Best Portable Fridges / Freezers
A portable fridge freezer offers fresh food and drink for dedicated outdoor adventurers. It's easier and more practical than lugging around coolers full of melting ice that will soak your food. Since a portable fridge can be pricey though, it’s best to be do some research before buying. Scroll down to browse portable fridge reviews, to learn about 12v fridge freezers, 3-way absorption fridges, and read tips on how to save energy for your portable fridge freezer when camping or caravanning.
- Award Winner 2021
The Bushman Original SC35-52 is a durable, energy efficient and versatile product, ideal for refrigeration on the move and able to adjust its capacity from 32L, to 45L or 52L depending on your needs.
Price (RRP) $1,395.00
- Build Quality4.9 (95)
- Value for Money4.7 (94)
- Ease of Use5.0 (94)
- Cleaning & Maintenance 4.9 (94)
- Types Dual Zone Fridge + Freezer
- Power SourcesCar (Cigarette Lighter) and Wall Outlet
- FeaturesDigital Display Panel
- Cooling Capacity-22 °C to +10 °C
- Weight22.5 kg
- Dimensions 380-545 x 690 x 380 mm
- Construction MaterialSteel
- Award Winner 2021
Bushman DC-X Series · includes 4 listings
The Bushman DC-X Series has been voted Australia’s best series of 12v and 24v caravan and camping fridges in 2020.
Price (RRP) $999.00 to $1,299.00
Compact design maximises storage space
Reviewers say it performs well in Australian summers
Perfect for mounting in boats and caravans.
Vertical design not suitable to throwing in the back of the car
Less portable than other fridges (requires installation)
- Build Quality4.8 (110)
- Value for Money4.7 (110)
- Ease of Use4.9 (110)
- Cleaning & Maintenance 4.8 (109)
- Types Dual Zone Fridge + Freezer
- Power SourcesWall Outlet and Car (Cigarette Lighter)
- FeaturesReversible Lid and Interior Light
- Weight16.4 kg to 26 kg
- Construction MaterialStainless Steel
This 15L 12V fridge is the most highly-rated portable console fridge on ProductReview. At only 31cm tall, its compact size makes it a perfect companion for your summer road trips. It’ll just chill out, installed between the two front seats of your car, RV or truck.
Price (RRP) $895.00
- Build Quality5.0 (19)
- Value for Money4.6 (19)
- Ease of Use4.9 (19)
- Cleaning & Maintenance 5.0 (19)
- Types Console Fridge and Dedicated Fridge + Freezer Combo
- Power SourcesCar (Cigarette Lighter)
- FeaturesInterior Light
- Weight10 kg
- Dimensions 380 x 535 x 220 mm
- Construction MaterialSteel
Energy-efficient 3-way operation means you can use an LPG canister to keep your food cold. It is best suited to longer stays in a single location.
Price (RRP) $999.00
This 3-way fridge can run on LPG
Very efficient on LPG (lasts for about four days on a 4kg bottle)
Need to buy gas cord and regulator separately
Reviewers often mention the need to replace their element
- Build Quality4.5 (4)
- Value for Money4.5 (4)
- Ease of Use4.3 (4)
- Cleaning & Maintenance 4.0 (4)
- Types Dedicated Fridge + Freezer Combo
- Power SourcesCar (Cigarette Lighter), Gas and Wall Outlet
- FeaturesRemovable compartment divider
- Construction MaterialPlastic
Dometic Waeco CFX Series · includes 9 listings
The Dometic Waeco CFX Series are powerful, modern and energy efficient portable fridge/freezers, capable of cooling quickly and reliably even in hot external temperatures.
Price (RRP) $899.00 to $1,899.00
Modern technology, including mobile app, USB port and internal LED light
Energy efficient compressor technology for fast and efficient cooling
Can operate on solar power
Some reviewers complain about high power draw
- Build Quality2.9 (21)
- Value for Money2.8 (21)
- Ease of Use3.8 (21)
- Cleaning & Maintenance 3.4 (20)
- Types Dual Zone Fridge + Freezer and Dedicated Fridge + Freezer Combo
- Can Capacity42 Cans to 133 Cans
- Power SourcesWall Outlet, Car (Cigarette Lighter) and Solar
- FeaturesMobile App, Digital Display Panel, Reversible Lid, Removable Lid, Interior Light, USB Port and Removable compartment divider
- Cooling Capacity-22 °C to +50 °C
- Weight13.1 kg to 32 kg
- Construction MaterialStainless Steel and Polypropylene
What types of portable fridges are there?
Many 12V portable fridge freezers or compressor fridges come in a chest configuration. These heavy-duty camp fridges are designed for outdoor use, and most are suitably equipped for the purpose. For example, the offers a along with charging powered by a or . A handy and brings a few mod cons to the Great Outdoors. A downside is that because of their durability, chest fridge/freezers are more expensive than other portable fridge/freezer types.
These models look like your fridge/freezer at home. They’re suitable if you have a bit more space, and in this sitaution they make great caravan fridges, or even boat fridges. They can sometimes be installed, like the . This range of fridges offers a 12V fridge that’s upright, and available in a variety of sizes.
The advantages of upright models is that they make it easy to access food and drink inside, and their litre capacity often goes higher than chest freezers. For example, the Bushman DC-X Series offers upright models with an and (whereas the .
Upright fridges are usually also more affordable than chest models, and also more lightweight (but also less sturdy).
This type of fridge sits in a drawer installed in your RV. They can be surprisingly spacious - for example, the has a 40L capacity that can fit 48 cans of drink. If you’re looking for a car fridge freezer that’s more like a fixture than a portable model, a drawer fridge could be right for you.
These sit between the front seats of a 4WD, van or truck in the console section. They’re more made for long-distance travel where you’re not getting out and setting up camp, for example they’re popular amongst truck drivers.
How does a portable fridge work?
12V fridge freezers
Most portable fridges work similarly to your fridge at home. They draw on power to run, using a compressor unit to keep the fridge cool. These portable electric freezers/ fridges are called 12V fridge freezers or 2-way compressor models.
This is because of the two ways they operate – using 12V or 240V (volts). The 12V model works as a car fridge when you're on the way to your campsite. Use a cable to plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter to access the 12V battery in your RV (or the 24V battery in a truck). Once you arrive at your campsite, you can plug your portable fridge into the 240V mains power via an adaptor.
12V fridge freezers or 2-way compressor models are the most popular type of portable fridges. They have a low power draw (i.e. they’re energy efficient), however they can be noisy.
3-way absorption fridges
These models are called 3-way fridges because they work in three ways: using gas, a 12V DC charge and 240v mains power. The inclusion of an LPG gas canister means that 3-way absorption fridges can run without access to electricity. This makes them ideal for off-grid living or your well-deserved multi-month sabbatical in a bush cottage.
These portable gas fridges are silent in operation, thanks to their gas flow heat exchange system, however. However, when running on their 12v charge option, they’re less efficient than 2-way models. They’ll also require thick cables to charge, which may be inconvenient to navigate around in your RV. If you’re road-tripping rather than laying down roots, perhaps opt for a 12V model instead of a 3-way compressor fridge.
What size portable fridge do I need?
When considering the size of your portable fridge, consider the following factors:
- How often you’ll be using your portable fridge for outdoor events or trips
- How many people you’ll be storing food and drink for inside the fridge/freezer
- How much space you have to spare inside your vehicle
Generally, it’s best to choose the most small portable fridge that is practical for you. This is because larger models will be: more expensive, bulkier and heavier to pack into your vehicle (your car can’t go over its legal gross vehicle mass). Larger fridges will also be less energy efficient, as they have a higher average power draw.
Portable Fridge Sizes Guide
- This size classifies a fridge as a portable minifridge. It won't have too much space, but is suited to very short trips (such as day trips) and is easier to pack into the car and carry. The , which can fit 42 cans, is ProductReview's best-rated minifridge.
- Great for weekend getaways for 2 people, or for 1 person for a week.
- Known as the standard size for portable fridges, these store food and drink for 2-3 people over a long weekend.
- Ideal for a couple taking a week-long trip, or a weekend holiday for a family of 4.
- Suitable for a family of 4-5 holidaying for a week.
- The ultimate jumbo size of portable fridge freezers, these are great if you have a large group of friends, or several families, making a trip for a week or longer.
How to run your portable fridge or freezer without mains power
If you won’t have access to mains power at your travel destination, (e.g. you’re not going to a caravan park or campsite), it’s still possible to use a 12V fridge freezer. You can power your fridge using deep cycle batteries, portable solar panels, or a generator.
Deep cycle batteries
These are used in a dual battery system. A uses your vehicle’s battery as your primary battery, and your fridge’s battery as the secondary battery. At your location, you can park the car and continue to charge your portable fridge with the .
To know your fridge’s energy efficiency, check the number of amps per hour your battery will draw. 1 amp per hour is low (typically used by a ), while 4 is high (usually used for a ). You should only use half of your secondary battery before switching, otherwise you’ll drain it. For example, if you have a 100amp deep cycle battery, alternate your power source when you’ve hit 50 amps.
Portable Solar Panels
These can help to power your compressor fridge during the day, however they will switch off at night – so can’t be relied on as a sole power source for your portable fridge. They need to be angled towards the sun in a specific way, as this affects how much power can be generated. Panels should be put in full sunlight and positioned so they’re perpendicular to the sun. If not, precious sun will bounce off any glass panels and won't be converted.
Portable solar panels are affordable, but can be heavy and bulky to fit inside your RV.
Generators operate externally to the fridge. They are a cheaper option than portable solar panels, but they also need petrol, maintenance, and not all campsites accept them.
Tips to help conserve your portable fridge or freezer's energy
- The better insulated a portable fridge/freezer is, the closer to the ideal temperature it will be. For a fridge, this is between 0-5 degrees Celsius (or 2-3 degrees, to get specific). For a freezer, the correct temperature is between -10 to -20 degrees Celsius.
- A fridge door that’s opened constantly will leak out cold air, which causes the inside temperature to drop and takes time to replace
- Pack your fridge full – this uses less energy than a half-full fridge or freezer
- Choose a model that’s generously vented – this allows the fridge to keep sufficiently cool.