Bringing the conveniences of home into the car instantly improves a summer road trip. That’s why an electric cooler–fully stocked with snacks and refreshments, of course–deserves to tag along.
“Electric coolers aren’t only for long-haul truck drivers who want to avoid eating fast food,” said Sneha Kulkarni, director of public relations for Koolatron, an Ontario-based company that has manufactured thermoelectric coolers since 1983.
Officially known as thermoelectric coolers, these portable devices don’t contain refrigerant, instead, they draw in surrounding air and push it through an electric fan.
The cooler serves a dual purpose. Reversing the fan invites warm air into the container.
“It’s not something you can use to cook a meal, but it will keep takeout warm until you get home or keep that dish ready on your way to the potluck,” she said.
Below, Kulkarni shares some insight about finding the right thermoelectric cooler and how to get the most out of it:
- Have a plan. How big is your vehicle? Where do you want to store it? What do you want to use it for? Ask and answer these questions and you’re on the path to an informed purchase.
- Simple is best. More components equals more risk for something to break down. The fan should be the only moving piece. The electric motor and the fan should be encased by the cooler in a way that doesn’t impede storage capacity.
- Easy cleaning. Plastic interiors are easy to clean and won’t absorb odors. Clean with soap and water. DO NOT submerge the cooler in water. Ever. At all. Under any circumstances. Submerging the cooler will destroy the electric motor.
- It’s an investment. A thermoelectric cooler can and should last years. Hard shell models are especially durable.Plan ahead. For best results, refrigerate anything you want kept cold overnight before stocking the cooler.
- Convenience within a convenience. Some models might include a USB port, allowing you to charge a cell phone or tablet as the cooler does its thing.