All About 12 Volt Coolers

12 Volt Coolers

So you've finally decided to get rid of that old, outdated ice chest and buy a brand new, modern electric cooler; an excellent selection. But you might have already noticed how much diversity there is in electric 12 volt coolers. This isn't going to be an easy choice, but here are four points that should make it a little easier.

What to Look for When Purchasing an Electric Cooler

1. What is the temperature below ambient?
Coolers allow you to maintain your food and beverages a certain level below the ambient temperature. The most popular e-cooler is a 12v cooler, and a quality 12 volt cooler allows you to maintain its contents 30°F below ambient. If the ambient temperature is 90°F, that's enough to keep your perishables below room temperature. If you were using a lesser cooler, things might get dicey.

2. What power adapter does it use? And how versatile is it?
Most electronic coolers, whether they are 12v or 110v, use a cigarette lighter adapter that fits any standard automobile receptacle. This is the most convenient type of adapter since most people use their cooler on the road, and if you need more options, you can get a cigarette lighter to 110v AC adapter so that you can plug it into a wall outlet. Depending on the size of your cooler, you may be able to use a cigarette lighter to USB adapter. Beware e-coolers that employ proprietary adapters.

3. Ensure that the handle/strap is durable and comfortable enough for the load.
The weight of a cooler is deceiving when you're evaluating it empty. They can get heavy quick, and one of the areas where "economy" brands cut corners is at the handle and strap. If that breaks, the cooler is far less convenient. Soft-sided portable coolers typically have straps rather than handles. Make sure that the strap is adjustable and that it's comfortable resting on your shoulder. It may dig in with actual weight inside the cooler.

4. Remember, portable isn't the only option.
Portable electric coolers are the most popular kind of coolers for obvious reasons, but they're not the only choice. Station-based e-coolers allow you to have the convenience of a mini fridge in your garage or basement without the expense. And if you want both, you can buy a combination unit. The combo coolers affix to the wall via a base and then pop out as a portable unit whenever you need it.

Taking Care of Your Electric Cooler

1. Choose a proper handle/strap at purchase. Always inspect the handle/strap after use.
If the handle breaks, then at best, the cooler becomes less usable; at worst, the fall can severely damage the cooler. Ensure that the handle is durable enough for the cooler at fully capacity. An inexpensive replacement can save you money long-term.

2. Ensure all power adapters and connections are seated fully and firmly.
If you're in a rush, it's easy to connect adapters or fit them into the source improperly. Doing so can cause under performance, and it can also damage the adapter and in some cases, the cooler.

3. Do not use an improper power adapter.
Likewise, don't jury-rig adapters or attempt to use an unsuitable adapter. A USB adapter may be appropriate for a 12v cooler but probably not for an 110v unit. Check the manual.

4. Watch for adapters that get hot.
AC adapters will get a little hot but if it's excessive or if the cigarette-lighter adapter on your 12 volt cooler is getting hot, then you need to replace it immediately.

5. Each use, check the power supply while disconnected from DC or AC power.
If you have an electric cooler with a power supply, check it at some point during each use when you have it disconnected from all other power sources.

6. After each use, dry moisture inside and out.
Typically, manufactures insulate the electric components well, but better safe than sorry. By drying the unit, you maintain a fresh smell and ensure that it never compromises the cooler's internals.

7. Do not leave your cooler powered when unnecessary.
Heat is the inevitable cause of failure in electric devices. You'll extend the unit's life by powering it only as much as is necessary.

8. When in use, allow the fan to breathe.
Depending on your cooler configuration, it may be possible to obstruct the cooling mechanism, such as a fan. Pay attention to this because doing so causes it to overwork, which will shorten its lifespan.