Keeping it Cool With a DIY Walk-in Cooler
Reading Time: 4 minutes
By Gina Stack – The time was drawing near to process lambs. My husband and I had processed our own deer for years. We were ready to venture out and try something new. We still had a few weeks before they were ready, but started to prepare for the event.
My husband, being a very good handyman and an electrician by trade, started stating his concerns about keeping the meat cool, as we had more than a few lambs to do. He went down into the basement on and off, measuring, figuring, and muttering about this dilemma. He is very good at putting things together that others wouldn’t think of. When his innovative brain begins to spark, he becomes this creative inventor.
In my mind, I imagined him in a long, white lab coat with a clipboard, several pens scattered about, measuring tape, and a table full of diagrams and calculations written out. And yes, he became absent-minded about little things, like losing his car keys or wallet.
At one point, he asked where our old window air conditioner was as he needed it. It had been used quite a bit in our other two homes but we didn’t need it now so it was buried somewhere in the garage. We unearthed it and down into the basement it went, which left me a bit bewildered, but curious. The sound of an electric saw wafted up the steps not long after, which caused me to wonder what in the world he was doing.
As I zipped down the stairs, there was the old air conditioner, being put into the door of the unused root cellar. As I asked him what he was working on, he explained what his objective was. Usually, when he gets in this mode and explains what he is planning, it is over my head and I just nod and say, “Cool!” But this I understood, as we had dealt with this keeping-the-meat-cool problem during deer season.
I asked how he came up with the solution, and here it is:
“We had a small root cellar built under the front porch. The walls were poured concrete with a concrete top. It had a hollow core wood door. I decided to insert a window air conditioner into the door to cool the room. It cooled some but not enough and I learned that window air conditioners are not designed to go below 60 degrees F. I did some research and found a device called a CoolBot at www.storeitcold.com. It is able to cycle the air conditioner’s air so that it acts like a cooler compressor. I ordered one.
“In front of the cellar door and behind the stairway was an indent. I framed it in to make the cooler bigger. I removed the wooden door and put the air conditioner into the framed wall, framed in a new bigger door, and installed the CoolBot. It worked, but I couldn’t get the temperature of my new walk-in cooler much below mid-50 degrees F. I realized that the bare concrete walls are in contact with the earth and so it was drawing the cold away. I framed it in and insulated the floor, walls, ceiling, and door. After that, my cooler could get down to mid-30 degrees F. I also made a divider inside so that if I only had a little bit of meat to cool, I wouldn’t have to cool down the whole thing.
“I then wondered how to hang things in it. I found a hook shop online that makes stainless steel hooks that fit over 2x4s. I threw some 2x4s up along the ceiling and ordered some hooks at www.meathookus.com. The little cooler can hold two full-sized steer, eight hogs, and up to 15 lambs. We use it when poultry processing to cool them before freezing, using removable cooler racks. It also works well during deer hunting season.”
Here are a couple of things about the CoolBot. It controls your air conditioner by utilizing its power to cool, keeping the temperature in the 30s without the air conditioner freezing up. It uses up to 42% less energy than a traditional walk-in cooler system. It is designed for easy installation by end-users.
It has saved thousands of dollars for over 45,000 customers in 60 countries and has five-star reviews online along with many great customer reviews for the original CoolBot, which is what we installed within a decade ago. There is now also a CoolBot Pro available that is WiFi-enabled so that you can monitor and adjust the temperature remotely or power it off. There are also temperature ranges for alarms, etc. There is a lot more information on the website for this wonderful invention.
When the day came, the lambs were made ready for processing. I followed my husband (minus the imaginary lab coat) down to our new walk-in cooler and he opened the door. There they hung on the shiny new hooks, with the CoolBot hooked up to the old air conditioner, humming away! It was like looking into a mini meat locker at a meat processing plant. It was the “coolest” thing! I was so amazed at my creative, inventor husband, again!
We have used this cooler now countless times and will again and again in the future. I marvel at and thank God for the pioneering and imaginative minds he gave my husband and the people who invented this wonderful implement.
Originally published in Countryside September/October 2021 and regularly vetted for accuracy.