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Coleman 40Quart Cooler: Just Keep Cooling


 

The following review is dedicated to the 40Q Coleman PowerChill Cooler - a thermoelectric cooler which is advertised to be used to cars, vans, trucks, hotels, etc. and offered on Amazon for $72.20. The first thing that definitely must be noted is that it is NEITHER a freezer, NOR a car fridge - it’s a mere cooler. It is an option for those who do not need ultra-reliable fridges or freezers and agree to handle an average cooler for keeping food cold if it’s already cool. Yet a closer look must be taken at its features - it’s not that bad as it seems to be.


 

Well, the key function every cooling/refrigerating device is supposed to have is changing the temperature of products stored inside the compartment(s). In case of this Coleman, there is no range within which temperature can be set. What is does is cooling the interior to 40 oF less than the external temperature. Actually, the internal temperature depends on the environment, which means if it’s very hot outside, your products will may not be cool enough; similarly, if it’s a cold day, and you’ve decided to install your cooler outdoors, your milk may freeze. Some of those living in Arizona and Texas report the equipment cannot work decently in such conditions. It is even recommended by some customers to put ice into the cooler to help it work. So, again - it’s NOT a refrigerator, it WILL NOT keep your drinks ice-cold.

Another drawback that stems from the peculiarity mentioned above is that you cannot set a temperature to be maintained in the compartments. Consequently, there is no display. If you want to track the temperature inside the cooler, opt for a compact device like the one we have described below (see the list of optional accessories).

When installing this model, always place it somewhere where there is enough open space for air to circulate - let the vent side be unrestricted, cooler users recommend. When it comes to air circulation inside the compartment, it has been reported that the device demonstrates better efficiency if not overloaded with food, so plan your meals wisely - let there be margins between the products stored in the cooler.

While common portable refrigerators are normally characterized by low energy consumption, this cooler does not share this feature. If you leave it running for the night, it will kill your battery. If unplugged, the cooler can maintain the temperature for 5-6 hours inside a vehicle at 80oF (26.6 oC). As it’s reported in the feedback, it causes a 0.7 volt drop when the engine isn’t running, and the fuse is 7 amps.

To install it, you will need either a 110 V home outlet (with separate adaptor described in the list of accessories provided below) or a 12 V vehicle outlet (included). According to the manual, it draws 4 Amps at 12 Volts DC Nominal, which is 48 watts.

By the way, if you hear a strange noise made by the motor when using DC, try unplugging the cooler for a few minutes and plug back in - in some cases it helps solve the problem. The general noise level is said to be low (with no exact numbers mentioned; one of the customers described the noise level as ‘humming’).

One more tip: if you decide to clean this cooler, avoid making the cooling vents wet on the inside!

Another drawback is that the end of the plugin may get really hot, so avoid touching it, if possible.

Yet it’s not that bad after all, and those users who do not expect it to be as efficient as an average portable freezer are satisfied with their purchase. Let’s take a look at its specifications.

The fridge can hold up to 44 cans. You can install it either horizontally or vertically.

The door converts and can be opened from right or left side, as the manufacturer claims. There is a tray shelf which works as a shelf if the device is installed vertically, or as a compartment divider if installed horizontally. You can adjust the compartment size/shelf height by setting the shelf in one of the sections.

The exterior dimensions are provided below:

21.75 in. (55.2 cm) x 15 in. (38.1 cm) x 17.125 in. (43.5 cm)

The height is said to be enough to store milk gallons (3.78L).

The item weight is 18.2 pounds (8.2 kg). It has no wheels, so you will have to carry it yourself. It may be a breeze for men, but some women (especially pregnant or ill ones) may need a hand truck (check the list of accessories!).

Molded handles are among other features of this model.

The cord provided with the model is about 5-7ft (150-215 cm) long (for some reason different customers report different lengths!), but you can buy an extension (also mentioned in the list of accessories). 

As the manufacturer states, it’s made in the US or US and foreign components.

If you have doubts after having read about its probable drawbacks, you may be pleased to hear there is a 1-year warranty.  

All in all, it’s a cooler that is worth buying if you cannot afford a portable fridge/freezer, as its cooling capabilities are limited, it really depends on the ambient temperature (so pre-cooling food and placing bottles with ice inside the cooler are recommended), so choose wisely.

Below you will find a list of fridge accessories you may need to ensure better experience when using the model.

1. Coleman Thermoelectric Cooler 120-Volt Adapter

This adapter is a must if you intend to use your cooler in hotels or indoors. It’s offered on Amazon at the price of $16.99. It converts cooler to household voltage, weighs 1 pound (0.45 kg) and has the dimensions of 2.6" x 3.25" x 4.75" (6.6 x 8.25 x 12 cm). The output is 12V and 5A. The cord is said to be 6 inches (15.24 cm) long.

All in all, it’s just an adaptor needed to power the cooler if it’s installed indoors.

2. RoadPro RP-203EC Extension Cord

If you want to install the cooler somewhere far from the cigarette lighter socket, don’t forget to place an order and buy this extension cord, which is listed on Amazon and offered at the price of $7.81.

Just insert the male plug into the female socket, and you have additional 12 feet (3.66 m). As to the specifications, it has a 15 amp capacity and 18 gauge. This cord may also come in handy if you want to plug devices other than the cooler, so it’s a popular item among those who use their car to power their devices and appliances.

3. Renogy 200 Watts Bundle Kit

Since this cooler consumes much power, it is recommended to supply it with energy using some other source to ensure your car will start after a night of cooling food. If there is no mains, it’s the best option to install a solar panel outside your truck, van or other vehicle to charge the battery and power the cooler. We also recommend choosing a panel which is capable of providing more energy than the Coleman needs so that you could charge your smartphones and laptops.

The Renogy 200W is our favourite solar panel. It costs $324.99 on Amazon and gives 200 watts, which is more than enough to have your cooler running.

Unlike one of the best portable solar chargers the package you are given for the above mentioned sum includes 2 monocrystalline 100-watt solar panels, a 30A Wanderer charge controller, a 9in MC4 Adaptor Kit, and two pairs of branch connectors. Consequently, you will need to buy a battery, for instance, like the Minn Kota model. When choosing a battery, try to calculate what capacity and features you need it to have.

The solar panel itself has the following dimensions:

47 x 21.3 x 1.4 inches / 119.4 x 54,1 x 3.556 cm

If you still do not have enough power for all the devices you need while travelling, you can extend the set so that it could supply you with up to 400 watts.

Mind that all specifications of solar panels are listed with regard to optimal conditions, so always take into account where you are going to use your solar panel and how often sunlight will touch it.  

This model is characterized by positive feedback (though some claim the controller is of poor quality, which means you must be careful when using it). 

4. Vergo S300S Hand Truck

The Vergo S300S you see is the hand truck we always recommend, because it combines a lot of benefits that make it a goof option for carrying appliances, including your Coleman cooler.

It’s offered on Amazon for $35.00 and capable of transporting up to 150 pounds (68 kg) of load. Even if you do not intend to carry your cooler often, this item may appear to be useful when moving or carrying heavy things while working or gardening.

Though we do not recommend loading too many boxes and other heavy things on it making up a weight close to the max one, because such loads can lead to the hand truck damaging.

The telescopic handle, the durable frame, and 5” (12.7 cm) rubber wheels that are good for using the hand truck on even surfaces (like lawns and pavements; no rocks or dirt are recommended!) are among other features we really like in this model. There are elements made of steel, so the model is rather heavy - it’s 8 pounds / 3.6 kg, so it might be better to have someone helping you climb ladders and stairs while carrying the hand truck. 

Here are the dimensions of different hand truck parts:

Full size - 39" x 16" x 14" (99.1 x 40.64 x 35.6 cm);

Folded size - 29.75" x 15.25" x 2" (75.6 x 38.7 x 5.1 cm);

Nose plate size - 15" x 11" (38.1 x 27.9 cm).

5. AcuRite 00986 Refrigerator/Freezer Wireless Digital Thermometer

As it has been said above, the Coleman cooler in question has no display, so the only way to find out what temperature there is inside the compartments is to buy and install a thermometer (unless you want an old-school classic thermometer with a red indicating line!). We always recommend buying AcuRite - this thermometer set features two sensors and a display with a lot of functions.

It costs $23.99 on Amazon, and you can use it in your household fridge when the Coleman cooler is not in use.

There are two sensors, so you can install one of them in the cooler, and the other one somewhere outside it where it would be convenient for you to track the temperature. You can even set the temperature range within which the situation in the device will be considered by the display unit as ‘normal’; if the temperature drops below or exceeds the set temperature, there will be a visual and audible signal.

The wireless system uses radio signals to communicate with the sensors (the period of updating the information is said to be 3 minutes).

Attaching the sensors to surfaces is easy: there are suction cups and rubberized clips for fast installation. The display is attached to surfaces with the help of a magnet or a keyhole, which means you can set it on the cooler door or even hang it on some wall or just place it somewhere near the driver seat. The picture below depicts how the sensors can be placed.

It takes 15 minutes for the thermometer to decide that the cooler (or whatever else) needs your attention: the signal is sent only if the temperature changes persist for 15 minutes, so you will not hear it crying for help each time you want a cold drink.

The display shows current temperature, extreme temperature recordings (which can be reset), and the alarm sign.

The trickiest aspect of buying this thermometer implies choosing the right batteries. Note that the sensors and the display operate using different kinds of batteries, namely 2 AAA for the display, and 2 AA lithium or alkaline batteries for EACH sensor! Also, batteries are not included in the package you get, so you will have to buy them separately, and be careful when choosing!

The sensors can be installed within 330” / 100 m of each other. The frequency it uses to transmit signals is reported to be 433 MHz.

The positive feedback making up the majority of all reviews posted on Amazons makes it our favourite thermometer. One of the concerns of which Amazons customers shared their opinion is that the overlapping of signals which may occur if who sets are placed close to each other. Yet it does not appear to be a common case, because some customers claim they have two of these installed within a short range from each other and running without any issues.

Temperature range within which you can set the right temperature is from -40º to 158º F (from -40º C to 70º C).

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