Going off-grid is liberating, but for most of us, having access to chilled beverages can make it more enjoyable.
A fridge running on solar power can make this a reality when you are camping in off-the-grid locations. By tapping the free solar power, it can also help in the storage of perishables. In short, a solar refrigerator can make a camping trip easier and more enjoyable.
Before we go ahead with the list of the best solar refrigerators for camping, here is a word of caution. Not all of the products listed under this category actually use solar energy to run them. Neither do they include solar panels.
Many of the solar refrigerators you may come across in your search are the normal refrigerators that run on either AC or DC supply. Typically fridges that run on 12v/24v power supply are advertised by marketers as solar-powered devices. This means you can power them using solar panels or source the power from your car battery.
If you are unsure about the availability of sufficient sunlight at your camping site, it may not be a good idea to choose solar refrigerators without other power options. It is better to keep your options open about the power source for your camping fridge.
This article lists the best solar refrigerators for camping. Here you will find the pros and cons of each one of the products listed along with a brief review of the products.
Best solar refrigerators for camping
1 Dometic 12v Electric Powered Cooler, Solar Fridge Freezer
This is a genuine solar refrigerator but solar panels are not included in the package. It comes with two separate compartments for cooling and freezing that you are free to choose from. You can go with fridge/freezer, freezer/fridge freezer/freezer, or fridge/fridge.
To get the device started, it has power stored in its internal battery. Once this is drained out, the device will need power from solar panels. This switchover happens automatically, which is a blessing.
Its sturdy and rugged construction makes it an ideal companion for your outdoor activities. For durability, the solar refrigerators come with an aluminum-alloy body. Dometic’s ExoFrame technology used in it means the solar fridge remains lightweight despite its heavy-duty frame.
This solar-powered fridge for camping comes with excellent insulation for high energy efficiency. The freezer section can lower the temperature up to -7℉. There is also a provision to control the temperature of both compartments.
2Whynter Quart Portable Solar Refrigerator and Deep Freezer Chest
This is not a solar-powered fridge for camping in the real sense. It can either be powered by a standard household 110 Volt outlet or a 12 Volt power source, like a car battery or solar panels. This solar refrigerator can be connected to the charge controller of a solar power system using the 12 V DC power cord.
An attractive feature of this cooler is the ample 45 quarts of space available inside. The wire baskets provided help handle frozen food and chilled beverages. This solar refrigerator is capable of cooling in the range of -8°F to 50°F. It also boasts a Fast Freeze mode which can cool contents rapidly to -8°F.
Ideal for outdoor use, this portable solar refrigerator comes with a tough powder-coated outer casing and built-in stainless steel side handles. Keeping it clean is easy with a built-in drain plug.
3Alpicool Portable Freezer
This compact freezer can keep contents chilled up to a temperature of -4°F. Its plastic casing makes it lightweight and easy to carry around during your outdoor activities. Weighing just 18.96 lbs, it has a storage capacity of 16 quarts (fits 20 cans of cola). This freezer is much smaller than the previous two, but if this size fits your requirement, it is a good choice. In fact, this product also comes in a bigger size of 20 quarts.
The excellent insulation provided in it makes this portable cooler highly energy efficient. This is capable of cooling the contents in the range of -4℉ to 50℉. The LCD control panel makes it easier to handle. Its other attractive features are three-stage battery protection settings of H, M, and L, low noise levels, anti-shake, and 30° shockproof.
This solar fridge runs on 12/24v DC input and hence can be powered using a car battery or a solar panel.
4ICECO Dual Zone Portable Refrigerator
If you are looking for a heavy-duty portable refrigerator/freezer with ample space for your camping needs, look no further. With its capacity for shock resistance and the presence of impact-resistant caps, this is the winner hands down. Though this device doesn’t come with solar panels, it can work on both AC and DC. This means you can hook it up with a solar energy system.
This portable solar fridge comes with two independent sections that can be used in any combination or a single zone mode. Its 3-level battery protection is another attractive feature that allows the device to shut down properly before the power runs out. Its hinges, locks, and handles are all made for high levels of durability and energy efficiency.
The manufacturer offers a 5-year warranty on the compressor and a 1-year warranty on all other parts.
5COSTWAY Car Refrigerator
One of the most interesting features of this portable solar fridge is its ease of transport. With an extendable handle and flexible wheels that work smoothly on all terrains, it is an easy companion for your camping trips.
At 53 quarts, its capacity is good enough for most of your needs when outdoors. Its temperature range is -4°F to 68°F. This portable solar fridge can be powered using a 100V to 240V AC power supply or a 12/24V DC power supply. The 3-level battery monitor helps in protecting the car batteries.
This portable solar fridge can be controlled by connecting to an app available on Android and iOS. At times, this feature can come in handy to check the status remotely. This no-frills standard portable solar refrigerator does its job well in keeping your food and beverages chilled when you are on the move.
Solar-Powered Fridges Buying Guide
Here are some of the important features you should pay attention to while shopping for a portable refrigerator.
Is it environmentally friendly?
When you consider a device for keeping your food and beverages chilled where grid power is not available, it is ideal to choose a solar-powered one. Not only is it available at any location, but it is also free of cost and doesn’t harm the environment. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels should be our goal to lower our carbon footprint.
Despite being marketed as solar refrigerators, most of the devices listed do not include solar panels. But all of them come with a 12V/24V DC cable that can be hooked up to a solar panel charge controller. Though you may have to spend more on solar panels, it would be worth it as you are doing your bit for the environment.
Is it lightweight and portable?
When you go on a camping trip, you may not always get the chance to drive up to the spot and unload your things. You may have to carry your things through difficult terrain. On such occasions, the portability of the device is important. Having a sturdy body, flexible wheels, and a retractable handle can be useful.
However, this is not a make-or-break feature if the portable solar refrigerators are small, compact, and lightweight. Like Alpicool Portable Freezer.
Can it work remotely?
This may seem unnecessary in a portable refrigerator. But there are times when this can come in handy. Besides offering you the ability to control it remotely, it also makes it more user-friendly.
When you buy a solar-powered fridge for camping, it can be used not only while on a camping trip. They will be useful whenever you have no access to grid power. During long power outages, you don’t have to worry about your food getting spoiled. With its fast freezing option, you can ensure the freshness of your food.
Can it work on AC and DC power supply?
When you are looking for portable solar refrigerators for use while on a camping trip, you may be wondering why they should have the option to work using an AC power supply. As long as it can draw power from a DC power source, you can hook it up with solar panels for camping fridges or a car battery.
However, with a hybrid fridge, you will have the advantage of additional fridge space at home when there is more food to be stored. You can use the AC power option if the camping site you choose has a standard electrical outlet.
What can be stored in it?
In the general sense, the bigger the solar refrigerator is, the more you can store in it. But this may not always be true. If the inside space is better organized, you may be able to store more even if the space is limited.
Most portable solar refrigerators come with twin compartments for fridge and freezer spaces. They provide wire baskets for easy handling. If solar fridges just provide a single huge space with no partition, they may not be useful or user-friendly. It would be a mess and so much work keeping things organized. Instead, if solar fridges have specific spaces for bottles and food packets, it makes storing and retrieving easier and simpler.
Does it have a heavy-duty body?
As its use involves transporting the solar refrigerator to wherever you are camping, the device needs to be strong and rugged enough to withstand the transportation. It’s important that the solar refrigerator itself remains undamaged. It also makes sense to have shock-proof and anti-shake features. This will make sure that your food remains intact even after carrying them through rough terrain.
Even if it may not affect its performance, having a sturdy and rugged exterior is important for a portable solar refrigerator if you are going to take it with you on your camping trip. If it gets dents, scratches, and breakages, it will spoil the look as well as bring down its lifespan.
Alternative Solar-Powered Fridges Options
It’s not that hard to search for the best solar refrigerators for your camping needs. Before you go shopping, you need to be clear about your requirements and limitations.
As mentioned earlier, in most portable solar refrigerators marketed as “solar-powered”, solar panels are not included in the package. You will get a DC cable for connecting the solar refrigerator with the charge controller of the solar power system. If you have regular use for a portable fridge, it would be worth investing in a solar energy system. You can enjoy chilled beverages even in the middle of nowhere.