VanDweller Community Forums

Full Version: the ice cooler challenge?
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2 3
Nobody's getting a bucket of water dumped on them here. Instead my quest involves having a cool drink from time to time. Stopped by Wally World and picked up this guy for $35:


It's a 52 quart (with wheels which are probably not that useful to me). I filled it with 2 bags of ice (20 pounds each) to try and conform to the .75 pound per quart ratio recommended by a note I saw in a 70 quart model. I sort of wanted to get one around 25 quarts as that would be perfect for 1 bag of ice (sold at Wal-Mart for $4 anyway) but the next lowest size was 16 quarts and did not have a spigot for emptying the melted ice. This claims to keep the ice cold for 5 days although I have a hard time believing that.

I plan to affix some foam board insulation to the outside as I've heard that increases the cooling power a bit.

Does anyone else follow a ratio of ice to quart capacity? What do you normally pay for ice? I may have been able to get away with a smaller cooler (drinks are just for me not a softball team) but I was persuaded by the 5 day claim.
1" polyisocyanurate rigid insulation has an R value of 6. The 2" is 12.9 and is available at Home Depot. I used it to increase the efficiency of my Whynter refrigerator and cut panels to size, metal taped the edges, and used double sided sticky tape to attach them. It worked well.
I have some of that exact insulation left over. What do you mean metal taped?
Aluminum tape is sold at Home Depot. Here's a website that tells about it:

I used the tape to cover the edges. Polyiso backing tends to peel away and the tape secures it. It's also aesthetically pleasing.
Thanks - I have some leftover nashua tape (multi purpose) which is shiney on the non sticky side. It is very sticky and seems like good tape. It does tend to tear easily tho. If this tape isn't the best I'll go see about getting some of that other stuff.
I wnt a different route when I was using an ice chest. I bought a 45 quart cooler that I was sure would hold a Kitty litter tub in the middle. Then I put blocks of ice whenever possible (and if I couldn't find it then I used cubes) in the kitty litter tub. That works much, much better for two reasons!!!

1) The cold is never in direct contact with the side walls of the cooler (the ice is 32 degrees). Your way, the ice and ice water directly touches the walls and carries the cold right through them. My way the cold never directly hits the walls, first it hits the air in the cooler and then that hits the walls. Inside the kitty litter is 32 degrees, the air outside the kitty litter is 38-40. That's by far better because the greater the difference in the temperature between the inside wall and what hits it, the more drive to push it through the wall to equalize temperatures.

2) Your food never swims in water!!!!

Your cooler is probably big enough to use 2 kitty litter tubs or a small plastic tote. Put the ice in that and it will last much longer.
I will look into that after this ice melts. If it lasts until Monday I'll be impressed. I was denied adding the board insulation to the sides as it would not have fit in the space I have. Not sure what I want to do with that... Maybe thinner insulation or skip that step although it definitely seems worth it if I can figure a way to do it.
One thing you probably can do is put insulation under it and on the lid. Both are very, very important.

You might consider a hot water heater blanket. They are about an inch thick of fiberglass and you just wrap it around and tape it on. The polyiso is better, but if it won't work the fiberglass is much better than nothing.
Great advice. I will try something today.
Not enough room for poly, then use a space blanket to cover the cooler.
Pages: 1 2 3