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The Best Portable 12-Volt Refrigerators For 2022

(Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)

Going on a road trip and want to keep your favorite beverages and food cold? Need to supplement that small refrigerator in your RV or van?

You need a portable 12-volt refrigerator! But which one??? And what should you look for in a portable refrigerator?

Read on to find which 12-volt fridge freezer is best for you.

Portable Refrigerator Guide

Do you need an electric cooler or an actual 12-volt portable refrigerator? Do you even know what the difference is? Read our Portable Refrigerator Guide today and learn all the things!

Why Only Dometic 12-Volt Portable Refrigerators?

If you own an RV, then you most likely have at least one Dometic product in it.

Dometic is a trusted RV appliance manufacturer, but that's not why we rank their portable refrigerator-freezers and their 12-volt coolers as the best.

We do so because, well, they ARE the best!

Here's our reasoning:
  • Dometic's CFX line of portable refrigerator-freezers is the only one that can go down to -8º Fahrenheit. Most competitors only go down to 0º F. Why is the extra 8 degrees of cooling important? It's all about the ice cream! Really. Ice cream gets truly hard below 0º Fahrenheit, so if you like hard ice cream, a Dometic CFX 12-volt portable freezer is what you need. Fine, yes there are other reasons you might want to cool below 0º F, but we think ice cream should rank at the top.
  • Dometic offers a true dual-zone portable refrigerator freezer with their CFX-95DZW. You can set each of the two compartments to their own temperatures. Either both can be used as refrigerator compartments, both as freezer compartments, or one as a fridge and one as a freezer compartment. Other portable 'dual-zone' fridge freezers (including Dometic's smaller CFX-65DZ) have one setting and the cool air from the freezer compartment 'bleed over' into the refrigerator compartment, giving you less control of the refrigerator section.
  • Dometic's line of 12-volt coolers is unique in that they have temperature controls for both the cool and hot functionality. With competitor's 12v coolers, they are either on or off. Dometic offers 7 different temperature steps, making their 12-volt coolers unique.

What about ARB fridge freezers, Engel refrigerator-freezers or Whynter 12-volt portable refrigerators?

These are three well-known brands in the portable 12-volt fridge market, so why not include them?

Simple.

Either they are (sometimes WAY) more expensive than the Dometic offerings, or they don't have the superior cooling capability of Dometic's CFX line of portable fridge freezers, or sometimes even both.

Dometic has positioned itself to be the leader in the small portable refrigerator marketplace and we see no reason to not go with the leader when they are the best!

12-Volt Portable Refrigerator Reviews

We broke down 12-volt refrigerators into a few different categories so you can find the one that will best meet your criteria.

These include the best overall 12-volt portable refrigerator-freezers, the best dual zone refrigerator-freezers, and the best 12-volt coolers.

Each of these serves a different need, so let's get to reading and find out which refrigerator review best suits your needs!

Best 12-Volt Portable Refrigerator/ Freezer

Dometic CFX Fridge / Freezers

Dometic CFX-50 12v fridge freezer open

Pros

  • Uses a compressor like a 'real' refrigerator
  • Low amperage draw (12-volt power)
  • 3-stage battery protection
  • Digital readout to precisely set temperature
  • Various capacities available
  • Quiet

Cons

  • Can only be set as a refrigerator OR a freezer at once
  • More expensive than a cooler, but features may be worth it

Dometic's CFX line of small portable refrigerators offers efficient compressor technology which means they function like a house refrigerator OR a freezer.

They are small and lightweight so you can take them on the go. 

Choose Your Capacity

Continue Reading Dometic CFX Line of 12v Portable Refrigerator Freezers Review

Best Dual Zone 12-Volt Refrigerator/ Freezer

Dometic CFX-65DZ / 95DZW

Dometic CFX-95DZ dual zone portable refrigerator freezer open

Pros

  • DUAL ZONE! - you can have both a refrigerator and a freezer compartment
  • CFX-95DZW has true dual zones where you can set separate temperatures for each side
  • Uses a quiet compressor like a 'real' refrigerator
  • Low amperage draw (12-volt power)
  • 3-stage battery protection
  • Digital readout to precisely set temperature

Cons

  • CFX-65DZ doesn't have true dual zones - it uses air 'bleeding' over from freezer compartment to cool refrigerator section

Need to have both a refrigerator and a freezer compartment at the same time? 

Then the Dometic CFX Dual-Zone portable refrigerator-freezers are just what you need.

 The CFX-95DZW offers true dual-zone capability in that you can set an individual temperature for each of the two compartments. 

However, the CFX-65DZ relies on air spilling over from the freezer compartment to cool the refrigerated section.

Continue Reading Dometic 12v Dual-Zone Portable Refrigerator Freezer Review

Best 12-Volt Cooler

Dometic Tropicool

Dometic TC-35 12v car refrigerator open

Pros

  • Thermoelectric cooling and heating element
  • Can either cool or heat interior
  • 7-stage temperature settings
  • Low amperage draw (12-volt power)
  • ECO mode for very low power use

Cons

  • Not a true refrigerator
  • Cannot set to a specific temperature
  • Hotter it is outside, the warmer the unit will be inside

The Dometic line of Tropicool 12-volt coolers are a great option if you are looking for cooling (and/or heating) capability without needing a true portable refrigerator.

This is a great option for short trips. 

Choose Your Capacity

Continue Reading Dometic Tropicool Portable Electric Cooler Review

Portable Car Refrigerators: True Compressor Technology in a Compact Size

The Dometic Tropicool line has some great 12-volt car coolers.

However, what if you want an actual car refrigerator, there are better (but more expensive) options.

That said, what do we mean by a car fridge?

We mean a portable DC refrigerator that uses compressor technology (like your home's refrigerator) instead of the imprecise thermoelectric technology used by the Tropicool line (and all thermoelectric plug-in coolers).

Dometic CF-18 12 volt car refrigerator

Dometic CF-18

Dometic CF-18 12 volt car refrigerator open

Dometic CF-18

The Dometic CFX line are true portable refrigerators using a compressor to cool the units. They are great choices for portable car refrigerators.

If you are looking for a smaller portable car fridge, then the three choices below from the Dometic CF line are worthy options.

If you want anything larger than the three below choices, then it makes sense, from a cost perspective, to go with an offering from the CFX line of portable 12v fridges.

(They have a better compressor than the below three CF line offerings, allowing the CFX line to cool to a lower temp).

Dometic CDF-11, CF-18, and CF-25 Portable Car Refrigerators

The Dometic CDF-11, CF-18 and CF-25 are narrow, small capacity portable car refrigerators that have true compressor technology.

They allow you to precisely set the interior temperature.

They can operate as either a refrigerator or freezer, with the capability of cooling down to 0º Fahrenheit (-18º C).

Dometic CF-25 portable car refrigerator

Dometic CF-25

Camp Addict co-founder Marshall had a Dometic CDF-11 (pictured below) for a while.

He was impressed with how well it maintained its cool (see what we did there?).

It is the smallest portable compressor refrigerator Dometic makes, with a capacity of 0.4 cubic feet.

You aren't going to fit much into it, but it will keep the contents at a precise temperature.

And it makes a great center console, cup holders included (2.67" in diameter).

Dometic CDF-11 portable car refrigerator

Dometic CDF-11

Dometic CDF-11 portable car refrigerator open

Dometic CDF-11

This portable mini-refrigerator costs more than the Tropicool line of thermoelectric portable electric coolers.

This is because they offer the same cooling technology as a full-size household refrigerator.

You get much better cooling capability with one of these DC fridges.

If you need a larger capacity portable car refrigerator, then you should check out the DC fridges in the Dometic CFX line reviewed above.

  • Download the Dometic CF line of portable car fridges manual here (PDF)
  • Download the Dometic CDF-11 portable car fridge manual here (PDF)
Dometic CDF-11, CF-18, and CF-25 Features and Specs:

Capacity (in cubic feet, quarts and liters) and Dimensions

Model

Capacity (cu ft/qts/liters)

Dimensions (W x H X D)

CDF-11

0.4/10/11

9.4" W x 14.1" H x 21.6" D

CF-18

0.7/19/18

11.8" W x 16.3" H x 18.3" D

CF-25

0.8/19/18

10.2" W x 16.7" H x 21.7" D

Weight and Power Usage

Model

Weight

Rated Current

CDF-11

19 lbs

2.5 amps @ 12v

CF-18

25 lbs

3.1 Amps @ 12v

CF-25

28 lbs

3.1 amps @ 12v

Specifications:
  • True compressor technology allows for precise temperature control
  • Power source: 12/24 volts DC or 120 volts AC
  • Made from high-impact resistance plastic with extra thick insulation
  • Set temperatures between 0º F (-18º C) to 50ºF (10º C) so these portable car fridges can function both as a refrigerator and as a freezer
  • Electronic thermostat with digital temperature display
  • Three-level battery monitor to prevent the fridge from draining your vehicle's battery (you can choose at what battery voltage the fridge shuts off to prevent complete battery drain)
  • Dometic CDF-11 cup holders are 2.67 inches (68mm) in diameter
  • Warranty: 2 years

Dometic Portable 12-Volt Refrigerator Accessories

Now that you've purchased that shiny new Dometic CFX portable fridge, it's time to treat it right!

Dometic makes insulated, protective covers for the CFX line of 12-volt fridge freezers.

They also make slides that allow you to access your CFX fridge when it is in tight quarters.

Dometic CFX Insulated Covers

Dometic makes protective, insulated covers for their CFX line of portable 12-volt refrigerator-freezers. 

Made from high-quality nylon fabric with extra insulation, these covers improve the cooling capability of your portable fridge (and thus reduce the battery power used), while providing some protection. 

The top flap(s) open to allow easy access to the fridge contents, and exterior pockets provide extra storage space.

Dometic CFX-40 12 volt portable refrigerator cover

Dometic CFX-40 Cover

Dometic CFX-65DZ portable refrigerator cover

Dometic CFX-65DZ Cover

Dometic makes an insulated cover to fit various sizes of their CFX line of portable fridges.

Click on the 'Buy on Amazon' button below and then choose the model you need a cover for:

Choose Your Cover


Dometic CFX Slides

If you want to install your Dometic CFX portable refrigerator in 'tight' quarters and need a way to access it, the CFX slide is the answer.

You can install your CFX refrigerator freezer on the base of the slide.

Connect it either via the supplied straps or by using screws into the bottom of the fridge. 

The slide itself is mounted onto your vehicle, and you simply 'slide' out the tray to access your 12-volt portable freezer/refrigerator.

Dometic CFX portable fridge slide

Each size slide fits two different sizes of CFX portable fridge freezers.

If you have a CFX-35 or CFX-40 refrigerator, then purchase a CFX-SLD3540 slide.

If you have a CFX-50 or CFX-65 fridge, then purchase the CFX-SLD5065 slide.

Finally, if you have a CFX-95 or CFX-100, purchase the CFX-SLD95100 slide.

Choose Your Slide

Conclusion

Having a portable 12-volt refrigerator is handy if you need to keep your food safe and cold for extended periods.

They are great for off-roading and to have extra storage space in your RV for longer trips off-grid.

Read our Portable Refrigerator Guide to learn more about these 12-volt appliances.

Now you have the tools to decide what portable refrigerator will work best for you.

Whatever you pick, just make sure you get out there and use it.

Question? Comment below, but read them first- we don't answer the same question twice!

Now, Camp on, Addicts!

Kelly Headshot
Kelly Beasley

He-llllo. I'm the co-founder of Camp Addict, which my biz partner and I launched in 2017. I frigging love the RVing lifestyle but in December of 2020, I converted to part-time RV life. Heck, I lived in my travel trailer for over 5.5 years, STRICTLY boondocking for pretty much all of it. Boondocking is a GREAT way to live, but it's not easy. Anyway, I'm passionate about animals, can't stand campgrounds, I hardly ever cook, and I love a good dance party. Currently, I can be found plotting and scheming whether or not to start collecting farm animals (or plotting my next RV trip!) at my beautiful new 'ranch' named 'Hotel Kellyfornia', in Southern Arizona.


Marshall Headshot
Marshall Wendler

Camp Addict co-founder Marshall Wendler brings his technical expertise to help explain RV products in an easy to understand fashion. Full-time RVing from April 2014 - December 2020 (now RVing about 50% of the time), Marshall loves sharing his knowledge of the RV lifestyle. Marshall spends the majority of his RVing life boondocking. He is the part of Camp Addict that knows 'all the things'. He's good at sharing his technical knowledge so you can benefit. 

    • Hey Vanner,

      Possibly you missed this at the very top of the article? 🙂

      “Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.”

      It’s simply a matter of feeling that Dometic makes the best 12-volt refrigerators on the market. For reasons listed on this page. While this is true at the time that we wrote the article, that’s not to say it will always be this way. If/when a better product comes to market we will take a hard look at it.

    • Hey Ben,

      Thanks for that. Just don’t have the fridge plugged into both an AC and DC power source at the same time (that seems like a weird combination, so pretty easy to avoid). Dometic will send owners a sticker and revised instructions indicating such.

  • Domestic is probobly the best, like Ferrari, but most of us cannot afford that! It would be like sell a kidney expensive for many people camping because they cannot afford lodging, etc., in order to vacation. I was disappointed that you did not offer alternatives that rank in reliability and capacity for the price as I had to on Amazon, checking reviews, and finding Alpicool, Kalmera, Jetpower and IceCo. I think just like Honda and Toyota make great cars, which could never be the incredible engineering and designing feat of a Ferrari or Porsche, they meet the needs of most people very well and are a viable option for them. I honestly will never by a Dometic even if I win the lottery because there is a difference between luxury and function, and I think their prices hurt to even look at. I can think of so many more important things to spend money on when preparing gear for camping than a thousand dollar camp refrigerator. I am sure the Glamping crowd will find them perfect, but the rest of us are camping for simplicity and peace, not luxury or to show off how much we can spend on camp gear. There are plenty of wonderful reviews for the other brands by people using them for years, and I think they deserve at least an honorable mention.

    • Hey Heather,

      You bring up a great point – the price of Dometic 12-volt refrigerators. Yes, they are on the pricey side. Yes, we should have alternatives. Yes, that is on our to-do list (update this page).

      Thanks for your comment!

  • You should look at National Luna. They are a lot more expensive but they are also far superior, and yes they go down to -30c. They were originally developed to deliver vaccines in Africa and are arguably the best. Made in S. Africa.

    • Hey David,

      That looks like an intriguing portable fridge for sure, but it seems like it’s a more difficult unit to obtain. This brand seems to only be sold by specialty dealers so you have to really, really want one of these to take the time to hunt it down.

      The portable fridge freezers we feature on this page are readily obtainable and meet the needs of the vast majority of users.

      Thanks for pointing out this brand!

    • Hi Joe,

      Great catch! Thank you!

      That section heading was copied from the reviews above where there is actual noise data shown. But the portable car refrigerators section features units that Dometic doesn’t appear to publish noise specs on.

      I’ve updated that section to remove the noise information from the chart header.

      Thank you again for pointing this out.

    • Hey John,

      We haven’t taken a look at the Truma fridges, but at first glance they look a lot like the Dometic portable fridge freezers. Dometic manufacturers portable coolers for multiple other companies, though they won’t confirm who they manufacture for. This is their corporate response:

      “Dometic is one of the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile cooling products (including portable fridge/freezers). We manufacture our own branded items and we are an OE supplier to brands around the world. We don’t publicly discuss our private label business; however, our partners are free to disclose from who they purchase product.”

      We will be taking a look at current portable fridge freezers, including the new Dometic CFX3 line, later this year. It’s on our to-do list.

      • Hello Marshall
        The Truma Cooler Portable Fridge/Freezer is not manufactured by Dometic. Truma manufactures all our own products.

        Please reach out to me if you would like an opportunity to learn more about the Truma Cooler and discuss the possibility of testing a unit for review.

        Thank you,
        John
        Head of Marketing Truma North America
        info@trumacorp.com

        • Hi John,

          Email has been sent to your private email address. Looking forward to hearing back from you.

          Thank you!

    • Hi “Z”,

      Absolutely not.

      As stated on every review page on Camp Addict, we do not accept any kind of payment for endorsement of the products we review.

      All of our reasons for loving the Dometic portable refrigerators that we do as well as reasoning for why we don’t recommend any others are clearly stated in this article.

  • Like your site! Not understanding the Dometic pushing on this article. There are good alternatives. And Dometic is not all roses. They bought out fantastic fans and cheapened the motor on them, turning these legendary fans into just another cheap ( yet expensive) fan.

    • Hey “Guest”,

      Glad that you like Camp Addict! Sorry that you don’t understand why we chose Dometic (though we do explain it in this article).

      Also not sure what a Fantastic Fan has to do with Dometic’s 12-volt fridge/freezer offerings, other than they are owned by the same company. But we do prefer the Maxxair Maxxfan Deluxe over the Fantastic offerings.

      I do have a Fantastic Fan that came from the factory in my 2014 Lance Travel Trailer and have been using it as a full-time RVer for 5.5+ years with zero issues. This is A LOT more use than the typical RVer will ever see with their fans, so I don’t think that the Fantastic is a piece of crap.

      We aren’t all unicorns and rainbows with Dometic. We just happen to like their portable fridge/freezers.

      I will give you the fact that there seem to be a lot more portable refrigerators on the market now then when we first published this article. We will be revisiting this page in the future to see if Dometic should remain at the top spot.

      Thanks for your comment “guest” (and don’t hesitate to use your real name – we don’t bite! 😉 )

    • Hey, here’s one reason they are pushing Dometic on here. I bought a CC40 in April 2019, plugged into the the 12 volt outlet in my semi on May 1st 2019, set it at the lowest temp and I have had frozen food everytime I’ve open it. I drive all over North America, from 100+ degree temps in the southern U.S. to -40 in northern Canada. It runs 24/7 for the most part. Once a month I shut it down and give it a “rest” and a good cleaning. Best $1000CDN ($700US) I have ever spent!!! I am here looking for a small 12 volt fridge because the 12 volt cooler I have can’t keep up to the temperature inside the cab of my truck never mind the 100 degrees down south. Found some other brands for about $300US but I am going to pay $600+ for Dometic cause as Grandpa use to say, “you get what you
      pay for”.

      • Hi Larry,

        Thank you for the real-time review from a happy consumer! The old saying mentioned by yourself (and your grandpa) is absolutely correct… “You get what you pay for”.

        These are the best we found to be on the market and so of course they are going to be more expensive than the ‘cheaper’ ones due to the quality, manufacturing, and research that went into creating a product that is superior to the rest.

        Happy travels down the road and thank you for the supportive comment!

  • Hi. I have to say, the information here is astounding. I have decided I will get the compression refrigerator from Dometic. I will be taking a long road trip in my car, but I don’t want to rely on the battery from my engine for charging. Can you recommend a good battery to use with the Dometic that is safe to keep in the car? Thanks!!

    • Hey Paula,

      Glad you like our portable 12 volt fridge page!

      If you truly want a safe battery to use inside a vehicle, I’d consider a lithium 12-volt battery. They are really pricey, but they don’t off-gas like a lead acid battery does (they require venting to the outside).

      You could get something like a Goal Zero (or one of their competitors – I think Dometic even makes one now but we haven’t reviewed any of these units). This is a lithium power pack that is used for recharging computers, cell phones, and can be used for running 12-volt fridges.

      Hope that helps! Have fun on your road trip!

  • I have a goal zero 1000 lithium battery station. Which is the largest model it will power? I also have a goal zero 400 lithium power station. Will the 400 power any of these?

    • Hi John,

      I cannot answer that question for you as there are too many variables. How long do you want to run a portable fridge off your battery pack? What is the outside temperature? The higher the temperature the refrigerator is in, and the longer you want to run it, the larger battery pack capacity you need.

      What I suggest is to find out the usable amp hours for the 400 and 1000 battery stations. Then look at the power usage charts in the above reviews.

      Notice that on the charts that show two power usage numbers, these are based on ambient temps of 50º F (20º C) and 90º F (32º C) and with portable fridge interior temp of 41º F (5º C).

      You will have to do some math, but it should be fairly easy to get an idea on how long the Goal Zero’s can run the different size Dometic portable fridge/freezers.

      Thanks for the question and best of luck finding the right fridge for you!

    • John, No worries I have the same GZ 1000 Lithium, it’s a beast of a portable power provider, plus it charges quickly from multiple sources concurrently 12V/120V/Solar. I think it’s actually 1045WH using a 96.8AH Battery. If you use a conservative number of 25 Amp hours per day for a 12V typical fridge. (remembering that you have compressor duty cycling) you should get 3-4 days, but beer never lasts that long anyway…

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