Things to consider in a 12v fridge
Annoyingly, camper and caravan appliances are often more expensive than a standard setup. As they’re a bit of a speciality item, designed to operate at lower power, and more efficiently and ergonomically designed for tighter spaces, they come at a premium.
Remember this when you budget for your van conversion and think of it as an investment. You want to enjoy your escape in your adventure mobile, so having kit that will hold enough food and look after it well means you have to worry about it less and enjoy your time more! A well-researched and appropriate choice will also show up in the van’s sale value when you decide it’s time for a new campervan.
What’s the size of your rig, and depending on the above, how much of it do you need to prioritise for your fridge? Be sure to consider the fridge size you’ll need as part of the measurement and planning process of your layout, and leave room around the fridge for adequate ventilation.
Are you setting up a solar powered rig for off grid adventures? Will you have only your van battery, and otherwise be hooking up to mains power sources at campsites? Are you planning to operate on gas for some appliances? Some of the options we’ve listed below will work in all three scenarios. If you’ll have your own solar power system, you’ll likely be looking at one of the built-in 12V fridge freezers we’ve listed.
We opted for the Dometic CRX 80 fridge freezer and have absolutely loved it. But there are quite a few options out there and it’s important to consider which is best for your needs, your van size, budget, etc. We’ve done our research and here are some excellent 12v camping and caravan fridges for you to consider. You’ll notice Dometic (formerly Waeco) features heavily, as they are one of the few camping and caravan appliance brands.
Our picks of the best 12v fridges
Dual source fridges
Outwell Ecocool 35 ltr Coolbox 12V & 230V
The Outwell Ecocool Coolbox is an energy efficient portable fridge that will do the job and won’t break the bank. It will run off of either your car or mains electricity, so it’s a versatile option if you need to plug in at a campsite or even in the backyard. If you’re in need of even more space-saving, it also comes in a 24 litre size.
- Can use two types of power source
- Chest fridge so the most economical
- Does not have built in methods to secure to camper kitchen
|Power draw / per hour||Not stated|
Dometic CombiCool ACX 40 3 Way Fridge
If you need the three way fridge capabilities (meaning you can plug in to 12v car, 230v mains or operate off of gas), the Dometic Combicool is another great camping fridge. It has good reviews and looks stylish if aesthetic is something you want to consider. Depending on your van conversion set up, you may need a fridge like this that opens from the top, rather than outward like a standard mini fridge.
- Can store 2L bottle upright
- Aluminium finish is sleek and easy to clean
- Heavier and less portable than standard cooler
|Energy consumption||1.6kwh per day|
Dometic CoolFun 40D Hybrid Cooler/Freezer
If you’re looking for a portable fridge freezer, consider Dometic’s CoolFun Hybrid. Again, working off of either car or mains power, it offers 38 litres of space and thermoelectric cooling on vehicle battery or compressor cooling on mains power.
|Energy usage||Not stated|
Dometic CFX 35 Portable Compressor Fridge Freezer 12V/24V
For more of an ‘investment’ option, the Dometic CFX Compressor Fridge Freezer has excellent features and great reviews. Its 32 litre capacity is conservative but efficient, and this kit boasts compression cooling, extremely low power consumption, compartments and nice little extras, like a USB charging port and an interior LED light. If you need even more capacity and your budget allows, this portable camping and van fridge freezer is also available in 38 ltr, 46 ltr and 60 ltr sizes.
- Energy efficient chest design
- Freezing to -22 degrees celcius
- Battery protection
12V Only Fridges
If you have a solar set up and/or a larger van (like our LWB Sprinter!), you’re probably planning on a built-in, fixed 12V fridge or fridge freezer set up. We’ll start with our own fridge of choice and offer a few more options.
Dometic CRX 80 Fridge
We eat A LOT and fresh fruit and veg are a so we invested in a large fridge freezer. The CRX 80 has a 78 litre capacity, including a 7.5 litre freezer compartment, and can be used either as a full freezer, full fridge or combo. The compression power and efficient shape and sizing were other factors that led us to choose this fridge. You can read more details in our full review of the CRX 80.
- Easy access
- Flexible fridge freezer compartment
- Fragile storage compartments
|Energy Usage||1amp per hour|
Thetford T1090 Compressor Fridge
For even more space, the new Thetford 90L fridge will give you plenty of space if your dimensions and budget allow it. The freezer compartment is only 6.5L but the larger fridge compartment allows for more fresh produce. Like our Dometic CRX, you can install the door on either a left or right hinge depending on your layout.
- Curves to van wall
- Day & night mode
- Less energy efficient
|Energy usage||0.45kwh per day|