Please Help: Opinions on a new fridge concept please!

Submitted: Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 00:18
ThreadID: 7526 Views:2450 Replies:14 FollowUps:2
This Thread has been Archived
Hi, I am a student studying marketing at the University of Sydney. Firstly, I have to say, form what I have seen so far, this is a truly excellent web site!
As part of our studies we must come up with a concept that is innovative, and - most importantly - useful. I do not stand to gain any commercial benefit from the project.

The idea I came up with was for a solar-powered cooler, as a stand-alone unit. I believe the unit would appeal to clubs including schools, scouts, etc; those involved in extreme sports, etc; and, of course, those seriously into camping and exploring.

I believe that there are fully-operational concepts overseas for solar-powered cooling systems, for evaporative coolers or heaters, for example. I realise that there may already be solar panels that can be bought to accompany an Engel
fridge for example; and that the viability of the concept (actual ability to construct and package the product) is questionable, however if as many people could help me out by answering this very brief study I would be greatly appreciative - It would help tremendously.

I'd like to get your reaction to this idea. The following situation is of course, hypothetical, so please try and focus on the concept itself and not the technical details. Please read the description below before answering the multiple-choice questions.

NEW SOLAR COOLER

This is an exciting new innovation that involves a stand-alone cooler unit; an insulated, sealed container that incorporates a small evaporative cooling unit (powered by a solar panel) for maintaining the food or beverage contents at the desired temperature.
The inclusion of a power storage device (battery) would allow the energy generated from the solar panel - located on the lid of the cooler - to be stored, so that the cooler may continue operating when there is no sunlight. There is capability for the unit to be powered (or battery to be charged) by alternate sources, such as DC (vehicle battery), or AC. Alongside the operating controls is a small digital LCD display showing temperature information.
The unit would come in two sizes, a high-end unit with 60-litre capacity, and with aluminium casing; and a low-end unit of 40-litre capacity, and with high-strength, lightweight plastic casing. The low-end unit would be priced somewhere between AUS$990 and $1190.
The solar power source results in lighter components, and hence all models will be at least as easy to carry as a portable fridge, but clearly with added practicality.

1. Do you think that this new product offers substantial benefits OVER A CONVENTIONAL COOLER (one that is not powered at all);

- Yes, substantial benefits /
- Yes, some benefits /
- No, not really /
- No, not at all

2. Do you think that this product offers substantial benefits OVER A PORTABLE REFRIGERATOR (such as those currently offered by Engel, etc) ?

- Yes, substantial benefits /
- Yes, some benefits /
- No, not really /
- No, not at all

3. If you were to go on a camping journey, would you find this new product useful for your needs?

- Yes, very useful /
- Yes, somewhat useful /
- No, not really useful /
- Not at all useful

4. Based on the price of the basic, low-end unit, do you think you would purchase this product?

- Yes, definitely /
- Yes, possibly /
- No, probably not /
- No, definitely not

5. Just say you WERE to purchase this product. How often do you think you would use it?

- More than once per week /
- About once per week /
- About twice per month /
- About once per month /
- About once per six months /
- About once a year /
- Less often.

6. Any other suggestions or comments?

Thanks heaps for your time, I greatly appreciate it, and it will be a huge help. Cheers.
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Member - John - Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 01:12

Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 01:12
A question, how are we expected to answer this form, in what format etc. One serious flaw in your design, having the solar panel on the lid, forces you to place the unit in the sun to supply power, but this also means a lot of heat. You would never cool the contents, unless it was a very big compressor, requiring lots of power, more solar panels, more sun, more heat!
AnswerID: 32447

Follow Up By: Matthew T - Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 02:54

Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 02:54
John,

Thanks for your quick reply. Firstly regarding the answers to the questions I wrote, if you could list your responses to each question, chosen from the alternatives. E.g. "Question 1 - yes, some benefits, 2) yes, substantial benefits, 3) Yes, very useful, 4) yes, possibly, 5) about twice per month, 6) some suggestions..." something like this would be great.

Secondly, about the design, unfortunately we aren't engineers! We have looked at various designs and executions of the concept, and found that an all-in-one integral design would prove attractive because there is no excess clutter, etc. I can see the grounds of your analysis; and this concept is far from fully developed. At this stage we have taken into consideration these heat issues, but for this particular topic it is not necessary to go into exhaustive detail for the designs and packaging. As I mentioned earlier we realise there are some packaging issues that need to be addressed - they are part of our concept evalutation process. But at this point we are mainly interested in your reactions to the idea (hypothetical) if the product did exist and was viable/workable.

Please feel free to comment further if there are any more concerns

Cheers,

Matt
0
FollowupID: 23193

Reply By: Member - John - Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 03:01

Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 03:01
Question Matt? What the hell are you doing up at 3.00 in the morning? I'm supposed to be working, so I ahve an excuse!
AnswerID: 32450

Reply By: Member - Wim (Bris) - Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 07:29

Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 07:29
Matthew:
I hope the following does not sound pompous but:
You are asking what would appear to be hypothetical marketing questions of a group of people who are logical & practically minded. Therefore I struggle with something which would be great if it was possible but which I know from experience is not possible.
Unless there is a major development in panel & battery technology most of people on this forum would know the area of panel and battery capacity required to service the fridges you quoted. This is not (at this stage) practical to mount on and in a fridge. The combined weight would also be a problem.
Sorry for the negative responce.

All the best with your studies.
This 4WD stuff is addictive,
time consuming & expensive.
AnswerID: 32451

Follow Up By: Hilly - Thursday, Oct 02, 2003 at 22:14

Thursday, Oct 02, 2003 at 22:14
The earth is flat. It is impossible to travel at more than 60 mph because the air would be drawn from your lungs. Man will never travel through space to visit other worlds. I don't know how old you are Wim but stuff my parents never dreamed of has been happening for decades. My children have used computers ranging from the Macintosh classic and IBM 286's through to Pentium IV's running at nearly 2 gig clock speeds. Mobile phone batteries have seen NiCad, NiMH and Lithium Ion technology all developed in the space of a few years.

Read the guys text. .....If it could be done.......

It's not that hard.

Hilly
0
FollowupID: 23348

Reply By: brian - Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 08:19

Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 08:19
Hello Mathew,its great to see new ideas,stick with it.
In my case the fridge is permantly secured in the vehicle and the top of the fridge never sees the sun.most people leave the fridges in vehicle few lift them out.have you tried lifting a full 60litre fridge???

AnswerID: 32455

Reply By: GaryInOz (Vic) - Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 09:10

Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 09:10
Most people leave the fridge in the car for convenience and security. Everywhere you go in your car you have your (expensive!) fridge with you.

The main limiting factor in the design would be energy consumption, using existing heat pump technology you are still looking at upwards of 20-30 watts/hour. Now look at the power capacity versus surface area of the solar panels that are available, allow for an average of 6 hrs/day sunlight, and the temperature they get to when generating that power, and you end up with a panel that measures about 1.5 x 0.75 metres (unwieldy, hot, and heavy). Then add a battery (expensive, bulky and heavy) into the equation and you end up with a portable fridge that isn't!.

Unless you are using fuelcell energy technology, or some other exotic efficient form of heat pump, the project would most likely end in tears. This has been proposed on this and other forums many times with much the same responses.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings.
AnswerID: 32462

Reply By: David N. - Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 09:58

Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 09:58
Matthew T
I understand that this is only hypothetical, and will therefore TRY to answer.
IF it was possible (and it's not- but then we said that about a lot of things before they were invented... transistors.... ICs...... LCDs....... etc etc)
1 Yes substantial
2 Yes some
3 Yes somewhat
4 Yes possibly
5 About once per month

All this is very hypothetical as I know exactly what is required with current technology. It's very difficult to answer such a hypothetical Q with any validity.
The other very valid concern as also portrayed by others is that these devices (fridges) are expensive and therefore usually remain locked up in vehicles to try to avoid theft.
It's a bit like asking us would we like a hovercraft that does 160kph, carries a couple of tonnes, and gets 100klms per litre of fuel , and it's cheap to buy and maintain. (ie:it aint possible- for a number of reasons! It's the same deal with your fridge. It aint possible- for a number of reasons. Maybe NASA could develop such a device, but it would probably cost a couple of million dollars, minimum.)
Having said that, good luck.
AnswerID: 32465

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 10:42

Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 10:42
Hi Matt,

My responses are:
1. Yes, some benefits
2. No, not really
3. Not at all useful
4. No, definitely not
5. About once per month

Sorry about the negative responses to Q's 2,3 & 4. My reasons are basically the same as those views expressed above by others. On trips, fridge stays in the car because of reasons of weight, security and convenience. Therefore, an all-in-one solar powered fridge wouldn't ever really see sunlight. If I was to take the fridge out of the car, I most definitely would not have it sitting in direct sunlight (it'd either be in the camper for security or in the shade for efficiency).

Hope this helps. Good luck with your studies.

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
AnswerID: 32472

Reply By: Ross - Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 13:38

Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 13:38
Forget it!

You also referred to the unit as an evaporative cooler--that is not a frig.

I admire your enterprise but this is one that cannot work unless the solar panels are remote from the unit that will be shaded.

Good luck with your studies
AnswerID: 32481

Reply By: Rhubarb - Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 14:20

Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 14:20
Matt,

As others have pointed out there are some major design flaws to your idea. However given that this a marketing excercise, not an engineering one - and if you could make it work in the darkness of a wagon's boot and generate enough power to keep everything cold it would be bloody useful!

1. Yes, substantial benefits
2. Yes, substantial benefits
3. Yes, very useful
4. Yes, definitely
5. About twice per month

AnswerID: 32483

Reply By: JohnH - Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 14:37

Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 14:37
Matt,

My answer is the same as Rhubarbs.

Too lazy to type it out again.

The concept is good, a detachable panel with 4 -5 meters of ccord would overcome a lot of the negative resposes regarding the positioning of the fridge.

Cheers.
AnswerID: 32486

Reply By: Willie - Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 15:05

Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 15:05
1. Yes, substantial
2. No
3. No
4. No
5. Twice per month

The Hypothetical is OK but the concept is flawed as per above replies. But don't give up. We need new concepts all the time and more brilliant toys for us old buggers to pay with :-)

Cheers,

Willie
Never a dull moment
AnswerID: 32489

Reply By: bruce.h (WA) - Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 15:56

Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 15:56
Matthew T
Any good marketing person will tell you that marketing is not about how good a product is or if it will work.it is about making those who are potential customers believe not only that it works but that they can not do with out it.
while i agree with the others on the concept of a solar powered fridge,if you change its name to a solar powered esky & made it look like an esky kept the weight & price down you would broaden your marketabilty by aiming your product at day picknickers & families, with a concept that is quite achievable
Regards Bruce
AnswerID: 32496

Reply By: floyd - Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 19:29

Wednesday, Oct 01, 2003 at 19:29
Good concept but it would not be practical in meeting the needs of Australian 4WD travellers. The price is no good. Too expensive. The current market leader Waeco does all that and freezes, has a dairy compartment and runs from the current rechargable power system in the car that causes no extra drain on the battery and costs abot $350 less than your 40 litre fridge. This product would not survive on the market in Australia in its current form. Why add a heavy battery and solar system to a fridge that is already heavy and difficult to move in its current form without all of that stuff built in. The solar panel would not be able to pick up enough power to suply the unit. Would the battery be as big (and as heavy) as a 4WD battery? It would have to be to supply power at night and when the fridge was in the car. This would nock off about 15 litres off the storage capacity of the fridge. Great concept but it would not survive on the Aussie Market.
AnswerID: 32531

Reply By: Hilly - Thursday, Oct 02, 2003 at 22:21

Thursday, Oct 02, 2003 at 22:21
Read the text guys.

"I'd like to get your reaction to this idea. The following situation is of course, hypothetical, so please try and focus on the concept itself and not the technical details. Please read the description below before answering the multiple-choice questions"

1 Yes, substantial benefits
2 No, not really
3 No, not really useful
4 No, definitely not
5 More than once per week
AnswerID: 32648

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (13)