What is the best portable refrigerator? There are two types of these appliances: compressor and thermoelectric refrigerators. The compressor-based type is the most common and versatile. This kind of fridge provides more effective cooling, lowering temperatures much better than thermoelectric models do. In addition, compressor fridges offer more storage options and have higher capacity. However, they produce more noise and vibrations. The major advantage of thermoelectric fridges is energy efficiency as they require only a small amount of electricity. Besides, thermoelectric models boast quiet, vibration-free operation and generally are more lightweight compared to the compressor-based options.

Portable Refrigerators Compared

COSTWAY Car Refrigerator, 55-Quart Portable Freezer
Based on the compressor cooling technology, the freezer cools down to 32°F in 30 minutes. You can choose between an energy-saving ECO mode and a powerful MAX mode. The unit has a large capacity of 52L.


Dometic CFX28 12v Electric Powered Cooler, Fridge Freezer
With a weight of 29 lbs., it has a more lightweight and compact design. The unit features a 26-liter capacity and 2 separate compartments for cooling and freezing. Its high-performance compressor reaches -7°F.


Alpicool C20 Portable Refrigerator, Mini Fridge Freezer
This 20-liter fridge can hold up to 30 cans of drinks or nine bottles of wine. Made with durable material, it weighs only 19.8 lbs. The unit freezes down to -4°F, with low, medium, and high settings for battery protection.


Wagan 12V Cooler/Warmer - 24L Capacity (6224)
Designed with two temperature settings, the fridge cools down to -36°F below ambient temperature in half an hour and heats up to 140°F. It has a 24-liter capacity, a 7-foot DC power cord, and a heavy-duty handle.


Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer
For some $50, you get a super lightweight thermoelectric mini fridge with a 4-liter capacity. It has a sleek design and is available in 7 colors. The unit is Freon-free and cools down to 45ºF below ambient temperature.


YAPASPT Portable Thermoelectric Refrigerator
This collapsible fridge is made with a waterproof soft-sided bag and is a perfect choice for traveling. It holds up to 25 liters and has a 50 lbs. load capacity. Made with 15mm insulation, it maintains 60°F without ice.


Whether you're camping, enjoying some tailgating, or having a simple picnic, a portable refrigerator or a portable freezer can come in handy. It's one of the easiest methods of keeping food and drinks cool, and some are even capable of warming everything up as well. It does benefit you to have a good portable refrigerator, however. The best types can maintain their intended temperature ranges and are easy to transport. Below, you will discover more about portable refrigerators in addition to the top 5 models on the market.

What You Will Learn from This Guide:

How Do Portable Refrigerators Work?

As previously stated, portable refrigerators are intended to keep food and drink cool. Some products are capable of warming everything up as well.

When it comes to these types of refrigerators, various cooling technology is used. There are two primary technologies you will generally find:


This may be the most common type of portable refrigerator as it most closely resembles the refrigerators found in households. Because of that, these types tend to be the most efficient. You can run these types of portable refrigerators with 12V DC power or AC power.

These compressors are versatile, making them advantageous for almost all situations. It doesn’t weigh too much in the car either, so you can keep it plugged in during your road trip or camping excursion.

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Thermoelectric portable refrigerators rely on electricity to move the heat out of the refrigerator. They can cool or warm food and drink, but they are not as efficient as their compressor counterparts. What they do best is for one-time usages such as tailgating or other outdoor activities.

These types of portable refrigerators are generally compact and light in weight which can make it easier when transporting them.

Top Best Portable Refrigerators

1. Dometic CFX28 12v Electric Powered Cooler

The Dometic CFX28 offers flexibility as you can freeze or cool with the unit. There are even separate cooling compartments for vegetables and fruits. You can control the temperature directly on the unit or use the Wi-Fi app. However, there are reported complications with the app.

As for durability, it's built to last with stainless steel hinges and reinforced corners. It has low power consumption for use with AC or DC, making it great for solar setups for those living off-grid.

Pros Cons
  • Quickly cools items down
  • Easy-to-use digital controls
  • Interior LED light
  • A little on the heavy side
  • Compressor can get noisy

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dometic: Check the current price

2. Alpicool C20 Portable Refrigerator 21 Quart(20 Liter)

The Alpicool portable freezer and refrigerator fit well in your home or outdoors. It can run on 12/24V DC, 110V-240V AC power, and small solar systems. This is best for that living off-grid or those coming from a fishing trip and who need to keep their newfound catch cold.

It offers plenty of space as it's capable of fitting about 25 cans of soda. The plastic material is light and easy to carry, but take caution as it can slide around in your car.

Pros Cons
  • Change display between Fahrenheit and Celsius
  • Cools quickly
  • Energy-saver
  • Compressor can short circuit
  • Initial plastic-like smell

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Alpicool: Check the current price

3. Wagan EL6224 24 Liter Electric Car Cooler and Warmer

This portable refrigerator from Wagan is designed for both cool and warm items. The built-in light will alert you whether it's in warming mode or cooling mode.

With a 24L capacity, it's capable of holding up to four 2L bottles vertically, making it ideal for storing snacks for family road trips. It operates on a 12V DC for use in a vehicle, but it's also capable of using AC. However, the adapter is sold separately.

Pros Cons
  • Deep, spacious inside
  • Even cooling throughout
  • Less susceptible to overheating
  • Plug cable doesn't detach
  • Low-quality handle

Wagan: Check the current price

4. Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer (4 Liter / 6 Can)

With this cooler and warmer from Cooluli, you can easily switch between modes to keep items cold or hot all day. You can even select from five colors.

This unit tends to appeal more to moms who need to keep breast milk cool without leaving their bedrooms or office, and to college students living in dorms. Though it has a magnetic self-lock latch door, the seal itself could be better.

Pros Cons
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Near-silent operation
  • Comes with cords for home and car
  • Might cause condensation outside
  • Could benefit from being taller

Cooluli: Check the current price

5. YAPASPT Electric Car Cooler 25L 12V DC- Collapsible Portable Thermoelectric Refrigerator

The YAPASPT electric car cooler is a good choice for those going on a family picnic or camping trip. Designed like a handbag, transporting it is easy and stylish.

It keeps items warm or cool, and it has insulated pearl cotton and aluminum foil lining for thermal resistance to maintain temperature for a few hours unplugged. This also fights off mold and bacteria. It'll benefit you to pre-chill items beforehand though to get the most out of it.

Pros Cons
  • Easy to wipe down and clean
  • Simple to carry
  • Waterproof
  • Doesn't cool down warm liquids
  • Cord connector seems flimsy

YAPASPT: Check the current price

Expert Opinion: Isaac Harrison, Expert in Battery-Backed Systems

Isaac Harrison, Expert in Battery-Backed Systems

Isaac Harrison specializes in battery-backed and solar systems, with over eight-year experience with renewable energy. Isaac worked with Aussie Batteries & Solar in Queensland and today, he is director and co-founder of Melbourne-based Bunjil Energy.

Often people wonder how many amps that portable fridge or freezer is expected to use during their camping trip. On average, a portable fridge will draw between 1 to 4 times per hour depending on the outside temperature. So you can expect to use about 20 to 60 amps per day. When you run your unit solely as a fridge, you can expect to use approximately one to two amps per hour. If you use the device as a freezer, the usage will increase to about 2 to 4 amps per hour, although you can have a peak now and again of up to 5 amps in a dual combination as a fridge and a freezer. You can expect it to use somewhere in between around 2.5 to 3 amps per hour. Not only does the temperature setting influence the amps, but the size of the compressor and the fridge has an impact too. For example, a smaller compressor on a larger fridge won't work efficiently.

9 Best-Selling Portable Refrigerators Comparative Table

Products with a 5-star rating


Testing & Customers Reviews

We found reviews from real YouTube bloggers about the products from our article.

Revere Overland: "I've done plenty of trips with a cooler before and I used to think it was just fine. There was no way I could justify spending $1,000 on a fridge but things have changed. Costway 12v Fridge is amazing. It makes life so much easier. It's been really nice having a consistent temperature for my food. I also don't have to deal with ice and all the problems that ice brings. There's no filling this up every few days as the ice melts. I don't have it sloshing around. I don't have to dig my hand through ice to get my food. I don't have to have soggy food. I can also store a bunch of drinks in my vehicle and switch them out into this fridge without melting the ice instantly. And then finally this thing's about half the size of the cooler I used to have but it stores about the same amount of food if not more because I don't have to fill it up with ice in order to store food in it. Costway has a huge selection of different sizes you can get. You can start with what I think is a pretty useless 16 quart fridge and go up to about 120 quarts. if you get the 54 quart or less they're typically going to be a rear hinge design with a latch at the front and once you go over the 54 quart you start getting the large chest style fridges and a lot of those have the dual zone and you can set the temperature independently on both those zones. So you could have one side as a fridge and one size as a freezer.

One thing I really like about this design of fridge is that it's a single action to open it. So you just pull up on the handle and you can open the lid. There are some others from some competitors where you have a latch that you have to undo before you can open it which I'm not a fan of. Inside you have two sections there's the main compartment that is cooled all the way around which has an optional basket to go in there and then there's a smaller top section that is not actively cooled. That's designed for fruit and dairy at the back of the fridge you also have a handy little LED light so you can see your food at night. One of the places I've seen these fall a little bit behind the competitors is in terms of how consistently they hold that temperature. I have mine usually set to 35 degrees Fahrenheit and it does fluctuate a little more than I'd like. You're looking around 39 degrees on the high end and occasionally it drops down to around 30 to 31 degrees. While the compressor is cycling it usually doesn't have those low temperatures long enough to freeze and it's not really a big deal since the food itself stays around 35 degrees. That may be down to the insulation on these. I have noticed that the side is cool to the touch. It is definitely not as well insulated as the competition. They do offer a bag or an insulation bag for the 54 quart. Now that being said even though the insulation is not great they have a very low-power drawer. I ran this off my AGM battery while I was driving around Utah for several weeks and had absolutely no problems with the power consumption. You also have a low power cutoff on the back of the thing so that if the battery does end up getting a little bit low the fridge will shut off so you don't end up stranded in the middle of the desert somewhere.

One of the places these do fall behind the competition is with the features. Now a lot of the features that are offered by the competition it's just a gimmick. I don't need wireless monitoring of the temperature from my phone. I don't know if anyone actually ever looks at it. I just want it to stay cool. One issue I have with the power cord is that when it is plugged into a cigarette lighter for whatever reason it doesn't stay in very well. It does get knocked out quite easily. It's not going to fall out while you're just driving down the road but if you're moving things in and out of the back of the vehicle it can get knocked out. That is something you can solve fairly easily if you have some soldering skills and I plan on wiring up a more reliable plug for it. Overall any complaints I have about this fridge are just really minor. It's a fridge. It cools. You don't get any of the fancy stuff you get with the other ones but it will keep your food cold and it'll do it for a third of the price. And having this fridge has just been a complete game-changer. It's totally changed the way that we sort out our food while camping. We can plan these things well in advance. We can fill up with meat. We can leave the meat in the bottom and stay extra cold for extended periods of time. I was able to travel around Utah and Colorado for over two weeks and never had to worry about getting more ice, draining the ice, any of that stuff. I really recommend getting a fridge for over landing and unless you really want the fancy features like the cell phone connectivity this is the one to do it with."

The Best Adventure: "While we continue to make improvements to our camper one of the things we quickly realized is that a regular ice chest wasn't sufficient for the kind of trips that we wanted to take. In shopping around we realized that we wanted something that we could plug into our solar system and keep things cool for days at a time. While this wasn't a major investment we wanted to make sure we were getting the best bang for our buck so we had certain requirements that it had to meet first and foremost it had to be a compressor type refrigerator. We looked into the thermoelectric heat exchange coolers but they just weren't reliable enough for the high temperatures that we deal with here in New Mexico. Second of all and i'll say that this was my personal requirement it had to be able to fit a gallon of milk standing up. For a lot of years we had transferred milk into different jars and jugs and you always end up having it leak all over your other food or water leaks into your milk and it was just always a pain. The Alpicool C20 has an internal dimensions of 13.8 inches long 9.7 inches wide and 9.9 inches tall which is just tall enough to fit a gallon of milk standing up inside of it. In addition to milk this allows us to take luxury items like coffee creamer or heavy whipping cream. Taller items that don't normally fit in an ice chest will fit just fine in the C20.

The third and final thing was that it had to run off of 12 volts and use minimal amount of power so that we could plug it into our solar system on our camper. The power consumption on this is only around 50 or 60 watts which really isn't much to begin with. But even at that it's only while the compressor is running. The compressor runs for about 3 minutes every 20 minutes so an entire 24 hours worth of power consumption is only around 150 watts. One final requirement which is kind of assumed is that it had to be cost effective. We didn't want to spend thousands of dollars on an RV refrigerator which would be more than we had in the entire camper so far. At around 200 bucks on Amazon the C20 fit every requirement that we had. There are bigger models available but what I found is that when you get bigger than the 20 quart size a portion of it is actually a freezer which requires more power consumption and takes away from the amount of refrigerator space that you have. This thing has been working fantastic. I would highly recommend this product if anybody was interested in trying to upgrade their refrigerator or their cooler in their camper or in their car.

This fridge runs off of a regular cigarette lighter 12 volt plug so you could use it either in a camper or you could use it in your car while you're driving. You can use it as a freezer but again that uses a lot more power consumption and we don't really need to take anything frozen out with us when we're camping. You can fit quite a bit in this little tiny fridge. The advantage of being a compressor type refrigerator versus a thermoelectric heat exchanger is that you don't have to leave room in between the items. So you can really just pack everything down in there and as long as it's cold when you put it in it'll stay cold pretty much indefinitely as long as the fridge has power. We prioritize the items that go within our refrigerator like milk and eggs and things that we know will spoil. And then as we go once we get those necessary items in then we'll start putting luxury items in like the coffee creamer or even a couple of drinks if we have room left over. This is more than enough room for the necessary cold items for a couple of days. This refrigerator has an LCD screen where you can monitor the current temperature inside the fridge as well as adjust the desired temperature. There's other options and other brands available but I would highly suggest looking into one of these if you're looking to up your cold food storage game."

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Gear Bunker: "I've had a lot of good coolers over the years. I've used a lot of Yeti coolers and they're awesome. They store ice for days. The only downside to a cooler is the amount of ice you need to bring to adequately cool all your foods. The other downside is as the ice melts if you have food in there: bread, meat, cheese, and stuff like that, they'll end up in the bottom kind of in a soupy mess. Yeti does have some nice baskets that keep that stuff on top but overall the switch from high-end cooler to a refrigerator has been nothing but pleasant. The Dometic CFX3 75DZ is a pretty good sized fridge and I've got it mounted in the back of a Tundra on one of the Dometic slide outs.

You're able to set the left zone and the right zone to different temperatures. It's also Wi-Fi enabled which is kind of cool so while you're out on the road you can use the Dometic app and that will give you the ability to control each zone separately. It'll also give you warnings if it drops below a certain temperature or rises above a certain temperature. It's a pretty good size and the nice thing about this is you don't need to carry any ice so all that volume in there is food only. So you can stack way more stuff in here. And it was nice for cooking just being able to open it up and have fresh condiments, meats, beverages, adult beverages, and whatnot. It just worked out great and being on the slide makes it really convenient. So if you're on the fence about using a cooler versus a fridge I'd definitely look hard at a fridge especially if you're gonna be out for 2-3 days maybe even a week. You can carry weeks worth of food in here easily. It's usually just my wife and I but even when we have kids on a three or four day trip it's not out of the question being able to carry all the food on board."

Last update on 2022-12-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

FAQs about Portable Refrigerators

Is it possible to leave the item running 24/7?

Yes, it is possible to leave the portable refrigerator on. Many have claimed to leave theirs on continuously for months, if not a year. Read more...

Should you leave room in the refrigerator when running the cooling function?

Yes, it is best to leave some space around the cooling vents. This allows for better circulation, which leads to even cooling throughout. Read more...

Does it need to be plugged in all the time to work?

Generally, it is best to leave your portable refrigerator plugged in to get the most use out of it. Some maintain the temperature for a little while after being unplugged, but leaving it hooked to a power source ensures the temperature. Read more...

Will the portable refrigerator be noisy when plugged in?
This will largely depend on the model itself, but the majority of portable refrigerators make little noise. In fact, many sound just like a regular household refrigerator.

Can the refrigerator be kept on multiple surfaces?
Yes, a portable refrigerator should be able to function properly on hard surfaces such as wood, or soft surfaces such as carpet with no problems.

Benefits & Cons of Using Portable Refrigerators

There are ups and downs that come with using portable refrigerators:


  • Portability: One of the most obvious benefits that come with having a portable refrigerator is the "portability" aspect of it. Take it with you on an RV, use it outside during a camping trip or little league game, or have it during a road trip. Many can easily be plugged into your car's cigarette lighter. Having portable refrigerators with a handle makes carrying even simpler.
  • Keep cool on-the-go: Food and drinks can maintain their coolness when you're out and about with these refrigerators, taking the worry away about food spoiling. This even pays off after a trip to the grocery store on a hot day; you can fit some perishable items inside the refrigerator to keep them fresh.
  • Additional storage: Portable refrigerators even benefit you at home. Though many have regular household refrigerators, sometimes you need that extra space and don't have the means of purchasing a larger freezer. This can help those who are storing breast milk or medicine that needs to be kept cold.


  • Quantity limit: Since these portable refrigerators tend to be compact and space-saving, you're limited to how much you can actually store. Many can handle a good number of drinks and food, but don't expect to load them up with meals that'll last days.
  • Lack of temperature control: This all depends on the model you decide to get as some do have the ability to control temperature. Many models do not, unfortunately, which can cause items inside to get too cold or too warm. This tends to occur with thermoelectric refrigerators.


Portable refrigerators are some of the most convenient items made. Whether you are enjoying the outdoors with a picnic or a camping trip, or you need some more space at home or in a college dorm room, a portable refrigerator can become your best friend. It keeps perishable items at their proper temperature, whether that's cool or warm, and they are generally easy to transport.

With the above reviews, FAQs, and guides, you're sure to find the best portable refrigerator for your specific needs.

Other interesting articles about portable refrigerator

5 Best Compact Refrigerators - Apr. 2021 - BestReviews

Our team of experts has selected the best compact refrigerators out of hundreds of models. Don't buy a compact refrigerator before reading these reviews.

The Best Mini Fridge Options for the Home (Buyer's Guide) - Bob Vila

Consider these important features—and several top-rated recommendations—when shopping for the best mini fridge for your home, dorm, or office.

Tips and advices on YouTube

Top 10 Best Portable Fridge Freezers for Camping Outdoors

Cooluli Mini Fridge Video Unboxing and Review!


Add comment


0 #1 RE: Best Portable Refrigerators in 2021 | Buyer’s GuideTiff Gregers 2022-05-16 22:05
How interesting that you talk about how portable refrigerators work and what they're intended for. I am starting a new business this year.