9 Best Portable Refrigerators
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Buying a Portable Refrigerator
A portable refrigerator is just what it sounds like — a lightweight, easy-to-move device that keeps contents cool with AC or DC power. These devices have specific functions, and in certain situations are immensely helpful.
Important factors to consider
- Intended use. Will this fridge need to hold a few cans of soda or enough food for a week? Will you use it driving across the country, or only break it out at a campsite?
- Size. Most fridges list their external measurements as well as their storage capacity, the latter in quarts or liters. Determine approximately how much space you have for the fridge and how much interior space you need for food and drinks.
- Weight. Consider who will be moving the fridge and where you’ll keep it when not in use to determine a reasonable weight.
- Technology. There are two common cooling methods. Compression fridges use refrigerant, like the big fridge in your kitchen. Thermoelectric fridges feature solid-state technology — no refrigerant, no compressor and less noise. Compression models are more powerful and allow for greater temperature control, but are also heavier and more expensive. Most thermoelectric models are also reversible, meaning they can be used to warm food as well as cool it.
- Cost. Compression fridges range from $500 to $1,500, while thermoelectric models are $300 to $500. (Smaller thermoelectric models are usually only $50 to $150.) Some models fall outside these ranges, including a few on our list.
- Power source. Portable fridges generally run through a 110/120V AC outlet using a standard plug. Those that use DC power normally need an auto lighter outlet adapter or a direct connection to a battery, For the most flexible options, look for portable fridges that work with both power sources. If your vehicle doesn’t already have an AC outlet, consider a power inverter.
Best Portable Fridge for RVers and Van Campers
If you travel in an RV or camper van, you’ll appreciate the added space for perishable food and beverages with the Iceco VL60 ($789). It’s great if you’re splitting your time between your vehicle and a campsite.
The 60-liter dual-bay storage provides a ton of room for food, and you can set each side to its own temperature. If you want, you can use one side as a freezer and the other as a fridge.
Another option for an RV or van is to simply install a mini-fridge. Those models will have the most storage for the dollars spent, but only a portable fridge allows the convenience of bringing it right to the tent or campfire.
Best Portable Fridge for Durability
ARB products are targeted to off-roaders, and their portable fridge reflects the need for rugged durable. Their impact-resistant, weatherproof Elements Fridge/Freezer ($1,650) features a stainless steel body with anodized aluminum latches.
It also has a touch-pad controlled magnetic lock, padlock recess and an optional bolt-down mounting kit, so it won’t disappear from the truck bed while you’re in the store. With 63 quarts of storage and cooling range to 0 F, it can handle just about any chilling required.
Best Battery-Powered Combo Portable Fridge
If your campsite will be far from your vehicle, you’ll need a battery to keep your portable fridge humming. The most complete package? The Dometic CFX3 75DZ ($1,400) with the Dometic PLB40 ($850) lithium-ion battery pack.
The battery pack provides enough charge to run the fridge for several days, and the fridge’s massive 80 quart storage capacity means you can keep a lot of perishable food and drinks cold. This is also one of the most powerful fridges on this list, cooling down to 7 F.
But if you’re thinking of taking it on a hike, keep the weight in mind. At 61 pounds for the cooler and another 16 pounds for the battery, it’s a lot to take off trail, even before you factor in the food and drinks.
Best Portable Fridge for Tailgaters
Tailgaters normally have easy access to their vehicles and don’t need the storage capacity of a dedicated RV fridge. The Coleman PowerChill ($150) delivers terrific cooling for short periods, with 40 quarts of space to store your tailgate feast.
The generous 8-ft. power cord with a 12V plug should reach your vehicle with no trouble, and this model can be used as a chest cooler or upright mini-fridge. The door can even be mounted on the left or right, ensuring easy access.
Thermoelectric technology is a particularly great choice for tailgaters. These fridges are far more affordable, and can even act as warming ovens to heat up side dishes on chilly days.
Note that outside temperature limits how much thermoelectric fridges can cool or heat. The Coleman PowerChill stays up to 40 F above or below the surrounding temperature. So to keep food fresh on a 95 F day, you’ll need to supplement the process with some freezer packs.
Best Portable Fridge for Cosmetics and Skincare
Portable fridges also can store cosmetics, skincare or refrigerated medications. Unfortunately, many of these fridges see massive markups as soon as you add “skincare” to their name or description.
Instead, consider the Personal Chiller LED Lighted Mini-Fridge ($32). This thermoelectric cooler/heater offers the same dimensions and lighted mirror face as the skincare models at half the price. It ships with AC and DC power cords to make travel easier.
Best Budget Small Portable Fridge
The AstroAI Mini Fridge ($46) four-liter capacity may sound small, but it’s enough for a six-pack of drinks or bundle of sandwiches. It can also store skincare products, but lacks the light strip or mirrored surface of the Personal Chiller. As with other thermoelectric models, it can run hot or cold.
Best Smart Portable Fridge
The Bodega 36L fridge/freezer ($306) features two 19-quart bays. Each can be separately controlled, or the middle panel can be removed to create one single storage bay. The cooler can be chilled down to 32 F, with all controls adjustable through the smartphone app. It comes with a one-year warranty.
Best Large Capacity Portable Fridge
For a 64-quart version of the previous Bodega device, check out the BO-T60 ($408). It’s not the biggest fridge on this list. But at about one-third the cost of the other large models, it’s the best balance of size and price we found.
Just like the smaller version, it’s controlled by the smartphone app. It comes with AC and DC power cords, as well as a discrete LED light for nighttime fridge raids.
Best for Low Temperature Storage
The F40C4TMP Portable Refrigerator ($250) with 20-quart capacity can bring its contents down to minus 7 F. That’s the same temperature reached by Dometic’s CFX3 75DZ, but the F40C4TMP does it for around $1,200 less. The smaller size also comes win at 26 pounds, making it easier to lift out of trunks and back seats.
All prices and links were current as of publication.