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The Dometic PLB40 Portable Lithium Battery : Review

Dometic is a company that makes, among other things, electric coolers. We’ve used the Dometic CFX 35W on numerous occasions, and we enjoyed the flexibility when it comes to powering the cooler. It can be done with AC, DC, and even solar. The Dometic PLB40 takes that one step further by allowing you to battery power the cooler for two days. We used it for a week on a trip to California and here’s what we thought.

The Dometic PLB40 is a lithium-iron-phosphate battery (also known as LiFePO4), as opposed to lithium-ion. The technology is relatively new, first appearing in 1996. The advantages of lithium iron are many. The one consumers like the most is that it has a much longer cycle life than lithium-ion – up to four times as long. This is due to a much slower rate of capacity loss, which also makes them an excellent choice for standby power. We’ve had the PLB40 sitting in the office for a month, and it’s still sitting at 77%, which is precisely what it was when we finished our trip. Lithium-iron is also much better for the environment because they don’t contain any cobalt. This is a growing concern with lithium-ion batteries because improper disposal (which happens too often) causes numerous environmental problems. Finally, lithium-iron is much safer. The omission of cobalt increases the negative resistance of the battery, make it far more stable than the alternatives. Sorry to get nerdy there, but I wanted to cover it because lithium-iron is simply a superior technology in every aspect.

Our daily experience with the PLB40 was a great one. It just works, and because it worked so well, we didn’t have to interact with it very much. When traveling the battery is plugged into the car, and the cooler is plugged into the battery. When driving, the car both powers the cooler and tops off the battery. When parked for a few days, the battery runs the cooler. It’s pretty straightforward, and we had zero issues with it. It only weighs 16 lbs, which is about 10 lbs less than your average deep cycle battery. We used the two USB charging ports a lot because we have camera equipment on the road that needs constant charging. Smaller devices like that hardly seemed to affect the capacity at all.

All in all, I have to say that the battery was flawless. We had nights where we were off the grid, and it was great to have what amounts to a mobile refrigerator at the campsite. The PLB40 isn’t cheap. It comes with an $850 price tag, and for occasional weekend campers, it isn’t a practical option. But that’s not who Dometic is targeting. They’re looking for people who live their entire summer outdoors, take week-long road trips, and like to set their tent up in the middle of nowhere. If that’s what your summer looks like you’d really benefit from the Dometic PLB40 and any one of their powered coolers.

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