5 Best Car Refrigerators – Reviews & Buying Guide
Having a mini car refrigerator saves you a lot of stress and lets you enjoy the cool water, fruits, and other drinks when you're on the road.
These car refrigerators come in different sizes and designs, so you'll need to understand what's available and then make up your mind on the particular product that you need.
In this best car refrigerators review, you'll get a deeper insight into the different car refrigerator technologies, as well as a list of the top offers in the market and a buying guide to make your choice easier.
5 Best Car Refrigerators – Reviews
1. ARB 10800472 (True Compressor Cooled In-vehicle Car Refrigerator)
2. Dometic CDF-11 (High-quality Compressor Car Refrigerator)
3. Whynter FM-45G (Versatile Car Refrigerator with Fast Freeze Mode)
4. Costway 23499 (Large Capacity Car Refrigerator with Eco Mode)
5. Alpicool C15 (Deep Chilling & Affordable Car Refrigerator)
1. ARB 10800472
(True Compressor Cooled In-vehicle Car Refrigerator)
2. Dometic CDF-11
(High-quality Compressor Car Refrigerator)
3. Whynter FM-45G
(Versatile Car Refrigerator with Fast Freeze Mode)
4. Costway 23499
(Large Capacity Car Refrigerator with Eco Mode)
5. Alpicool C15
(Deep Chilling & Affordable Car Refrigerator)
1. ARB 10800472 – True Compressor Cooled In-vehicle Car Refrigerator
- Power: 12 V, 110 V
- Capacity: 37-, 50-, 63, and 82-quarts
- Dimensions: N/A
- Temperature Range: 50 to 0 degrees F
This ARB offer is a portable fridge/freezer for cars, SUVs, boats, trucks, and so on. It comes in four sizes, offering a 37-quart, 50-quart, 63-quart, and 62-quart options.
The 50-quart option measures 27x15x20 inches, it can hold 72 pieces of 12-oz cans and gets made using UV-stable plastic to make it one of the best car refrigerators in the market.
You can either power it using 12 Volts DC power or mains AC, and the package includes both power cords, so there's nothing to worry about. It cools from 50 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit and includes an adjustable battery-drain protection feature.
The major issue here is price because there are lots of cheaper mini car refrigerators, but this offer uses a compressor to lower temperatures and this makes it a real fridge/freezer.
2. Dometic CDF-11 – High-quality Compressor Car Refrigerator
- Power: 12/24, 110 Volts
- Capacity: 10 to 106 Quarts
- Dimensions: 21.3x14.1x9.2 inches
- Temperature Range: 50 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit
Dometic also makes top-rated car refrigerators and this offer is available in eight sizes, including 10.5 Quarts, 18, 23, 31, 37, 49, 80, and 106 Quarts.
The refrigerator features a high-impact and weather-resistant polypropylene cabinet, with electronic controls, LED indicators, and a soft-touch panel.
You can also run it on 12 or 24 Volts, as well as on 110 Volts mains AC. The package also includes a cigarette-lighter plug cord but it doesn't include a mains AC cord.
Another con is that you can get cheaper offers elsewhere, but this Dometic mini-fridge is attractive, comes with a 3-year warranty, and includes a 3-stage battery monitor to prevent car-battery drains.
3. Whynter FM-45G – Versatile Car Refrigerator with Fast Freeze Mode
- Power: 12V, 110 V, 65 Watts
- Capacity: 45 Quarts
- Dimensions: 18x28x20.8 inches
- Temperature Range: 50 to -6 degrees Fahrenheit
For those with a large family or group, Whynter offers the FM-45G as the perfect solution for on-the-road refrigeration with its 45-Quart capacity.
It operates as both a fridge and a freezer, with the ability to cool between 50 and -6 degrees Fahrenheit. There's also a Fast-Freeze function, which quickly cools contents down to -6 degrees, making it one of the best automotive refrigerators.
You can run the fridge on either the car's 12-Volt supply or on 110-Volt mains AC. The package includes both power cords
The issue here is that it only comes in one size and the warranty only covers one year. It, however, offers good value for larger groups at a relatively attractive price.
4. Costway 23499 – Large Capacity Car Refrigerator with Eco Mode
- Power: 12/24V DC and 110V AC, 50 Watts
- Capacity: 54 Quarts
- Dimensions: 27x14x21 inches
- Temperature Range: 50 to -4 degrees F
Here's another large-capacity portable refrigerator for those who want it as large as possible for a good price. It offers a 54-Quart capacity and uses a highly-efficient compressor.
Using 50 Watts, it will cool down from 90 to 32 degrees F in just 30 minutes, plus it also offers an Eco mode option to run on low power, making it one of the best portable refrigerators for cars and marine use.
It features a shockproof design, includes a digital control with LCD, and features a 3-level battery monitor to prevent a total battery drain.
The package includes both DC and AC power cords and adapter, plus a user manual and 1-year warranty, which isn't impressive but okay.
5. Alpicool C15 – Deep Chilling & Affordable Car Refrigerator
- Power: 12/24V DC, 110/220V AC, 40 Watts
- Capacity: 15 to 50 Quarts
- Dimensions: 22.4x12.6x10.2 inches (15 Quarts)
- Temperature Range: 50 to -4 degrees F
Alpicool also offers a range of mobile car refrigerators aimed at different groups and sizes. They start from 15 Quarts and include 22, 30, 40, and 50 Quarts.
You can also use them at home because the package includes both an AC and a DC cord. Then there's also an adjustable 3-level battery monitor that guarantees there's always some charge left for ignition.
It will freeze its contents down to -4 degrees F, allowing you the freedom to set it and use it as you wish. The included electronic controls and digital display also help to make it one of the best car refrigerators in the market.
How to Buy the Best Car Refrigerator
You'll first need a deeper understanding of how car refrigerators work so you can make a better choice during your selection process.
There are different technologies involved in making car refrigerators and the manufacturers also make certain fridges for specific purposes.
Following is a list of the most important aspects of a car refrigerator that you need to consider and keep an eye on when making your choice.
1. Type of Refrigerator
The first issue you'll need to consider is the type of fridge that you need. There are three major types of portable car refrigerators based on the way they function: They are the compressor, the thermoelectric, and the absorption refrigerators.
Compressor Refrigerators. This is the most popular type of refrigerators and they work by using a compressor, which is simply a pump that compresses a specific type of gas called a refrigerant.
The end effect of the compression, transportation, and evaporation of this gas inside tubes creates the cool temperatures inside the fridge.
Compressor refrigerators offer temperature control and they also cool better than the other types, but they often cost more initially and they have higher running costs as well.
Thermoelectric Refrigerators. With thermoelectric electric refrigerators, you get a system that's ideal for short-term use for cooling or warming because you can also invert them to heat food.
Although thermoelectric refrigerators are the cheapest cooling options, they are not very efficient when it comes to power consumption. So you need to weigh your options well here.
Absorption Refrigerators. This type is very similar to compressor refrigerators but they can only cool items to 30 degrees below ambient temperature.
Another downside is that they need up to 10 times more energy to work and they'll stop working once tilted a few degrees, so this makes them less ideal for car or RV use. They run more efficiently on gas anyway, if you've got lots of it.
2. Power supply
It's left for you here to initially consider what you need or what might best fit into your lifestyle. This will enable you to get the right refrigerator with the right design.
You've got three options when it comes to powering your mini car refrigeratior. The first option is AC power, the second is DC power, while the third option is gas.
Following is a closer look at each.
DC Power. Most car refrigerators are 12-Volt refrigerators because most car and RV systems run on 12 Volts. DC power here refers to direct current, which is also the type of electric power that you'll find in vehicles.
What you need to consider when running on DC power is your battery's capacity because you don't want your fridge completely draining your battery and not being able to start the engine afterward. A solution here would be a separate battery for the fridge.
Read More: 7 Best RV Power Converters
AC Power. Lots of 12-Volt DC fridges also come with an AC cord to connect it to mains electricity wherever available. This option also lets you use the box both in the car and at home.
What this system does is to step down the mains AC power to 12 V and then convert it to direct current. This makes the fridge run on all types of power.
Read More: 10 Best RV Inverters
Gas Power. Some portable fridges also run on gas but they come with their limitations as stated above under absorption refrigerators.
3. Storage Space
You'll need to consider how much space you've got available because this will help you to decide on the ideal size of a refrigerator that you should buy.
From the smallest car refrigerators to the large ones, nearly all manufacturers will list the physical dimensions of their refrigerators, as well as their weight and any other important information, so use them.
4. Temperature Range
A refrigerator is all about cooling food, so you need to pay attention to exactly how much cooling any refrigerator that you're planning to buy can do.
Mini car refrigerators are portable appliances but some are more portable than others. So, you'll need to consider just how much portability you need.
Some mini fridges come with casters, handles, and other features to make them more portable, while others are heavier and simply less portable.
Most of the best 12V car refrigerators come with everything you need while others come with less, so it's up to you to find your balance here. Helpful accessories can include a protective cover and transportation options.
We've reached the end of this best car refrigerators review and you've seen the top offers for different people and groups in the market.
As you can imagine, the choice is yours alone to make because there's no best overall portable car refrigerator. You'll have to choose what you feel best suits you and fits well into your vehicle and lifestyle.