Koolatron KWC-4 Coca-Cola Personal 6-Can Mini Fridge Review

2.6 Cu. Ft. Compact Single Reversible Door Mini Refrigerator and Freezer Office

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4.5 cu. ft. Mini Fridge Compact Refrigerator Freezer Dorm Studio Stainless Steel
$219.97
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3 Comments on “Koolatron KWC-4 Coca-Cola Personal 6-Can Mini Fridge Review
  1. 269 of 283 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Noisy but very effective cooler – but TOTALLY SILENT after an easy fan replacement., January 30, 2013
    By 
    Dan Schwarcz “DocDanPA” (Pittsburgh, PA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Koolatron KWC-4 Coca-Cola Personal 6-Can Mini Fridge (Kitchen)

    The reviews seem to split on two issues – is it noisy, and does it cool effectively? If half the reviews were right, it seemed perfect for my desk, because I need a way to have drinks (cold soda, or hot coffee with milk) without having to stop for a long trip to the cafeteria. So, I took a chance.

    First, on cooling: I think some people are confused about how a thermoelectric refrigerator works. “Normal” refrigerators cool food by cooling the air and blowing it around with a fan, or in some cases by cooling all the interior walls. Since the air and walls have a low thermal mass, refrigerators work BEST when they’re mostly full of cold items. So, in general you want to keep them full or almost full, and in small ones if possible you want to pre-cool the items before putting them in (unless you have a lot of time available to remove all that heat.)

    This refrigerator has two zones – a metallic surface from the back to about 2/3 of the front, and a plastic zone at the last 2″ near the door. The cooling ONLY occurs through conductivity at the metallic surfaces, so that’s where you want to put milk, dairy products, etc. If the refrigerator is full, the food near the front will be cooled by contact with the cold food in the back, and by the cold air between all the cold foods, but it won’t get as cold as the food in the back. I think that’s what’s causing the “this isn’t cold enough” reviews – the sodas and milk I put in the back are VERY cold. (I think they designed the fridge for cans to lay on their side, so the back and front wouldn’t have different items. But that won’t work on anything but 12 ounce cans.)

    Now, about the noise: Very annoying and loud whine. It uses what looks like a cheap, noisy 80mm square computer case cooling fan, 20mm thick, drawing 0.15A at 12V. There are many much quieter fans out there, but that thickness is hard to find, I just ordered a much quieter 25mm thick one, and I think there’s enough clearance that it will work fine. I also ordered noise-suppression screws – the whole thing was less than $10 plus shipping. The important thing is that the replacement fan can’t draw more current than the original. Will it work? Stay tuned – I’m going to update after I put it in and, if it does, I’ll give the model info and some assembly tips. (If it doesn’t work, I’ll learn to live with the noise.)

    Update 3/8/13: I just replaced the fan with a quieter one, and the fridge – which still cools very well – is now totally silent. I’m changing the rating to five stars, based on how cheap and easy it was to do this. I sit about five feet away from it in my office, and I can’t hear anything at all now. Before, the noise was a steady whine that I sorta kinda got almost used to, but now that it’s totally gone I can tell from its strong absence that it was an ever-present annoyance. Seriously, I have to check the light to make sure this thing’s on.

    So, here’s what I did: I bought a Coolink SWiF-801 80mm Quiet Computer Case Fan from QuietPCUSA (online), which sold it for $4.95 plus shipping. (In Amazon, searching for that model brings up a $30 alternative.) There are many other fans and other vendors to choose from, but any you pick should be (1) 80mm square, no more than 25mm thick, (2) DC12V and a MAXIMUM of 0.15A (the one I bought about half that amperage), (3) specifically rated as quiet – this model claims 11 dB, and (4) have reasonable airflow and RPM (this one claims 38 cubic meters/hour at 1500 RPM.) Frankly, you might do better but at five bucks and near-total silence (vs office background) it’s hard to justify the effort to try.

    I’m not a super-DYI guy, but I got a couple of small wire nuts, a small flat-head screwdriver, and borrowed a wire stripper. The back comes out with eight small screws. The fan comes out with four small screws. The new fan’s cable had a connector at the end – I cut it off, cut back the outer sleeve and exposed a couple of inches of the wiring. The yellow wire can be ignored, it’s for speed control and the Koolatron’s original fan – which I removed with a small flat-head screw driver – only has a black and a red wire. I cut off the original fan’s wire and very carefully cut into the wiring insulation to expose the thin metal wires inside. Then I pulled on the insulation with my fingernail, exposing about an inch. Did the same with the black and red wires in the new fan, stranded the like-color ends together, bent the exposed wires in half, connected them with the wiring nuts and then screwed the fan back into the back.

    I’d bought “anti-vibration fan screws” but they aren’t suitable for the Koolatron case, so that was three bucks wasted. I cut out four small squares of thin rubber and placed them between the fan and the case, using the screws to make a tiny gasket. (Chances are, that’s not necessary, but I’m not taking it all apart to check.) That’s it! Just…

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  2. 318 of 341 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Great for study room, October 14, 2008
    By 
    A. L. Trail “Jet-Tech” (Stanwood, Wa United States) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Koolatron KWC-4 Coca-Cola Personal 6-Can Mini Fridge (Kitchen)
    I really like iced apple juice, but the ice was melting before I ever finished my drink. I was going through apple juice like crazy, but never really drinking much of it. I bought this personal fridge to cut down on wasting apple juice (don’t like it all watered down from melted ice). It works so well, that I can fill a 12oz glass with juice, put in a few cubes of ice, and seven hours later, the ice has not melted. Think about it…seven hours! If I leave a glass of ice and juice out for 30 minutes, the ice has melted down to little bitty bits and the juice is too watery.

    I used the “Mastercool MSC52224A Infrared Thermometer in Case with FREE MSC52220 Analog Thermometer” that I bought from Amazon to check the temperature performance. The manual for the mini fridge says that it is capable of cooling to 32 (deg F) below ambient. I checked it on a hot day, a warm day, a cool day, and several times between using the digital IR thermometer and it is consistently 32-45 degrees cooler inside the fridge than the outside temperature. Even on a 90 degree day the ice did not melt and I didn’t have to replace my drink. The inside temperature at the warmest spot was consistently hovering around 45 to 47 degrees (F). My drink was at around 36 to 38 degrees, depending on where I measured it.
    On the days that were around 70 degrees, this fridge read temperatures close to freezing. In fact, I was amazed when I pulled out a frosty glass of apple juice. It happened only once, but still…worth mentioning.
    I think the trick to getting this to work optimally is to provide several inches of space for the back end where it vents out the heat. I used the thermometer there as well- the vent on either side exhausts at about 90 degrees (F) but at a low volume so it is not very useful as a space heater.

    The unit runs quiet- very quiet. It comes with both an AC adapter, and a DC lighter-socket adapter for the car. The power switch has three positions- Off (middle) to the right is 110AC, and to the left is 12VDC (car). There is a single green LED to indicate ON operation, there are two warm air exhausts on each side at the rear, and two cool air intakes- one at the back plate, and one on the top at the aft end. This is why ventilation and spacing is important- due to the proximity of the hot air exhaust and cool air intake- there needs to be room for the warm air to dissipate and not be drawn in by the cool air intake. The manual says 6 inches space all around, I’ve found that about half that works in my situation.

    I have not tried a six-pack, or tried using it in a car. What I can say is that if you like to have a cold drink handy to sip on all day while you study, this unit is worth every penny. I have not had to waste a glass of juice because it was watered down since using this unit- for that, 5 stars easily.

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  3. 193 of 210 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Works great, but time will tell if it gets a 5th star, January 4, 2008
    By 
    R. Alembik “Baudelaire” (DECATUR, GA United States) –

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Koolatron KWC-4 Coca-Cola Personal 6-Can Mini Fridge (Kitchen)
    This little “backup” fridge keeps 6 soda cans very cold. The look is pretty neat. My main quibble is with the latch mechanism. It’s a little plastic thing that I’m afraid will break because it takes a little bit of guess work to figure out wither to pull or turn to open. (It turns.) It’s perfect for a small conference room, but I’m just afraid that after long usage someone will figure out how to break it. I guess time will tell.

    OK, three years later my little buddy died. The handle broke and had to be glued back on a couple of times. But finally he gave up the ghost. So much for my private stash of sodas at the office. I got my money’s worth.

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