Alpicool CF45 Review
Cons: Not great temperature control, baskets aren't great, internal shape is challenging
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Alpicool CF45 is a compressor model with a claimed capacity of 45L. Its advertised temperature range is -4°F to 50°F (though we found this to be inaccurate) and it comes with both AC and DC power cords and a removable basket.
Unfortunately, when it comes to reliable temperature control, the Alpicool isn't particularly impressive and is the worst of all the compressor models we tested. It took nearly an entire day to reach refrigeration temperatures, and even then it stopped and maintained temperatures a full 3°F warmer than we'd programmed it to. It's advertised to reach -4°F, but even completely empty in a room temperature space, it failed to get lower than 6.4°F. We don't have much faith that this unit can keep things frozen when it's truly hot outside — and in fact, we read numerous other testimonials saying exactly that. The fact that the one thing this powered cooler is meant to do for sure isn't something we feel particularly confident we can trust it to do on a summer backcountry adventure, isn't exactly a ringing endorsement.
Despite its less than stellar temperature control performance, when it comes to insulation, the Alpicool actually performs above average among its competitors. Sitting at room temperature for 36 hours, it gained just 14.9°F. This may also be helped by its particularly tall, narrow shape and lower overall surface area, giving it less space from which to take on heat. We also consider the durability of construction materials in this metric as a portion of each model's overall score. Though we couldn't find any specifics about what the Alpicool is made of, it's all plastic. Every visible piece is some sort of plastic (with the exception of the narrow rubber seal underneath the lid), but a plastic that, compared to other similar models, feels less sturdy and less durable. The latch and hinges in particular are a bit clunky and thin, not inspiring a ton of confidence in its ability to withstand years of hard use.
Running at its maximum energy use, the Alpicool draws around 52.9 Watts of power while cooling and 0.8 Watts in a steady state. It also has a second mode — "Eco" mode — that draws just 38.6 Watts during cooling. This puts it on par for energy usage with many others we tested: on the lower end of average in "Max" mode and the higher end of average in "Eco" mode. It also has the fairly standard three modes of battery protection, helping to conserve your battery rather than drain it completely. All in all, though, when we consider that this model uses an average amount of energy to not get as cold as the competition, it begins to seem less impressive.
Ease of Use
While we were initially excited about the removable internal basket, it proved to be less than helpful. Its wires are so far apart that stacking cans inside allows them to topple over and become a mess as you move the basket to the cooler. The back portion of the cooler isn't any colder, yet is separated from the rest of the internal space. The light is also located back there, meaning that it shines forward (into your face) when you open the lid and is also blocked by the solid wall separating the posterior compartment. In the main compartment, two circular indents in the bottom of the cooler initially seem like they might be a great addition for fitting taller bottles, such as 2L of soda or wine. However, they end up doing nothing — the cooler is already more than tall enough inside to accommodate such items and if you're instead trying to stack a bunch of cans inside, those indents make it awkward to keep them standing as you go along. When it comes to noise, the Alplicool is about average while running, but after its cooling cycle ends, it continues to make gurgling and whooshing noises for some time.
This 45L cooler is a fairly small, compact overall package, making it easier for one person to pick up. It's also one of the lightest compressor models we tested, weighing just 30 pounds. A longer DC cord gives you 7 feet and 10 inches of space to place your unit in your vehicle, while an AC cord (which plugs into the same space as the DC cord) offers 6 feet 8 inches.
Beyond the removable basket, the Alpicool has a few features worth noting. The bright display screen shows lots of information, including some battery-monitoring information that we appreciate. On top of the lid, four indented circles give you spaces for setting your drink(s) while using it as a table. It's also advertised to be able to run at angles up to 45 degrees for short periods of time.
With one of the lowest price tags of any compressor model we tested, this cooler is attention-worthy. If you need to rely on serious cooling powers in seriously hot situations, we're not ready to fully trust this cooler, with its very lackluster temperature control. But if you want an option for infrequent use and only need fridge temps (not freezer), it's a pretty decent choice.
The Alpicool stands out mostly for its low price tag. We don't love its temperature control and find some of its usability "features" to be more of a nuisance than a help. But it still does a decent job for casual use, weighs less than most others, and just might be the right fit for your lowkey use and modest budget.
— Maggie Nichols
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