Portable mini fridge reviews [Top 10 2020]
Portable refrigerators for cars
Long road trips can be hard. It’s all fun and games till you have been 4 hours in and you start to be thirsty or a bit tired. If the tank is not half-empty I hate doing a non-planned stop. Call it my pet peeve, to me those 10 minutes here and there and the hefty prices for a drink or snack are really annoying.
The solution when I travel across states is to always go prepared. One thing that have always made a difference is having a portable refrigerator in the car. You don’t have to worry about ice, water running around and your drinks and snacks always stay cold. I recently found out about USB thermoelectric cooler & warmer, which are a great option allowing you to keep drink cold, or food warm instead.
The AstroAI Mini Fridge comes in 4 different colors, blue, white, pink and black. Probably one of this portable mini refrigerator best features is its insulation. Anything that you place inside this fridge will stay cold or hot for several hours despite having the portable fridge off.
Make sure to fill the fridge with beverages that are already cold! Obviously it won’t magically make drinks cold if it stays unplugged.
Keep things cold or hot
There is a good reason why this mini fridge is listed as hot cold mini fridge. Even though it has not been designed to heat up cold items, it will keep food hot for several hours. Always make sure that the door is closed properly though!
If you do really want to keep food cold or warm in your car as fast as possible, leave at least 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) of space on back of this mini fridge.
Choosing between keeping food cold or warm in this mini fridge is as easy as flipping a switch. You will find the button below the fan on its back with 3 options. Warm, off and Cold.
Small but powerful
Note that its temperature is based on the ambient temperature. So how cold does a portable mini fridge get? On cooling mode the mini fridge can cool down to 32 °F (0 °C) below the temperature outside the fridge. With the warm option, it can warm up to 150 °F (66 °C). It does not come however with a temperature display or gauge to display its temperature nor you can set a specific one. It’s either cold are hot.
Online reviewers mention that it takes about 3 hours for this mini fridge to reach its full potential.
This mini fridge features as well retractable handle. Given its size, weight and the handle its easy to see why existing customers are so happy with its portability.
It comes with one shelf than can be easily removed. You will be able to fit six 12 ounce cans stacked on their sides. For bigger drinks, this thermoelectric mini fridge can hold four 12-oz bottles (you will need to take off the shelf in order to do that).
Use it in your car and at home
It’s good to know that when you buy this portable mini refrigerator it comes with both a regular outlet and a 12V cigarette lighter source included. If you are planning to use it on the car, make sure to only run it while your car engine is on, you might risk draining you vehicle battery otherwise and ending up having to call someone with a jump start car battery pack.
Great both for gamers and travelers
I have reviewed thoroughly the Concord 20 Liter Mini Fridge on my Gaming mini fridge reviews. The fact that is portable mini fridge shows up as on this review is for a good reason. As I mentioned on my gaming article, I do really like the fact that this mini fridge is environmentally friendly.
What I didn’t mention however is how quickly it cools down. In about 15-20 minutes it will go to 40 °F (4.44 °C). Keep in mind that it will take about 2-3 hours to achieve your desired temperature.
Another good thing about the Cooluli Concord is that it’s truly a car mini fridge since it comes both with an AC and DC cord included.
It does come as well with a handle on each side. It’s perfect to use it as your automotive mini fridge given its weight (just 13.6lb – 6 kg).
You will have plenty of space too given its size, with space for 18 water bottles. Plenty for a very long road tip.
If you live in a country where you don’t have 110v, do not use a plug converter or you will burn its fuse inside (which will probably mean having to buy a new mini fridge). Instead, use a voltage transformer. It will allow you to reduce your home voltage to 110v allowing your car mini fridge to work just fine at home.
If you want to read further details, features and my thoughts on this car refrigerator, make sure to check my gaming mini fridge guide where I go into a bit more detail.
Another one from the same brand and there is a good reason for it. The Cooluli Mini Fridge with car adapter can handle six 12 ounce cans.
Plug it anywhere
This USB thermoelectric cooler & warmer comes with all the cords and wires necessary for you to use it pretty much anywhere: AC power cord (110V), DC power cord (12V) and a USB power cord (2A).
It’s crazy to think that in 2020 you can just plug a mini fridge to a power bank and make it work! Note that this usb thermoelectric cooler & warmer will only operate on ECO mode when you are using the USB (even through your computer).
Warm it up or it cool it down
This portable mini refrigerator comes with both cooling and warming functions. It includes as well display lights to make sure for you to know on what setting the portable mini fridge is on. Just with a flip of a switch you can go from warm to cold functions. On its instructions it’s mentioned that you should wait 30 minutes between going from cold to hot and vice versa.
How cold does this portable mini fridge get? Its cooling capacity goes to 45º F (7.2 °C) below ambient temperature and to 144º F (62 °C) when it’s working as a food or drink warmer. Impressive! Unlike the Cooluli Concord however, this one does not have a digital display.
It’s lightweight (just 4lb – 1.81 kilogram) and made of polypropylene plastic which means that is resistant as well. You will like it’s magnetic self-lock latching door. You won’t have to worry about closing your mini fridge door properly.
The Cooluli Mini Fridge with car adapter comes in the following colors: black, blue, fuchsia, pink, red, white and the interesting cow pattern. All of them with a matte finish on its front.
Efficiency without refrigerants
Similar to the Cooluli Concord just above, what I do really like from this portable refrigerator is that it works without using any refrigerants. It uses thermoelectric energy to cool or warm instead.
Satisfied customers mention that the unit is not too loud, being compared to what a humidifier would do with its constant soft whirring sound. To put things in perspective, the sound of your computer fan will be louder than this personal fridge.
Another good thing about this mini fridge is that it can be used constantly. In fact, I’ve run some energy consumption numbers. Based on the US average price of $0.12 per kWh and keeping in mind that from a wall outlet it would run at 48 watts, running 24/7 for 365 days its consumption would be of about $16.82 per year. Not much keeping in mind that you can keep up to 6 cans at the time.
The Gourmia GMF668 has one feature that makes it unique compared to the rest of portable mini fridges that I have reviewed on this article. A Bluetooth speaker!
Everything is better with music
This mini fridge is a great option when it comes to find way to entertain your crowd. It might be that you drive on an old car without Bluetooth or AUX cord or maybe your car sound system doesn’t work as it used to… The Gourmia GMF668 becomes a great option for these situations with its built-in speaker. Even when you are in a campsite, doing a picnic or just hanging with your family and friends.
The Gourmia GMF668 Bluetooth speaker can be easily paired with most devices. In order to do so just follow these steps:
- On the back of the fridge you only need to flip its Bluetooth switch to the ON position. You will hear then “The Bluetooth device is ready”
- Then you need to go to your phone/tablet setting and search for “Bluetooth” (yes, they didn’t give it any other name than simply, Bluetooth)
- Select it to pair it with your phone or tablet
- When the fridge is paired you will hear “The Bluetooth device is paired”. This means that the device has been successfully paired and ready to play some tunes
- You will need to use the volume control on your phone/tablet to control the volume of the mini fridge speaker
Keep things hot or cold
Similar to the other portable mini refrigerators reviewed above. The Gourmia GMF668 has both the option to chill things down to 32 °F – 0 °C or keep them hot at up to 150 °F – 65.56 °C just with flip of a switch. It is as simple as turning the switch to cold for the cooling mode.
A green LED light will illuminate indicating that the unit has been set to the cooling function. Turning the switch to hot, you guessed right, will turn ON its warming mode. You probably have guessed right as well that a red LED light will indicate so. If the switch is on off this thermoelectric mini fridge will stop running, becoming an insulated box.
Take it anywhere
When it comes to portability, Gourmia has made things really easy. If you buy this mini fridge you will notice how lightweight it is (5.3lb – 2.4 kg), plus it comes with an integrated carry handle giving a true meaning to the word portable. Note that it’s slightly heavier than the Gourmia GMF600, which does not feature an integrated Bluetooth speaker.
This portable fridge and warmer fits about 4 liters which equals to the standard six-pack (you won’t have to remove its shelf in order to fit all of them, 4 go on the bottom, 2 on top).
It’s worth mentioning that this mini fridge is ETL Certified. Meaning that it’s a product in compliance with the North American safety standards.
Given its price, functionalities and the Bluetooth speaker extra feature I believe that the Gourmia GMF668 is probably one of the best options in the portable refrigerators for cars category.
The Wagan EL6224 electric car cooler and warmer comes in blue and features a plastic handle to make it easier to carry it around. Similar to other coolers that we have seen on this article, it does not have Freon and basically works as heat exchanger.
Extremely cool, extremely hot
In the cooling function it will cool 36 °F – 2.2 °C below ambient temperature. It’s an important to keep that in mind. If it’s working in an air-conditioned car, you can expect to find things ice cold. Driving with your windows open in a 90 degree weather, it will be much less so. The opposite will happen with the warm up function, where it will reach 140 °F – 60 °C. A hot/cold/off switch on the back of the unit makes quite easy to work out with function is currently on. It does feature indicator lights as well. On either option, once unplugged, items inside will be kept insulated for hours thanks to its Polyurethane foam walls.
Plenty of space and easy access
This portable plug in cooler has a capacity of 24 liters, which translates to four 2 liters bottles or up to 27 cans.
Its lead is easily removed, you only need to open it half-way and pull upwards. This can be useful when it’s time to pack. My suggestion is for you to avoid doing it on the road. If you are not really fast you will probably get the cooler back to ambient temperature. This is something that you really want to avoid if you have more stuff left to cool down or to keep warm.
Made for the car
This cooler comes with a 12v DC cord of 7.5 feet (2.29 meters) attached directly to it. This allows you to place the unit in your car’s backseat and run it directly with your cigarette plug. There is no option however to detach it. Online reviewers have mentioned that it would have been nice to be able to detach the cord or at least have a stowaway compartment so the cable isn’t just running around while carrying the electric car cooler and warmer.
The instructions point out that you should unplug the unit when you turn off your car. Otherwise, it might totally drain your battery. Additionally, it mentions that if you leave your cooler plugged in when you start your car, you might send a surge of power to the unit, potentially causing some damage. That’s when a good cooler insulation makes a difference.
There is the option to buy an adapter that will allow you to plug it to a standard AC socket. It’s called the Wagan EL9903 and is sold separately.
The Alpicool C15 Portable Refrigerator is a great option for those looking for a versatile portable mini fridge. It’s suitable for both your car and home since it can work on 12 and 24v DC. Satisfied buyers have been using successfully using it with a solar panel kit too since it can handle 24v.
This personal fridge is so powerful that it can freeze down to -4 °F (-20 °C).
Now unlike previous portable mini fridge for cars that I have been reviewing, the Alpicool C15 is produced in Foshan, China. That being said, I didn’t manage to find any complaints regarding this mini fridge performance or quality. Quite the opposite, online reviewers praised its performance, quality and price.
Digital temperature settings
Unlike other car mini fridges, this unit features a digital control panel on its right side with an electronic temperature control. In fact, it does come with some preset modes that are not listed on its product page. These modes allow you to choose between several temperature settings.
In order to access these settings:
- First the mini fridge needs to be set off with the “soft off” button.
- Then you will need to press and hold the “Set” button until “E1” appears on the screen.
- Press “Set” again to move to each setting and press up/down arrows to make adjustments.
The special settings are the following ones:
- “E1” Lowest temperature setting
- “E2” Highest Temperature setting
- “E3” Temperature Return Setting
- “E4” Soft start Setting
- “E5” to change from Celsius to Fahrenheit
Safe for your car battery
The Alpicool C15 Portable Refrigerator features as well a 3 stage car batter protection system that prevents the car battery to drain. This means that you can leave this portable refrigerator for cars plugged without having to worry if you will be able to start the car once you are back. If you do really want to leave it unattended for a while but running, your best bet is using the ECO mode. It will decrease the mini fridge power consumption to the minimum so your battery won’t drain.
Easy to move around
On each side you will find built-in handles that will make moving it around easier. With its weight (21.2lb – 9.62 kilogram), you shouldn’t have any problem carrying it around.
This mini fridge with car adapter has the following inside measurements: 9.7 inches width (24.64 centimeters), 7.3 inches height (18.54 centimeters), 13.8 inches (35.05 centimeters) depth. In terms of space this means that it can handle 15 bottles of water.
Great long-term performance
Satisfied users have mentioned how long this unit can last running. In fact some users have reported that they have been using the unit continuously for over 16 months without any problems. I’ve read a review reporting that on a couple of instances the unit goes into a “run away” cooling condition, which prompts the compressor to keep running, non-stop until it’s turned off or there is no more battery. Unplugging the unit, waiting 5 second and plugging it again fixed the problem.
Every customer has praised the Alpicool C15 Portable Refrigerator performance. Definitely a solid option.
A portable mini fridge with wheels
When I think about the words portable fridge, the first thing that comes to mind is a mini fridge with wheels and this, literally, is what the K-box Electric mini fridge cooler and warmer is.
It doesn’t matter if you are looking to keep food warm or drinks cold, the k-box electric cooler and warmer does both! It features as well two handles to make it even easier to move around this cooler once it’s filled.
This portable cooler for your car comes in 3 different colors, blue, blue white and red, and red with white handles.
Plenty of space
One thing is for sure, you will run out of space with this cooler combo. It can handle 60 standard cans or 6 two liter bottles plus 15 cans. It comes as well with a removable partition so you can have 2 compartments instead of a full box if you are really into being organized.
This cooler comes with 2.6 feet (0.79 meters) of built in cords. One standard AC and one DC for your car. Do not worry though about having them hanging around. This cooler includes a storage compartment, so they won’t bother you when you are not using them.
This portable mini fridge can reach a cold temperature of 40 °F (4.44 °C) without having to use any ice. Keep in mind that it will take about 12 hours to reach that temperature. On the hot setting it will keep food actually hot, not just warm to the touch. Again, it will take time, but online reviewers have been impressed with the results. Unfortunately, there is no temperature setting. You either choose cold or hot based on what you will put in the cooler (or warmer).
If you do unplug the K-Box Electric Cooler and Warmer it does insulate things inside surprisingly well. In fact, once it reaches the maximum temperature it will stay cool for approximately 24 hours without any power.
Online reviewers have mentioned that it does a better job keeping things cool that trying to cool off warm items. So it’s always a better idea to cool things before placing them into the his mini fridge if possible.
If you are really serious about having a portable mini fridge, the ARB 10810602 Elements Portable Fridge/Freezer is probably one of the best ones that you can currently go for.
This portable mini refrigerator has so many features and so many good reviews that you can’t go wrong with it.
Made to last
Let start with its material, it’s made of stainless steel. The ARB Element looks sturdy and indeed it is. Its exterior is fully weatherproof and has been designed to withstand the worst conditions. Are you planning to mount it on your truck open cargo area? Fine!
This portable fridge freezer comes with tamper proof bolts and a locking system with a 4-digit pin code. No-one will be messing with your stuff. There is the option to include a padlock to add even more security.
Both AC and DC power sockets are placed on the back and recessed, so cables won’t get on your way. In terms of cable length, the power cord is about 6 feet (182.88 cm).
Upgrade its features even further
If you are planning to keep your ARB outside, you definitely want to buy their transit bag. It shields it from dents, scratches and provides an extra layer of insulation. In fact, online reviewers mention how much insulation this bag provides, allowing this unit to stand 100+ degree days being on the sun all day, yet keeping drinks ice-cold. You will be glad to know that they even include a branded bottle opener as a bonus (I’m not kidding!).
For more convenience there is as well the 10900040 Element Fridge Slide which will enable you to slide out the Element mini fridge freezer giving you easier access to your cold drinks and food.
If you want to go fully digital, there is the option as well to use their Fridge App Connect module. It allows you to fully control your fridge freezer via your mobile device which to be honest, is quite convenient.
If you are really serious about monitoring the temperature of your ARB mini fridge you can upgrade it and buy their remote fridge monitor, which as the name says, will allow you to monitor up to 2 different ARB portable mini fridges wirelessly including their internal fridge temperature, supply voltage and compressor status. If you want to make sure that your food and drinks stays cold right from your driver seat area just go for the upgrade. It looks really cool too!
Plenty of space and cooling power
A backlit LED weatherproof digital temperature control on the front side on this portable mini fridge allows you to monitor its temperature. Keep in mind, that you do need to make sure that the thermostat has been calibrated accordingly.
You can either choose to set the temperature to be either a fridge or a freezer. Unfortunately, you can’t have both options at the same time. It can reach temperatures from: +60F to -0F (+10C to -18C).
Once you open the ARB portable fridge an infinite position gas strut will hold the lid open as long as necessary in any position.
Inside you will find a wired dual height compartment dividers just so you can keep things a bit more organized.
With a capacity of 60 liters, you should have plenty of space to keep your drinks and food cold. If there was any liquid left inside the fridge, this portable mini fridge features a drain plug to make the whole draining operation a piece of cake.
All in all the ARB 10810602 Elements is probably the best option for someone who is really serious about keeping food cold or frozen in a car. Do keep in mind that all these features comes with a hefty price tag. Compared to the other mini fridge for cars reviewed on this article, this one is, by far, the most expensive one.
Easy to use, with both cold and hot settings
If you are looking for an easy to use mini fridge, the NutriChef Portable Mini Fridge cooler and warmer is a great option. It comes in either blue or black.
Similar to other units that I have reviewed on this article, it has both the option to keep drinks cool or to work as a warmer and keep your food ready to eat. A switch on its back couldn’t make it easier for you to choose between having it running hot or cold.
This unit comes with both the wall power cable (AC) and the car charger adapter (DC), also known as the car cigarette lighter plug.
Great finishes and materials
Made of stainless steel and polyurethane, this unit will easily handle road trips, campsites and pretty much anything that you throw at it (not literally though!). Unfortunately, it does not have a retractable or built-in handle, it doesn’t weight much (4.8lb – 2.18 kg), but you want to keep that in mind if you are planning to carry this portable refrigerators for cars around.
A magnetic closing door mechanism will make sure that its door stays put and it doesn’t unexpectedly open once you are on the go.
Inside you will be able to fit up to six 12 ounce cans. If you do need more space, its shelf can be easily removed.
Keep it hot or keep it cold
On its cooling mode, this personal fridge and warmer cools down 50 °F (10 °C) below ambient temperature (that is the temperature outside the fridge). In terms of warming up food, it can go up to 140 °F (60 °C). There is no display to track its internal temperature but its integrated fan will make sure that your food and drinks are always on point.
It’s good to know that the manufacturer stays behind this product quality and durability, offering a 1-Year limited warranty.
A long commitment with quality
Technically the Koolatron P75 is an enhanced travel cooler rather than a car mini fridge. Given its features and great reviews I do really believe that it should be listed on this portable mini fridge reviews article though!
I do recall my family having one when I was a kid and if I’m not mistaken its design didn’t change much since then. For over 35 years Koolatron has been manufacturing these portable coolers and warmers in the United States.
An interesting feature of this cooler is that it can either sit horizontally, so it’s used as a chest or vertically, becoming an upright fridge.
Good heating and cooling capabilities
The Koolatron P75 comes in grey and it’s made of hard-sided plastic with foam insulation. This insulation allows the unit to cool to 40 °F – 4.44 °C below ambient temperature and heat to up to 135 °F – 57.22 °C when it’s plugged to your car 12v cigarette lighter or in any AC socket. For the later you will need an adaptor that does not come with the unit. Here you can find the AC socket adaptor (Koolatron Multi-Purpose Adapter 110AC to 12 Volts DC ( Model AC-16).
I have found as well another interesting adaptor available, the Koolatron F70110 12V Battery Saver. This adaptor will stop running once it notices that your car battery is low. Quite handy when you want to step out from your car for a while and want to make sure that your drinks will be still cold when you come back, and more importantly that your car will still turn on…
Satisfied buyers have mention that it does really chill drinks, to the point that a bottled water next to the vent iced up.
Enough space for a party
This portable cooler has the following interior dimensions: 16 inches – 40.64 cm length, 12.5 inches – 31.75 cm depth and 12.25 inches – 31.11 cm of height. This means that it can handle about 57 cans. It comes as well with hallowed grips on the side, making it easier to carry it around.
With a large 36 quart (34.07 liters) capacity, the Koolatron P75 has been designed with solid state technology, this means that it only has one moving part, the fan motor. There are no other parts that could wear out or break down. Tilting, vibration or jarring won’t affect its performance. Compressor refrigerators however do always have issues if you move them around a lot. Now you probably understand why this portable car cooler has kept its same design for over 30 years and will probably continue to do so.
As we have seen on this article, there are many options to go for. Prices do change a lot based on the features of the mini fridge cooler and warmer. What has helped me in the past has been writing down, in order, what matters to me the most. Below you will find a few things to consider when it’s time to buy a new mini fridge for your car.
- Cooling and warming speed: How long does it take for the mini fridge to reach your desired temperature? Keep in mind that unlike standard fridges, most portable refrigerators cool and warm food based on the ambient temperature. They do get better results if the drink or food that you have placed inside is already cold. Most car mini fridge will take between 30min and 3 hours to reach your desired temperature.
- Size: This is an obvious one and probably the most important one when buying a new appliance. However, since we are talking about mini fridges and the ones that I have listed on this article are quite small, you shouldn’t have a size problem (at least not with the mini fridge…). Better be safe than sorry though. It’s as simple as checking the listed measurements against your available space.
- Style: You are probably right, it’s just a car refrigerator, but if you can, make sure that at least you like how it looks like. Making it match with your car style might be a bit complicated. Since most of the mini fridges listed are portable, do keep in mind where else you might end up having the portable mini fridge sitting. Your office? Kitchen? It’s always nice to see appliances matching its surroundings.
- Materials: What is the mini fridge made of? Is it a thermoelectric mini fridge? How likely is to handle a couple of hits? Stainless steel is always my go-to. Since you are browsing portable mini refrigerators and it’s probably that you will move the unit around quite a bit, do keep that in mind.
- Temperature Range: Each mini fridge warmer and cooler can reach different temperatures and as we have seen before, these are in most cases based on ambient temperature. My suggestion is for you to go for the automotive food warmer that has the broadest heating and cooling range.
Most of the time water pooling is caused by a little hole blocked at the back of your fridge. Here is an easy way to fix it.