Take them with you wherever you go
Portable fridges are mostly powered by 12V DC – from car, RV, camper or boat 12V cigarette lighter sockets.
Some can also be powered directly with 110V AC, others need a 110V AC to 12V DC adapter for that. Smaller ones with capacities of 1 cu ft or less are shaped like normal cooler boxes, larger ones are shaped like small chests which can also be used in upright configuration. Some have wheels and collapsible (suitcase style) handles for ease of transportation. Most if not all of them have rugged plastic housings, which can survive several years of normal use.
One of the most popular portable fridges is this stylish Red Koolatron KWCXJ6 Coca-Cola 9-Can-Capacity Mini Fridge.
This unit got the best reviews. It can cool six 12 oz cans (4 liter total fridge volume) up to 40 deg F (22°C) below ambient temperature.
Cooling and Warming function (keeps your hot beverages, child food, etc. warm)
The unit operates on 12V, but comes with included 110V AC to 12V DC adapter. Separate, easily obtainable, cable needed for 12V operation.
7 litres capacity; holds up to 9 12 oz. cans
also holds 1/2 liter water bottles
long lasting, no maintenance thermoelectric (Peltier) cooling/warming element
self-locking recessed door handle
If the 9 can unit above is to big for you, consider one of the smallest portable fridges – the stylish Coca-Cola Mini Fridge.
This unit got very good reviews. It can cool six 12 oz cans (4 liter total fridge volume) up to 40 deg F (22°C) below ambient temperature.
No warming function, cooling only.
The unit operates on 12V. Can also be used on 110V AC with an adapter.
If bright red is not your color – this mini fridge is also available in other colors.
110V AC to 12V DC (5 Amp) adapter – enables your 12V portable cooler / warmer to work on 110V AC power.
This way you can use your portable or car fridge also at home, in the office, in a hotel, at a camping site – wherever AC power is available.
It is also great for cooling (or warming) your mini fridge at home before you hit the road.
Principle of operation
All portable refrigerators work on the Peltier principle. Some of them can also be used as warmers, not just coolers – by flipping the switch or reversing polarity of the 12V DC socket, the interior is warmed and external part of Peltier cooler is cooled.
Depending on your needs and circumstances, you need to make some choices:
1. Size: the smaller cooler box units can be carried with one hand, but of course have very limited capacity (1 cu ft or less). Larger portable fridges are roomier, but also bulkier and heavier need to be wheeled and are not so suitable for frequent transportation by hand. Can be ideal for an RV, SUV,
2. Power source: 12V DC only or also 110V AC. If you want to power your portable fridge on the road in your car, boat, RV, etc. and from the grid (at home, at camping site), then the dual power unit is an ideal choice. On the other hand, 12V / 110V units can be heavier and more expensive. You can also buy 110 V AC to 12V DC adapters cheaply an power any 12V cooler from the grid. You will have to remember to take the adapter & cables with you though.
3. Heating and cooling or cooling only unit: Again depends on your needs. The combined units are ideal for cooling foods and beverages and ideally keeping a meal or coffee and other beverages warm. In principle, any Peltier cooler can be reversed (hot side becomes cold an vice verse) by simply reversing DC voltage polarity on the Peltier cooling / warming element, thereby reversing the functions of the cold and warm sides.
The combined heating & cooling units should not be much costlier. The problem is, if the unit does not support the warming function, you can not simply change the DC voltage polarity yourself – the fan might also turn in the wrong direction or some other component can get damaged.