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The 7 Best 12 Volt Coolers and Camping Fridges Reviewed – [2019]

The Latest Battery-Powered Coolers and Mini Travel Fridges

In this article we will review and compare the top-rated best 12 volt coolers and camping fridges. These are the best brands in the industry for performance, quality, affordability and user ratings. Below, you’ll find product reviews of each fridge or cooler and analysis of their features and benefits.

After reading through the reviews, be sure to continue to the buyers guide section, How To Choose The Best 12 Volt Cooler or Camping Fridge, which highlights the key factors you should consider when looking to purchase a plug in cooler for cars.

Quick Answer: Top-Rated 12 Volt Coolers and Camping Fridges

  1. Dometic 12V Electric-Powered Cooler, Fridge Freezer (various sizes)
  2. Engel AC/DC Portable Tri-Voltage Fridge/Freezer – 40 Quart
  3. Costway 12 Volt/120 VAC Compact Portable Refrigerator/Freezer – 54 Quart
  4. Alpicool Portable AC/DC Mini Refrigerator/Freezer (various sizes)
  5. Igloo Iceless Fridge / Ice Chest Combo – 40 Quart
  6. Rockpals 12V / AC Plug-In Electric Cooler w/ Wheels – 30 Quart
  7. Knox Electric Cooler & Warmer for Car with Wheels – 48 Quart

Best 12 Volt Coolers and Camping Fridges

 Dometic 12V Electric-Powered Cooler, Fridge Freezer (various sizes)Engel AC/DC Portable Tri-Voltage Fridge/Freezer – 40 QuartCostway 12 Volt/120 VAC Compact Portable Refrigerator/Freezer – 54 Quart
editors choice
Capacities 27 thru 93 Quarts Capacity
40 Quart Capacity
54 Quart Capacity
Freeze Can freeze to -7 degrees Fahrenheit
Can freeze from below 0 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit
Fast Cooling setting for 30-minute chilling from 90 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit
Special FeaturesInternal LED light frequency of 50/60 Hz
1 to 2 Ah/h Power Consumption
Digital LCD Temperature Display
Customer Ratings4.0 / 5.0 Stars3.7 / 5.0 Stars4.5 / 5.0 Stars

Best 12 Volt Coolers and Camping Fridges Reviews

#1 Dometic 12V Electric-Powered Cooler, Fridge Freezer (various sizes)

best 12 volt coolers fridge mobile

At A Glance:

  • Multiple size capacities available from 27 to 93 quarts
  • Can freeze to -7 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Power Consumption ranges from 0.75 to 1.5 Ah/h depending on size
  • Internal LED light frequency of 50/60 Hz
  • Connect with WiFi to monitor temperature via cellphone application
  • USB ports for charging devices
The Dometic 12V Electric Powered Cooler, Fridge Freezer, is capable of keeping your produce and food refrigerated for years to come. Its heavy-duty steel makeup and reinforced corners ensures optimal protection of your heaviest of groceries and takes little damage.

Operating on 120 VAC or 12 Volt DC, you can use this seamlessly in both your home and vehicle. Wherever your trip takes you, Dometic has your food storage and refrigeration covered. The overall construction quality makes the Dometic an excellent choice for a 12 volt refrigerator for trucks or heavy machinery.

Best for low impact and leave no trace ideology, the Dometic 12V Electric-Powered Cooler is quiet when it runs and extremely efficient in its use. Additionally, the internal LED light runs at the low frequency of 50/60 Hz.

This cooler is perfect to use with a solar panel set-up and operates with three-stage battery protection to certify you will always have your fridge at the temperature you set it to.

The built-in digital temperature display shows the exact temperature that your car fridge freezer is set to so you’re always aware of how your food is keeping. Additionally, your Dometic 12V Electric-Powered Cooler has WiFi capabilities and can tell you information about how its running on a downloadable cellphone application.

This high-tech iceless cooler will ensure you never need to worry about filling up your cooler with ice again!


#2 Engel AC/DC Portable Tri-Voltage Fridge/Freezer – 40 Quart

At A Glance:

  • 40 Quart Capacity
  • 25 x 15.5 x 18.5 inches, 48 lbs
  • Can freeze from below 0 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 1 to 2 Ah/h Power Consumption
  • AC and DC adaptor with priority focused on AC
Engel’s AC/DC Portable Tri-Voltage Fridge/Freezer is perfect for those who travel frequently and would like to keep their food refrigerated on the go. Made of heavy steel and durable plastic to protect your food from the inside and out, you’ll never have to fear your groceries going bad on the road.

Just plug in the 12 volt cord into an outlet and twist the temperature knob to set the temperature. With a wide top that opens laterally, the Engel car fridge’s wide 40-quart compartment can store up to 60 cans easily.

This Engel fridge freezer also comes with a removable wire basket to separate your internal fridge into two separate compartments. And you’ll never have to hear any noise coming from your new portable Engel refrigerator.

With between one and two amps per hour of power consumption, this energy efficient cooler is great if you want to use little energy to cool your food.

The Engel AC/DC Portable Tri-Voltage Fridge/Freezer is a great option for car campers who are looking for an effective way to keep their produce cold all day.


#3 Costway 12 Volt/120 VAC Compact Portable Refrigerator/Freezer – 54 Quart

At A Glance:

  • 54 Quart Capacity
  • 27 x 13.5 x 21 inches, 36 lbs
  • Fast Cooling setting for 30-minute chilling from 90 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Three levels of battery use to save your vehicle’s battery power
  • Digital LCD Temperature Display
The Costway 12 Volt/120 VAC Compact Portable Refrigerator/Freezer is a powerful tool to both bring on the road and keep in your home. This cooler can refrigerate from between -4 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. With a 54-quart capacity, plenty of your food can fit into this cooler.

Its fast cooling setting can cool the chamber from 90 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit in 30 minutes of pressing the setting. This way, you never have to fear about your refrigerator being too warm and spoiling your food. Check the temperature rating on the LCD temperature display to watch this amazing cooling power.

Best for small cars with small batteries, this Costway  folt/120 VAC Portable Refrigerator has an internal battery with three power settings. Change the high, medium, and low settings to protect your vehicle’s battery and prevent it from dying on the road. Nobody likes having to jump-start on the go!

This is easily one of the best portable coolers on the market. Costway’s 12 Volt/120 VAC Compact Portable Refrigerator/Freezer made of durable ABS polymer is eco-friendly and best for those who camp and travel in smaller vehicles.


#4  Alpicool Portable AC/DC Mini Refrigerator/Freezer (various sizes)

At A Glance:

  • Capacity between 15 and 50 Quarts depending on model
  • Made of Durable Plastics
  • Foam insulation
  • Can freeze down to -4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Three stage battery
If you’re the type of person to traverse through rough or bumpy terrain, the Alpicool Portable AC/DC Mini Refrigerator/Freezer is perfect for your travel vehicle. Fitted with a standard 12 volt plug, this plug in cooler is rugged and is unlikely to break with its few moving parts and foam insulation.

If you are a fan of steep drives but are nervous about the effect it will have on your groceries, have no fear with the Alpicool Mini Car Refrigerator. It is rated to withstand 45-degree angles and higher due to its low level of moving parts and outstanding freezing capabilities.

No matter what you put in the Alpicool Portable AC/DC Mini Refrigerator/Freezer, you can ensure your produce will stay in top shape on every adventure you choose to take.


#5 Igloo Iceless Fridge / Ice Chest Combo – 40 Quart

At A Glance:

  • Unique build capable of two different orientations
  • 40 Quart Capacity
  • 9 x 16.8 x 15.2 inches, 19.75 lbs
  • Operates with a convection cooling fan
  • Temperature can reach 38 degrees below surrounding air temperature
The Igloo Iceless Fridge / Ice Chest Combo is one of the most unique travel coolers you’ll find on the market. It can easily be identified through its ability to be positioned in two different orientations. In one stance, it can be placed upright and functionally open just as a normal refrigerator would.

This, along with the adapter available to plug it into a household outlet, makes for a great, compact mini fridge. The second orientation is on its back, being able to open from the top and reach in.

A stance like this is great for vehicles and travelers who want to keep their produce fresh and cold. This dual orientation is all due to the cooling technology found in this fridge.

Equipped with a convection cooling fan, this Igloo Iceless Fridge / Ice Chest Combo is different from other similar coolers on the market. Other coolers use compressors to cool the air, while this one just uses a convection fan. Because of this, your internal temperature is solely based on the external temperature.

The fan allows the internal compartment to reach thirty-eight degrees below the outside air temperature. Because of this, it may not be ideal for those in warmer climates.

Something else to keep in mind is how temperature cannot be properly regulated when disconnected from a power source. This is because the convection cooling fan must be running to keep the internal temperature equalized. Once it is off, the temperature begins to drop, compared to a compressed compartment that holds the cold air in.

The Igloo Iceless Fridge / Ice Chest Combo is a unique and well thought out idea ideal for those who go on day trips or would like a multipurpose cooler and won’t need to consistently run their power source.


#6 Rockpals 12V / AC Plug-In Electric Cooler w/ Wheels – 30 Quart

At A Glance:

  • 30 Quart Chamber
  • 8 x 19.7 x 13.7 inches, 12.6 lbs
  • Keep temperatures at 45 degrees or higher
  • Equipped with convection cooling fan
  • Doubles as a food warmer
The Rockpals 12V / AC Plug-In Electric Cooler is a great travel cooler best for keeping drinks and foods chilled. If you’re planning a day trip, tailgate, or picnic, bring your food along with you and save money by using your own food.

Its lightweight plastic build comes with a retractable handle and wheels, so you don’t have to lug around a heavy cooler. With this, stop any back pain and hassle by easily traveling with a wheeling cooler.

Great for the environment, the Rockpals Electric Cooler is silent and equipped with an energy efficient thermoelectric cooling system. These fans produce little to no noise and therefore have no harm for the surrounding environment. This is one of the best thermoelectric cooler on the market.

Operating with a convection cooling fan, the internal temperature of the chamber is based on the ambient air around you. This cooler can reach up to 30 degrees below the surrounding air temperature.

This, although, only works until the chamber reaches 45 degrees. This, therefore, is not the best option for you if you’re looking to freeze anything or keep anything in a lower temperature setting.

The Rockpals Electric Cooler works by being plugged into a 12 volt plug and can be adapted to a standard plug. Again, because of the convection cooling fans, your cooler must be plugged in to function properly. This is not ideal if you have to stay somewhere overnight as it being plugged in can drain your car battery.

The most unique aspect of the Rockpals 12V / AC Plug-In Electric Cooler is how it can keep foods warm as well. There is a “hot” setting that you can switch to bring your cooler up to a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This can keep your winter foods, such as soups and drinks, warm and toasty while on the road.

The Rockpals 12V / AC Plug-In Electric Cooler with Wheels is great for adaptability and easy transportation, yet it has some downfalls and is not perfect for everybody due to its use of convection fans.


#7 Knox Electric Cooler & Warmer for Car with Wheels – 48 Quart

At A Glance:

  • 12 volt and standard wall outlet cords available
  • 48 Quart cooler capacity
  • 1 x 23.2 x 17.7 inches, 19.05 lbs
  • Uses convection fans to operate
  • Keep at temperatures higher than 40 degrees and lower than 130 degrees
The Knox Electric Cooler and Warmer for Car is great for small day trips to the beach and even longer road trips. Your food will stay chilled for as long as your cooler is plugged into a power source for.

Featuring a dual functional handle which allows easy wheeling or carrying of your Knox cooler, you’ll avoid transportation difficulties or muscle strain associated with heavy lifting.

Like all other convection fan coolers, the temperature inside the cooling chamber is reliant on the external temperature around it. This works until the internal temperature reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and then it maintains this until the device is unplugged.

This means that when unplugged, the cooler cannot keep things cool. If you plan to have an overnight trip, this is not the best electric cooler for your needs, as it needs to be constantly plugged in. Additionally, if you need anything frozen, the internal chamber’s temperature does not reach low enough to hold foods to this standard.

Great for the cold weather, the Knox Electric Cooler and Warmer for Car is great for taking winter trips! You can easily switch to the warming setting by flipping a switch on the top of the cooler itself.

Now, you have the ability for the internal chamber to reach up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit and keep sandwiches, soups, or drinks as warm as can be. No more worrying about drinking cold coffee!

The Knox Electric Cooler and Warmer for Car with Wheels is the ideal small car fridge for day trips where you don’t need to rely on constant cooling or heating abilities.


12 Volt Coolers / Camping Fridges – Comparison Table

  PriceCapacitiesFreezeSpecial FeaturesCustomer Ratings
Dometic 12V Electric-Powered Cooler, Fridge Freezer (various sizes)$799.80Multiple size capacities available from 27 to 93 quarts
Can freeze to -7 degrees Fahrenheit
Internal LED light frequency of 50/60 Hz
4.0 / 5.0 Stars
Engel AC/DC Portable Tri-Voltage Fridge/Freezer – 40 Quart$826.8340 Quart Capacity
Can freeze from below 0 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit
1 to 2 Ah/h Power Consumption
3.7 / 5.0 Stars
Costway 12 Volt/120 VAC Compact Portable Refrigerator/Freezer – 54 Quart$379.9954 Quart Capacity
Fast Cooling setting for 30-minute chilling from 90 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit
Digital LCD Temperature Display
4.5 / 5.0 Stars
Alpicool Portable AC/DC Mini Refrigerator/Freezer (various sizes)$199.99Capacity between 15 and 50 Quarts depending on model
Can freeze down to -4 degrees Fahrenheit
Three stage battery
3.7 / 5.0 Stars
Igloo Iceless Fridge / Ice Chest Combo – 40 Quart$153.0040 Quart Capacity
Temperature can reach 38 degrees below surrounding air temperature
Operates with a convection cooling fan
3.9 / 5.0 Stars
Rockpals 12V / AC Plug-In Electric Cooler w/ Wheels – 30 Quart$106.3830 Quart Chamber
Keep temperatures at 45 degrees or higher
Equipped with convection cooling fan
4.0 / 5.0 Stars
Knox Electric Cooler & Warmer for Car with Wheels – 48 Quart$149.0048 Quart cooler capacity
Keep at temperatures higher than 40 degrees and lower than 130 degrees
12 volt and standard wall outlet cords available
3.8 / 5.0 Stars

How to Choose the Best 12 Volt Cooler or Camping Fridge

If you are a frequent camper, traveler, or road tripper, you’ve probably come across the need for a food cooler or thought about purchasing a portable refrigerator. With the desire to eat fresh food on the road, these are luxuries everyone should have.

Coolers and camping fridges are the most convenient ways to travel or camp with fresh food. 12 volt coolers are portable refrigerators that are equipped with an air compressor to control the temperature of the air inside it.

car cooler freezer

This is the most effective way to travel with a refrigerator just like the one inside your house. This guide compiles a list of best car refrigerators available.

If you love camping or being outside, or just need to go on an adventure, these best 12v fridges will give you the comfort of storing food just like in your own home.

There is a lot of information you should be aware of when purchasing a 12V freezer and camping fridge. Many different models exist with various features, and some may be necessary for you while others can seem extensive.

To help you make an informed and educated decision about the best one to choose, we have compiled a list of key features and things to look out for when purchasing a camping cooler. Read through this guide to identify how to pick the best 12 volt cooler for you.

Compressed or Convection?

There are two different distinguishable kinds of 12 volt coolers on the market. One is the air compressed chamber, and the other relies on convection fans. Depending on your needs, consider them for their uses highlighted below.

Compressed

Air compressed chambers are best for extensive or long trips. The technology within the cooler brings your chamber up to the temperature you set it to lower to, and once it is at this temperature, you can unplug the cooler and it will maintain its chilling abilities. This saves power and makes living off the grid simple. Additionally, these work very well with solar panels for increased environmental friendliness.

A second reason you’d consider purchasing a compressed cooler is if you have items you need to stay at low temperatures. Most air compressed refrigerators are able to stay at temperatures at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes freezing and storing food a simple task.

Compressed coolers are best for those looking to go on long trips, such as van or trailer road trips. This way, you’ll be able to store food for long amounts of time without fear of using all the battery life in your vehicle. This will also lower the price you pay for eating out, as you can store frozen foods for a long period of time. These are the best car fridges for long term use.

Convection

Convection coolers run by a single or series of fans cooling the chamber by pulling and chilling the ambient air into it. These run by consistently being plugged in to a 12 volt or wall outlet, therefore are better for shorter trips. If you keep a cooler plugged into your powered off car overnight, it will drain your battery, so stick to shorter day trips with these coolers.

An additional reason a convection cooler may be best for you is if you don’t need freezing temperatures. Since fans use ambient air, they can only cool up to around 30 to 40 degrees lower than the current air temperature until the chamber reaches about 30 degrees Fahrenheit. If you need frozen food, this is not the best choice for you. For day trips, though, these are perfect as they can keep drinks and other cool things chilled.

A unique feature that convection coolers often have is the ability to warm things as well. This, often done by flipping a switch, can make winter trips more comfortable. Store soups, coffees, or other cooked foods warm for the coldest days. Many convection coolers can reach upwards of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Convection coolers are best for small, temporary excursions in cooler climates. Remember to keep in mind how these must be plugged in to a power source in order to work properly, as when they are unplugged, they cannot maintain the internal temperature set.

Orientation

If you’re looking for a multipurpose refrigerator and travel cooler, you should consider the way in which your camping cooler sits. Many have a single orientation which open from the side, but others can be dual oriented to open as a normal refrigerator does from the front. This is perfect for those looking to transfer these into a dorm room or home office space.

car cooler freezer

Extra Features

Both convection and compression coolers have additional features that you may or may not benefit from. Examples of these include LCD screens to display current temperatures of your device, WiFi compatibility, and added trays and compartment separators. Be sure to identify any extra features you may enjoy and differentiate them from ones that may seem like overkill.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

 

Question: Can air compressed coolers remain functional even when unplugged from a power source?

Answer: Yes, absolutely. It is safe for you to unplug your 12 volt cooler from a power source once it reaches the temperature you set it to. Because of the technology inside the compressed compartment, temperature will remain at or very close to the temperature you set it to even though it does not have a constant energy source.

 

Question: Can you use a camping cooler or fridge inside your house?

Answer: Most camping refrigerators come with two sets of cords – one for a 12 volt car port, and one for a standard wall outlet. Because of this, you can absolutely use a camping fridge inside your residence.

Conclusion

12 volt camping fridges and coolers are often necessary for those in need of food while on the road, or for people who just want properly temperate food while on the road. There are various factors you should consider while trying to purchase the best camping fridge for you.

Hopefully while reading through this guide you’ve been able to identify the exact criteria you want to purchase the best car cooler and camping fridge for you!


Thanks for reading The 7 Best 12 Volt Coolers and Camping Fridges Reviewed. We hope this article has helped you to discover the best battery-powered cooler or car fridge freezer that meets your needs and preferences.

If you have any questions or comments just use this Contact Form.

And if you’re shopping for other gear take a look at these related review articles from Outside Pursuits:

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R. L. Moore "El Tigre"

Richard M. aka El Tigre is an avid adventure traveler with extensive trekking experience throughout Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. In 1998 he weathered category 5 Hurricane Mitch on the northern coast of Honduras. He has mountain-biked, hiked and 4x4 toured extensively in Central America, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Mexico. In the summer of 2004 he lived among the Kuna Indians of the San Blas islands in Panama. Today, he manages a real estate investments company based in San Jose, Costa Rica and organizes adventure travel excursions to Costa Rica. He is a motorcycle enthusiast and enjoys sport touring and dual-sport riding. Richard lives in Arizona.

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