4WDrive

GEAR REVIEWS: THE DOMETIC PLB40

- Words and photos by Perry and Cindy Mack

I nostalgica­lly remember Styrofoam coolers and bags of ice on camping trips with the family. I say "nostalgica­lly" because I remember those early camping trips fondly, but I have no desire to re-live them. Those trips really had to be in an RV Park in a designated spot. You needed a store to buy more ice from as it melted, and a store to buy more food from if you wanted to stay any length of time. It was camping, but we were still tethered to modern facilities.

Let's skip ahead a few generation­s of coolers. The 'coolers' are now fridge/freezers. And as long as you can power them, you don't need to find civilizati­on. The tether has stretched.

The challenge is power. Sounds like the human condition. Need more power. But for overlandin­g, it needs to be portable, and rechargeab­le. The Dometic PLB 40 (Portable Lithium Battery) takes new technology and applies it to people who are trying to escape from it - for a little bit longer. It is compact, light, powerful and reliable. Specifical­ly designed to power units like the CFX series of coolers from Dometic. While its main purpose is staving off starvation due to spoiled food, you can also use it to power your other 12V devices and USB accessorie­s.

The magic is in the nature of Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePo4) batteries. According to Dometic, "with a very low self-discharge rate, stable output voltage at 12V, they can deliver a much higher energy density in comparison to other chemistrie­s. They are safe batteries and suitable to work in harsh ambient temperatur­e. With the built-in Battery Management System (BMS) they are selfprotec­ted against overcharge, deep discharge and over/under temperatur­e situation."

We've been huge fans of Dometic for eons, well 18 years anyway, since the founding of the company in Sweden in 2001. The companies' strength is in appliances for mobile living.

Using Lithium Iron Phosphate allows the PLB40 to deliver more stable power for longer periods than other lithium ion batteries. It weighs in at just 7.3 kg (16 lb) and can provide up to 40 hours of power, 40Ah/512Wh in technical terms.

You're right if you're thinking that 40 hours isn't always enough for some of us - that's a weekends worth. We could just as well get by with ice, barring the soggy hotdog buns and meat floating at the bottom of the cooler.

You can recharge the battery from a 12V vehicle socket, solar panel or AC power using the charge ports in the back. A terrific feature is the unit has a built in charge controller. Your solar panel just needs an Anderson SB50 connector and you are set.

Which means that out on the trail, as long as you have gas in the tank or sunshine and a solar panel, your food stays fresh (or frozen).

I like the large digital charge display on the top. This is the single most important piece of informatio­n I need and it's right there on top by the handle. Going from 51-100 percent power charging via AC took about two hours - in line with Dometic's claim that five hours using AC or DC will take you from 0-100

percent.

In order to test the 40-hour power stat we connected it to our Dometic CFX 40W cooler, which is used to generate this baseline - 40 hours for an almost 40L-sized cooler. The rugged constructi­on of this cooler makes it apparent that the CFX series has been specifical­ly designed with off-roading in mind. It is a fantastic cooler for our Jeep overland adventures. It fits in our MORryde Trail kitchen behind the rear seat, has a 38L capacity, it is rugged enough you can stand on it, has folding handles that allow it to be tied down, deep freezes to -21°C (-7F), can be controlled by digital display or WiFi app, and the 3-stage Dynamic Battery Protection System means the cooler will not drain the 4x4's

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 ??  ?? We tested the rugged constructi­on by letting it fly around loose in the back of the Jeep for five days. The charge display is clear and easy to read.
We tested the rugged constructi­on by letting it fly around loose in the back of the Jeep for five days. The charge display is clear and easy to read.
 ??  ?? Snug fitting rubber seals keep out dust and dirt, to help achieve an IP44 rating, while also clearly marking the ports beneath. The comfortabl­e carry handle lowers to save space.
Snug fitting rubber seals keep out dust and dirt, to help achieve an IP44 rating, while also clearly marking the ports beneath. The comfortabl­e carry handle lowers to save space.

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