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Are you planning a road trip or do you go sailing often? Either way, you would agree to the fact that just stacking up your drinks on ice doesn’t exactly do the trick of keeping them cold for very long. It can get messy and isn’t half as effective as keeping them in a mini portable refrigerator.
So, for your next trip to be even better, it would be a good idea for you to invest in a reliable and portable refrigerator. In this article, we have compiled for you some of the best 12V refrigerators on the market, among which you will surely find the one which best fits your needs.
Comparison Chart of the Best 12 Volt Refrigerators
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What is a 12V Refrigerator and How Do They Work?
If you have a lifestyle that requires you to be on the road a lot or maybe if you enjoy camping and sailing, then a portable refrigerator could really turn things around for you. They basically store and keep your food and drinks cold. This saves you time as you wouldn’t have to make stops during your trip for food since have yours with you.
These are very different from an ice cooler. You have to keep stocking an ice cooler with ice which it eventually runs out of, and it also leaves your food soggy. It is an important investment but will surely prove to be a worthy one; they aren’t necessarily cheap, but the investment pays off.
These can run on solar power and batteries; the solar powered ones aren’t common, but are a great option. Furthermore, you need not worry about these running out of power, as they work efficiently once plugged into your vehicle.
Aspects to Consider Before Buying
These are some of the factors you should consider before investing in a 12V refrigerator.
Size and Storage Capacity
If you want a 12V refrigerator, you are most likely looking for a portable option that has a sleek design and isn’t hard to store. Therefore, size is an important factor to take into consideration. Bulky and heavy refrigerators will only become a hassle.
Furthermore, you will want to figure out the storage spaces you are looking for as it will determine the quantity of contents you will able to keep inside while traveling.
This is the most important factor to consider. You will be using your vehicle’s power to operate this product; therefore, you would want one which is very power efficient, so it doesn’t take up too much of your vehicle’s power. It would be a major plus if your refrigerator can work on an AC source since most of them work on a DC source.
Every good refrigerator is well insulated, so the cooling doesn’t leak from anywhere; therefore, do consider this aspect before buying one.
Review of the Best 12V Refrigerators
Here are some of the best models of 12V refrigerators you can get your hands on. To find out more about them, keep on reading!
Whytner FM-45G 45 Quart Portable Refrigerator
Here’s the product that has made it to our number one pick. We have deemed this one the best overall because it matches our expectations in every department and for sure is one of the best ones you can invest in. This fridge has earned our highest honor overall for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it boasts one of the best designs of a 12V refrigerator in the market. It is small, portable, and has a premium build. It is designed with the best quality materials and is engineered with the idea to make it user-friendly. It has a smart and portable design that allows it to fit into your RV or any other vehicle without any hassle of taking up too much space.
It is easy to carry as well, meanaing that transporting it isn’t difficult either. It is ideal for fishing trips, camping trips, RVs, and boats; its excellent design allows it to make outdoor experiences more convenient. It is one of the coolest refrigerators out there; therefore, you need not worry about your food or drinks staying warm.
It has great insulation, which doesn’t let the cold temperature escape, keeping your food items cold for longer. It needs to be plugged in with either a standard 110V outlet or a 12V automotive battery.
This product is one of the best ones you can invest in and is a purchase you won’t regret. It has every amazing feature that is standard to the best excellent quality refrigerators. Apart from being on the heavier side, this is a product you can’t go wrong with.
COSTWAY 54 Quart Mini Fridge
This product has made it to our runner-up category. It is another excellent product you will not regret investing in. COSTWAY is a brand trusted globally by millions for their high-quality products.
COSTWAY has done this product design justice. It is one of the best engineered and innovative designs seen on a 12V refrigerator in a while. It has a small, sleek design that to the eye appears to hold not enough space; however, it carries a huge capacity of 54 quarts. This is rare in most refrigerators. You can easily store a large number of drinks and food contents, and it won’t have a problem storing them.
Even though the design is great, its performance is even better. It features compressor technology that can cool down the unit’s internal temperature to as low as -4 degrees. You can use this for a large variety of contents, including medicines and cosmetics. It has a pretty sturdy design, therefore, and can keep up with bumpy roads without breaking. This property is attributed to its shockproof design.
Furthermore, it has a fast cooling mode that is able to achieve 30-minute fast cooling from 90 Fahrenheit to 32 Fahrenheit. You can even make the machine energy efficient by using the ECO mode, which allows the unit to save energy.
This refrigerator is a great product all in all. Some people complained of the customer service not being responsive enough. However, it is definitely a bargain compared to comparable products. It features a really strong compressor with an eco-mode which provides great power efficiency.
Best for the Money:
Alpicool C20 21 Quart (20 liters)
This product is one that gives you the best bang for your buck. It is certainly one of the most economical and effective options out there. Alpicool is a well-trusted brand and therefore, has done a wonderful job with this product.
This unit features a stunning design that is lightweight, portable, and small sized. This is one of the smallest sized portable refrigerators you’ll find. It is made of strong plastic, which is durable and lightweight and allows easy transportation of this unit. It has the storage capacity of about 21 Quart (20 liters) or can hold up to 25 cola cans.
But you know what they say, size doesn’t matter, and it truly doesn’t when it comes to the performance of this product. It has a compressor technology comparable to any premium refrigerator. It is ideal for taking on camping trips, boats, and RVs, to store medicine and cosmetics in.
You no longer need ice to keep your food contents cold as this can keep the temperature as low as -4 degrees. It is ideal for taking on long trips as it has excellent thick and density foam insulation that doesn’t allow the cool temperature to leak, leaving your food spoiled.
If the sizing of this unit is ideal for your usage and you need not a bigger size of a refrigerator, then this could be a great option for you. For the price point, it is a great investment and is ideal for many different outings. You will surely not regret spending your money on it.
Best Compressor Refrigerator:
COSTWAY Portable Refrigerator
Here is another COSTWAY product which truly raised our bar for quality refrigerators even higher. We have therefore deemed this unit as the best compressor refrigerator. The brand has surely proven their worth time and again with such great products.
This product has a slightly bulky design, but that may be due to its huge storage capacity. It is one of the largest storage capacities in a portable refrigerator. You can easily store multiple things in a large quantity with ease.
Storage is not a problem with this product; however, that makes it slightly heavier. This product has two attached metal handles one on either side which are sturdy and can allow transportation of this unit.
The best part about it is that it can be used both as a refrigerator and a freezer due to the deep chilling down performance. It has a versatile nature. It is a quiet product, so you don’t have to worry about it being loud while operating. It also has a removable wire basket.
Plus, it features the fast freeze technology which allows it to achieve fast cooling between -4 degrees to 50 degrees Fahrenheit with variable control. You can use the MIN mode for energy efficient operation, whereas the MAX mode for fast cooling.
This is an excellent product if you can overlook the fact that it is slightly heavier. The pros largely outweigh the cons, and you can definitely not get a better deal than this. It comes from a great brand under a brilliant price with all the amazing features you need.
Best Marine Refrigerator:
Koolatron 36 Quart Kool Kaddy Cooler
Here is another excellent product which we have deemed one of the best marine refrigerators. It is great to take with travels and comes with technology, which allows it to be even better than household fridges and far more suited for travelers.
This product features an excellent plastic exterior, which is of good quality yet is lightweight. It has a medium-sized storage capacity of about 36 quarts. It has an excellent insulation mechanism which does not allow the cold temperature to escape, therefore making it a great companion to travel with. It has the ability to cool to 40 degrees below ambient temperature and heats to 135 Fahrenheit.
It is, overall, an excellent investment. It has, across the board, received positive reviews, and is surely going to be your nest favorite as well. It can be a great investment, especially for those of you who travel frequently.
Best for Camping:
Igloo Iceless 40 Quart Cooler
Here is another excellent product we think is best for camping trips or road trips. It has a medium sized storage capacity of about 40 quarts. It works on the principal of conventional cooling fan circulating air. It also has a dual orientation and can act as an ice chest as well as a refrigerator.
Furthermore, it cools down to 38 degrees Fahrenheit from the ambient temperature. It can not only plug into the 12V automotive battery outlet but also into a standard household 110V one. It features an excellent design that looks great and performs even better. It takes up about 1.33 cubic feet of space and has a weight of 19.75 pounds.
This is another excellent option for a refrigerator, even though there is a design flaw with the lid, which is said to be not as durable; apart from that, the overall product works great. It is particularly good for camping trips since it has a dual orientation.
Best from Dometic:
Dometic CFX 65DZ 12V Cooler
We find this cooler to be the best from Dometic. If you combine efficiency, performance, and durability into one product, this would be it. The brand has once again proved the worth of its excellent quality products.
This product features an excellent design with huge storage. It has the storage capacity of about 60 liters, which is rare for a portable-size refrigerator. This one has many different modes that add to its excellent performance.
It makes the best use of a large space enabling versatility of use. You enjoy 60% more space internally, whereas externally it uses standard space. The high-performance compressor allows this unit to reach and maintain a temperature as low as -7 degrees. It has advanced compressor electronics which consume less power and can work on solar energy as well as AC and DC power source.
Dometic is a brand trusted globally by millions. This is another one of their excellent products. It has all the features of a great product and performs exceedingly well. It can help you save a lot of unnecessary detours during your road trips, given its excellent storage capacity and performance.
Best Portable 12V Refrigerator:
Wagan EL6206 -6 Quart Portable Electric Cooler
Here is our last pick for this list. We have deemed this product to be the best portable 2V refrigerator. This is obviously because of the product’s small size and portable nature. Even though it doesn’t have much of storage capacity, it works extremely well. It has a built-in carry strap for ease of transportation.
Furthermore, it has dual functionality and can content cold and warm for a longer period of time. It is eco-friendly as it does not release any CFCs in the environment, unlike some other products that deplete the ozone layer.
This product is another great option for you to invest in it and will surely be a great investment. It functions perfectly well and is a great product all in all, apart from it being a little too small. However, its size doesn’t affect its functioning, and it functions very well.
Types of 12V Refrigerators
12V refrigerators are basically divided into three types. We took the liberty to discuss these to make you aware of the options available and the mechanisms of their working, so you know what you are investing in.
Thermoelectric refrigerators don’t exactly carry a compressor. Even though they may look like compressor refrigerators, their functioning is very different. The price point is something that shows a considerable difference as well since these refrigerators are much cheaper. These maintain their internal temperature based on the external environment’s temperature. This means that they cool to a temperature about 35 to 40 degrees lower than the external environment.
Compressor refrigerators work on the same principle as your household fridge. They have a true compressor and have both compressor and freezing technology. These are the most expensive type of refrigerators, more than both absorption and thermoelectric, but for a good reason. These are the coldest refrigerators you will get your hands on. Furthermore, they are highly energy-efficient.
Absorption refrigerators can run on a variety of power sources, be it AC, DC, or gas; however, they work best on gas. These are a portable option for you as they are particularly designed to be fit in your RV or boat. They aren’t exactly temperature controlled and not the best at cooling either, as they only cool to 30 degrees below the temperature outside. This translates to them not being the greatest option for you to travel with on long distance or at very high temperatures.
How We Choose These Models
These are all the factors we take into consideration before a product makes it to our best of lists. These major concerns are a product's overall performance and how it holds up long term, and are therefore important to consider.
Portability is a major concern when looking for a 12V refrigerator. While on a road trip or camping trip, you wouldn’t want a product that is bulky and hard to store; therefore, all the products we talk about are portable in nature.
All of the products we have talked about in this list are of great quality and come from brands which ensure their durability. All of these products are made from high-quality material with innovative technology and design that adds to their durability.
We have added products from all different price ranges in this list; therefore, you can choose one best suited for your needs and budget. Flexibility in price range is important for a good product.
Good customer service is important when buying an electronic item since there are things that could go wrong. A well-trusted, good brand always has good, cooperative customer service. That is something which you would want for your investment as well. All of the units we have talked about have great customer service for your assistance.
A 12V refrigerator is not the cheapest purchase, but in fact one of the most expensive ones you will make for your traveling, therefore, you would want a refrigerator that has a good and long warranty plan from a well-trusted brand. All of the mentioned brands have a decent warranty plan; therefore, they are great options.
These were some of the best models of 12V refrigerators; we added all the information which you need to know before investing in a 12V refrigerator. We aimed at helping you make a wise decision as this is a big purchase by giving you all the pros, cons, and facts about each product. A good tip would be to know what you’re looking for in a product; this will help you make a wise decision. Hopefully, by the time you reach this section, you will have a good idea of which product to invest in.
People Also Ask
Here are some questions people usually have regarding 12V refrigerators apart from the basics we have already talked about. Hopefully, these answer your queries.
How Much Power Does a 12V Fridge Use?
Even though this differs from product to product, generally a 12V refrigerator will draw about 120 to 180 watts. This is a general estimate, and a good refrigerator should take up energy well within this range.
What is the Best 12V Refrigerator?
If you want a refrigerator that is good in every aspect, then Whytner-FM-456 is definitely one that won’t leave you disappointed. It is one of the coolest refrigerators you can invest in; it looks great and is portable as well. Therefore, it is a wonderful investment.
How Long Will a 12V Battery Run a Refrigerator?
This time period depends upon your usage, your refrigerator’s power consumption, and related factors. You should be able to get 24 plus hours of use, but that would depend again on the above-mentioned factors.