The Best 12 Volt Fridge Freezer for Your Campervan

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Are 12V fridges any good?

Twelve volt RV and Campervan fridge freezers have undergone huge advancements in recent years that make them very good.

The primary improvements include compressor quality, power consumption, zones for cooling or freezing, angled use up to 30 degrees and temperature efficiency.

  • Modern 12v and 24v fridge freezers have durable, variable speed compressors that adjust as necessary to internal temperature settings, as well as external or ambient temperatures. This speed variability means that they consume very little power,
  • Taking advantage of modern construction and insulation materials, the best DC fridges only need to run for a few minutes each hour to keep contents cold or even below freezing, allow them to consume very little RV and campervan house battery power.
  • Many portable DC fridge freezers have 2 zones: One for cooling, to keep food in the range of 38°f or 3.33°c, and one for freezing to keep food at or below 32°f or 0°c. This feature allows for best food safety and a greater range of cooking options in your RV.
  • While earlier models had to be stored horizontally, newer models are more flexible and can be stored at angles up to 30 degrees and still function perfectly. This means that your 12/24v fridge freezer can be stored in more locations in your van or RV.

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Our Best 12 Volt Fridge Freezer Top Picks at a glance

Engel MR040 40 Quart

Engel MR040F-U1 campervan fridge freezer vansage

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#1 Top Pick

ICECO 3 in 1 Rotomolded Campervan Fridge Freezer

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EdgeStar FP430 43 Quart

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Costway 54 Quart

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Is Your Food safe, or in the Danger Zone?

When it comes to refrigeration for your campervan, there are two types of 12 volt systems available: Compressor type fridge freezers, which work just like the fridge in your kitchen, and thermoelectric cooling systems.

Some concerns about Thermoelectric Coolers

12 volt portable thermoelectric cooler/warmers have cooling temperature ratings based on specified degrees below ambient temperature.

For example, a thermoelectric  cooler rated at 30º F below ambient temperature will cool your food to 50º F on an 80º F day.

It might be okay on cool days, but even then, if you’ve got the heat cranked up to 70º F in the van, your “cooler” is only cooling to 40º F, still not cold enough for meats, cheeses and other foods that can grow food born pathogens.

This “below ambient temperature” type of cooler costs a lot less than a compressor cooled fridge/freezer, but it’s important to consider the ultimate, potential costs (read: illness) of spoiled food.

I’m not a fan of storing meat and other perishables at temperatures above 38º F.

The best campervan fridge is colder and safer

One of the most powerful, useful, even beautiful tools ever created for campervans, RV’s and boats, is the portable 12 volt fridge freezer.

These snappy little machines sport full-on coolant compressors just like the fridge/freezers in kitchens, and they’re very efficient, so they don’t kill your battery.

Most of all, the best 12 volt fridge freezer will keep your food as cold as you desire, all the way down to rock-solid frozen if necessary.

A Better Investment in the Short and Long Term

Many campers will buy one of these portable units to start out, then, when they upgrade to permanently installed refrigeration in their van, they’ll keep the smaller one for backup or as a dedicated freezer.

My van is too small for a permanent fridge, so I’m totally convinced that my 35 quart is the best 12 bolt fridge freezer for my build.

I know what you’re thinking; “A standard ice cooler is 40+ quarts. Will 35 quarts be enough for all my favorite, delicious foods?”.

Cooler interior space is not all it’s cracked up to be, as you’ll read, below…

⇩ Jump to 12 Volt Fridge Freezer reviews & pricing ⇩

Icebox coolers: Problematic

When you’re contemplating and calculating the cost of cooling your food, keep the below facts in mind, because they are actual costs that will be eliminated by a high quality fridge/freezer unit.

  • Ice can take up 4+ quarts of space
  • The cost of ice adds up fast
  • A big part of that cost is the time it takes to keep the cooler stocked with ice
  • Icebox coolers don’t keep food at consistent temperatures
  • Your food gets soggy. Yuck
vansage Iceco iCooler 12 volt fridge freezer

Our #1 TOP PICK: The brilliant Iceco iCooler 3 in 1 Rotomolded 12v Campervan fridge freezer. Click here for all the details.

How much power does a 12 volt fridge use?

A big concern of adding any electrical device to a conversion van is the amount of power it uses. This is one aspect of 12 volt portable fridge/freezers that I feel very comfortable with.

Because the fridge freezers we recommend feature quality compressors and other components, they tend to be very efficient.

Other factors like seal and insulation quality, and accurate thermostat control all add up to great efficiency in these refrigeration systems.

These features make it possible for the best 12 volt fridge freezer to keep your temperatures right where you need them while only using short, infrequent bursts of power.

For example, a 60 watt 12 volt fridge freezer uses about 5 amps, but only while the compressor motor is running.

The VanSage Best 12 Volt Fridge Freezer Check List

We’ve got some recommendations for the best fridge freezers available, and here’s a partial list of our criteria for our selections:

  • Reputable compressor: This is a biggie, since your fridge will go through many cycles, you need a quality compressor, built to last.
  • Good insulation: Better insulation provides less stress on the compressor and lower power usage.
  • Low voltage protection: Alerts you before your 12 volt battery gets too low.
  • Quality Seals: Impacts all functions of a fridge freezer.
  • Power: Needs to run on either 12 volt battery power and 110/240 volt shore power.
  • Warranty: The manufacturer must back up their product for quality, function and repair.

Some Concerns

While these are truly magical gadgets, I do have a couple of caveats. You’ll want to make sure your camper van fridge/freezer is anchored well, as they’re a bit heavy and should not be allowed to jostle around.

But the units on our list are all built well and intended for travel, so it’s not a huge concern.

And then there’s the prices; they’re not cheap.

But consider the craftsmanship that goes into these machines. Whether you travel a lot and the cost of ice is obvious, or you just like your food to be at safe temperatures and not water logged, you’ll soon realize the bargain that a good campervan refrigeration unit truly can be.

Recap

  • Compressor cooling vs Themoelectric: Get the safe one.
  • The best 12 Volt Fridge Freezer is a valuable, versatile investment that can last many years.
  • Icebox coolers don’t save money, they have very real costs beyond initial purchase.
  • Important: Seals, compressor quality, insulation, low voltage protection, warranty, AC and DC power options.
  • We’ve found the fridge freezers that meet all these criteria.
  • These great machines cost a bit, but they’re worth it in the long run.

What is the best 12 volt fridge freezer?

Engel 40 Qt. Portable Fridge Freezer MR040

Best 12 Volt Fridge Freezer Engel VanSage

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Durable and corrosion resistant ABS case – and more suited for Marine applications.

Engel Swing Motor Compressor draws 1 to 2 Amps per hour.

12V/24V DC or 110V/120V AC

25″ x 15.5″ x 18.5″ Internal Dimensions: 14.5″ x 10.5″ x 14.4″.

48-pounds.

  • 12 and 24V DC.  110V to 120V AC
  • Solar compatible featuring the highly efficient Engel swing motor
  • Typically draws 1 to 2 amps/hour
  • 100% cfc free compressor
  • Comes with both AC and DC cables and connectors

ICECO JP42 Pro, 3 in 1 Refrigerator, Portable Fridge Freezer Cooler, Rotomolded blankblank

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The brilliant iCooler from Iceco is a 3 in one, 12v Fridge, Freezer and Rotomolded ice box.

Tough, smart fittings, latches, handles, cupholders… A lot of thought went into this as an off grid, rugged campervan fridge freezer that will keep your food cold for years to come.

  • The rotomolded cooler and dense insulation keeps food cold for hours, even without power!
  • Secop compressor. cool from 0℉ to 50℉, (-18℃~+10℃)
  • 5 year warranty on compressor.
  • EMC certification;3-stage battery protection automatically shuts the product off to prevent a dead car starter battery and improves car battery performance.
  • Includes 12V DC power cord and AC adapter, suitable for your Vehicle and Home.

ARB 10800472 Fridge Freezer- 50 Quart

VanSage ARB 10800352 Fridge Freezer - 37 Quart Best 12 Volt Fridge Freezer

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This ARB unit provides true compressor refrigeration and freezing.

Never find your lunch water soaked by ice

50 quart is the most popular size.

Suitable for many medium to large campervans, SUV’s and pickups.

Internal capacity holds 72 12 oz cans.

  • Interior temperature as low as zero degrees
  • Up to fifty twelve oz can capacity
  • Includes adjustable automatic battery protection
  • DC power cable included for 12 or 24-volt DC power source
  • AC cable plugs into a standard 110/120 outlet
  •  Exterior dimensions: 27.75″L x 14.96″W x 20″H
  • Main Space: 13.27″D x 11.22″W x 15.79″H
  • Dairy: 5.95″D x 11.22″W x 8.11″H

EdgeStar FP430 43 Qt Portable Fridge Freezer AC/DC

vansage EdgeStar 12 volt fridge freezer Best 12 Volt Fridge Freezer

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Features the build and insulation home freezers in a small unit.

12v or 110v. Ajustable from -8 °F to 50 °F.

Holds  stable temperatures under most conditions.

Insulated steel wall construction.

“Fast Freeze” button rapidly cools the unit to -8 °F.

Comfort handles for easy transport.

Two wire baskets for storage.

  • Forty Three quart capacity, holds 60, 12 oz cans
  • -8° F to 50° F
  • Outside size: 20.8″ h x 24.7″ w x 17.7″ d
  • 12 or 24 volt 6′ detachable cord included. 115 volt 8′ detachable cord included
  • Flash Freeze setting cools to -8° F

Costway 54 Quart Portable Refrigerator/Freezer

costway 54 quart fridge freezer Vansage Best 12 Volt Fridge Freezer

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52L large capacity
Shockproof Design for rough roads and the challenges of vanlife.

Fast Cooling with compressor cooling, 30-minute fast cooling from 90°F to 32°F

ECO mode for energy-saving or MAX mode for fast cooling

3 levels for battery protection to avoid accidental discharge and battery drain.

Digitized temperature adjustment for convenient temperature adjustment.

  • 52 Liter capacity
  • Shock resistant build for rough roads
    Cools fast. ECO mode for energy savings and MAX mode for fast cooling
  • 3 levels of vehicle battery protection, Low, Med and High
    LCD displays digital temp
  • Simple to use digital adjustment

ICECO 50 Liter DC 12/24V Campervan Fridge Freezer

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Another brilliant offering from Iceco.

Set the temperature to Freeze food to last, or keep fresh food and drinks cold.

Features the German Secop Compressor.

Highly efficient, only draws 1 to 2 Amps per hour.

12V-24V DC or 110V-120V AC so whether you’re on the road or at home, you can use your Iceco to make Vanlife easier.

  • Insulated Protective Cover & 12 foot DC Power Cable
  • Slow down compressor for better efficiency, (ECO) or increase to provide faster cooldown(MAX).
  • Adjustable Temperature From -7℉~50℉(-22℃~+10℃).
  • The compressor stops when the freezer up to the temp and l restarts when temp rises to 6℉-9℉.
  • SECOP Compressor; ETL Certificate; Global Product Insurance.
  • Three stage battery protection: ECU program for low voltage battery protection
  • EMC anti-electromagnetic interference, Current overload protection.

What are your experiences, questions or concerns about portable 12 Volt Fridge Freezers for Campervans?

Thanks for reading! Please comment below.

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