12 Volt Camping Fridge for perfect Vanlife food storage
We’re happy to share reviews and top pics for 12 volt refrigerator freezers.
These highly efficient DC compressor fridges will keep your food cold while using very little power.
The current crop of the highest rated 12/24v, 110/240v options are well made with a wide range of sizes, prices and features.
So much modern technology has gone into developing the specifics for these wonderful machines like high quality compressors, super efficient insulation, rugged construction, modern smart electronics and much more.
These incredible 12 volt camping fridges sport full-on coolant compressors like the full size fridge/freezers in kitchens, but more efficient (so they don’t kill your battery) and durable.
Most of all, the best 12 volt refrigerator freezer will keep your food as cold as you desire, all the way down to rock-solid frozen if necessary.
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12 volt compressor refrigerator
Many campers will buy one of these portable units to start out, then when they upgrade to a full size 12 volt refrigerator, permanently installed in their van, keep the smaller one for backup, as a dedicated freezer or road trip fridge freezer in another vehicle.
My van is too small for a permanent 12 volt refrigerator, so my 35 quart is the best 12 volt fridge freezer for my build.
Icebox coolers: The hidden costs of ice
I know what you’re thinking; “A standard ice cooler holds 40+ quarts”. Will 35 quarts be enough for all my favorite, drinks and foods?”.
But icebox cooler interior space is not all it’s cracked up to be, as you’ll read, below…
When you’re calculating the cost of a 12 volt refrigerator, keep the below facts in mind, because they are actual costs that will be eliminated by a high quality fridge/freezer unit.
- Ice can take up 4 quarts or more of space
- The cost of ice, $1 to $4 per bag, adds up fast
- One hidden cost is the time it takes to continually stock the cooler with ice; constantly stopping at convenience stores…
- Icebox coolers don’t keep food at consistent temperatures
- Ambient temperatures will result in either rapid ice melting or a cooler full of food, frozen solid
- Your food gets soggy when the ice melts. Yuck
Best 12 Volt Refrigerator Freezer Pre Purchase Check List
We’ve got some recommendations for the best 12 volt refrigerator freezers available, and here’s a partial list of our criteria for our selections:
- Reputable compressor: This is a biggie, since your 12v fridge will go through many cycles, you need a quality compressor, built to last.
- Good insulation: Better insulation provides less stress on the compressor and lower power usage.
- Low voltage protection: Alerts you before your 12 volt battery gets too low.
- Quality Seals: Impacts all functions of a fridge freezer.
- Power: Needs to run on either 12 volt battery power and 110/240 volt shore power.
- Warranty: The manufacturer must back up their product for quality, function and repair.
While these are truly magical gadgets, I do have a couple of suggestions to make sure your Campervan Fridge Freezer lasts as long as possible.
- You’ll want to make sure your camper van fridge/freezer is anchored well, as they’re a bit heavy and should not be allowed to jostle around.
- But the units on our list are all built well and intended for travel, so it’s not a huge concern.
And then there’s the prices; they’re not cheap.
Consider the craftsmanship that goes into the best 12 volt refrigerators.
Whether you travel a lot and the cost of ice is obvious, or you just like your food to be at safe temperatures and not water logged, you’ll soon realize the bargain that a good campervan refrigeration unit truly can be.
AC DC Refrigerator Power
Many of the available Campervan refrigerators will run on both 12/24 volt and 110/240 volt power.
That means you can plug your campervan fridge into your power inverter or shore power (110/240 volt), or run it off of your solar panels or house batteries at 12 or 24 volts.
The units typically include an AC power cord, as well as a DC power cord with standard connectors.
Check with manufacturers to be sure they either supply both power cords, or offer them as options to purchase.
What is the best 12V Fridge?
This will depend on your needs, of course.
Our current Top Pick is the ICECO JP42 Pro Rotomolded 12 volt Refrigerator Freezer Cooler, for several reasons.
- Number one, it’s probably the most efficient 12v fridge on the market, since no other 12 volt refrigerator freezer can match it for insulation.
- Also, the rotomolded construction compounds that great insulation by ensuring that the box is air tight.
- This 12v refrigerator is also a great icebox cooler that can hold ice for up to 90 hours, like other rotomolded coolers.
One con of the JP42 is that it’s a bit larger than other 12 volt camping fridge options because the walls are thicker.
But that’s because it has more insulation than the others, and you can’t have it both ways: Thin walls and a lot of insulation!
And it’s only a couple inches of extra space, a very minor issue.
We’re confident that the best 12v frdge is the Iceco JP42 12 volt refrigerator freezer.
Durable and corrosion resistant ABS case – and more suited for Marine applications.
Engel Swing Motor Compressor draws 1 to 2 Amps per hour.
12V/24V DC or 110V/120V AC
25″ x 15.5″ x 18.5″ Internal Dimensions: 14.5″ x 10.5″ x 14.4″.
Our 12 Volt Refrigerator #1 TOP PICK
The highly efficient iCooler from Iceco is a 3 in one, 12v Refrigerator, Freezer and Rotomolded ice box.
Tough, smart fittings, latches, handles, cupholders…
A lot of thought went into this as an off-grid, rugged campervan fridge freezer that will keep your food cold for years to come.
Our review of the Iceco iCooler Jp42 Pro 12 volt Refrigerator on The Campervan Podcast
The Campervan Podcast
The Campervan Podcast is a daily audio program featuring ideas for design and building, cooking, organization, gear and more for a better overall Vanlife experience.
The CFX is an award winning powered cooler that combines durable, deep-freeze capabilities with ultra-low power consumption to bring fresh food and cold drinks anywhere.
Refrigerant, type: R134a. Refrigerant amount, 38g. Noise (DIN60704-1 & 60704-2-14), [dB(A)], 34.
Temperature Range: -7°F to +50°F
Insulation Thickness: 55
Insulation Type: PU (Polyurethane)
This ARB unit provides true compressor refrigeration and freezing.
Never find your lunch water soaked by ice
50 quart is the most popular size.
Suitable for many medium to large campervans, SUV’s and pickups.
Internal capacity holds 72 12 oz cans.
Features the build and insulation home freezers in a small unit.
12v or 110v. Ajustable from -8 °F to 50 °F.
Holds stable temperatures under most conditions.
Insulated steel wall construction.
“Fast Freeze” button rapidly cools the unit to -8 °F.
Comfort handles for easy transport.
Two wire baskets for storage.
|52L large capacity |
Shockproof Design for rough roads and the challenges of vanlife.
Fast Cooling with compressor cooling, 30-minute fast cooling from 90°F to 32°F
ECO mode for energy-saving or MAX mode for fast cooling
3 levels for battery protection to avoid accidental discharge and battery drain.
Digitized temperature adjustment for convenient temperature adjustment.
Another brilliant, efficient, 12 volt refrigerator freezer offering from Iceco.
Set the temperature to Freeze food to last, or keep fresh food and drinks cold.
Features the German Secop Compressor.
Highly efficient, only draws 1 to 2 Amps per hour.
12V-24V DC or 110V-120V AC so whether you’re on the road or at home, you can use your Iceco to make Vanlife easier.
- Compressor cooling vs Themoelectric: Get the safe one.
- The best 12 Volt Fridge Freezer is a valuable, versatile investment that can last many years.
- Ice is expensive and icebox coolers don’t save money, they have very real costs beyond initial purchase.
- Important: Seals, compressor quality, insulation, low voltage protection, warranty, AC and DC power options.
- We’ve found the fridge freezers that meet all these criteria.
- These great machines cost a bit, but they’re worth it in the long run.
AC/DC refrigerator Questions Answered
Of course you have questions about these 12/24v 110/240v refrigerators, so we answer questions like Are 12V Fridges Any Good?
What are your experiences, questions or concerns about 12 Volt Refrigerator Freezers?
Please comment below and we’ll try to answer them here or on The Campervan Podcast.