- 1 Electric Cooler Reviews
- 2 Plug-In Electric Cooler Buying Guide
- 3 Types of Plug-In Electric Coolers
- 4 Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using An Thermoelectric Cooler
- 5 When Can An Electric Cooler Be Useful?
- 6 FAQ about Plug-in Electric Coolers
- 7 Plug-In Electric Coolers Comparison Chart
- 8 Wrap Up
Electric coolers offer a great cooling solution to truck drivers, RV or mobile homeowners, and those who travel a lot by car. These units keep your food and drink cold for a long time without needing ice, and they usually come at reasonable prices making them valuable items.
But do these models offer any other advantages besides being thermoelectric?
As a matter of fact, they do.
Most electric coolers double as warmers as well, so you can use them to warm up your food, not just to keep it cool. Some models can double as freezers or fridges, so they can either freeze their contents or give you easy access to it.
And the best part is, these units come in various shapes and sizes, so you can choose whatever model you consider will fit better to your needs.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best electric coolers currently available.
Electric Cooler Reviews
Igloo Iceless Cooler
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Knox Electric Cooler
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Dometic Electric Cooler
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Koolatron Kaddy Cooler
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Suaoki Portable Car Fridge
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1. Igloo Iceless Cooler
Igloo Iceless Cooler is the most popular model we included on our list. The iceless cooler produced by Igloo is a public favorite thanks to its good price and high-quality construction. This model is capable of holding up to 32 cans, and it comes with an 8-foot long power cable, so you can place it anywhere you want.
We really liked the cooler’s portability. Even if the cooler gets somewhat heavy when you fill it up, you can still have a good hold on it thanks to the molded-in side handles. This will allow you to carry the cooler using both of your hands, or it will allow you to share the load with a member of your family or a friend if the cooler seems too heavy to lift alone.
The cooler comes with an 8-foot 12V power cable that will fit in a cigarette lighter outlet. When the cooler runs, it will take the temperature inside the insulation chamber down by up to 36 degrees F compared to the ambient temperature. This will be enough to keep your food and drinks cool without actually freezing them.
- Runs Silently – This cooler operates silently, so it won’t interfere with your regular activities
- AC Power Cord Sold Separately – The pack contains one 12V power cord, but the AC cord is sold separately
2. Knox Electric Cooler
The next electric cooler on our list is also the largest. This model is a great choice for those who enjoy going camping, traveling with a camper, a minivan, or an RV, and for those who have a large household.
Thanks to its large storage capacity, this unit can hold up to 60 cans of soda, or enough food and drinks to last for quite a time. The cooler comes with a removable divider that will allow you to split the interior compartment into two smaller units, allowing you to arrange the cooler content as you see fit.
Honestly, despite the fact that this model is the largest on our list, it is also the easiest to transport. First off, the cooler comes with two sturdy handles, so you can lift it easily. However, since the cooler can get very heavy when it’s loaded, it also comes with wheels, allowing you to pull it when it’s too heavy to lift.
As far as the cooler’s effectiveness is concerned, this model can maintain a constant temperature of 40 degrees F when it’s plugged into an outlet. Due to the fact that the cooler comes with both an AC and a DC outlet, you can plug it into most of the outlets you encounter.
- Great Storage Capacity – This unit is very spacious, and you can store a lot of food and drinks inside it.
- Hinge Pops Out – The lid’s hinges tends to pop out. This is a trifling matter, and it can be fixed easily, but it can still be a nuisance.
3. Dometic Electric Cooler
The Dometic electric cooler is a good cooling solution for those who spend a lot of time on the road, or for those who are looking for a high-capacity unit for their RVs or their boats.
With a holding capacity of 51 cans, this is one of the largest electric coolers we included on our list. However, the unit’s functions and features also make it one of the most impressive items on the list.
We really liked that this model comes with an illuminated interior and an electronic display that shows the temperature inside the insulation compartment. All the unit’s functions and features are easy to access, and you can set the cooler’s temperature using 2 degrees F increments. The cooler also has battery saving options you can use to lower its consumption when your car’s not running. However, the highest setting might not work if the car’s engine is not running to avoid a fast battery drain.
The cooler can work both as a refrigerator or a freezer. You can set the temperature from 3 to 50 degrees F, making this unit a good choice for hunters and fishers who want to keep their meat cold for a long time.
- Works As A Freezer – The Dometic cooler doubles as a freezer, making it great for people who want to keep their food frozen for a long time.
- Bulky – This cooler is pretty bulky, so you might need to clear some space for it in the trunk or on the backseats to fit it in your car
4. Wagan Cooler/Warmer
The Wagan cooler and warmer is a surprisingly spacious unit considering its outer aspect. This model is slightly taller than the other models we reviewed, which makes it a good choice for those who want to store 2L bottles for their trips.
We liked that even though the cooler seemed tall and narrow from the outside, the insulation compartment is really spacious. There is enough room inside the cooler to store four 2 liter bottles, two bottles of wine, and some soft drinks cans beside them.
And to top that, this model can work both as a cooler and as a warmer. When the unit is set in the cooling mode, it will lower the temperature in the insulated compartment by up to 36 degrees F compared to the room temperature. When the unit works as a cooler, it will bring the insulation compartment up to 140 degrees F.
The cooler’s handle is sturdy, and even though the unit can be somewhat heavy when you load it up, the handle won’t strain or complain. The 12v DC cord is 7 feet long, so you will be able to place the cooler anywhere you like in your car.
- User-Friendly – The cooler is very easy to use, and the 7-foot power cable allows you to place it anywhere you want
- No AC Cable – This cooler doesn’t come with an AC power cable. If you want to plug the cooler into an AC outlet, you’ll have to purchase the power cable separately.
5. Koolatron Kaddy Cooler
The Koolatron Kaddy thermoelectric cooler is a good model for those who travel a lot by car, those who own boats, and those who travel using an RV or a trailer. This model has a large storage capacity, and it can act both as a cooler and as a warmer.
Thanks to its ingenious design, this cooler can either sit horizontally or vertically. This means you can either use the cooler as a chest or as a fridge that stands upright. Not only will this allow you to store the cooler easier, but it will also offer a more dependable way to access its contents.
We were impressed with the cooler’s storage capacity and that it came with a shelf. The cooler can hold up to 57 cans, so it’s large enough to hold food and drinks to last several days. The shelf makes arranging the food easier, especially if you use the cooler as an upright fridge.
As far as the cooler’s effectiveness is concerned, this model will lower the insulation compartment’s temperature by up to 40 degrees F below the ambient temperature, and it will increase it up to 135 degrees F.
- Great Cooler – This unit is very efficient. It can actually freeze drinks if you want it to
- Noisy – The cooler’s fan blade can get displaced, making them noisy. You can fix this problem by repositioning them once in a while.
6. Suaoki Portable Car Fridge
The Suaoki car fridge is the perfect cooling solution for those who like to travel by car and keep their food and drinks cold. Thanks to its small and compact design, this iceless cooler is highly portable, so you can carry it with ease.
One of the things that impressed us about this model is that it can both keep your food cold and warm it up when you want to. This makes the cooler more versatile, and it will allow you to use it with great results when you’re camping or when you’re traveling over long distances.
Another good thing about this model is that it’s small enough to carry comfortably. True, this means that its storage capacity is somewhat limited, but with an insulated compartment that can hold up to 9 cans, this cooler will fit enough food and drinks for at least one day. And not only the cooler’s design helps with its portability. This unit comes with a sturdy shoulder strap, so you will be able to transport it easier.
- Shoulder Strap – Unlike most electric coolers that rely on a plastic handle for transportation, this model comes with a shoulder strap, making it easier to carry.
- Not Efficient When Unplugged – This cooler will keep your drinks cold for only 2 – 3 hours when it’s unplugged.
Plug-In Electric Cooler Buying Guide
When you’re looking for plug-in electric coolers, there are several things that you might want to consider before making the purchase. By making the right choice, you will ensure that the cooler is very easy to carry around and that your food will remain fresh for however long you need it.
Some thermoelectric coolers can cool down food, others can freeze, some can do both – and others may actually keep your food warm with their warming function. For this reason, you might want to check exactly how cold or warm the food can get. If you want the food inside to stay frozen, then you might want to choose one that may reach low-enough temperatures.
Size and Capacity
Do you only need it to feed yourself, or are you planning to feed your entire family or group from that cooler? If you are going alone on a one-day fishing or hunting trip, for example, a small cooler may be all that you need. However, if you are going with your entire family or on an extended trip, then you might want to go for a bigger unit.
Changing any kind of temperature won’t happen in the blink of an eye – no matter how fast it may seem to some. It will take a certain amount of time – the only differentiating factor being how much it will take. Some coolers can reach the optimal temperature in 30 minutes or less, whereas others can take more than one hour to cool. Get the model that will cool the food as quickly as possible.
Just like with typical ice coolers, the thermoelectric versions will also have a certain degree of good insulation. Think about it: when you are cooling the air inside the cooler, you’ll be doing it indoors, next to the power source. When you are going outdoors, the only thing that will keep things cool will be the stored energy and insulation. To ensure that not all the energy is used right off the bat, you might want to get a well-insulated cooler.
When carrying an electric cooler around, the chances are that you will drop it or kick it around – as accidental as it may be. This is why you need to ensure that you purchase a durable model – one that can not only withstand abuse but can also handle the wear and tear well. You might also want to ensure that your thermoelectric cooler is waterproof, to protect it from any sudden gusts of rain.
It’s a cooler – and the chances are that you’ll want to carry it around to a picnic, or wherever. You don’t want it to have the weight of a small fridge – it will be too difficult to carry. This is why you need to ensure that your unit is lightweight and simple to use so that you won’t have to dread it every time you take it out for a picnic.
Types of Plug-In Electric Coolers
When it comes to electric coolers, there are three types that you may go for – all of which serve different purposes. So, here is what you may opt for:
- Portable Plug-In Electric Coolers
Portable electric coolers are generally small enough to fit in the trunk of a standard car. They’re lightweight, which also makes their transportation something relatively easy to handle. The product is mostly suitable for short trips – and where not many people are involved. They can hold about 10-15 cans.
- Large Storage Coolers
If you plan on being outdoors for quite some time or you’re going with a large group, then you might want to choose a large storage cooler. These coolers may begin at 50 quarts and may go up to 80 quarts high. Needless to say, these will need a much bigger space and will be much heavier – so, make sure that you have that space available.
- Fridge Coolers
Sometimes, you will need to keep things cool – and other times, you will have to ensure that they remain frozen or become that way. In this case, you might want to go for a fridge cooler – which is more expensive, but definitely very convenient.
Most of the standard 12V coolers that you see on the market won’t freeze your items – but fridge coolers are the exception to it. For a higher price, you get a lower cooling point and more insulation, making them perfectly able to store items such as frozen meat or ice cream.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using An Thermoelectric Cooler
The obvious advantage of using an electric cooler is that you can simply plug it into an outlet to work. You don’t need to use ice or freezer packs to keep your food and drinks cold. But do these cooler offer any other advantages besides being electric? Let’s take a look
- No Ice, No Leaks – Electric coolers don’t rely on ice or freezer packs to keep your food and drink cold. Since the cooler doesn’t use ice, there won’t be any water pooling inside the insulation compartment after you use the cooler
- Unlimited Cooling Capacity – Even rotomolded coolers will keep your food and drinks cold for a limited time. Electric coolers can keep your food and drinks refrigerated for an unlimited amount of time, as long as they’re connected to a power source.
- Good Storage Capacity – Electric coolers provide ample storage capacities. Some models are as large as metal coolers, if not even larger. This will allow you to store a lot of food and drinks in the cooler, making it suitable for multiple occasions.
- Low Maintenance – Unlike the soft-sided coolers that use ice and have to be cleaned regularly, electric coolers don’t have to be cleaned unless something spills inside them. If you’re careful to load them with sealed or packed objects, you will only have to clean them rarely.
- Portable – Electric models might not be as easy to carry as backpack coolers, but they’re still highly portable. Most models come with high-quality built-in handles, while some even come with wheels for easier transport.
- Good Value – Even though these coolers can keep your food and drinks cold for days on end, they come at really good prices, making them valuable items.
- Double As Warmers – Some cooler models like the Suaoki Portable Car Fridge can act both as a cooler and a warmer. This will allow you to thaw your meals and warm up your sandwiches before eating them.
- Double As Freezers – Some cooler models like the Dometic Electric Cooler can work either as a cooler or as a freezer. This feature increases the cooler’s versatility.
- Run On Electricity – These coolers run on electricity, so they’re less environmentally-friendly than other cooler models. However, the other model’s wastewater instead of electricity, so they’re not exactly environmentally-friendly either.
- Limited Cooling Period When They’re Not Plugged – These electric coolers work splendidly when you have an outlet within reach. However, not even the best of them will maintain a cool temperature for long once w=they’re unplugged.
- Can Get Heavy – Electric coolers that offer large storage capacities can get heavy once they’re loaded. This will make them harder to transport, especially if they have built-in handles.
- AC Power Cords Sold Separately – Some models like the Igloo Iceless Cooler are compatible for AC power use, but they come without an AC power cord. This means you’ll have to buy one separately if you want to connect the cooler to an AC power outlet.
When Can An Electric Cooler Be Useful?
Electric coolers can be useful in multiple situations. Thanks to their storage capacity and their low power consumption, you can connect them to the cigarette lighter outlet in your car and keep your food and drinks cold for days.
- Truckers – Truckers spend most of their time in an 18 wheeler, driving and delivering goods all over USA and Canada. Most of them either use coolers or fridges to keep their food and drinks cold when they work. Some models like the Koolatron Kaddy Cooler can double as a fridge when needed, allowing you easier access to its contents. Moreover, some models can double as warmers, allowing you to warm your food before you eat.
- Fishing – Fishing is a great outdoor activity. But one of the benefits of fishing is that you’re actually catching food for you and your family. Using a high-quality electric cooler will allow you to freeze your catches, so they’ll keep for longer. Contrary to popular belief, frozen fish might be better than fresh.
- RV Traveling – RV traveling has many benefits, and it’s one of the most comfortable ways to explore new areas. Using an electric cooler in your motorhome will allow you to keep your drinks and food cold and warm your meals using the same device.
- Driving Long Distances – Driving over long distances is often better than flying. You get to take in the sights and see the world from ground level, where it actually matters. And the great thing is, you can pack food and save money on road trips.
FAQ about Plug-in Electric Coolers
- Do plug-in electric coolers require ice as well?
This will depend on the cooler that you will use. Some coolers may be able to accommodate ice, whereas others are built using cooling fans. In this case, if you add ice, the melted ice may get into the cooling unit – and eventually, it will compromise the cooling mechanism.
If you need the extra addition of ice, look for models that are compatible – and preferably, have their own ice packs. This way, you may know for sure that your electric cooler will not be damaged by any stray ice and that it will stay safe.
- How long can a plug-in electric cooler hold the ice without being connected to power?
This will generally depend on the type of cooler that you use, as well as its insulation power. Larger units can hold on to more of the “coolness,” allowing the products to remain cool for a much longer time.
At the same time, you need to ensure that the cooler has been properly sealed from the lid to the base, not allowing much contact with the temperature outside. If there is limited air exchange, then a plug-in electric cooler should last just as long as an ice-based model. Some may last for 1-2 days, whereas others can go as long as a week.
- Can plug-in electric coolers kill your car battery?
Yes, thermoelectric coolers may kill the battery of your car – particularly if the engine is not running. If you want to charge you cooler in your car, you may want to do so when the car has been running for at least 3 hours.
To keep things safe, you should not charge the cooler in your vehicle when it isn’t active. Charge it while you are on the road, for example. If that is not possible, you might want to buy a solar generator, particularly for the cooler or your other appliances.
However, all this depends on how strong your battery is. If the battery is strong enough to handle even higher amounts of energy drainage, then you might be able to partially charge the cooler. We advise that you do not take the risk, though.
- Can I leave the electric cooler on indefinitely?
No, you should not leave the electric cooler on indefinitely, as it was not made to replace a refrigerator. If you leave it plugged for too long, days at a time, you might end up shortening its lifespan – which may also lead to several more dangerous issues.
Even if you do use your cooler every day, it’s ideal that you unplug it for some time so that it has the opportunity to rest. You don’t leave your phone into its charging point for the entire day – so, why would you leave your cooler plugged 24 hours? These units were designed to be portable, not to just stay in one place.
Plug-In Electric Coolers Comparison Chart
|Suaoki Portable Car Fridge||$||12 V||7 quarts||Cools to 18-36ºF - Heats to 104-140ºF|
|Dometic Electric Cooler||$$$$$||120-volt AC, 12 / 24 volt DC||40 quarts||3.2 to 50° (-16to 10°).|
|Wagan Cooler/Warmer||$||12 V||24L||2 temperature settings|
|Koolatron Kaddy Cooler||$$$||12 V||36 Quart||Cools to 40° - heats to 135°|
|Igloo Iceless Cooler||$$||12 V||26 Quart||Cools down to 36°|
|Knox Electric Cooler||$$$$||12 V||48 Quart||Heats up 130° - Cools 40°|
Electric coolers are not only useful for truckers or for those who drive RVs. These units can improve your daily commute by keeping your drinks cold, and they can be used by hunters and fishers with great results.
In fact, thanks to their large storage capacity and their ability to keep your food and drinks cold for a long time, these coolers are some of the most versatile models out there, and you can use them in various scenarios. From campers to mothers who want to keep the milk cold for their babies, the electric coolers can help anyone.
The best electric coolers are energy-efficient, so they will have a low energy consumption. Some of them come with safeguards to keep your battery from being depleted, making them safe to use while your car is turned off.
If you believe that an electric model is not the best option for you, make sure to check our other articles. We review all the types of coolers currently available on the market.