Product shot of three Koolatron thermoelectric coolers on a pale blue background

What level of cooling performance can I expect from my Koolatron cooler?

Maximum cooling performance for thermoelectric coolers depends on the temperature of the air surrounding the cooler (ambient temperature). Koolatron's P-series, D-series, and W-series cooler/warmers cool to approximately 40°F (22°C) below ambient temperature and the P25 cooler to about 36°F (22°C) below ambient temperature.

Photo of P85 cooler on a picnic blanket on a sunny day with food and drinks around it and grass and a tent in the background
Maximum cooling performance depends on conditions

On a summer day with a temperature of 80-90°F (27-32°C), you can expect the cooler to maintain a temperature of approximately 38-48°F (3-9°C). A typical household refrigerator maintains a temperature of around 45-48°F (7-9°C).

As a rule of thumb, it takes about one hour per pound of material loaded into the cooler to bring it from room temperature down to maximum cooling temperature. For quickest cooling and best performance, we recommended pre-cooling food and drinks before loading them into the cooler.

Can my cooler freeze contents or make ice cubes?

No, you can not generally freeze items in your thermoelectric cooler. Commercially available Koolatron thermoelectric coolers do not have an adjustable thermostat and run at maximum cold. If operated in an air temperature below 65°F (16°C), your cooler might slowly freeze the contents or keep frozen foods frozen for some time, but Koolatron's 12V thermoelectric coolers can't make ice cubes.

Photo of SK30, SK40, and SK50 SmartKool 12V freezers on grass with trees in the background
SmartKool compressor-cooled freezers

If you need a portable 12V freezer, the SmartKool series of compressor-cooled freezers with wireless Bluetooth control can maintain a temperature of -8°F (-22°C) to 50°F (10°C) and are available in 31 quart (30L), 42 quart (40L), and 54 quart (50L) capacities. 

Koolatron also makes specialty thermoelectric coolers with thermostatic controls for medical, scientific, and other industrial applications which are available by special order.

Can I store ice in my cooler?

Yes, you can keep ice in your cooler provided it is sealed in a leakproof container. Any spilled liquid inside the cooler has potential to splash up into the cooling fan and damage the electrical components. We recommend placing the ice container at the opposite end of the cooler from the cooling fins to avoid impacting the air circulation and to provide the benefit of a second cooling source on very hot days.

How hot will my cooler go in warming mode?

Koolatron's P-series and W-series cooler/warmers warm to a range of 130-140°F (54.4-60°C). This is hot enough to transport hot food to a potluck dinner or picnic or to bring home a takeout dinner. When using your unit in warming mode, please observe safe food handling practices. If you have a long way to go, we recommend bringing the food refrigerated and cooking or reheating it at your destination.

Photo of a person pulling the W65 wheeled cooler on a wooden dock
Always follow safe food handling practices

Koolatron makes specialty thermoelectric heater boxes with no cooling capability that can maintain temperatures up to 160°F (71°C) and are available by special order. At the upper temperature range, these are used for applications such as seniors' meal delivery programs, school meal programs; mid-range applications include portable incubators for animals or medical cultures; and at the lower temperature range these have been used for storing construction adhesives in winter.

How much power will my cooler use?

Most Koolatron thermoelectric coolers consume 4.5 amps or 54 watts of power at 12 volts or 1 amp = 54 watts at 120 volts. The smallest P-series cooler, the P9, draws 3 amps = 36 watts.

How long can I leave my cooler plugged in if my vehicle is turned off before my battery dies?

Your battery's power level depends on a number of factors, including driving conditions, what other devices have been plugged in, age and condition of vehicle and battery, temperature and weather conditions. We recommend using your judgment and erring on the side of caution when deciding whether or not to leave any device plugged into your vehicle's battery.

Photo of cooler plugged in inside a vehicle using the battery saver
Use a battery saver to protect your vehicle's battery life

If you do need to leave your cooler plugged in for a longer period, we recommend using a Battery Saver. This device monitors your vehicle's battery and automatically switches the cooler off if the battery drops below 11 volts (half discharge in most vehicles), then switches it back on when you restart the engine.

How long will my cooler stay cool when unplugged?

Koolatron coolers feature premium insulation to provide many hours of cold retention even when unplugged, but the maximum time depends on a number of factors, such as the surrounding temperature and weather conditions, volume of contents, and how frequently the cooler is opened.

Photo of P25 cooler in the back of a van with several black suitcases beside it
The P25 cooler has industry-leading cold retention up to 3.3 days

The P25 cooler has the longest cold retention, with testing showing that it can keep ice frozen for 3.3 days when unpowered under optimal conditions. Because conditions can be unpredictable, we recommend bringing your cooler indoors and using an AC adapter to power it whenever possible when you aren't driving.

Is there any time limitation on running the cooler from the AC adapter?

Your cooler is designed to run as long as there is power, so you can run it 24/7 in your house, office, or dorm room using the AC adapter.

Product shot of Koolatron AC adapter on a white background
Bring the cooling power inside with an AC adapter

For safe, long-lasting operation we recommend the following:

  • Ensure there is good air circulation around the cooler vents
  • Place the AC adapter on a smooth surface such as brick or tile, not carpet, to ensure good air flow
  • Remove end panel and vacuum dust from the fan and cooling fins every 2-3 months
  • Check internal fins regularly for frost and ice build-up, especially during humid weather. To defrost, reverse the power cord to switch to warming mode for 2-3 minutes. Remove any ice that falls off and wipe up any melt water. REMEMBER TO RETURN THE CORD TO COOLING MODE AFTERWARDS

Can I use a battery charger or trickle charger to run my cooler?

This is not recommended and may void your warranty. You can however connect a charger to your vehicle's battery to keep it topped up while your cooler is plugged into the vehicle's 12V receptacle.

Can I sit on my cooler or put heavy items on top of it?

This is not recommended and may void your warranty. Depending on the weight, the lid could be bent or warped, which could affect the seal or damage the electrical components.

Can I use any AC adapter with my Koolatron cooler?

This is not recommended and may void your warranty. You can purchase an AC adapter for your 12V Koolatron cooler here. 

Can I use a longer extension cord to run the cooler from farther away than the 10 ft factory-issue cord?

This is not recommended and may void your warranty. Longer cords can experience a voltage drop which could affect cooling performance.

Troubleshooting Guide

Cooler is too cold and contents are freezing
  • Move the cooler to a slightly warmer area
  • Use a small object such as a pencil to prop the lid slightly open (this may necessitate more frequent defrosting)
  • Unplug the cooler for a short period of time each day
  • Stand the cooler on its end in the refrigerator orientation
Cooler is not cold enough
  • Use the cooler in the ice chest position
  • Ensure that all parts of the power cord and adapter are properly plugged in
  • Check that the fan is running and there is adequate airflow around all internal and external vents
  • Check all internal and external fins and remove any ice, frost, or dust buildup
  • Use a multimeter to check that there is adequate power coming from the outlet and/or the adapter
  • Check the power cord for kinks, knots, or other damage; discontinue use if the power cord if it is damaged in any way
Cooler works with the AC adapter but not in the vehicle
  • Some vehicles do not have power to their 12V plugs when the ignition is off
  • Ensure that the power cord is properly plugged in
  • If the vehicle is running, the 12V outlet or the relevant fuse may need repair or replacement
Cooler works in the vehicle but not with the AC adapter
  • Check that the AC adapter is properly plugged into the outlet
  • Check that the 12V power cord is properly plugged into the AC adapter
  • Use a multimeter to check that there is at least a 12V DC output voltage from the AC adapter
Cooler does not work at all
  • Ensure that all parts of the power cord and adapter are properly plugged in
  • Use a multimeter to check that there is adequate power coming from the outlet and/or the adapter
  • Check the power cord for kinks, knots, or other damage; discontinue use if the power cord is damaged in any way