For the past seven years I have wanted an extra freezer to keep out in my ManCave, aka: garage. And this was well before COVID19! We cook at home a ton and I like lots of treats like ice cream so my gf often complains “MARK there is no room in our freezer for food because you have so many ice cream treats in there!” LOL she does have a point…..
And we do a ton of car camping too, again well before COVID19! One day I was watching HoboTech where he reviewed a First SOLAR POWERED 12v Cordless Fridge! ACOPOWER LiONCooler X40A Refrigerator Freezer. I trust his reviews and have purchased several items he reviewed. And all of those proved to be useful and well built. So I was very intrigued until I looked at the price for the AcoPower 52q model. Wow that’s pricey! But then I started thinking….to purchase an extra freezer for the house would run me around 350.00 to 425.00. Granted the 52q model would be much smaller than a regular front door opening freezer, but unlike a residential freezer I could also use it for camping. During a recent seven day trip to Joshua Tree we were buying ice every other day. Not only traveling to the only store (pre COVID19 too) that had ice to get a bag or two we had soggy food at the bottom of our cooler. Hum… now 800.00 bones was not appearing to be too bad.
So I pulled the trigger on their 52q model and an extra battery. I have solar panels so there was no need to buy any since I use them for our ebikes and emergency power when PG&E shuts off electricity due to wildfires. When it arrived I charged the batteries and set the temp to -4 degrees Fahrenheit to keep my ice cream novelties frozen of course! Loaded it up, connected their Bluetooth app and was happy as a clam. It gave us 28% more freezer space too! I purchased a few thermometers to keep on the outside and inside of the Lion cooler. What I did notice is the temp on the display panel does not match the temp of the thermometer, but then again neither does my residential freezer.
Then it was time to go camping! This was as recent as last week, mid November in the Bay Area. We opted to go to Sunset State Beach Park where the temperature at night got down to a balmy 37 degrees! LOL We packed enough food for two adults for five nights since we ‘overpack’ food in the event we extend our stay. Which we so often do. Even then the cooler was only half full. My seat of the pants estimate for a family of four (I had two kids when we went family camping) would be a full Lion Cooler for five nights….remember NO ICE! On the way to the campsite I plugged the cooler into the car’s cigarette lighter, had the voltage on the Bluetooth set to 9.0 volts, 31 degrees and off we went. I put the cooler into the car at night due to raccoons. I formerly used a ratcheting tie down around the cooler to keep the critters out. But with an eight hundred dollar unit I don’t want it scratched up! Plus even full of food it rolls so easy and I’m able to lift it into the car no problem.
It is at this point I’d like to say that there are no instructions which I can locate that tells me how to use the Lion Bluetooth app. Much of it is self explanatory, however a company should explain how to use things. As an example Temperature compensations 1-3. And what does Unbundled mean? On the Advanced screen I used the Reset All button and of course it reset the cooler to OEM defaults but also shut down the cooler’s power. I panicked just a bit since I was out camping, but pressing the power button on the actual cooler for five seconds turned the unit back on. In any event instructions or where to find them would be much appreciated.
I also learned that the batteries can be charged separate from the cooler too! I wrote to ask AcoPower if the batteries had their own BMS (Battery Management System) built in and they replied yes! So not only can I now hook a solar panel to the cooler, but directly to one of the batteries.
Of the four day/three night stay I had sun three days and one completely overcast day. The 100w panel was outputting between 6-13w on the overcast day – 31 to 64w during full sun days. When I pulled out the cooler from the car to put it on the panel during the overcast day it showed 11.2v remaining. By midday it was full, 12.6 volts. Having two batteries gives me peace of mind that the cooler will remain at the refrigerator temp I need. In March 2021 I will be camping for a week in the Mohave Desert so I’ll report back from that trip too.
My gf kept using a flashlight when she went to open the cooler at night; habit from our former ice cooler! It’s a little thing, but she kept raving about how great it was to have a built in LED light in the cooler and no soggy food! Small items make a big difference in life. I also ran four Goal Zero LED lights which illuminate my 13×13 foot awning placed over the picnic table at night from the cooler. And charged my phone as well.
All in all I have to say that I am completely enamored with the Lion Cooler! I don’t consider myself a prepper, but having a refrigeration unit that is solar/battery powered that I can use at home as a freezer and camping as a refrigerator is truly a godsend! No soggy food, no searching for ice, no worries about when to prep the cooler with food for our camping trips. Yep it’s pricey compared to an ice only cooler. Smaller and more expensive than a residential freezer too. But for what/how I use it I cannot think of a better solution. Battery powered, efficient use of power, direct charge from a solar panel, direct charge to the cooler from a solar panel, Bluetooth control (gimme those instructions! LOL) makes it well worth the cost for me. Over time it will easily pay for itself just in terms of hassle and frustration. And when power is cut off at home or for extended periods of time I can keep refrigeration going without fighting lines to get ice. I may not be able to save all of the food in my residential fridge, but man it sure gives me peace of mind. Not to mention camping!
Gotta love new tech! Thanks Hobotech and AcoPower!