How to make your ice chest better

Swamp Coolers, Cooler Management, Dry Ice, Misting Systems, and just plain how to beat the heat.

How to make your ice chest better

Postby jebus_curst » Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:16 pm

I just came across a discussion on 'best coolers' on a regional facebook page. I thought to myself about coolers/ice chest. "Why buy a better cooler." We are bad asses. We can make them better. 1: Use bungee to keep keep the lid shut tight. 2: Lift your cooler off the ground or table. Anything making contact with it will try to exchange heat (temperature). Use 4 bricks under each corners. 3: Make a shade structure. Once again leave room between anything and your cooler. Things to remember: One of the best insulators is atmosphere. Contact will exchange heat. You can use use more than one cooler. Bigger is not always better. Standing in line for ice is fun.
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Re: How to make your ice chest better

Postby mudpuppy000 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:24 am

This will definitely make them better too:

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Re: How to make your ice chest better

Postby Canoe » Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:03 pm

jebus_curst wrote:...Things to remember: One of the best insulators is atmosphere. Contact will exchange heat...

And when that atmosphere is at 95F and it is contacting your cooler?

Here some points on getting the most out of your cooler on-playa.
viewtopic.php?f=276&t=64666#p945250
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Re: How to make your ice chest better

Postby Elderberry » Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:10 pm

Or you can just bring a freezer and refrigerator.
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Re: How to make your ice chest better

Postby otakup0pe » Sun Jun 23, 2013 2:06 pm

jkisha wrote:Or you can just bring a freezer and refrigerator.


We kept two coolers in our hexayurt for this reason. We tried to only open the "freezer" during the night to transfer blue gel ice packs to the "fridge". Dry ice lasted in the "freezer" Saturday through Thursday and the temperature was below freezing until well into Friday.
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Re: How to make your ice chest better

Postby BBadger » Sun Jun 23, 2013 5:25 pm

Air is an "okay" insulator, provided it can't move heat via convection. Check out these equations and the calculator at the bottom on how much energy is being transferred into your cooler at certain values. I plugged in 5 for h_c (natural convection), an air temperature of 90 degrees, and a surface temp of 70 degrees, over 1 meter squared surface area. That results in about 100W of energy entering your cooler!

Convection is why real insulation is made up of small pockets of air and why air leaks in homes can reduce energy efficiency. You don't see homes insulated with just air after all. Convection is also why coolers with real insulation in the walls perform better than coolers with just large regions of air: the insulation prevents the air from moving heat into your stored goods.

If you want to make your ice chest actually better and DIY it, you should buy insulating paneling and make sure your cooler is air tight. Some people even try filling their cooler walls with expanding foam, but often that'll leave large gaps of air in the walls, defeating the purpose. You'll also want to restrict airflow to the exterior of the cooler; so if you elevate your cooler, ensure that it doesn't promote airflow. Putting the cooler in a shaded, sheltered location will help a bit.
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Re: How to make your ice chest better

Postby unjonharley » Sun Jun 23, 2013 6:00 pm

I have always brought a Coleman 5 day cooler.. Three blokes and filled around the blokes with cube ice.. The cooler is cleaned to food grade.. The food is kept in a container away from the ice.. The cooler is then wrapped in (dollar store) windshield reflectors and a blanket, blocked up on a plywood floor.. A tube on the drain provides cold water all week.. The ice would last ten days.. This year I'm going with a Igloo drink dispenser.. With a tray on to of the ice for condiment.. Shooting for all dried foods.. 5 gallon water bottle with a hand pump.. Two 5 gallon shower bags and a 5 gallon collapsible container.. That container has been camping with me for ten years.. I have some old plastic gas cans for extra waste.
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Re: How to make your ice chest better

Postby BeeWeeDee » Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:55 am

filled around the blokes with cube ice


Now I have this mental picture of three frozen or very blue Australians in an ice chest.
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Re: How to make your ice chest better

Postby unjonharley » Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:57 am

BeeWeeDee wrote:
filled around the blokes with cube ice


Now I have this mental picture of three frozen or very blue Australians in an ice chest.


What else are they good for??
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Re: How to make your ice chest better

Postby trilobyte » Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:34 am

A belated welcome to ePlaya. There are lots of great tips on the boards for coolers and cooler efficiency, you may want to take a few minutes to browse some of the threads in this board (or older ones still buried deep in Q&A) for some of the things participants do to keep their stuff cool.
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Re: How to make your ice chest better

Postby C187 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:56 am

The ground of my tent plus all the blankets on top of the beer during the day has always seemed to do the trick for me. Although I like the idea of the freezer and fridge as outlined above.
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Re: How to make your ice chest better

Postby Canoe » Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:39 am

C187 wrote:The ground of my tent plus all the blankets on top of the beer during the day has always seemed to do the trick for me...

Shade & blankets are the tried & true 'old school' for getting better performance from your cooler on-playa. But others are getting even more benefit.

For those coming for the first time or those looking for further improvement, the rough hierarchy of beneficial things includes:
  • not in your solar-oven vehicle
  • in the shade
  • make sure cooler seals when you close it
  • off the ground
    • (even in the shade or inside a hexayurt; yes the ground is cooler than the air, but it's hotter than the cooler's contents so its still a source of heat to conduct through to the inside)
    • preferably with insulation under it, to keep hot air from flowing under it
  • added insulation (blankets, cooler inside cooler, foam-board, bubble-wrap) to keep the hot air away
  • radiant barrier to reflect heat away

Foil-sided bubble-wrap provides both insulation and a radiant barrier to reflect heat away.
Foil-sided fibre-re-enforced foam sheets (like used for making hexayurts) are even better. Has slightly less effective heat reflectance, but much much better insulation. Great for making a box to put your cooler in.
Join & seal both materials with foil tape.
viewtopic.php?f=276&t=64666#p945251

Then through the threads there's advice on how to manage cooler access through the week. As every time you open it, you're exposing the contents to hot air. So a single cooler, multiple coolers (food vs. drinks, etc.), how to package the food to keep the food clean/good and any ice-melt water uncontaminated, use only potable water for making ice-cubes, cooler-packs vs. ice vs. dry ice, etc.. As Trilobye said, search through the threads.
Odd. No bears to watch in the dump. Oh well, lets go across the road & pick blueberries.
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... but don't harm the red dragon that frequents the area from time to time. He and I have an agreement.
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Re: How to make your ice chest better

Postby gyre » Fri Aug 09, 2013 5:11 pm

Cooler walls should already have foam in them.

Cheap ones have hollow lids.
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Re: How to make your ice chest better

Postby Canoe » Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:54 pm

Canoe wrote:
  • off the ground
    • (even in the shade or inside a hexayurt; yes the ground is cooler than the air, but it's hotter than the cooler's contents so its still a source of heat to conduct through to the inside)
    • preferably with insulation under it, to keep hot air from flowing under it

NOTE: under the Burning Man Food Safety Requirement for the Temporary Food Establishment permit, it requires
Store all foods, beverages, serving containers, equipment and ice off the ground a minimum of 6 inches.
Odd. No bears to watch in the dump. Oh well, lets go across the road & pick blueberries.
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... but don't harm the red dragon that frequents the area from time to time. He and I have an agreement.
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