Reviews – Retro Vending Fridge (Koolatron)



Retro Vending Fridge



This isn’t a fridge per-say, it doesn’t have a refrigeration unit, and therefore doesn’t keep things “cold”.  It does chill cans adequately, and keeps them cool until you’re ready to drink them.

IMG_4180There are some drawbacks to the design, the vending process doesn’t always work. It’s a long drop from the top slot to the bottom, the vending area is cramped and my hand often gets stuck.

Could it be better? Yes.  Is it bad? Not really.  Another adequate product that mostly performs as advertised.


The Story:

This was an impulse buy.  It was on sale, my wife had noticed it.  It looks cute and I had been looking for something to keep my soda cool at work.  I’d been sticking them in the fridge, but that’s awkward and even at the best of places they sometimes go missing.  I had originally been looking for a mini fridge to slide under my desk, something that might hold a few condiments as well – since I’ve started bringing breakfast with me in the morning. This seemed to fit all most needs, and do it with style.

I hadn’t read the box well enough, because I was surprised to find out that that there was no active cooling.  Instead there are a few fans on the back and suck the air out of the interior, which somehow lowers the temperature.  I’m sure Science is involved – science is always involved.IMG_4181

The manual talks about how great this is because you can use this in a moving car, or lay it down and stuff which real fridges don’t like.  Not having planned to use this in a car, this wasn’t a great benefit for me.

I decided to try it out, it boasts that it can chill to -15C below ambient temperature.  Since that’s around 20C in the office, I figure a 5C soda isn’t bad (spellcheck is complaining about my temperatures – I know I’m being lazy and not writing Celsius each time spellcheck, quit making me feel bad).

I had already purchased a variety of soda to fill it with, so I stocked it and set it up to run over the weekend. It’s moderately loud, constant fans spinning rapidly.  Not annoying or obtrusive, but not something you want right up by your face either. Sitting a few feet behind me it doesn’t bother me.

I came in Monday morning to find cool soda.  Not fridge cold, but cool, the 5C is probably accurate, though I’m not geeky enough to get a thermometer and check. I drop them in my Arctican in the morning and they stay cool for a few hours.  Which is really all that matters.

Now – there are problems.  The first problem, is they aren’t “cold” so if you want cold, this isn’t going to work.  I still want cold some days so have a few in the fridge anyway.

IMG_4182The vending function is neat, but doesn’t always reset.  I’ve discovered there are two things that happen when you push the big vend button the front.  A piece comes out in the middle of the shelf to prevent the front can from rolling backwards, and the flap at the back of the slot lifts to allow the back can to roll off and fall.  Quite often the spring doesn’t reset the contraption, so the flap stays up and the front can doesn’t roll back.  Repeatedly jamming the button and cursing at it doesn’t help.  I usually have to manually flip the flap back down, which makes a loud springing noise and resets the push button.  This happens basically every time now – the first 20 or so went well.

The drop for the cans can be quite far.  This both shakes them up and causes problems.  often the can will fall top or bottom down and get stuck.  Or at minimum make a loud scary noise.  My hand is quite large, so reaching all the way to the back to fiddle with the cans is difficult.  I usually have to open the front and pull the tray out.

IMG_4183Similarly, just getting the can out by flipping the bottom plastic door up and puling it out is hard.  My hand + can is too big to come through the door.  This can be frustrating when I’m half asleep and just want my Pepsi.

One time the can burst when it fell.  This led to a lot of cleanup and me coming up with a solution.  I’ve folded a piece of cardboard in to a triangle and wrapped it with some elastics.  Now the cans fall on it, break some momentum, roll to the front and don’t break open.  Why they didn’t include something like this to start with I can’t imagine.

Overall – it’s a nice looking machine that kind of works, and mostly keeps things cool.  I wouldn’t recommend it to friends, unless they were just going to sit it somewhere and not use it.