Portable refrigerators keep your food fresh and drinks cold when you’re far from home. You can now equip your mobile home and RV with a 12v fridge. But the real challenge is getting a camping fridge that’s fit for your RV.
The portable fridge should work properly in your RV and have the vital features. But the market isn’t getting short of ideal alternatives.
In the market, there’re plenty of portable fridges, and you only need to choose the one that complements your needs. It should have good ratings and reviews concerning reliability, cooling functions, portability, durability, and efficiency.
Read to the end of this review to know how you can arrive at the best camping fridge.
Tips to Make Your 12v Fridge Run More Efficiently
Despite having a good portable 12v fridge, you still want to see it function efficiently. Get in touch with the following tips.
- Switch it during the last night before your trip. That way, you ensure the food and drinks are adequately cool, and the appliance doesn’t compete with other appliances.
- Put cold food and drinks into your fridge. That makes your fridge not to overwork while keeping the items cold.
- Keep it filled, but don’t overload. A camping fridge will run more effectively when full. Not overfilling ensures there’s sufficient flow of air.
Standard and Extra Features
Most portable refrigerators feature the following standard elements.
- Capability to function to an incline of up to 30°
- Internal LED lighting
- Floor drain plug allowing easy cleaning
- Low voltage cut off that protects batteries
- Lift-out organizer and dividers baskets
- Separate dairy compartment
Some fridges come with more advanced features, including remote readouts, digital controls, additional accessories, and WiFi apps. A good 12v fridge is a loyal companion for your recreational event or road trip.
These kinds of fridges are even friendlier since they can operate from a car battery. They’re also designed to cope with bumps and scrapes that you experience on your way. But do you know without proper information you can make the wrong choice?
It’s refreshing to know that an ideal camping fridge is dependent on your preferences. But that doesn’t discard the factors and basic rules you consider before purchasing one.
Uses of Portable 12v fridges
Similar to RV fridges, portable refrigerators are used in various ways. Regardless of their limited versatility, these fridges offer several options. For instance, you can choose your fridge according to your source whether you’re using DC, AC, or LP gas.
With that being said, the following are the 4 common uses of 12v fridges.
1# Road Trips
A road tour without snacks, drinks, and food is boring. You can envision having all those but lacking a suitable cooking system. It’s not arguable a 12v fridge should be your companion on a trip.
You’re not out of order to think that a camping fridge is a must-have in your cabin or when spending the weekend at a friend’s place. With a mini-fridge, you’re assured of something to sip or munch. A 12v fridge is just ideal for holding your food suppliers.
A 12-volt refrigerator is ideal if you’re in need of holding food supplies.
Trucking can be time-consuming and draining, and you may not go far before your stomach begins growling. A portable refrigerator is necessary if you’re engaging in a cross-country or planning to the truck.
You have healthy foods at your reach, and you don’t run out of that cold refreshment.
You often find ice coolers and camping in one sentence. Despite the issues that accompany ice coolers, a mobile fridge offers the solution. Outdoor events are also memorable and fun with something to cool your items.
With proper refrigeration, you don’t bother with a cooler filled with ice and water-logged food. Having a portable fridge means eating healthier even when you’re far from your house.
A dependable 12v fridge is among the largest investments you can make alongside your van. You want a safe place to hold the daily life grind during your voyage.
Choosing the Best 12v Fridge
Now that you have come across different types of portable fridges, you might have a rough idea of what to do. But shopping doesn’t come to an end there. Following are the 9 vital factors to keep at your fingertips when shopping for a camping fridge.
Exterior dimensions aren’t necessary since portable fridges are meant to fit into small areas. The space factor shouldn’t distract you since a portable fridge is friendly to spaces. Even as you think of outside factors, likewise consider inside dimensions.
Start by finding a good spot in your camper van or RV. It should be reachable to either an electrical outlet or gas line. Ensure you can open the fridge effortlessly, to reach the inside contents. It shouldn’t bang on the counter or against another door.
The storage space for the 12v fridge is just enough to hold the essential items. Depending on the fridge, capacities differ. Thus, you need to check for the one that ideally meets your needs.
If you’re camping or road tripping with the family of 5, think of a portable fridge that can hold enough food for all the members and the time or days that you’ll spend. When shopping, first assess your needs and personal preferences to determine the one to buy.
The apparatus cost is a vital element to consider. Ideal portable fridges cost between $500 and $1000. If you’ll need more features in a portable fridge, the higher the price. Always balance between reliability, price, and features.
If you’re on a budget, choose a fridge with only basic features.
Always being on the go, you want a fridge that’s easy to carry but likewise simple to install within a small space. You don’t want the apparatus that takes more space.
That’s in case you want to alter the RV layout, or you’re space for another apparatus within your limited mobile home.
5# Cooling Capacity
What do you need, a freezer or a cooler? A cooler will keep your beverages and food cold, but won’t freeze anything or prevent frozen food from melting.
If you are moving from town to town or camping for several days or weeks, you might need a mini-fridge that can preserve frozen food for long.
Consider the low point of the temperature and the amount of time it takes to hit that level when the unit is plugged into a cigarette lighter.
6# Installation Surfaces
The surface you mount your fridge is a vital factor to consider. But it depends on the kind of refrigerator. The absorption models, for instance, need a leveled surface to operate well. You may need to consider the mounting hardware and location.
On the other hand, compressor refrigerators operate better on inclined and flat surfaces. Planning for better installation surface averts mess and drama. If the fridge needs a flat surface, and your auto makes a sharp turn, for instance, accidental spills may cause injuries.
So you ensure the mounting points, and handles are sturdy to hold the apparatus firmly.
It’s a factor that you shouldn’t joke with, lest you’ll return in the market to buy another fridge. Identifying the durability may go hand in hand with observing its construction materials.
Your fridge should perform in certain weather conditions. That doesn’t mean you use your equipment in extreme weather conditions. But they should hold up well in cool and warm climates.
The element is particularly helpful if you’re fond of the compressor models. But always go for properly insulated fridges. Thick walls can greatly minimize the compressor load. This, in turn, ensures the fridge has an extended lifespan.
Also, zero into the outer parts. You may need to seek thermal covers that improve the cooler’s insulation.
If you’re attentive on controls, you may shop for models with settings and that allow adjusting. If you love controls, a fridge with display screens and digital controls can be your ideal alternative.
The models are, however, easy to monitor and convenient to use.
Features To Look In a Camping Fridge
When shopping for a moveable fridge, consider the features below.
Search for a mobile fridge with a minimal current draw, particularly 12 volts. The volt sign you see signifies the amount of time your battery lasts. It’s also the period your fridge will function in a parked vehicle or campsite.
5 amps are a bit high while 1 amp is too low. Bear in mind that temperatures in the vehicle increases fast; thus, your fridge will be working hard. It’s even worse when the windows are up.
Consider inbuilt battery protection, especially if your fridge is working off your starting battery. You can search for a model that cuts current at high voltage. Such models avert batteries from going flat.
Don’t use the portable fridge to deep cycle a regular car battery. It significantly reduces its life and also leaves you stranded. For regular fridge utilization, you’ll have to install a dual-battery system. You’ll also have to factor it into the whole expense of your fridge.
If you’ll utilize the apparatus at home, consider its effect on the energy bill and search for an energy-efficient model. Mobile fridges don’t need an energy star rating. They’re mostly designed for 12-volt use.
Thus even for the smaller ones, they use the big amount of power as full-sized fridges. Instead, use the bigger primary fridge and save the moveable fridge for the weekend.
Does your fridge have the right connector to the vehicle? If not, you’ll have to get one installed. Many transportable fridges have cigarette lighter plugs that fit your auto’s accessory socket.
But the plugs aren’t the best for applications involving high currents, for instance, fridges. They can as well unplug when a car hits a bump, thus switching off your fridge completely.
Sturdy mounting hardware averts your fridge from tipping over sharp corners or turning into a projectile during accidents. Search for strong mounting points that keep your fridge firm. Also, ensure the auto has the corresponding tie-down.
If you’re serious on outdoor adventure and you’re buying a portable fridge, you’ll thus need a dedicated mounting kit. The market has various varieties for most refrigerators.
Ensure the kits are compatible with your fridge and vehicle. You should also be able to attach or detach from the fridge easily. You may need a fridge slide to access the apparatus easily and a drop slide for an absolute breeze.
That’s mainly for a lifted 4×4 vehicle. Also consider shock-minimization alternatives, for instance, foam base.
To reduce compressor load, look for insulation and thick walls. When it comes to outer casing materials, metal is durable except that it readily conducts heat as compared to plastic. For extra padding, go for optional thermal covers.
Can your fridge stand against rigors? Thus, search for strong hinges, durable construction, and sturdy casings. A quality fridge can support the weight of a person standing on it.
Moveable fridges come with different sorts of casing materials. Thus consider the one that fits your application. Metal is robust and provides heavy-duty applications while fiberglass is impervious and resistant to corrosion; hence, it’s best for marine applications. Plastic, on the other hand, bends a little; thus, it’s good touring selection.
Did you know the compressor is the heart of the fridge? Thus, choosing a good compressor means having a fridge that services you for years. Search for moveable fridges with name-brand compressors, for instance, SECOP (Danfoss), Fuji, Waeco, or Sawa.
Evaporator and Vents position
Check the site of cooling surfaces and evaporators and determine the location of fans and vents. Good airflow ensures your fridge functions well. Thus, ensure they’re not obstructed in your auto.
Check control settings and how you can adjust them to sustain the appropriate temperature during various conditions.
Removable baskets make it easier to access items in single or deep-compartment. Go for baskets that you can clean easily.
A cover aids in keeping your moveable fridge insulated. Thus, it reduces current draw, performs more efficiently, and offers scratch protection. Check the available covers and ensure they don’t hinder vents, controls or access.
Confirm whether it’s a standard cover or must be bought separately.
Spare Parts Availability
Even the best fridge in the market can break down. Unluckily, it happens when you’re far from home. Look for trademarks with a good reputation, national distribution network, and after-sales support.
It means spare parts are probably readily available. Don’t neglect smaller brand names, though. Most of them offer excellent after-sales service and they even bend backward to get you back!
If you’re dealing with a custom 4×4, then you should add a custom moveable fridge. Going bespoke implies having the freedom to choose shapes, sizes, thermostat types, and mounting options. They enable you to suit your particular needs, similar to your auto’s other part.
A 12v fridge could be more accessible than thought. It also offers campfire bragging rights.
If you’re seeking for a trip cooler and multipurpose refrigerator, know the sitting of the camping cooler.
Most entail a single orientation which opens from the side while others may be dual oriented to open from the front like an ordinary fridge. They’re ideal if seeking to transfer food commodities into home office space or dorm room.
Whether compression or convention coolers, they’ve extra features and some will come in handy. Examples include LCD screens displaying instant temperatures on your device, added trays, WiFi compatibility, and compartment separators.
Identify the needed additional features from those looking like overkill.
Types of Portable 12v Fridge
It’s not neglect to ice coolers which have their roles. But if you’re seeking to chill drinks and food for an extended time, consider 12v fridge. There are 3 different types of portable fridges. Every type has pros and cons that are familiar to them.
1# Portable Compressor 12v Fridge
Compressor units are the most familiar portable models. The model consists of pipes and tubes and operates with pressurized gas that converts to liquid.
The liquid refrigerant passes the evaporator tube cooling the system. It’s the compressed gases that cool the medium. It’s different from thermoelectric models that pump heat away to cool the fridge.
It’s the reason compressor fridges are known as true 12v refrigerators since they use refrigerants. Alternatively, thermoelectric models are known as 12v warmers or coolers.
Pros & Cons of Moveable Compressor 12v Fridge
You can set these kinds of fridges as either freezers or fridges. Once you know the way to accomplish that, your chilling needs are met on the go. You may also choose to partition the dual-zone model feature.
It ensures the partition distinguishes cooling zone from the freezing one. You get an easy time to consider where to put perishable foods such as meat. More so, compressor units save energy and barely utilize battery power.
Indeed the rate of consumption usually is 1 amp per hour or less. But with regular fridges, the 12v cooler performs additional work after the ambient temperature becomes hotter. More work equals more usage of power.
If you dwell in warm climates, you might have to purchase an additional battery committed to your 12v fridge. It ensures there’s no draining of the car battery. The 12v refrigerators in the market today have battery sensors.
The sensors stop battery power once they detect a low voltage level. Compressor units likewise operate on leveled and inclined surfaces. It’s a merit that doesn’t come with absorption models.
Thus, there’s no need for leveling surface. Compressor units on the flip side may come with great function expenses. They’re even costlier as compared to other models. That’s in addition to the additional rates incurred in buying an additional battery.
If you’ll utilize a moveable generator to charge it, it implies spending more money. But it’s more convenient if you’ve got an option charging source. The units can likewise become noisy similar to ordinary refrigerators.
But some models get quiet after some minutes. But the noise level is manageable. Following is a quick recap.
- Dual function as a fridge or freezer
- Suitable for use on leveled and inclined surfaces
- Energy efficient
- Feature thermostats
- Considerably high costs
- Tends to be noisy
2# Portable Absorption 12v Fridge
Absorption fridges resemble compressor models since they likewise have a refrigerant gas; moving fluid. Both kinds of fridges apply refrigerants at low boiling levels. They also have the same models of operation.
In mutual cases, refrigerants evaporate during boiling. During evaporation, heat is drawn from the fridge to offer a cooling effect. But absorption fridges take more time to cool as contrasted to compressor fridges.
Pros & Cons of Absorption 12v fridge
As you know, absorption models can operate on DC, AC, or LP Gas. But they’re more efficient when they operate on gas. But with gas power, you’ll need to make adequate gas plans or get a place to refill.
Gas absorption fridges likewise require proper ventilation to function well. That being said, absorption models have downsides too. To start with, they use ten times power than compressor types.
Hence, absorption types aren’t the best to run on a car battery. But you can dedicate a separate battery for the same. You’ll also consider hot to recharge the battery. Absorption models cool items when temperatures aren’t lower than 30 degrees.
Besides, it doesn’t function well in very hot weather conditions. Before they function well, the absorption model will need a leveled surface. But you face the challenge of not being able to accomplish a levered surface. Below is the recap.
- Operates on 3 various power sources
- Optimal efficiency when working on a gas
- Needs leveled surfaces to operate well
- Consumes comparatively more power
- Doesn’t provide temperature control
- Cools up to 30 degrees under average temperature
3# Portable Thermoelectric 12v Fridges
If you’re searching for a moveable camping fridge for a single off utilization, a thermoelectric unit is ideal for you. The fridge is convenient for keeping items cool for a short period. Out of the three, this model is the most affordable. More so, it’s easy to link a thermoelectric cooler with the power source.
Pros & Cons of Portable Thermoelectric 12v fridge
You can use these coolers in reverse modes the same as warmers. Thus, you can make it warmer or cooler, depending on your preference. It’s the ideal option if you don’t mind keeping your drinks and food cold or warm for an extended period.
But you may wonder why a cooler isn’t the best option! That’s particularly considering coolers don’t cost much more than the two models mentioned above. It’s because of their functionality – they’re probably the least recommended!
To start with, thermoelectric 12v fridges are power drainers. A unit can suck between 3 and 5 amps. Their cooling operation isn’t the best, plus the user cannot control temperatures.
Thermoelectric models are also a bit noisy and worse enough, and they’re not ideal for keeping your food substances hot and safe. Whenever temperatures hit 77 degrees Fahrenheit, the unit becomes practically unusable. Following is the quick reap.
- Ideal for a one-day use
- Units can function as warmers or coolers
- Quite noisy
- Not useful when the temperature hits above 77 degrees
- Excessive consumption of power
- No option for temperature control
Reasons to Consider an Appropriate 12v Camping Fridge
If you’re a frequent traveler, road tripper or camper, you probably noticed the need for a food cooler or envisioned buying a portable fridge. With the need to have fresh food and cool drinks, you have to accommodate the luxuries.
Camping fridges and coolers are most convenient if traveling or leaving for the camp. They offer the most convenient way as having a fridge inside your house. If you’re fond of going outside or camping, you don’t have to think twice to buy a 12v fridge.
You have the comfort of storing food safe and fresh. During your research, go for the best brand names in the industry in terms of quality, performance, ratings, and affordability. When shopping for a camping fridge, you thus need relevant knowledge.
As discussed before, various models have different features, and while some are necessary, others are extensive to your needs. To aid you to make an informed decision, compile the list of crucial elements that you need most during the purchase.
Compressed vs. Convection
There Are two main ways to distinguish 12v fridges on the market – compressed and convection type. The former has an air compressed chamber while the later depends on conventional fans.
Consider their highlighted uses below according to your needs.
For long trips, air compressed chambers are ideal. The cooler technology adjusts the temperature set. Once it reaches the preference mark, you may unplug the cooler to sustain its chilling capabilities.
It makes dwelling off the grid easy and saves power. Besides, they operate well with solar panels for added environmental friendliness. If you need to retain your items at low temperatures, you’ll need to consider a compressed cooler.
Most air compressed fridges can stay at zero degrees Fahrenheit or below. That makes storing and freezing foodstuffs an easy task. Do you go for long trips on trailer or van? It’s high time you choose compressed coolers. Besides storing food for extended periods, you don’t fear about draining your auto’s battery.
You also save on the cost you spend on meals since food can remain frozen for longer periods. Compressed units are thus ideal for car fridges and long-term use.
Convection coolers operate by serious of fans or single fan that cools the chamber via pulling and chilling the inside ambient air. The units consistently operate while they’re plugged in to a wall outlet or 12 volts. Hence, they’re best with shorter trips.
When cooler remains plugged in your car the whole night, it drains your battery. Thus, stick to shorter trips with these convention coolers. The unit even comes in handy if you don’t require freezing temperatures.
Since fans utilize ambient air, they solely cool to approximately 30 – 40 degrees lower as compared to the present air temperature. That’s until the chamber hits 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
But convection units aren’t ideal for those in need of frozen food. In addition to day trips, they can keep drinks, among other things, chilled. It also has a unique feature of warming things.
By just the flip of a switch, you can make your winter more comfortable. Warm your coffee, store soup, and other cooked foods during the coldest days. Most convection units can reach up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
They’re best used for small and temporary excursions within cooler climates. They must be plugged to a power source to operate well. When unplugged, they don’t maintain set temperatures.
Unplugged Compressed Coolers
Even when unplugged from the power source, compressed units remain functional. Once the 12v cooler hits the set temperature, it’s safe to unplug. Due to the compressed section technology, temperatures remain close or at the set unit.
That happens even without a constant energy source.
Camping Fridge or Cooler in the House
Most camping fridges come with a pair of cords – one for standard wall outlet and a 12-volt carport. Hence, you can use the camping fridge in your residence.
If you’re fond of temperate food and cool drinks when on the road or trip, think of 12v fridge. Perhaps by reading this guide, you’re close to identifying the best camping fridge!
The importance of a portable refrigerator on cabin adventures, camping sprees, and road trips can’t be overemphasized. The appliances are also great for additional storage in outdoor events and RVs.
Now that you’ve reached the end of this review, you can start shopping for the perfect mobile fridge depending on your preferences and needs.