The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Electric Cooler for Every Need
When it comes to keeping your drinks and snacks cool on the go, electric coolers are a game-changer. Gone are the days of dealing with melting ice and soggy sandwiches. With so many options available, finding the best electric cooler can be a daunting task. But fear not! In this article, we have done the research for you and narrowed down the top contenders in each category. From thermoelectric coolers to ones with solar panels, we have got you covered. So, whether you need a compact cooler for a weekend trip or a large one for a family getaway, read on to find the perfect electric cooler to meet your needs.
Best of the Rest
Engel Platinum MT35F-P
If you are searching for a smaller and highly energy-efficient unit, you might be interested in the Engel Platinum Electric Cooler ($1,150). This compact cooler is well-regarded for its low power draw, which is approximately 40% less than that of a traditional compressor, according to the company.
Another notable feature of all Engel power systems is their auto-switching capability between AC or DC power sources. The cooler can automatically detect and adjust to the power input, eliminating the need for manual adjustments.
The unit is relatively heavy compared to other electric coolers of similar capacities due to its durable stainless steel construction. However, it does not come with wheels, making it potentially challenging for some individuals to transport or pack efficiently into tight spaces.
Another potential drawback is the cooler's handles, which are made of thin metal and protrude far from its sides. These handles can make carrying the electric cooler uncomfortable and hinder efficient packing.
Lastly, it's important to note the temperature range of the Engel Platinum. It has the highest minimum temperature on this list by several degrees, meaning it may not be suitable for those seeking sub-zero freezing capabilities. However, for individuals prioritizing energy consumption, this efficient electric cooler is still an excellent 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
- Durable construction
- Relatively heavy for its capacity
- Lacks sub-zero minimum temperatures
- Handles may be uncomfortable and reduce packing efficiency
- Higher price point
Check Price at Engel Coolers
GoSun Chill Electric Cooler
If you are looking for the most eco-friendly option, the GoSun Chill Electric Cooler (9) is the perfect choice. It combines modern luxury with a sustainable lifestyle.
This electric cooler can be charged using your car's battery, an AC adapter, or other power sources. Additionally, it can be plugged into the electric cooler's PowerBank, which can even save a dead phone battery in emergency situations.
On an 80-degree day, the PowerBank is capable of maintaining the internal temperature of the electric cooler at 40 degrees F for 10 hours or 10 degrees F for 6 hours.
Furthermore, with the GoSun Chill Electric Cooler, you have the option to purchase a package deal that includes either the Solar Table (a table with a built-in solar panel) or the Flexible Solar Panels. With these accessories, as long as there is sunshine, you can keep your food and drinks cold without worrying about draining your car battery.
Other impressive features of this electric cooler include its stylish and fun design, as well as the convenient wheels and telescopic handle. If you prefer a dual-zone option, consider 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 integration with solar table
- Highly portable thanks to handle and wheels
Check Price at Amazon
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Whynter FM-45G Portable Refrigerator
At an affordable price point, the Whynter Portable Refrigerator ($595) offers high performance and numerous benefits. The unit's temperature range is impressive, tying with the more expensive ARB Zero for the lowest minimum temperature on this list. Not only is it among the lowest available, but it is also the optimum temperature for an electric cooler.
The Whynter electric cooler comes with a "Fast Freeze" mode that quickly reduces the temperature, and it boasts excellent temperature control with a deviation of only 1.6 degrees F, surpassing many other coolers in this regard.
Additionally, this electric cooler features a sturdy construction, removable storage baskets for easy organization, and a convenient drain plug that facilitates effortless cleaning. While the handles may not be as comfortable as those on several other electric coolers, you have the option of purchasing the accessory Transit Bag, which offers improved handles and additional storage pockets. The portable refrigerator also comes in a camouflage design, catering to hunters and those who spend time in wooded areas.
- Size: 16.5″ x 23.5″ x 20.5″
- Capacity: 42 L
- Weight: 45 lbs.
- Temperature range: -8 to 50 degrees F
- Equipped with "Fast Freeze" mode
- Impressive minimum temperature and temperature control
- Small handles
- Not particularly stylish
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ICECO VL60 Dual Zone Portable Refrigerator
If you are interested in a dual-zone electric cooler but prefer a lower price point than the Dometic or ARB options, the ICECO VL60 Dual Zone Portable Refrigerator (9) might be the ideal choice for you. ICECO is a well-known brand with overwhelmingly positive reviews for all their electric coolers.
This spacious cooler offers two zones with the ability to reach any desired temperature within the cooler's range. It also features two cooling modes, MAX and ECO, allowing for rapid freezing or energy efficiency based on your needs.
The sturdy construction of ICECO coolers is highly commendable. The metal shell has thick walls, reliable seals, and robust steel fasteners that ensure excellent insulation.
To provide peace of mind, the compressor comes with a 5-year warranty, guaranteeing the reliability and longevity of this electric cooler. Moreover, it includes wired baskets for easy food organization and an interior LED light that ensures visibility even in low-light conditions.
Nevertheless, it's worth considering a couple of potential drawbacks before making a final decision. The handles on this cooler may not be as wide and comfortable as those on other models, and the weight of the cooler could become burdensome if you plan to carry it over long distances.
Additionally, it's essential to note that the minimum temperature of this electric cooler is zero degrees F, which may not meet the sub-zero temperature requirements of some users. Nonetheless, given its ruggedness and durability, the ICECO Dual Zone Portable Refrigerator remains an impressive choice.
- 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 may be uncomfortable
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Portable Electric Cooler Buyer’s Guide
Consider What You Intend to Store
When selecting a portable electric cooler, it's crucial to consider the specific items you plan to store. While all coolers prioritize capacity, certain models excel in size, depth, and overall capacity. This makes it essential to choose a cooler that suits your specific storage needs.
If you aim to store simple food and drink items like sandwiches, water bottles, and canned beverages, a standard portable electric cooler with average storage capacity should suffice. However, if you intend to store wine or champagne bottles or irregularly-shaped cuts of meat, you may require a cooler with larger capacity and greater depth.
Consider Your Carrying Capacity
Everybody has their own limitations when it comes to lifting and carrying. Therefore, it's vital to thoroughly research the weight and dimensions of each portable electric cooler before making a decision. Even the most advanced cooler will not be suitable if it's too large or bulky for your specific situation.
Make sure to select a cooler that you can comfortably carry and lift when necessary. Additionally, ensure that the cooler will fit into your camper, vehicle, or other storage spaces along with your other gear.
Consider Your Camping Locations
When choosing the best portable electric cooler for your needs, keep in mind the locations where you will be camping. Some portable electric coolers come equipped with wheels, while others are specifically designed for easy carrying. However, even a lightweight portable electric cooler can become burdensome if your campsite is located far from your car.
If you prefer camping in areas where you need to carry your equipment for long distances, opt for a smaller and more lightweight portable electric cooler. Alternatively, consider a cooler with wheels to make transportation more convenient. Otherwise, even a high-quality cooler may become more of a hassle than it's worth.
Consider Your Power Source
When camping, you will encounter various power sources. Some campgrounds provide electric hookups similar to those at home, while others may lack any power sources. Many campsites fall somewhere in between.
When selecting the best portable electric cooler for your needs, consider the available power sources and the power requirements of the cooler. Some coolers function well when charged using a 12-volt car battery, while others require additional power sources.
By understanding the power needs of your cooler and ensuring that you can meet those needs while camping, you can choose a cooler that perfectly suits your requirements.
Types of Electric Coolers
There are several types of electric coolers worth noting. In the following section, we provide a more detailed description of two main types: thermoelectric (or electric) coolers and compressor coolers.
Also known as electric coolers, thermoelectric coolers draw power from an AC adapter or a DC power port. Some models do not include a car AC to DC adapter, but higher-end models often provide both options.
Certain large-capacity units can also be powered by external batteries or solar-powered batteries. Electric coolers of this type use an electric current to maintain a cool interior and rely on fans to circulate air. One advantage of thermoelectric coolers is that they do not require refrigerants.
However, there are a few disadvantages to consider. Thermoelectric coolers may not cool items as effectively as compressor coolers, and the presence of an external fan requires proper clearance to prevent overheating. These coolers are best suited for car camping, where they can be intermittently turned off to conserve power.
Compressor coolers function similarly to traditional refrigerators and utilize refrigerant to maintain a constant temperature. These coolers require higher energy consumption, and some customers opt for external or auxiliary battery sources when running the coolers overnight or continuously.
Certain compressor models can also be powered by solar panels. When not in continuous use, these coolers can be conveniently plugged into a car's DC port while the vehicle is running. It is crucial to unplug the cooler when the car is turned off to prevent draining the car's battery.
Best Thermoelectric Cooler—Koolatron Thermoelectric Coolers
Most thermoelectric coolers are not designed to keep items cool for more than three days. However, the Koolatron Thermoelectric Cooler is an exception, capable of keeping items cool even when unplugged. This cooler can be directly plugged into a car's DC port or cigarette lighter and is ideal for keeping fish and bait cool on boats as well.
Notable features of this cooler include an energy-efficient fan that effectively insulates items up to 36°F, a lockable handle for secure transportation, and a compartment to store the cord conveniently.
One customer noted, "Easier than refilling ice in a standard cooler... Has limited space but enough to hold food for a week at a time. Cools a room temperature water bottle in a couple of hours... just as cold as if it was in a home fridge. I keep my Freightliner plugged in every day for a week at a time, and it does not drain my battery."
- Capacity: 24 liters
- Power source: DC adapter (AC adapter sold separately)
- Can capacity: 31 cans
- Max temperature (as stated by manufacturer): 36°F below surrounding temperature
BUY NOW: US$101.04 (Was US$109.95), Amazon
The Mobicool Electric Cooler: The Best Cooler for Maintaining Ambient Temperature
Taking into account the impact of outdoor temperature on the effectiveness of coolers in maintaining the desired temperature for stored items, the Mobicool portable cooler emerges as the top choice. It is designed to keep food and drinks at a desired temperature range of 34–43°F, based on the external ambient temperature.
This spacious electric cooler is equipped with two separate compartments and an additional smaller section that can hold a large bottle of water or wine. Its portability is enhanced by the presence of wheels and a handle.
According to a review, the Mobicool cooler offers the convenience of being powered by either a 12V DC source or by plugging it into a wall socket using an additional transformer. The reviewer praised its performance during a recent long road trip of 12 hours, stating that it was able to sufficiently chill drinks and keep fruits fresh.
Specs capacity: 34 liters
Power source: AC or DC power adapters
Can capacity: 48 cans
Max temp (as stated by manufacturer): The cooler can maintain a temperature as low as 34°F below the external ambient temperature or a maximum temperature of 43°F above it.
Purchase now at a price of US$125.99 on Amazon
The YAPASPT Soft Electric Coolers: The Best Compact Electric Cooler
For campers or cross-country drivers with smaller vehicles, the YAPASPT soft-bodied electric cooler proves to be an excellent choice. Though compact in size, it boasts a 25-liter capacity to accommodate drinks and food items. Notably, its power draw from a car's battery is minimal.
This cooler connects to a DC port and has a spacious main pocket, along with a smaller front pocket for storing snacks and other small items. With a shoulder strap designed to carry weights of up to 50 pounds, this little cooler efficiently maintains a steady temperature of 50°F.
A customer who has been using this cooler for over a year praised its durability and performance, explaining that it still works perfectly despite being subjected to rough handling in a work truck. They would not hesitate to make the same purchase if the need arises.
Specs capacity: 25 liters
Power source: DC power draw, AC adapter not included
Can capacity: 34 cans
Max temp (as stated by manufacturer): The mini-fridge is capable of maintaining a temperature of 50°F without the use of ice or 60°F below the external ambient temperature when connected to a power source.
Purchase now at a price of US$124.99 on Amazon
The NewAir Solar Panel Portable Electric Coolers: The Best Cooler with Solar Panels
The solar panel model from NewAir sets itself apart as one of the most comprehensive and feature-rich compressor-powered coolers available. With its sturdy walls, two drain plugs, cutting board, and ample storage space for organized drinks, this electric cooler mirrors the functionality of a mini-fridge.
In addition to its cooling capabilities, the freezer section is designed to accommodate ice chests, meat, or even ice cream. The inclusion of a USB port, bottle opener, and interior lighting further enhance the versatility of this cooler.
According to a reviewer, this unit was specifically purchased for use with solar panels in remote camping locations. The purchase has proven to be satisfactory, with no issues regarding power supply despite using a 300W panel.
Specs capacity: 45 liters
Power source: AC or DC ports, external battery, or solar panels
Can capacity: The fridge and freezer combined can hold over 55 cans
Max temp (as stated by manufacturer): The cooler can achieve temperatures as low as -68°F below the external ambient temperature.
Purchase now at a price of US$549.99 on Amazon
The Knox.Lifestyle Electric Coolers: The Best Electric Car Battery Cooler
Touted as one of the largest electric coolers available on the market, the Knox.Lifestyle cooler offers a remarkable 48-quart capacity. This storage space is further enhanced by the presence of two removable compartments, allowing for the storage of larger items.
Designed to be powered by a car's cigarette lighter, this cooler also features a heating function capable of reaching temperatures of up to 130°F, ensuring warm soups during winter drives. Customers have added ice packs to achieve even lower temperatures during summer outings.
According to a satisfied buyer, this cooler was ideal in keeping snacks and drinks perfectly cool and fresh during their trip. Its compact size allowed for easy placement on the back seat, where it could be effortlessly connected to the car outlet. Furthermore, the cooler operated silently, ensuring a peaceful journey.
Specs capacity: 45 liters
Power: AC or DC ports
Can capacity: 60 cans
Max temp (as stated by manufacturer): The cooler can maintain a low temperature of 40°F for cold foods or a high temperature of 130°F for warm foods.
Purchase now at a price of US$189 (Was US$208.60) on Amazon
The Koolatron Thermoelectric Coolers: The Best Large Electric Coolers
The Koolatron thermoelectric iceless cooler boasts both versatility and power in its large form. It draws power directly from a car's battery, eliminating the need for an uninterrupted power supply.
Designed to maintain internal temperatures, this cooler can also keep foods heated up to 140°F, ensuring warm meals during travels. Its magnetic door ensures optimal sealing to preserve the temperature inside. Remarkably, this cooler offers the same capacity as higher-priced models at a more affordable price point.
A customer who undertook a cross-country trip expressed satisfaction with the Koolatron cooler, stating that it performed exceptionally well throughout the journey. They mentioned that it fit perfectly on the back seat and could be easily plugged into the car outlet with minimal noise disruption.
Specs capacity: 49 liters
Power: DC port
Can capacity: 80 cans
Max temp (as stated by manufacturer): The cooler can maintain a low temperature of 40°F for cold foods or a high temperature of 140°F for warm foods.
Purchase now at a price of US$231.88 on Amazon
The Coleman Thermoelectric Coolers: The Best Mini Fridge
Exhibiting superior cooling performance, the Coleman portable refrigerator surpasses many other electric coolers in the same price range. This mini fridge can be used both in an upright or laid-down position, with the door easily installable on either the right or left side.
Although compact, this cooler has ample space to store a few gallons of milk and can maintain a temperature approximately 20°F below the ambient temperature. Some customers prefer to use this unit in conjunction with a heat sink to mitigate overheating on hot days.
A buyer praised this mini fridge's efficient operation, noting that it maintained a temperature of 30°F during the pre-chill stage within their home. They found it necessary to acquire a thermometer for accurate temperature monitoring, expressing complete trust in the unit.
Specs capacity: 40 liters
Power: DC adapter (AC source sold separately)
Can capacity: 44 cans
Max temp (as stated by manufacturer): The cooler can maintain a temperature approximately 40°F lower than the surrounding temperature.
Purchase now at a price of US$125.91 (Was US$154.99) on Amazon
The Change Moore Electric Coolers: The Best Iceless Electric Coolers
Unlike regular coolers that require ice to maintain cool temperatures, the Change Moore fridge freezer possesses the ability to keep items cool without the use of ice. Its large storage capacity, quick cooling time, and freezing capabilities make it a standout option among iceless electric coolers.
This cooler features temperature control settings that allow for both chilled and frozen storage. It also includes a divider to separate food and drinks that require different temperature ranges. Furthermore, it automatically shuts off when a car's battery is running low.
According to a satisfied customer, this fridge freezer runs continuously and performs exceptionally well. They utilize Igloo ice packs in both the freezer compartment and the fridge compartment to fill up space when not fully loaded, resulting in optimal temperature maintenance.
Specs capacity: 40 liters
Power: AC and DC ports
Can capacity: 57 cans
Max temp (as stated by manufacturer): The lowest temperature this cooler can reach is approximately -7.6°F.
Purchase now at a price of US$349.90 on Amazon
The Ivation Thermoelectric Cooler: The Best Energy Efficient Thermoelectric Cooler
The Ivation cooler finds its place among the best electric coolers due to its cooling power and its ability to maintain an internal temperature of up to 130°F. It ensures the preservation of most foods by keeping them cold at a temperature approximately 40°F lower than the ambient temperature.
Although some customers found the handle slightly shorter than desired for convenient transportation, the cooler compensates for this with its convenient built-in wheels for easier mobility.
Satisfied with their purchase, a user expressed their positive experience with the cooler. They found it efficient, with the ability to reach a temperature of 30°F during the initial pre-chill stage within their home. The addition of a thermometer allowed for constant temperature monitoring, instilling complete confidence in the cooler's performance.
Specs capacity: 45 liters
Power source: DC and AC adapters
Can capacity: 60 cans
Max temp (as stated by manufacturer): The cooler can maintain a temperature approximately 40°F lower than the ambient temperature or reach a maximum temperature of 130°F.
Purchase now at a price of US$189.99 on Amazon
The Wagan Thermoelectric Cooler: The Best Bucket Seats Electric Cooler
Larger electric coolers often exert excessive power draw on smaller vehicles. However, the Wagan cooler, with its compact size, minimizes energy consumption. It effectively keeps drinks cold and conveniently fits two drinks in its front bucket seats.
Though smaller in capacity compared to other options, this lightweight cooler is perfect for keeping lunch and drinks cool on hot days or storing a few cans of soda for outings.
A pleased customer highlighted the cooler's lightweight design, which adds to its portability. They found the added strap convenient for carrying the cooler and considered the cooler user-friendly with its simple warm/off/cool slider.
Specs capacity: 3.74 liters
Power source: DC port
Can capacity: 9 cans
Max temp (as stated by manufacturer): The cooler can maintain a temperature approximately 36°F lower than the ambient temperature.
Purchase now at a price of US.45 on Amazon
**Disclaimer: Most thermoelectric coolers on this list can reach the stated temperature, although some customers noted that the stated temperature depends on how much each ice chest is filled.
In conclusion, when it comes to finding the best electric cooler for your specific needs, you can take comfort in knowing that there is a wide variety of options available. Whether you are looking for a compact cooler for your next road trip or a large cooler to keep all of your perishables cold during a camping trip, there is a cooler on this list that will suit your needs. So, say goodbye to the days of melted ice and soggy sandwiches, and say hello to a refreshing cold beverage or perfectly chilled snacks, all thanks to the convenience and efficiency of the best electric coolers on the market today.
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