Engel Platinum MT35 Review
Cons: Unimpressive minimum temperature, heavy for its size, relatively loud
Manufacturer: Engel Coolers
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Platinum is a 12V compressor cooler that we tested in the 35L version (it's also available as 45L, 60L, and 80L). It's advertised to cool from 0ºF to 50ºF and comes with an AC cord, DC cord, extra DC fuse, extra foot piece, and an easy-to-remove lid hinge.
As a 12V compressor cooler, the Engel Platinum has better temperature control than any thermoelectric cooler could ever hope to have. Engel advertises this model with a temperature range of 0ºF to 50ºF, though in our testing, it was only able to reach as low as 5.5ºF despite being completely empty. This is one of the least impressive minimum temperatures of any compressor cooler we tested, though still plenty cold enough to keep food frozen solid if you want to. The Engel also claims it has the ability to cool to 80º below ambient temperature, which is similar to other compressor coolers.
Starting from room temperature and filled with room temperature cans, the Platinum reached our desired temperature of 34ºF in 16 hours, which is one of the longest times to cool of any model we tested. The manual states to put in already chilled or frozen food, which would clearly help this thing reach a cool state faster. Once chilled, the display, on average, read 2.5ºF different from the actual temperature inside, which is pretty darn accurate, next to the competition. Though we're not impressed by the Engel's temperature prowess, it certainly does the job just fine if you treat it kindly. If you want a model you can really torture and still expect top performance, this probably isn't the one for you.
Over the course of 36 hours, the Engel gained 18.9ºF. Considering it's a bit smaller than most the other compressor models we tested, this temperature gain is about on par with the others, which we think is pretty good. It's not likely to keep your raw meat from spoiling if you lose power in the desert during summer, but it's enough to keep your drinks cooled in an emergency.
Made of galvanized steel and running a CFC-free compressor with HFC134-A gas, the Platinum is a pretty durable unit. The handles must be attached when you get it, but are really solid if you do decide to use them. Both the AC and DC plugs come out at angles, helping the cords to stay protected during use. Rather than a chain or some such thing to stop the lid from flopping too far open, the Platinum actually rests against the back of the unit and literally can't be overextended. Pretty much everything about this unit shouts its durability.
This is where the Engel truly shines, as it uses the least amount of energy during cooling of any model we tested - including the thermoelectric units. Not even running on a specific "Eco" mode (which it doesn't have because it doesn't need), the Platinum pulls just 31.7 watts of energy even on its coldest temperature. This is less than half of some of the other models' energy draw! These power savings along with a battery saver option will help ensure that your Engel never drains your battery below the point it can start your truck or van.
Of course, this energy savings is wonderful if that's what's most important for your van life or cross-country trucking. Yet it is probably also the reason that the Platinum is less impressive when it comes to metrics like its minimum achievable temperature and the amount of time it takes to cool down from room temperature. Though it claims to be a quiet model, compared to the others we tested, it's quite loud! If you're a light sleeper, this thing turning on and off through the night in your van could wake you up, though it's not nearly as loud as most of the thermoelectric units we tested.
Ease of Use
Advertised as a 35L, 34-quart model, with the interior liner and basket in place, we measured the Engel Platinum at just 27.5L, which is a pretty big discrepancy. It fits up to 38 standard 12 oz. cans if you pack nothing else inside. An interior light helps to find what you're looking for in this relatively narrow, deep cooler that lacks any shelving or top baskets to keep you organized. If you remove the basket, you'll get a little bit more space, but not a significant amount. A rubbery mat goes on the bottom of the unit, helping to stop your contents from sliding around as much and making spill clean-up easier.
The Platinum opens the long way, which is a bit of a bigger pain in a shorter vehicle, though is less obnoxious given its smaller capacity than some of the larger models. The metal latch is strong, easy to use, and secure, and a physical dial on the top adjusts the internal temperature. The unit comes with a special hinge that you can switch out for the lid to make it easily removable if you'd like. It also comes with both an AC and DC cord, as well as some extra pieces just in case, like a DC fuse and an extra foot piece. The Platinum can operate up to 30º off of level, though is not supposed to be around saltwater, so installing it on your ocean-going yacht is out of the question.
For a relatively small-capacity cooler, the Engel is surprisingly heavy! It weighs a whopping 47.8 lbs, which is significantly more than some of the units we tested that feature double the amount of storage space. However, a quality compressor just isn't that light, and powered coolers really aren't meant to be carried around for long distances. Once you get your unit in place, ideally you can just leave it there and forget how heavy it is.
Long, large, sturdy metal handles make it easier than others to move this unit around when you do need to. They're also removable, which may help save space wherever you store your cooler - just be sure to leave the appropriate-sized clearance around the compressor vents! The Engel's DC cord is an impressive 9.5 feet long, which makes it fairly likely you can stretch it through the length of your vehicle if you really need to.
Though it doesn't appear at first to have a ton of features, the Platinum does have a few key features that are really nice. An optional removable hinge for the lid is a nice touch if you want to be able to easily remove it. The handles can be removed as well if you so desire. Though the internal basket is basic, it's nice to have the option to load it up in your house and carry it out to your car easily. The non-skid mat on the bottom is helpful to both to stop contents from sliding and make cleaning easier. And the top of the lid has a few indents that make it safer to set something up there without it flying around willy nilly.
Engel backs their product with a 3-year manufacturer's warranty, just in case you have an issue with it, which is pretty decent in the world of powered coolers. It will also automatically switch between AC and DC power to preserve your battery if you need. All in all, it's a pretty handy little cooler.
The Engel is not a cheap cooler, and runs right up there with some of the other very expensive options we tested. But for the quality performance and stellar energy efficiency in a durable box that you get with the Platinum, we think it's money well-invested.
The Platinum is a high-quality powered cooler that offers impressively low energy usage in a durable package, making it our Top Pick for Energy Efficiency. Its combination of quality construction, thoughtful features, and excellent performance make it one of our favorite compressor coolers. As long as you're not planning to use it around saltwater, this beast is built to last.
— Maggie Brandenburg