By James Stoness

Most of us remember the days when we wanted to go on a picnic. We probably got out the old blue, metal cooler, and put in some bags of ice, or perhaps several cool gel-packs, followed by some canned drinks, and sandwiches. It certainly worked, but the ice was a bit messy when it melted, and the gel-packs used up a lot of space.

Enter the Dometic CoolFreeze family of coolers that are actually small refrigerators. Plug them in and maintain temperatures from -22ºC to 10ºC. The thermostat is adjustable and you can see the set temperature, and the actual temperature on the screen. These are compressor driven coolers and run very quietly although pulling a healthy 7 amps on 12 volt plug-ins. To prevent your vehicle starter battery from being depleted you can set the cooler to turn off when the voltage reaches your selection of three voltages.

The unit tested was the CFX-50 with an inner volume of 46 litres. The company rates the Dometic CoolFreeze as a 72 can size. The interior has a full depth end, and a narrower shallow end because the space below is taken up with the motor and other functioning parts. The unit is attractively finished in grey with a blue band around the centre. A robust handle is fastened to each end and folds down when not in use. The corners of the box are reinforced with heavy plastic guards to protect the unit against the rough use it can expect in the outdoors, your trunk, or the RV.

The cooler looks large due to the thickness of insulation, and it stayed cold on the shopping trip although it wasn’t during one of our recent heat waves. If our Jeep Cherokee had a live outlet in the trunk it certainly would keep its cool. In our case, the cooling only occurred when the engine was running between store stops.

You should measure the location where you expect to use the cooler most often so you know it will fit. The lid can be taken off and hinged on the opposite side, but it does hinge upward so you have to have room for it to open. The larger units can also be hefty. This unit weighed about 21 kg.

The unit also comes with a 120 volt extension cord as well. If you’ve been running the cooler on 12 volt in your RV and you connect to Shore power, the unit will switch over automatically, provided you have it plugged into a 120 volt circuit. If you can only open it part of the way, secure a short prop to hold it open when you are moving food in and out.

The interior is lit with a LED light. The hinges are stainless steel to avoid unwanted rusting. As with a lot of electric purchases, there is a USB port for charging some electronic equipment.

This is a well-built, attractive cooling unit that should function effectively for many years. It can be used as a temporary refrigerator when you bring home too much to fit in the kitchen frig, and it can also extend the range of your RV refrigerator when you are planning on doing some extensive boondocking. It’s also built with the quality expected from Dometic.

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