The best electric coolers, or portable refrigerators, have taken the outdoors by storm in the last few years. They will legitimately change the way you pack and prepare your camp meals. We tested some of the best on the market to help you choose which electric cooler is right for you.
Say goodbye to nasty water at the bottom of coolers and bags of rock-hard ice. If you’re ready for a serious camp-kitchen upgrade, it’s time to welcome an electric cooler to your kit.
These portable refrigerators can plug into your car battery or run on mobile power packs, solar panels, and more. You can pack your iceless cooler to the gills with food and drinks and maintain a consistent temperature indefinitely.
Some of the electric coolers we recommend even have dual zones, allowing you to store drinks and frozen treats separately at their proper temperatures.
In this comprehensive buyer’s guide, we’ll help you find the best electric cooler for your specific needs. Using the links below, you can skip to the recommendation that suits your needs, or you can simply scroll down to browse all the high-quality options we selected for this list.
If you’re struggling to make a decision, head down to the end of the article to read our buying guide and FAQ sections. These will help you understand how to compare the many different features of electric coolers to determine which one will be best for your particular circumstances.
For even more intel, be sure to check out our article on the seven things you should know before buying an electric cooler.
The Best Electric Coolers of 2022
Best Overall: Dometic CFX3 55 IM Powered Cooler
It’s no surprise that Dometic stands prominently on this list. The brand is a favorite among campers, RVers, and other mobile-life mavens. And as a global brand, it’s a fixture in everything from RVs to megayachts. We wouldn’t fault you if you stopped reading right here and got yourself a Dometic Powered Cooler.
The CFX3 55 IM ($1,200) is the cream of the crop for electric coolers, striking a nice balance between capacity, price, and portability. Like all Dometic products, it has a sturdy construction and robust handles. This cooler is surprisingly lightweight considering its generous capacity, which can fit 50 soda cans.
But the main reason people love Dometic is its energy efficiency. The cooler has a strong compressor that can freeze down to -7 degrees F and a strong insulation factor to keep things cool and minimize energy consumption.
As GearJunkie reviewer Seiji Ishii explained, the electric cooler gets cold enough to be able to make ice. Read his full review of the CFX3.
One other huge perk of the family of Dometic products is they’ve entered the 21st century in a big way. The electric cooler not only has a sleek high-resolution display, but it’s also Bluetooth-enabled and app-compatible.
By downloading the Dometic app to your phone, you can control the cooler’s temperature and monitor the history of the cooler’s power consumption. All these excellent features do come at a hefty price tag, though, so if you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, you might want to scroll down.
- Size: 27.3″ x 16″ x 15.7″
- Capacity: 36 L
- Weight: 37 lbs.
- Temperature range: Minimum of -7 degrees F
- Convenient and comfortable handles
- Good insulation
- App-enabled controls
Best Fridge/Freezer Cooler: National Luna 50L Dual Control Legacy Fridge/Freezer
Overland and motoring editor Bryon Dorr has used a variety of 12V fridges in his overland travels. His current setup from National Luna is his best yet.
The 50L National Luna Legacy Dual Control ($1,295) offers great looks, a compact size for its capacity, trusted durability (over 30 years in business), and impressive efficiency. Dorr’s favorite part of this fridge/freezer is the three included organizer baskets. They make finding that food at the bottom of the fridge super easy and loading the fridge before and after a trip a breeze.
The dimpled aluminum skin of the National Luna looks, feels, and is premium. The onboard proprietary compressor is not only super-efficient and quick to cool down the fridge/freezer, but also comes with an 8-year warranty.
This dual control cooler can also automatically switch between AC and DC power. That means it works just as well in your vehicle as it does plugged-in on your patio for your next BBQ.
- Size: 28″ x 15” x 20”
- Capacity: 38.3 L (left zone), 11 L (right zone)
- Weight: 54.7 lbs.
- Temperature range: 68 to -1 degree F (left zone), 68 to -11 degrees F (right zone)
- Super efficient
- Organizer baskets are awesome
- Good looks
- Two latches instead of one
- Sometimes hard to find in stock
Most Rugged Electric Cooler: ARB Zero Portable Fridge & Freezer
The ARB Zero Portable Fridge Freezer ($1,742) is a real beast of a cooler. It comes in around the same capacity, weight, and size as the Dometic but with a heftier price tag. For those who pack a variety of food, the extra versatility is worth the expense.
First, this cooler is over half a foot taller than the Dometic Dual Zone, which gives you deeper storage for things like tall wine bottles. Second, you actually get three baskets in the ARB as compared to two with the Dometic.
While you may worry about the single-lid design of the ARB, the freezer portion has its own lid inside to keep your food insulated when you open the fridge section.
Finally, if you want to forgo the fridge/freezer combo and only use one temperature zone, the separate baskets and compartments can be removed to increase space, allowing for one larger space with a total capacity of 69 L.
This is still slightly smaller than Dometic’s storage abilities, but the versatility of the product may be an important consideration. If you need to store large products, such as your Thanksgiving turkey, this ARB Zero will be able to handle it.
We also love the unit’s integrated handles, touchscreen, embedded cup holders, and seriously sturdy frame. The steel casing has robust corner molding to keep the electric cooler and your treats inside from getting damaged on a bumpy ride. Finally, anti-condensation technology prevents food from getting wet in the portable fridge.
As an add-on accessory, the ARB Zero Freezer Fridge Power Pack is the perfect way to keep your cooler going when you do not have access to another source of power. The Power Pack connects to the electric cooler and integrates seamlessly. And it can extend your cooler’s run time by a lot. Read our full review of the ARB Zero Freezer Fridge Power Pack.
If you’re looking to make an investment in a sturdy electric cooler that will survive many wild adventures, the ARB Zero Portable Fridge Freezer may be the one for you.
- Size: 33″ x 21″ x 25″
- Capacity: 69 L
- Weight: 62.9 lbs.
- Temperature range: -8 to 50 degrees F
- Dual zones
- Tall storage
- Very durable
- Matching power pack (not included)
- Very expensive
Best Large Electric Cooler: Dometic CFX3 75 Dual Zone Powered Cooler
The big brother of the 55, Dometic’s CFX3 75 Dual Zone Powered Cooler ($1,400) is a powerhouse. This electric cooler is quite a bit larger, heavier, and more expensive than the relatively tame Dometic CFX3 55, but its extra capabilities make it a fan favorite for more serious adventures.
As the name suggests, the Dometic CFX3 75 Dual Zone has two storage compartments so you can cool and freeze simultaneously. Either compartment can be set to any temperature, allowing you to configure the cooler to your particular needs. This electric food cooler has a 75L capacity, which can fit 113 soda cans.
Reviewers love that the cooler is easy to use and find its insulation rating exceeds expectations. This is a high-performance travel cooler that brings comfort — dare we say, luxury — to car camping. Considering its bulky size, however, keep in mind it will probably live in your trunk, so it might not be the most practical option for accessing snacks on a road trip.
If you’re looking for a cooler that can last, Dometic coolers have a reliable three-stage dynamic battery protection system that will protect your food for the length of your adventure.
- Size: 35.1″ x 19.5″ x 18.6″
- Capacity: 75 L
- Weight: 61 lbs.
- Temperature range: Minimum of -7 degrees F
- Huge storage capacity for its weight
- Dual zones for fridge/freezer combination
- Reliable and durable
- App-enabled controls
- Very expensive
Amazon Favorite Budget Cooler: Kohree Portable Refrigerator
If you’re looking for a functional electric cooler at a low price, your best bet is Amazon. There, you can get functional portable fridges at about a third of the cost of name-brand units. But be aware, they will generally lack the efficiency and durability of our primary choices.
If cost is your primary concern, check out the Kohree Portable Refrigerator ($259). This unit is still more expensive than traditional ice coolers. But at a fraction of the price of name-brand refrigerators, it will still keep food and drinks cold.
The electric cooler can be powered by 12 V (in a car), 24 V (in a truck), 110/240 V (in a wall socket), or any power from a solar panel or power station. This versatility makes it easy to stay cold throughout your whole trip, from packing to driving to snacking in the great outdoors.
Using an aluminum evaporator, this electric cooler can lower the temperature in the unit from 77 to -4 degrees F in just 60 minutes. If you have more time to prepare, the cooler also has an “eco” mode that uses less energy, and reviewers love how quiet the electric cooler is.
Kohree includes a touchscreen control panel and battery protection on the portable refrigerator. The included carrying handle is recessed into the unit. If you have limited space in the car or want to fit the cooler between seats, its compact and uniform design could prove very helpful for keeping your kids happy on the road.
- Size: 22.4″ x 12.6″ x 13.8″
- Capacity: 25 L
- Weight: 27.3 lbs.
- Temperature range: -7.6 to 50 degrees F
- Eco-friendly mode
- Embedded handle
- Small capacity
- Potentially not tall enough for large bottles
- Inaccurate/fluctuating temperature controls
Best of the Rest
If you’re looking for a smaller and highly energy-efficient unit, the Engel Platinum Electric Cooler ($1,150) might be the one for you. This compact cooler is well-regarded for its low power draw, which consumes about 40% less energy than a traditional compressor, according to the company.
Another great feature of all Engel power systems is the auto-switching system between AC or DC power sources. The cooler can sense the difference on its own, which saves you the need to manually adjust the power input.
The unit is surprisingly heavy compared to other electric coolers of similar capacities. This is mainly due to its durable stainless steel construction. It does not have wheels, so its hefty frame could be a problem for some people.
Another potential downside is this cooler has thin metal handles that protrude far from its sides. These handles make the electric cooler both more uncomfortable to carry and more difficult to pack efficiently into a tight space.
One final potential disadvantage is the temperature range the Engel Platinum can achieve. The minimum temperature is the highest on this list by multiple degrees, so if you’re looking for a sub-zero freezer, look elsewhere. Still, for people concerned with their energy consumption, this efficient electric cooler is a great choice.
- Size: 25.5″ x 14.3″ x 16″
- Capacity: 32 L
- Weight: 48 lbs.
- Temperature range: Minimum of 5.5 degrees F
- Low power draw
- Auto-switching system
- 3-year warranty
- Quite heavy for its small capacity
- Does not offer sub-zero minimum temperatures
- Protruding handles
- A bit pricey
While any of these devices could be powered by a sustainable source like a solar panel and battery bank, none is more eco-friendly than the GoSun Chill Electric Cooler ($749). This is the perfect product for people looking for modern luxury but who still want to maintain a sustainable lifestyle.
This electric cooler can be charged by your car’s battery, an AC adapter, or another power source. It can also plug into the electric cooler’s PowerBank, which can save a dead phone battery in a pinch.
On an 80-degree day, the PowerBank is strong enough to maintain the internal temperature of the electric cooler at 40 degrees F for 10 hours or 10 degrees F for 6 hours.
Finally, you can get a package deal on the GoSun Chill Electric Cooler and either the Solar Table (literally a table that’s a solar panel) or the Flexible Solar Panels. With these accessories, as long as there is some sunshine, you can keep your food and drinks cold from anywhere without worrying about draining your car battery.
Other great aspects of this electric cooler are its stylish, fun design and the helpful wheels and telescopic handle. For folks who like what GoSun has to offer but want a dual-zone option, check out the GoSun Chillest “Solar” Cooler with 45 L of storage between two fridge or freezer areas.
- Size: 23.5″ x 19″ x 16″
- Capacity: 40 L
- Weight: 30.2 lbs.
- Temperature range: -4 to 68 degrees F
- Great with solar table integration (not included)
- Most portable cooler here thanks to the handle and wheels
- Small capacity
At its relatively affordable price point, the Whynter Portable Refrigerator ($595) is a high-performing cooler with a lot going for it. The temperature range of the unit is very impressive, tying with the much more expensive ARB Zero for the lowest minimum temperature on this list. Not only is it the lowest we have seen, but it’s also just about the lowest possible temperature for an electric cooler.
The Whynter electric cooler has a secondary “Fast Freeze” mode to jack up the power and lower the temperature as fast as possible. With a temperature control deviation of only 1.6 degrees F, it has one of the best control ratings of all the coolers we reviewed.
Other great features include its durable construction, removable storage baskets, and convenient drain plug for easy cleaning. While the handles don’t look as comfortable as many other electric coolers, you could purchase the accessory Transit Bag, which offers better handles and pockets for additional storage. The portable refrigerator also comes in a camouflage design for hunters and others who spend time in the woods.
- Size: 16.5″ x 23.5″ x 20.5″
- Capacity: 42 L
- Weight: 45 lbs.
- Temperature range: -8 to 50 degrees F
- Has a “Fast Freeze” mode
- Great minimum temperature and temperature control
- Small handles
- Not particularly stylish
If you like the idea of a dual-zone electric cooler but not the price points of the Dometic or ARB options, you’re going to love what the ICECO VL60 Dual Zone Portable Refrigerator ($849) has to offer. ICECO is a popular brand with overwhelmingly positive reviews on all of its electric coolers.
This spacious cooler has two zones, both capable of reaching any temperature in the cooler’s range. The ICECO also supports two cooling modes, MAX and ECO, for fast freezing when you need it and energy efficiency when you don’t.
We particularly like the sturdy construction of ICECO’s coolers. The metal shell has thick walls, good seals, and steel fasteners to provide quality insulation.
The compressor comes with a 5-year warranty, so you can feel confident this electric cooler will be a good investment. Finally, the electric cooler comes with wired baskets for organizing your food and an interior LED light so you can always find what you are looking for, even in the dark.
There are a couple of small potential disadvantages to this cooler to be aware of before committing to it. Namely, the handles do not look as wide and comfortable as some of the others on this list. At such a hefty weight, if you plan to carry the cooler for any distance, this could be a hindrance.
More importantly, with a minimum temperature of zero degrees F, this electric cooler does not offer the sub-zero temperatures many of our other recommendations achieve. Still, at this price point, we had to give a shoutout to the rugged and capable ICECO Dual Zone Portable Refrigerator.
- Size: 31.2″ x 19.4″ x 18.8″
- Capacity: 60 L
- Weight: 65.7 lbs.
- Temperature range: 0 to 50 degrees F
- Interior LED light
- MAX and ECO cooling modes
- Does not offer sub-zero minimum temperatures
- Thin handles might be uncomfortable
Why You Should Trust Us
As you can see from all the included links, we’ve reviewed quite a few electric coolers as well as standard ice chests, soft and hard shells, and even backpack coolers. We know our way around outdoor products and make it our mission to provide you with the best intel we can on the gear you need.
For this guide, we tested five different models over 3 years. We also researched the highest-rated, best-selling, and most positively reviewed electric coolers out there. We’ve already done deep-dive reviews on a number of these products, and you can read those particular articles for even more information on why we’re recommending each of these electric coolers.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Electric Cooler
Size and Capacity
As you can already tell from our list of recommendations, electric coolers are available in a wide range of sizes. For the most part, the bigger the size, the more capacity the cooler will have. However, bigger is not necessarily better. More size will also increase its weight and footprint in your car.
On average, electric coolers weigh about a pound per liter of storage capacity. Keep this in mind as you compare coolers to see which has the best compromise of portability to capacity.
When choosing the right size for your electric cooler, consider your average trip length and the number of people in your group. For quick weekend getaways, you might choose a smaller cooler. If you have a large family, even a short trip could require a bigger cooler with a lot of storage space.
Number of Temperature Zones
Multiple temperature zones add versatility to your cooler, but they tend to add cost. If you plan to bring both refrigerated and frozen foods, you’ll need an electric cooler with dual zones. On this list, Dometic, ARB, National Luna, and ICECO offer dual-zone portable refrigerators.
Dual zones could also be necessary for people who travel with medications that need to be refrigerated. This allows storing prescriptions at the correct temperature no matter what else is in the cooler. Both zones have the same temperature range, so you can use either side as a fridge or freezer, depending on your needs.
Weight and Portability
For many electric coolers, size goes hand-in-hand with portability. Smaller units are easier to carry or store (like between the bucket seats of a van, so your kids can access snacks during a road trip), whereas larger electric coolers would need to go in the trunk.
As you read the weights listed in these product specs, keep in mind these are the weights of the coolers when empty. If it seems like a lot, it is. These miniature portable refrigerators have more mechanical parts than simple ice coolers, and they can add up to a lot of weight.
Once you include beverages and food, you can easily increase the weight listed to something difficult to carry. So consider how you will load it, and whether you need to regularly remove your fridge from the vehicle while in use.
Shelves and Organization
Some electric coolers have different areas separated by shelving and baskets. This can be helpful for keeping your food and drinks organized so you always know where everything is. Even in an electric cooler that does not have multiple zones, baskets and shelves are vital to food organization.
For example, the smaller Dometic Portable Cooler, our best overall pick, has a removable basket. That makes it easy to access large items stored at the bottom of the cooler.
The single basket can also move back and forth depending on where you choose to keep tall items. If this storage system sounds like an important feature for your next electric cooler, you’ll direct your attention to Dometic, ARB, and National Luna products.
While it may not be necessary to keep your electric cooler at a specific temperature down to the degree, you’ll want the precision of setting it within a couple of degrees. For wine, ice cream, or medication, having decent temperature control is an important factor in your decision of which electric cooler to purchase.
That said, keep in mind the temperature may vary within the cooler by a couple of degrees, depending on where the cooling mechanism and thermostat are located. For example, the Kohree Portable Refrigerator has a standard deviation of ±4 degrees.
While Amazon reviewers give this temperature control 4 out of 5 stars, some noted the temperature fluctuated by more than 6 degrees from its setting. Higher-priced, better-quality coolers like ARB, Dometic, and National Luna will give more precise temperature control.
Related to temperature control is the cooler’s temperature range capability. There are different types of electric coolers, the two most common being compressor coolers and thermoelectric coolers. All of the coolers featured on this list are compressor coolers because they offer a wider range of temperatures.
Thermoelectric coolers are reliant on the ambient temperature in their cooling mechanism and can offer an average of 40 degrees of cooling capability compared to the outside temperature. Compressor coolers, by comparison, can maintain sub-freezing temperatures no matter the ambient temperature.
One benefit of thermoelectric coolers is they require less power, meaning less cost, but this comes at a great loss of functionality.
Electric coolers are available at an incredible range of prices, from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand. And in our experience, you get what you pay for.
Among top brands, you’ll see prices varying within a couple of hundred dollars for comparable features and sizes. Attributes such as enhanced durability and weather resistance will also add to the price of a cooler.
On the low end of the scale, you’ll find a slew of Amazon products at a fraction of the price of name brands. While these coolers will be fine for the occasional weekend camper, they tend to have less consistent cooling abilities and are much less durable.
If you’re looking for a highly durable product that will last through some tough times, it would make sense to spring for a more expensive cooler. Our favorite durable investments are Dometic, National Luna, and ARB.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option with no frills or add-ons, the Kohree Portable Refrigerator is our recommendation for an affordable and functional cooler.
One final feature you shouldn’t overlook is durability. Electric coolers are made from many different materials, including ABS plastic, metal composites, and steel casing. If you’re going to spend a pretty penny on an electric cooler, make sure it’s a solid investment and that it will last.
The level of durability you need will depend on where you plan to take the cooler. For example, if it will be stored in the bed of your truck during an off-road adventure, you’ll need something that can withstand some bumps and bruises.
In this case, the ARB Zero’s extreme corner moldings were made just for you. And ARB’s Element is a totally weatherproof electric cooler that might make sense if you live in a rainy area or plan to store it outdoors.
Are Electric Coolers Worth It?
In short, yes! Electric coolers are a great investment. They keep your food fresh while on the road, and you won’t have a soggy mess of melted ice in the bottom.
These electric coolers can achieve and maintain sub-zero temperatures, so you don’t have to worry about your ice cream melting. Plus, if you have enough power, say from a sustainable source like a solar panel and power bank, you can keep your electric cooler running forever and use it as a standard home fridge and freezer.
One caveat: If you’re only using your cooler for drinks and snacks during a day at the beach, an electric cooler is probably not worth the expense. In this case, you should check out our reviews of the best coolers and the best soft coolers to find the best brands of traditional ice coolers. For hikers looking for super-portable soft coolers, head over to our review of the best backpack coolers.
These coolers have really changed the way we camp. And for hunters and anglers, you can even process and freeze your game meat in the field.
If you’re looking for something that can make ice, last multiple days, and save you the expense and annoyance of dealing with standard ice chests and wasted food, the extra cost of an electric cooler is worth the investment.
Can You Put Ice in the Electric Cooler?
Yes, for most electric coolers, you could put ice in it, but why would you need to? These electric coolers can maintain sub-freezing temperatures on their own and even make ice for you.
If you’re hoping to put ice in an electric cooler and use it as a regular cooler without power, we don’t recommend it. The cooling elements that allow it to function as a refrigerator are both heavy and clunky. Once you add ice, you’d have limited room for your food or beverages, and it would be much heavier than a traditional ice chest.
What Is the Best Brand of Electric Coolers?
Consistently rated as one of the best electric cooler brands, Dometic offers a wide range of sizes and options. There are, however, many other great brands to choose from if you can’t afford the relatively steep prices of Dometic products.
Other highly rated brands include Engel, ARB, and National Luna. We also love the dedication to sustainability by GoSun. If you can afford the investment of an ARB electric cooler, it really is a great brand for its incredible durability.
Do Car Coolers Drain Your Battery?
Yes, an electric cooler can definitely drain your battery if you leave it plugged in when you’re not driving. However, quality electric coolers have built-in battery monitoring and will shut down before draining your battery beyond its ability to start your car.
Depending on the power draw, cooler size, and temperature, it could drain a car battery in a couple of hours to a couple of days. And at that point, the cooler will turn off, possibly ruining your food.
Therefore, you should plan to keep your cooler plugged into the car while driving. But when stopped, it’s wise to have a secondary power source in case your car battery runs low.
A large battery bank or solar panel and battery pack (we love the system from Generark!) is a good way to get extra energy to your cooler.
Are Electric Coolers Waterproof?
It depends. Some electric coolers may be waterproof, but they’re not necessarily. While they do have a tight seal for insulation purposes that would keep the rain out, many electric coolers have exposed electric elements.
For example, the Kohree Portable Refrigerator has a USB port on the top of the unit for charging your cellphone or other small electronics. It would be a bad idea to leave this in the rain. Even Dometic electric coolers are only splashproof, and the company does not recommend leaving the coolers exposed to continuous rain or flooding.
If you’re looking for a waterproof cooler you can confidently leave outside, check out the fully weatherproof ARB Element. This cooler is similar to the ARB Zero that we reviewed above, but it has a few notable differences.
Not only is this electric cooler extremely rugged, but it also has an electronic locking system to protect your food. It’s a bit more expensive than the Zero when you compare coolers of the same capacity, making it by far the priciest model on this list. If you need the ability to store your food in the bed of your trunk or outside a tent, this electric cooler would be worth the cost.
Can You Use an Electric Cooler as a Fridge?
Yes, electric coolers can be used as refrigerators and are often just called portable refrigerators. The Dometic CFX3 75 Dual Zone Powered Cooler is a popular choice among people who live in vans or truck campers. These units are great for small spaces, as they are compact and can even function as seating.
For context, Dometic builds refrigerators for everything from yachts to RVs to airplanes!
If you plan to leave it plugged in all the time, just make sure you have a sufficient power source. If you keep an electric cooler plugged into your car overnight, it may turn off once the battery gets low. For full-time usage, you should consider getting a solar panel, secondary battery, or backup power banks.