There is nothing better than a quality 12V fridge to keep your food and drinks cold 24/7. If you’re using a standard cooler in your camper van, you will incur loads of costs over time from spoiled food and buying ice every couple days.

A portable mini fridge is going to be one of your biggest expenses during your van conversion. That being said, you will want to ensure you’re getting the best camper van fridge for your budget. We researched dozens of fridges to find the best makes and models for varying budgets and lifestyles. Whether you’re living the van life in a sprinter, cargo van, VW, skoolie, RV, SUV, minivan, truck or small car, we have a fridge that will be the right fit.

 

 
 

Types of Fridges [Short Comparison]

There are three types of portable fridges for camper vans:
 

Compressor Fridges – A.K.A. Two-Way Fridges

Recommended Option

Compressor fridges are powered by a compressor, similar to a standard home refrigerator. If you’re a full-time van dweller or on the road quite often, a compressor fridge is the best option. They’re incredibly efficient, relatively affordable, safe, reliable, versatile, and easy to install.
 

Gas Fridges – A.K.A. Three-Way, LPG, or Absorption Fridges

As the name implies, these fridges are gas powered. If you’re dead set on using gas to power your fridge because you don’t have solar panels or you don’t want to periodically recharge your batteries, a gas fridge will be your best option. Gas fridges can be efficient, they run silently, and typically have a long lifespan, but they’re difficult to install, they can be dangerous, and the cost of gas will increase your long-term expenses. You can also power these fridges with electricity, however, they are very inefficient.
 

Thermoelectric Coolers

Best for Occasional Road Trips

Thermoelectric coolers use electricity to remove hot air from inside the cooler, creating a cold environment to refrigerate your food and drinks. They can also be used to remove cold air, creating a warm environment. These are very affordable, but much less efficient and cannot reach nearly as low of a temperature as other options.

 

[Read our full comparison of these three types of fridges]  
 
 

The Best Campervan Fridges

 

Compressor Fridges

Comparison Chart

Dometic CFX Portable Fridge FreezersARB Portable Fridge FreezersWhynter Portable Fridge FreezersCostway Portable Refrigerator Freezer
Best FunctionOur Pick - Most EfficientDurable & Long LastingBasic EssentialsMost Affordable
Efficiency
Quality & Reliability
Technology & Features
Price$788$874$512$390
Power12V/24V DC or 120V AC12V/24V DC or 120V AC12V/24V DC or 115V/60-Hz - 0.8A AC12V/24V DC or 110V - 240V AC
Lowest Temperature-8°F or -22°C-6°F or -21°C-6°F or -21°C-68°F or -56°C
Separate Freezer Compartment
Approximate Power Draw.5A to 1A.7A to 2.3A3A to 5A3A to 5A
Volume Capacity49 Quarts or 46 Liters50 Quarts or 47 Liters45 Quarts or 43 Liters54 Quarts or 52 Liters
External Dimensions
L x W x H (inches):
28.5 x 17.9 x 18.527.8 x 15 x 2023.5 x 16.5 x 20.527.5 x 14 x 21
Weight45 Lbs50 Lbs45 Lbs36 Lbs
Low Voltage Protection
Warranty2 Years3 Years1 Year3 Months
Free Shipping

 
 

Dometic CFX Portable Fridge Freezers – Most Efficient

Dometic CFX Portable Fridge Freezer

Recommended Model & Size: CFX 50W (49-Quart)
Price: $788

Other sizes/models include:
CFX 28W
CFX 35W
CFX 40W
CFX 65W
CFX 65DZ
CFX 75DZW
CFX 95DZW

Dometic portable fridge/freezers are the best campervan fridges for various reasons. They are one of the most efficient portable fridges on the market with an incredibly low power draw, they’re reasonably priced, durable, and loaded with features. To name a few of the features, they include a digital control panel, LED interior light, USB port for charging your phone or other electronics, a drain plug, and removable wire baskets. There are other additional features depending on the specific Dometic model, which is all mentioned below.

There are 3 main product lines for Dometic fridges/freezers that are best for camper vans:

CFXW

The W stands for WiFi, meaning the fridges have WiFi connectivity which allows users to adjust the fridge temperature with a phone app. This model also has a detachable and reversible lid.

CFXDZ

The DZ stands for dual zone, meaning there is a separate freezer compartment with a divider. Although it is a dual zone, it still only has one temperature gauge. But don’t worry, the freezer compartment will still stay colder because the majority of the cold air is trapped in that compartment. If you don’t want to use the freezer, you can remove the divider to allow for more fridge space. The W line still has a freezer compartment, it just doesn’t have the option to remove the divider. This model is unfortunately less efficient in terms of power draw compared to the W model, and is only available in 56 Quarts (CFX65DZ). It’s also a bit more expensive.

CFXDZW

The DZW is the best of both worlds. It has WIFI capabilities and the ability to remove the compartment divider. It also has two temperature gages, one for the fridge and one for the freezer. This option is only available for Dometic’s larger fridge/freezers.

Power12V/24V DC or 120V AC
Lowest Temperature-8°F or -22°C
Approximate Power Draw.5A to 1A
Volume Capacity49 Quarts or 46 Liters
External Dimensions
L x W x H (inches):
28.5 x 17.9 x 18.5
Weight45 Lbs
Low Voltage ProtectionYes
Separate Freezer CompartmentYes
Warranty2 Years
Free ShippingYes
 
 

ARB Portable Fridge Freezers – Durable & Long Lasting

ARB Fridge Freezer 50 Quart

Recommended Size: 50 Quart
Price: $874

Other sizes include:
37 Quart
63 Quart
82 Quart

The ARB portable fridge has it’s pros and cons and is overall a fantastic fridge for a campervan, but not quite up to par with the Dometic fridges. It has a super durable steel frame which makes it a great fridge for any sort of off-roading. It also has a longer warranty, and similar to the Dometic fridges, it has a digital control panel, LED interior light, a drain plug, and removable wire baskets. The only downside is it’s slightly less efficient, slightly more expensive, and doesn’t include any advanced technology.

Power12V/24V DC or 120V AC
Lowest Temperature-6°F or -21°C
Approximate Power Draw.7A to 2.3A
Volume Capacity50 Quarts or 47 Liters
External Dimensions
L x W x H (inches):
27.8 x 15 x 20
Weight50 Lbs
Low Voltage ProtectionYes
Separate Freezer CompartmentYes
Warranty2 Years
Free ShippingYes
 
 

Whynter Portable Fridge Freezers – Basic Essentials

Whynter 65-Quart Portable Refrigerator Freezer

Recommended Size: 45-Quart
Price: $512

Other sizes include:
65 Quart
85 Quart

The Whynter Portable Fridge Freezers are a good option for the price, but they lack when it comes to efficiency. They have an LED temperature display, but they don’t have a separate freezer compartment, they’re a bit heavier, and only provide a 1 year warranty.

Power12V/24V DC or 115V/60-Hz - 0.8A AC
Lowest Temperature-6°F or -21°C
Approximate Power Draw3A to 5A
Volume Capacity45 Quarts or 43 Liters
External Dimensions
L x W x H (inches):
23.5 x 16.5 x 20.5
Weight45 Lbs
Low Voltage ProtectionYes
Separate Freezer CompartmentNo
Warranty1 Years
Free ShippingYes
 
 

Costway Portable Refrigerator Freezer – Most Affordable

Costway 54 Quart Portable Refrigerator Freezer Car Mini Fridge Electric Cooler

Size: 54 Quart
Price: $390

The Costway portable fridge freezer is for anyone living the van life on a budget. This is a very affordable fridge with all the basic features, but it has its cons. This fridge is not very efficient and you can’t expect it to have the long lifespan that you’ll see with other options – keep in mind that it only has a 3 month warranty.

Power12V/24V DC or 110V - 240V AC
Lowest Temperature-68°F or -56°C
Separate Freezer CompartmentYes
Approximate Power Draw3A to 5A
Volume Capacity54 Quarts or 52 Liters
External Dimensions
L x W x H (inches):
27.5 x 14 x 21
Weight36 Lbs
Low Voltage ProtectionYes
Warranty3 Months
Free ShippingYes

 

Gas Fridges

 

Smad LP Gas Electric 3-Way Absorption Fridge

Smad LP Gas Electric 3-Way Absorption Refrigerator

Recommended Size: 42 Quarts
Price: $449

Other sizes include:
105 Quarts (3.5 cubic feet)

The Smad Gas fridge is one of few decent gas fridges on the market. A gas fridge isn’t recommended for van life, but if you’re dead set on using gas, the Smad is the way to go. This fridge has adjustable and removable shelves and will allow for electric hookup if need be.

PowerGas or Electric (12v DC or 110V AC)
Lowest Temperature32°F or 0°C
Separate Freezer CompartmentNo, but you may be able to get some contents to freeze in the back of the fridge if
you put it at the lowest temperature setting
Approximate Electric Power Draw5.4 amps or 65 Watts
Volume Capacity42 Quarts or 40 Liters
External Dimensions
L x W x H (inches):
17.7 x 15.8 x 24.8
Weight55 Lbs
Low Voltage ProtectionNo
WarrantyPlan available for additional purchase
Free ShippingYes
 
 

Thermoelectric Coolers

 

Wagan Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer

Wagan 46 Quart 12V Thermoelectric Cooler Warmer

Size: 46 Quarts
Price: $129

You get what you pay for with this cooler. It’s one of the best fridges for road trippers on a budget. It will keep your food and drinks cold up to 36°F below the ambient temperature and keep your food warm up to 140°F above the ambient temperature. It’s very lightweight and comes with magnetic/removable doors to keep your food cold/warm. Just keep in mind that this fridge is going to take a toll on your battery and have a tough time keeping frozen foods frozen.

Power12V DC
Lowest TemperatureAbout 36 degrees Fahrenheit below ambient temperature
Highest Temperature140 degrees Fahrenheit
Approximate Electric Power Draw4 Amps or 48 Watts
Volume Capacity46 Quarts or 44 Liters
External Dimensions
L x W x H (inches):
21.75 x 16.25 x 17.5
Weight22 Lbs
Low Voltage ProtectionNo
WarrantyProtection plan available for additional purchase
Free ShippingYes
 
 

Koolatron Compact Cooler

Koolatron 18 qt. Compact Cooler

Size: 18 Quarts
Price: $97

The Koolatron Cooler is another small, lightweight, affordable option for road trippers. It was designed specifically to fit right in between the driver and passenger seats in your car, truck, or minivan.

Power12V DC
Lowest TemperatureAbout 40 degrees Fahrenheit (22 Celsius) below ambient temperature
Highest TemperatureAbout 135 degrees Fahrenheit or 57 Celsius
Approximate Electric Power Draw3.75 amps or 45 Watts
Volume Capacity18 Quarts or 17 Liters
External Dimensions
L x W x H (inches):
17.8 x 9 x 16.5
Weight5 Lbs
Low Voltage ProtectionNo
WarrantyProtection plan available for additional purchase
Free ShippingYes
 
 

What to Look for in a Portable Camper Van Fridge

 

Fridge Efficiency and Power Draw

Fridge efficiency is really important for van life. If you have yet to buy solar panels and batteries, keep in mind that you will need to spend more money on these if you buy an inefficient fridge.

Most modern 12V refrigerator compressors are very efficient. Of course, some are slightly more efficient than others, but with better building and insulation materials, technology, and configuration, some companies can create a more efficient fridge with a lower power draw.

You should know that the power draw listed by manufacturers is not always completely accurate. Testing conditions vary, making it difficult to provide accurate numbers. To ensure that we provide as accurate information as possible, we looked at the power draw listed by manufacturers along with numerous tests done by independent sources and customer reviews.
 

Fridge Capacity & Size

Buying a mini fridge without enough capacity will require you to grocery shop more often and require you to dig around in your fridge when you need to find things. On the contrary, buying a fridge that is too big will cost more and take up more precious space in your van. Most van dwellers traveling solo will use a 20 – 40 quart fridge, while couples will use a 40 – 60 quart fridge.
 

Quality, Reliability, and Warranty

You don’t want a fridge that’s going to break down on you or a fridge made with cheap parts that you will need to replace. Having a fridge with a longer warranty like an ARB (3 years) or Dometic (2 years), will not only ensure that you are covered if something happens to your fridge, but it also shows that they are confident that their product will last a long time.
 

Price

If you’re a full-time van lifer, skimping on an efficient, quality fridge is not recommended. However, portable fridges can get expensive so it’s understandable if you can’t fit one of the best fridges into your budget. Just keep in mind that you will spend much more money in the long run if you buy a cheaper fridge because they won’t last as long, you may need to replace parts, and most importantly, they won’t be as efficient which will require you to spend more on batteries and solar panels in order to make up for it.
 

Technology and Features

Portable campervan fridges have various technology and features that help with efficiency and usability. Here are some of the features to keep in mind:

  • Wifi connectivity to change the fridge temperature with a phone app
  • Light up displays to show whether the fridge is currently running
  • Low voltage protection which stops the fridge from running when the batteries get too low
  • LED lighting inside the fridge
  • Drain plug at the bottom of the fridge to make cleaning easier
  • Removable wire baskets
  • Separate freezer compartment

 

Direction the door/lid opens

Chest fridge

Dometic Top Door Fridge Freezer

Chest fridges are more energy efficient, you can fit more items into them, easily portable, and you also don’t need to worry about your food falling out after a bumpy drive. The only downside is it will be more difficult to find your food at the bottom of the fridge.

Upright Fridge

Smad LP Gas Electric 3-Way Absorption Refrigerator

Upright fridges will make it easier to find your food, but after a bumpy drive, you may find your food falling out. They’re also less efficient, not easily portable, and there will be wasted space because things aren’t stacked on top of each other.
 

Where to Put your Fridge

You will want to put your fridge near your sink and stove/cooking device – whether this be in the front or back of your conversion van. You will also want your fridge to be easily accessible. If you have a chest fridge, the two best options are to put it in a pull out drawer, or use it as a part of your countertop.

van craft fridge

You can see the fridge on the right side of the van. It’s built into the cabinet so the lid is part of the countertop. Credit to vancraft.com.

 

Freezer Compartment

There are numerous portable fridges that include a separate freezer compartment. Dometic’s CFXDZ models have a divider in their fridge that is removable to allow users to expand the fridge area. Even fridges that don’t have a separate freezer compartment can still reach a freezing temperature on one side of the fridge allowing you to keep necessary items frozen. This, of course, isn’t as reliable and you will inevitably end up with food items that are colder or warmer than desired.
 
 

Types of Fridges [Full Comparison]

 

Compressor Fridges – A.K.A. Two-Way Fridges

Recommended Option

Powered by: 12v/24v DC or 120V/V240AC
Price: ranges from $300 to $1,200

Compressor fridges are powered by a compressor, similar to a standard home refrigerator. They’re the best option if you live in a camper van full time or are on the road often.

Pros and Cons

They run much more efficiently than other options when using DC battery power

You will need an electrical source

Does a better job a keeping your fridge cool in hot environments

Up front cost is a bit more expensive

Can find in numerous shapes to fit your camper van

Cheaper in the long run

Very easy to install

They run well when you’re driving or parked on uneven terrain

They run quietly

 

Gas Fridges – A.K.A. Three-Way, LPG, or Absorption Fridges

As the name implies, these fridges are gas powered. They’re not recommended for van life. They should only be used if you don’t have solar panels or you don’t want to periodically recharge your batteries.

Powered by: Gas/LPG or 12v/24v DC, 240V AC
Price: ranges from $400 to $700

Pros and Cons

They run silently

Installation is more difficult – it must be inspected by a registered gas fitter. If it’s not inspected, your warranty will be forfeited and your safety will be at risk.

They typically have a longer lifespan – only needs to be replaced after about 20 years

Gas always poses a safety threat

They run pretty efficiently when using gas

If you’re using batteries to power a gas fridge, it will drain the batteries very quickly

Cost of gas will increase your long-term expenses

Fridge doors typically only open from the front

 

Thermoelectric Coolers

Best for Occasional Road Trips

Thermoelectric coolers use electricity to remove hot air from inside the cooler, creating a cold environment to refrigerate your food and drinks. They can also be used to remove cold air, creating a warm environment. These fridges are only recommended for those taking an occasional road trip.

Powered by 12v/24v DC and some by 240v AC
Price: ranges from $100 to $300

Pros and Cons

Very inexpensive

Uses a lot more battery power

Light weight

Can’t set specific temperature

They don’t require ice

Will not come with a freezer compartment

They can keep warm as well

Can be noisy

Can only reach about 40 degrees Fahrenheit below the ambient air temperature