Never send an icebox to do a refrigerator’s job. Imagine going on a nice summer trip and opening up a box full of floating beers in room-temperature water. Way to dampen the mood! A portable refrigerator would never do that to you. Sure, it’s a pricey investment, but definitely more convenient than constantly having to change out the ice in a cooler. Today’s portable coolers and refrigerators are built to last and withstand rocky roads and long drives too.
If you plan on going on a long road trip, a portable fridge to keep your food and drinks cool would be ideal. They come in varying capacities depending on what you need and may also come with a built-in freezer too. Family BBQ or solo camping trip — there’s a portable fridge for it. Plus, we even found some that aren’t noisy, are energy efficient and have fast-freezing abilities! In this article, we want to share with you our favourite picks from the bunch of portable fridges out in the market. Finding the right fridge for you might sound like a lot of work, so we’d like to extend a helping hand. Hopefully, one of them becomes your new handy buddy on long trips out. Let’s get started!
BougeRV 12V 30 Quart Portable Refrigerator
- The BougeRV 30 Quart will get down to 32F in only 16 minutes.
- ECO mode to save energy. The BougeRV 30 Quart Portable fridge uses less than 45W in its ECO mode.
- Charging with 12 or 24V DC power supplies.
- Multi-stage charging to prevent battery drainage.
- The BougeRV 30 Quart does require a power source instead of being a stand-alone unit.
- Limited to 30 quarts of storage.
Dometic CFX3 Portable Refrigerator and Freezer
- Heavy-duty durable frame
- Aluminum handles
- VMSO3 compressor for fast freezing & cooling
- Smartapp assists in temperature control and record of usage history
- Three-stage battery protection system
- Roomy compartment for maximum storage
Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer
- Fitted with an energy-saving cooling chip
- Energy efficient
- Comes with AC, DC & USB power cords
- Top handle for ease of portability
- Door isn’t secure, may open while being carried around
The Best Portable Refrigerators in 2023
If our picks don’t interest you or shipping isn’t available where you are located, we’ve crafted a simple guide to aid you in the search for the right portable refrigerator. Trust us, finding the right product can get dry really quickly, so hopefully, this alleviates the process for you!
Size & capacity depends on the occasion you require a portable fridge for. A solo camping trip definitely calls for a smaller and more lightweight fridge, while a family fishing trip might need a bigger, heavy-duty one. Sizes may be hard to understand, especially when sometimes it’s listed using the Quart unit instead of Litres. In our article, we’ve made sure to indicate the litre equivalent of listings that use quart. But if you need more help visualising the capacity, here’s a general comparison using regular canned drinks.
Here’s the thing — better insulation means longer cooling and longer cooling means your fridge buddy won’t have to work as hard to keep things cold. Great insulative layers also means less power consumption, which is always a great thing especially when you’re going off the grid for a longer time. Casing also plays a vital role in insulation, which brings us to our next point.
2. Durable Housing
Metal housing may mean higher durability, but could also prevent proper insulation. If so, perhaps investing in a bag with insulative materials could solve this problem.
Besides preventing excessive heat gain, the outer casing of the fridge is imperative in protecting it during terraneous journeys — both land and sea. A portable fridge of top quality would be able to take the weight of someone standing or sitting on it. The three most common materials used are metal, plastic and fibreglass; which each have benefits depending on the purpose of your trip. Plastic generally is durable to withstand most situations, metal is the next strongest material, and fibreglass is the strongest and the most resistant to scratches and damage.
The compressor is the most important part of any fridge. A good one would mean longevity and efficiency. Basically, it is what keeps your contents cool and/or frozen. The presence of a compressor is what sets it apart from a regular ice box.
A plus point would be that it emits little to no noise when functioning. The last thing you need is a buzzing sound while you drive.
It’s necessary to check that your portable cooler comes with an appropriate connector or power cord that fits your vehicle. Low quality cords tend to easily unplug themselves during rough rides, so you might have to look into investing in one or getting an adapter to ensure you don’t accidentally drain too much power from your car’s battery.
Additional accessories you could get include an insulative cover, bands to strap your fridge down, or a sliding-drawer device structure to mount your fridge on, and to easily pull it out of the back of your truck when you need to use it. There are also metal slide structures you can attach to the bottom of your portable fridge for smoother portability.
Whether you’re an avid off-roader or someone who’s on the road a lot, a good portable fridge can really make the difference. A good tip? Fridges with great insulation will use less power. No doubt that there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to searching for the right portable refrigerator for you — it all boils down to what you intend to use the fridge for. You have to be prepared with information like temperatures of the areas you intend to go to, how long you’ll be off the grid and the food you have to bring.
Hopefully, this article has helped you out in your search and that it has provided you with useful information on portable fridges.
These refer to two main categories of portable fridges. A two-way portable fridge runs on a compressor type of energy while a three-way fridge runs on absorption. A compressor is the same as what regular refrigerators use — in a two-way fridge, it can run on 12V battery or main electrical sources. This means that you can use your car or truck’s battery without worry about sucking your vehicle dry of its energy. Three-way fridges can do all of the aforementioned with an addition to running gas. Most campers rely on three-way fridges during longer camping trips due to the long-lasting energy three-way refrigerators run on (lasts for a couple of weeks). Plus, being powered by gas produces less noise too.
We highly recommend freezing your frozen items before placing them in your portable fridge before you depart for your trip. While some portable refrigerators come with a freezer compartment, it takes a while to freeze or cool up items. Hence, come prepared, and you will save more electrical energy and literal energy when you’re out there.
Instead of ice, a portable fridge has a refrigerant, which is either a gas or liquid that is good at absorbing all of the heat from the fridge’s content. The compressor takes all of that warm refrigerant, pushes it through a condenser, cooling the refrigerant at a very high pressure, creating cooler air to circulate inside the fridge.