Episode 43: Found vintage Thermoelectric Brinsdon DC Powered fridge at Flea Market

Thermoeletric power module

Today was the weekend and that meant another great find from the flea markets! I found an old-school thermoelectric Brinsdon 12V DC powered refrigerator cooler slash warmer for only $10. The little fridge turned out to be both a tiny cooler and food warmer combined in one. brinsdon refrigerator warmerAfter inspecting the cord I noticed it had a small sticker to indicate it would get both hot and cold on demand. Later on I found out that these types of coolers used a space age thermometric technology and do not need refrigerant or compressors to stay cool. Aside from the fan there were no moving parts. The only down side is that these thermoelectric coolers were not that efficient compared to your average dorm sized refrigerator for example. It was small, portable, and at only $10 I was super excited to find this new edition to the cool off grid family here in the camper.. with the solar panels etc.

Refrigeration has been my biggest challenge out here off the grid. That includes cooling myself! lol If you take a look at the basics of living off the grid and begin brinsdon thermoelectric coolertracing refrigeration back to one of the most basic elements you quickly recognize that power is the real issue.. not cooling. So in my search for an ever more efficient solution to minimal power consumption coupled with affordability this brings the count to 4 small refrigerators in total now here in the camper. The original refrigerator in the off grid camper did not work so my aunt gave me one to use until I could figure something out. The thing was that my aunt’s fridge was nice but it took a good amount of wattage to use. It could only be run for about an hour in the morning and again at night before the batteries ran down. The 120V fridge (on grid power) was being powered through my power inverter which took the energy from the solar panels, stored in the 12V deep cycle batteries (off grid power), and converted it into 120 volts AC. Not long after my aunt loaned me her fridge I found another one at the Brinsdon coolerflea market for $35. The $35 dorm sized fridge worked great but again power was an issue. The $35 refrigerator was a lot more efficient drawing about .9 amps per hour but again.. I was only able to run my new off grid camper fridge for about an hour and a half to two hours verses one.

This new cooler I found was so small I was hoping to be able to run it all night at least. Further testing was needed so I was looking forward to trying this DC powered thermoelectric cooler off grid in my camper. A side note: I accidentally “cooked” some yogurt over night because I mistakenly reversed the 12V DC power plug the first time I used it. There is a lesson.. don’t forget to read the directions before using your new flea market finds! lol All in all this vintage Brinsdon thermoelectric refrigerator and warmer was a great find! So if you get nothing else out of my experience please remember to never give up!


Show notes from today’s Off The Grid Podcast

  • Today’s lesson: Never give up! This makes refrigerator number 4 and it works woo Hoo! lol
  • Image credit: Learn something new! check out the link to Wikipedia about thermoelectric technology.
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September 9th, 2015 by