The Best Powered Coolers for RVing
Portable refrigerators have been a staple in the RV camping and overlanding community for years, helping travelers keep their favorite drinks and fresh foods cold no matter where they wander. But thanks to portable power and battery technology improvements, these devices have become more reliable and efficient than ever. New models are designed to operate for days while living off-grid and have a host of features that simply weren’t possible in the past.
Recently, we’ve had a chance to test a number of powered coolers and came away impressed with how well they performed. After putting those models to the test around the home, in the backyard, and at the campsite, we’ve found some standout options that can keep your favorite beverages cold while offering even more functionality. These are our picks for the best-powered coolers for use while RVing.
What is a Powered Cooler
A powered cooler or portable refrigerator is a device designed to keep food and drinks fresh and cold while camping, tailgating, attending a festival, or just hanging out in the backyard. Unlike a traditional cooler, which uses ice to cool its internal storage compartment, these units are powered by electricity. This allows them to work more like the refrigerator that you have at home.
In the past, most powered coolers plugged into either a 12V DC port in a vehicle or a 120V AC outlet found in homes or RVs. But newer versions now come with battery packs that allow them to function completely off the grid in remote locations. A portable power station or gas generator can also supply electricity for these devices.
One of the biggest benefits of a powered cooler is that they don’t require ice, freeing up more internal space for storing food and drinks. They also allow the user to set the exact temperature they need, with the option to even keep foods frozen for extended periods of time. Some even have dual climate zones, allowing cold beverages to be stored on one side and ice cream or other frozen foods on the other.
One of the drawbacks of using a powered cooler is that they are often quite heavy. Because they have built-in electrical systems and refrigeration units, they are bulkier and less portable than a more traditional cooler. They are also not as efficient at keeping their contents cold if they don’t have a source of electricity.
The Best Powered Coolers for RVing
If you’re in the market for a powered cooler or portable refrigerator, these are the models you should have on your radar.
Best known for making portable power stations, EcoFlow has used its battery technology to create an amazing portable refrigerator. This model can run for up to 40 hours on a single—and easily swappable—battery pack. It has a 38L carrying capacity—enough for 60 canned beverages—with the interior space separated into dual climate zones with independent temperature control. But its signature feature is an industry-first built-in ice maker that can create 18 ice cubes in just 12 minutes.
The Glacier tips the scales at a little over 50 pounds when empty, but a removable handle and wheels make it easy to tote around. The device can be remotely controlled and monitored using a smartphone app, and the battery has a USB-C port for charging phones and other gadgets. Price: $1,199
Dometic CFX3 45
Dometic has been a leader in the portable refrigerator space for years, and the company has several great options available for RVers and overlanders. We especially love the CFX3 45 because it offers enough space to carry up to 67 cans of your favorite beverage and can maintain a temperature down to -7ºF. It also comes with smartphone control and monitoring via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and has a built-in USB-A port for recharging small devices.
The CFX3 is one of the more durable powered coolers on the market, making it suitable for use in various environments. Despite its rugged construction, the unit weighs just 41 pounds, making it surprisingly portable for a model of this size. Unlike some newer models, it doesn’t have the option to run from an onboard battery, however. That means you’ll need either a 12V DC or 120V AC outlet to power this model while on the go. Price: $1,049.99
Worx 20V Electric & Battery Powered Cooler
When designing its portable refrigerator, Worx took the battery technology used in its power tools and lawn care equipment and applied it to the powered cooler space. The result is an affordable, well-built product with excellent performance and many features. This unit has a battery life of about ten hours but is compatible with other power cells in the Worx catalog, making it easy to add additional capacity as needed.
This Worx cooler is relatively lightweight, tipping the scales at just under 30 pounds. It comes with a built-in handle and wheels to help move it around and has a carrying capacity of up to 35 canned beverages. Other features include built-in LED lighting, a USB charging port, and the ability to maintain a constant temperature between -4ºF to 68ªF. This model has built-in cupholders and a bottle opener and can be powered using its included 120V AC adapter, which simultaneously recharges its batteries. Price: $499.99
If you’re looking for a portable refrigerator that offers excellent performance but won’t break the bank, it is hard to top the BougeRV CRPRO30. This model has everything you could ask for, including a temperature range of -8ºF to 50ºF, internal LED lighting, quiet, efficient operation, and durable construction. This unit is also compact—it has a 28L carrying capacity—and lightweight (27.5 lbs.), making it easy to take with you on all your adventures.
The CRPRO30 is versatile enough that it can be powered by a 12V DC port or 120V AC outlet, either in a vehicle, at home, or on a generator/power station. But BougeRV also sells the unit with an optional external battery pack that can power the cooler for up to six hours. This gives it the independence you need to take it just about anywhere, keeping your drinks and food cold on the go. Price: $509.99 (with battery pack)
Camco is another brand that has been making powered coolers for years, and it shows in its quality products. The CAM-750 model has a 75-liter capacity, two independently controlled temperature zones, internal LED lighting, and a “Max” cooling mode to cool off the interior space very rapidly. It can also be controlled using a smartphone and comes with built-in wheels and a handle that enhance the portability of the 54-pound unit.
This is another portable refrigerator that requires an external power source, such as a generator, power station, or a home/vehicle outlet. When plugged into a car or RV, the cooler has onboard battery protection to ensure it won’t drain the vehicle’s battery, leaving you stranded in a remote location. Durable and practical, this model is a fantastic blend of functionality and affordability. Price: $779,99
These are our picks for the best powered coolers currently available. Some are high-tech and feature-packed, while others offer a great blend of performance and price. Which model best fits your needs is entirely up to you, but once you have a portable refrigerator to take on your adventures, chances are you’ll never want to go back to a traditional model.