Sunday, July 14,2024 9:29 pm EDT

Summer 2024: 5 Best Portable Refrigerators For Your RV & Outdoor Camping

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As an avid RV and camping enthusiast, I know how important it is to have the right gear when hitting the road. One essential piece of equipment that can make or break your trip is a portable 12 Volt refrigerator. Not only do they keep your food and drinks fresh, but they also allow you to travel for longer periods without worrying about restocking. In this article, I’ll be sharing my top 5 picks for portable fridges/freezers for your RV and outdoor camping adventures in summer 2024.

Benefits of using a portable refrigerator

portable refrigerator

Gone are the days of constantly buying bags of ice or trying to fit all your perishables into a small cooler. Portable fridges offer a wide range of benefits that make them a must-have for any road trip or camping excursion. One of the most significant advantages is the ability to keep your food and drinks at a consistent temperature, which can help prevent spoilage and foodborne illness. Additionally, they offer more storage space than traditional coolers, allowing you to bring along more food and drinks for extended trips.


Another benefit is their versatility. Many models can run on multiple power sources, such as 12-volt batteries, AC power, or propane, making them suitable for use in a wide range of settings. This feature allows you to stay off-grid for longer periods without worrying about running out of power or having to move camp to find a power source.

Top 3 refrigerators for RV and camping

After researching and testing various models, I’ve narrowed down my top 5 picks for RV and camping enthusiasts. These refrigerators offer excellent performance, reliability, and value for money.

Norcold 12v Fridge

norcold portable refrigerator
Norcold 12V Refrigerator

The Norcold 12v fridge is a popular choice among RV and camping enthusiasts. It offers excellent cooling performance and can run off your vehicle’s battery or a separate 12-volt battery. It comes in a range of sizes to suit your needs and is designed to be compact and lightweight, making it easy to transport.

Dometic 12v Fridge

dometic portable refrigerator
Dometic 12V Fridge/Freezer

Dometic is a well-known brand in dual zone portable refrigerator freezers, and their 12v fridge is no exception. It uses a compressor to cool the interior and offers excellent cooling performance even in hot weather. It’s suitable for use with solar power and comes in a range of sizes to suit your needs.

Bouge RV Refrigerators

bouge rv 1 800x800

Bouge RV’s line of portable 12V refrigerators is known for its efficiency, versatility, and durability. These units are designed for both cooling and freezing, allowing you to preserve your perishables in various outdoor conditions.

At its core, a Bouge RV portable fridge is a compact, high-performance cooling unit designed for on-the-go use. Operating off a 12-volt power source, such as a car battery, these appliances offer impressive cooling capabilities, maintaining a consistent temperature even in challenging outdoor environments. The company offers several models, each varying in size and capacity to meet diverse customer needs. Whether you need to keep a few drinks chilled for a day trip or store food for a week-long camping adventure, there’s likely a Bouge RV refrigerator that fits the bill.

Features and specifications of each Refrigerator

Each portable fridge has its own unique features and specifications, which can make it difficult to choose the right one for your needs. Here’s a breakdown of the key features and specifications for my top 5 picks.

Norcold 12v Fridge

  • Can run off your vehicle’s battery or a separate 12-volt battery
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Comes in a range of sizes to suit your needs
  • Offers excellent cooling performance

Dometic 12v Fridge

  • Uses a compressor to cool the interior
  • Suitable for use with solar power
  • Comes in a range of sizes to suit your needs
  • Offers excellent cooling performance

Bouge RV Refrigerators

  • Capacity and Size Options – Bouge RV offers portable 12 Volt refrigerators in several sizes, ranging from compact models perfect for solo travelers to larger units designed for families or groups. This range ensures that you can find a product that suits your specific needs, whether you have limited space in your vehicle or need to store a significant amount of food and drinks. Each model is designed to maximize internal storage space while maintaining a compact external footprint, making the most of your available space.
  • Power Source and Energy Efficiency – All Bouge RV refrigerators operate off a 12-volt power source, which can be supplied by a car battery, solar panels, or even a standalone power bank. This versatility allows you to use your refrigerator virtually anywhere. Additionally, these units are designed with energy efficiency in mind, minimizing power consumption to extend battery life and reduce environmental impact.
  • Temperature Control and Cooling Performance – One of the standout features of Bouge RV refrigerators is their precise temperature control. With adjustable settings, you can tailor the internal temperature to match your specific needs, whether you’re chilling drinks or freezing meat. Furthermore, these units provide consistent cooling performance, maintaining your chosen temperature even in challenging outdoor conditions. This reliability ensures your perishables stay fresh, no matter where your adventures take you.
  • Portability and Durability – As the name suggests, Bouge RV’s refrigerators are designed for on-the-go use. They are lightweight and compact, making them easy to transport and store. Despite their portability, these units are also incredibly durable. Constructed from high-quality materials, they can withstand the bumps and jolts of travel, ensuring they last for many trips to come.

Additional Features (e.g., LED display, USB charging ports)

Beyond their core functions, Bouge RV refrigerators also offer a range of convenient additional features. For instance, many models include an LED display for easy temperature monitoring and adjustment. Some even provide USB charging ports, allowing you to power other devices directly from your refrigerator. These extras enhance the overall user experience, adding value to your purchase.

  • Can run off AC power, DC power, or propane
  • Versatile design – fridge, freezer, and cooler in one unit
  • Comes in a range of sizes to suit your needs
  • Offers excellent cooling performance

Pros and cons of each refrigerator

While each refrigerator has its own unique features and benefits, there are also some downsides to consider. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of my top 5 picks.

Norcold 12v Fridge

Pros:

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Can run off your vehicle’s battery or a separate 12-volt battery
  • Offers excellent cooling performance

Cons:

  • Can be noisy at times
  • Limited storage space in smaller models

Dometic 12v Fridge

Pros:

  • Uses a compressor to cool the interior
  • Suitable for use with solar power
  • Comes in a range of sizes to suit your needs

Cons:

  • More expensive than other types of refrigerators
  • Can be noisy at times
Bouge RV Refrigerators

Pros:

  • Efficient cooling performance for both cooling and freezing: With adjustable temperature settings and reliable performance, Bouge RV refrigerators ensure your food and drinks stay at the desired temperature.
  • Versatile power options (12V DC, AC): Whether you’re plugging into your car’s power outlet or a standalone power bank, these units offer flexible powering options for maximum convenience.
  • Durable construction with high-quality materials: Built to last, Bouge RV refrigerators can withstand the rigors of travel, ensuring you get years of use out of your purchase.
  • Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation: Thanks to their portable design, these units are easy to carry and store, making them perfect for on-the-go use.
  • User-friendly control panel with adjustable temperature settings: With an intuitive control panel and precise temperature controls, these refrigerators are easy to use, even for beginners.

Cons:

  • Limited capacity options compared to some competitors: While Bouge RV offers several size options, some customers may find the range more limited than other brands.
  • Slightly higher price range compared to entry-level models: Although these refrigerators offer excellent value for money, they are priced slightly higher than some entry-level refrigerators.
  • Some users reported issues with temperature consistency in extreme climates: In very hot or cold conditions, some users have reported fluctuations in the unit’s internal temperature.

Conclusion and final thoughts

A 12 volt portable refrigerator freezer is an essential piece of equipment for any RV or camping enthusiast. They offer a wide range of benefits, including excellent cooling performance, versatility, and more storage space than traditional coolers.

When choosing a portable fridge, it’s essential to consider factors such as size, energy consumption, cooling ability, noise level, and price. Check out other portable refrigerator reviews before you finalize your purchase decision My top 5 picks for refrigerators are the Norcold 12v Fridge, Dometic 12v Fridge, and the Bouge RV line.

Another brand yoiu might consider is the Ecoflow Glacier portable refrigerator

5 Best 12 Volt Portable Fridges For Camping 2023

Propane Fridges For Campers

Built In Propane Fridge For Camper

Built In Propane Fridges For Campers are an excellent option for those looking to stay off-grid for extended periods. They use propane as the primary power source and can run for weeks on a single propane tank. It’s more expensive than other types of refrigerators, but its ability to run on propane makes it a popular choice for those looking for a long-term off-grid solution.

Remember to maintain your refrigerator regularly and consider purchasing accessories such as refrigerator thermometers and storage containers to enhance your camping or RV experience. With the right refrigerator and accessories, you can keep your cool and enjoy your outdoor adventures in summer 2024.

FAQs

Do portable 12V refrigerators work?

Yes, they work effectively for keeping food and beverages cool. They are designed to operate on 12-volt DC power, making them ideal for use in vehicles, camping trips, or other outdoor activities. Portable fridges can maintain low temperatures and provide reliable cooling capabilities, making them a convenient option for storing perishable items on the go.

How are portable fridges powered?

Portable fridges can be powered by different sources, including:

1. DC Power: Most portable fridges come with a DC power option, which allows them to be powered by a vehicle’s 12V DC power outlet, such as a car’s cigarette lighter socket. This makes them convenient for use while traveling or camping.

2. AC Power: Some portable fridges also have an AC power option, allowing them to be plugged into a standard electrical outlet. This can be useful when using the fridge in locations with access to mains power, such as campsites with electrical hookups.

3. Solar Power: Certain portable fridges are designed to be powered by solar panels. These fridges have built-in solar charge controllers, allowing them to be connected to solar panels to harness the sun’s energy and convert it into power for the fridge.

It’s important to note that the specific power options available may vary depending on the brand and model of the portable fridge.

How long does it take a portable fridge to get cold?

The time it takes for a portable fridge to get cold can vary depending on factors such as the initial temperature of the fridge, the desired temperature, the ambient temperature, and the specific model of the fridge. However, on average, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours for a portable fridge to reach its desired cooling temperature.

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