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As we all know, the summers can be hot and they are only becoming hotter. If you travel in a van or RV of some kind, you know that it can get miserable at times in the sweltering heat and high humidity. It can be a welcoming relief to have some kind of air conditioning to be able to get away from the misery outside.
The problem is that air conditioning uses a LOT of electricity and isn’t always an option unless you are plugged up to shore power. Some RVs aren’t even equipped with an air conditioner, including my camper van. If you are tent camping, forget it! You are stuck with the heat that comes along with being in nature.
Unless…you have another option that can keep you cool that only uses a little bit of electricity.
That is why I chose to give the IcyBreeze v2 cooler a try. It promises to cool the air around you and work as a personal air conditioner as well as a cooler to keep drinks and other items cold. I don’t really need it for the cooler but I did think the concept of blowing cold air was neat.
Of course, you can make your own for much less but I’ve seen reviews on these that are less than stellar. Some leak, some blow moist air, some are huge and look awful, and some don’t do much of anything. I chose to try the IcyBreeze because I figured that the engineers that built it had it figured out better than what I could do.
Besides that, they claim that it blows dry air which is very important for RV living. You don’t want to fill your rig up with damp air that will add more problems with mold and mildew down the road.
The IcyBreeze seems like a great solution, albeit costly, for those off the grid and need a way to keep cool. I ordered mine directly from their website on a Friday and it was delivered to my home on the following Tuesday.
Let’s take a look at this cooler and see what it’s all about.
The Cooler Build & Parts
For my configuration I ordered the following:
- (1) IcyBreeze v2 Cooler (molten red)
- (1) 12-Volt power supply
- (1) Extension Tube
- (1) IcyBlock Block Ice
The total price for the parts I ordered came to $349.92 (with shipping). Quite expensive for a setup like this so I expect it to perform well. To compare, I recently spent $309 for a portable air conditioner at Lowe’s that I use in a small bedroom in my home and can also be used in my camper van (when on shore power). I’m anxious to see how well this cooler works and why they charge such a premium for it. Of course, I don’t expect it to work as well as a home air conditioner and they make it clear that it isn’t designed for that.
The build is about what I would expect. It’s neat and clean and much better than the DIY solutions found online. For the most part, it seems to be a high-quality product. It’s lightweight but fairly large and will take up quite some space. I have made space for it out of the way in my van under the bed so it should not be a big deal for me.
Setting It Up
Setting this cooler up is easy enough. As mentioned above, I have a space for it under my bed. I purchased the extension tube so that I can route the air hose up to the bed area to give me a personal “air conditioning” solution while I sleep. In theory, it sounds great but we’ll have to see how it works in a practical sense.
For setup, I’ll set the cooler up in my van and I’ll use bagged ice that you can get nearly anywhere you go. I want to make sure it works well with this type of ice because it’s what I’ll likely be using most of the time when I need to use the cooler.
I ordered the IcyBlock with the cooler but will try that out at another time. Perhaps when I take it on an actual trip, I’ll record my results using it and see how it works. They say for best results, you should use block ice so we’ll see.
I poured 30 pounds of ice in this cooler to do a good test with it. I wanted to fill it to the max to give it a chance to show me what it can do. Hopefully, I won’t have to always fill it with this amount of ice for it to be effective.
After the ice was in, I poured in 2 quarts (8 cups) of water as required.
Testing The IcyBreeze Cooler / Air Conditioner
After adding ice, I turned the unit on medium and tested the temperature of the air coming out. One thing I noticed after turning it on is that it is louder than I thought it would be. I’m used to sleeping with an oscillating fan in my bedroom but this is much louder than that.
The air blows out at a decent rate so I think it will be able to fill my van sleeping area quite well. Medium is what I would probably use most of the time since it seems to blow out at a sufficient rate.
Initial Temperature Reading
The initial temperature coming out of the vent was pretty cold at around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
The ambient temperature in my van at the time of this reading was 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
I started the test around 6 PM and ended at around 10 PM in mid-June.
For this test, I wanted to run the air conditioner for 4 hours and see what happened. This was my initial test of the product so I didn’t know what to expect. From this test, I wanted to learn a few key things that would help me decide if this may be a good solution in an actual camping scenario.
- How cold does the air coming out get?
- How long does it stay cold?
- Can It cool the entire van?
- Does it increase or decrease humidity levels
- How long does the ice last?
I planned to turn the cooler on, close the van and let it run. I would check it every 30 minutes for 4 hours OR until the ice was all melted and record numbers at each 30-minute interval.
30 Pounds Of Bagged Ice Results
|Time (h:mm)||Temperature Coming From Vent (°F)||Temperature In Van (°F)||Humidity In Van|
As you can see from this test, the van cooled down quite nicely. It was still around 80 degrees outside at the end of the test so the cooler definitely helped to cool the inside of the van down. However, I did notice that the humidity levels seemed to rise as the ice melted and turned to water. It didn’t feel any more humid in the van but the hydrometer read higher.
It took around 4 hours for the ice to completely melt and all that was left was ice cold water. With this cold water, the fan was still blowing out 60-degree air. As the ice melted, the air coming from the vent gradually got warmer and warmer.
If you choose not to use the battery that IcyBreeze sells, which adds to the already steep price, you’ll need a different power solution. For me, I use my Goal Zero solar generator which is plenty to power this cooler. You can choose to use a 12-volt connection or a 110-AC connection that IcyBreeze sells.
The 12-volt will plug directly into a cigarette lighter style port. The following chart below shows the exact amounts that my unit was drawing (according to my Goal Zero Yeti 1400) while running at different speeds.
|Low||20 watts||1.6 amps|
|Medium||31 watts||2.6 amps|
|High||42 watts||3.5 amps|
Using It In A Real-World Setting
I took a trip with this cooler to the deep south of the United States in June. I, my wife and dog went to Jekyll Island Georgia for a week to enjoy some time off. This provided the perfect opportunity to test this cooler out in a real-world situation rather than the simple test setup that I performed in my driveway on a pleasant evening.
Vacationing in Georgia in June can be somewhat uncomfortable with the heat and humidity. I wanted to see if this cooler would be up to the challenge of keeping us cool and happy for the entire trip. I didn’t expect it to be a replacement for a true air conditioner. All I wanted was for it to be able to cool us down when needed so that we could be comfortable inside the van.
Unfortunately, my results weren’t as good as I had hoped they would be. We got to test the cooler out on a warm late afternoon when the temperature was around 88 degrees outside.
The following is the setup I used:
- 20 pounds of ice
- 1 IcyBlock frozen with water and a little salt (as recommended in the user’s manual)
- 4ft extension tube
After the cooler was set up and turned on medium, the air coming from the cooler was very pleasant and cool just as I had experienced from my test at home in my driveway. However, I did notice that the air wasn’t as cool when using the extension tube. By the time the cold air reached the end of the extension tube, it was 5 to 8 degrees warmer.
The cold air coming from this was good enough to keep cool within our bed area but not much more than that. It was pleasant with the air aimed right at you but otherwise not very effective. It was performing the way the product was designed and keeping us cool as long as we were sitting close to where the air was coming out.
The real problem was how long the ice actually lasted. As with my test back home in my driveway, the ice was completely melted in around 4 hours. This was even with using the IcyBlock which is supposed to make the ice last longer. It seemed to do nothing.
Four hours after turning the cooler on, all that was left was ice cold water. The air coming out of the vent had warmed up some and wasn’t as effective as it was in the beginning, especially since we were using the extension tube. We chose to turn it off and not use it any longer. Instead, we opened our Maxxair fan and our back window and created a breeze that kept us comfortable.
I could have kept using the cooler but I would’ve had to buy more ice to add to it. This wasn’t feasible in our situation so I decided to stop using it for the day.
Bottom Line – Is It Worth The Money?
While it may have its place for keeping you cool, I’m not sure a camper van is that place. It was somewhat effective for a little while but it lost its effectiveness after the ice melted. I was using it in weather that was less than 90 degrees which isn’t even as hot as it will get in Georgia in the summer. In a hotter temperature, it would’ve been even less effective.
Is it worth the money? It depends on what you are looking for it to do.
I would say that this product is not a good choice if you are in the same situation I am in and need something to cool down a small area for a longer period of time. There may be other situations where it could come in handy but staying cool in a camper van is probably not the best use of it. Especially if you intend to boondock. You would need to be able to go and get ice each day if you wanted to be able to use it on a regular basis.
Here is a list of pros and cons from all of my testing.
- Requires minimal electricity. As you can see from the chart above, the power draw on this system is minimal so it can be used anywhere.
- Blows ice cold air for a while. While the cooler has ice in it, it blows out ice-cold dry air. However, once the ice is melted and you are left with water, the unit becomes less effective. Four hours was about the limit on the amount of time I could make the ice last.
- The air is dry. Rather than working like a swamp cooler, this one actually blows out dry air that won’t add moisture wherever you are using it.
- Doubles as a cooler. You can keep your drinks cold but if you use the air-conditioner regularly, the ice will melt so you’ll probably need to use it as an air-conditioner OR a cooler. The ice is supposed to last for about 7 days if you don’t use the air-conditioner.
- It’s expensive. It’s a well-made product but I think the price is a little steep for what it is.
- It’s louder than I expected. I was really surprised at how loud the fan on this was. I was expecting it to mirror the sound of a standard box fan but it was louder.
- Ice melts too fast. Even with using the IcyBlock, 20 pounds of ice was gone in 4 hours in 88-degree weather. I was expecting to fill the cooler up with ice and it last at least an entire day or more.
- IcyBlock did not work very well. I expected this product to maintain my ice for a longer period of time but it seemed to do nothing.
- Takes up a lot of space. I had plenty of space for it under my bed but if you are short on space, this big cooler will just be in the way.
We chose to use it for one afternoon on my trip but after that, we just used the vents from our van to keep us cool. This is usually sufficient for sleeping at night and it keeps it fairly pleasant during the heat of the day as well. To use IcyBreeze, we would’ve had to buy ice multiple times per day and it was just too much trouble. We were parked in the shade so the heat never really got out of control.
The IcyBreeze is marketed as a personal air-conditioner and that’s exactly what it is. If you aim it right at you, it feels great. However, I would also say that it is designed to only be used for short amounts of time. If you just turn it on and leave it on, the ice doesn’t last very long.
Turning it on for a couple of minutes here and there is probably the best use of this cooler.
Many RVers and van lifers are seeking something like this to keep them cool inside their rig. If you expect it to cool down your living area on a hot day, even a very small one, you will probably be disappointed. My van is very well insulated and very small and it didn’t do much on a hot day.
If you expect it to cool you down as needed by sitting right in front of it, it will work great for you. If you want it for tailgating or another activity where a quick cool off might feel good, it is a great solution. It would be great to have on the sidelines at a sporting event such as soccer, football, baseball, etc. The cold air that it blows would feel awesome to an athlete who is on the sidelines cooling down.
It would also be great for the primitive camper who can use the cooler to hold food and beverages while having a solution to cool down for small amounts of time. If you purchase the battery option with the cooler, you’ll be able to take it anywhere and have cold air no matter where you are.
It’s a great product but you have to use it the way it was intended to be used. Don’t expect it to be an air conditioner for a living space. Instead, think of it as a way to get some relief from the heat by turning it on in short spurts in order to cool down by sitting close to it. It does blow cold, dry air, and feels really good when you are directly in front of the vent.