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How does a thermoelectric cooler work?

by Barbara 4. June 2008 12:22

Question about the product: KN-P27 Koolatron Voyager 12-Volt Cooler 32 Quart

Q: "How does a thermoelectric cooler work? I am considering purchasing the Koolatron Voyager but need more information." George

Answer: Thank you for asking this question. I did not know the answer so I went to the Koolatron site where I gleaned this information.

Thermoelectric coolers use a principle called the "Peltier" effect. In 1834 Jean Peltier noted that when an electrical current is applied across the junction of two dissimilar metals, heat is removed from one of the metals and transferred to the other. Koolatron uses this principle to keep the Voyager and other Koolatron thermoelectric coolers cold.

Thermoelectric modules are constructed from a series of tiny metal cubes of dissimilar exotic metals which are physically bonded together and connected electrically. When electrical current passes through the cube junctions, heat is transferred from one metal to the other. Solid-state thermoelectric modules like the ones used in the Koolatron coolers are capable of transferring large quantities of heat when connected to a heat absorbing device on one side and a heat dissipating device on the other.

The Koolatron cooler's internal aluminum cold plate fins absorb heat from the contents, (food and beverages): the thermoelectric modules transfer it to heat dissipating fins under the control panel. There a small fan helps to disperse the heat into the air. The system is totally environmentally friendly and contains no hazardous gases, no pipes no coils and no compressor. The only moving part is the small 12-volt fan.

Thermoelectric modules are too expensive for normal domestic and commercial applications which run only on regular household current. They are ideally suited to recreational applications because they are lightweight, compact, insensitive to motion or tilting, have no moving parts, and can operate directly from 12-volt batteries.

Advantages of a KoolatronThermoelectric Refrigerator (Cooler) Over Compressor Coolers (Freon Using), Absorption Coolers (Ammonia Solution Using) and Ice Chest Coolers:

  • Compact: More usable space due to small size of cooling components: thermoelectric module is the size of a matchbook.
  • Weight: Weigh 1/3 to 1/2 as much due to lightweight cooling system. Ex. A 36 qt. capacity unit weighs only 17 lb.
  • Lower Cost: 20% to 40% less expensive than compressor or absorption units.
  • Portable: carry with one hand. Unaffected by motion or tilting.
  • Low battery draw: average is about 4.5 amps - less than your car's headlights
  • No Melting Ice: Food and beverages are kept cold and dry. Helps preserve ice 3 to 4 times longer than an ice chest.
  • Cooling Performance: Koolatron units will refrigerate in sustained ambient temperatures of up to 95 degrees F. If Koolatron coolers are kept full, they will refrigerate satisfactorily even if peak daytime temperatures reach 110 degrees F as the temperature of the contents lags behind the ambient. The food will be just starting to warm up when the air cools off in the evening which will bring the food temperature back down to normal.
  • Reliability: Koolatron thermoelectric modules do not wear out or deteriorate with use. They have been used for military and aerospace applications for years because of their reliability and other unique features.
  • Ease of Servicing and Maintenance: Koolatron units have only one moving part, a small fan with 12 volt motor which can easily be replaced with only a screw driver. Most parts are easily replaced by the end-user.

I hope this answers your question about not only how a thermoelectric cooler works but also why this is the best choice for most people needing a portable cooler.

Sincerely,
Barbara