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, comparison chart, 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.
- Best Overall: Dometic CFX3 55IM
- Best Budget Electric Cooler: Worx 20V Electric & Battery Powered Cooler
- Best Fridge/Freezer Cooler: National Luna 50 Legacy Smart Refrigerator & Freezer
- Most Rugged Electric Cooler: ARB Zero Portable Fridge & Freezer
- Best Large Electric Cooler: Dometic CFX3 75 Dual Zone Powered Cooler
- Best of the Rest: Engel MT35 Platinum Series
- GoSun Chill Electric Cooler
- Whynter FM-45G Portable Refrigerator
- ICECO VL60 Dual Zone Portable Refrigerator
The Best Electric Coolers of 2023
- Size 28.3″ x 18.9″ x 17.9″
- Capacity 56 qt. / 53 L
- Weight 47 lbs.
- Temperature range Minimum of -7 degrees F
- Convenient and comfortable handles
- Good insulation
- App-enabled controls
- Dimensions 24” x 15” x 13”
- Refrigerator Capacity 24 qt. / 22.7 L
- Weight 29.8 lbs. (official), 33 lbs. (GJ weight)
- Battery Capacity 20V Max
- AC Rated Voltage 100V-240V (~50-60Hz)
- DC Rated Voltage 12V/24V
- Rated Current AC 1.2A-0.5A | DC 5.0A(12V)/2.5A(24V)
- Temperature Range -4F to 68F
- Portable refrigerator/freezer you can take anywhere
- 10-hour battery life
- Maintains temperature settings very well
- Built-in handle and wheels
- Limited carrying capacity
- Power button doesn’t actually turn it on
- Size 28″ x 15” x 20” / 710 mm x 385 mm x 515 mm
- Capacity (Left Zone) 10.1 gallons / 38.3 L
- Capacity (Right Zone) 2.9 gallons / 11 L
- Weight 54.7 lbs. | 24.8 kg
- 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
- Dual zones
- Tall storage
- Very durable
- Matching power pack (not included)
- Very expensive
- 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
- Steep price
- Size 25.5″ x 14.3″ x 16″
- Capacity 34 qt / 32 L
- Weight 49 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
- Great with solar table integration (not included)
- Most portable cooler here thanks to the handle and wheels
- Small capacity
- Size 16.5″ x 23.5″ x 20.5″
- Freezer Capacity 45 qt. / 42 L
- Refrigerator Fresh Food Capacity 52 ft3
- Weight 45 lbs.
- Temperature range -6 to 50 degrees F
- Has a “Fast Freeze” mode
- Great minimum temperature and temperature control
- Small handles
- Not particularly stylish
- Size 31.2″ x 19.4″ x 18.8″
- Capacity 63 qt. / 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
Electric Cooler Comparison Chart
|Electric Cooler||Price||Size||Capacity||Weight||Temp. Range|
|Dometic CFX3 55IM||$1,200||27.3″ x 16″ x 15.7″||36 L||37 lbs.||Min -7°F|
|National Luna 50L Dual Control |
|$1,295||28″ x 15” x 20”||38.3 L (Left) – 11 L (Right)||54.7 lbs.||68°F to -1°F|
|ARB Zero Portable |
Fridge & Freezer
|$1,742||33″ x 21″ x 25″||69 L||62.9 lbs.||-8°F – 50°F|
|Dometic CFX3 75 Dual |
Zone Powered Cooler
|$1,400||35.1″ x 19.5″ x 18.6″||75 L||61 lbs.||Min: -7°F|
|Kohree Portable |
Refrigerator & Freezer
|$259||22.4″ x 12.6″ x 13.8″||25 L||27.3 lbs.||-7.6°F to 50°F|
|Engel MT35 Platinum |
|$1,150||25.5″ x 14.3″ x 16″||32 L||48 lbs.||Min: 5.5°F|
|GoSun Chill |
|$749||23.5″ x 19″ x 16″||40 L||30.2 lbs.||-4°F to 68°F|
|Whynter FM-45G |
|$595||16.5″ x 23.5″ x 20.5″||42 L||45 lbs.||-8°F to 50°F|
|ICECO VL60 Dual Zone |
|$849||31.2″ x 19.4″ x 18.8″||60 L||65.7 lbs.||0°F to 50°F|
Why You Should Trust Us
As you can see from all the included links, GearJunkie’s editors have 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.