Walk-in-Cooler Alternative

Hi guys, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I came across a pretty cool alternative for anyone that’s on a tight budget and can’t afford a walk-in-cooler. A couple of weeks ago my cooler started crapping to bed (it wasn’t getting below 55 degrees). It was a small, older style wooden walk in. It was 4’x4’. Luckily I had previously bought a newer style walk-in (8’x8’) for my new shop that I was opened. I ended up only having to use the refrigeration parts since there was already a walk-in-cooler (but no refrigeration) in the space I’m leasing. I had been wanting to take the old wooden cooler out and put this one in my other shop for a while now but my compressor wasn’t big enough for it.

Anyways, I was searching on ebay for a used compressor and condensor at decent price but wasn’t having any luck. I came across a listing for a device called the CoolBot. It’s a small box that hooks up to a window air conditioner and allows it cool your walk-in. Home air conditioners are set up so they can’t go below 60 degrees. This CoolBot device bypasses the air conditioner’s controls and has it’s own thermostat that allows it to cool down to as low as 32 degrees without frosting up. I thought it had to be a scam but after my local refrigeration guy quoted me $1400 ($500 for new compressor, $500 for new condenser, and $400 for freon and installation) for a new compressor and condenser, I decided to take a chance on it. It was only $299 and it had a money back guarantee so I figured it was worth a try. I looked up some online reviews and didn’t find any negative ones. One guy had been up a running for 3 years now with no problems.

I ended up buying it and it was delivered last Monday. I installed the new cooler on Wednesday and went to Home Depot and bought a LG 14,500 btu air conditioner on clearance for $120. I cut a hole in the side of the cooler, plugged the air conditioning unit in it, sealed it all up with some spray insulation and hooked up the CoolBot. The thing works awesome! I set the CoolBot for 37 degrees and it was down to temperature within 20 minutes. It has been working great since and the best part about it is that it doesn’t frost up at all. This is the main thing I hate about my other walk-in-coolers. Every couple of weeks I have to turn them off so the coils can defrost. This CoolBot device has a frost sensor that you push into the fins on the front of the air conditioner that allows it to detect any frost buildup and cycle on and off to prevent any ice build up.

It’s a pretty cool little device. A farmer in the southern part of NY invented it for other local farmers and hunters in his area. I’m surprised this guy doesn’t market these more. This is the first I’ve ever seen of this device and I found it by accident. I think he could could sell a lot of these and make a killing if he did some more advertising. Also, according to his website ( http://www.storeitcold.com ) it is supposed to be 50% more efficient than a standard walk-in-cooler set up. If that turns out to be the case then I will switch out my other 2 shops. I’ll keep you guys up to date on how it works and if I run into any problems with it.

Any idea if this device will cause any problems with your health inspector?..

Hi Roger:

Very interesting gadget.

I think there will be some difficulties with building and health inspectors. They usually want to see UL or ETL plus NSF approvals on everything used in a food service operation.

One question is if the A/C unit will always circulate enough proper temperature to every sq ft of cooler if the blower shuts down when it senses the proper temperature only at its cooling coils. Window style A/C units do not re-circulate air but just bring in new air from outside the box. The cooling systems approved for use in food service walkins do not bring in new out side air they re-circulate the air in the box.

As the window A/C is constantly bringing air in and cooler boxes are normally air tight I wonder if pressure will build inside the box and constrict the introduction of new air?

It will be interesting to see how this new concept plays out.

George Mills

Not in my experience. We have central air/heat at our house but save a ton of money on electricity in the summer by using a window unit for the bedroom so we can turn off the A/C on the rest of the house at night. You can let fresh air in, but don’t have to. Most of the air is recirculated anyway. Here’s a diagram of it:
http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/ac-ups-new.gif

Good information Dewar

I have not had a window A/C for 30 years and they obviously have made improvements.

George Mills

George, your opinion of them not being appropriate for a cooler is still valid. Frankly, paying for both the device and a window unit seems a waste of money. After all, what do you have when you are finished? A crappy cooler. Window AC units are constructed to sell cheaply. They are not meant to run 24 hours at <40F. They simply will not last as long as a commercial system. If anyone is going this route, they should plan on replacing their window AC unit AND their spoiled cooler inventory every year.

I got the impression from the website that this mechanism is designed and pitched to farmers for fall harvest and hunter types. It could be expanded for a small load application in a restaurant, I guess, but I’ve seen too many rigged up AC based coolers to think of it as a “professional” application. More of a jack-legged, propped up sort of thing.

I could easily be prejudiced and missing an opportunity, but Charles hit a really important note on durability and reliability of the window AC units.

Kind of a cool idea, though, if you need a temporary cooler on a regular basis. Might be worthwhile for events where you need to construct a quick cooler. You could prefab the walls for easy put-up and tear down.

Very appropriate

As far as being a crappy cooler, it’s working great and the air conditioner’s compressor actually runs less than my “commercial” compressor did. It only cost me a total of $420, so I saved about $1,000 going this route. Plus the fact that the AC unit is an energy saving model, isn’t running that much, and I won’t be having 2 large fan constantly blowing inside the cooler, I should see some savings on my electricity bill as well. As far as having to replace it every year, I’ve read some reviews from people who have been up and running with it for about 3 years now with no problems. Of all of the reviews that I’ve read from people who are actually using the CoolBot, I haven’t seen any negative ones or any issues with the Air Conditioning units burning up. The only negative reviews that I’ve read are from people who have never used the CoolBot saying that it won’t work. The people that are actually using it have had no problems. It seems like my “commercial systems” seem to have some type of problem with them every couple of years anyways so what’s the difference? Even if I have to go through a couple of ac units in the next few years, I will have still saved money in the long run. If it doesn’t seem to be working out for me, I will just have to get a compressor and condenser. No big deal. Anyways, I couldn’t resist so I had to try to this thing out. It sparked my curiosity plus I’m a sucker for new gadgets! Royster, that’s a good point about the health inspector. Luckily I just had my health inspection for that shop last month. At that location I don’t think the health inspector would say anything about it. He’s pretty lenient on a lot of things plus the cooler is maintaining a constant temperature of 37 degrees when the ac’s compressor is running and 41 when it’s not running. At my newest shop, I don’t know what the inspector would have to say about it if I had one there.

If it breaks once overnight what money are you really going to save,if you have to throw out most of the stuff in your walkin.If my walkin equipment breaks & the bill is going to be 1/2 as much as a new unit I replace the whole thing, less break downs, less stress.Just my 2 cents.What

That’s true and if my “commerical” compressor breaks I have to throw out stuff as well. With a little research I found many people who have been using this setup for a few years now without ever having a problem. At the same time I have yet to find one person say that it didn’t work for them. I’m sure that if the Air Conditioners breaking was a problem, I would have at least found one negative review pertaining to this. My point is that I have many people who have never used the CoolBot telling me that it won’t work but yet there are people who have actually been using it for quite a while now saying that it works great and they have had no problems with it. Who should I believe? I’m leaning towards the people that have actually used it. Anyways, if I happen to run into some problems and have to throw out some chicken wings, it won’t be the end of the world. I’ve spent money in worse ways before!

I really didn’t expect my post to get such a negative reaction. I just wanted to let people know about a pretty neat little invention I came across. Like I said before, I’m a sucker for gadgets so I couldn’t resist trying it out. I’ll play the guinea pig role. If it doesn’t work for me then I will let people know my experience with it and advise them to now use it in a commercial setting.

i love stuff like this where theres a will theres a way. up here in the backwoods of tn.we have all kinds of wild stuff that works guys come up with all kinds of contraptions.is it right for everyone no!!!hey i think if you bought a/c unit you could finally tell the clerk why yes i will buy that extended warranty :smiley: will it pass code probally nought will it work probally yes . i have 2 window units in my little building that tonight is the first time since may they were turned off they are built like tanks at night i just set them at 80 i feel leaving them run helps all my other equipment run easier no failures in 2 years on old used equipment .during the day they have built in timer to kick down to 74 so when we get to work its nice and cool .

I’d almost like to try one…not in the cooler, but just to cool the room & give the roof a/c a break - wonder if it be cooler & cheaper…