The ICECO VL60 has surpassed my expectations; it is built to last, works perfectly whether it’s plugged into a wall outlet or a portable battery, and is large enough to hold a week or more of groceries — frozen and/or refrigerated. While it might be a little bit larger than you’d need for daily commutes or short road trips, on longer camp-outs, or when overlanding, you’ll be so glad if you have it along!
- Rugged build with a metal-clad body
- You can use each side as a refrigerator or freezer, and it keeps cold things cold and frozen things frozen
- You can turn off one of the sides if you aren’t using it
- It has a quiet compressor
- Runs for a long time on a portable battery like the BLUETTI AC200MAX, and adding a solar panel will keep your battery powered and your cooler going strong when you’re off-grid
- There is an LED on each compartment side that makes it easy to find what you’re searching for when the lid is open
- There’s no way to dim or turn off the cooler’s green LEDs, which might be an issue if you’re sleeping with it in your tent or the same room
Kev and I recently purchased a travel trailer that can be pulled behind his Toyota Tacoma or my Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Part of the fun of planning your first big camping adventure is making sure that you have all the necessary gear to go off-grid for days at a time, which is why the offer to review the ICECO VL60 couldn’t have come at a better time. The VL60 is a heavy-duty metal dual-zone refrigerator and/or freezer powered by a Danfoss SECOP compressor that can be used in multiple outdoor and indoor scenarios. Let’s take a look.
One of the most convenient things about powered coolers is that they don’t require any ice to keep the contents cold, so there’s a lot more room available whether you’re packing it for a week away or using it at home to keep drinks cold.
The ICECO VL60 is substantially larger than the BougeRV 30-Quart cooler I reviewed several months ago; where the BougeRV could hold enough for a weekend away, the VL60 is large enough for longer, truly off-grid adventures where stopping at the store might be impossible or impractical.
What’s in the Box
The ICECO VL60 comes securely packaged in a banded cardboard box reinforced inside with styrofoam on the top and bottom; the cooler is protectively nestled inside the styrofoam and wrapped in plastic with an extra layer of cardboard around its middle.
The VL60 package includes an AC wall outlet cable, a DC cigarette lighter plug cable, two removable cooler baskets tailored for each side, and a user manual; it also includes an insulated protective cover. I appreciate that there is no power brick; the cables are basic; they plug directly into the cooler, where all the power conversion is accomplished.
Not only does the ICECO VL60 have two cooling compartments, but it also has a temperature range of 0º to 50º in each cooling compartment, so you can opt to use one side as a refrigerator and the other as a freezer, cool only one side, or you can use both as a cooler or freezer with each set to a specific temperature.
ICECO VL60 Walk-Around
The ICECO VL60 is a large 31.25″ long by 18.75″ tall by 18.25″ deep army gray metal-clad cooler with matte black impact-resistant caps on each corner; it weighs a lot when empty (the website says it’s 64 pounds, which seems about right).
The cooler is quite heavy-duty looking with slightly militaristic styling. As you can see, it doesn’t look like the typical cooler; it screams MOAR.
On the front of the ICECO VL60, two heavy-duty steel latches secure their respective cooling compartments.
On the ICECO VL60’s front bottom right, there is a matte black 4″ tall by 6.2″ wide control panel with Mode, Power, Up, and Down buttons inset with a 1″ tall by 2.2″ wide LCD, which shows the temperature for each side and the number of volts the cooler is drawing, as well as the battery protection mode the cooler is running and whether you are in Max or Eco mode. Under the display, there is a vent.
To set the ICECO VL60’s temperature for each side, with the cooler plugged in and turned on, you press the Mode button, which will flash the current set temperature of the left cooler side; it can then be raised or lowered with the Up and Down buttons to the side to your desired temperature.
Pressing the mode button again will flash the current set temperature of the right side, which can also be raised or lowered with the Up and Down buttons.
The temperature you set will show as a flashing number, and once it’s been set, the display will show each side’s current temperature.
You have the choice of two cooling modes, Max and Eco.
Max, as the name implies, is for fast cooling, while Eco is for energy saving. If you need to cool things down as quickly as possible, and if the cooler hasn’t already been running, then you should set it to Max; if you’re putting already cold or frozen items inside, and the cooler has been running, setting it to Eco will work just fine.
It takes about 45 minutes to cool the ICECO VL60 to 41ºF on Max mode. The cooler will note the temperature you’ve set and will cool to a little below that so the compressor can turn off and save energy.
In other words, you’ll see the temperature fluctuate on the VL60’s display as it drops just below your target temp and the compressor turns off; then, as the temperature eventually rises a few degrees, the compressor will kick back on, and the temp will drop again. This is normal.
To set the Max or Eco modes, press the mode button three times and then toggle the Up and Down buttons for the intended way.
The ICECO VL60 has built-in triple battery protection to prevent over-discharge or battery depletion when running the cooler from an external battery. When the measured DC voltage from your power source is below the set value, the compressor will shut off to keep your battery from completely draining, and it will turn back on when the battery has enough voltage again to support running the cooler.
One final trick that you may or may not ever need to take advantage of is the ability to completely turn off one of the sides so that the other is the only one cooling. To do that, with the VL60 turned on, you’ll press and hold either the Up button to turn off the left cooling zone or the Down button to turn off the right cooling zone.
To turn a particular cooling zone back on again, you simply press and hold the Up button to run on the left side or the Down button to turn on the right side.
On the left side is a steel handle with a rolling plastic insert to make lifting the ICECO VL60 more comfortable.
On the right side is a second steel handle with a rolling plastic insert; on the lower left are power ports for the AC and DC cables, with an easily accessed 15A fuse in the center and vents to the side.
There is another vent on the back’s bottom left, with two steel hinges for each lid.
On the bottom, there are four convex metal feet.
The overall impression from the outside is that the ICECO VL60 is built like a tank; based on its build quality alone, it should last for years!
Opening the lids reveals the two cooling compartments, each with an LED that will glow when the VL60 is powered on and a cover is opened.
The left side measures approximately 14″ long by 12.5″ wide by 14″ deep; the removable basket measures about 13.25″ long by 11.3″ wide by 12.3″ deep.
The right side of the cooler is a bit smaller, measuring approximately 14″ long by 5″ wide by 13.75″ deep at the bottom left with a 14″ long by 7.75″ wide by 5.75″ deep area above the shelf that houses the compressor and power ports. The basket measures about 13.25″ long by 11.3″ wide by 4.5″ deep.
That’s the cooler in a nutshell; now, let’s see how it did in my testing.
Using the ICECO VL60
Kev and I have been talking about going camping forever. Other than a few “glamping” experiences, though, we’ve never really gone off-grid for the type of camping he most enjoys. He’s the type of guy who can put everything he needs into a backpack and go into the wilderness for weeks. I, on the other hand, prefer something a little more civilized.
It’s not that I don’t want to spend the night in far-flung wilderness areas; it’s that if I’m going to get a decent night’s sleep and wake up feeling halfway rested, I need to sleep on a mattress. I’d also prefer something more substantial than a nylon tent between myself and any random wildlife. Call me crazy, but probably because I read so many thrillers, I like a door that locks and whatever (or whomever) is outside.
We’d talked about possibly getting a camping trailer because we like the idea of being able to unhook our trailer and drive to other points of interest during the day. But neither of us was interested in anything full-sized with a kitchen and bathroom because the places we like to hike and explore are generally in some seriously off-road/4×4-only areas that aren’t accessible to larger camper trailers.
After much research, for our 13th anniversary, Kev ordered us a fully-loaded Zion Off-Road camper, specifically made for camping in less accessible places. It took about two months for the build to be complete, and we planned to go to St. George, Utah, to pick it up, after which we would meet Kev’s brother and our sister-in-law for a camping adventure in Southern Utah for the rest of the week.
So we loaded everything that we’d need (and a few things we did not need) in the back of Kev’s Tacoma, including the ICECO VL60, and we headed to Utah.
Kev’s truck has a power port in the bed, so for the drive from Texas to New Mexico, we plugged the BLUETTI AC200MAX into that port with the VL60 plugged into the AC200MAX.
Having the BLUETTI AC200MAX fully charged from the drive came in handy at our first stop at a hotel in Santa Fe; we just left the cooler and battery in the back of Kev’s (powered-off) truck, and the AC200MAX kept the VL60 running throughout the evening and overnight until we were ready to go with more than 80% charge left on the battery the following morning.
After another long drive (during which the BLUETTI AC200MAX was recharged), we made it to St. George; after a quick run-through by the Zion Off-Road guys about how to operate everything in the camper, we were on our way to our first stop, the St. George/Hurricane KOA.
I’ll admit that I was grateful we had two nights at two different KOAs to acclimate to using and operating our new camping space, try out all of our new gear in a real-world scenario that wasn’t too far from a store if we needed anything, and get everything set up “just-so” before we met with Mark and Erin because everything after that was going to be off-grid.
The ICECO VL60 is on the larger side; the company says it can hold up to 91 cans, up to 50 18-ounce bottles, or up to 20 bottles of wine.
For our camping trip, we planned on using the cooler’s larger left side as a refrigerator and the smaller right side as a freezer, and we found that it could easily hold more than a week’s worth of food and beverages. After we had been on the road for a few days, we switched both sides to refrigerate so the frozen food could begin to thaw.
ICEOCO mentions that the VL60 can take up to a 40º tilt; that means if you are going to be doing some serious rock-crawling with the cooler in your vehicle, anything over a 40º tilt is going to put stress on the compressor, so that’s something to keep in mind.
Going into the trip, we knew the VL60 would be too big to fit in our camper’s slide-out cooler compartment; it was engineered for something slightly smaller.
One of the things I like about the ICECO VL60 is that when it is running, the Danfoss SECOP compressor is extremely quiet (about as loud as a soft-whirring computer fan); this is a great feature if you’re going to be sleeping with the VL60 in the same room, but that wasn’t the case for us, as you can see.
Since we couldn’t keep the ICECO VL60 inside our trailer at night and it didn’t fit inside the galley slide-out, we’d have to move the cooler and the AC200MAX in and out of the camper when we packed up or set up camp. That said, the ICECO VL60 is heavy, especially when full, but Kev and I became quite adept at moving it wherever needed. Teamwork!
We used the ICECO VL60’s insulated cover for the first few days as a buffer between the sun and the cooler/battery combination.
We eventually put the insulated cover on the cooler. We left it on — partly out of concern that we might accidentally tear one of the door gaskets with one of the cooler’s bottom edge caps, which the insulated cover covers — but mostly because keeping it on really made a difference in helping the VL60 work more efficiently in the heat.
When the ICECO VL60 is plugged into the BLUETTI AC200MAX using AC and in Eco mode, the cooler draws 24-26.5V, according to the display. The AC200MAX would show a draw as high as 80W when first plugged in, dropping to around 60-63W draw while the cooler’s compressor was on and a 0W draw when the compressor shut off.
When the VL60 is plugged into DC on the BLUETTI AC200MAX, the VL60 draws about 13-13.1V, according to the display. The AC200MAX would show a draw of about 70W when first plugged in, dropping to around 56-58W draw while the cooler’s compressor was on and 0W when the compressor shut off.
The beauty of the VL60 is that since it has an actual refrigerator/freezer compressor, it’s so well-insulated and energy-efficient that it will run only when necessary, shutting itself off when it isn’t needed. If you aren’t opening and closing the lids constantly and it’s not sitting in direct sun without the insulating cover, it can take some time before the compressor starts running again.
We were able to power the ICECO VL60 set at 41º F from the AC200MAX on AC for almost 36 hours, which included intense daytime heat before the battery needed to be recharged, which isn’t surprising since BLUETTI says the AC200MAX can run a 150W Refrigerator (1200W) for up to 10 hours.
In a cooler environment, like my office, the ICECO VL60 seems to sip power from the BLUETTI AC200MAX on DC, running for days on end before recharging. If you live off-grid using a battery/solar combo, it should work very well for you.
We could also easily power the VL60 from our camper’s built-in AC and DC power ports, which run off two marine batteries recharged by a built-in 100W solar panel on the camper’s roof. On our drive home, we tried it and found that this setup also worked very well.
I should mention that the insulated cover is perfectly tailored to fit the VL60, and I like that there is a pocket on the right side that holds the charging cables, so they never get misplaced.
One little niggle is that the LEDs on the ICECO VL60’s display stay on all the time, which can be handy for quick checks at night to make sure that the temp is right and everything is going well. Still, the green LEDs might be annoying if you keep the cooler inside your tent or in a room where you’d prefer total darkness at night, as they can’t even be dimmed.
While the ICECO VL60 isn’t necessarily weatherproof, it can operate and be used in light rain conditions; we didn’t experience any rain on the trip, but it’s good to know.
ICECO recommends that in light rain or when the ground is wet, you place the cooler on something so the vents are well above any water. They do not recommend exposing the cooler to moderate or heavy rain, as over-exposure to moisture might shorten its life.
At one point, as we were driving across Utah, we pulled into the shady Star Springs campground in Utah to have a picnic lunch. As we were leaving, I noticed only one other person with a larger camper and his pickup truck parked next to it in his camping slot.
As we drove past the guy’s camp setup, I noticed that in the back of his truck, he had an ICECO cooler in its insulated cover near his truck’s cab and a small solar panel at the open tailgate powering it. I know “pics or it didn’t happen,” and I wish I had taken a photo, but I was too busy pointing it out to Kev.
There was so much to see on this trip that I couldn’t get photos of it all!
The ICECO VL60 has surpassed my expectations; it is built to last, works perfectly whether it’s plugged into a wall outlet, a portable battery, or a camper’s on-board battery, and is large enough to hold a week or more of groceries — frozen and/or refrigerated.
While it might be a little bit larger than you’d need for daily commutes or short road trips, on longer camp-outs, or when overlanding, you’ll be so glad if you have it along!
Not having to deal with ice, the space ice takes up a cooler, and regular draining means there’s more room for food and less time worrying about whether our food and drinks are being kept at the correct temperatures. Having it with us on our camping trips gives us one less thing to worry about.
The ICECO VL60 comes with a 30-day return period; there is a 1-year warranty on the cooler and a 5-year warranty against compressor failure.
The ICECO VL60 sells for $849; it is available directly from the manufacturer (you can save 12% off your purchase of any VL Series with the code GEARDIARY12) and from Amazon.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Rugged build with a metal-clad body; You can use each side as a refrigerator or freezer, and it keeps cold things cold and frozen things frozen; You can turn off one of the sides if you aren’t using it; It has a quiet compressor; Runs for a long time on a portable battery like the BLUETTI AC200MAX, and adding a solar panel will keep your battery powered and your cooler going strong when you’re off-grid; There is an LED on each compartment side that makes it easy to find what you’re searching for when the lid is open
What Needs Improvement: There’s no way to dim or turn off the cooler’s green LEDs, which might be an issue if you’re sleeping with it in your tent or the same room