Making a freezer system to freeze ice into a cooler... - Mountain Buzz
 

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Old 12-20-2018   #1
 
Electric-Mayhem's Avatar
 
Lakewood, Colorado
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Making a freezer system to freeze ice into a cooler...

Hello,

So, I have a Grand Canyon trip coming up in July and having high quality ice is obviously an important part of a mid-summer trip. I've seen the most success with this come from freezing ice directly into a nice cooler. On my trip in August of 2016, the TL had a Yeti Cooler he did this in and he had a large chunk of ice still in his cooler at Pearce Ferry.

I've had this crazy idea lately of taking the parts from a refrigerator/freezer, ripping them out, and making a system that freezes the contents of a cooler. This wouldn't be for river use, but rather during the prep stages at home or possibly using 12v so it could be used up until you park your vehicle and push off down the river. I don't want to lug it down the river, so it would have to be removable.

Some people have the advantage of having access to a commercial deep freeze and can freeze 3-6 inches of ice into a freezer before a trip. I don't really have that option, and having a system that can do it at home would be awesome. I've looked into getting a chest freezer, but they are hard to find in a size that could fit a cooler.

My idea is to just rip out the working parts of a freezer and create a system that would only cool the inside of the cooler. Mount the compressor, condenser and power supply on a board or inside a housing to prortect it. Then create something out of insulation and foam to mount the evaporator on and run some hoses. Seems relatively easy...but since I'm a relative novice to refrigeration technology maybe there is something I'm missing.

I'm thinking a system that uses stuff like in this video...



Cold plate systems seem to work well for this, since they freeze themselves and then slowly warm, and hence they don't use a ton of power like the "always on" systems like a home freezer.

Any input is appreciated. I've been kinda bored lately...if you can't tell. I'm sure it wouldn't be for everyone, but this seems like it might be a system you could sell a few of to help pay for itself.

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Old 12-20-2018   #2
 
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Kalispell, Montana
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How about a vertical freezer? Try to find one that doesn't have coils in the shelves.


Remove the shelves and door. Build an expansion box/door with blue/pink foam and put your cooler inside--lid open.

Blue is the vertical freezer. Pink is the foam. Green is your cooler. Brown is a wood box you put under the foam so it holds the weight of the cooler. Gray, of course, is duct tape.
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Old 12-20-2018   #3
 
montrose, Colorado
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A novel idea, but i think that you will find yourself needing to manipulate some rigid tubing that you won't bet able to cut or solder without releasing all the pressurized refrigerant.


Just line the bottom of your cooler with ice, add water and freeze it all with dry ice.
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Old 12-20-2018   #4
 
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Hampden, Massachusetts
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I attempted something similar to this few years ago, unfortunately it was one of those projects I started, got about halfway, and never finished.

I got a free chest freezer. So I attempted to build a big chest freezer that would fit my cooler inside. I built a big plywood box ($60) lined the inside with some scrap foam board insulation (free) and spray foam along the joints($3). Then put poly sheeting inside to cover the foam and protect it from moisture($3). A few bowl hits later that’s as far as I got. I now use that box for raising baby chickens. Although the foam board and poly has been ripped out.

I never got around to guting and repurposing the chest freezer components, but that was my intention. I now just use that small chest freezer to make blocks

Good luck. Post photos of your invention
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Old 12-20-2018   #5
 
Fort Collins
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Bummer you didn't finish. My thoughts went in the same direction, that it would be easier to get used chest freezer components, and use them to build a wooden chest freezer that is tailored to your cooler. I have heard of an appliance shop in denver that refurbishes the appliances they pick up when folks upgrade, and sell them pretty cheap. Granted, that is 2nd hand hearsay, but it seems like a decent place to start.

Document you project, and be sure to share pictures.

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Old 12-20-2018   #6
 
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Lakewood, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MT4Runner View Post
How about a vertical freezer? Try to find one that doesn't have coils in the shelves.


Remove the shelves and door. Build an expansion box/door with blue/pink foam and put your cooler inside--lid open.

Blue is the vertical freezer. Pink is the foam. Green is your cooler. Brown is a wood box you put under the foam so it holds the weight of the cooler. Gray, of course, is duct tape.
That is certainly one way to go, but its awefully big and clunky. Might be a little easier though and you could probably make a second shelf and do two coolers at once.

I do like the compactness of essentially adding a freezer system to a cooler and making it 12v so one could keep it as cold as could be right until the last minute.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mikepart View Post
A novel idea, but i think that you will find yourself needing to manipulate some rigid tubing that you won't bet able to cut or solder without releasing all the pressurized refrigerant.


Just line the bottom of your cooler with ice, add water and freeze it all with dry ice.
The way I envision it...it the "hot" side of the system would just be mounted to a board that you can plop down on top of the cooler or maybe next to it.

Thinking about it a bit more last night... mount the hot side (compressor and condensor) on one side of an insulated board, and the cold side (evaporator) on the other side of the board. You would strap that down to the cooler and it would do its thing.

They make systems similar to this to install into insulated "compartments" in sail boats (rather then having a removable traditional freezer). They are pretty spendy though...so I'd probably just adapt a cheap freezer.
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Old 12-21-2018   #7
 
Grand Junction, Colorado
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Maybe I'm thinking too simplistically. The ultimate goal is to make ice in your cooler. I would get as large of a chest cooler I can find, leave the innards in place and just blow out the sides until your cooler will fit inside, with plenty of air space. Wood or plastic, insulation, (an old Igloo?) and duct tape covers the areas. It probably won't look pretty! You could probably make it big enough to do two coolers if you have the space.

I heard about someone who would made ice in two coolers with one freezer. Start with the first cooler and freezer about 2 inches of ice, take it out of the freezer and set it aside somewhere and double insulate with wet blankets, etc. Do the same with the second cooler and repeat until both coolers have enough ice. Good coolers won't have much, if any, melt while going through the process.
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Old 12-21-2018   #8
 
Bayfield, Colorado
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I have also had thoughts about something like this but my ideas revolve around using RV fridge parts and running the thing on propane. No compressor, much more compact. RV fridges when running on propane are motivated by a tiny candle sized flame and use very little gas. Also you could probably get a used one for almost nothing. (old junk trailers are everywhere) You would not need a temp control as you just want the sucker to get as cold as possible. My dream is to have a compact river icemaker about the size of a 20 quart cooler. Get to camp, fire the sucker up and next morning have fresh ice. Dream on.
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Old 12-21-2018   #9
 
Grand Junction, Colorado
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How about renting a trailer or some kind of freezer from the local ice vendor? You could freeze several coolers at a time. No idea what the cost would be but it sure would be an easier way to go that retro-fitting an old freezer.
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Old 12-21-2018   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Electric-Mayhem View Post
That is certainly one way to go, but its awefully big and clunky. Might be a little easier though and you could probably make a second shelf and do two coolers at once.

Could definitely do two coolers at once.


The reason I was thinking of the upright freezer is ease of loading the cooler, food, and layers of water. With a chest freezer, the lid will need to be closed or mostly closed, limiting convective airflow inside and slowing down the freezing cycle.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Electric-Mayhem View Post
I do like the compactness of essentially adding a freezer system to a cooler and making it 12v so one could keep it as cold as could be right until the last minute.

Refrigeration takes quite a bit of amperage. It would be a big 12V circuit.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Electric-Mayhem View Post
The way I envision it...it the "hot" side of the system would just be mounted to a board that you can plop down on top of the cooler or maybe next to it.



Thinking about it a bit more last night... mount the hot side (compressor and condensor) on one side of an insulated board, and the cold side (evaporator) on the other side of the board. You would strap that down to the cooler and it would do its thing.

You will be fighting against form factor (sorry, can't think of the right term, but that's close). Most cooler/freezer systems are designed to be mounted from underneath or behind. Not many of them have the coils below the compressor, and you can't flip these upside down from the way they're designed to work or the lubricant will separate out from the refrigerant.




You might also consider making a tray the same dimensions as the inside of your cooler. Maybe 4" deep. Layer food and water in the tray, freeze it, and put the tray in your cooler with dry ice and a bit of water to bond to the layer below it. Should be doable even in smaller chest freezers. Hey, I like this idea, I'll have to try it!


Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesthomas View Post
I have also had thoughts about something like this but my ideas revolve around using RV fridge parts and running the thing on propane. No compressor, much more compact. RV fridges when running on propane are motivated by a tiny candle sized flame and use very little gas. Also you could probably get a used one for almost nothing. (old junk trailers are everywhere) You would not need a temp control as you just want the sucker to get as cold as possible. My dream is to have a compact river icemaker about the size of a 20 quart cooler. Get to camp, fire the sucker up and next morning have fresh ice. Dream on.

RV fridges are only good for keeping cold things cool. They have nowhere near enough power to make ice cubes in any sort of a timely manner. That tiny candle sized flame is about the same amount of heat the freezer can remove from the food inside--minus losses.



Quote:
Originally Posted by smhoeher View Post
How about renting a trailer or some kind of freezer from the local ice vendor? You could freeze several coolers at a time. No idea what the cost would be but it sure would be an easier way to go that retro-fitting an old freezer.

That's an AWESOME idea.
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