I know you don’t own a Bentley or Rolls-Royce because you are here looking for a mini-refrigerator for your car. Whether planning a two-week road trip or a beach party, a mini-refrigerator will make your excursion fun and more enjoyable.
A car fridge is a great way to keep your drinks cool and food fresh on the go. These cute mini machines are budget-friendly, work effortlessly, and are easy to carry along.
Some people resort to coolers, but even the best non-electric cooler will keep things cold/hot for a limited time. A car refrigerator (thermoelectric or compressor-based) will keep running until plugged in and provide passive cooling if it is properly insulated and the lid remains closed.
Overall, a mini-refrigerator for your car is a valuable investment that’ll upgrade your trips and provide you with cold drinks on the go. With a mini-refrigerator in your car, you don’t need to stop at gas pumps and buy ice packs for your coolers.
Car fridges come in different shapes and sizes. If this is your first time, you would probably not know what features to consider and where to begin your hunt for the best mini-fridge for your car. Well, if this is the case or you are simply looking to upgrade your car refrigerator, you are at the right place.
I will review the best mini-refrigerators for cars in this article. I have put in a lot of research for compiling this guide. I have tested the machines, analyzed features, and researched reviews to help you make a well-informed purchase decision. I will also walk you through a buying guide, so you know which features to consider before buying the next mini-fridge for your car.
Best Mini-Refrigerators for Cars
1. Wagan EL6206 – 6 Quart 12V Portable Electric Cooler/Warmer
Review: If you are a lone traveler or need a mini-fridge for your car to store breast milk, medication, or skincare items, Wagan’s 6 quarts mini-fridge is the best option. It is affordable, reliable, lightweight, and convenient to use.
I tested this machine with a couple of water bottles. The thermoelectric cooler can chill the contents to a maximum of 36°F and warm up to 140°F. The water was chill and nice during the road trip, and there was very little condensation when the power was turned off.
It is a thermoelectric machine whose performance is directly linked with the ambient temperature. I recommend pre-chilling or heating your items before storing them to get the best results.
The controls are simple. All you have to do is select the working mode and turn on the machine after connecting it with the car charger. The machine is free from CFCs or cooling gas and is thus safe for passengers and the environment.
You can also use this machine with AC power, but you will need to buy a separate adapter. The included nylon carrying strap makes it convene it to carry the machine. It is a lightweight fridge, and you will feel like carrying a laptop with you.
The two built-in cup holders give you an additional place to keep your soda cans or glasses in the car without the fear of spills. The top lifting door is best for traveling as it doesn’t need additional space to open.
My Verdict about the Fridge: I have tested this machine by putting in fresh fruits, soda cans, water bottles, sandwiches on the cold mode. I have also tested coffee and tea on the hot mode. The results are awesome. The only issue is a limited capacity.
- Good looking
- Keeps things cold
- Limited space
- The fan generates hot air
2. COSTWAY Car Refrigerator
Review: Costway’s portable car refrigerator is one of the best mid-size machines you will find in the market. It has a versatile power range (12V/24V DC and 100V – 240V AC), allowing you to run this machine in your car and on wall outlets. All the required cables are included in the original purchase.
The best thing I like about this fridge is that it comes with a memory function that frees you from the hassle of resetting the temperature every time you switch the power. The 55-quart refrigerator is big enough to hold 84 330ml beer bottles, 60 550ml water bottles, and 19 750ml wine bottles.
It has a versatile temperature range (-4°F – 50°F). The unit features a dual-zone design that allows you to keep the frozen entrees and fridge items separately. It is great, but I would have given it full marks if the unit had dual temperature controls. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
The Eco and Max working modes allow you to keep the intensity of the cooling as per your needs. You can easily locate the items inside with the help of the interior LED. I love the dual handle style as it makes it convenient to carry the machine from your car to your picnic spot.
The digital control panel with an LED display adds value and gives convenience to users. One amazing feature of this machine is intelligent battery protection. The unit automatically stops the compressor when it reaches the pre-set temperature. I am glad to discuss this feature as a fridge once made my car’s battery go bad.
The inside of the machine is divided into two compartments. The freezer section has a steel wire storage basket to organize your stuff better. It measures 27 x 13.5 x 21 inches and weighs 36 pounds. You will need to keep it in the back seat or in the trunk of your car.
My Verdict about the Fridge: Overall, it is an amazing machine. Its features, powerful cooling, versatile temperature range, and lightweight design make it to the top of the list in compressor-based car refrigerators.
The only issue with this machine is that its handle is not very durable. You will have to be very careful working your way through it.
- Low power draw
- Keeps car battery safe
- Super quick cooling
- Flawless finish
- Flimsy handle
- Misses out on a wheel kit
3. AstroAI Electric Cooler for Cars
Review: AstroAI thermoelectric cooler is best for people looking for a car fridge with only a cooling option. Unlike other thermoelectric coolers, this machine doesn’t offer a heating option. It can be a good thing for some and a drawback for a few.
I like this cooler because it has a big capacity. You can store up to 30 12 oz cans. It comes with a removable divider that is best for organizing foods on the go. You can store fruits and vegetables, beers, and water bottles without them getting in touch with each other, thus ensuring freshness for fresh food items.
The unit is easy to lift and carry with its foldable flip-up carry handle. Moreover, the machine’s lid also opens upwards and is locked at the backside.
Please note that connecting this machine to a 24V cigarette lighter on heavy vehicles is not recommended. This unit has no battery protection mechanism, so it is best to avoid it connecting it while the vehicle is off. Another precaution is to keep the air outlets or fan areas unblocked as it can lead to overheating.
The machine features an on/off switch along with a reinforced socket adapter, guaranteeing safety and durability. You can also run this unit on a standard AC outlet, but you will need to buy a separate adapter for it.
My Verdict about the Fridge: It is a nice thermoelectric cooler to own. The capacity is large, and you will not feel hampered using this. It can adjust stuff for a 1-day picnic for an average American family. If you are traveling alone or with your spouse, it can be your all-purpose car fridge.
However, it doesn’t have a warming option, so you cannot use it to keep tea or coffee.
- Good value of money
- Easy to carry and use
- No warming option
- It gets hot if no exhaust space is given
4. BODEGA 12 Volt Car Refrigerator and Freezer – 75 liters
Review: Bodega’s 75-liter portable fridge and freezer is the best big-size machine you will find for your car. I would recommend this fridge/freezer to all the people who complain about how limited their current car cooler is and how they fail to store something everyone likes.
I like its compartmentalized design with separate fridge and freezer boxes. You have the option to set the temperature of each zone independently. The left zone is 45.5 liter (48 quarts), and the right zone is 29.5 (31 quarts); even its small compartment is bigger than many mini-refrigerators.
The best thing about this machine is that both compartments can be used as either a fridge or a freezer. It offers versatility to the users as they can tailor the fridge as per their needs.
The temperature range (-4°F – 68°F) for this machine makes it ideal for storing various items. You can even make some ice in it. It is powered by a strong compressor that can drop the temperature to 32°F (freezing point) in just 15 minutes but only when the machine is empty.
The temperature controls are digital. Moreover, you can control this machine with your mobile phone.
To make sure that your car battery never dries out, the unit offers 3 level battery protection along with Eco mode functionality.
You must be thinking that it is a big unit and it will be noisy. No, it is not. The manufacturer stated noise level is 43 – 47 dBA. Even if it hums a little, it won’t matter much because you will most likely be placing this machine in the trunk of your car.
Another best thing about this machine is its capacity to keep working on bumpy roads and off-road trails. It can work up to a tilt of 30 degrees. You can also remove the door and change the location for ease of use.
It comes with a removable basket, built-in LED lights in both compartments, cleaning hole retractable handles, and wheels. There are so many features in this machine that you’ll never get bored of it. DC, AC adapters, and wires are included in the original purchase.
My Opinion about Bodega 75 liter Car Refrigerator: If the phrase, you get what you pay for had a practical demonstration, it would be in the shape of Bodega’s car refrigerator. It is costly but offers amazing features, large capacity, and convenience.
I am unable to find anyone in my circle complaining about this machine. I would recommend this machine to everyone looking for a big fridge with no bars on the budget.
- Perfect travel size for medium to large groups
- Independent compartments with temperature controls
- Very quiet
- Difficult to set the temperature on the unit: you’ll have to use the app
5. K-Box Electric Cooler and Warmer for Car and Home
Review: This is one of the largest thermoelectric coolers you will find for use in cars, and this is the best thing I like about it. Despite being big, the cooler is still affordable and offers great value for money.
It has a capacity of 34 quarts, making it ideal for storing up to 48 cans of soda (12 oz). Or you can keep a large 2-liter bottle with plenty of food and snacks. The removable divider in the fridge helps keep food organized on the go.
The maximum cold temperature is 40°F, and max warm temperature is 130°F. The temperature range may not be best for chilling your drinks, but it is enough to relieve you from the tension of using ice packs. Moreover, it is in line with the FDA’s recommended temperature of 40°F.
The flip-top lid makes the unit accessible right from the trunk of your car. A convenient and ergonomic carry handle makes it easy to carry the unit to your picnic spot.
My Verdict about the Fridge: Overall, it is a good machine with a big capacity. My only issue with the machine is the temperature range. It is a thermoelectric cooler; ambient temperature will play a big part in its performance.
I would not recommend this fridge to people living in hotter climates.
- Limited temperature range
- Flimsy car adapter
- Lots of condensation water at the bottom
6. Euhomy 35Liter (38qt) Car Refrigerator
Review: Compressor-style mini-fridges are more common than thermoelectric machines because they don’t depend on ambient temperature to perform. Euhomy is a well-reputed brand when it comes to car refrigerators.
I like this machine because it is one of the best mid-range models you will get your hands on. The 35-liter portable refrigerator features two zones but with a single temperature setting. The divider helps keep the food separated and reduces the risk of contamination. You can store up to 36 12 oz cans, 20 water bottles, and 12 bottles of red wine.
The temperature range (-4°F – 68°F) is ideal for storing a variety of stuff in the machine. You can even use it as a freezer, but then you won’t be able to keep fresh food items in it. The unit comes with a powerful compressor for fast cooling in Max mode. You can reduce battery usage by running the machine on Eco mode.
You can run this machine on 12V or 24V in your car or a standard wall outlet. It offers three different levels of battery protection that keep your battery from draining. I like its ability to keep running even if the unit is tilted at 35 degrees.
The temperature controls are digital. Bluetooth connectivity allows you to monitor and control the unit’s temperature and modes without being around the machine.
My Two-Bits about Euhomy: I would recommend this machine because it has a low power rating. The unit can be run on as low as 60W continuous power. Even the smallest solar power bank can provide this much power. The carry handle is not made of good quality. Manufacturers often use cheap parts to cut the initial cost.
- Affordable price
- Spacious capacity
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Heavy unit
- It gets loud at max mode]
7. Keed Bing Portable Car Refrigerator, 80 Quarts (75L)
Review: Keed Bing’s 75-liter refrigerator is yet another excellent machine on my list. The large mini refrigerator is best for camping, fishing, RV, camper vans, and SUVs. You can also use this machine at your home.
I like this machine because it is a versatile unit and a complete refrigeration solution for the outdoors. Its interior is just like a standard chest refrigerator. A built-in ridge with a storage basket ensures that your food stays contamination-free and organized during your trip.
The temperature range (-4°F – 68°F) is ideal for storing a variety of products. However, it doesn’t have a dual temperature zone like the Bodega mini-refrigerator reviewed above. It comes with Eco and Max mode for efficient working and battery protection.
Its battery protection system goes a step ahead of the rest of the units. The unit senses that if it is getting underpowered (vehicle battery is draining), it shuts down automatically. You can also use this machine at your home on a standard AC outlet.
The design features dual handles for portability, LED light, digital temperature controls, a 40-degree incline working ability, and an extra-long power cable.
My Verdict about the Fridge: It is a big unit but lacks dual compartments, a must-have feature in large machines. I didn’t like the handle design. The unit weighs around 47 pounds without any food in it. So, moving a fully-loaded fridge will be quite an accomplishment.
- Affordable in this size
- Big capacity
- Versatile temperature range
- No wheels
- Poor customer service
8. Kohree Mini Portable Refrigerator for Cars
Review: This is the last fridge on my list for the best mini-refrigerators for cars. The Kohree fridge is best for a couple’s use or a small family with two adults and one kid. It can also be used as a home fridge to add additional storage space.
The manufacturer states that it takes an hour for an empty fridge to reach -7°F. My testing results revealed the time will vary when the fridge is loaded. Therefore, you must turn on the machine for at least 30 minutes before use.
I loved the USB charging feature in this fridge. You can connect your mobile phone to this machine to charge the battery. It is nice to have some additional charging sockets while traveling.
The temperature controls are digital with a touch screen. You can set the temperature with a touch panel, unlike using buttons in other refrigerators.
The bottom of the machine has an anti-slip mat that helps keep it stable on steep roads. It can tolerate a 30-degree incline. You don’t need to worry while moving on uphill roads.
My Verdict about the Fridge: This is a good machine if you prefer features over quality and cooling capabilities. It has touch panels, a stylish appearance, and chained lid, and recessed handles.
But the main concern while buying a mini-fridge for your car is its cooling capacity. The unit takes quite some time before it starts chilling things up. Moreover, its outer side is not very durable.
- Touch control panel
- USB charging option
- Reasonable price for the size
- It takes a lot of time to cool
Best Mini-Refrigerators for Cars Compared
Also check, best 24-inch mini refrigerators.
You cannot risk anything when buying a mini-fridge for your cars, RVs, or camping trips. Therefore, it is very important to make a well-informed purchase decision. It is imperative that you understand your machine’s capabilities, performance and limitations before starting your journey.
I am here to make sure that you make a wise decision and buy the best mini-fridge as per your needs. I have compiled a buying guide consisting of all the factors you must consider before buying a mini-fridge.
Type of Mini-Fridge: Compressor based or Thermoelectric
Thermoelectric coolers are fan-based coolers that don’t have a compressor in them. They can’t freeze the food or make ice. It can reduce the internal temperature as per its capacity, usually 40 degrees below the ambient temperature.
I recommend a thermoelectric cooler for people living in colder regions because it doesn’t perform well if the ambient temperature goes above 77. An added benefit is the heating option. So it is a great way to keep your beverages and food hot.
Its design and working are similar to a standard home refrigerator. The compressor compresses the cooling gas to create a cooling effect. The only difference is that this machine can also be run on a 12 or 24 volt DC outlet. The capacity, temperature range, and storage design vary from one model to another.
Compressor-based machines can be used anywhere without considering the ambient temperature because they produce their cooling effect by using a cooling agent.
Once you are done selecting the type of refrigerator, the next critical question is the temperature range. Thermoelectric coolers usually have a maximum cooling limit of 32F below ambient temperature or a heating limit of 120-140F above ambient temperature. There is not much to consider here.
However, for compressor-based models, you also need to consider the temperature range and adjustment. If you are going with a dual-zone model, make sure it has dual temperature modes. Check out the temperature adjustment methods. It is nice to have additional control options such as mobile phone applications and Bluetooth connectivity.
Size (capacity) and Available Space
Another important feature to consider is capacity. You must consider how many people travel with you and how much stuff you need to carry. You will also need to consider the available space in your car and what other luggage you need to take with you.
Dividers and Baskets
Car fridges come with dividers and baskets that help keep the foods organized. Some big models have built-in platforms that add value to your machine and bring convenience.
Check out the carry handle before buying a car refrigerator. Small models have a shoulder strap; medium-sized models have a flip-top handle or side handles. Extra-large models have retractable handles with wheels. The portability of the unit depends on the carry handle design.
Most models have a flip-top door design. Some models offer reversible doors as well. The important thing to check is how well the door seals to the body and does it have any locking mechanism.
Certification and Warranty
Look for certification and warranty before buying the machine. The industry standard is a 1-year warranty on parts and labor and an extended warranty on compressors.
Is a car refrigerator worth it?
Yes. It may seem like an irrelevant purchase considering that you can use a simple cooler with ice packs to keep your food fresh and drinks chilled, but the hassle of doing all this is too big against the convenience a car refrigerator brings in.
All you have to do is plug in the machine, load your stuff, and start your journey without the hassle of refreshing ice packs at every gas stop.
Can you use ice in a thermoelectric cooler?
Yes. You can use ice packs in a thermoelectric cooler but not a compressor-based machine. If you are using a thermoelectric cooler, we recommend you freeze the food first, pack it in ice and then store it.
How long can I run a car cooler on my car?
You can run your cooler as long as you want but make sure you don’t run it when the vehicle is turned off, as it can drain the battery pretty quick. We all know what happens when you leave the headlights on overnight. The same is the case with mini-refrigerators.
Is there any difference in running the machine on 12V DC or a wall outlet?
As far as the unit’s performance is concerned, there is no difference. You can use all of the above machines at your home without any worries.
Is it ok to load the fridge fully?
No. You must not load the fridge to its maximum capacity. I always leave the cooling vents uncovered and leave ample space to allow the air to circulate inside. Furthermore, you must leave at least 3-4 inches of space on all sides of the fridge while loading it in your vehicle.
How long will a car refrigerator keep food cold when turned off?
It depends on the build quality and insulation of the machine. If the materials used in the machine are good and the lid is not opened frequently, the contents will stay cool for 4-6 hours.
A car refrigerator is a great companion for those and long boring road trips. With a car refrigerator, you have the liberty of having cold drinks anywhere you like without the hassle of stopping at a gas pump.
theappliancenerd.com is supported by its audience. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.