Our Guide To Buying A Camping Fridge:
Looking at portable Camping Fridges for sale? Our team answers all your questions – even the ones you didn’t know you wanted to ask!
What is a portable camping fridge?
Let’s start with the basics – portable camping fridges are (as the name suggests), fridges that are fully mobile. This means the fridge isn’t permanently installed into your caravan, car or boat, but can be moved in and out to keep your food and drinks cold wherever you are. This means portable fridges are the ideal piece of travel gear for camping, boating, fishing, 4WD trips, road trips, caravanning and more. In fact, anywhere that space is at a premium and you want to keep things cool.
What types of camping fridges are there?
There’s more choice of camping fridges than ever before. Most have a chest fridge design, so they open from the top, making it easy to find what you need. Some less common ones are like traditional upright fridges and open with a door on the front.
The majority of camping fridges are 2-way compressor fridges, which use a compressor to cool the interior, like your fridge at home. The other option is a 3-way fridge (or absorption fridge), which can run off three different types of power sources…which brings us nicely to:
How do I power a portable fridge?
Portable camping fridges need a power source to work. Probably the most common type of camping fridge-freezer is a 2 way compressor fridge which can run on either 240 Volt mains power or a 12/24 Volt power source. They are typically very efficient and draw less than 100 watts.
A 3 way absorption portable fridge can run on either 240 Volt, 12/24 Volt, or your gas bottle. Whilst still available in portable models, this type of fridge is more popular for upright caravan fridges fixed into the kitchen of your recreational vehicle. These types of camping fridges are very efficient when running on gas, not as efficient when running on 12/24 volts compared to a 2-way fridge.
Overall, the most common way to power camping fridges is via a 12/24 volt source from your camping / auxiliary batteries. This especially the case when free camping and mains power is not available. Campers can charge their batteries when their vehicle is running, from solar panels, or charge them via a generator and battery charger. It’s a nice feeling to be camping in a quiet space, completely self-sufficient with power so you can keep your camping fridge running easily!
Which size camping fridge should I choose?
Like normal fridges, camping fridge sizes are measured in litres. They start at around 10 litres and go up to models of 110 litres in size! Upright fridges in your Caravan/Motorhome can go even larger than this.
The trick is not to choose a fridge that is far bigger than you need, as you will only end up wasting power on empty fridge space. The best way to choose is to look at what you’re going to use it for on a regular basis. Will you just want to chill a few beers, or do you need to keep food fresh for the whole family?
What about a freezer?
Most camping fridges can also be used as freezers – be sure to check the model specification on the camping fridge for sale. The models with freezer capability have a temperature range down to minus 18 degrees Celsius (or more). The popular Dometic CFX3 Fridge Range can reach minus 22 degrees Celsius.
Some camping fridges let you use it as either a fridge or a freezer, while others can run as both a fridge and freezer at the same time. These are known as Dual Zone or Combi camping fridges because they contain separate compartments.
What do I need to spend?
It totally depends on what you need. Camping fridges vary in price from as little as around $175 for a basic cooler up to almost $2,000 for a mammoth portable fridge with all the extras. For example, for just under $1,700, you can get the Dometic CFX3 75DZ – a 75 litre dual zone portable fridge/freezer with a 5-year warranty, USB charging outlet for mobile phones and tablets, a dedicated smartphone app and WiFi connectivity, an alarm and more. This is the bees knees of camping fridges!
On the other hand, you can get a portable fridge without the bells & whistle that is still good quality for around $700! The Evakool Koolmate 80 Litre Fridge Freezer Pack is a great portable fridge freezer to consider if you’re on a budget!
How long do camping fridges last?
Again, it depends on what you buy and how well you look after it. Most fridge manufacturers offer a two or three year warranty, whereas the Dometic CFX3 camping fridges come backed with a five year warranty. If longevity is a consideration, we recommend you opt for a premium brand such as Dometic, Engel, Evakool Bushman or myCOOLMAN – all these guys back their fridges with solid warranties and importantly have national service agent support and spare parts networks.
What accessories should I pair with my portable camping fridge?
A must have portable fridge accessory is a fridge cover. A fridge cover protects your fridge against bumps and scratches on your 4×4 or camping adventure. A fridge cover will also help your fridge maintain it’s temperature.
Optional accessories include:
- Fridge Slides – these accessories are perfect for mounting your fridge in the car and come in a range of sizes to suit 29 litre fridges right up to 95 litre fridges! We recommend a RV Storage Solutions Tilt Slide for easy access to all your food and drink.
- Tie Down Straps – both Bushman and Evakool offer tie down straps to secure your fridge while on your 4×4 adventure.
- Security Cable – you’ll need one of these cables to protect your portable fridge freezer from being pinched!
- Portable Fridge Stand – a fridge stand helps you to raise your fridge off the ground, so you don’t have to bend over to get a cold beer!
- Portable Power Pack – this accessory will keep your fridge charged so your food and drinks alway stay cold! We recommended either a Dometic PLB40 or a myCOOLMAN CPP15 for a portable and lightweight charging option.
–What are the best camping fridge freezer brands?
Good question – we cover that in this neat little article HERE, including a popular camping debate around Dometic Waeco versus Engel.
Browse our full range portable camping fridges for more ideas.
DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.