New fridge for the Crusin' Casa!

IveofIone

WFF Supporter
After reading a ton of reviews and checking every model's dimensions I found a model that was highly rated and fit my Casa perfectly without any modifications. Even the power hookup was on the right end to hook to the Jackery. It is a Setpower AJ50 Series with a 53 qt capacity. Initial impression is that it is very well made of materials of reasonably high quality. It can be a freezer or a fridge or both depending on how it is set up. I'll let it rest for a day then turn it on and check it out.

But I have already made a significant discovery. The unit is a handsome light gray color with a dark gray band around the center and handles made of white plastic tubing. With the unit setting in direct sunlight on a 92 degree day the dark gray part registered a surface temp of 172 degrees! The light gray part read 161 degrees and surprisingly the white handles were around 149 degrees. By contrast my old cooler parked right alongside but with a Reflectix cover showed 97 degrees. A 75 degree reduction by simply covering the heat absorbing parts with Reflectix. Needless to say one of the first things I do will be craft a new reflective cover and reduce the amount of work the unit has to do.
 

IveofIone

WFF Supporter
I think I'll keep a running account of my experiences with this unit since there is so much interest in portable electric fridges. For years Dometic has dominated the market in this sector and are very expensive. In addition there were only a couple of other players in the market and all were about the same price as the Dometic. Fast forward to 2021 and the playing field has changed dramatically. The Chinese have invaded the market with products that cost about a third of what the high end stuff is selling for. For instance, my new Setpower AJ50 cost $339 for a 53 qt model whereas a comparable Dometic of the same size is right at $1,000. For many folks that is the difference between affordable and unaffordable. Early Chinese models had their problems with noisy compressors that didn't always last but the latest iterations are up to speed with super quiet models. Having heard some of the older ones I was pleasantly surprised to find that my new one is whisper quiet. Turning it on high with an internal temp of 72 it cooled to 29 degrees in just under 25 minutes then shut off.

Controls are simple and intuitive and right on top where they are easy to see. The latch is positive and the seal appears well designed. The instruction manual is written in actual English with none of the often inscrutable syntax often typical and seems to be very well thought out. And finally, Setpower gets an A+ for packaging! I was apprehensive about the condition it might arrive in but needn't have worried, it was a box within a box with a foam padded bottom and cleverly designed cardboard shock absorbers inside.

So far so good-I'll keep track of any pros or cons going forward.
 

cabezon

Sculpin Enterprises
WFF Supporter
So far so good-I'll keep track of any pros or cons going forward.
I will be very interested in power consumption under "real world" usage. How realistic would it be to sustain this refrigerator with solar if one really wanted an "off-the-grid" trip? How quickly does it draw down the Jackery? Thank you for keeping us up on your tinkering and experimentation.
Steve
 

IveofIone

WFF Supporter
Steve, I have read many accounts of how long the Jackery 1000 will run a 12v fridge and some are claiming 120 hours. Even the 500 model keeps a fridge going for over 60 hours so there is a lot of power on hand for a long period of time. They are talking straight run time here with no augmentation while the fridge is running. I don't see that happening as the unit is in the truck and any time the truck is running the unit is being charged. And when parked the solar will take over and maintain the charge.

So usage is the deciding component-open it a lot or start it off with warm food and it will work much harder to stay powered up. Ambient temperature is a big deal as well, it will naturally be less efficient in hot weather than cold. But many people say that with the solar panel and the vehicle charging, battery life is indefinite since the battery is constantly being replenished.

This is just a guesstimate but in the worst case scenario I would expect the fridge to run at least 3 days on one charge. Best case scenario with the truck and solar keeping things going-probably all summer. Many overlanders are using Jackery or similar units for weeks off grid at a time so the answer to your off grid question is 'very realistic.'
 

IveofIone

WFF Supporter
First update: I placed the new fridge in the truck on Thursday with it charged to 100%. Using the AC power brick supplied with it it ran quietly and smoothly for several hours with the truck in direct sunlight and the solar panel producing far more energy than the fridge needed. Then something went really wrong. The unit-which is rated at 55w-started fluctuating wildly up to over 100 watts and somehow used up 30% of the Jackery's power in about 10 minutes. That was over a day's usage in just minutes.

I removed everything from the truck and moved it into the house where I could do some test with house current to see if the Jackery was at fault. It wasn't but the power brick was suspect as it became very hot and and the fluctuations continued. Discarding the AC feed I plugged it into the 12v feed and it started to perform as advertised. Then charged back to 100% from the wall outlet I let it run the rest of the day and all night on just the Jackery.

In the morning I put everything back in the truck and starting with 83% power available I drove to Spokane with the temp set at 10 degrees. I filled it to capacity at Costco and then spent several more hours in town in 90 degree temps. It seemed to perform flawlessly and by the time I got home late in the day it was still about 11 degrees inside but by then the power had increased to 93% by virtue of the truck charging it while driving.

So for now it is working in the Casa in the manner in which it was designed, charging both from the truck or with solar but at this point I can't plug it into house current with the defective power AC power brick. I immediately contacted the company about the power brick and gave them even more detail than I have written here in an effort to get the power brick replaced. Sadly, they have not responded yet-so much for prompt customer service. I'll give them a few more days to make this right and if not package it up and send it back since I bought it from Amazon.

Hopefully the next news will be good.
 

IveofIone

WFF Supporter
Monday morning: I received an email from Setpower this morning with an apology for not getting back to me sooner. They are sending out a new AC adapter right away, hopefully that will solve the problem.

On Saturday-a cloudy day-I ran the fridge on full power from the Jackery while running 2 USB fans at the same time and still charged up to 99% in a couple of hours from a 100W solar panel. It seems to be working great but I am nervous about any damage that may have been done by the defective AC adapter.

I really want this thing to work as it is 40 miles to the supermarket. Bringing frozen food home at 0 degrees is far better than having it in an ice chest, particularly when there are other errands to do before getting stuff home and safely refrigerated.
 
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IveofIone

WFF Supporter
Friday June 25. I'm impressed with the response Setpower made to my plea for help. The new power adapter arrived today and initial indications are that it is working perfectly. Plugged into the Jackery, wattage is an as advertised 55W on maximum cool. Once down to temp it pulls a measly 2W at idle, most of the battery drain was from cooling it down to 10 degrees from 72 degrees.

Now, completely encapsulated in Reflectix except for the vents, I expect faster cooling and longer battery life which was great to begin with.

Just a word of caution to anyone thinking about buying a compressor fridge for your rig: Buy big! Those little 30 and 40 qt models are surprisingly tiny and once you put a sixpack in them there is little space left. The footprint of my 53 qt model is little larger than a 40 qt but the extra space inside is a huge bonus. If you buy small just because they are cheaper you are probably buying for the wrong reason. Get something with enough room to be useful.
 

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