I don’t know who needs a battery-powered combination refrigerator, freezer, and ice maker on wheels that can be charged by a solar panel, but I like knowing that you’re out there, wandering the planet with a cocktail in hand while bending Mother Nature to your will.
The EcoFlow Glacier is pitched at RV and boat owners or anyone looking to bring modern luxuries into the great outdoors. Its list price starts at $1,099 / €1,199, but that’s before adding extras like a 297Wh battery for a day away from the grid, wheels and telescoping handle to make the 50.7-pound (23kg) unit more portable when its 38-liter (40-quart) capacity is maxed out with food and drinks, and up to 240W of solar panels to keep that beach party bumpin’ for as long as the sun will shine.
I’ve been testing the Glacier for a few weeks, and I’m starting to understand its appeal. It helps that I’m a budding vanlifer who also enjoys the occasional libation.
Importantly, the Glacier cools down fast. EcoFlow claims it will drop the temperature from 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) to 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) in 15 minutes. In my battery test at home in a room measuring 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius), it took 17 minutes for the Glacier to cool down to my desired dual-zone temperatures of 42.8 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) for the fridge and 14 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 10 degrees Celsius) for the freezer. The reported temperature on the built-in display and EcoFlow’s app aligned closely with my own thermometer, which measured 6 degrees Celsius and negative 9 degrees Celsius on the two sides. On the fridge side, I packed a jug of prechilled milk alongside bottles of room temperature tonic water, and in the freezer, I placed two bags of ice and half a loaf of bread.
The compressor is noisy when initially cooling down the unit, measuring about 41dB from one meter away in my testing. It then goes almost completely silent, minus the occasional gurgle and some weird scratching sounds, which I’m told is gas inside the fridge moving through a one-way valve. The sound is akin to a tired but determined little mouse trying to escape a steel bucket loaded with thumbtacks. It’s noticeable in a very quiet room but infrequent and subtle enough that it took me a few days to realize that my house did not, in fact, have an infestation issue.
In regular power (not Eco) mode, the compressor comes on every 30 minutes or so and then runs for about three minutes to maintain my desired temperatures. At 32dB, the sound isn’t too bad, but it’s loud compared to any modern built-in kitchen fridge and something you’d definitely notice when sleeping nearby.
A removable divider separates the fridge and freezer sections, and the EcoFlow Glacier can automatically detect if it is inserted. When it is, you are presented with temperature controls for the two separate zones. Otherwise, EcoFlow treats the internal capacity as one giant fridge or freezer with space under the lid to store the divider. The Glacier also remembers your previous temperature settings when the partition is added or removed. Smart.
Making ice is rather interesting since you have to make it and then detach it. Let me explain.
You first need to fill the reservoir with up to 1.4 liters (a little over a third of a gallon) of water. That’s enough to make about five batches of ice before a refill warning appears in the app and on the unit itself. You then hit the “make ice” button in the app or on the Glacier control panel, choose either small or large cubes, and wait anywhere between 11 and 17 minutes — the first round of ice takes longer. The ice forms around a field of 18 metal pins inside the reservoir, and it’s loud. In my testing, it hit around 51dB from a distance of one meter for the entire ice-making process. The unit beeps when finished and continues to do so until you run a separate operation to detach the ice. Fortunately, the beep can be turned off in the settings.
Hit the “detach ice” button to begin releasing the ice from the pins. This process took anywhere between 30 seconds and three minutes in my testing. Once the countdown timer is complete, a little tug on the basket lifts the hollow ice ovals out of the reservoir, but not without dripping water everywhere if you forget to shake off the excess. Good thing that Glacier has an IPX4 resistance to splashing water and light rain. The ice produced is relatively robust, making bigger ice “cubes” with thicker walls than those produced by my own dedicated ice machine.
EcoFlow says that the Glacier will run for up to 40 hours off its 297Wh battery, but my real-world testing yielded just 22 hours. That actually seems reasonable since I was using it heavily in regular power mode — not Eco mode. I made ice four times — two batches of small cubes and two batches of large — for a total of 72 cubes during my battery test, all while the fridge was loaded and keeping each compartment cooled at a steady 6 degrees Celsius / negative 10 degrees Celsius as described above. Glacier’s 120W DC compressor consumed about 12Wh to 15Wh of power during each session, which is very good compared to typical ice makers that use inefficient AC compressors. I could have extended battery life in Eco mode, which allows for a wider range of temperature fluctuations.
When plugged into an AC outlet, the Glacier used a total of 394Wh over a 24-hour period. During that time, I made three batches of ice, while continuing to operate in a dual-zone (6 degrees Celsius / negative 10 degrees Celsius) configuration. Eco mode in the same scenario consumed 354Wh in a day.
As for portability, the removable telescoping handle and wheels are a necessity, in my opinion, for anyone who needs to even semi-regularly move the 30.6 × 15.2 × 17.5 inch (776 × 385 × 445mm) unit from place to place, especially when loaded with food and drinks. The handle is a bit short for my six-foot frame, which caused me to bash the fridge into the back of my legs at times. Further, the wheels are rigid, causing the fridge (and the glass bottles inside) to vibrate like hell when pulled along bumpy roads. But I’d rather suffer those indignities than have to carry this beast alone for more than a few feet at a time.
Some other notable considerations:
- The Glacier can’t be powered by solar alone. Connected panels simply charge the removable battery via an XT60 port on the fridge.
- You also can’t make ice when only powered off a 12V cigarette outlet — another reason you’ll want to pay more for an optional battery or two.
- The battery chemistry is Li-NMC, not LFP, in order to pack more capacity into a smaller space.
- The Glacier has a single XT60 input port for power / charging (car and wall adapters included in the box).
- EcoFlow says the battery charges in as little as 2.1 hours under perfect 240W (11–60V, 13A Max) solar conditions (which don’t exist), 2.2 hours from AC (180W), or about four hours (12V) or 2.1 hours (24V) when plugged into a vehicle (192W, 8A Max).
- The removable battery has a bidirectional 100W USB-C PD port. That means it can charge your gadgets while also powering the fridge or be recharged via the same USB-C charger you use for your phone or laptop.
- Cleaning the ice maker’s water reservoir is a challenge with all those pins sticking up. The water can be drained via a small hose hidden by a panel door — something you’ll want to do before trying to roll it away. Otherwise, the water will slosh out.
- The built-in carrying handles on the top left and top right of the unit can also be removed for more permanent installations.
- When the lid is open, two lights help illuminate the insides.
- The Glacier can join your local network over 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, where it can then be monitored and controlled remotely via the excellent EcoFlow app. It also supports Bluetooth for direct connectivity.
- Oddly, the Glacier doesn’t offer a direct DC battery port to receive power directly (and efficiently) from one of EcoFlow’s own lineup of giant batteries.
As a gadget fan and outdoor enthusiast, I must say that I really like the EcoFlow Glacier. It does what it says it will on the box and performs each function well, which is really saying something for a three-in-one appliance. But let’s be real, if you’re going to buy this thing, then you should almost certainly get it with a battery for $1,399 / €1,399 and likely the removable wheels / handle combo as well, boosting the price by another $99 / €119.
Is that price justified? Hard to say, because if you’re the type looking for an ice-making fridge / freezer combo for use in remote locations, then the usual rules of value for money probably don’t apply. It’s really a question of how much you’re willing to spend to take modern comforts into places where those luxuries aren’t usually available.
Fortunately, EcoFlow devices are regularly on sale, especially during the end-of-year holidays, which could save you 20 percent or more on that list price.
Photography by Thomas Ricker / The Verge