best 12-volt refrigerator

The 15 Best 12-Volt Refrigerators For RV Camping

Chris Coleman

Having a portable 12-volt refrigerator allows you to keep your food & beverages cold and fresh for extended periods. These 12V fridge freezers are great for camping, off-roading and will add some extra storage space in your RV for longer trips off the grid.

When you’re in the market for a new portable refrigerators for RV, you’ll quickly find there are A LOT of options out there. That’s why we put together this list of the best 12 volt portable refrigerator on the market. We’ve spent hundreds of hours researching and testing to narrow this list down to the very best of the best.

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn everything any RV owner needs to know about 12 volt refrigerator cooler including the benefits, the different types, most important buying factors, and a handpicked list of the very best 12-volt refrigerator models and brands on the current market based on reviews by professionals and full-time RVers.

best 12-volt refrigerator

Best 12V Refrigerators Comparison Chart

NoTop-Rated 12V RefrigeratorsPricesOur Ratings
1Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric - Best of The Best$****
2Dometic CFX28 - Editor's Choice$$$$*****
3Alpicool C20 - Editor's Choice$$*****
4ARB Portable$$$$$*****
5Whynter FM-45G$$$****
6Koolatron P27 Voyager$****
7Ausranvik APR-25D$$*****
8Costway Electric$$****
9Dometic CF-025$$$$****
10Engel MR040F-U1$$$$*****
11Dometic TC21$$***
12Dometic CF18$$$****
13Norcold NRF30$$$$***
14Cho Power Sports Portable$$****
15Koolatron P20$*****

12-Volt Refrigerator Basics

What is it?

In layman’s terms, a 12V fridge is a mini-fridge engineered and built for mobile environments like boats, trucks, recreational vehicles and so on. Thus, 12-volt refrigerators prove to be both light and compact.

How does it work?

12-volt refrigerators work similarly to household models as all of them use the aerosol principle. Still, in 12V fridges, the gases continue to circulate inside the coils instead of evaporating.

Why buy a 12-Volt cooler for RV camping?

  • Save space: Space is certainly a luxury on recreational vehicles and mini 12V coolers can be placed in narrow spots. That is why if you want to conserve available space inside your rig, you should pick up a 12-volt cooler.
  • Keep foods and beverages cool: With a 12V cooler by your side, you could effortlessly keep all of your snacks and drinks cool while traveling.
  • Charge electronics: Plenty of 12-volt coolers pack USB ports that allow them to charge phones, tablets, laptops and so on. As a result, if necessary, you may use your cooler to charge your electronic devices.

Reviews On Best 12-Volt Refrigerators

To make it a bit easier to find the best 12V refrigerator, we’ve listed 15 products with highest ratings on the market today.

Each model will come with highlighted features and both pros and cons so that you can easily compare and pick out the one most suitable for your preferences and wallet.

1. Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler – Best Of The Best

Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler
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Specifications:

  • Storage Capacity: 26 Quarts
  • Dimensions: 18.2 x 13.1 x 15.5 Inches
  • Weight: 10 Pounds

Why This Is The Best:

Able to keep its contents cool and dry without creating ice, Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler is quite convenient to use. With a combination of convection cooling and circulating fan, everything stored inside stays equally cool. Additionally, packing a brushless motor, the 12-volt portable refrigerator made by Igloo runs quietly so it rarely disturbs its owner. Because of that, Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler is known as the best 12-volt refrigerator on the market for RVers that desire a tranquil outdoor experience.

As it’s constructed using polypropylene, the Igloo 12V fridge is pretty light compared to the average refrigerators for RV. Also, featuring a swing-up handle and two molded-in side handles, Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler allows RVing enthusiasts to relocate it quickly and effortlessly. During transport, the curved back of the refrigerator from Igloo would ergonomically hug your side. Therefore, you should feel comfortable even if you have to carry an Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler for extended periods of time.

The power cord of Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler could be plugged in typical 12V outlets in RV which means setting it up is a breeze. Moreover, the cord is long so the fridge from Igloo can be put some distance away from the power outlets. Being highly compact, Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler easily fits into tight spaces in recreational vehicles.

We recently went on a long road trip, and purchased this cooler so we could have our refrigerated foods close at hand and not have to worry about buying ice and draining it after the ice melted. This cooler worked perfectly, both in our hotel rooms and in the car, keeping our food and drinks cold and refreshing. When traveling, it was on the floor behind the driver’s seat, and the noise of the fan running was audible, but barely. It runs very quietly, and keeps its contents consistently cold. Well worth the money, and my wife and I are very pleased with its performance.

Shared by Jake S.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Reasonable capacity
  • Portability is top-notch

Cons:

  • Some units arrive with flawed hinges
  • A couple of users report melting cords

2. Dometic CFX28 – Editor’s Choice

Dometic CFX28 12v Electric Powered Cooler, Fridge Freezer
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Specifications:

  • Storage Capacity: 27 Quarts
  • Dimensions: 16.7 x 24.4 x 13.4 Inches
  • Weight: 29.0 Pounds

Why It’s An Editor’s Choice:

Loaded with heavy-duty details such as stainless steel hinges, reinforced corners and a solid lid lining, Dometic CFX28 gives a good account of itself in a lot of conditions. Moreover, the refrigerator from Dometic is fairly compact so finding space for it in recreational vehicles is a simple matter. Since CFX28 is engineered to run on AC as well as DC power, it could be used everywhere you go. Dometic CFX28 has a low power draw which leads to extended runtime and lessened expense.

Besides producing ice for drinks, CFX28 is free of ice and that eliminates the hassle of dislodging items trapped by ice. Also, the inclusion of a drain plug means you don’t have to spend too much time and effort to clean the refrigerator made by Dometic. Unlike traditional refrigerators for RV, CFX28 of Dometic features a USB charging port for electronics so you can use it to recharge your tablets, phones and so on if necessary. That is why CFX28 is considered to be a must-have for modern RVing.

About noise level, the refrigerator of Dometic runs silently so if you like to keep things quiet inside your rig, you should pick it up. Though CFX28 is kind of costly for an RV fridge, it’s a good buy.

Perfect fridge for #Vanlife

I’ve been working seasonally out of my pickup truck for years, conducting biological surveys in the American desert. A few years back I upgraded my kitchen system with a shiny white Yeti cooler, and thought that was a game changer. Ice lasted for days! Still, the ice has the be replaced every couple days in the hottest months, and I grew envious of coworkers who enjoyed cold Lacroix out of their fancy 12V fridges, and evenings spent reading rather than driving to the store for more ice. Finally, my moment came and I decided to upgrade again. I bought the Dometic 50CFX for my truck, as well as a 100W Renogy solar panel for the roof and a deep cycle battery to hold electricity, so my fridge will run through the night. The interior is a little smaller than I expected (the compressor takes up some space) but the exterior dimensions are the same as my old 50 quart Yeti. I can carry more vegetables and Lacroix than ever, without that wet block of ice taking up half the space! I’ve been in the desert for a month now and have zero regrets spending the big $$ on this new fridge. It is quiet, keeps a consistent temperature, and requires pretty much zero maintenance. Now people are envious of me, and when they compliment my sweet off-grid solar-charged fridge, I smile and offer them an ice cold Lacroix.

Shared by Elizabeth C. Wolff

Pros:

  • High endurance
  • Useful storage dividers
  • Outstanding battery protection

Cons:

  • Control module needs to be overhauled
  • Complaints about fluctuations in temperature show up intermittently

3. Alpicool C20 – Editor’s Choice

Alpicool C20 Portable Refrigerator
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Specifications:

  • Storage Capacity: 21 Quarts
  • Dimensions: 22.4 x 12.6 x 12.6 Inches
  • Weight: 22.1 Pounds

Why It’s An Editor’s Choice:

Light but rugged, Alpicool C20 proves itself to be an excellent companion for RVers that travel on a regular basis. Designed to resist vibration, C20 is well-protected against bumps and hits so it holds together rather well in use. Besides that, the 12V fridge freezer of Alpicool could work on inclines up 45 degrees and that is a big plus in plenty of camping settings. Since Alpicool C20 has handles on both sides, moving it from spot to spot is a walk in the park.

With a sealed body and high-density foam insulation, the refrigerator of Alpicool is capable of keeping your snacks and drinks cool in hot climates. As for power, C20 runs on vehicle batteries and it boasts three protection levels (low, med and high) to keep the batteries from being depleted. That is why you don’t have to worry about C20 of Alpicool exhausting the battery bank of your rig. Through the user-friendly digital control panel, you can change the temperature to your liking.  

C20 arrives fully assembled and it’s accompanied by a DC power cord so you could start using it immediately. The included owner’s manual should let you master the operation of the Alpicool 12-volt refrigerator in just a moment.

I’ve been on the road for 3 weeks with it and it’s been doing great. When the truck shuts off, it barely uses much battery as long as you set it to eco. You can have 2 stacks of 5 banquet frozen plates or 6 if you want to use that extra top space or put some water bottles, there’s enough gap for my protein shakes too! Barely makes any noise, the only thing that bothers me is the bright light but that’s nothing. Vents are in the right place and it also comes with a wall plug so if you’re like me, have things prechilled before heading out. May purchase a bigger one later, worth the investment!

Shared by BWP.Carlos

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Save power
  • Intuitive interface

Cons:

  • Kind of loud
  • RVers notice inaccuracies in temperature reading

4. ARB Portable Fridge Freezer

ARB Portable 12 V Fridge Freezer
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Specifications:

  • Storage Capacity: 50 Quarts
  • Dimensions: 20.0 x 27.7 x 14.9 Inches
  • Weight: 53.0 Pounds

Why We Love It:

About to embark on a long trip and need to bring a lot of stuff? If that is the case, it’s strongly recommended that you take a close look at ARB Portable Fridge Freezer. Possessing a huge storage capacity, the 12-volt compressor refrigerator RV of ARB could be used to simultaneously chill multiple items. As it’s engineered to keep the contents from being logged by ice, ARB Portable Fridge Freezer permits you to remove foods and beverages in a blink of an eye.

Being a front opening model, the ARB fridge is considered to be the best 12V refrigerator at its price range for rigs with fridge slides. Furthermore, ARB Portable Fridge Freezer has a splendid control interface that consists of a flush LED display and push-buttons. As a result, you can monitor the temperature and apply adjustments as you see fit. Last but not least, thanks to the incorporation of an oversized full-grip latch, the lid of the refrigerator made by ARB is firmly secured.

Upon purchase, ARB Portable Fridge Freezer comes alongside a AC cable and a DC cable.  Hence, you could use the 12V fridge from ARB in your RV and your house. In terms of maintenance, ARB Portable Fridge Freezer contains a useful drain plug so it’s fairly simple to clean.

We’ve been using this fridge for a couple of months now in our RV. I thought I wanted the next bigger size, but it wouldn’t fit in the limited space we have. As it turns out, this thing is cavernous. It holds a lot of cans of beer, 4 x 5 across the bottom and 2 layers, so 40 cans, plus there is a little space towards the rear above the compressor that hold another 6 pack. It will hold 2 liter pop bottles standing up, ditto with wine bottles. Our intent was to use this for beer and soda storage, but it’s so big that we often put food in it also. We boondock almost exclusively and rely on solar power, so I was a little worried that this would pull too much power, but no, it’s just fine. It really doesn’t add much load to the electrical system at all. When it starts up, it pulls about 3 amps, but then settles to about 1.5 amps while it cools. It’s well insulated, so once it’s at temperature, it stays there a long time without having to run the compressor.

The auto-switching of the power source is a great feature, we leave it plugged into 110V all the time and have hard-wired it to the 12V system. When we plug into shore power, it automatically switches to 110V, and auto switches back when we’re on 12V. The only problem I had was originally I’d plugged it into one of the light circuits in the RV, which wasn’t quite enough for it. I ran a dedicated line from an empty slot in the power converter directly to the cooler, and now it’s working just fine. I added a picture of it in our RV, something to note is you need to have ventilation at the back for the compressor, which is built -in in the cabinetry on either side.

Shared by Dale Anson

Pros:

  • Low noise level
  • Fantastic reliability
  • Resilient construction

Cons:

  • Several people complain about receiving damaged units
  • Insulation still need some work

5. Whynter FM-45G

Whynter FM-45G 45 Quart Portable Refrigerator 12V
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Specifications:

  • Storage Capacity: 45 Quarts
  • Dimensions: 23.5 x 16.5 x 20.5 Inches
  • Weight: 45.0 Pounds

Why We Love It:

With an enduring powder-coated steel housing, FM-45G of Whynter could take on everything that RVers throw at it. Needless to say, the fridge from Whynter is particularly well-suited for RVing enthusiasts that like to go off-roading. As it integrates an adaptable compressor cooling system, FM-45G is able to keep snacks and drinks cool in a wide range of conditions. Whynter FM-45G also has a fast freeze mode that lets it rapidly bring all of the contents to -8 degrees Fahrenheit.

In use, FM-45G can be directly plugged into AC and DC power at the same time but it’s going to prioritize AC power. If AC power suddenly fails, the Whynter portable refrigerators for RV would automatically switch to DC without requiring outside interaction. A low power indication is present on the unit so it’s easy to tell if the charge in your battery bank is approaching exhaustion. For handling, FM-45G of Whynter packs two robust stainless steel side handles that help you get a good hold of the unit during transport.

To reassure RVers about the quality of its 12V RV refrigerator, Whynter backs FM-45G  with a one-year warranty. If you want to have a decent insurance policy then Whynter FM-45G is the best 12-volt refrigerator for you.

Great refrig. Cools and freezes fast, only uses 60 watts on AC and 5 amps on 12v DC. Great for camping, and much lower power draw than my thermo-electric cooler, and 5X faster cooling. Very quiet too, it has two motors: One 12V compressor motor and one 12V condenser fan. So quiet, even at night in the camper, it lets me sleep, no problem. Well insulated and all metal construction, very strong but weighs about 48lbs. Thermostat is digital and is +/- 3deg of my calibrated thermometer. Unit cools to about 4deg below set point, then cycles off unit it rises to set point, then turns on. Has 3 compressor power settings, MAX, Auto and Eco-mode. Amp readings: MAX=5.5 amps, Auto=4.5 to 5 amps, Eco=2.8 amps. Has low battery cut off. DC voltmeter to show input voltage and current Temp at the same time. Also has automatic switching from AC to DC and back to AC without moving wires, switches or plugs. Just leave both AC and DC connected all the time, and it prioritizes AC if present. During travel, it falls back to DC seamlessly. Seems like there is a 110V to 12V step down supply inside that runs the controller, and that runs the motors. Had mine for 2 weeks camping and so far it’s a solid unit.

Shared by BRUCE MCCASKIE

Pros:

  • Nice warranty
  • Handy wire baskets
  • Consistent operation

Cons:

  • Barely acceptable customer support
  • Fan occasionally makes clicking noises

6.  Koolatron P27 Voyager

Koolatron P27 Voyager
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Specifications:

  • Storage Capacity: 29 Quarts
  • Dimensions: 17.25 x 15.25 x 15.25 Inches
  • Weight: 11.1 Pounds

Why We Love It:

Built to the modern standards, Koolatron P27 Voyager is held in high esteem by many RVers, novice and veteran alike. Using advanced solid-state thermoelectric cooling technology, P27 Voyager ensures that RVing enthusiasts don’t have to work around messy ice while arranging the contents. In addition, the 12V portable fridge made by Koolatron could warm snacks and drinks all the way to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of that, once it comes to versatility, Koolatron P27 Voyager is certainly the best 12-volt refrigerator money can buy.

As the Koolatron 12-volt refrigerator only features a single moving part, which is the fan motor, it’s very reliable. P27 Voyager has relatively undemanding maintenance requirements as well so keeping it in working order is a piece of cake. About noise level, P27 Voyager of Koolatron operates in a silent manner so it seldom bothers people in its vicinity. Aside from that, with the low-profile build, the 12V fridge of Koolatron should fit narrow spots in recreational vehicles.

Regarding price, Koolatron P27 Voyager is inexpensive and that makes it a superb model for RVers that have limited budgets. P27 Voyager normally runs on DC power but by pairing it with the optional adapter sold by Koolatron, the unit could run on AC power.

Pros:

  • Noiseless
  • Long-lasting
  • Cooling output is sublime

Cons:

  • A few units come without instructions
  • Power cord fall out from time to time

7. Ausranvik APR-25D

The 15 Best 12-Volt Refrigerators For RV Camping 1
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Specifications:

  • Storage Capacity: 26 Quarts
  • Dimensions: 23.0 x 13.0 x 14.0 Inches
  • Weight: 32.4 Pounds

Why We Love It:

Boasting intelligent battery protection with three settings, Ausranvik APR-25D is good at preserving the quality of the battery bank. If input voltage falls lower than the setting that RVers choose, the Ausranvik refrigerator would promptly shut down so the batteries should never run down. As it possesses premium grade insulation, APR-25D could keep stuff frozen for nearly half a day if power is interrupted out of the blue. By employing a memory function, APR-25D of Ausranvik eliminates the need to reset the temperature when power resumes.

Interestingly, APR-25D has a built-in USB port so in times of need, you can use it to recharge an assortment of electronic devices. Moreover, since a drain plug is included in the bottom of the fridge made by Ausranvik, draining water is by all accounts child’s play. Besides that, Ausranvik APR-25D utilizes a touch control interface so you can manipulate its performance to meet your preferences. The refrigerator of Ausranvik comes with AC and DC cords, thus, it can run on both AC and DC power.

The storage space of Ausranvik APR-25D is split into two sections: main and side. The side section receives less cold air than the main section so if you have some items that you want to keep chilled instead of frozen, place them in there.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • High efficiency
  • Small and light

 Cons:

  • Technical support is less than ideal
  • Hinge should be strengthened

8. Costway Electric Cooler Refrigerator

COSTWAY 55-Quart Compressor Travel RV Refrigerator
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Specifications:

  • Storage Capacity: 55 Quarts
  • Dimensions: 27.5 x 14.0 x 21.0 Inches
  • Weight: 36.0 Pounds

Why We Love It:

Made from ABS plastic, Costway Electric Cooler Refrigerator is shockproof which is why it could withstand serious vibrations and abuses. Also, the fridge of Costway incorporates a convenient flip-top layout so RVers would be able to access stored contents at a moment’s notice. Packing quality impermeable liner, Costway Electric Cooler Refrigerator can keep a wide range of foods and beverages in good conditions. The compressor of the Costway refrigerator offers rapid cooling without consuming power excessively as well.

Similar to other 12-volt fridges on the market nowadays, Costway Electric Cooler Refrigerator has battery protection levels designed to stop batteries from being drained completely. Hence, if you care about the battery bank of your rig, you should add the Costway refrigerator to your shortlist. During operation, sounds emitted by Costway Electric Cooler Refrigerator tend to be barely audible so it is well-liked by those that have sensitive hearing. Featuring an ergonomic handle, the fridge from Costway can be moved around by virtually everyone.

With  LCD display and digitized temperature adjustment, Costway Electric Cooler Refrigerator permits RVers to grapes the working temperature at a glance and make timely modifications. All in all, the fridge made by Costway is essentially the best 12-volt refrigerator for RVing enthusiasts that favor straightforwardness.

Pros:

  • Fair cost
  • Low power draw
  • Structural integrity is excellent

Cons:

  • Cables still leave a lot to be desired
  • Temperature reading is a bit off on occasions

9. Dometic CF-025

Dometic CF-025DC Portable Freezer/Refrigerator
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Specifications:

  • Storage Capacity: 24 Quarts
  • Dimensions: 21.6 x 16.7 x 10.2 Inches
  • Weight: 28.0 Pounds

Why We Love It:

So all you need is a basic and practical 12-volt cooler refrigerator for recreational vehicles? Then you would come to like CF-025 of Dometic. Slim and sleek, CF-025 is a breeze to carry and the amount of space that it occupies is generally deemed inconsequential. Being impact-resistance, the fridge made by Dometic could handle plenty of hits in use. Additionally, with low power consumption and first-class three-stage battery protection, Dometic CF-025 is capable of preventing dead batteries.

Though the capacity of the Dometic refrigerator is unexceptional compared to its competitors, it can still support usual RV adventures. Thanks to the LED light in the interior of CF-025, you should have an easy time organizing snacks and drinks. CF-025 of Dometic contains a coated removable wire basket too so you have multiple options in terms of item arrangements. Through the top LED display and push buttons, you could read the temperature and increase/decrease it as you like.

Since CF-025 is sold with a DC cable, you can put it to use the moment it leaves the packaging. As for accessories, CF-025 of Dometic could be paired with an insulated cover for improved efficiency and reduced energy usage. Dometic backs its fridge with a two-year warranty so if your CF-025 fails due to manufacturing defects, you may claim yourself a free replacement.

Pros:

  • Flexible
  • Sturdy body
  • Splendid handling

Cons:

  • Slightly pricey
  • Handle needs to be overhauled

10. Engel MR040F-U1

ENGEL MR040F-U1 12V
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Specifications:

  • Storage Capacity: 40 Quarts
  • Dimensions: 25.0 x 15.5 x 18.5 Inches
  • Weight: 48.0 Pounds

Why We Love It

As it consumes less power than other refrigerators, Engel MR040F-U1 is sought after by RVing enthusiasts that like to cut down utility expenses. Depending on the current settings, the fridge of Engel could run on AC or DC power but its automatic voltage selection gives priority to AC. Furthermore, MR040F-U1 still operates normally on inclines up to 30 degrees off level which guarantees consistent cooling in many applications. Engel MR040F-U1 has a removable heavy-duty handle as well so relocating it is just a cakewalk.

Integrating a tough corrosion-resistant ABS case, MR040F-U1 is pretty well-guarded against corrosive elements in the outdoors. Therefore, the Engel fridge is regarded as the best 12V refrigerator for RVers that like to camp in marine environments. Aside from that, with a rather low noise level, Engel MR040F-U1 allows people to enjoy chilled snacks and drinks in a relaxing atmosphere. A wire basket is present too so owners of MR040F-U1 can set the contents as they see fit.

While Engel MR040F-U1 is undoubtedly an expensive unit, the values that it offers nonetheless match its price tag. The refrigerator made by Engel is backed with a reassuring three-year manufacturer warranty that brings users peace of mind.

Pros:

  • Stable output
  • Enduring and quiet
  • Undemanding maintenance

Cons:

  • High-priced
  • Owner’s manual is poorly written

11. Dometic TC21

Dometic TC21-DC-A 12V Tropicool
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Specifications:

  • Storage Capacity: 21 Quarts
  • Dimensions: 17.7 x 16.5 x 11.9 Inches
  • Weight: 16.3 Pounds

Why We Love It

Possessing a lightweight construction, TC21 of Dometic is highly portable so it’s an excellent choice for RVers that like to go on short trips. With the use of thermoelectric technology, TC21 is able to cool and warm contents too.  Because of that, if you opt to purchase the refrigerator from Dometic, you could prepare chilled beverages and warm snacks. In addition, as it boasts seven-stage temperature regulation and a digitalized control interface, Dometic TC21 greatly facilitates temperature management.

For handling, the Dometic portable refrigerator for camping has a rugged handle that folds down outside of use so RVer can move it at will. The magnetic lid of TC21 happens to be detachable, thus, you could put in and take out items without issues. In use, Dometic TC21 maintains operation even if left tilted to the side and that lets it adapt well to an assortment of camping applications. The 12V fridge made by Dometic packs a robust interior divider so it can keep all of your stuff secured.

Since it employs a power-save circuit, TC21 is more economical than run-of-the-mild refrigerators for recreational vehicles. Available at a comparatively reasonable price, the fridge of Dometic is the all-time favorite of various budget-minded RVers. Following the trend, TC21 of Dometic could also be powered by both AC and DC.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Decent capacity
  • Impressive insulation

Cons:

  • Some units seem used on arrival
  • Quality control could use several improvements

12. Dometic CF18

Dometic CF18 12v Electric Powered Cooler
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Specifications:

  • Storage Capacity: 19 Quarts
  • Dimensions: 18.3 x 16.3 x 11.8 Inches
  • Weight: 26.4 Pounds

Why We Love It:

Thanks to the integration of a high-powered compressor, Dometic CF18 could keep its contents chilled regardless of ambient temperatures. Packing a fully insulated body made from impact-resistant polymer, CF18 keeps cold air from escaping and decreases the power needed to preserve interior cooling. As the Dometic fridge also has a dynamic battery protection system with automatic shutoff, you don’t have to worry about it depleting your batteries. Dometic CF18 incorporates a memory function that maintains preset too.

With a small build, the refrigerator made by Dometic permits RVers to save space and since it carries a handy handle, its portability is fantastic. The lid of CF18 opens to the side and it’s detachable as well, hence,  you can access your foods and beverages quickly and conveniently. Boasting well-divided storage compartments, Dometic CF18 greatly facilitates content organizations and that helps RVing enthusiasts avoid plenty of headaches. Last but not least, the fridge of Dometic releases just a few sounds in use so it’s quite quiet.

Dometic CF18 is a DC-only model so you have to power it by that battery bank on your rig. Aside from that, as Dometic distributes its refrigerator with DC power cord, you could set it up in a flash. About accessories, Dometic offers an optional insulated cover for CF18.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Strong and dependable  
  • Straightforward controls

Cons:

  • A bit overpriced
  • Overheat is reported by a couple of RVers

13. Norcold NRF30

Norcold NRF30 Portable Refrigerator
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Specifications:

  • Storage Capacity: 32 Quarts
  • Dimensions: 15.6 x 22.0 x 15.7 Inches
  • Weight: 39.6 Pounds

Why We Love It:

Being a versatile 2-in-1 product with freezer and refrigerator compartments, Norcold NRF30 could match a wide range of cooling needs. The interior of the refrigerator from Norcold is made from stainless steel which simultaneously boosts cooling efficiency and inhibits stains. Additionally, NRF30 possesses an intuitive electric control display that RVers can use to monitor and set temperature as they like. In the case that installation issues occur, the LED indicators of Norcold NRF30 would light up to warn the users.

Constructed using corrosion-proof plastic, the exterior of NRF30 is capable of taking on an assortment of outdoor elements. As the Norcold fridge contains two heavy-duty removable handles, transporting it is going to be a walk in the park. The hinge of Norcold NRF30 is both reversible and removable so you can change the way it opens in seconds. NRF30 primarily runs on DC power but if you wish to use it in your house, all you have to do is to pick up the optional AC adapter.

To stop the batteries from being drained all the way, the refrigerator made by Norcold includes comprehensive battery protection with up to three settable levels. NRF30 automatically ceases operation if voltage drops below the chosen level and returns to work after voltage rises up again.

Pros:

  • Noise level is low
  • Top-notch handling
  • User-friendly interface

Cons:

  • Steep cost
  • Plug falls out now and then

14. Cho Power Sports Portable Freezer Cooler

cho Power Sports Portable Freezer
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Specifications:

  • Storage Capacity: 42 Quarts
  • Dimensions: 23.0 x 15.0 x 19.0 Inches
  • Weight: 28.0 Pounds

Why We Love It

Able to accommodate various items at the same time, Cho Power Sports Portable Freezer Cooler is deemed to be an ideal model for extended camping. Featuring a combination of a telescoping handle, side handles and wheels, the fridge of Cho is superior to classic units once it comes to portability. Therefore, if you seek a mobile refrigerator, Cho Power Sports Portable Freezer Cooler is the best 12-volt refrigerator for you. As the Cho fridge utilizes an anti-vibration design, it could navigate lots of terrains.

Through the top touchscreen of Cho Power Sports Portable Freezer Cooler, RVers can easily set temperature and mode of operation. Furthermore, the refrigerator made by Cho has a useful USB port for charging portable devices. As a result, with Cho Power Sports Portable Freezer Cooler, you could recharge all electronics. Employing a built-in circuitry designed to prevent total draw of the battery, the fridge from Cho would keep the battery bank of your rig in top shape for years.

With a high-performance compressor, Cho Power Sports Portable Freezer Cooler keeps stored snacks and drinks cool in typical environments. Also, the compressor of the Cho fridge runs silently so it remains quiet in use. Cho Power Sports Portable Freezer Cooler is accompanied by a DC power cord as well as an AC wall adapter.

Pros:

  • Compact
  • Affordable and reliable
  • Uncomplicated maintenance

Cons:

  • Certain units come without manual
  • Users notice damages on newly-delivered fridges

15. Koolatron P20

Koolatron P-20 Thermo - Electric 12-Volt
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Specifications:

  • Storage Capacity: 18 Quarts
  • Dimensions: 17.25 x 8.75 x 16.0 Inches
  • Weight: 9.6 Pounds

Why We Love It

Narrow and light, Koolatron P20 is well-received by RVing enthusiasts that own small rigs and want to conserve space. The absence of laches in the top lid means you and your fellow RVers could casually take snacks and drinks out of the Koolatron fridge. Because P20 plugs directly into DC power outlets on recreational vehicles, getting it running is essentially a piece of cake. Interestingly, Koolatron P20 can be switched between cooling and warming mode which allows it to adapt to plenty of applications.

As for handling, P20 has a practical folding handle so you would have an easy time moving it between locations. Besides that, with the incorporation of a brushless motor, the refrigerator made by Koolatron boasts a low noise level and operates normally even if tilted. Made from enduring plastic, P20 of Koolatron also holds itself together well in regular use. Finally, sold at an inexpensive price, P20 is by all accounts the best 12-volt cooler for RVers that don’t like to spend big bucks.

In terms of maintenance, the smooth plastic liner of the fridge from Koolatron proves to be very simple to wash. Hence, it’s a breeze to keep P20 in top shape as you travel from one camping location to another. As proof of confidence, Koolatron willingly backs its 12-volt refrigerator with a one-year warranty that covers all manufacturing defects.

Pros:

  • Noiseless operation
  • Good values for the price
  • Low-profile construction

 Cons:

  • Storage capacity is modest
  • A couple of users complain about missing cord

Types of 12-Volt Refrigerator

Virtually all 12V modern fridges could be put into three types: compressor, thermoelectric and absorption.

Compressor Refrigerators

As they compress cooling agents/fluid refrigerants to regulate the temperature, compressor refrigerators could be used as fridges and freezers. Additionally, unlike other refrigerators for recreational vehicles, models of the type operate normally on inclines as well as level grounds.

Thermoelectric Refrigerators

Though thermoelectric refrigerators lack the ability to freeze foods and produce ices, they can keep temperature of the contents tens of degrees below outside temperature. So if you go on a short trip and the climate of the destination is rather cool, you should stick to models of the type.

Absorption Refrigerators

Compared to other types of fridges, absorption refrigerators consume lots of power so they could easily exhaust your battery bank. These fridges tend to be dependent on ambient temperature too.

Top Brands Of 12V Fridges

You could buy your refrigerator from practically whatever brand you like but if you care about reputability then keep an eye out for these names:

Dometic portable refrigerator for camping

Dometic

Being a long-established manufacturer, Dometic knows exactly how to put together products that meet the expectations of RVing enthusiasts. Needless to say, Dometic is held in high esteem by RVers from novices to veterans.

Igloo

By constantly innovating and applying the latest technologies into production, Igloo can assemble solid fridges that never fail to please. So in the case that you seek a refrigerator built to modern standards, Igloo would have excellent options for you.

ARB

Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, ARB makes a wide range of high-quality accessories for vehicles. Fridges from ARB receive compliments from RVers around the globe.

Wagan

Known as one of the leading brands of automotive appliances, Wagan manufactures outstanding refrigerators that last for a long time. If you don’t want to replace your fridge often, you should buy from Wagan.

Koolatron

Since it’s both a manufacturer and a distributor, Koolatron is capable of offering well-made fridges at reasonable prices. Hence, Koolatron is the top brand for RVers that happen to have tight shopping budgets.

Best 12-Volt Refrigerator Buying Guide

Different people usually have different preferences so RV communities don’t agree on which model is the best 12 volt cooler refrigerator. However, if you want to spend your money wisely, you must review the following criteria before committing to a purchase.  

Output

As RVers rely on refrigerators to keep beverages cool and prevent frozen foods from melting, it’s only natural that cooling output requires special attention. You could deduce the ideal output for your fridge by thinking about what you intend to bring while traveling. Overall, if you only put basic stuff in the refrigerator then it’s fine to settle for a standard model. On the other hand, if you have exceptional temperature demands, it’s suggested that you grab a high-output fridge.

Storage Capacity

To put it plainly, the storage capacity of a refrigerator dictates the number of things that it’s able to accommodate at any one time. Though it’s handy to own a high-capacity fridge, you need to remember that capacity is linked to size. That means as storage capacity grows, size also increases so you may experience a couple of space issues if you forget to make proper calculations. Therefore, you should take into account the planned position of your fridge and decide accordingly.

Endurance

Refrigerators in recreational vehicles would be subjected to a lot of bumps and hits as RVers move between camping locations. Because of that, it’s essential that you give endurance some thoughts as you check out models on the market. The last thing you want to spend your money on is a flimsy refrigerator that just falls apart after a few trips so be thorough. To reach an objective conclusion, besides making direct assessments by yourself, you ought to read the reviews of fellow RVers.

Power Consumption

Since the average fridges for RV run on electricity, it’s strongly recommended that you keep power consumption in mind. Having a solid 12-volt camping refrigerator around is all but useless if you fail to provide it with enough energy. Hence, you should see how much power you could spare for a fridge and look for models that fit it. That is going to help you narrow down your shortlist.

Price

RVing enthusiasts have an assortment of expenses to cover so prior to every purchase, price is undoubtedly an important consideration. In general, unless you have sophisticated needs, it’s unnecessary to empty your wallet to pick up a premium model. Today’s market consists of many decent 12-volt refrigerators that come at relatively affordable prices. Nonetheless, for your own good, it’s widely advised that you steer clear of unimaginably cheap fridges as they often have less than ideal quality.

FAQs About RV 12-Volt Refrigerators

How long would a 12-volt portable refrigerator keep its contents cold once unplugged?

Assuming that the fridge is sealed and its lid is closed, it could keep the stored foods and beverages cold for several hours if the power supply is abruptly cut. The insulation of the refrigerator should trap cold airs inside and stop them from escaping.

Do I have to buy additional accessories for my fridge?

Overall, 12V refrigerators work pretty well by themselves so you don’t necessarily have to purchase accessories for your fridge. Still, if you wish to optimize your investment, you can get insulated covers, slide mounts and others for your refrigerator.

What needs to be done to keep 12V fridges in top shape?

Maintenance requirements vary between models so it’s best that you check out the owner’s manual to learn how to care for your fridge. The average 12 volt-refrigerator for RV would only need to be cleansed from time to time with water and cloth.

Is it possible to use refrigerators for RV in households?

Run-of-the-mild 12V camping fridges tend to be accompanied by two sets of cords: one for 12-volt ports and one for residential outlets. As a result, you could set up and use your 12-volt refrigerator in your house.

Also in RV Appliances, we’re providing thorough reviews and buying guides which help RV campers have peace of minds choosing the best RV air conditioner, best RV heater, best RV microwave convection oven, best RV vacuum, best RV dehumidifier, pop-up camper air conditioner, best RV washer dryer combo, best RV refrigerator, best RV coffee maker, best RV vent fan on the market today.

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