How To Keep Food Cold While Camping

food in camping trip

Camping in the outdoors is becoming increasingly popular year by year.

In fact, over 50 million Americans above the age of six years old went camping in 2020 and 2021.

For those who find themselves camping at sites without electricity though all have the same question. 

What is the best way to keep food cold while camping without electricity? 

If you search the internet you are likely to find a plethora of "camping hacks" all promising to keep your food cold during your camping trip. 

In our opinion however, there is only one real way, and that is to use a portable refrigerator. 

But how would you power this refrigerator without electricity? 

Keep reading to find out.

Why is it important to keep food cold?

Simply put, refrigeration slows bacterial growth. Bacteria can be found pretty everywhere in nature. They are in the soil, water, air and of course, in the foods we eat. 

Bacteria thrive in favourable environments. That sort of environment has nutrients, moisture, and ideal temperatures. 

If all the above criteria are met, bacteria grows rapidly, increasing in numbers to the point where some types of bacteria can cause illness.

Bacteria favour temperatures ranging between 40 °F and 140 °F. If these temperatures are met, some bacteria double in number in as little as 20 minutes.

Keeping food below 40 °F will protect most foods from experiencing bacteria growth.

What illness can foods that aren't kept cool cause? 

Common symptoms of ingesting food borne diseases are: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhoea

None of which you want to experience while out on a camping trip. 

How do you refrigerate food when camping?

take food out in camping trip

Now that we understand the importance of refrigerating food, the question is, how do we do that on a camping trip without electricity?

The answer is simple, create your own. 

The easiest way for campers to do this, is to take advantage of the photovoltaic effect via the use of solar panels. 

How do solar panels create electricity? 

In order for the photovoltaic effect to take place, a solar cell (or panel) needs to be exposed to photons (which is simply small bundles of electromagnetic radiation).

These photons are actually absorbed by the solar cell through two different types of semiconductors. The p-type and the n-type. These two semiconductors are joined together to create a p-n junction.

When you join these two types of semiconductors, you allow an electric field to be formed in the region of the junction as electrons move to the positive p-side and holes move to the negative n-side.

This electric field forces negatively charged particles to move in only one direction, the opposite for positively charged particles.

This whole process eventually results in electricity production.

However, solar panels generate DC electricity, and most appliances require AC electricity.

One way to get around this is by using a solar generator to power your appliances.  

How to use a portable solar generator to power your refrigerator? 

Solar generators come with various AC outputs that allow you to plug in appliances as you see fit. 

Thus, all you would need to do in this scenario is plug your portable refrigerator into your solar generator. 

This will provide your fridge with AC electricity. The BLUETTI AC200P solar generator for example, will be able to power a 70 W car fridge for roughly 20 hours. 

But what happens once your solar generator has run out of power? 

Well, this is where your solar panels come into play. What you can do is connect your solar panels to your solar generator, this will essentially keep your solar generator charged. 

As long is your camping spot has sun exposure, your solar generator + solar panels should be able to keep your refrigerator powered at all times. 

This means your food will stay cool throughout the duration of your camping trip. 

Which solar generators are best for keeping food cold?

Below we have created a list that indicates the best solar generators you can use as an energy source to keep your food cold while camping. 

The rule of thumb here is, the more capacity a solar generator has, the longer it will be able to power your appliance for. If you aim to go on long camping trips, we recommend bringing along a larger solar generator to accommodate all your energy needs. 

Final thoughts

Thanks to advanced technology we are now able to store and move energy as we see fit. If you are looking to keep your food cold during a camping trip, we recommend you to do what you would at home, use a refrigerator. 

If your camp site doesn't have any electricity then using a solar generator is definitely your best bet. 

By connecting solar panels to your solar generator you can in essence, keep your fridge powered 24/7 for the duration of your camping trip. 

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