With global warming increasing the Earth’s temperatures year on year, and more folks taking to camping sites and travelling in general whether by camper, caravan, 4×4 expeditions you name it, everyone should have some form of portable cooling solution.
What is a portable fridge?
A portable fridge is a portable cooling solution that works off of your 12V DC car battery, or even off of a 110 – 240V AC power connector, and it helps to keep your food and beverages cool during long road journeys or when on holiday in places where a fridge might not be available.
A popular type of portable fridge is the 12V power supply type, which easily plugs into a 12V charging connector port in your car, camper, motorhome or caravan. It can keep your beverages cool, whether the car is running or not.
There are also two main kinds of portable cooling systems to be aware of:
- Thermoelectric cooler
- Portable refrigerator with compressor
Although both run off of your standard 12V (DC) electrical system powered by your car, the thermoelectric cooler is a less expensive portable refrigerator because it can only keep things cool to around 40 degrees F (4 degrees C). Whereas a portable fridge with compressor system can cool things down to around -8 degrees F (-22 degrees C) in the freezer section with similar temperatures in the refrigerated section.
For most folks, the thermoelectric cooler type should suffice for drinks and a small selection of food stuff, but for bigger demands like keeping milk and similar products cool that might spoil easily, as well as potential for making ice, a portable fridge with compressor system will be a better option.
Also, a portable fridge may include an additional 110 – 240V (AC) power connector so that when you arrive at a camp site, you can plug in mains power to continue keeping things cool, or even keep ice frozen.
What is the best portable fridge to get?
There are so many portable fridges to choose from that it can be a little overwhelming to choose the best one. Depending on your budget, and needs, there is definitely a portable refrigerator that will meet both. Let’s have a look at the two best portable fridges, I say two, because I will recommend what I consider the best thermoelectric cooler portable fridge and the best portable refrigerator with compressor system.
Best thermoelectric cooler fridge
Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer
Don’t be fooled by its small size, this is a fantastic little thermoelectric cooler portable fridge at a tasty price. It can cool and heat, depending on your needs. It’s perfect if you need to keep a few drinks ice cold so you can enjoy a cold one (or two) when reaching your destination.
It comes with its own set of wires / leads for AC, DC and USB charging, so you don’t need to buy any extra wires. It is very quiet under operation and is suitable even to keep next to your bed side table while on holiday.
It’s super simple to clean since the storage shelf inside is removable, and with just a few wipes of the interior and exterior, it’s good to go for the next trip.
It gets excellent reviews on Amazon and comes in a variety of colors to suit your personal taste. It has a handle to make carrying it around convenient, and it is pretty light too when empty so can easily be moved around by one person. Check out the Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer here on Amazon for the current pricing.
If you need a larger thermoelectric portable fridge to carry larger volume, then you can also have a look at this one on Amazon, called the Wagan 6 Quart 12V Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer. It has the capacity to carry 9 cans, it also has a carrying handle for easy transportation and can also cool and warm as required. It gets excellent reviews on Amazon as well.
Best portable refrigerator with compressor system
ACOPOWER 4°F True Freezing P15 Portable Compressor Fridge Freezer
If you need a portable fridge that can hold a larger volume and cool to a lower temperature, then the ACOPOWER 4°F True Freezing P15 Portable Compressor Fridge Freezer is an excellent product which will meet most of your needs.
Due to its compressor system, it can cool all the way down to -4 degrees F (-20 degrees C). That is pretty impressive indeed. It can either be a fridge, or a freezer, depending on the mode you select. In freezing mode, you can easily make your own ice! No more need to buy ice from the shops for those holiday trips into remote areas.
I like the ACOPOWER portable fridge because it comes in at a much lower price point, due to it only being able to do either cooling or freezing. This is a good thing though, since mostly you will use it for cooling, and by golly can this thing keep things cool, even dairy products without any issues.
It holds quite a large volume of stuff, up to 15L (16 quarts). It can hold an impressive 16 tins or 13 bottles of 500ml, or 6 bottles of 750ml wine. That’s just to give you an idea of what it can hold compared to a regular thermoelectric portable fridge cooler.
It doesn’t weigh too much either (around 10kg empty), but will still need two people to move it around, especially when full. Carrying is quite convenient due to its comfortable handles on each side.
What I also really like about this portable refrigerator is that it has two drink holders on the lid, as well as a large tray area where you can easily place a plate with food, so it can be great for picnics too. Of course, the tray area can also conveniently be used to place other items for car journeys such as a magazine or mobile tablet. It has a USB charging port too so you can plug in your tablet or phone for charging during car journeys.
Once you arrive at your destination, you can plug this portable fridge freezer into a 110 – 240V AC plug point to continue using it as a refrigerator even while not in the car. It can also work great in your motorhome or camper in freezing mode as you may likely already have a portable fridge in your motorhome. It takes such little power (45W) that you can easily plug it into a 12V battery in your motorhome and some folks on Amazon reviews say it will all night easily with no discernible drain on the battery.
The only complaint is that the LCD display in Fahrenheit, but it’s not a major issue for me. This fridge freezer also runs incredibly quiet, you can easily keep it in the same room where you sleep.
I think for the price, the ACOPOWER 4°F True Freezing P15 Portable Compressor Fridge Freezer has a lot to offer, and it comes in much cheaper than most other portable fridges with compressor systems in its category. You can find the current price for it here on Amazon.
If you have a higher budget though, and need something even bigger, then I can recommend the ARB 10800782 Fridge Freezer – 82 quart, which can hold an astounding 120 12-ounce cans! Check it out here on Amazon.
It is also large enough to accommodate 2L bottles of soda drinks. It also has very comfortable handles for carrying but bear in mind that this portable fridge freezer is heavier than the ACOPOWER due to its size.
The ARB 10800782 Fridge Freezer gets excellent reviews on Amazon, and other Amazon customers recommend that the night before you travel, that you pre-cool your food stuff and beverages in your home fridge, so that when you put it into the portable fridge that it can immediately stay cool and its easier for the fridge to keep it refrigerated. I think this is a general recommendation in my own personal experience with all portable fridge freezers.
Whether you need excellent portable refrigeration or freezing, the above options should suit most of your needs. I think they really are the best portable fridge models and are suitable in so many different situations, whether it be 4×4 expeditions just for the day, or longer road trips in your motorhome or car to remote destinations, or holiday rentals that may not include a refrigerator or freezer.