Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thermoelectric Cooler

Wouldn't it be convenient if the family's automobile, the one used for all-in-the-family trips, contained a refrigerator and warming oven to keep beverages or food chilly cool or toast warm?

A car rigged with a refrigerator and oven would perhaps resemble an oversized mobile home rather than a conventional sedan or wagon, so the idea is obviously impractical.

The only practical way to keep foods warm and drinks cool while on the move in a car until recently was to use sloppy ice chests and leaky thermos bottles. Now, however, there's a slick alternative chest that brings properties of both a refrigerator and warming oven to a compact package that stows within reach of driver and passengers.

The Thermoelectric Travel Cooler and Warmer is the size of a console ice cooler but eliminates the hassle of either a messy ice chest and thermos -- there's no need to stock ice or contend with a breakable thermos lining.

Instead, the unit plugs into a 12-volt power socket and taps the battery for electric current. The charge powers an electric motor that cools or heats an internal metal element. Then a small fan blows air across the metal element to circulate cool or warm air through the insulated plastic chest's storage compartment.

Each unit cools to 40 degrees or warms to 140 degrees. Fruits, sodas and other soothing snacks stay refreshingly chilled, while beverages like coffee and tea -- or to-go orders like hamburgers and fries -- remain piping warm, depending on whether you use the box to chill or warm.

The interior holds even two six-packs of sodas, yet the package fits easily into a family car, while a detachable shoulder strap lets you tote it too.

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