GUIDA ALL'ACQUISTO DEL FRIGORIFERO PER CAMPER, AUTO O BARCA - 2024

HOW TO CHOOSE THE EXACT MODEL YOU NEED

THE BEST PORTABLE FRIDGE OF 2024

Which portable refrigerator is best in 2024? Which one is right for me? What is the difference between a compressor and thermoelectric refrigerator? How long do passive refrigerators keep cold? Understanding which tool you are looking for and being able to choose from the numerous types offered is essential to remaining satisfied with your purchase, saving money and receiving the tool that will best meet your needs. We at Frigolab will try to answer all these questions quickly and easily, without beating around the bush.

Want to get straight to the point? Nothing really interesting has happened in the panorama of portable refrigerators. The new refrigerators released are expensive and still not well tested, which is why our choice has not changed compared to 2023.

Best Portable Fridge/Freezer 2024
CFX3 45 (all CFX3 series)
Best Cheap Portable Fridge/Freezer 2024
Diniwid 45
Best thermal container 2024
POLIBOX BASIC 1/2

Updated 04/2024

If you want to learn more, continue reading. You will choose in full conscience and you will be satisfied!

two people do luxury camping in front of a large camper

WHAT DO YOU NEED IT FOR?

It seems good, before looking for a product that you want to buy, focus for a moment on the use that will be made of it, thus avoiding waste or surprises after the purchase.
Some of the questions the buyer should ask themselves before buying a cool box are the following:

  • What energy sources will I use? Electricity, gas, solar panels? Won't I get a chance to use even one?
  • Do I need a quiet refrigerator?
  • Does the instrument have to comply with certain standards?
  • Will I be traveling for short or long periods? If I am traveling for several days, it may be convenient to have a freezer.
  • Do I need to maintain a specific temperature?
  • Do I have an obligation to be able to monitor and record the internal temperature of the refrigerator?
  • Will I use my refrigerator away from the vehicle?
  • How big should my cooler be?

Now that you've asked yourself these questions, keep the answers in mind as we explain all the refrigerators available on the market.

REFRIGERATION SYSTEMS AND ICEBOXES

There are three main technologies for refrigeration, each has its own particular advantages and disadvantages, which make them suitable for different situations and uses. Furthermore, there are other solutions for transporting your fresh or frozen products that are worth considering. Isothermal containers, for example, are often underestimated, but a methodically designed container and built with quality materials can keep your products fresh, thanks to previously frozen containers, for up to 10 days!

father and son eating at a fire in the forest with gas fridge

Dometic's ACX3 models are simple and reliable, the ACX3 40G also works with a simple camping gas can.

ABSORPTION REFRIGERATOR

A fluid is brought to such conditions (by the heat generator, electric or gas) that it evaporates in contact with the refrigerant mixture which is connected with the inside of the refrigerator compartment. As it evaporates, it absorbs heat.
Learn more →
This technology is widely used in RV refrigerators.
Benefits:

  • Quiet operation
  • Trivalent power supply: it can operate on 12V DC (lighter socket), 230V AC (home socket) and gas
  • The possibility of running on gas allows you to use the refrigeration of the refrigerator even in remote areas, where there are no electrical outlets

Disadvantages:

  • Refrigeration is not very efficient and depends on the ambient temperature
car with canoe on the roof facing a lake, with two dometic refrigerators

With this type of technology, we recommend Dometic's TCX models, which can cool down to 1°C/15°C or heat from 48°C to 65°C.

THERMOELECTRIC REFRIGERATOR

The thermoelectric system, through the Peltier cells, uses electrical energy to move heat from one surface to another, from the inside to the outside of the refrigerator, aided by a fan. By reversing the process, these cells can cool or heat at will.
Learn more →
Benefits:

  • Small size
  • Low cost of the tool
  • Lightweight
  • They also work in an inclined position
  • Power supply only, both 12 / 24V DC (lighter socket), 230V AC (home socket)
  • They can also heat up to 65°C

Disadvantages:

  • Performance is not optimal and depends on the ambient temperature
  • Fan noise
two portable refrigerators and as a background cars traveling in a desert

The CFX3 are the most complete compressor refrigerators we supply and can be found in many different sizes.
For the most adventurous trips, IndelB's BLACK STEEL are for you.
For biomedical operators, analysis laboratories, drug manufacturers and distributors we recommend the POLAR.

COMPRESSOR REFRIGERATOR

A special gas is compressed through a piston and then, during expansion, absorbs the heat inside the refrigerator. This technology is the one common to home refrigerators.
Learn more →
Benefits:

  • Powerful refrigeration, even in extreme outside temperatures
  • Possibility to refrigerate and even freeze
  • Low energy consumption
  • Efficiency even in an inclined position, max 30°
  • Suitable for operation with solar energy
  • Integrated vehicle battery protection
  • Electric power supply only, either at 12 / 24V DC (lighter socket), 110-230V AC (home socket) or with external battery

Disadvantages:

  • A slight noise accompanies the operation of the compressor

ICEBOX

The rotomoulded construction technology, the thick insulation and the labyrinth closure, allow these products to be able to store ice from 3 to 7 days, depending on use and the ambient temperature.

To keep the products cool during your trip, or to keep fish, bait or game cool, cold accumulators or cheap ice blocks are inserted inside these products, which will slowly release the coolness.

In addition, every single detail of these containers is made of shockproof plastic and is designed for use in the most difficult conditions.
Also available with ATP certification. Ideal for transporting food.

Isothermal containers are also available for drugs and medicines, for the biomedical sector, for carrying bags of blood or vaccines and for the food sector. If you are interested in these products go to the 'DRUG BAGS' section at the bottom of the page.

a man fishes on a boat with ice chests for fish
different types of COLD ACCUMULATORS

COLD ACCUMULATORS

There are dozens of different accumulators, from the simplest, such as those you can have at home, to the siberins that release a particular temperature over time, as well as having different sizes, to better adapt to your container.

For example, high-quality Liebherr siblings are great for keeping your drinks, cheeses and food fresh for your trip or adventure. The frozen eutectic plate, on the other hand, maintains the temperature from 0°C to -21°C and is used to control the cold chain, in the transport of frozen foods or in the healthcare sector. Other eutectic plates can maintain the temperature between 2°C and 8°C for several hours.

The simpler ones can be recharged in the common home freezer, for others you need a more performing or even domestic freezer, but of the new generation.

Once you have focused on the type of temperature you want, you just need to find the siberino of the most suitable size for your container. On Frigolab, for some isothermal containers, you will find the most suitable related siblings after the product description.

SUGGERIMENTI E MODI DI UTILIZZO

BEWARE OF HOT CLIMATES!

How cold does a portable refrigerator cool in the summer?
Understanding what type of climate the cooler will be used in is crucial.
The thermoelectric and absorption systems cool down to 18°C or 30°C less than ambient temperature, depending on the model. For this reason, in hot areas it is always preferable to opt for a compressor refrigerator.

Example: at 40°C outside temperature, a compressor refrigerator can still reach -20°C, while a thermoelectric or absorption refrigerator can reach a maximum of 10°C.

Iceboxes will obviously have a harder time keeping cold, but its efficiency will depend above all on how often you open the lid, how much and how much the container has been filled; the more the container is full, the more the products themselves will act as cold accumulators.

table of temperatures reached by portable refrigerators
a family with a camping car in a desert and a dometic fridge

LONG OR SHORT TRAVEL?

If you plan to go on long journeys, you will appreciate having a refrigerator that can freeze, keeping food for longer. In this case, a portable compressor cooler (which can reach -22°C) is for you. Double-compartment refrigerators are also available, so that you have a refrigerator and freezer in a single instrument. Eg CFX3 75DZ; TB92 DD.

For shorter trips, of a few days or a week, an absorption cooler will suffice. Less powerful, but sufficient to refrigerate what they contain.

Thermoelectric refrigerators keep the contents cold rather than cool them. In this case, the food must be refrigerated in advance before leaving.

The insulated containers are light and roomy, ideal for picnics or one or two day trips.

If you don't have clear ideas, Dometic provides a good indicative guide to understand what size of refrigerator we need depending on the days/people travelling, look HERE.

OFF GRID SOLUTIONS

You have no way to connect to the electricity grid; you will use the refrigerator away from the vehicle, in remote areas or simply on the beach. How to do?

There are 3 ways:

- Using ice packs or ice packs, previously frozen, at home or during the journey by car, and ideally placed in thermal containers or even in portable refrigerators; the Dometic CFX3 have excellent insulation and can keep the inside cold even when the compressor is off.
- Use a gas bottle or canister operated cooler, such as the ACX3 40G.
- Use accessories, for example an external battery to connect your portable refrigerator to once you reach your destination. We have at our disposal the now well-known Ecoflow, powerful and reliable, latest generation. The batteries are rechargeable via 12V DC cigarette lighter plug, home plug, USB-c or with simple solar panels.

portable battery in use at a campsite with breakfast
a smartphone with an active dometic app

CONTROL VIA APP

Only compressor coolers allow you to reach a specific pre-set temperature. The thermoelectric or absorption coolers allow you to vary the level of refrigeration, but it is impossible to pre-set a defined temperature.

The latest generation compressor refrigerators allow you to monitor and set the temperature via mobile phone, with a special application. This feature is very useful for those who transport sensitive goods with a van and need to control the internal temperature of the refrigerators directly from the driver's seat.

The products that offer you this possibility are the CFX3 and the BLACK STEEL.

A FRIDGE THAT HEATS?

Yes, thanks to Peltier technology it is possible to have a refrigerator that can even heat up to 65°C.

Dometic's TCX models can switch from refrigeration mode to heating mode by pressing a simple button (photo opposite).

A very pleasant comfort, especially on dull days, when you want to eat something hot while traveling.

detail of the Dometic TCX control panel

THE PORTABLE REFRIGERATORS AND FREEZERS WE OFFER

At a glance, all the portable refrigerators that Frigolab offers.

THE BEST PORTABLE FRIDGE

Dometic's portable refrigerators are definitely the best product available on the market. Years of trials and tests by customers and professional bloggers have confirmed the great potential of these products.
Great cooling power, down to -22°C, robust, manageable with a simple app and beautiful to have on hand, with quality and resistant materials.
The excellent insulation also allows it to keep the internal cold for a long time; useful for saving energy or for taking the fridge to the beach or in areas with no power for the middle of the day.
Attention! Given the solidity of these models, don't think you can take the larger models to the beach, they really have a considerable weight; better to leave them in the car.

a man chooses food items from inside a cfx3 35 on a camping trip

THE MOST ECONOMIC

Diniwids are our budget pick.
Good performance, good structure, simple control panel.
As a freezer they will struggle in hot climates, but as a refrigerator they will get the job done.
Economical, but without renouncing even the basic accessories: ECO operation, internal basket, internal light, chain for the lid and can holder.
All models have a comfortable double zone. The main zone is refrigerated, the second is not, but remains as an additional cool zone.

diniwid s35 portable refrigerator and its control panel

OTHER SOLUTIONS

INDELB: the TB BLACK STEEL models are chosen for their particular sturdiness and stability; they are equipped with a powerful compressor and cool quickly. They are taken for the transport of products and used stationary on the van or car. Thanks to the strong impact resistance it is also suitable for off-road vehicles and 4x4s. This series also has dual zone models.

DOMETIC: Dometic offers other types of coolers and also iceboxes. Compared to the CFX3 you can find Dometic refrigerators that are less sophisticated, cheaper, but still of high quality. There are the economical shoulder models, with special CFF measures, Tropicool thermoelectrics, ACX3 trivalents.

JOINTLAB: our models, 100% designed and built in Italy, are dedicated to the professional world, for the transport of food, medicines and vaccines.

two fridges TB black steel

Author: Federico Ellade Peruzzotti
In Jointlab since 2013 as a creator of texts and graphics. Passionate about off-grid and vanlife systems.

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