11 Best 12V Campervan Fridges | Vanlife Fridge Guide +VIDEOS

If you’ve ever been on a weekend camping trip, you know what a hassle it is to deal with a cooler full of ice.

Plus, you never really know if your food is staying cold enough. And you always have to deal with that gross puddle of fridge water at the end of the weekend.

Issa Rae Mask GIF by Insecure on HBO

But with the advent of portable, energy efficient, 12V compressor fridges, you don’t have to deal with coolers anymore! Whether you’re planning to be a weekend warrior or a full-time van-lifer, an electric fridge can make van life a whole lot easier.

To be honest, the market is pretty flooded with fridges right now. 

So, I’m here to show you some great options and help you sort through those fridges that just aren’t great for van life.

I am an Amazon Associate as well as an affiliate for various other brands and may earn a commission should you purchase through my links – this comes at no extra cost to you!

Top 3 12V Campervan Fridges

Here’s what I (and tons of other RVers and van-lifers) have found to be the very best on the market. 

UPDATE – I had to include this sale from BougeRV! If it’s before Black Friday of 2022, check this out!

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Best Overall: Dometic CFX3 35 L Fridge

Source: amazon.com

Features:

  • Top-loading door
  • App temperature control
  • One cooling zone with a basket
  • Battery protection

Check the price on Amazon here.

Best Budget: JoyTutus 12V 42 L Portable Refrigerator

JoyTutus 12V 42 L Portable Refrigerator
Source: amazon.com

Features:

  • Two rear wheels
  • Long handle
  • Top-loading door
  • Battery protection
  • ECO and MAX modes
  • Single cooling zone​​

Check the price.

Best Dual Zone Fridge: ICECO VL60 Dual Zone Fridge​​

ICECO VL60 Dual Zone Fridge
Source: amazon.com

Features:

  • Chest-style fridge
  • Dual cooling compartments
  • Heavy-duty metal shell
  • Interior LED light
  • ECO and MAX cooling modes
  • Five-year warranty

Check the price on Amazon here.

Really, what’s best for you will depend on your individual needs, though, so keep reading for way more options, and full reviews of these fridges.

Your Guide to Choosing a Campervan Fridge 12V

First, let’s boil it down to the basics. If you want more info, we’ll go way more in-depth on these later on. But for now, here are the main features you’ll want to look for when choosing a fridge for your campervan:

  • Compressor cooling
  • Interior light
  • Quiet
  • Power draw under 50 watts

If any of those terms are confusing, don’t worry–we’ll cover them!!

Types of Campervan Fridges

When shopping for a fridge for your campervan, you’ll generally come across fridges that use three different methods to cool:

  • Absorption refrigerators
  • Thermoelectric refrigerators
  • 12V Compressor refrigerators

I’ll go over these three, how they work, and why you should or should not consider them as options for your campervan. 

Absorption Refrigerators

Absorption fridges are commonly used in RVs. They might also be listed as two-way or three-way fridges since they can run off of AC power, DC power, and/or propane.

They work by using electricity to heat a liquid into a gas, which then flows through some tubes and cools into a liquid.

absorption refrigerators not great for use in vans
Source: amazon.com

Absorption refrigerators are not recommended for use in campervans for a variety of reasons:

For one, to actually stay cold enough, they need propane. Running a propane line in your campervan adds a whole other level of complication that’s totally unnecessary. Also, these fridges have to be level, or they won’t cool properly. So if you’re driving or sleeping at an incline, your fridge just won’t work.

Driving Black And White GIF

If for some reason, you need to rely on propane to power your fridge (if you don’t have an electric set up in your van, for example) absorption fridges will work. However, I recommend steering clear of these except in those specific circumstances.

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Thermoelectric Fridges

A thermoelectric fridge works by works by using an electric current to bring heat to one side of an area, thereby cooling the other side.

These fridges are typically DC-powered, meaning they’d plug into the 12V socket in your car. Thermoelectric fridges are generally regarded as a slight upgrade from a cooler, since they aren’t super powerful.

thermoelectric fridges

Source: amazon.com

They can only cool to a maximum of 40 degrees less than whatever the temperature inside your van is. These are not a reliable source of cooling, and therefore I wouldn’t recommend them as a long-term solution for a van fridge.

However, if you need a fridge for a weekend trip, or just to keep some drinks cool, these will work.

12V Compressor

The 12V compressor fridge is really where it’s at as far as campervan fridges go.

Compressor fridges work by pumping a refrigerant through a series of coils, changing the pressure of the refrigerant and doing a bunch of other cool scientific stuff with thermodynamics to change the temperature of the refrigerant. They work almost the same as your fridge at home.

Fortunately, you don’t need to understand the complete science behind it (I know I don’t). Just know that these are the fridge powerhouses that’ll keep your bacon cold. 

See also
55+ Ultimate RV Gadgets & Accessories You Can’t Camp Without | 2022
12v compressor fridge for vans
Source: amazon.com

Compressor refrigerators are the most efficient option on the market as far as campervan fridges go.They have very low power draw, they can get really cold, and they don’t need to be level.

So, when shopping, look for campervan fridges that use compressor technology. These are the types of fridges I’ll be covering in-depth because they make the most sense for use in vans.

What Size Fridge Do You Need in Your Campervan?

When shopping for a campervan fridge, you’ll also find that there’s quite a bit of variation in sizing. For example, BougeRV has a massive 30 qt 12v refrigerator… but how much do you REALLY need?

via bougerv.com
Dog Refrigerator GIF

Here’s a rough guide for the size of fridge you’ll need based on how often you want to head to the store.

  • <25 Liters = good for keeping beverages cold
  • 25-50 Liters = 2 people for a weekend of food
  • 50-70 Liters = 2 people for a week of food
  • >70 Liters = a family for a week of food

This will vary a lot based on how often you cook, how many refrigerated items you buy, and the size of items you buy. 

Top-Loading vs. Front-Loading Campervan Fridges

You’ll generally see two styles of campervan fridges — top-loading and front-loading.

Top-loading fridges have a door at the top like this one:

Source: amazon.com

And front-loading fridges have a door that swings out from left to right like this:

Source: amazon.com

But which one’s better? 

The front-loading fridges are a more permanent option, whereas top-loading fridges tend to be more portable. And some people claim that top-loading fridges are more efficient. If they are, it’s really only by a small amount, so your decision here is mostly up to design and accessibility.

  • If your campervan layout will work better with a fridge in a drawer, go for top-loading.
  • If your campervan layout works better with a fridge on a shelf, or under a countertop then get a front-loading fridge.

11 Best 12V Campervan Fridges

Okay, now for the fun part… shopping!

Here are the 11 best 12V campervan fridges on the market.

I’ve got big ones, small ones, front-loading, and top-loading fridges on this list, so scroll through and see which one you like best.

Bouge RV 30 QT Campervan Fridge

Bouge RV 30 QT Campervan Fridge
Source: BougeRV.com
  • Capacity: 28 Liters
  • Power Draw: 45 Watts
  • Minimum Temperature: -5℉

Features:

  • Top-loading door 
  • Battery protection
  • Two interior compartments
  • Shock-proof

This BougeRV 12V fridge has a 28 L capacity and a top-loading door. Inside, the fridge has two small compartments. Temperature settings are on a small button panel to the right of the door, and the fridge can be set to any temperature from -5℉ to 50℉.

This 12V fridge is shock-proof, durable, and will operate at up to a 30-degree angle. It’s ready for adventure at any destination, no matter how bumpy. This is a smaller fridge, so it’ll work great for a weekend trip, or just stocking up the car with snacks and drinks.

Check the price here.

And here’s a video review of this fridge:


ICECO VL60 Dual Zone Fridge​​

ICECO VL60 Dual Zone Fridge​​ top load van fridge
Source: amazon.com
  • Capacity: 60 Liters
  • Power Draw: 45 Watts
  • Minimum Temperature: 0℉

Features:

  • Chest-style opening
  • Dual cooling compartments
  • Heavy-duty metal shell
  • Interior LED light
  • ECO and MAX cooling modes
  • Five-year warranty

ICECO is really known for its chest coolers–and for good reason. This is a high-quality dual zone fridge that’s all you need for your next overlanding trip.

It has two cooling compartments, so the whole thing can be used as a fridge, or one side can function as a freezer. The heavy-duty metal shell means it’s super durable and can handle rough terrain, as well as being moved in and out of a van.

Plus, it comes with an energy-efficient ECO cooling setting if you’re low on battery, and a MAX cool mode for quick cooling.

Check the current price on Amazon.

And watch the review for this fridge here:


Euhomy 45 L Portable Refrigerator

Euhomy 45 L Portable Refrigerator
Source: amazon.com
  • Capacity: 45 Liters
  • Power Draw: 45 Watts
  • Minimum Temperature: -4℉

Features:

  • Top-loading door 
  • Four cupholders
  • Two cooling zones
  • Battery protection
  • Bluetooth temperature control

The Euhomy 45 L fridge has a top-loading door and dual compartments with separate temperature controls. So, one side can be set to a fridge temp, and the other smaller side can act as a freezer. This fridge can easily be used as an indoor or outdoor side table, with its four cupholders on the top door.

For more van life necessities, check here: 31 Campervan Gift Ideas Campervan Owners Will LOVE

The Euhomy fridge has some cool features, like Bluetooth temperature control from an app on your phone. It’s quiet, has a low power draw, and can hold 46 soda cans, so it’s more than enough room for a weekend’s worth of food.

Check the price here.

And here’s a review of this fridge:

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Dometic CFX3 35 L Fridge

Dometic CFX3 35 L Fridge

Source: amazon.com

  • Capacity: 35 Liters
  • Power Draw: 40 Watts
  • Minimum Temperature: -7℉

Features:

  • Top-loading door
  • App temperature control
  • One cooling zone with a basket
  • Battery protection

The Dometic CFX3 35L is a great all-around 12V fridge for weekend getaways, or for full-time van life. This fridge has a top-opening fridge and one cooling compartment. 

See also
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The fridge can be fully programmed from an app via WiFi or Bluetooth, or by using the buttons and screen on the fridge itself. Dometic fridges are known for cooling quickly, being quiet, and lasting a long time.

Check out the price of this fridge here.

See this fridge in action:


JoyTutus 12V 42 L Portable Refrigerator

JoyTutus 12V 42 L portable van fridge on wheels
Source: amazon.com
  • Capacity: 40 Liters
  • Power Draw: 45 Watts
  • Minimum Temperature: -4℉

Features:

  • Two rear wheels
  • Long handle
  • Top-loading door
  • Battery protection
  • ECO and MAX modes
  • Single cooling zone

This Joy Tutus top-opening portable fridge is a great budget option for weekend trips or long-term van life.

It has two rear wheels and a handle so it can be transported super easily. The 40L capacity is enough room for around a week of food for two people. The 12V fridge has just one cooling zone controlled by an LED panel, and it offers battery protection and ECO and MAX cooling modes.

See the current price of this fridge

Check out the video review of this fridge:


Bodega 12V Portable Refrigerator

Bodega 12V Portable Refrigerator 36 liters bluetooth
Source: amazon.com
  • Capacity: 36 Liters
  • Power Draw: 45 Watts
  • Minimum Temperature: -4℉

Features:

  • Top-loading door 
  • Two rear wheels
  • Two baskets in compartments
  • App temperature control
  • Two cooling zones

This Bodega 12V fridge has two cooling zones separated by a removable partition. When removed, the whole 36 liters can be used as a fridge. 

When inserted, the fridge can be used as both a cooler and a freezer. Each cooling zone can be controlled by an app available for both Android and iOS. The fridge has two rear wheels for easy transportation but will stay in place in your van with its rubber grip feet.

Bodega offers a two-year warranty on the fridge, so if you have any issues you can contact customer support for a replacement. 

Check Amazon’s price here.

Check out this video review: 


Dometic CRX 1050E

Dometic CRX 1050E front open portable fridge
Source: amazon.com
  • Capacity: 47 Liters
  • Power Draw: 40 Watts
  • Minimum Temperature: -4℉

Features:

  • Removable freezer compartment 
  • Front-loading door
  • Interior LED lighting
  • Flush-mounting brackets included
  • Locking door

This energy efficient Dometic upright fridge has tons of interior space.  At 47 Liters, it has more than enough room to store food for a family getaway weekend. The fridge has a freezer compartment that can be fully removed to make room for more fridge area.

The interior lighting makes this similar to a residential fridge–on a much smaller scale, however. The flush-mounting brackets ensure this upright fridge looks right at home in your campervan.

And, really, this fridge is made to be a more permanent solution in fully built-out campervans that require a good amount of fridge space.

Check the price.

And here’s a review of this fridge from someone who really uses it for van life:


Dometic CFX3 55IM Fridge with Ice Maker

Dometic CFX3 55IM portable fridge with icemaker for vans and cars
Source: amazon.com
  • Capacity: 55 Liters
  • Power Draw: 40 Watts
  • Minimum Temperature: -7℉

Features:

  • Two cooling compartments
  • Top-opening door
  • Ice maker
  • App temperature control
  • Battery protection

The Dometic CFX3 55IM is probably the most luxurious campervan fridge on the market.

It has all the space and features you could ask for in a portable compressor fridge. It has two cooling compartments, plus an automatic ice maker. Yep, this fridge has an ice maker!

It also includes all the great features that Dometic includes in all their fridges, like battery protection, app temperature control, and super quick cooling. Having an ice maker while living the van life is not a necessity, but it sure is nice!!

Check out the current price on Amazon here.

Here’s a great video review of this model:

​​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKGQ2Ium0IA&ab_channel=LastLineOfDefense


Alpicool 40L Portable Refrigerator

Alpicool 40L Portable Refrigerator
Source: amazon.com
  • Capacity: 40 Liters
  • Power Draw: 45 Watts
  • Minimum Temperature: -4℉

Features:

  • Top-opening door
  • Battery protection
  • Encased in durable aluminum
  • Cools to temperature in 30 minutes
  • ECO cooling mode option
  • Temperature setting memory

This compressor fridge from Alpicool holds 40 liters and has one large compartment inside. 

For its great price, it has some nice features like battery protection, an ECO cooling mode, and temperature memory so it can automatically return to its original setting after being unplugged.One really great thing about this fridge is its shape. This fridge is one of the squarest on the market. 

The square shape is excellent for conserving space, which is a top priority for anyone’s van life design. This fridge doesn’t have fancy features like Wi-Fi control or dual-cooling zones, but it is a great fridge for the price.

Check the price here.

See also: 30 Frickin’ Sweet Camper Van Floor Plan Layout Ideas

And here’s the video review of this Alpicool fridge:


Whytner FM 54-G Chest Fridge

Whytner FM 54-G Chest Fridge
Source: amazon.com
  • Capacity: 42 Liters
  • Power Draw: 65 Watts
  • Minimum Temperature: -8℉

Features: 

  • Chest-style top opening
  • Can operate on AC and DC power simultaneously
  • Two interior baskets
  • “Fast Freeze” mode
  • Drain plug

This chest style refrigerator from Whytner has a capacity of 42 liters–equivalent to 60 soda cans.  The chest-style opening and right angles make this a great addition to any minimalist-style campervan. This chest fridge doesn’t provide a ton of bells and whistles, but it’s heavy-duty and gets the job done.

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Inside, it has one cooling chamber and two baskets for organization. The temperature is set by a small LED panel on the exterior. The 12V fridge also has a drain plug so if anything ever melts inside it’s easy to clean out.

This fridge is much cheaper than Dometic fridges, but you’ll still get a super durable quality product.

Check that price here.

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ICECO JP50Pro

ICECO JP50Pro
Source: icecofreezer.com
  • Capacity: 50 Liters
  • Power Draw: 50 Watts
  • Minimum Temperature: -4℉

Features: 

  • Top-opening bi-directional lid
  • Rear wheels
  • Interior UV sterilization
  • 5-year warranty
  • Energy efficient ECO mode
  • One cooling compartment with a basket

ICECO is one of the biggest names in van life fridges and coolers. The ICECO JP50Pro is really their top-of-the-line. This energy-efficient compressor fridge has a top-opening lid that can be opened from the right or left side. Inside is a single cooling compartment with one basket.

When the lid is opened and closed, the fridge automatically begins an interior UV sterilization process which prevents it from getting smelly. ICECO offers a five-year warranty on this fridge, so if it stops working for any reason, you can easily get a replacement.

Check ICECO’s current price on this 12V fridge here.

And watch this YouTube video for an in-depth review:


Is There a Cheaper Campervan Fridge Option???

In all honesty, if you want an electric compressor fridge for van life that actually keeps your food cold, you’re going to have to drop at least $300.

The nicer, higher quality fridges are more in the $600-$1,000. I totally understand not wanting to spend this amount of money on a tiny fridge. Especially if you use your campervan mostly for short-term trips.

If you’re all about saving money, then a regular old cooler packed with ice is an excellent and cheap way to keep food cold for at least 2-3 nights.

coleman cooler with dry ice instead of 12v fridge
Source: amazon.com

This Coleman 70-liter cooler is under $100 and keeps ice frozen for up to five days.

Plus, it has a huge capacity and can store all the beverages, snacks, and dinner ingredients you need for even a large group of people. There are tons of great coolers out there, but just know if you don’t want to splurge just yet on a $1,000 campervan fridge, you don’t have to!

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FAQs

How do I power my campervan fridge?

All 12V compressor fridges have the option to be powered via AC or DC power. That means you can power them via a solar battery, your car’s battery, a generator, or using a normal wall outlet.

In the market for a new generator? 13 Best Quiet RV Generators (2022) for Camping in Peace

Can I use a minifridge in my van?

You can hypothetically use a regular dorm fridge or hotel minifridge in your van. 

However, this really isn’t recommended because these fridges are often unable to operate at an angle, and are highly inefficient compared to fridges made for van life.

Can I power a van fridge with solar power?

Yes! Solar power is a great way to power your van fridge and it allows you to stay off-the-grid longer.

Even a small 100-watt solar panel can power a 25 to 50-liter compressor fridge indefinitely as long as you’re getting consistent sunlight during the day.

Which Fridge is Perfect for Your Campervan?

Your campervan kitchen might just look complete with the front-opening Dometic CRX 1050E.

Or maybe you want a more portable 12V fridge that has a freezer compartment like the ICECO 60L fridge so you can have ice cream treats on the road. 

Whatever fridge you choose, just make sure it uses compressor cooling, and that the size and opening style makes sense for your unique way of van life. 

Want more van life info and tips?? Check out my other articles…

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