Why buy a 12v cooler for Car?

Whether you are a trucker or someone who simply loves long road trips then a 12v car cooler might just be the gadget for you. There is nothing worse than a chocolate bar that’s turned into a hot choclate or a lukewarm sandwich thats gone to waste! Did you know that there quite a few mini fridges out there that plug directly into your car, van, or truck that will keep your food and non-alcoholic beverages cool even in the warmest of climates?

You might be thinking that this is overkill and you already have a cooler but it can be a lot of hassle to keep refilling your cooler with ice and some of the cheaper coolers tend to leak and just create a huge mess. These Mini-fridges fit perfectly in your vehicle and are the perfect conversation starter as well.

How does it work?

They link into your car’s 12-volt device electrical outlet (also known as the cigarette lighter) to maintain whatever cooled. Some of these devices can even be reversed to keep warm, in case you have a lunch or beverage that needs to be kept hot in order to be enjoyed to its fullest!

You may not have even ever heard of this handy car gadget before but there are actually a lot of brand names to choose from, and a lot of options and differences between them. You might need some help to get the best fit for your vehicle or maybe you are a little confused with all the different products to choose from, don’t worry we have got you covered!

The concerns around powering a mini-fridge in your vehicle

Mini refrigerators for your car provide extra storage space for your food and drinks, but you have a lot of concerns in relation to the powering of the device. Firstly you should know that you cannot power them with AA batteries. They need a lot more power, which is why you will defiantly need to have a continuous power source.

12v Car Cooler

You could use the 12V cigarette lighters to connect the minifridge to your car battery or if you have a solar panel attached to your vehicle, this would work great too!

Here are some of the most popular brands on Amazon for mini fridges. These coolers even come with an adapter and are incredibly low on electricity so as not to risk draining your vehicles battery

Making Use Of A Car Battery To Charge A Mini Fridge

You should know that every vehicle has a source of power right under the hood. A car/van battery has lots of power. If you choose to go down this road you should still be cautious that your battery is strong enough to handle the extra use so that you don’t get stuck at the side of the road. If you have a smaller vehicle consider getting a smaller capacity fridge that has lower power usage. In general it is much easier to use the 12 v power plug in your vehicle. This is especially true if you don’t have any previous experience with electrical work.

Here are our top picks for smaller coolers, these are perfect if you have a smaller vehicle.

The auto shutoff solution

You are probably already aware that leaving your headlights will kill your battery and you may be concerned about the power usage. The best mini-fridges out there have an automatic shutoff in order to prevent drainage. However, you should be aware that this means your fridge could turn off and your food may not be cooled correctly. We defiantly recommend that you look out for this feature though because we would raver have warm snacks than be stuck on the side of the road.

Making use of a Portable Solar Panel

An even better solution to power your mini-fridge is to use solar energy. Not only is this more environmentally friendly but it also more reliable and will elevate your concerns of killing your car battery. Because the mini-fridge is not very demanding in terms of wattage you can pick up a small solar panel for quite cheap, bellow we have listed some mini solar panels that will do the trick! Just double-check the power requirements of your desired fridge before making the purchase! Also be sure you have the right roof space for it too. If you have any specific questions leave us a comment!

There are a ton of small portable solar panels out there, most will easily be able to handle a standard mini fridge. Here are three that will fit your needs perfectly.

Will a Car Mini Fridge kill my battery?

The average mini fridge uses between 80 to 100 Watts per hour. Whether or not your electric cooler will kill your battery is based on the strength of your alternator which is the part of your car responsible for charging your battery. Most alternators provide between 30 and 300 watts, so whether or not a mini-fridge will drain too much of your battery is dependent on your car model. It is important to note that your Car’s alternator will only charge your battery when your engine is running. Be sure to only power your mini-fridge whilst the engine is running otherwise your battery will be drained very quickly.

How long will my Car’s Mini Fridge last with the engine off?

A standard Car Battery typically has 60 AMP power with a 12V allowing for a 720 watts hour supply. Taking this into consideration and the use of a 100-watt cooler this would mean that your fridge could last 12 hours.

Why are Car Mini-Fridges so expensive?

Unlike your refrigerator at home, car mini-fridges are designed to run a lot less power. In order to maintain efficiency a lot of time and energy goes into ensuring that your snacks and drinks remain cool on a hot day whilst not draining or even killing your vehicle’s battery. Your Car’s minifridge might also be compatible with a solar panel or have extra insulation which adds a huge amount of value to your Car Mini Fridge.

Is a Car Mini-Fridge worth it?

If you are someone who spends a lot of your time in your vehicle, For example, you are a truck driver who is driving 8 hours a day or you own a campervan then yes it is defiantly worth it. Not only are these coolers convenient but they are massively beneficial when you have a packed lunch!

Does a mini-fridge work in a hot climate?

If you are concerned that your climate or vehicle is too hot and that a mini-fridge simply won’t be cool enough you can rest assured that it will. The modern-day technology built into these coolers is extraordinary, with the highest quality insulation and power efficiency.

It is important to note that in hotter climates you will want to purchase a high quality, well-known and well-appraised brand name, to guarantee that the cooler is built for the most extreme climates.


How does a car mini-fridge fit in my vehicle?

Unfortunately, car mini-fridges are universal. Although it might be beneficial and convenient to not have to worry about your car’s model, this means that these mini-fridges aren’t built to fit in a specific area of your car. You will be responsible to find a suitable location for your new fridge.  Make sure that you read the exact dimensions of your new cooler prior to purchase and do some measurements in the interior of your car.

When trying to figure out where you will place your fridge you need to make sure that you avoid some locations. You will need to avoid any heat sources, in order to maintain maximum efficiency and also prevent overheating. You will also need to avoid blocking any ventilation for the same purpose, make sure that you check where the fridge’s ventilation is. Is the ventilation on the back, the left or right, the top?

Can I put my Car’s Mini Fridge Ventilation on its side?

Your mini-fridge for your car should always be kept upright. These fridges are not designed to be on their side. If it is not upright you are at risk of damaging its compressor which is essential for function.

Will my Car’s Fridge last as long as my refrigerator at home?

The average lifespan of a regular home refrigerator is 13 years, unfortunately, most compact refrigerators will only last 9 years. Although this might put you off purchasing, you should also compare the massive price gap between a mini-fridge when compared to your kitchen’s refrigerator.

The mini-fridge in my car isn’t working, what should I do?

Provided that the mini-fridge isn’t at the end of its life and is a high-quality brand, it is likely an issue with either ventilation or your vehicle’s battery power. First, check to make sure that the cooler is positioned in an area where its vents are not blocked and that it is out of direct sunlight. If there is no issue with the ventilation, check your owners manual to make sure that the battery has another power to run the mini-fridge. You might need to get a less power-hungry cooler if you have a smaller vehicle.

How do I keep my mini-fridge clean?

You don’t need any fancy cleaning agents to clean your car’s fridge. All you need to use is some warm water mixed with a teaspoon of baking soda. Use a regular cloth and dip it into the solution and wipe down both the inside and outside of the cooler. You should also dust the vents to make sure they don’t get blocked as this could result in overheating. 

How often should I clean my vehicle’s refrigerator?

You should be cleaning your refrigerator at least once a week, for hygiene purposes and to maintain its lifespan.

How much will a mini-fridge cost?

The cost of these compact refrigerators varies based on brand, size, and efficiency. If you have a smaller vehicle you will able to get a very compact fridge for 200 dollars for larger vehicles such as a camper van or truck you might want a larger one which could set you back 400 dollars.

Is a car mini fridge safe?

Yes, provided that you follow all of the safety guidelines in regards to powering your device and your device has been approved as safe by your relevant local authorities. An important safety tip is to make sure that your mini-fridge is safely fastened to its position. An example of bad placement would be putting your mini-fridge on your car’s back seat as this would be very dangerous because if you stop suddenly it could hit you in the back of the head. So in summary as long it is placed in a safe location and you are powering it correctly then yes it is perfectly safe and you should not be concerned.

Are there any other benefits to car-mini fridges?

Yes, there are even more benefits that we didn’t even mention in the guide above. Car mini-fridges will also add to the aesthetics of your vehicle, allow for extra storage, and portability.

Can I use a mini-fridge as soon as a buy it?

Once you have purchased a mini-fridge you might be tempted to turn it on and use it straight away but you should actually wait. Position your mini-fridge where you want it and in an upright position and then wait 24 hours before you power it on. This is to allow the fridge to reconnect internal components that might have been in a rough transportation.

Can all mini fridges be used in Cars?

Technically all mini-fridges can be used in cars so yes, however, it is always best to opt for a mini-fridge that is labeled for use in a vehicle. These mini fridges are fit for purpose, this might mean that is better ventilated on insulated. These for-purpose mini-fridges are also likely to come with a car power adapter which is convenient and will save you money. They are also more likely going to have the right dimensions i.e will be more compact or will be shaped in such a way that they will fit perfectly in your car or truck.

If I put a mini-fridge in my car will it be loud?

The noise that comes from 12v compact coolers is a result of the cooling fan. Typically the smaller the fridge the smaller the fan thus less noise. Therefore if you are concerned that your fridge might be too noisy or will iterate you just get a smaller fridge. There also mini-fridges with near-silent operations in mind. These fridges will cost a little bit more but can be worth it, although typically the sound of your engine running will be enough to drown out any sounds coming from your cooler.

Could my fridge leak in my car?

Yes, this is true, especially for older more used mini-fridges. Make sure when you are placing a mini-fridge in your car that it is away from any electrical wiring or components to prevent a hazard. If your mini-fridge is leaking then the most likely cause is a blocked drain. If food particles or other debris block the drainage hose it causes a build-up of ice inside your refrigerator which in turn will melt and create a big pool of water on your floor. Another potential cause is that you have set the temperature of your mini fridge too cold and condensed vapors have frozen over inside your refrigerator.

What size is good for a car mini-fridge?

The size of your car is the most important fact in what cooler to buy. There are a lot of different size coolers out there so you don’t need to worry about whether or not there is a size that is perfect for you as there most defiantly is. Sizes can range from 1.7 cubic feet all the way up to five. In fact, the smallest cubic mini-fridge currently is only 17 inches wide. Just make sure that the fridge will be a tight fit as well so that it doesn’t jump around while you are driving!

We have done our very best to answer any possible questions you could have in relation to buying and using a 12V Car Cooler! That being said maybe you still have a few questions, or maybe you even have something that you would like to add to this article? Let us know in the comment section and we will get back to you!

At NavigationPros we love Gadgets just as much as you do! We have a ton of other articles out there designed to find you the coolest Gadgets for your vehicle. Why not take a look at some of are other topics such as, The Best Car Navigation Systems or maybe you want a heated steering wheel cover to keep your hands warm during those harsh winters?