Investing in a 12-volt refrigerator is a wise decision for any camper van. While slightly bulkier than everyday items, a portable fridge provides invaluable support on the road. The challenges of mobile life are unlikely to faze a well-insulated and sturdy Dometic refrigerator.
How Much Does the Dometic Portable Refrigerator Cost?
Thermoelectric vs. Compressor Coolers: Price and Who Should Buy Each
- Price: Budget-friendly, ranging from $100 to $300.
- Cooling power: Limited, typically cools 15-20°F below ambient temperature.
- Pros: Lightweight, quiet, no harmful chemicals or emissions.
- Cons: Not ideal for freezing, higher power consumption can drain car batteries.
- Price: Higher range, mid-hundreds to thousands of dollars.
- Cooling power: Strong, can freeze to -4°F.
- Pros: More versatile, efficient cooling, longer lifespan.
- Cons: Heavier, noisier, requires ventilation.
Who Should Buy a Thermoelectric Cooler?
- Campers: Ideal for keeping food and drinks fresh for short trips.
- Small families or singles: Great for basic food and beverage storage in compact spaces.
Who Should Buy a Compressor Cooler?
- Single professionals: Perfect for storing frozen meals and leftovers, especially in hot climates.
- Weekend warriors: Suitable for longer camping trips requiring frozen food storage.
- Grocery shoppers: Convenient for weekly bulk purchases of perishables.
Dometic Portable Refrigerator (Product Review)
Dometic CFX3: Spacious and Efficient Cooling
The Dometic CFX3 boasts an impressively large capacity, perfect for holding all your favorite drinks and food. Its well-designed interior compartment maximizes space and enhances both efficiency and cooling. Instead of a dedicated dairy compartment, the CFX3 offers even more room for your top food choices.
Customize your storage with the removable wire divider and enjoy consistent cooling throughout with the comprehensive evaporator, now featured on all internal dividers.
Choosing the Right 12V Cooler for Your Van
To help you make the best purchase, we’ve compiled a list of the top 12V versatile coolers for vans. Each cooler on this list is a 12V DC energy-efficient ice chest that works reliably outdoors, even with a solar panel setup.
One of the things we appreciate most about Dometic is their extensive range of models, catering to various van sizes and camper needs.
For tech-savvy users, the Dometic app lets you control individual compartment fans, receive open-lid alerts, choose battery protection settings, and adjust temperatures directly from your phone. These features make the ice chest highly energy-efficient, ideal for those living off solar power.
Finding the Right Size for Your Van
The ideal size for your versatile cooler depends on your van type. A sprinter van owner will likely need a larger cooler than someone in a VW transporter. Remember, the bigger the cooler, the more power it will consume.
Beyond external dimensions, fridge features can also impact your van build:
- Power cord location: Some cooler power cords protrude significantly, potentially hindering items placed around the ice chest.
- Handle width: Compact fridges often overlook the size of their protruding handles. While most handles are removable, some brands like ARB have them built-in.
- Ventilation: If the cooler is enclosed, the fan’s heat will make the refrigerator work harder to stay cool. Most manufacturers recommend at least 1-2 inches of ventilation around the fan.
- Minimal power consumption
- Precise temperature control through compressor technology
- Works on inclines and level surfaces
- Can function as a small refrigerator with freezer
- Versatile for various use cases
- Higher price point
Benefits of the Dometic Portable Refrigerator
The portable compressor fridge is the only true refrigerator of this group. You can set the temperature on these units so they can function as either a refrigerator or a freezer. After using it a few times, you can easily determine how to maintain the desired temperature for your food.
By using a divider effectively in a dual-zone 12-volt refrigerator, you can set one zone to freezing while having the divider partially blocked to make the other zone cool enough to prevent food spoilage.
Compressor fridges are typically able to be set to a specific temperature and are less affected by the external temperature. However, significant changes in the external temperature can still influence the temperatures inside your refrigerator.
Modern compressor units are highly energy efficient, often consuming less than 1 amp/hour. Like a home refrigerator, these compressor units don’t run continuously. They cycle on and off to regulate the internal temperature. The hotter it is outside, the more frequently they’ll need to run.
Therefore, if you’re using it in warm climates, it’s wise to consider a dedicated battery to power it. This will help prevent draining your vehicle’s battery. If you plan to use it frequently, a separate, dedicated battery for your fridge is almost a necessity.
Be aware that most modern units come with a sensor that will stop drawing power from a battery once it reaches a certain low voltage level, ensuring you’re not left stranded.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fridge worth 12 volts
We’re fond of the 1000 fridge that enables us to use both of its sides. It works besides being good-looking.
5.0 out of 5 stars Advanced
Compared to the latest models, it is quite light in weight and works more smoothly.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Product
It is an everyday need that is well-built and simplified. We do not have much to complain about as it’s equipped with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
1. Electric coolers – Compressor or Thermoelectric?
The type of engine and compressor can affect how frequently and how long a fridge needs to be on. The two most common engine types are compressor-based and thermoelectric.
- Compressor-based coolers: These are more powerful and efficient, making them ideal for extended use and keeping food frozen. However, they are also louder and more expensive.
- Thermoelectric coolers: These are quieter and more portable, but they are less powerful and cannot reach freezing temperatures.
It’s important to note that Danfoss and Dometic CFX3 75DZ are not engine types, but specific models of compressor-based coolers. While they are known for their powerful compressors, they are not the only options available.
2. What to Look for Before Purchasing a 12v Fridge
Buying a 12v cooler with a reliable compressor is key. Some popular and efficient compressor brands include Sawafuji swing blowers (Engel brand), Danfoss, and Dometic. These are found in many reputable brands of 12-volt coolers.
Your needs and preferences will determine which type of cooler is best for you. Understanding the difference between absorption and compressor units is crucial.
Purchasing a portable refrigerator can enrich your lifestyle. Research the latest 12v refrigerator reviews to find the perfect one for your family.