Originally Posted by bsloop
Those extreme cooling options sound neat but I really dont think they are a viable solution for most boaters. If a person regularly boated Powell or other super remote locations it might almost make sense. Those "mid" to high level coolers are really desigened for preservation of expensive contents not beers.
High end units might hold ice longer than cheap coolers in preservation tests, but a boat cooler is used differently. Drinks of less than ideal temp are often dumped in which is a negative. Then the lid is opened 50 times in an afternoon which will lose cool with every opening.
Choosing a decent cooler is a good starting point. Look for one with insulation in the lid, not just dead air. I have had good luck with Igloo marine Cube. They are tall enough to sit on and have more volume per sq foot of floor space. I can make it 2-3 days exposed in 90-95deg heat as a drink cooler when set up as I detail below.
The biggest problem may be the ice used! Most commercially produced ice is tubular. This is very efficient to produce as it basically slides along a chilled outter and inner wall and is extruded as ice in a continuous process. It is fine for liquid cooling where the liquid can touch all surfaces but AWFUL for cooler ice. The hole is inefficient taking up space and allowing an air space that warms every time the lid is opened. Also, ice out of the store often starts "warmer" than home ice.
Make your own solid ice and it will last much longer. I have a dedicated upright freezer that makes ice in the bottom drawer. This is solid cubes and good for drinks but solid chunks are even better.
We freeze milk jugs solid then slam them on concrete or hit with a 15" crowbar on the boat. Utility knife down the side opens the jug if it has not split already. The tiny crushed ice falls down between cans and bottles very tight yeilding more ice and colder ice in a given space.
The bottom layer usually refreezes into a solid chunk to start the day.
We save milk jugs year round and usually start the seaon with 3 large leaf bags full of empties. Those combined with what we empty on a weekly basis will take us though the summer.
We boat almost every weekend and go though 5-7 gal; 50# a weekend easy.
We also keep our beverage refrig just below freezing, this will not usually freeze items but does start drinks with a good chill. Sometimes beers in the back are a little slushy if I am off a little on temp but those just go to the bottom of the cooler for use later in the weekend.
Finally, for big food weekends one cooler is dedicated to food only. Unbroken jugs keep things cold without the risk of water damge due to melted ice. This cooler is not opened as frequently as the beverage cooler so it stays cooler and lasts longer.
For those counting, that is 3 refrig/freezers; Kitchen, Beverage, and deep freeze. A person could get by with just two frig/freezers but we get a side of beef and stock up on frozen grocery items so the 3rd is well utilized.
All total there is electricity used but $$$ saved in ice and time saved not stopping for ice provide a positive ROI. Grocery money saved is a bonus.
bsloop, WOW. Thanks for taking the time to share your ice knowledge. Great ideas and $$ saved on ice. Gotta love that!