There are few things better than a cold drink on a warm day. The problem is that it can be difficult to get ahold of a cold one when you’re far from your refrigerator. Even if you take a drink directly from the fridge before leaving your house, it won’t be long before it returns to room temperature. That’s where coolers come in; they keep your drinks nice and cool even as the temperature rises. If you want to have a cooler that acts like a miniature fridge you can pack into your car, then it’s worth investing in an electric cooler.
Electric coolers look like regular coolers at first glance, but they actually have built-in fans and cooling units that allow them to keep food and drinks cold without using ice. This is nice because it means the contents of the cooler can remain cool without you having to constantly replace the melting ice. It also helps you avoid the troubles that come from a cooler filled with water after the ice melts. Electric coolers give you all of the cold without the need to get anything wet and damp.
It’s easy to see why electric coolers are a smart investment for people who love to travel and enjoy cool drinks and food. It can be difficult to pick the right model with so many electric coolers on the market today. With names like Igloo, Knox, and Koolatron competing for your money it is harder than ever to settle on just one. That’s what we’re here for, to help you cut to the chase and find out what the top coolers on the market have to offer. All of our articles are researched carefully to provide you with all the information you need on one page. With that in mind, read on to find the perfect electric cooler for you.
TOP 5 ELECTRIC COOLERS
Made from Polypropylene.
Holds 40 quarts.
Provides 38 degrees Fahrenheit of cooling.
Works horizontally or vertically.
Contains adjustable shelf.
Comes with 12V DC auto plug.
21.87 inches long, 16.75 inches wide, and 15.25 inches high.
Weighs 18.75 pounds.
Covered by 1-year limited warranty.
Heavy. This is the heaviest cooler on our list by a decent margin.
The fan can have issues if run nonstop. If you want to run your cooler around the clock you need to oil the bearings in the fan monthly to keep things going smoothly.
Doesn’t come with an AC converter. You’ll need to buy a converter separately if you want to plug this cooler into an AC outlet.
Weak handles. The weak point in the design is the handles. They are likely to be the first part to go if you aren’t careful.
Doesn’t have a warmer. Products from competitors are able to keep food hot or cold, but this cooler can only cool things down.
Very cool. Once this cooler has been running for a while it will be 38 degrees Fahrenheit cooler inside the container than it is outside.
Keeps food cold for hours. This cooler can run for an entire day without trouble. Perfect for long vacations and road trips.
Works like a cooler or a mini-fridge. This product is designed to work horizontally or vertically. The divider in the middle can also function as a shelf if you’d like to use this as a mini-fridge for holding your drinks.
Plenty of storage space. This cooler can hold 40 quarts worth of food and drinks. This makes it the largest cooler on our list.
Runs quietly. The built-in fan keeps air circulating without making much noise.
Aerodynamic interior. The inside of the cooler has grooves that allow cold air to circulate throughout the cooler. This allows for superior cooling.
Comes with built-in divider/shelf. There is a piece of sturdy Polypropylene in the middle of the cooler that can keep your food separated. This helps keep your cooler organized.
Has a built-in handle. It’s easy to carry this cooler around thanks to the handles you’ll find on either end.
Easy to get replacement parts. Because Igloo is a leading name in the field it isn’t difficult to find parts if you need them. If something goes wrong there’s a chance you can find what you need at a truck stop or big box store.
Covered by a quality warranty. Igloo protects their product with a one-year limited warranty. This cooler can be replaced or repaired if issues with the material or workmanship arise during proper use of the product. For more information, please read the warranty to see exactly what it covers.
This Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler is probably the most well rounded electric cooler on the market. It cools down quickly and can bring temperatures down 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Trying to decide between traditional cooler or a mini-fridge? This cooler can do both! Set it down on its base, and it’s a regular cooler, but if you balance it on its side, you get a fantastic little fridge. There’s even a shelf inside the can be put in place to hold in your drinks or move out of the way to store larger products inside your fridge. The only real downside is a that the cooler comes with a cord that plugs into 12V power sources, like the power sockets in your car. If you want to plug it into a wall outlet, you’ll need to buy an adaptor separately. Still, even that is a small price to pay to use this fantastic cooler wherever and whenever you want. It all adds up to our pick for top option. If you can only consider one option this is the cooler to look at.Melissa
Made from Polypropylene.
Holds 25.4 quarts.
Provides 32-36 degrees Fahrenheit of cooling.
Heating can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Works horizontally or vertically.
Contains adjustable shelf.
Comes with 12V DC auto plug.
11 inches long, 16 inches wide, and 16.5 inches high.
Weighs 11.8 pounds.
Covered by 1-year limited warranty.
Temperature can vary inside. The cooler is coldest at the bottom and warms up the higher things are stacked. Owners should keep this in mind when packing perishable food items.
Doesn’t come with an AC adaptor. To use this cooler around the house you need to purchase a power converter.
Short power cord. The 12V DC cable is only 2.5 feet long, which means the cooler needs to be stored close to the front if you only have the cigarette lighter plug available.
Only two power settings, hot or cold. If you want anything between a full blast of hot or cold you’re out of luck.
May blow air in your face. The fan on top sends warm air up. This position is supposed to even the temperature out but it means that people sitting by this cooler may get warm air blown at them. This can be frustrating in small cars.
Will drain your car battery if left running. It only takes 2 hours for this cooler to drain a battery if the engine isn’t running.
The handle is relatively flimsy. While the overall design is very sturdy the handle isn’t as strong as the rest of the cooler. This could be an issue for people who plan on carrying a full cooler over large distances.
Doesn’t come with dividers. Everything is kept in one open space, with no way to separate things. It would be nice to have a way to keep hard metal cans from crushing soft or breakable food items.
Light for its storage space. It’s difficult to find an electric cooler that weighs so little and carries so much.
Plenty of storage space. It can hold 25.4 quarts or 24 liters. This is enough for over two dozen 12ounce cans. It can hold larger bottles, like 2-liter bottles and wine bottles.
Heats up or cools down. This cooler can do it all. Food inside might be cooled down up to 36 degrees below the ambient temperature or heated up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it a useful tool all year round.
Works fast. Reaches peak temperatures in around 30 minutes.
Comes with built-in plastic carrying handle. The handle is adjustable so it can be moved out of the way when not needed.
Uses quality insulation. Doesn’t lose cold or heat quickly even when it’s turned off. This minimizes the power it needs to use and means that food and drinks are as warm or cold as possible.
After looking at one larger cooler and a very compact cooler, we come to a model that falls somewhere in the middle. The 12V Cooler/Warmer from Wagan offers 24 liters of storage while retaining a large degree of portability. On top of this, the cooler offers powerful cooling and heating. It can cool things down by up to 36 degrees Fahrenheit and crank them up to 140 degrees. The only real downside is the power cable. It’s a little small, and the only adaptor is for 12v DC. Most people would benefit from an AC adaptor and extension cord. Still, the basic package is great for anyone who wants to keep their food and drinks at a perfect temperature while they’re traveling. Once you add in the budget-friendly pricing, this cooler definitely earns our best buy option. It’s a fantastic cooler for bargain hunters.Melissa
Comes in 5 colors. Blue, fuchsia, pink, cow, white, and cow print.
Made from plastic.
Holds 4.2 quarts.
Provides 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit of cooling.
Heating can reach temperatures between 122 and 144 degrees Fahrenheit.
Works horizontally or vertically.
Contains adjustable shelf.
Comes with 12V DC auto adapter, AC adapter, and USB charging cable
8 inches long, 10.2 inches wide, and 11 inches high.
Weighs 4.7 pounds.
Not much storage space. This isn’t the type of cooler you take on a big camping trip. It can hold six 12-ounce cans. If you need more space you’ll need to invest in a larger cooler.
Can’t hold tall cans. It is recommended for 12-ounce cans, but it can only fit shorter cans. Tall and thin cans will fit in awkwardly if they fit in at all.
No listed warranty. Cooluli doesn’t advertise a warranty so purchasing this fridge can be a bit of a risk. To ensure that you get a working cooler you should try and contact the seller directly about a satisfaction guarantee before purchasing.
Comes with a USB cable but shouldn’t be plugged into a computer. This might be a bit confusing. People are used to plugging USB cables into computers but most won’t properly charge this cooler.
Extremely light. This is by far the lightest cooler on our list. If you’re looking for a cooler you can comfortably carry around then you can’t go wrong with this one.
Compact. Fits in places where other coolers can’t. Put it on your desk at work, in between car seats, or under your bed. The possibilities go on and on.
Keeps food cool or warm. Don’t feel like you need to bring cold food with you. You can store a thermos of soup in this fridge for hours and come back to find it’s still warm. Choose the right setting for whatever you need to store.
Runs quiet. Most people will only hear the fan if they are up close and listening for it. Otherwise, you can run this cooler all day and never hear it.
Three ways to charge. This cooler ships with three different adaptors. You can charge it in your car and your house. You can even charge it using a USB cable!
Visually appealing. This cute has an attractive design that many will find cute. But it’s not childish. Men, women, and kids will all enjoy the look of this cooler.
Available in four different colors. To start off with there’s the classic all white look. For a little color, you can choose between blue, pink, and fuchsia. Finally, for people with a quirky style, there’s the black and white cow print design.
Equipped with magnetic latching door. To keep the door from opening up and spilling the cooler’s contents it comes with two levels of security. The magnet adds extra safety on top of the latch.
Completely free of Freon. You can feel confident that it is safe to store your family’s food in this cooler.
If you’re looking for a container that will keep your food at the right temperature without hurting your wallet, then you should look beyond traditional coolers and consider the Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer. The engineers at Cooluli have packed plenty of power into a small package, while still leaving a decent amount of space. It’s designed with drinks in mind, but it can also hold smaller food items. If you want to hold a full meal and drinks in your cooler, then you might look elsewhere. Still, this cooler will be perfect for people who their drinks and snacks to stay cool. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to make sure that when they reach their destination, they have a six pack of frosty drinks close at hand.Melissa
Comes in red and blue.
Made from Polypropylene.
Holds 27 quarts.
Provides 40 degrees Fahrenheit of cooling.
Heating can reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Comes with 12V DC auto plug and AC wall plug.
12 inches long, 16 inches wide, and 17 inches high.
Weighs 10.6 pounds.
No listed warranty. If you want to get any kind of purchase protection you’ll need to contact the seller or manufacturer personally.
Slightly misleading name. This is a cooler, not a refrigerator. It isn’t designed to work like the refrigerators most people are used to. It’s powerful, but not much more powerful than any of the other models we’ve looked at.
Takes time to heat up and cool down. It might take up to an hour for this cooler to reach its coolest or warmest temperature.
Doesn’t always reach advertised temperatures. Sometimes the temperature inside the cooler falls short of what it should be even after it’s given time to cool down or warm up.
Drains power quickly. Works fine when plugged into a running motor but it will quickly drain batteries that aren’t being constantly recharged. This can make it hard to use when camping, unless you have access to a power source.
Easy to carry. It weighs in at just 10.6 pounds and it comes equipped with a built-in and adjustable handle.
Wide temperature range. Cools its contents down 40 degrees and can heat up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Comes with a 5.5-foot long cord. Long enough for use in most vehicles.
Equipped with both DC car plug and AC house plug. Can be plugged into most outlets without the need to buy an adaptor.
The cord can be tucked away when not in use. No need to deal with a dangling cord when you’re carrying this cooler around.
Built-in locking mechanism. Keeps the top secure so your drinks and food don’t fall off even if the cooler is jarred or knocked over.
Available in two different colors. Choose between red and blue. Get a cooler that fits your unique style.
Budget friendly. As of writing the advertised price is one of the most competitive available, especially given the size and power of this cooler.
One of the difficult parts of dealing with electric coolers is handling the cords. When you’ve got a cooler with a cord hanging out the back it’s easy to get tangled up and frustrated as you carry it around. The people at Knox understand this, and they have used their understanding to create a superior way of dealing with the problem. The Knox 27 Quart Electric Car Refrigerator Cooler and Food Warmer has a cord that can be rolled up into a storage compartment in the cooler and safely secured. The cooler also comes with both AC and DC plugs so that you can draw power from your vehicle’s engine or any wall socket. This all comes on top of a well-designed cooler that has the sort of features and power most people are looking for. As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to recommend this cooler. The main thing holding it back from greatness is the lack of an advertised warranty. If you search for “Knox Gear” You can find their webpage. On their website, they have a section for registering their products, which can help you get better protection. Still, without an advertised warranty buying this cooler is a bit of a gamble. Still, the intuitive way this cooler handles its cords and its power makes it a very attractive option.Melissa
Made from Polypropylene.
Holds 29.9 quarts.
Provides 40 degrees Fahrenheit of cooling.
Heating can reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Comes with 12V DC auto plug.
16 inches long, 17.5 inches wide, and 15.4 inches high.
Weighs 13 pounds.
Covered by 1-year limited warranty.
Only equipped with a DC car plug. If you want to plug it into a wall outlet you will need to purchase an AC adaptor separately.
Only comes in grey. The color isn’t the worst available but it is a bit dull. People interested in color will have to look elsewhere.
A little large. Not a compact cooler. May be hard to store in crowded and compact vehicles.
Could be cooler. When the temperature outside is hot the interior only gets cool, not truly cold.
Uneven cooling. The items placed next to the cooling fan will get the coldest while cooling drops off the farther away things are from the fan. Be sure to place perishable items right next to the cooling unit.
Latch sticks. It can be difficult to open the cooler once the latch is in place.
Great storage capacity. It can fit up to 48 12-ounce cans at once!
Fantastic ratio of storage space to weight. Lots of storage space for just 13 pounds.
Powerful. The Thermoelectric cooling unit can cool food down 40 degrees Fahrenheit below the ambient temperature. It can also heat contents up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Comes with a long cord. At nine feet long it’s long enough for vans and RVs. The cord is retractable so it doesn’t always need to be fully extended.
When purchased new it is protected for a year. The warranty covers issues with parts due to manufacturing issues.
Comes with handles built into the side. This makes it relatively easy to carry despite its size.
Side mounted fan. This means that you can stack things on top of the cooler without interrupting the airflow.
Runs quietly. The fan and cooling unit hardly make a sound as they work hard to keep the cooler’s contents as cold as possible.
Durable exterior. This cooler is made of high-quality Polypropylene that can take a beating. No need to worry about your cooler falling apart if it gets knocked over. Still, don’t try and test this with your own cooler.
Built in North America.
Protected by a one-year warranty. This will allow you to purchase with confidence. If the cooler has issues related to workmanship, then Koolatron will make things right.
The Koolatron 29 qt. Voyager Cooler may not be the flashiest cooler on the market, but it is one of the more dependable models. This is a solid product that can store and protect plenty of drinks and food items at once. As the name implies, the 29 quarts of storage space make it the second most spacious cooler on our list. Don’t just bring along a 12 pack; you can bring four dozen 12-ounce cans with you using the Voyager Cooler. If you go with this cooler from Koolatron your cooler’s parts will be covered for a year of proper usage. The cooler also has a nice, long cord that can be tucked back into the cooler when it isn’t in use. This cooler comes equipped with hot and cold modes, plenty of space, and a strong exterior. These are the elements that distinguish the Voyager as a superior cooler that’s worth your consideration.Melissa
HOW TO DISTINGUISH A QUALITY ELECTRIC COOLER FROM A CHEAP ONE
Make sure to check and see how powerful the cooler is. You deserve an electric cooler that can bring the interior temperature down at least 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything lower than that might be difficult to notice. A 25-degree difference might seem significant but when the temperatures start to climb it will leave your drinks lukewarm rather than cold.
New or Used
If you really want a high-quality electric cooler you need to purchase a new model. Buying used is always a temptation but it can be difficult to tell the condition of a cooler just from looking at it. Many people forget that electric coolers shouldn’t be filled with water or ice, and this can lead to damage. If you’re shopping online, you might not be able to see whether or not the fan and cooling unit have experienced water damage. Buying new ensures that you get an electric cooler that is good as new and covered by whatever warranty the manufacturer or seller might offer.
If a manufacturer is trusted worldwide, then it’s a good bet that they make good products. Before you purchase a product, it’s always worth learning something about the team that designed and produced it. If you hear good things, then it’s worth moving forward. If you only hear bad things or if you can’t find any information at all then you’ve got reason to be suspicious about their products. Manufacturer reputation may not be everything, but it is always worth considering.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN PURCHASING AN ELECTRIC COOLER
Make sure your cooler is the right size before you make your purchase. It can be difficult to know a product’s true size when you’re looking at a small picture on a shopping site. You need to look at the measurements and check them against your own space. It’s important to find a cooler that fits into the space you have available; you don’t want anything too big. But on the other hand, you don’t want to get a cooler that is too small to contain everything you want to pack into it. Look at the measurements carefully and use them to decide whether or not the cooler will fit your needs.
Different coolers reach different temperatures. They start out at the same temperature as the air around them, and then they start cooling down. How cool things get depends on how powerful the cooler is. More powerful coolers can reach lower temperatures, but they also tend to cost more and use more power. It’s worth going for the cooler with the widest heating range, but if you’re budget-minded, you might want to look for a cooler that isn’t overkill. That’s one way to avoid overpaying.
Changing the temperature takes time. Air doesn’t go from being hot to cold in the blink of an eye; it happens gradually. Of course, sometimes the process is more gradual than it needs to be. See if you can find out how quickly the cooler actually cools down. Some coolers get cold in 30 minutes while others can take an hour or more. If you have a faster cooler, it means that you don’t have to wait for your cooler to “warm up” before you can put your drinks in it and get moving.
It’s always worth finding out how much power any tool or appliance needs to continue working. Electric coolers don’t work without electricity, and that means that they need to be plugged into a vehicle, wall socket, or battery for as long as you want to keep the contents cool. You won’t usually have anything to worry about when your vehicle is running or if the cooler is plugged into a wall. Things get more complicated when the engine goes off. You can leave your cooler on while the engine is off but it will drain the battery and could leave you stranded if you aren’t careful. If you want to be able to keep your cooler powered for as long as possible you should look for a model that doesn’t use much power, though low power coolers don’t get as cold as more powerful models.
They might be called electric coolers but many of them can also warm their contents up. This can be a great bonus. When the warm weather goes away and things start cooling down it’s nice to have something to keep your warm food and drinks from succumbing to the cold. The additional parts required to create heat mean that the feature usually costs extra, so you have to decide whether it’s worth some extra money to be able to keep your food warm and toasty.
Once you find the right cooler, you’ll want to be able to use it for years to come. Unfortunately, not all products are built to last. That’s why it’s worth looking at a cooler’s construction. This covers the quality of materials used to make the cooler and the workmanship that went into putting the cooler together. When a cooler is assembled with high quality materials and an attention to detail it can last for years, long after low-quality coolers have failed. Quality usually costs extra, but if you’re serious about keeping your food and drinks cool, then the extra money should be seen as an investment that will pay off in the years to come.
Before purchasing a cooler it’s worth looking into the company that made it. You can feel confident buying a product from a company that has a good track record. While it’s true that big companies can drop the ball and release subpar products you’ll usually have better luck buying from reputable companies. Buying generic products will always be a gamble that some are willing to take, but if you want to make sure you get things right the first time it’s worth buying a cooler made by a company with a sterling reputation.
Your first goal should be finding coolers that can handle the work you need them to do. After you’ve narrowed things down you can start to take aesthetics into consideration. With so many different electric coolers on the market there’s no reason that you can’t find a cooler that looks great while it keeps your food cool. Think about where you’re going to be storing your cooler and see if you can find a model that will fit into its future surroundings. Don’t just stare at the picture on the website, try and picture the cooler in use and figure out which will complement the existing decor.
Shopping online can be risky if you aren’t careful. You’re buying a product from complete strangers, and if something goes wrong with your product you won’t be able to run it back to the store. That’s why you need to research what sort of purchase protection is available. A one-year warranty provided by a trustworthy company can allow you to purchase with confidence. Without an explicit warranty you may be out of luck even if the product arrives broken.
BEST ELECTRIC COOLER BRANDS
It’s hard to think of a name that’s more closely related to the idea of keeping food and drinks cold. The Igloo Products Corporation has been working to help people cool down on hot days for 70 years now. It began as a metal in 1947. Their first products were water coolers made to keep workers cool. Since then they have produced a wide range of products, but their basic purpose is the same. The more than 500 products created by them today generally center around keeping food and drinks cool no matter what the temperature. This makes them a great company to consider when you’re shopping for a product like the electric cooler. They perfected the traditional-style cooler; it only makes sense that they’d have an advantage in the modern world of electric cooler. If you’re buying any sort of cooling product Igloo is a safe bet.
The Wagan Corporation was founded in 1983 to help fill a void in the market. They noticed that people were demanding more from their vehicles but the quality of automotive accessories wasn’t what it should be. The name reflects this. Wagan comes from the Dutch word for car, Gagen, and the horse-drawn wagon that is so familiar to Americans to this day. They are an electronics company with a focus on portability, which you can see in their electric cooler. Their coolers might be just one of the many products they make, but they have made sure that their cooler is as portable as possible. It’s compact, lightweight, and equipped with an adjustable handle that makes it a breeze to carry. Their coolers will fit into any automobile or RV with ease, allowing you to enjoy warm or cool food while you’re on the road. Their products are also backed up by a one-year warranty. When Wagan says, they care about customer satisfaction they put their money where their mouth is.
The other companies on our list produce dozens or even hundreds of different products, but not Cooluli. They are a small company based out of Brooklyn, NY and they are also the youngest company on our list. They were started in 2016. In spite of their size and youth they seek to prove their worth by focusing on a narrow range of products. Their electric coolers are a result of this focus, it just came out, but it’s already become a best seller. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to understand that because of their youth they really should offer a warranty people can trust. Their short history and lack of an explicit warranty means that buying from them can be risky. Still, they have many satisfied customers. Each shopper needs to decide for themselves if the rewards of a Cooluli cooler seem to merit the risks.
Some companies are focused on quality at any cost while others know that everyone deserves products they can afford. Knox is the second kind of company, their target market is families that need products they can trust at a price they can afford. That’s why their slogan is “power to the family.” They produce a wide range of products that most families can afford. These products include their electric cooler, ice makers, coffee brewers, and milk frothers. The one downside with this company is their aversion to advertised warranties. You can visit their website and register any product you purchase from them but it doesn’t explain what will happen if something goes wrong with your registered product. Fortunately, products from Knox are generally well-constructed. Still, this is an example of the risks involved in bargain hunting. If you’re willing to take a risk then chances are you’ll be satisfied with a cooler from Knox.
It’s easy to tell from their name that Koolatron is dedicated to helping people cool down. Since they were founded in 1983, they have diversified their product range, but their main focus is still on helping keep people and their drinks cool. This shows in their coolers, ice makers, wine cellars, and other products. Over 30 years ago Kooland started as a small company in Canada and has since grown into a multinational firm. Their main headquarters is in Brantford, Ontario but they’ve also got offices in Florida and New York to extend their reach into America. They are proud to make many of their products in Canada to this day, while other firms outsource to other continents where standards and salaries are lower. This is a symbol of their dedication to quality. This reputation has earned them the right to manufacture fridges with Coca-Cola branding. Whether you want a cooler branded with your favorite drink or A Koolatron original you can’t go wrong purchasing from this titan of the cooler world. It also helps that their new products come with a one-year warranty.
HOW TO FIND THE BEST ELECTRIC COOLER FOR YOUR NEEDS
Think carefully about how much you will need to store in your cooler at one time. If you are a single person who just needs a few drinks then a smaller cooler is just fine. Families headed on camping trips will generally need much more space. Once three or more people need to store drinks and food even large coolers can feel quite cramped. Of course, the more space you need the larger and heavier the cooler will need to be. It’s up to you to decide on a cooler that’s big enough to fit what you need but not so big that it becomes difficult to transport.
The coolers we looked at are all advertised as portable but that just means that you don’t have to leave them in one place like a refrigerator. The fact is that some coolers are more portable than others. The two things to look for are weight and features that make carrying the cooler easier. The first part of the equation is simple to understand, the lighter a cooler is the more portable is. The second part requires a close examination of the cooler to see if it has handles you can use to carry the cooler more easily. Even smaller coolers can be hard to carry if there’s nothing you can get a good grip on while it’s in your hands.
Always make sure you know how powerful your cooler might be. Every cooler works relative to the exterior temperature. If a cooler says it can cool things down 10 degrees Fahrenheit it means that if it’s 80 degrees outside the cooler it will be 100 degrees inside.
Many people are surprised to discover that there are coolers that can keep food and drinks nice and warm. After all, using a cooler to hear your food feels too ironic to be true. Still, the fact is that many electric coolers have heating capabilities. The question you need to ask is whether or not you require this feature. Heating requires additional parts and so on average coolers with heating cost a little more than simpler options. Still, you can think of it as an investment when you consider how coolers with heating are useful all year round, while dedicated coolers aren’t always the most helpful in the cold months of winter.
Electric coolers use fans to remove hot air and keep cold air circulating through the cooler. This means there needs to be openings that lead between the exterior and interior, and there needs to be a clear path for air to get in. If you get a cooler with a fan built into a back then you won’t be able to push that side of the cooler against a wall without causing trouble. Similarly, if you get a cooler with a fan at the top you won’t be able to stack anything on top of it. Fan placement is easy to overlook but it can really impact how the cooler must be stored.
ELECTRIC COOLER ACCESSORIES AND PARTS
Cospor Ac to Dc Converter
The electric coolers we’ve looked at are designed to be used when you’re driving your car or RV. This means that they all come with 12V DC power plugs but not all of them can plug directly into an AC wall outlet. This can be a problem if you come to a stop and want to keep your cooler going without draining your car’s battery. Luckily there are converters like this one. You simply insert a DC plug into the hole and then you can connect your cooler to a wall outlet with no issue.
Nilight Cigarette Lighter Extension
Most electric coolers come with cords that are somewhere between three and six feet. This is long enough to stretch from your front console to the passenger side or maybe the next row back, but if you’ve got a long van, plenty of people riding along, and only one DC outlet it can be difficult to know where to store your cooler. This extension cable will allow you to store your cooler wherever you want to. At 14 feet long you can even use this cord in a large RV. Just remember to be careful with long cables run through your vehicle, you don’t want anyone to trip or get tangled up.
BESTEK 2-Socket Cigarette Lighter Power Adapter
It’s always frustrating to have to choose which electronic device you can plug into the one outlet. If your car has just one plug, you might have to decide between charging your phone and using your cooler. This splitter solves this dilemma! It turns one outlet into two, with two additional USB ports. In theory, you can plug up to four devices in total, but in practice, you need to make sure you don’t try and draw too much power at once. In most cases charging your cooler and a smart device should be fine. Check to see how many volts your devices take if you want to be as safe as possible.
Ice Packs (6 Pcs)
When it’s hot outside your cooler will need any help it can get to keep your drinks and food nice and cold. That’s why it’s worth investing in these freezer packs. You simply fill them up with water, freeze them, and stick them in with whatever you put in your cooler. It’s important to get a high quality freezer pack made with solid plastic. You don’t want to get the “bag” type that might be punctured easily and start leaking water into the cooler.
TIPS, TRICKS AND ADVICE
Don’t start your vehicle with your cooler plugged in
When your vehicle starts up it may send a surge of electricity into your cooler and cause damage. Start the engine and only plug the cooler in once it’s running.
Don’t fill electric coolers with water
Traditionally people have used ice or liquid water to keep food in coolers cold. Many people think it’s a clever idea to get double the cooling by pouring ice into an electric cooler. The problem is that electric coolers work using fans that blow cold air throughout the cooler. If water pours into the fan and gets all over the electrical parts the cooler might be destroyed.
Be especially careful when cleaning with liquids. Don’t immerse this cooler into water or pour water into it. Use a clean, damp cloth and a gentle soap to carefully scrub around the fan’s intake holes. Don’t use anything that is rough or abrasive as it might damage the cooler.
Use cold packs for extra cool
You can still use water to keep the temperature down in your cooler, you simply have to make sure it is carefully sealed up. Don’t just pour water into a plastic bag and put the bag in the cooler. Anything that might easily spring a leak is a bad idea.
Give the fan space
The inside of your electric cooler isn’t supposed to be a vacuum. As long as air is being blown inside some should be blown outside. This can’t happen if something is blocking the exterior face of the fan. Make sure you know which side of your cooler the exhaust port is on and make sure you don’t block it. A common mistake is laying the cooler down on the side where the fan is. This can damage your cooler.
Store in a well-ventilated area
Do not keep your electric cooler in an area that has no airflow. These coolers draw in air from the outside, cooling it down, and emitting warm air. They need fresh air to continue to do this.
Keep in a secure area
Electric coolers need to be stored in an area where they will be safe and dry. If you take one of these coolers camping you should not keep it near bodies of water where it might fall in. Such a fall can quickly destroy the cooler. You should also keep your cooler in a covered area if there’s any chance of rain, as rainwater can also damage the interior electronics.
Pre-chill drinks for best effect
It may seem like overkill, refrigerating drinks before moving them to the cooler. But most refrigerators run colder than the electric coolers. If you like your drinks as cold as possible a fridge will help you achieve your goal. That way the cooler can focus its energy on retraining the cold rather than doing all the cooling itself.
Give it time to power up
You can’t just turn an electric cooler on and expect the air to suddenly turn cold. It takes a while for a cooler to reach its most extreme temperature. If you want to keep your drinks as cold as possible you should start the cooler 30 minutes before you leave.
Find out where temperature peaks
No cooler can keep the temperature completely even inside. Some areas will get colder than others. Usually it’s towards the bottom, but these things can vary between designs. If you know the area in your cooler where things are coldest you can store your most perishable food items there.
Be careful running the cooler when your engine is off
It’s common for people to leave their cooler on and plugged into their vehicle even when the engine is off. This is acceptable for short periods of time, but eventually the cooler will drain your car battery. You don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere just to cool your drinks for an extra hour or two.
Do not leave your cooler on indefinitely
Electric coolers are not designed to replace refrigerators. Leaving them on for days at a time will shorten your coolers lifespan and may lead to dangerous issues. Even if you use your cooler daily you should still give it time to rest and cool off from time to time.
There you have it, the top five electric coolers on the market and the information you need to choose between them. Each of the different coolers has strengths and weaknesses, but there are a few that serve their purposes especially well. The first is the Igloo 00040374 Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler, our top option pick. This cooler is the largest on our list, and it comes with enough power to keep its contents nice and cool for hours. If you’re willing to downsize in order to save money, the Wagan (EL6224) 12V Cooler/Warmer is worth a look. It hits a sweet spot when it comes to size and pricing. Of course, if you really want to save money and space the small but dependable Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer is worth a look.
Hopefully, you know which cooler you want by now, but if you’re still having trouble you should consider taking another look at the section of our guide on “Choosing the Best Electric Cooler for Your Needs.” Once you know what’s most important to you, it will be much easier to eliminate coolers that don’t fit your needs and hone in on the right model for you. We’ve narrowed things down to a five item list, but only you can decide which of those five has what you need.
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