Best 12-Volt Refrigerator Reviews: Camping Fridges We Love
Portable refrigerators keep your drinks cold and your food fresh while you are on the road. Equip your RV and other mobile homes with a portable refrigerator you basically can get anywhere. The real challenge to this is finding one that truly works in your RV and has the features that provide everything you are looking for in a portable fridge.
The market isn’t running out of ideal options. In fact, there are plenty of good ones out there. We have checked the portable refrigerators in the market today and selected a few with the best ratings and reviews when it comes to portability, reliability, cooling functions, efficiency and durability. Make sure you read until the end of this article to learn more about our recommendations.
What to Consider When Buying a Portable Refrigerator
With so many choices out there, you would want to have several factors to keep in mind that will help you narrow down your choices. Here are a few things you need to mull over so you can decide better which one to get:
Size. The first thing you should do is find a good spot for your portable refrigerator in your RV or camper van. It should have access to an electrical outlet or a gas line. Make sure you will be able to open the fridge easily, so you can reach the contents inside. It should not bang against another door or counter.
Capacity. If you go road tripping or camping with your family of 5, it makes sense to think about getting a portable refrigerator that can hold food for your size of family for the days you will be on the road. That means you have to assess your personal preferences and needs first so you can determine which one to get.
Price. Price is another important factor to consider. Good portable refrigerators can cost somewhere from $500 to $1000. The more features you want in your portable fridge, the more expensive it can get. Find a balance between price, reliability and features. If you are on a budget, go for those refrigerators that only have the basic features you need.
Cooling Functions. Some portable refrigerators have a dual zone cooling feature where you can freeze foods like meats and keep it separate from drinks. This dual zone feature allows you to keep foods with different storage needs.
Portability. Being always on the go, you would want to look for something that is not just easy to carry but also easy to install in a small space. In case you want to change the layout of your RV or you are making room for another equipment in your small mobile home, you would want the fridge to not take up a lot of space.
Best Portable Refrigerator Reviews
It’s time to discover what’s out there. Here are the products you would want to look for:
- Alpicool C15 Portable Fridge Freezer
- Whynter FM-62DZ Dual Zone Portable
- Dometic CFX-65DZ Portable Electric Cooler Refrigerator Freezer
- Norcold 1.1 cu. Ft. Portable Refrigerator
- SMETA Generic Absorption Portable Refrigerator
Here are more things you should know about these products:
This portable refrigerator is not just well-loved because of its compact size. Many people also choose this because it is affordable and reliable. It has a freezing capacity of up to -4 degrees Fahrenheit, making this ideal to be used not just as a fridge but also as a freezer. What’s better is that it freezes minus the formation of ice.
It is durable and sturdy. No parts seem to be flimsy, but it still has a good weight that makes this easy to move around. You will also like its high-density foam insulation material that keeps everything sealed in for extra freshness.
This is one of the most affordable portable refrigerators for mobile homes out there. If you are on a budget, you would want to give this a try.
It has a nice and solid construction. There are no fancy features, but it has straightforward design that can easily work in an RV. It’s also easy to carry around and transport.
The control panel at the top of the machine is easy to use. It offers the ability to increase or decrease temperature as per your preferences. You can also set it to battery mode setting if you want to conserve energy.
A porous heat dissipation vent is found at the bottom of the fridge that effectively dispels hot air to keep interior cool. You can also adjust the ECO mode to get the most out of your appliance.
If you take your RV often for off-road driving, you don’t have to worry about this tipping over. It can function even when at a 45-degree angle. It is also resistant to vibrations.
Some users said the temperature sensor should be located farther from the evaporator coil to prevent short cycling.
With a premium price, you are also getting premium features. This refrigerator boasts of separate temperature zones, so you can use it as a freezer and as a refrigerator in one go. If you tend to bring a lot of food that require freezing, you definitely should go for this product.
The inside has been equipped with LED lights to make it easier for you to see what’s inside your fridge even in low-light conditions. The inside also boasts of 26 Quarts capacity for the small zone and 34 quarts capacity for the large zone. It is great for bigger families who need to store more food and drinks.
This one has two separate zones for different storage needs. Use the small zone to store items that require freezing and use the large one to store drinks and other food that just require refrigeration.
It has a good build. Even when it tilts to 30 degrees, it will still function well, great for using it on the road. There is also a nice LED display at the top that you can use to adjust its temperature. You can individually tweak the settings for each compartment.
It has one of the most powerful compressor cooling functions, which is why it is capable of going up to -6 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature.
There are wire baskets included so you can keep your food and drinks organized. The walls and lids of this fridge are also insulated to keep cold air in.
Some said it is a bit heavy even when there are no contents. There are also isolated comments on how the appliance takes a long time to get cold.
With its 2.2 cubic feet capacity, this high-end portable refrigerator can provide the refrigeration needs of a bigger family. You can store up to 106 12-ounce cans, which is more than what other portable refrigerators can offer.
This is one portable refrigerator that has a digital temperature display for easier temperature adjustment. It also boasts of superior cooling performance even during the hottest summer days.
This works really great with its temperature that can go as low as -8 degrees Fahrenheit. It also has a quick chill function so if you need to cool down drinks fast, this will surely work.
It has a nice design. The latches are good, and the drop-down handles are easy to use. It also boasts of modern technologies such as the digital control with a soft-touch feature and a memory function that allows you to preset the temperature you want.
Many users said this is one of the most efficient portable refrigerators they have used. It also has a solar function so if you are looking for a way to cut down on energy costs, this is a good choice.
It feels well-made and even has an interior light to make access to the inside easier.
Some users said they wish it has better insulation properties. It is also a bit more expensive than others.
This is a good compact refrigerator for mobile homes that has a mid-range price. It can be used both as a refrigerator and freezer. With a control panel, you can easily set the temperature you prefer. It is made from durable, corrosion-resistant materials that will make this last for a long time. It also has removable handles that are easy to grip and has a reversible feature. The compressor is sealed well and has been equipped with insulation foam made from CFC-free materials.
This is a highly recommended option for small to medium-sized storage needs. It can be used as a refrigerator and freezer.
Design-wise, it is a good choice for mobile homes because it can be easily carried and installed in a mobile home. You can also expect it to last for a long time, thanks to its durable materials that are also resistant to corrosion.
Installation is also fairly easy. It even comes with an indicator light that signals if it detects any problems with installation. It also has a battery protection feature that prevents completely draining battery.
It might lack the space some people need.
This one looks like a refrigerator, albeit a compact one, with its front opening. It only works in cooling food and drinks and not as a freezer. You will like its quiet and efficient features. If you are eco-conscious, you will like this option because of its no freon properties.
It has a good capacity if you are only storing a few bottles and some food. It keeps the interior cool, so you shouldn’t have issues with maintaining the freshness of food.
It is also energy efficient. It consumes a modest amount of energy. Unlike others that might have a loud vibrating noise, this one operates quietly.
The inside has an LED light that makes it easier to find what you are looking for. You can also keep it clean with its automatic defrost function. The shelving units inside are completely adjustable so you can customize them to fit the things you are putting inside.
Some said it has a slow cooling function.
Which One Should You Get?
For the budget-conscious, get the Alpicool C15 Portable Fridge Freezer. You won’t blow your budget with this option because it is a very affordable choice. It also has good freezing capacity and can withstand a lot of rough driving.
If you are looking for one with a freezing and a refrigerating function, the Whynter FM-62DZ Dual Zone Portable will be a better fit for your needs. It’s also more ideal for people with more storage needs as this has more capacity than standard portable refrigerators.
If you are looking for something that can truly get cold and even has solar capability, get the Dometic CFX-65DZ Portable Electric Cooler Refrigerator Freezer. It has a capable cooling capacity and you can use solar energy to run it.
For those who might only need a smaller refrigerator, the Norcold 1.1 cu. Ft. Portable Refrigerator should suffice. It does what it promises to do and ensures that you have cold food and drinks all the time.
If you only need something to cool beverages and some food, the SMETA Generic Absorption Portable Refrigerator will suffice. It doesn’t use up a lot of energy and has a small footprint.
Tips to Make Your Portable Refrigerator Run More Efficiently
Even though you have a good portable refrigerator, you still would want to make sure it is running efficiently. Here are some tips that can help:
Turn it on the night before your trip. This way, you can ensure that your food and drinks are already sufficiently cool, and the machine isn’t competing with the other appliances you will use on your trip.
Put drinks or food that are already cold. This way, your fridge won’t work harder to keep them cold.
Keep it full but don’t overload it. Most portable refrigerators run more efficiently when they are full but make sure you don’t overpack the inside. There should still be ample air circulation.
What to Do Next?
Now that you know all these, get yourself the portable refrigerator that will work best for your needs. You can also head to this page for some more ideas on products and equipment that will make RV life a lot more convenient.