Thursday, 27 October 2011

How to get the most from your icebox! Get the maximum performance!

On my recent trip to Fraser Island, it came to my attention that there are many differing opinions in how to best use your icebox, esky or chilly bin.   This created a lengthy heated discussion, with everyone there adamant that their method was the best, no dispute.   In the end we agreed to disagree and moved on and continued relaxing.
This is a Waeco Cool-Ice Icebox very popular in the outdoor market. 

This got me thinking though.  If I don't know what the best way to load a icebox.  How many of our customers that come in buying iceboxes know how to get the most out of their icebox?  Depending on the size of your icebox (the larger the longer) manufacturers state the ice is good for up to 10 days!  

I started making plans to run an experiment, planning how many ice boxes I would need and setting the control environment. I then realised, that all I really needed to do was ask the team at Dometic Waeco, they're very scientific in their approach and have been making quality iceboxes for Australia, Europe and America.

They did, this is what I learnt ranked in what I consider the most important to get the most out of your icebox:
  1. Use quality ice - party ice is not good, it has a high surface area often isn't deep frozen and isn't dense - thus it melts quick.
  2. Use block ice - you can make your own by freezing some milk containers or similar.  
  3. The recommended ratio of ice to product is 1/3 ice to 2/3 product in volume.
  4. Pre-Cool - The day before loading your icebox to head away, load ice into it to cool down the box itself.
  5. Reduce air space - Always be working towards reducing the amount of air space, air transfers heat quickly and really reduces the ice life.
  6. Load cold food! - Try to only put frozen or cold goods into your icebox
  7. Reduce opening time - Organise the icebox in such a way that the lid doesn't have to be open any longer than necessary.
  8. Refasten the icebox lid after opening every time.  
  9. Open your icebox less. Try to minimise how often you open it.
  10. Dont Drain!  - Do not drain melted ice from your icebox at all, this reduces the remaining ice life significantly.
  11. Buy two smaller iceboxes.   If you're considering buying a 100 litre icebox or larger,  think again.  Buying two iceboxes allows you to use one for drinks, and another for food!  You can decide which is most important to keep cold!  :)  Plus they're easier to carry and more useful on the weekends for parties.
Some campers do also use dry ice, however in many cases this can damage your ice box and void your warranty.  So if you do use this please be careful.

Thanks for reading, I hope that you have found this information valuable.


Jon Burrell
1300 836 896


  1. Great write up. In a future edition, what about a guide to using Engel/Waeco fridges. Having just purchased a 60L Engel from you, we're really not sure how best to use it to minimise power usage and maximise chill..


  2. Thanks very much Shane, it's great to get feedback. The writeup for minimising power usage in your Engel/Waeco is a great idea I have put it in my to do list so keep an eye out!

    In the meantime alot of the suggestions (excluding the ice parts!) applies to fridges too.

  3. Hi Shane,

    Just thought i'd follow up and let you know that I have now written the article talking about how to minimise power usage for your portable camping fridge. Be it an Engel, Waeco or otherwise.

    Check it out:

  4. We often take one large icebox and a smaller eski. The icebox has frozen items in it, usually including a spare bag of party ice - which are kept cold with the dry ice. Always keep your dry ice wrapped in the newspaper it should come in, and we always pad the bottom and side of the icebox with old towels as well, to protect the lining.
    The eski has cold stuff in it, and we keep things cold using the party ice. It is good to defrost any frozen meat in this one as well. Using this second smaller eski prevents the larger icebox from being opened too often and helps keep things frozen longer.

  5. @VicStar - That is a great tip thankyou. You are right on the money with running with two iceboxes one large and one small. Definitely one of the biggest reasons why ice life is destroyed is by regular openings.

    Doing what you're doing - moving what you're about to use to the smaller icebox you're preserving the cool for the majority of your food and ice and dramatically reducing the open rate for the big icebox.



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