Alpicool / Bluetti power system road test

I bought the Alpicool C40 because it’s the fridge recommended to fit in the rear cargo well between the rear kitchen drawers of the Roadloft. It’s been in the rear of the van since I picked it up at Alaska Marine Lines (AML). Now that the Bluetti EB70s, Fridge, and Roadloft are all in place in the van, its time to test the system on the road around town to see how well it functions with the Van’s power system.

But let’s back up a bit…

There are lots of options for keeping food cold on the road. In the past, I’ve used a hard sided cooler with ice to store food on trips. On Airplanes, I’ve used hard coolers with dry ice to transport frozen food like Halibut to take to people we’ve visited, or to bring Elk or Antelope when coming back home. For day trips, a cooler is a good option, especially when everything is already frozen, and food is packed tightly.

Another option is a 12 Volt cooler, which uses energy from your car’s battery instead of ice to keep food cold. Generally, 12 V coolers are small and good for times when you are planning on having the engine running. They will change the temperature inside the cooler around a certain number of degrees F from the outside ambient temperature, and they should not be wet on the interior because there are often ventilation fans on the interior of the unit. they are also much less efficient than 12 V refrigerators.

12 V refrigerators have more flexibility and they are far more efficient at using energy than coolers. They also are generally more expensive than 12V coolers. Some 12V fridges have two temperature zones, so that one section can be frozen, and another section can be fridge temperature. Those are more expensive than most single temp zone fridges.

This video is a great intro to 12V fridges with some basic comparisons.

Saturday, Mellie wanted to go on a picnic. It was sunny and 70 and a great opportunity to drive for a while to see how the fridge and power station worked together.

North Douglas Highway past the boat launch

We sat on our stepstools behind the van in the shade and ate our lunches from Foodlandiga. The fridge barely came on. The Bluetti only draws power while the engine is running with this setup:

…no power being drawn while engine is off…

But the fridge can run as needed with the Bluetti overnight:

Fridge is running with the engine off from the Bluetti power supply

So far, the fridge has been ok to run overnight for several nights has kept food cold, and has not prevented the car from starting. The Bluetti has plenty of power to run the fridge overnight (at least in Juneau Temperatures) and when the car is running, the power station charges more quickly than the fridge draws it out.

Another advantage of the Bluetti is that it can BE CHARGED at the same time it is CHARGING OTHER DEVICES. This means I don’t have to monitor what is plugged in at all times or switch things around or plan ahead for how to prioritize devices in sequence. As long as we are driving, we can plug into the van USB power or to the Bluetti for a charge, and when we are sleeping, there will be enough battery to keep food cold until we are driving again the next day, or, if we are stopped, until we can hook up the solar panel to charge while we are doing other activities.

The caveat with Solar is that we do not have a permanent mount system for the panel. Since the panel is 100% portable, that means we need to be someplace secure enough to either be close at hand or feel that the panel is not in danger of growing legs and disappearing. It takes almost no time to hook up the panel, so I’ll be looking for a way to use solar whenever we get the opportunity, while stopping to make meals or take a break from being in the van.

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