12V Portable Refrigerators: Keeping it Cool at 12Volts

If you are a frequent traveler, maintaining the freshness of your food or drinks is a big deal. Cooling by dumping ice into a big box just doesn’t give you much control over the specific temperature in any area or corner you food gets squeezed into.

With a portable refrigerator, however, you’ll be able to keep the liquids you bring at the temp you want and not have to worry every hour if your sandwiches are floating around in a swimming pool of melted ice. You’ll be surprised at how little power one of these needs to keep running efficiently too.

12V Portable Refrigerator by Dometic
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What is a portable refrigerator?

A portable refrigerator or a freezer is a device used to keep food, drink, and other edible items cool and fresh while you are traveling extensively or you reside in small spaces like apartments, RV’s, or vans. A proper insulation system slows down the movement of heat and enables the refrigerator to retain the temperature inside. These refrigerators can be used in numerous places where a normal refrigerator couldn’t fit well.

Benefits of using the portable refrigerator

  • A portable refrigerator provides convenience to its user and can be relocated from one place to another with minimal efforts. Being light in weight, it can be easily moved by a single person as well. It can be easily shifted from the indoors to your backyard, swimming pool, or by the hot tub.
  • These compact refrigerators occupy minimum space owing to their space-saving designs. If you are a renter or traveler, a portable refrigerator is the best option for you considering the limited amount of space that will be available to you.
  • Office-goers can consider placing the portable refrigerator near the desk to store snacks and beverages. This way you can save your daily expenses on buying expensive snacks and have varieties of lunch every day. At your home, you can place the freezer in your mini-bar space to avoid running to the kitchen every alternate minute.
  • While buying yourself a portable refrigerator, you will have a choice for availing extra storage space for fresh meat, bottled drinks, and other frozen food items.
  • A portable refrigerator is energy-efficient as it uses AC or DC power making it equally compatible to operate on solar panel systems.
  • You can buy a portable refrigerator at a much cheaper price than a full-fledged RV refrigerator. Even if you are relocating, moving these refrigerators won’t cost you much.

Important factors to consider while purchasing a portable refrigerator

  1. Look for ‘Thermoelectric’ or ‘Superconductor’ models – These labels indicate that the portable refrigerator is capable of keeping your food or beverages cool and fresh. However, perishable foods such as meat cannot be kept at safe temperatures for longer period.
  1. Size – Consider your apartment space while buying a portable refrigerator and decide whether it will fit in the space. Large refrigerators that have greater capacity will occupy more space. You cannot afford to carry them with you on family trips.
  1. Two-way or three-way portable refrigerators – Two-way refrigerators consume electricity while three-way refrigerators can run both on electricity as well as gas.

A two-way refrigerator uses the same compressor technology as standard refrigerators and can perform well in hot cars and on uneven terrains. When the vehicle is not running, it can be operated with the help of a solar panel. It draws low current but requires regular battery charging. However, it can work well with solar energy too.

A three-way refrigerator, on the other hand, uses gas flow heat exchangers instead of compressors. It does not make any noise but also does not function as efficiently as a two-way refrigerator. If you travel in remote places frequently, a three-way refrigerator is the best option because LPG cylinder can keep your device running for weeks without the need of a battery.

  1. Does it make a noise? – Check the upper limit of decibels the portable refrigerator operates at. A refrigerator operating at 50dB is the best buy because it would not disrupt your sleep.
  1. Whether it is energy-efficient? – You’ll need to check whether the portable refrigerator uses AC or DC power or not. Using AC or DC indicates that the refrigerator is consuming less energy and can also operate on solar energy systems.
  1. Insulation system – Check for thick walls and insulation system to slow down the movement of heat. The cool temperature inside the refrigerator will be retained maintaining the freshness.
  1. Removable baskets – Removable baskets enable easy cleaning of the device and allow you to access things in a deep or single-compartment refrigerator easier.
  1. The position of vents and evaporator system – Make sure that the vents and evaporator system in your refrigerator is not obstructed by anything, because they require a good airflow for your device to operate efficiently.
  1. Refrigerator Cover – A cover is not just essential for preventing the device from scratches and dust, but it also keeps the portable refrigerator insulated reducing the current draw. The cover must also not obstruct the path of vents and evaporator system ensuring that they get free passage.
  1. Availability of spare parts – In case your portable refrigerator breaks down, you need to have the spare parts readily available. Look for brands that have a good customer service reputation and an online distribution network. However, there are smaller brands too that can provide a great after-sale service.

Whynter 45-Quart Portable Refrigerator/Freezer

Whynter FM-45G 45 Quart Portable Refrigerator AC 110V/ DC 12V True Freezer for Car, Home, Camping, RV-8°F to 50°F, One Size, Gray
  • External dimensions: 23.5″ W x 16.5″L x 20.5″ H | Net weight: 45 lb
  • 45 Quarts or 60 Cans (12FL oz) capacity; Adjustable temperature range: -8°F to 50°F; LED temperature display; “Fast Freeze” mode rapidly...
  • 8-feet AC power cord and 10-feet DC power cord; Two removable wire baskets; Insulated lid and walls; ETL approved
  • Power low indicator; Functions even when tilted 30°; Tough and solid outer powder coated steel housing; Drain Plug for easy cleaning; Stainless...
  • Car, RV and home use; Operates as a refrigerator or freezer; work with 12/24V DC and 110V AC power; Voltage power AC (115V/ 60Hz – 65W/ 0.75A)...

The best part about Whynter FM-45G Portable Freezer is that it operates as a refrigerator or a freezer cooling down your food or beverages somewhere between -6 degrees Fahrenheit to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not mistake this freezer to be a beverage type ‘cooler’. Carry the portable refrigerator along with you on a day trip, a major expedition, fishing trips, or campsites as well. Its premium quality and innovative design make it a one of its kind portable refrigerator. A standard household 110 Volt outlet or a 12 Volt power source like an automotive battery are needed to operate this freezer.


  1. Its powerful compressor cooling system along with an LED temperature display brings it on an equal pedestal as a refrigerator or a freezer.
  2. It is an effective and mobile solution for people who travel a lot.
  3. Its insulated lids and walls prevent heat loss and retain heat.
  4. Its capacity is 45 Quarts, and the two wire baskets are removable.


  1. Customer support can be lacking at times.

Dometic 50W 12v Electric Powered Portable Cooler, Fridge Freezer

Dometic CFX 50W 12v Electric Powered Portable Cooler, Fridge Freezer
  • Your purchase includes one cooler, one manual, one warranty card, one Connection cable for 12/24V connection, one Connection cable for 100-240V...
  • Portable Cooler dimensions: 28.5” W x 18.54” H x 17.9” D | Weight: 44.97 lbs | Capacity: 72 Can | Compressor reach: -7 °F (–22 °C)
  • Additional features: USB Port – 5V, 500mA | Wi-Fi connectivity | Drain plug | LED Interior Light | RCM certificate
  • Two separate compartments for cooling and freezing in any combination desired to be set - freezer/freezer, freezer/fridge or fridge/fridge

The Dometic Powered Portable Cooler uses AC or DC which means it is suitable for solar setups and other off-grid applications. Its ultra low power consumption capacity distinguishes it from other portable coolers and a convenient WiFi app allows you to control and monitor the cooling temperature in its compartment. This portable cooler performs the dual function of refrigerating as well as freezing as and when needed.

As the name suggests, it can be carried along anywhere and is extremely light in weight. It can also be added to RV, car, boat, or a truck. Its multiple power source system makes it convenient for you to carry it anywhere and its cooling compartment also has a removable wire basket.


  1. Suitable for deep freezing without the need for ice.
  2. This portable refrigerator is energy efficient.
  3. Serves a dual purpose of refrigeration as well as freezing.
  4. Rugged construction enables it to withstand huge loads.
  5. Uses AC or DC power making it suitable for solar operation.


  1. Electrical Components can be damaged in high-volt accidents like storms without surge protection

Smad 12v Refrigerator Portable Freezer for Camping 54 Quart, Compressor Fridge

Smad 54 Quart Fridge Freezer 12V Refrigerator Freezer for Car Motor Home Caravan Camper Van RV Boat Truck Driver, -0.4 ℉~5 ℉(Extra AC/DC Adaptor Offered)
  • FAST COOLING - Featuring a Germany high-efficiency compressor and CFC-free insulation materials, it cools fast and controls interior temperature...
  • MONEY SAVER - With 54 QT capactity this freezer helps to store enough food for long trip on the road, which can really save money for you. High...
  • HANDLES & BASKET - Solid handles on both sides make it easy to take and move. The removable basket devides the room inside and not only helps to...
  • FOR HOME & CAR USE - This compact car fridge freezer can run on DC 12V/24V and AC 100-240V with an external DC/AC power supply adaptor, so you...

The Smad 12v Portable Refrigerator is an environment-friendly refrigerator that uses DC inverter compressor cooling technology. It is most suitable for cooling and freezing food or beverages. This portable refrigerator also uses microcomputer control, button or key pressing operation and LED display to accurately control the temperature, indicate failure tips and temperature setting. Made of PP and PE with handles, this cooler is easy to carry along anywhere.


  1. Compressor freezer has ample amount of space for storing food and beverages.
  2. Highly efficient compressor system enables it to deliver a high cooling performance.
  3. Does not disturb your sleep and operates at as low as 50Db.
  4. It provides quick refrigeration ranging between 32 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.


  1. Insulation needed in hot weather climates.

True Freezing,Portable Compressor Fridge Freezer, 12V/24V DC and 110V AC (16 Quarts)

ACOPOWER P15 Portable Compressor Fridge Freezer, 16 Quarts
  • Capacity: 15L 16 quarts; Dimensions: 22.4*12.6*10.2 inches
  • Compressor Fridge: adjustable temperature down to -4°f (-20°c); 45W low energy consumption
  • Space saving: chilling without adding ice bags, save space
  • Work as cooler or freezer: either work as cooler or as freezer
  • USA company in 7 years Solar related business; Warranty fulfilled in USA

This portable compressor fridge with a capacity of 16 Quartz consists of an adjustable temperature system and can be set to as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit. It does not require additional ice bags for cooling purposes thereby saving space. Acopower Portable compressor Fridge can be used both as a freezer as well as a cooler. The freezer is DC powered; therefore it can operate with solar energy as well.


  1. This freezer is extremely light in weight and has handles on its both sides to facilitate easy movement.
  2. Its design ensures its safety while driving on road.
  3. It consists of a digital control panel with electronic temperature control and settings control.
  4. This portable freezer is energy efficient and consumes around 45W of energy. It can also be operated with the help of solar panels.


  1. The freezer system may not function as efficiently as stated in warmer weather conditions.

Smad 12v Refrigerator Portable Freezer for Camping| 54 Quart, Compressor Fridge Freezer 4℉

Whynter 62 Quart Dual Zone Portable Fridge, AC 110V/ DC 12V True Freezer for Car, Home, Camping, RV-8°F to 50°F, One Size, Gray
  • 62 quarts or 91 cans (12fl oz.) capacity; Adjustable temperature range: -8°F to 50°F; LED temperature display; “Fast freeze” mode rapidly...
  • Car, RV and home use; operates as a refrigerator or freezer; work with 12/24V DC and 110V AC power; voltage power AC (115V/ 60Hz – 0. 8a) or DC...
  • 8-Feet AC power cord and 10-feet DC power cord; two removable wire baskets; insulated lid and walls; ETL approved
  • Power low indicator; functions even when tilted 30°; tough and solid outer powder coated steel housing; drain plug for easy cleaning; Stainless...
  • Wattage: 75 watts. Net Weight: 57 lb. Internal dimensions: big zone: 13″ W x 12. 5″L x 15. 5″ H including a compressor step with 7″ W x...

Smad 12v Refrigerator Portable Freezer can be used both for household and outdoor purposes. This refrigerator is good enough for cooling as well as freezing your food or beverages. The usage of DC inverter compressor cooling technology makes it an environment-friendly refrigerant and enables rapid cooling. Use of microcomputer control, button/key pressing operation and LED display to enable this portable refrigerator to control temperature accurately and find tips to avoid failure.


  1. Big capacity movable storage basket.
  2. High-quality compressor runs stably with little or no noise.
  3. This device can be used in your car, boat or caravan and also at your home.
  4. Includes both AC and DC adapter making it highly energy-efficient.


  1. Loses temp quickly after shutting off. Better insulation system or cover is needed.


This Portable Refrigerator makes for an easy choice as compared to others. It’s perfect for day trips, long expeditions, and for people who travel excessively or even full-time. After using a system like this, you won’t want to go back to lugging ice into a cooler you can’t control the temperature on either.