Refrigerators are considered as the heart of the kitchen. We store our foods there, starting with our breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. It enables us to stock up on products and maintain freshness.
What if there are compact refrigerators? Can you even imagine the convenience and benefits it can offer?
The good news is, there are compact cooling chests available in the market. If this specific cooler is new to you, then this article and cooler reviews would help you learn everything about it and help you choose.
Ideally, these appliances are for on the go people. For long trips, wanders, outings, and other outdoor adventures, these are used to maintain food’s freshness and maintain your drinks cold.
Road trips with family or friends are always fun and exciting. It enables us to get away from stress and refreshes our minds as well.
For a fun and successful road trip, we must bring a lot of snacks with us. Most of the time, the major problem that we encounter is maintaining our meal fresh.
Since these appliances are compact and can be carried around everywhere, it may be the right solution to maintaining food and beverages.
Before deciding on which compact cooling chest you should buy, there are so many factors to consider. In line with that, besides, there are different types of small refrigerators. In choosing the fittest appliance, brief research is needed so you’ll be able to get what would ideally suit your preferences.
As you browse this web page, you’ll be able to sort out what is perfect for you as we will go through them. These products we’ve researched are better than Yeti manufactured products such as Yeti YHOP30T portable cold storage, and it is currently not available in stores.
A heavy-duty cooler is 40% less than any other traditional compressor, more durable, more adapted, and corrosion-resistant ABS case.
Applicable in extreme circulating temperature, excellent cooling performance, and minimal electricity consumption with the superbly quiet operation mode.
A true freezer/ refrigerator with two separate cords for power works best with a 4×4 trunk that enables you to chill or freeze.
Product Comparison Table
|Dometic CDF11||Check Price On Amazon|
|Dometic CFX40W||Check Price on Northridge4x4|
|Costway Car Freezer||Check Price On Amazon|
|Dometic CFX 65DZ||Check Price On Amazon|
|Whynter FM-45G||Check Price On Amazon|
|New Engel MT45 Platinum||Check Price On Amazon|
|Ausranvik 37QT||Check Price On Amazon|
|Alpicool C20||Check Price On Amazon|
|ARB 10800472||Check Price On Amazon|
|Cho Power Sports||Check Price On Amazon|
|Engel MR040F-U1||Check Price On Amazon|
|Dometic DM2652RB||Check Price On Amazon|
|Norcold NRF30||Check Price On Amazon|
|Dometic TC21-DC-A||Check Price On Amazon|
|Smeta||Check Price On Amazon|
|TruckFridge/Indel B 12V Travel Box Fridges||Check Price On Amazon|
|Koolatron Thermoelectric 36 Quart||Check Price On Amazon|
|Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler 40QT||Check Price On Amazon|
Top 18 Best RV Refrigerators Product Reviews 2020
1. Dometic CDF11 12v Electric Powered Portable Fridge
- electricity saving and can be powered through solar electricity
- Compact and lightweight
- Can deep freeze up to 0 degree
- Comes with an adjustable shoulder strap
- Does not maintain coolness when unplugged
- Limited snacks and beverages storage
In the line of portable coolers for truck and campervan, Dometic is the most reliable. It is considered one of the most compact and smallest among other freezers, but the performance is beyond expectations.
The total capacity of Dometic CDF11 is more or less about 10.5 liters, making it best for small vehicles and short trips. It can store at most 18 cans of soda.
Though this cooler is quite a little expensive, it can still be an excellent buy because it is electricity efficient compared to other coolers. The cooling time, when you first plug it, will take around 30 mins. During this process, it consumes about 40 to 60 watts until it reaches your desired temperature.
It can cool up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it reaches your desired condition, the electricity consumption will decrease to 1 to 2 watts, just enough to maintain the coolness.
Since this product is compact and small, measuring only 21.6” x 9.4 x 14.1 inches, you can bring it around effortlessly, requiring minimal effort to transfer it from one place to another. It is also light, weighing only 19 lbs.
The product is made of high-quality material, which makes it durable—equipped with a light condenser with a slim design.
2. Dometic CFX40W 12v Electric Powered Fridge Freezer
- Built-in automatic turbo cooler with memory function
- Mobile app controls
- USB port for charging small devices
- Efficient deep freezing performance with minimal electricity consumption
- Separate cooling compartments
- Can operate with batteries
- Needs a separate thermal cover to maintain coolness when unplugged and battery operated
When it comes to compact cooling devices, Dometic is one of the well-known brands. Long travels, outings, or adventures may require lots of snacks to store. A bigger cooler is ideal for these kinds of trips.
Unlike CDF 11, the Dometic 40W model is more prominent. The hardware’s dimension measures about 27.2” W x 18.1” H x 15.7” D, with a volume capacity for up to 40 Q, making it an excellent choice to accommodate a more significant volume of snacks and beverages.
If you are keen on storage and organization, this will best suit your preferences because this product has two separate compartments for cooling and freezing. It as well comes with a wire basket making it even more ideal for organization.
CoolFreeze Special Electronics power this hardware has an intelligent cooling system and a memory function feature. It can operate on both AC volt and DC volt, as well as solar electricity. Another plus is the USB port where you can plug on your devices like cell phones.
What makes it even more fascinating is that you can control its thermal reading via mobile app. This cooling hardware can as well be connected with wifi.
Moving on to the physical structure, it has a robust closing mechanism and reinforced corners making it heavy duty. It also has interior LED lights which only consumes very low electricity. It is easy to bring with space-saving foldable and detachable handles.
3. Costway Car Freezer Travel Refrigerator
- Large volume capacity
- Comes with an interior tray for organization
- Can be switched into ECO mode for electricity saving
- Shockproof and durable
- Quiet compressor
- A little heavy, weighing about 36 lbs.
If you are in the group of scouts of a bigger compact cooling chest that can accommodate a lot of foods and beverages, Costway Car Freezer Travel 12 v would be your top option.
It has a large capacity of 52 L with an overall dimension of 27.5” x 14” x 21”, making it efficient to hold enormous food and beverages simultaneously. This hardware is appropriate for extended outdoor stay and road trips.
It is equipped and designed with a fast cooling and electricity saving system. The condenser cooling technology can cool up within 30 minutes from 90 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit down. To ensure rapid cooling and electricity saving, you can switch it on to an ECO saving mode.
The batteries can be set into three different levels, low, medium, and high, making it convenient for you to choose your desired condition.
If we consider durability, this product is on the first-rate of the list. Made with ABS sturdy and heavy-duty shell for long term use. It has an LCD monitor for a comfortable setting of thermal reading controls. It can withstand bumpy roads as it is shockproof as well.
4. Dometic CFX 65DZ 12v Electric Powered Portable Fridge
- CFX Special Electronics for turbo cooling and intelligent memory function
- electricity saving
- Has separate basket and dairy compartment ideal for storing perishables
- USB Port for charging small devices
- Wifi operated app
- Heavy duty
- Large volume capacity
- Has three battery levels
- Can be used on AC or DC as well as solar electricity
- Expensive among other Dometic Series
Among our list, this cooler belongs to the expensive appliances. However, the performance is beyond expectations and might be why you can get your cash’s worth.
Dometic 65DZ has a volume capacity of 60 L, enabling you to put a lot of stuff within. This model is ideal for camping and other outdoor leisure vehicle activities for prominent families.
Like the other Dometic series, this is equipped with the CFX Special Electronics responsible for the automatic and intelligent turbo cooling process and the memory function.
The CFX Special Electronics features electricity saving because it automatically reverts into low electricity consumption mode once the turbo cooling process is finished. It can let you save up to 35% of electricity compared to the previous series as it is now designed to have a high-performance condenser and reliable, durable insulation.
Other features are very convenient and easy to use too. It has a USB port that can be used as a charging station for small devices. The thermal reading can be adjusted and controlled via a wifi mobile app as well.
The robust, heavy-duty design of this model makes it suitable for long term usage. It can withstand harsh environments. It comes with a detachable and reversible Polypropylene lid for practical use.
5. Whynter FM-45G 45-Quart Portable Refrigerator Freezer
- Can be switched to both AC and DC at the same time so if AC fails, it will continue to run using DC source
- Can be used as cold cache or freezer, cooler
- Has baskets for organization
- Has a low electricity indicator light inside
- Durable and for long term use
- Rapid freezing feature for faster cooling performance
- Insulated bags are sold separately
- The size sometimes cannot fit the standard vehicle compartment size.
One of the most reliable and efficient brands is the Whynter FM-45G 45-Quart Portable 12 v Refrigerator Freezer, designed with innovation and premium quality. This device can best suit your leisure activities and can be put on within your campervan, boats, or campsite.
It can work like a ref, a cooler, or a freezer at the same time. The high volume capacity of 45 quarts equivalent to 60 cans offers a convenient solution for maintaining your food fresh and your drinks cold while on long travels.
This product also has a rapid freezing feature, which enables it to cool up whatever is inside for a short amount of time, making it electricity-saving too! It can be switched to a 110 volt AC or a DC electricity source such as your campervan battery at the same time.
The package comes with separate baskets, which is ideal for goods organization. When you overuse the product, a warning light will be seen to let you know that it is about to shut down when unplugged.
When it comes to its physical structure, it is built with heavy-duty materials. The lid and walls are well insulated, which helps maintain coolness within. The external dimension measures 23.5″ W x 16.5″L x 20.5″ H.
6. New Engel MT45 Platinum 12volt 110volt
- Compatible to most Engel Series accessories
- Can run with AC or DC source
- It has LED digital control monitor
- Solar electricity compatible
- Vibration resistant
- Can still operate when inclined up to 30ª off level
- Cannot be moved around easily
In this modern era, we are always on the hunt for tools to make our lives easier. We’ve never been thankful enough that 12v refrigerators were invented to maintain our products fresh. What if you can bring your cooling chest with you when you travel?
For rvers who travel a lot and are all outdoor leisure outdoor activities, compact cooling chests are the best option to maintain your drinks cold. Engel, one of the promising brands in this specific line of products, has released a new line of their compact cold depot series.
The new Engel MT45 Platinum 12v 110 volt has new added features and fans. It has a capacity of 45 quarts, making it convenient to store a lot of drinks and perishables.
It is designed to have digital condition control with a LED monitor, which makes it user friendly. It has a built-in battery monitor as its unique features as well.
Since it is made from heavy-duty materials, the product can stand vibrations and shock, making it easy to handle when you run into bumpy roads. It has a built-in Engel Swing, which features 40% less electricity consumption than other products. It automatically selects voltage whether you plug it into AC or DC.
7. Ausranvik 26 Quart Portable Fridge
- Easy LED display and touch control
- Has two cooling modes; Max and Eco
- USB plug for charging small devices
- Intelligent battery feature
- Has thick 1.4” insulation thickness which maintains coolness within for up to 10 hours max after being unplugged
- Shockproof sleek design
- The compressor can go as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit, ideal for deep freezing
- Has a built-in drain at the bottom for easy cleaning
- Handles are small which makes it quite hard to carry
When looking for a compact appliance, it is a plus if it can run and withstand extreme ambient conditions without consuming a lot of electricity. The Ausranvik 37-Quart Portable Fridge Car Refrigerator is designed with this feature making it efficient hardware with high cooling performance.
It works as both a refrigerator and freezer, which can be plugged into AC or DC. This product is an ideal option for both tent and vehicle use. It has a memory function feature that you do not have to reset the thermal reading when you plug it off and then re-plug it into another source.
It has a LED display and touch control, which enables the user to set the desired condition. The appliance has two modes: the Max fast cooling mode and the ECO electricity saving mode. A convenient USB plug is made available for users to charge their small devices as well.
This appliance’s most significant feature is its intelligent battery protection, high, medium, or low. It monitors your battery so that it will automatically shut off to keep your battery from draining when the electricity runs lower than its requirement.
The dimensions are 23″ x 13″ x 14″ inches and typically weigh about 32.4 lbs. The package comes with an AC electricity cord and a DC electricity cord as well.
Another exceptional feature of this compact cooling chest is that it has a drain plug at the bottom, enabling the user to drain liquids effortlessly. This feature is for easy cleaning too.
8. Alpicool C20 Portable Fridge Freezer
- Lightweight and can be carried around effortlessly
- Can be placed inside a tent
- Heavy-duty for long term use
- Has a battery protection feature
- Can deep freeze
- The temperature display is not accurate.
If you are looking for a compact cooler that is easy to carry around everywhere, then it is for you. Alpicool C20 Portable Fridge Freezer has a 23.54 x 12.6 x 12.6 inches dimension and measures only around 19.8 pounds. The total capacity of this hardware is 20 liters.
It can work as a deep fridge and a cooling chest as well. It has max and eco mode for rapid freezing and electricity saving too. It can both be plugged into ac or dc, even solar electricity sources.
The cooler comes with a battery protection feature set into three modes; low, medium, and high. This product helps protect your vehicle’s battery life.
Though it is very compact, it is heavy duty and made with durable plastic material, which can last for a long time. It has high-density foam insulation that can maintain coolness for some time as well.
9. ARB 10800472 Fridge Freezer 50 Quart
- It has built-in electrical cable withhold
- Large internal capacity
- It has an electronic thermal reading setting
- Designed with drain plugs for easy cleaning
- Front opening for convenient accessibility
- Separate fruit and buttery compartments
- It has a user-friendly front-facing thermostat controller
- It has a unique stainless steel quick-release mechanism hinge
- It has an integrated battery protection feature
- Needs extra insulation cover or bag to maintain coolness
If your family is about to venture on long trips or encampment, it will best suit your preferences. The ARB 10800472 Fridge Freezer can accommodate a large number of goods. It is designed with a volume capacity of 50 quarts enabling the user to store up to 72 pieces of 12 ounces with extra space for snacks and perishables.
The ARB portable freezers are designed with a front opening lid for easy access. Its exterior footprint dimension is 27.75″L x 14.96″W x 20″H, the main compartment measures 13.27″ D x 11.22″ W x 15.79″ H and the dairy compartment is 5.95″ D x 11.22″ W x 8.11″ H.
It can maintain a 0-degree condition within and continues to cool even not plugged into an electricity source. The package comes with two charge cables. One is the AC cord, which can be plugged into any standard house outlets, and the other is the DC cord, which can be plugged into your van’s 12 volt DC electricity outlet.
It is designed with an accessible, user-friendly control panel, and it comes with an electronic thermal reading setting. It has a superb robust hinge to ensure durability too. Another excellent feature of this hardware is the enormous full grip EZ latch that provides the lid’s quality seal.
10. Cho Power Sports Portable Refrigerator Freezer 30 Liter
- Telescopic handle and wheels for easy transport
- Can be placed even inside camping tents
- Two different cooling modes; HH and ECO
- USB port for charging devices
- Can be plugged into a power outlet
- Has high quality and heavy-duty insulation
- Protruding wheels can be a hindrance to smooth transport.
This freezer has a simple design, yet offers excellent cooling and freezing performance. Ideal for outings, van life, road trips, and long boat rides. The Cho Power Sports Portable Refrigerator Freezer 30 L weighs up to 28 lbs with 30 liters. It measures 25” x 16.5” x 16.25” unit dimensions.
This product has a telescopic handle, built-in side-handles, and wheels, making it easy to transport and drag around even in your tents. It has quality interior insulation to keep you cool for a long duration of time.
The outer part of this product is made with heavy-duty plastic that is super durable. It also comes with s USB port for charging small devices.
The cooling system, powered by a condenser unit, can be set into two modes: the HH mode and the ECO mode. HH mode is for rapid cooling while the ECO mode is for electricity saving. The remarkable thing is, it does not drain your battery electricity.
The Cho PowerSports Portable freezer brand has different sizes and volume capacities; 9 liters, 15 liters, 30 liters, 40 liters, and 50 liters.
11. Engel MR040F-U1 AC DC Portable Refrigerator
- AC and DC compatible
- The external shell is made with durable and high-quality ABS plastic
- Shockproof and can withstand extreme outdoor conditions
- Reliable and efficient Engel Swing motor
- Has interior wire basket for easy organization
- Can still operate even inclined for up to 30 degrees off level
- Does not have a security system
It has the same ultra-efficient cooling feature as the MT45 model. The Engel MR040F-U1 AC DC Portable Refrigerator is ideal for boaters and outdoor van life campers because it now has all plastic exterior making it weather resistant. Power switches automatically from 12/24v DC to 110v AC.
Moving on to its specifications, it weighs about 48 pounds, and the dimension measure is 25 x 15.5 x 18.5 inches. This product offers the same performance as the other model of the Engel portable refrigerator series. The only difference is that this model has an ABS shell case, which best suits marine applications.
This product is equipped with a highly efficient Engel swing compressor, which only consumes around 1 to 2 amp per electricity consumption. Like other compact cooling hardware, this product is compatible with both AC and DC electricity sources. It works well with solar electricity too.
Another outstanding feature that can be seen in this product is that it continues to maintain coolness even when you turn off your vehicle or plug it off from your home outlet. This product is quite compact and movable, considering the size and weight.
12. Dometic DM2652RB Americana Double Door Refrigerator
- Made with durable solid steel frame
- Can be operated with electricity or propane
- Has organizational racks and layers
- Doors can be securely gripped
- It has an eye-level automatic controller
- Doors can open up to 180 scales.
- Not for vehicles with small compartments
One of the most remarkable Dometic products is the Dometic DM2652RB Americana Double Door Refrigerator, a stand-up refrigerator measuring 60.96 x 58.42 x 136.53 cm and weighing around 55.8 kg. The total volume capacity of this product is about 6 or 8 cubic. Feet.
The Dometic Americana double door cooling chest features two-way power source options such as the 110 volt AC or an LP Gas. It is the best built cooling system because it has a solid steel durable construction and improved electronic controls.
For easy organization, it is designed with a versatile racking system. It has an adjustable shelving system and a three-position freezer shelf.
Another commendable feature of this product is that it has an eye-level electronic control, which automatically adjusts the condition within and maintains natural cooling depending on the ambient condition outside. The doors can be gripped securely, which means that all goods inside stay safe even during a bumpy ride.
13. Norcold NRF30 Portable Refrigerator
- Stainless steel interior
- It has a user-friendly electronic control panel
- A built-in battery protection system
- Has an interior wire basket for easy organization
- Separate compartments for freezer and refrigerator
- Has interior light
- Can be placed inside tents
- Made with durable materials
- The package does not include an AC plug.
This cooling hardware is the best option for big families to use during their vanlife campings, sail boating trips, road trips, or even tents. The Norcold NRF30 Portable Refrigerator has a volume capacity of 30 liters and measures 15.6 in x 22 in x 15.7. It weighs only 17.9 kg, making it easy to transport and move around.
On the technical side, this equipment has an electronic control panel that indicates the condition within. This control panel is easy to use and very user friendly. The user would be able to control or set the desired state through this. It has a light indicator for specific installation issues or even battery levels too.
The product’s review of safety is proven and tested. It is designed with CFC-free insulation foam and refrigerant. The condenser is hermetically sealed and has built-in low voltage protection as well.
Another feature is the battery protection with three levels. This prevents your battery from being drained. It automatically turns back the machine once an available electricity source is detected.
The package comes with an interior wire basket making the organization secure. The product is made from stainless steel in the interior, which prevents stains and improves cooling.
For clear visibility, this product has an interior light. It has a separate compartment for freezing products and a refrigerator section for just maintaining the items fresh.
The exterior is made from heavy-duty plastic material, which is corrosion-proof. It is designed with a removable hinged lid and durable, removable handles too.
14. Dometic TC21-DC-A Tropicool Thermoelectric 12v Cooler
- Dual purpose, cooling, and heating
- Lightweight and durable
- Has 7 stage thermal reading setting
- Convenient to use
- Has memory function
- Has electricity save circuit
- Too small for big families
If you are looking for a versatile compact cooling chest, then this is for you. The Dometic TC21-DC-A Tropicool 12v Cooler can function as a cooler and a warmer as well.
The thermoelectric technology is a fantastic feature it can offer. You can set the hardware to either cool or warm the products inside through this technology.
The physical product measures around 16.5” H x 17.7” W x 11.9” D and has 20 liters. It is designed to be lightweight and has sturdy polymer carry handles, to ensure convenient portability.
This cooler has a 7 stage thermal reading regulation, enabling you to choose the best condition setting you need. It has a memory function that allows the appliance to remember your past settings even after being switched off.
This product can cool up to 27 Celsius below ambient conditions to keep your items chilled. On the other hand, it can warm up to 65 celsius to make your meals warm.
The interior has an efficient storehouse system that can help you organize what’s within. It can be plugged into a DC electricity source.
15. Smeta 12V Lockable Refrigerator
- Absorption refrigeration system
- Automatic defrost
- Does not emit pollution
- Low electricity consumption
- Has a door grip
- Not for small vehicles
The Smeta 12V Lockable Refrigerator is an upright, compact mini cooling chest best for your van, boats, trucks, and even apartments. This product uses an absorption refrigeration system, which means there are no built-in compressors nor fans.
The dimension of this cooling appliance is (W*D*H): 15.8*16.1*19.7 inch. You can plug the cooling machine into a 110v AC electric source or even a DC source.
This standing up cooling chest has a reversible door, and it can be rear-mounted as well. It is secure so that the things within will remain safe even during bumpy rides too.
Another feature of this cooling hardware is that it has an automatic defrost system. It has interior led lights for easy visibility.
Considered to be an eco-friendly system because it does not emit pollution, and it only consumes low electricity. It can cool up to 37 to 53 degrees Fahrenheit.
16. TruckFridge/Indel B 12V Travel Box Fridges
- Light and compact dimensions
- Reliable and efficient
- It has a sturdy injection-molded lid with integrated closing
- Battery protection feature
- It has internal LED lights
- Easy to handle and compact
- Thermostat control to minimize electricity consumption
- Produces loud noises
Truckfridge is known to be the American brand of IndelB. IndelB is an Italian brand that has been in the industry of compact cooling units manufacturing since the sixties. For additional info, they designed a particular unit for a space shuttle as well.
Since IndelB is a reputable brand, its units are highly reliable and efficient. The TruckFridge/Indel B 12V Travel Box Fridges are budget-friendly. They cost a little lower than the other brands, but they offer high-quality performance. These units are equipped with Danfoss BD35F compressors, which are pretty reliable.
The unit’s total dimension is 23 x 11 x 16.5 inches, and it weighs around 18.04 lbs. The full volume capacity is 15 liters. This product is suitable for trucks and other off-road vehicles. One of its features is the ECO mode, which helps with electricity saving.
Like other units, these models have three-level battery protection, which can prevent your batteries from draining. If you prefer, you could either plug it on to an AC or DC electricity source. Another feature is that it has electronic thermostat control.
17. Koolatron Thermoelectric 36 Quart (34 L) 12v Thermoelectric
Koolatron is a well-known brand when it comes to the thermoelectric industry. This particular feature can either warm-up or cool down your meal or drinks.
You can plug it directly into your vehicle’s outlet. Koolatron has a removable shelf so that you can organize and separate meals and drinks.
18. Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler 40QT
The Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler 40QT is a convenient appliance because you can place it vertically or horizontally, and it does not affect its performance like the other Igloo models. It is a 40 qt chest appliance with the dimensions of 21.9 x 15.2 x 16.8 inches and weighs 18.75 lbs.
The Igloo brand is a well-known brand in the thermoelectric industry. They have made several appliances with excellent-performing reliability.
Determining How Much Electrical Capacity You Need For Your Ideal RV Refrigerator
A typical cooling chest can be plugged into three different sources. The following sources are the AC outlets: 110v, DC 12v electricity source, and solar electricity.
The condensers of these cooling appliances do not run 24 hours a day; they turn into electricity saving mode when the set temperature is reached. It depends on the circulation of temperature as well.
This means that when it is hot outside, it is more likely that the appliance will consume more electricity to keep the temperature within low. On the other hand, when the outside temperature is cold, the condenser is not required to run.
There are no exact ways to identify how much electrical electricity a cooler consumes. It will all depend on different circumstances. It is best to have a storehouse source, so you will have a backup just in case one fails.
Giving you something to jump-start your consumption calculations with, a usual compact cooler takes 1 to 5 amp per hour. Bear in mind that these appliances take much higher numbers when it is just about to start cooling.
It is advised to do in-depth research about this so you will be able to avoid battery drainage, especially if your cooler does not have a battery protection feature.
A tip to prevent drainage from happening is to connect your cooler to a solar power system or an external battery source. This will help your cooler stay cool just in case an electricity source fails.
What to Look for in a Portable 12V Compressor Fridge
Pricing and your budget for RV Compressor Fridge
As you notice in our product reviews, high-end brands and budget brands have quite a range of rates for the best vehicle 12V compressor fridge. If you can’t afford the higher-end brands, you might want to have a hard look at the cheaper ones. But if you’re full-time, having a quality appliance is worth investing.
Interior Capacity and Freezer Capabilities
First is to know the cooling chest space you want. Buying a big fridge means giving up more space for your van and spending a huge amount of cash. However, buying a small fridge means frequent going to grocery stores.
Most 12V fridges can store a week’s worth of food. Besides, most of them can function as a cooling chest or a freezer. If you need both at the same time, some brands offer dual-zone freezers that have separate compartments.
Energy and Power Efficiency and Compressor
Living off-grid, the huge concern one will have is electric efficiency. Batteries and solars are way more expensive, so the more electricity efficient the appliances are, the more cash you can save.
Most 12V Portable compressor fridges are generally efficient. However, some brands can give better reliability because they have great insulation, configuration, and condenser control.
Exterior Dimensions and Weight
Every fridge has different dimensions and weights. Some brands have bigger footprints but squatter, while there are smaller footprints but taller. So you have to make sure that every option you consider will fit the designated spot you choose for your fridge.
Weight is a factor if you plan to regularly move the fridge or stay on a certain weight limit. As you have noticed in the table above, we listed dimensions on every fridge we have collected.
The direction the Lid Opens
Some fridges have lids that hinge from the back, while others have side-hinged lids. It seems like there is a small consideration, but it can make a big difference for your van life setup and the appliance’s portability.
Having a read-hinged fridge between the front seats will make it easier to access everything. The lids that hinge on the side needless overhead clearance to open since you’re facing the fridge on the longer side. But every vanlife is different, so it still depends on your specific setup.
Standard Features and Extra Features of Fridge
LED lighting within the fridge, floor drain plug to clean the fridge easily, low voltage cut off for battery protection, divider, lift-out baskets, and separate dairy compartments are some of the most 12 Volt Compact Fridges got the same. Though, some brands include more advanced features like wifi apps, remote readouts, digital controls, and additional accessories.
Warranty and Reliability
A reliable cooling appliance will not make you use the warranty. However, just if your appliance malfunctioned, the warranty will help you either get a new appliance or have free adjustment maintenance.
During purchase, ensure that the warranty covers whole appliance replacement or at least free adjustment and replacement parts. Some companies offer free maintenance inspections too.
Most of the time, warranties are valid for 1 to 3 years. If your appliance malfunctioned beyond the listed date, then it is not covered by the warranty already.
Your fridge needs to withstand the occasional bumps on the road and the change in weather. Some appliances are designed to be shockproof.
It is advised to examine the materials used as well. More often than not, a reliable appliance should have well-insulated walls and a heavy-duty exterior.
Doors should not have gaps where the cold breeze could escape. Sturdy handles and grips are a must too.
Power Usage of Freezer
Your fridge mustn’t use too much electricity since you’re only relying on the vehicle’s engine. An efficient appliance can be plugged into both AC and DC, as well as solar.
The updated models are designed with rapid freezing. This can help you save energy and power usage since it will allow the appliance to cool down for at least 30 minutes. After doing so, it will automatically switch on to an energy-saving mode.
It is important to set your appliance into a proper temperature as well. If it’s not too hot outside, you might want to set it into medium or even low.
Making Your Refrigerator More Efficient
An important feature of an ideal compact cooling appliance is that it can make items frozen or maintain the freshness of products within our cooler reviews. Though it offers this kind of convenience, there are still ways to make our appliances even more efficient.
Like most freezers, it just maintains coolness right after the condenser finished working on rapid freezing. Sometimes, an appliance can lose coolness because of different causes.
One cause is when people tend to open the appliance door repeatedly. This will cause the cold breeze to escape, resulting in an increased interior temperature. Another cause is when the door is not properly fitted into the lid, the tendency is the cold breeze will seep into the gaps.
Generally, an efficient appliance must be designed with built-in proper insulated walls to keep the coolness longer. If not, there are insulated covers or bags that can be purchased separately.
It is very significant to keep in mind that most of these cooling appliances depend on ambient temperatures. Where you place it matters as well.
When placed in an area with no proper ventilation, the tendency is that there will be no space for the appliance to emit the warmth that the condenser releases. It is vital to put it into areas that will allow its exhaust systems to breathe. Right then, the heat will not be trapped and will be disseminated.
Considering To Buy Used 12 Volt RV Refrigerator
Best vehicle cooling appliances usually cost a lot of cash. If you are on a tight budget but considering buying, you may opt to purchase a 2nd hand appliance.
There are a few things to consider when you are interested in buying a used fridge. Since they are not brand new, it is recommended to examine if the product has issues.
Most of the time, mishandling and improper usage cause a ref to malfunction. The first step is to ask how long the 12-volt refrigerator has been used. Overall, you will get an idea if the appliance is already worn out or not.
The next thing to consider is the status of the condenser. Make sure that it still works like new because of condenser aid as the heart of the refrigerator.
If the appliance is only slightly used, they might as well ask about the warranty. Check if the date still covers the warranty period. It is a smart move to research if there are aids and parts available in your country so that if in case the appliance breaks, you will be able to get it repaired.
RV Cooling Refrigerators Trips and Tricks
- Make sure that the appliance is properly leveled on the ground. This way, you’ll be able to get its overall performance. Some 12-volt refrigerators do not work well when tilted.
- Cool and freeze your food and beverages ahead of time. The best vehicle refrigerator may take 30 minutes to 1 hour to cool down. If you add in cold and frozen foods, it will help the portable fridge work more efficiently because you have already minimized the high-temperature stuff. There should be spacing within the refrigerator so that cold breeze can circulate properly as well.
- Install an inexpensive battery-operated 12-volt refrigerator fan to assist the flow of hot breeze outward. It will help the refrigerator to decrease its cooling operation by about 50%. The fan helps the hot breeze to disseminate too.
- Always inspect the vents of the appliance’s fan. Make sure that there is no blockage in your fridge that might prevent the hot breeze from escaping.
- Ensure that the area where you put the 12-volt refrigerator is well ventilated and does not cause the ambient temperature to rise.
- The outside temperature affects the appliance’s overall performance. If it is cold outside, try to set the temperature to low. If it is hot and sunny outside, park your vehicle in a shaded area.
- Consider placing a thermometer within the 12-volt refrigerator to scan if the coolness is still stable periodically.
Why picking the greatest RV 12-volt refrigerator can be confusing.
The internet is full of vast information. Since there are many online platforms where we can purchase many things, we turn to them because you do not have to leave the comfort of your own homes to get what you want.
However, the vast information that we can get can be overwhelming. It can get us confused, especially if we are not familiar with the product.
Portable cooling system refrigerators are no exception. When searching for it on the internet, the result will give you a wide variety of brands and models. Just looking at the pictures can be confusing, too, because everything almost looks the same.
If you are not a technical person, try to get help from those who already have experience of using this kind of appliance. If you are on your own, try to list the things you prefer. Ask yourself questions to answer.
If you prefer a low energy-consuming appliance, look for an appliance with different modes to switch. Some 12-volt refrigerators have ECO mode, an automatic feature that reverts the power usage into energy saving.
Then, measure the area where you are planning to place the 12-volt refrigerator. Will the dimensions fit the area, and is it well ventilated?
Then, look for extra features that come with the appliance. Some appliances have USB ports that are convenient for charging small devices, especially if you are outdoors.
Inspect the appliance’s electricity source requirement. The most reliable appliance should be plugged into AC, DC, and solar sources as well.
Determine if you require upright or chest cooling appliances because there is a huge difference between the two. Make sure to pick one that perfectly suits your preferences.
Tips and Advice in Picking the Right RV 12-Volt Refrigerator
Top Door VS Front Side Door
Believe it or not, the door of your cooling appliance can greatly affect its performance. Studies show that top door refrigerators are the most efficient and reliable.
In further explanation, a cool breeze automatically sinks in at the bottom. Therefore, the cold breeze that is trapped below cannot simply escape because you open the appliance on top.
Upright cooling appliances have front doors, causing the cold breeze to escape the moment you open it easily. This will still depend on how often you repeatedly open the door.
The Size Matters
The best vehicle cooling appliances are available in different sizes. Choosing the best appliance to determine the storage capacity you want. If you have a big family, then a large appliance with high storage capacity would be ideal.
Inspect your vehicle’s floor plan. Make sure that the appliance’s dimensions will fit. Aside from that, the cooling appliance needs extra space for the fan vents. For chest freezers, allow extra space on top because the doors are opened upwards.
Calculate the Power Draw
A portable freezing appliance needs a certain amount of time before it can fully cool down. Most appliances work with rapid freezing. During the rapid freezing process, the appliance tends to consume more electricity.
Not all appliances consume the same amount of electricity. Some appliances are made to be electricity saving. Other appliances are designed with steel wall insulation to help maintain interior temperature.
Inspect if the appliance can continue to run with batteries even when unplugged. This way, you’ll be able to control electricity usage.
It is highly suggested to inspect the compressor type. It is better to choose a compressor with an electronic control appliance. This will enable the user to control the temperature within the freezer. Make sure it has battery protection to prevent your van’s battery from running down as well.
Dual Zone VS Single Zone
The updated appliances are mostly designed with two separate compartments. Each of the compartments has different features. More often than not, one compartment is designed to freeze products while on the other hand, the other compartment is used as a refrigerator, which helps maintain your food’s freshness.
If you plan to store food and other perishable products that do not need frozen, then a dual compartment appliance is ideal. If you are after freezing beverages or other merchandise, then a single compartment would suffice. Just make sure that the single zone appliance you choose can freeze products. Some single-zone appliances are designed only to keep stuff cool or chilled.
Some appliances are incorporated with wire baskets for easy organization. You might as well consider this if you are eyeing for the single zoned appliances. This will at least help you organize what you’ll put within.
Check the Warranty
Portable refrigerators are not available worldwide. Some countries do not support the product’s availability. If products are imported, cases are there are no available parts available for repair.
If the warranty covers the product and your country, check its scope. Sometimes warranties do not guarantee full appliance replacement. Check the date of warranty expiration as well.
If the warranty expires, companies still offer repair maintenance for a duration of time. Make sure to get this benefit. However, inspect first if the repair maintenance covers your area.
Maintenance Tips and Tricks for Your RV Cooling Appliance
Like any other appliances, vehicle coolers should be maintained to get its maximum performance for a long time. By doing so, you are saving yourself the trouble of malfunctioning appliances. Here are tips on how to maintain a steady and high performing cooling appliance.
Regularly Defrost Your Fridge
Thick walls of ice may affect your appliance’s performance. At the same time, it occupies a lot of space. It is important to make sure that the interior is frost-free to keep the fridge running well.
Tips on defrosting
- Plug it off to ensure safety
- Remove all the products within
- Open the door and let the ice melt
- Place dry towels within to soak the water that will seep into the sides
- Dry off the interior completely and plug it back on
Keep Your appliance Clean
Aside from the hygiene safety measures, a clean fridge is proven to last longer. It is great to do the cleaning just right after you defrost your appliance.
Make sure that the door seals are clean. This is to ensure that the door will keep its grip and prevent the cold breeze from escaping. Sometimes, dirt makes it less efficient.
A door that does not close properly will encourage frost build-up. Do not forget that extreme frost can affect your appliance’s performance.
Use an Insulation Cover
Insulation covers are designed not only to help your appliance maintain its temperature but also to protect it from outside factors that can harm it. It can also help to prevent dust and dirt from getting into the compressor.
Insulation covers can also protect your appliance from scratches and other damages.
Run Your appliance at Least Once A Month
It is recommended to run your appliance once a month, even if you cannot use it into van life camping or long trips. This is to ensure that the parts are working properly.
Get a Scheduled Expert Check-up
An annual inspection from a registered troubleshooter is also recommended to keep your appliance well maintained. During the inspection, the examiner will most likely inspect the gas supply lines for leaks, gas pressure, AC voltage, and the combustion seal.
Generally, they will inspect more than what meets our eye. Sometimes we are not aware that our appliances already need troubleshooting.
Do all 12-volt refrigerators have USB ports?
Incorporated USB ports in a compact cooling appliance can be very convenient, especially if you are camping or outdoor. However, not all appliances come with this feature.
The main reason is that not all compact cooling appliances can store electricity backups. Some appliances only work when plugged into an electricity source such as an AC outlet, DC, or solar power.
Can a cooler drain the car battery?
A cooling appliance with no battery protection feature can drain a van’s battery. It is an additional factor to consider before purchasing a cooling appliance for your vanlife.
The updated vehicle cooling appliances have a special feature called battery protection, set into three levels; low, medium, and high. This feature enables the user to control the electricity the appliance consumes while the vehicle is on.
When an appliance is plugged into the ignition switch, it automatically turns off when the car is also off.
How to Clean an RV Freezer Appliance?
When your appliance is already smelly, it means that bacteria are building up within, and there is a poor air conditioner. That is the time that you need to deep clean your freezer already. Not regularly cleaning your fridge will result in serious health problems.
Cleaning your appliance is very easy. Here are steps on how to do it efficiently:
- Unplug your freezer and defrost it. Before doing so, remove all the stuff within.
- Once defrosted, use a clean cloth to wipe off the interior’s surface.
- Get a chemical-free cleaner and pour some to the clean cloth. Use it to wipe the surfaces to ensure that it is disinfected and clean. You can also use natural air conditioners like lemons and baking soda.
- Inspect each drawer and compartment. If the drawers are removable, remove them and wash them clean.
- Check the groves where the drawer or the shelves sit—most of the time, the bacteria and dirt build-up. Wipe them as well.
- Wipe off the exterior shell and the door of the appliance.
- Check for mold build-up. If there are molds within your fridge, get a mild detergent and a soft brush. Start scrubbing the surface gently and then wipe it off with a clean cloth. Since molds are smelly, you can put in an air conditioner.
- Check for leaks. Leaks can cause a big mess within the fridge.
How long will a fridge keep food cold when disconnected?
On an average basis, excellent quality and an efficient appliance can stay cool for 10 hours even when unplugged. However, this circumstance can be affected by other factors.
The outside temperature can greatly affect an appliance’s cooling performance. If it is hot outside and your appliance is unplugged, it will be faster to increase interior temperature. If it is cold outside, the appliance will most probably retain the low temperature within.
Another factor affecting the longevity of coolness is the frequent opening of the appliance’s door or lid. If you repeatedly open it, the cold breeze escapes. You might also want to consider the sealing factor of the lids. The stronger the grip, the harder it is for the cool breeze to escape.
There are also tips and tricks in helping your fridge retain its interior temperature even when unplugged. The first is to freeze products before putting them in the fridge. Another tip is to add ice packs within to help it maintain a low temperature.
Can dust affect an appliance’s performance?
Yes, dust can affect your appliance’s performance. The dust collects on the condenser coils. Sometimes, collected dust can also cause poor power connections.
Can I operate my fridge using Solar panels?
You need to use a solar panel as an electricity source. However, you cannot plug the freezer directly into it. You have to wire your panels into a battery where you can plug your appliance into.
Why does my fridge get frosty?
When you repeatedly open your appliance’s door for too long, the tendency is that a hot breeze will enter within. This will result in moisture build-up. When moisture touches the cold coils, that’s the time extra ice will start to freeze.
Compilation of Popular Portable RV Fridge Brands and Models
In this article and product reviews, we listed our top picks and a brief review of the top efficient compact coolers by different brands. To give more information, we compiled and listed all the other models under a specific brand.
This gives you the idea that there are still more in the market, and if in case you cannot find your preferred appliance on our review list, you can still opt to search for another. Most of the time, brands release new models under a series. This is because they update and add more promising features.
Dometic is one of the most trendy brands when it comes to compact coolers. It is the most trusted and reliable vehicle fridge manufacturer. They have already released a lot of series. Here are some of their models.
If you are looking for other Dometic models that are not included in our review above, these are other options.
Another top manufacturer is ARB. As you can see, ARB 10800472 belongs to our editor’s picks.
Aside from the reviewed model above, here is a compiled list of their most updated and popular series.
Zero DZ Series
Classic Series II
Whynter brand has been well known for its appliance’s fast freeze feature. Their appliances can rapidly cool the interior temp for as low as eight ªF within a short time.
In addition to our top pick, here is a compiled list of other whynter cooling system models.
When it comes to marine refrigerators, Norcold is known to be the finest brand. Aside from marine cooling appliances, they have been making vehicle fridges for a long time. For additional info, the NRF series is their entry-level to the Best RV 12-volt refrigerators market.
Alpicool offers a variety of models under different series. This brand has paved its way to popularity too! Their most popular appliances are known to be the most efficient when it comes to portability.
There are a lot of reliable and best 12v refrigerators in the market. Most appliances are expensive, so it is great to get an appliance that you will use for a long time.
These best RV cooling unit systems will make your vehicle live more exciting, fun, and convenient. Choose the best RV appliance that will suit your style.
When choosing, always consider the most important factors that were discussed in this article reviews. These are the cost, size, durability, enough volume capacity, type of condenser, electricity consumption, and other added features.
With all this information in mind, there is no doubt that you’ll successfully choose the perfect fridge.