Honestly Blunt Review #? (Dumping numbering these things) AstroAI 12/110-120 volt Car refrigerator.

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Johnny O

Just hangin' out.
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Note: I purchased this item in 2022
AstroAI Car Fridge, 22L size
There are a ton of car fridges on the market. Most of them are either overpriced (ARB and Yeti I am pointing at you...) or under powered.

The AstroAI is the nearly perfect balance between cost and function. I tested and returned no less than 11 other bands in the harshest of conditions: a Jeep Liberty with the windows up in 100F air temperatures at 75-80% relative humidity in direct sunlight and on the road. Most failed completely. I had to threaten Yeti with a lawyer to get a warranty refund when the compressor overheated and melted the plastic shell.
Indoors and Out on household current, i.e. wrenching on the Jeep in the driveway and keeping a few cold ones handy, the unit makes drinks frosty and makes ice in 15 minutes. Have used this unit during the holidays to keep drinks cold when the fridge was packed full of chow for family feasts. Currently using it to keep bottled water cold in my bedroom as the medication I am on makes me super thirsty at night. So quiet I don't even notice it is running.

At 22L volume, this unit suitable for 1-2 people on a weekend excursion or a solo desert rat fully stocked with steaks and beer. It can cool warm drinks down to a frosty 34F in about 20 minutes on "max power mode". You can program any temperature you want in a variety of modes. The mini ice cube tray is perfect for having an Astronaut Screwdriver on the Rocks after a hot, dusty day of fossil hunting back when I still drank. (Astronaut Screwdriver is Instant Tang Powder and 100 proof vodka) I used this unit to transport hundreds of temperature sensitive biologic specimens with astounding results.

I left the unit on max power in Bert a number of times on single battery mode and the battery protection circuit function like a charm to the point I quit checking the fridge and starting Bert up to charge the battery. (Disclaimer: Your results may vary. Bert has an Odyssey AGM battery.) In Bert's Dual Battery/Solar power Mode, I ran the fridge at max power with the lowest possible temperature settings (30F) and it placed little strain on the system.

After running the unit for 13 hours straight on Max Power and Minimum Temperature mode while cruising at 80mph on I80 loaded down with four steaks, a dozen eggs, a pound of bacon, a six pack of shorty bottles of Coors Beer, a pound of Jarlsberg cheese, and various condiments, plus a loaded ice cube tray, the frozen meats had barely thawed. With that good amount of thermal mass, I unplugged the unit and slept for 12 hours overnight. The internal temperature had risen from 31F to 36F. The ice cubes had melted of course, but when I fired the unit back up, I had ice an hour later. During the day in direct sunlight and high temperatures, the unit warms up as fast as you would think, so is best to set it in Eco Mode at 35F.

This unit has never drained Bert's Odyssey and to date has never drained Khan's Aux OEM or Odyssey Battery. The household current transformer gets warm, but not dangerously so.

The only real issue with the unit was the users manual. The Engrish was minimal. The one I received was for an earlier model and did not explain all the functions my unit has. I reached out to AstroAI via email direct from their website and received a reply 10 hours later, which is about right for a service rep on nearly the other side of the planet. The rep asked me for the model and serial number off the unit and then sent me a PDF of the most current manual and shared some tips for using the interface on top of that. Was very impressed with the service rep and response times.

Pros:
1. Price. The AstroAI is competitively priced and far more affordable than the big name brands. I paid 170$ USD in 2022. It's 249.99 at time of writing with a 40$ off coupon on Amazon.
2. Size: The Fridge is slightly smaller than a standard "10 Day Cooler" of similar volume.
3. Power options: The unit comes with both a 12v automotive plug AND a 110-240v transformer plug (depending on what your country uses). It has a number of temperature options via a capacitive touch interface. The built-in automotive voltage protection is incredible. It will automatically detect a low voltage condition and go into eco mode, and then low power mode from the default settings. You can however set what ever voltage threshold you want.
4. Design: this unit is easy to clean inside and out. The ice cube tray is silicone with an anti spill lid. There is a interior LED for night use. It has no sharp corners or edges. The compressor is shockingly silent. I often had to check to see if it was actually running!
5. Noise: It is nearly silent. Unlike the comparable Yeti which sounds like an F-35 Fighter is making a 10G belly-flop stall turn.
6. Weight: Lighter than the competition. Weighs about the same as a similarly sized 10-day cooler full of drinks and ice. The unit is half the weight of the similarly sized ARB fridge.

Cons:
1. Interior Volume is a bit awkward. Does the job, but the compressor compartment wastes a little space.
2. No rubber feet on the bottom- unit will slide around a bit unless you glue some silicone pads on the bottom corners.
3. Ice Cube Freezer is hit or miss. On really hot days you won't get ice.
4. The lid could be better insulated, in hot conditions it lets a little heat in. I covered the unit with a beach towel and a couple of paperback books which helped.
5. The corner where the power cords plug in could be better designed. The socket is flush with the exterior, so the plug sticks out from the unit which can result in damage.
6. The grille that ventilates the compressor is a bit flimsy. The risk of busting it is a real possibility. Wouldn't affect form, fit, or function, but would be cosmetically bad.
7. The plastic exterior housing is soft and prone to scuffs and scratches. (I solved the issue by covering scuffs with cool decals.)
8. The User guide could use improvement.

Disclaimer: I bought this unit with my own cash. Other units I tested were supplied to me as loaners to review back when I was doing gear reviews under a pseudonym as a side hustle. Also, AstroAI has made improvements on this model, I have not played with the current version.

While the Cons list is longer, most of it is cosmetic and minor form factor whining on my part. Functionally the Pros drastically outweigh the Cons, and you wasted your money if you bought a different brand.
 
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