Best Portable Refrigerator – Buyer’s Guide

Buying a portable refrigerator might seem like an easy task. However, once you start shopping for a refrigerator, you’ll quickly find out that this can be a complicated process with many factors to consider. If you’re someone who likes to camp out or travel and you want a way to keep your food cold, or if you’re looking for some additional freezer space, deciding that you may need a portable refrigerator can be an easy solution to your problem.

Our portable refrigerator buyer’s guide will give you essential factors to consider, and our roundup of the top six portable refrigerators will give you a good idea of a few high-quality refrigerators that you can buy. For your convenience, we’ve also added a quick look chart that will highlight each portable freezer’s (refrigerators) important factors.

Top Rated Portable Freezer

Smad YT-B-50P43.6 lbsD 28.5 W 14.8 H 20.2check price
EdgeStar FP63069 lbsD 17.88 W 28.13 H 20.69check price
Yunge BCD-5236.6 lbsD 27.2 W 13.6 H 20.6check price
Engel MT45F-U166 lbsD 25.5 W 14.3 H 20check price
Engel MR040F-U1 🌟 Editor's Choice48 lbsD 25 W 15.5 H 18.5check price
Norcold NRF3039.6 lbsD 22 W 15.7 H 15.6check price

Smad YT-B-50P Portable RV Freezer Vehicle Refrigerator – Best RV Portable Refrigerator

This portable refrigerator is designed to run off of a 12 or 24-volt cigarette lighter output on a boat, car, or an RV. Additionally, this rv portable refrigerator comes with two separate compartments, one for refrigeration and one for a freezer.

This portable freezer uses a high-efficiency compressor cooling system that ensures a rapid cooling response. You can also use this portable cooler with an adapter to hook it up to an AC 110 volts.

Because this portable cooler is separated into two compartments, the freezer section is slightly smaller than you’d find in a traditional freezer.

This particular portable refrigerator may be a good choice for people who travel in their cars or RVs during the summer or people who take their boats out a lot.


✅ Bright LED Digital Display and Control Panel
✅ Heavy Duty Handles and Interior Lighting


❌ Smaller Freezer Compartment

EdgeStar FP630 Portable Refrigerator or Freezer – Best Road Trip Portable Freezer

The EdgeStar portable freezer comes equipped with a flash freeze function and an insulated lid that ensures your food stays cold. The corners of this freezer are rounded for an additional safety feature.

The metal walls and lid feature a durable insulation that is capable of keeping your food cold for hours without electricity. This freezer primarily runs off of standard household voltage, but you can also plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter.

This freezer tends to produce a lot of noise when it’s running, and this could make it too loud to sleep comfortably next to. Additionally, the car plug may slip out of the cigarette charger space unless it’s continually held in.

This portable refrigerator may be a good fit if you’re traveling somewhere without access to a steady power supply as it can keep food cold for hours without power.


✅ Flash Freeze Function Goes Down to -8 Degrees Fahrenheit
✅ Insulated Walls and Lid Keep Food Cold Without Electricity


❌ Cigarette Outlet Plug has a Tendency to Come Loose
❌ Freezer Runs Loud

Yunge BCD-52 12V / 24V Compressor Portable Car Fridge Freezer – Best portable refrigerator for car

This slim portable refrigerator for car comes with two roomy compartments and a hinged lid for easy opening and closing. You can run this freezer on a 120-volt AC, 12 volt portable refrigerator DC or 24-volt DC power source.

You’ll find a soft and easy-to-use touchpad that you use to control and set the internal temperature from -22 degrees Fahrenheit to 50+ degrees Fahrenheit. It also comes with three convenient size options.

If you’re looking for a refrigerator to store large amounts of food or beverages, this freezer may not work so well as it has a divided compartment. You may also find that this is slightly awkward to carry.

This refrigerator could fit people who travel around in their cars a lot as the slender design allows it to take up less space.


✅ Freezer Has a Slimmer, Deeper Design
✅ Can be Used With Several Power Sources


❌ Two Divided Compartments Make it Difficult to Store Large Items
❌ Slightly Awkward to Pick up and Carry Around

Engel MT45F-U1 – Best Energy Efficient portable freezer for car

Although this portable freezer for car is energy efficient, it has a constant hum that many people may find too noisy. It is also a heavier model, so moving it around a lot might be a challenge for a lot of people once you’ve filled it.

You can run this portable freezer on a 12 or 24 volt DC or a 110 to 120 volt AC power source with no problems, and it has an energy efficient Engle Swing motor. It also has heavy duty carrying handles that you can remove.

The galvanized steel walls help to insulate this cooler to keep your food colder for longer periods. Additionally, the inside is lined with a durable basket that makes loading and unloading this freezer quick and easy.

This portable cooler may be a good choice for outdoor enthusiasts or people who want to use this cooler on a daily basis as it has low energy usage.


✅ Low Amp Draw – Very Energy Efficient
✅ Freezer is Capable of Working if It’s Not Totally Level


❌ Heavy – 67 Pounds When it’s Empty

Engel MR040F-U1 – Best Heavy Duty Portable Freezer

This portable freezer comes with a heavy-duty corrosion-resistant case that sits over this freezer’s steel exterior walls. It is another energy-efficient freezer that has low amp draws the entire time you use it.

The lid can be switched to open on either end for an added convenience. There are also five freezer settings, and the entire lid fits tight to prevent any cold from escaping when you use it.

The top latch on this cooler may not close tightly, and this can affect how well the entire freezer works. Additionally, the outer case may be difficult to fit onto the cooler properly, and it tends to shift around.

Engel MR040F-U1 may be a good choice for someone who spends a lot of time on the water, or who plans to have this cooler outside in wet conditions.


✅ Comes With a Heavy-Duty Case That is Resistant to Corrosion
✅ Very Low Amp Use and Very Energy Efficient


❌ If it is Hot Outside, the Freezer’s Performace Might Suffer
❌ The Outer Cover Slips and This Can Make it Difficult to Close Properly

Norcold NRF30 Refrigerator – Best Small Portable Refrigerator

This small portable refrigerator has three adjustable levels to protect the battery and ensure the longevity of your cooler. The electronic temperature control panel makes it easy to get and keep your freezer at the optimal temperature.

The inside of this refrigerator is split into two sections with one being a freezer section and one being a refrigerator only section. The stainless steel interior is protected by a corrosion resistant plastic interior.

The NRF30 portable refrigerator is a slightly small portable refrigerator model than several on our list, so this limits how much you can store in it. The split compartments may also make it difficult to fit larger food or beverage items in this freezer.

People who spend a lot of time on the water or people who do a lot of outdoor activities may benefit from purchasing this refrigerator.


✅ Hinged Lid is Removable and Reversible
✅ Electronic Temperature Control Pad is Easy to Set and Adjust


❌ Freezer is a Smaller Size
❌ Heavy-Duty Plastic Cover may Slide Around

Best Portable 12 Volt Refrigerator – Buyer’s Guide

When it comes to choosing your next portable refrigerator, knowing what your options are can help you narrow down your choices. We’ve rounded up some of the most important things to consider when you’re looking for your new portable cooler.

Amount of Use

One of the most important things to consider is how much you’re going to use your freezer or refrigerator. How often you travel or how often you shop and need extra freezer space are all important things to consider. Hunters may need more freezer space around hunting season because they have extra meat to freeze and store. Take a look at the usual travel habits and how often you find yourself short on freezer space. It’s smart to choose a portable refrigerator that has ample space to meet your needs.

Blackout Performance Capabilities

Your freezer’s blackout performance means how long your freezer is capable of keeping your food cold or frozen during a power outage. Most people don’t think of this capability, but it is an important thing to have. A good portable freezer has the potential to save you from hundreds of dollars of lost food. If you live in an area where there is a lot of power failures, a high-quality portable refrigerator may be a good thing to have.


Know your budget and how much you can spend on your portable freezer before you start to shop for one. If you know your budget before you start to shop, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices and not break your budget purchasing your new freezer. Also, keep in mind how much your freezer will cost to run over time. For example, a lot of portable freezers will cost most upfront, but over time the lower energy use may balance out the higher upfront cost.

Energy Use

As your freezer will run on a constant basis once you have it filled, you want an energy efficient option. By choosing an energy efficient freezer, you can reduce your energy costs and your overall footprint. Many portable freezers list on their specifications if they’re low energy use or not, and this can give you a good indication of how much energy you’ll use when your freezer is running.

Manual or Self Defrost Options

If your portable freezer runs on a constant basis, you may notice a buildup of ice around the lid or the edges. When this happens, the ice buildup will decrease your freezer’s energy efficiency. When you manually defrost your freezer you have to remove everything, unplug it, wait for the ice to melt, clean it out, and put everything back and plug it back in. While this is happening, you’ll have to keep everything that was in your freezer cold to keep it from spoiling. Self-defrosting freezers can save you this trouble, but they’re usually louder.


No matter what freezer you buy, it’ll most likely make some noise. If you put your portable freezer in a space you plan to occupy a lot, look for a quieter model. Manual defrost freezers typically run quieter than self-defrosting units. If you’re concerned about the noise level, it is a good idea to check out user reviews and see what other people say about the portable freezer’s noise level.

Organizational Options

A lot of portable freezers are equipped with two compartments, and you use one for freezing and one for refrigerating your items. Some of them also have baskets that make it easy to lift all of your items out for easy cleaning. If your portable fridge is deeper, keep in mind you’ll most likely be stacking things, and this requires a lot of bending and lifting to get to the item you want.


Portable freezers tend to run smaller, no matter what brand or style you choose to buy. Some have smaller compartments because they’re divided into two separate ones as well. Additionally, the space your refrigerator will take up is an important thing to consider because many people have limited space to store them in their boats, cars, or RVs. There are several types of portable freezers available, and they all come in different dimensions.


It is a good idea to check where your portable refrigerator will run the best. Some portable freezer’s performances may be affected by how hot it is in the area directly around them. You want to keep your internal temperature at around 0 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure your food stays frozen. If you’re planning on keeping your portable freezer in the house, you shouldn’t have to worry about this as much. However, many people buy portable freezers to take them with when they go outside on trips where the temperature fluctuates. Some portable freezer models are designed to work better in a more climate controlled area, while others do fine with fluctuating temperatures.

Additional Points to Consider

Combination Portable Refrigerators

You can choose a portable refrigerator that is just a freezer unit, or you can choose a combination unit that has a refrigerator and freezer compartment. If you’re not sure what type of food you’ll have to store, a refrigerator and freezer combination may be the best option to choose from.

Easy to Read and Set Temperature Control Panel

You want to be able to read and adjust your portable refrigerators internal temperature easily. An LCD screen can make this an easy process, as they usually have large, bright numbers, with a decent sized keypad. This all allows you to set and maintain your temperature at the optimal levels correctly.

Locking Mechanism

If you have kids or pets and you’re worried about them opening your freezer, check for a portable freezer with a locking mechanism. This is an easy way to ensure that your refrigerator is secure and safe, no matter where it is. Additionally, many portable freezers have locking mechanisms ready to go as soon as you set them up.

Frequently Asked Questions about Portable Refrigerator

In a refrigerator / freezer combination, what area is the freezer portion?

When you purchase a portable freezer, usually the larger compartment in the freezer portion, while the smaller compartment is meant for refrigerator items. The freezer portion will freeze, and the cold will spill over into the refrigerator portion to keep your items cold.

How important is it to pay attention to the weight of the portable refrigerator unit?

The weight can be a very important factor depending on how much you intend to move your portable freezer around. You have to realize the weight is the empty cooler, and the more you add to it, the harder it can be to move.

Why do some portable freezers have a plastic shell?

If you live in the water or if you spend a lot of time on the water, your freezer may be exposed to a lot of wet conditions and wet, heavy air. The plastic casing is meant to protect your portable refrigerator from corrosion due to the water.

Can your portable freezer run off multiple power sources?

This really depends on the specific portable refrigerator, but most of them are designed to run off of different power sources. Many of them also come with adapters to make this transition an easy one to achieve.

Should you leave space in your freezer when it’s running?

Yes, it is important you leave at least a small space around the freezer’s vents because they will help the unit not to overheat while it’s running. You should aim for at least two inches to allow a good airflow.

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