
Avoid common operation mistakes: If you want to avoid system malfunction, remember to follow these tips:
- Do not store your cool box in an enclosed area or cabinet like your car trunk. This blocks air vents thus increasing the risk of component failure, electric shock and fire.
- Never fill the cooler with liquids. Unless your unit is designed to dispense liquids, adding beverages inside the cooling compartment can cause corrosive damage or impair the fan and motor.