This fridge adds WiFi and a mobile app interface to an already popular line of 12-volt fridges. We put the Dometic CFX35W portable refrigerator to the test for this review.
Never buy ice again: That’s the primary advantage of a portable fridge. But it’s not the only one. If you have ever fished your soggy sandwich out of a pool of murky water, you understand why many people have made the leap to electric.
As a longtime leader in portable appliances, Dometic recently relaunched a line of CFX refrigerators. The lightweight and compact units now range in size from 28 to 100 quarts. Inside each of the eight models is an energy-efficient Waco compressor, powered by either 120 AC or 12-volt DC inputs, for use in your home or vehicle.
The most significant update to the CFX line is WiFi connectivity. A free iOS and Android mobile app controls and monitors internal temp. Other features include alerts if the lid is left open, or if the unit falls outside the user-selected temperature range.
I tested the CFX35W and found it a perfect addition to car camping.
Power Sipper: Engineered for Energy Efficiency
Despite a low power draw of just 0.66 kWh over a 24-hour period, it still has potential to deplete a deep-cycle battery. In most scenarios, a car’s power supply stores enough juice to keep the refrigerator running for up to 24 hours.
To avoid draining the battery, Dometic equipped the unit with a three-level low-voltage safety shutoff. Other features include a USB charging port, internal LED light, and large folding handles for a secure carry and solid tie-down points. A small crisper compartment and removable wire basket keep contents organized.
Cooler Beater: Better Use of Space, Greater Convenience
For people with small SUVs, crossovers, and wagons, the CFX35W is the ideal size for weekend getaways. With external dimensions of 17 x 18 x 28 inches, it weighs just 34 pounds. That might seem heavy, but it is considerably lighter than a high-quality cooler filled with 20 pounds of ice.
It has more storage volume than a cooler of like size. With no need for ice, the entire 1.1 ft.³ of storage space is large enough to fit 47 twelve-ounce cans. It is by all accounts a superior experience to cooler cooling.
An electric fridge keeps your food dry with no melt-water to drain or ice to continually replenish. And you never have to plunge your hands into cold water in search of your baby carrots.
The Big Chill: Freeze Deep
It’s easy to confuse portable refrigerators with the inexpensive 12-volt coolers sold in big box stores. Those products only chill to 40 degrees F below ambient temperature. On a hot summer day, that’s not enough cooling power to keep your food stored at the FDA-suggested target of sub 40 degrees F.
The Dometic’s lower limit dips to -7 degrees F to keep your Ben & Jerry’s frozen rock solid. Perhaps you want your craft IPA chilled to a perfect 42 degrees F. The CFX35W can do it. After nearly a year of use, I have found the unit maintains a target temperature with few fluctuations.
Justify the Spend: More Than Just a Camp Toy
If you’re searching for reasons to buy a fridge for your vehicle, don’t think of it as a weekend plaything. When not venturing into the sticks, my Dometic lives in the garage and chills beer. Most of the time, it’s in my vehicle.
While out running midday errands, I don’t hesitate to swing by the grocery store and plop my shopping in the CFX35W. On warm days after a post-work mountain bike ride, I always return to the car greeted by a cold fizzy drink. With an MSRP of $699, you will want to lean on the user perks to justify the expense. On the upshot, the common street price is typically less than $550 with free shipping.
Whether you’re trying to up your van life game, or want something cooler than a cooler, trust the technology you have used in your kitchen all of your life. Get a fridge.
Fueled by his personal mantra – “the Earth is cool” – Christophe Noel has dedicated his life to exploring as much of it as he can. His words and images have appeared in a number of print and digital publications as well as manufacturer websites, catalogs, and ad campaigns. When not tapping away at a keyboard as a freelance journalist, or looking through the clear glass of a camera lens, he can be found riding bicycles, motorcycles, or shuffling through an airport on route to his next adventure. Learn more at www.christophenoel.net.