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The 8 best 12V Coolers in 2021

A 12V cooler is the best way to take your food and drinks with you. You can fit it inside any car or RV and enjoy a day out. Before you ask – no, you won’t have to buy ice and deal with the mess it creates. These coolers come with the best technology to refrigerate your refreshments on a long drive.

In this post the best 12v coolers, we discuss many coolers, like the phenomenal Dometic Thermoelectric 12V Cooler with its exceptional seven-stage temperature regulation.

In the end, you’ll also find a guide to help you distinguish between the coolers available in the market. Without further ado, let’s get started.

8 Best 12V Coolers for Camping

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Product
Product Details
Our #1 Rated

Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler

Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler
A thermoelectric cooler with fold-down handles on a standard body with a circulating fan.  
Our #1 Rated

Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler

A thermoelectric cooler with fold-down handles on a standard body with a circulating fan.  

K-Box Electric Cooler with Wheels

K-Box Electric Cooler with Wheels
A wheeled cooler featuring a thermoplastic body with carrying handles on one side and wheels on the other.  

K-Box Electric Cooler with Wheels

A wheeled cooler featuring a thermoplastic body with carrying handles on one side and wheels on the other.  

Koolatron P95 12 Volt Travel Saver Cooler

Koolatron P95 12 Volt Travel Saver Cooler
Portable and compact cooler with the ability to act as a minifridge.  

Koolatron P95 12 Volt Travel Saver Cooler

Portable and compact cooler with the ability to act as a minifridge.  

Knox Electric Cooler for Car

Knox Electric Cooler for Car
It sports a kitchen bin design ideal for tight spaces. A perfect cooler for cars and RVs with limited space.  

Knox Electric Cooler for Car

It sports a kitchen bin design ideal for tight spaces. A perfect cooler for cars and RVs with limited space.  

Wagan EL6244 Blue 46 Quart 12V Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer Car Fridge

Wagan EL6244 Blue 46 Quart 12V Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer Car Fridge
This is a cooler/warmer popular among RV owners because of its ability to hold four 2-liter bottles of soda at once.  

Wagan EL6244 Blue 46 Quart 12V Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer Car Fridge

This is a cooler/warmer popular among RV owners because of its ability to hold four 2-liter bottles of soda at once.  

BLACK&DECKER Portable 12v Travel Cooler

BLACK&DECKER Portable 12v Travel Cooler
It is a cooler and warmer that holds up to 8 cans of beverages and maintains the coolest temperature compared to the other coolers on this list.  

BLACK&DECKER Portable 12v Travel Cooler

It is a cooler and warmer that holds up to 8 cans of beverages and maintains the coolest temperature compared to the other coolers on this list.  

Dometic Thermoelectric 12v Cooler/Warmer

Dometic Thermoelectric 12v Cooler/Warmer
It comes with a seven-stage temperature regulation feature that lets you adjust the heating or cooling level.  

Dometic Thermoelectric 12v Cooler/Warmer

It comes with a seven-stage temperature regulation feature that lets you adjust the heating or cooling level.  

VonShef Electric Cool Box

VonShef Electric Cool Box
A lightweight and compact cooler with the storage capacity of a beast. It boasts a cooling capacity of 46 degrees Fahrenheit.  

VonShef Electric Cool Box

A lightweight and compact cooler with the storage capacity of a beast. It boasts a cooling capacity of 46 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Best 12V Cooler 

1.Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler

The best 12V on the market

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Have you heard of iceless thermoelectric coolers?

Well, Igloo makes some of the most popular coolers including their special iceless variants. With the Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler, you get a standard cooler body with molded handles and a fair amount of insulation.

The Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler comes in two versions – the 26-quart and 28-quart, both of which can lower the temperature in the cooler down to 36 degrees Fahrenheit.

It includes a circulating fan. While the fan does add a little bit of noise to the cooler, it is less noisy than the compressor-style coolers. The circulating fan helps speed up the cool-down process and circulates more air inside the cooler.

When it comes to size, the Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler is a portable and lightweight option. You get an 8-foot cord and fold-down carry handles making it easy to store and move around.

Simply put, the Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler makes the perfect camping companion. However, if you want to use it as a primary cooler, you will not have enough space.

2.K-Box Electric Cooler with Wheels

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As you’ve guessed by the name, this is a wheeled electric cooler. Its design provides you with 48 quarts of chilled storage space to keep your beverages. For beachgoers and campers, the K-Box Electric Cooler with Wheels is a must-have.

Along with portability, you get a molded thermoplastic body with carrying handles on one side and wheels on the other. This phenomenal design lets you roll or carry it at your convenience. One downside, however, is that the wheels aren’t robust enough for rough terrains.

So, our advice?

Carry the cooler using the handles when walking on uneven surfaces.

The K-Box Electric Cooler with Wheels features a thermoelectric system with a convection fan. Like other thermoelectric coolers, this fan system has limitations to its performance.

The cooler can cool to a temp of 40 degrees fahrenheit.

If you’re only looking for a cooler to keep your drinks cool, this car cool box gets the job done.

3.Koolatron P95 12V Travel Saver Cooler

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This travel-friendly cooler by Koolatron features a compact and portable body shape compared to many other options. You can fit the Koolatron P95 12V Travel Saver Cooler into a cabinet or anywhere near you when camping.

It can lower its internal temperature up to 40 degrees below the external temperature. This cooler boasts a 45-quart capacity making it perfect for storing drinks and eatables during a trip.

A commendable feature is its ability to act as an upright minifridge. This eliminates the hassle of arranging the bottles and cans and allows easy access.

Although there aren’t any wheels on this cooler, it is easy to carry around. You get cooler drinks, storage for non-perishable items, and a travel-friendly minifridge in one product. If you ask us, that’s a winning combo.

This cooler can also warm up food or drinks if needed. The body and interior are easy to clean and maintain in the long run, too. If you’re looking for a versatile cooler, this is it.

4.Knox Electric Cooler for Car

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This may not be the most attractive cooler on the list, but it fits into tighter spaces. If you don’t want the cooler to take a lot of your already restricted space, the Knox Electric Cooler is a great choice.

The design resembles a kitchen bin, so, you know it can fit into confined spaces easily. It may seem smaller than other coolers, but the Knox Electric Cooler can fit 2-liter bottles of soda in an upright position. The elongated design makes it more practical than many 27-quart coolers.

For people who want multiple power options, this cooler includes a 12V DC and 110 AC power cord. You can use the standard outlet when full power is available or switch to the DC connection and simply hook it up to your battery or generator.

Overall, the Knox Electric Cooler is a viable option for cars and smaller vehicles. It may not be the most powerful car cooler, but it can keep drinks cold for a long time.

5.Wagan EL6244 Blue 46 Quart 12V Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer Car Fridge

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The Wagan EL6244 Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer may look small, but it is a beast when it comes to storage. You can store as many as four 2-liter bottles of soda in this compact cooler despite its thick polyurethane insulation.

The machine comes with two settings, hot and cold. When the setting is on the hot mode, the temperature rises to a maximum of 140 degree Fahrenheit. Similarly, the cold mode can drop the temperature about 36 degrees below the outside temperature.

Its cooling ability and relatively small size make it well-suited to operate as a drink cooler or food transfer device. You get a 46-quart capacity and two modes to pick from in this thermoelectric cooler/warmer. These characteristics are also a reason why RVers find this device extremely useful to keep their favorite drinks at hand.

With that said, the Wagan EL6244 Blue 46 Quart 12V Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer makes a great travel buddy for RV owners with limited space.

6. BLACK&DECKER Portable 12V Travel Cooler

12V cooler

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This is a mini cooler that can hold up to 12 cans of soda and offers approximately 10 quarts of capacity. The Black & Decker Portable 12V Travel Cooler sports an extremely compact design to store beverages only.

You can also use this incredible product as a warmer and heat it to approximately 120 degrees by flipping a simple switch.

Built-in dual cup holders, a zippered storage pouch, and two shoulder straps are the accessories you’ll get with it. Its size and compactness make it easy to carry it around, but its limited capacity make it impractical for outdoor trips.

TheBlack & Decker Portable 12V Travel Cooler cools the interior down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit below the ambient temperature. That’s perfect if you want to keep your drinks cool for a long time.

This portable travel-size cooler is a great addition to any RV and a reliable camping cooler. If you don’t want your coffee to get cold on a trip, this portable travel cooler can get the job done.

Another remarkable feature is it monitors your vehicle’s voltage level and shuts off automatically when it detects low voltage.

7.Dometic Thermoelectric 12V Cooler/Warmer

12V cooler

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The Dometic TC14 Cooler offers some of the most adjustable settings on the market. Its comprehensive temperature control lets you adjust the heating and cooling capabilities to the maximum level. You can use a 12V or 24V power supply adding to its versatility along with its seven-stage temperature regulation feature.

With a capacity of 14.8 quarts, it is not the biggest cooling alternative. However, it works well for keeping drinks cold on a day trip. Please note that we do not recommend storing perishable food items in the Dometic Thermoelectric 12V Cooler/Warmer.

This cooler/warmer is a good option for RV owners looking for a secondary cooling system for drinks and lunch. For the price, you also get an LED temperature readout, which we think is amazing.

It is a compact solution to all your cooling needs and comes with foldable handles made of durable polymer. So, whenever it’s not in use, you can store it away easily.

Overall, the Dometic Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer gets a big thumbs up from us for its exceptional capabilities. This cooler/warmer makes your trips even more comfortable.

8.VonShef Electric Cool Box

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We can describe the VonShef Electric Cool Box to you in two words – spacious and lightweight. It is a compact 12V cooler with a storage capacity of 23 quarts.

Moving on to the cooling capacity, you can use it to cool your drinks or food down about 46 degrees Fahrenheit below the ambient temperature.

With 23 quarts of storage space, you can carry drinks, sandwiches, and still find space for some fruits. You can fit a full meal and drinks for two people in this compact cooler. If you plan on carrying just snacks and drinks, it can hoard items enough to feed four people.

If, like us, you dread lukewarm drinks and soggy sandwiches on a road trip or when camping, this cooler provides an optimal solution. It is an affordable iceless cooler to keep your drinks and food refrigerated.

After trying it out ourselves, we think it is safe to say that the VonShef Electric cool box will be a great option for RV owners.


Buyers Guide to Pick the Best Car Cooler

Before you finalize one of the eight amazing coolers mentioned above, take a minute to answer these questions:

  • What are your requirements?
  • Do you need a primary cooler or a secondary one for trips like camping?
  • How much space do you have for the cooler?
  • What is your budget?
  • What will you need to keep cold?
  • What is the performance you’re looking for?

Once you have the answers, we want you to narrow down your options. You can make a separate list, there’s no requirement to pick only from our options. Go on, do your research.

Confused?

Let’s help you curate your list. Consider all the factors mentioned in the next section and compile a well-researched list by yourself. If you need help selecting one of the coolers mentioned above, use these factors to see which cooler works best for you.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Car Cool Box

Price

This is perhaps the most important aspect when buying a car cooler. Especially for people like us who are on a tight budget. Compare the costs of the different models and shortlist the ones you can afford.

After all, there’s no point in picking a cooler you can’t buy.

Although 12V coolers are reasonably priced, there are some expensive models out there. They may look fancy but the cooling capacity you get is not worth the price.

Generally, models that can keep your drinks chilled outdoors cost around $100. But if you want a bigger model that can maintain a safe temperature for perishable goods, you’ll notice the price going up.

The Type of Cooler

This one may seem complex, but it isn’t. There are really only two types of coolers to choose from – compressor and thermoelectric coolers.

Go through the fundamentals of each type and you can pick the type that suits your needs.

  • Compressor coolers

Compressor coolers use the same cooling method as a full-sized fridge or freezer would. They combine four elements: a refrigerant, condenser coils, an expansion valve, and evaporator coils.

Know that the compressor coolers are more powerful than thermoelectric coolers. Naturally, their cost is higher than the latter, too.

Another downside is their high energy utilization. So, if you look at the options, most RV coolers feature thermoelectric systems.

  • Thermoelectric coolers

When two conductors made from different materials have an electrical current passed through them, it results in a process called the Peltier Effect. In simple terms, it causes a transfer of temperature.

Thermoelectric coolers are more durable and efficient as compared to compressor coolers. There aren’t any moving parts which means there’s not much that could go wrong with a thermoelectric cooler.

The only downside?

Their inferior cooling capability.

Storage Capacity

A good rule of thumb when talking about the storage capacity of coolers is to get a 32-quart cooler if you want to store 24 cans. If you do the math, one quart holds about .75 standard 12 oz cans.

The storage capacity of coolers is mostly measured in quarts or liters. Some manufacturers use their own systems, but they come with details.

Temperature Settings

As you’ve probably noticed, many coolers feature multiple temperature settings. However, in the case of 12V coolers, you won’t need to deal with that a lot. Most models don’t come with complex temperature settings.

Although you do get heating capability with some, it is a rare sight to find temperature settings in a 12V cooler.

Energy Efficiency

12V coolers are already very efficient when it comes to power usage. But it is important to consider whether you’re using generator power or solar power to fuel it.

When camping out for a day, you only need a few drinks and sandwiches. For this, you don’t need a high capacity cooler. A great option is to get a 30-quart cooler since it won’t need more than 70 watts to operate. A 30-quart cooler is generally thermoelectric by nature.

If you’re camping for a few days, go for at least a 60-quart compressor cooler. These are larger and produce a safer environment for perishable foods.

Insulation

Simply put, the more insulated a cooler is the better. Especially if you’re on a solar generator as they always run out of juice. The more insulation they have the longer they’ll keep your drinks cold.

Size and Weight

Before settling on a cooler, make sure your RV has enough room to accommodate it. Thankfully, 12V coolers are compact and portable. However, the insulation and cooling mechanisms are larger than many unpowered options.

RVs are more spacious, yet the owners are generally tormented when adding something like a cooler to it. And for good reason – they can use the space for so many other things which keep nagging at them when buying a cooler for their RV.

Opening, Seals and Locks, Number of Compartments

How the cooler opens controls how much of its cool air it can contain when opened. Sectioned coolers help improve efficiency and are, therefore, preferred.

Then there’s the option to seal and lock the cooler shut. 12V coolers use this mechanism to reduce the airflow between the inside and outside of the cooler. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of an airtight seal and a locking mechanism in a cooler.

Another interesting feature that many of the latest models boast is multiple compartments. You can set varying temperature levels for each compartment making them much more practical. However, the multi-compartment functionality is only found in compressor coolers.

Temperature Display

A handy feature to say the least is a built-in temperature display and a thermometer. It lets you monitor the internal temperature of the cooler and in some models even adjust it.

Some 12V coolers only come fitted with a thermometer on the outside. But apart from them being difficult to read, the digital temperature displays are quite precise.

Noise

A big downside of 12V coolers is they can be very noisy. Now, if you’re out camping or at the beach, this may not be a problem for you. But if you plan on using them next to your RV frequently, we recommend staying away from compressor coolers. They are noisier than the thermoelectric variants.

What else should you know?

Limited Cooling Capabilities

12V coolers are amazing and easy to use for cooling down beverages and food items. However, their cooling capabilities are extremely limited. Especially the thermoelectric coolers. They maintain a temperature that is approximately 30 to 40 degrees lower than the ambient temperature. So, if the spot you chose for camping is a hot mess, you can’t expect much from the cooler.

Not Necessarily Safe for Storing Food

Foods like milk, meat, butter, cheese, or jam need temperatures below 40 degree Fahrenheit to inhibit bacteria growth. Thermoelectric coolers only lower the temperature inside the box to about 40 degrees maximum. So, you cannot store food items in them safely.

Do you need a 12V thermoelectric cooler for your RV?

Portable fridges are a way better choice if you’re looking for a more permanent option. However, for outdoor trips and camping, they aren’t a viable option. Thermoelectric coolers are an alternative to traditional ice chest coolers since they are less messy.

Conclusion

12V coolers feature a design ideal for a day out. You cannot use them as an alternative to your refrigerator. Don’t expect a lot of cooling for the price range as they are typically used to keep a few drinks cold for a period of time.

There are hundreds of options available on the market, but picking the right one is key. Consider everything carefully and you’ll find the cooler most suitable for your requirements in no time!

If you’re in a hurry, the eight options we listed are the best in terms of affordability and practicality. Based on your intended purpose, you can pick any one of these exceptional RV coolers.

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