While this is a cycling website, we like to give nods to products that make our lives easier while on the road. With the booming popularity of car camping and cycling road trips, come a lot of decision making about what products work best for extended or even weekend getaways. One such product that has been thoroughly vetted over the years over here are Dometic’s electric coolers. We’ve been using the CFX series for a few years now and these coolers have a big leg up on the competition in that they have the ability to run autonomously from your vehicle’s electric systems thanks to the PLB40 battery. Take a look below for more information and a promotional code for free shipping to readers of the Radavist.
How Does It Work?
Electronic coolers are very handy for road trips and weekend getaways. You don’t have to buy ice ever again and depending on your knowledge of 12v systems, you can leave them on all the time in your vehicle so you have frosty beverages waiting after every ride. This is possible by installing an auxiliary home battery. A “home” battery is typically a second battery stored in your vehicle somewhere, which is charged by your alternator or by a solar array.
This secondary battery will run a sine wave inverter, of which you could plug in your electronic cooler. The problem is, this requires a lot of knowledge on how 12v systems work and can cost a lot of money to get running correctly.
The Dometic PLB40 battery solves this problem, offering up a power source for your cooler, which depending on the size of the cooler can run for up to 4 days without a recharge. This is perfect if you’re the type that likes to set up a base camp in an area and ride for a few days before returning home. To charge the PLB40, you can simply plug it into your cigarette lighter while driving or charge it from any wall outlet. Typically, you’d want to stick to a 50L and smaller fridge when running the PLB40 battery, as larger coolers pull a significant more about of juice.
For the past few years, we’ve been using this system during our road trips and it’s been especially handy when covering bike races where I have to spend every waking moment shooting the event and not worrying if my food is going to spoil or if my sparkling water is still going to be sparkly. This year, however, we switched to a bigger fridge, in a bigger vehicle, with a 12v system.
We have the CFX75 fridge, which is cavernous, and honestly too big for most people’s weekend trips, but since we usually spend seven months out of each year on the road, a lot of times not re-upping supplies for a week, we love the extra space. With that extra space comes a lot of power draw, so we have an auxiliary “home” battery – a National Luna Power Pack – running off our high-output alternator, with a 320w Renogy solar array on the roof of the pop-top of our Troopy Carrier Land Cruiser. Side note: We’re in the middle of building out the interior of the Troopy, with a cabinet where this jumble of electronics will live, so don’t mind the mess.
This system, albeit a bit more complicated than the PLB40 battery, offers a bit more linear movement when it comes to electronics and peripherals. If our starter battery ever dies, I can jump-start the truck from this auxiliary battery, or as a boost of extra cranking amps. We can also power laptops, a small heater, camera chargers, and other things from the aux battery while monitoring the solar controller power input from the Renogy Bluetooth app.
The electronic coolers from Dometic feature a USB charger, easy to read interface, and their own app to monitor power consumption…
Having an electronic cooler is the definition of a luxury item. Yet, if you spend enough time on the road, the cost of buying ice every few days, plus a good cooler certainly adds up. Dometic makes a variety of electronic coolers, of which you’ll be able to easily find the right size for your needs. Once you’ve picked out a cooler based on your needs and budget (ranging from $899 on up), the PLB 40 battery is $849.99, which is cheaper than buying into a dedicated 12v system, and it’s mobile.
You can take the cooler and battery into any vehicle, so if you have a van for cycling road trips and a sedan for car camping, there’s no need to have two 12v systems. Yes, this system is pricey, so you have to weigh if it’s right for you.
For readers of this website, we’ve teamed up with Dometic to offer free shipping, by simply using the code RADAVIST.
If you have an electric cooler or would like to get one, or have any other questions, drop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!