The Pro's and Con's of Thermoelectric Coolers for Your Car Trips

More than an icebox. Less than a fully-fledged fridge. Thermoelectric coolers are the middle ground when it comes to portable coolers for your road trip.

If you're looking for a portable fridge / cooler, there are three types of cooling technology - absorption, compressor and thermoelectric cooling. Each comes with its own pros and cons.

The idea behind thermoelectric coolers/warmers is to maintain the temperature of food or drinks that are already hot or cold - like a thermos.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons for thermoelectric coolers:


PROS of Thermoelectric Coolers:

Low price. Thermoelectric coolers tend to be lower in price than their fridge rivals, starting from just $109.

Lightweight. Their lightweight design makes these coolers a great option if you're spending lots of time in your car and don't want something bulky and heavy to cart around.

Size. Thermoelectric coolers can be utilized efficiently in a car due to their generally small size. For example, the Dometic Waeco BordBar Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer 15L fits perfectly in the centrepiece of the rear car seat.

Don't need to be completely level. Unlike many coolers, thermoelectric coolers perform well in an inclined position.

Easy to use. They couldn't be simpler to operate! Just run the unit straight from the 12V cigarette lighter or from your home or powered campsite with 240V.

Long-life. Thermoelectric coolers don't have any moving parts, which means they last longer than fridges might. They also come with a warranty, from 12 months upwards.


CONS of Thermoelectric Coolers:

Can't reach the same cool temperatures as fridges. It's worth noting that thermoelectric coolers don't have the same capabilities as a fridge. They can't get down to the same temperatures and cannot freeze items. They will cool to around 20 degrees below ambient temperature, or warm up to around 60 degrees above (depending on the model). If you want to set the exact temperature settings (say 1°C or below), consider a Portable Compressor Driven Fridge Freezer instead.

Check out My Generator customer, John from Raymond Terrace, NSW who provides a video review of their Evakool TMX Travelmate 65 Litre Portable Fridge Freezer Pack!

Evakool TMX Travelmate 65 Litre Fridge Freezer Pack Product Review


Heavily dependent on ambient temperature. They perform better in environments which are climate controlled, such as an air-conditioned vehicle. There are some exceptions, such as Dometic thermoelectric coolers, which can perform even better. But if you're travelling in a region where temperatures reach 30°C and over, a thermoelectric cooler might not be for you - try a portable fridge/freezer instead.

If you're short on car space, a drawer fridge is a great middle ground option! The Evakoool 40 Litre Drawer Fridge/Freezer is ideal for the back of the 4wd at only 325mm high! It also offers the flexibility to run the Drawer unit as either a fridge or as a freezer.

Camping Fridge Review, Evakool 40 Litre Drawer Fridge/Freezer


Consistent draw on power. Thermoelectric coolers/warmers don't cycle on and off, which means they are best operated while the engine is running. They can draw up to 4 amps continuously while operating off 12 volts. So, thermoelectric units can benefit from a low voltage monitor (either in-built or as an optional accessory) to protect the battery by automatically cutting off power at low voltage.

Another option is to choose a portable fridge that draws low amps and is small in design. A great example is the Bushman Roadie Portable Fridge 15L, which is the perfect centre console fridge, truck fridge or bench seat fridge for back seat passengers!

Camping Fridge Review, Bushman Roadie Portable Fridge 15L



Thermoelectric coolers and warmers are a great, low cost and simple option if you're looking for a way to keep your drinks cool and your lunch warm on a road trip. But any longer than a couple of days, and you're probably better off investing in a portable fridge. Check out the 35-litre Dometic Waeco CoolPro Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer, which comes with added features such as an internal fan and digital controls.

To find out more information regarding thermoelectric coolers, portable fridges or any Caravan RV Appliance, contact our friendly team!


DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.

1 thoughts on The Pro's and Con's of Thermoelectric Coolers for Your Car Trips

31 July 2023
Good morning. I have a caravan with a Threeway fridge, however to reduce the in and out of the caravan, together with increase of cooling space, I'm thinking of investing in a camping fridge or a thermo cooler. But I have way too little knowledge to make an adequate decision.

My Generator Response
Hi Johan, thank you for reaching out! I will contact you directly to discuss your options

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