Portable Fridges - The Ultimate Buying Overviews Of Portable Fridges

Dometic CF-018-D65-B: The Less-Is-More Case

Of all things portable, fridges can be the trickiest to choose from, because this kind of equipment is expensive, and it’s not affordable for most people to pick the first one they see upon entering some store offering electronics.

That is why this article can come in handy if you happen to be in search for a new and reliable portable fridge and freezer. Meet Dometic CF-018-D65-B, an 18-liter appliance for keeping your food and supplies cold or frozen when travelling.

While this freezer is rather small and can store up to 23 12-oz. (355 ml) cans, it is still convenient to use, because this affordable model has all the basic functions needed to store products cooled or frozen. When we said ‘affordable’, we meant it - compared to other versions of this model and other brands, the 7 q.ft (0.65 q.m) Dometic looks really inexpensive. It’s offered for $322.94 on Amazon and seems to be great in all but accessories - we did not manage to find a proper cover for it, so the possibility to save on energy and retain cold within the fridge is missing.

One more important note - it works only either as a fridge or as a freezer, because there is only one compartment. Do not expect it to work as both at a time.

The compact size of 18 x 12 x 16 inches (45.7 x 30.5 x 40.6 cm) makes it fit perfectly into almost any car. The fridge is equipped with a foldable hinge, so it’s both easy to carry and store it. The lock secures the top lid (which can be detached), keeping it in place.

The cooling capabilities are estimated at 50 - 0 oF (+10 to -17.8 oC). The integrated thermostat designed as an LED display with soft touch buttons can help you set the right temperature for your products. The input power of 35 watts features 12/24 volt DC/110 volts AC - the fridge comes with a DC connection cable. The electronic fuse helps protect the freezer in case the polarity is reversed. When it comes to noise, no one seems to hear it at all.

Verified customers report that the freezer draws 3 amps on average, so you can use solar panels to supply it with power (read on to learn which solar panel is recommended to be teamed with the fridge).

The fridge is equipped with the basket grids which you can adjust vertically and horizontally.

As you can see, the technical specifications of the fridge make it a good candidate for buying. The feedback suggests the quality of freezing/cooling is good - no ice buildups, good energy efficiency and enough space to store the necessary products. By the way, there’s a version of this Dometic model which is even smaller - it’s Dometic CDF-11, so if this one is too large, check that one.

Yet buying a fridge does not end with the checkout - there are many accessories and appliances that facilitate the operation of the freezer and let you make the process more convenient. Here are several items for your consideration:

1. RoadPro RP-203EC Extension Cord

Offered for $7.81, this extension cord is dedicated to enabling you to install your fridge farther from the socket. It is connected to the cigarette lighter socket. The composition implies inserting one male plug into the female socket. The cord can be used to extend the length of the cord you already have by 12 feet (3.66 m). As the manufacturer claims, it’s 18 gauge and characterized by 15 amp capacity. Of course, as the price suggest, it’s not the kind of models that last long, but still it can help you let the fridge reach the power supply if the basic length is not enough.

2. Renogy 200 Watts Bundle Kit

Providing power supply can be a challenge in case of portable fridges/freezers, because camping sites rarely have mains. If you intend to travel with your Dometic, don’t forget to buy something that will make it run. We recommend choosing Renogy 200W for this purpose. It costs $324.99 on Amazon and is capable of generating up to 200 watts, which means you can charge your powerbanks or connect other devices as well your notebook, portable printer or portable scanner. The level of protection is decent. The package includes the following: 2 monocrystalline 100-watt solar panels, 30A Wanderer charge controller, 9in MC4 Adaptor Kit, and two pairs of branch connectors. Thus, one of the advantages is that you don’t have to buy a separate charge controllers and can save some money on it.

Despite being compact (47 x 21.3 x 1.4 inches, or 119.4 x 54,1 x 3.556 cm), it is rather powerful comparing to portable solar chargers. All you need to power your fridge is to install the panel on top of your van or in some other place where sunlight can reach it.

In case you have a wide range of devices operating in your RV, van, truck, etc., you can buy additional panels and get the total of 400 watts.

Though there is a drawback (or just a note) - the package does not include batteries, so you will have to buy one to use them together. Take a look at the Minn Kota model or choose any other to your liking. As to the drawbacks proper, the controller that comes with the panel is of average quality, so it takes some effort to use it carefully. Other than that, it’s a good reliable solar panel.

3. Camco 44033 Fridge Brace

How many times have you found your milk spilt and yoghurt packs damaged because they have been prickled by some sharp corners? These fridge braces aim at preventing such cases by creating enclosed sections of fridge room. Amazon offers them at the price of $4.77 for a 2 pack. The idea behind the braces is easy - put the braces through the wires, turn the nut to fix the brace around the object you want to stay in place. Note that its effectiveness can depend on the shape and size of the product you are fixing.  

4. Vergo S300S Hand Truck

The fridge is lightweight (25 pounds / 11.3 kg), but there may be situations when carrying such a box is neither convenient nor easy. For such cases, it is recommended to buy a hand truck. Our favorite is the Vergo S300S, offered for $35.00 on Amazon. It can carry up to 150 pounds (68 kg), so you can load much more than just a fridge. And of course, it will come in handy if you have a portable washing machine or a portable carport. Do not overestimate its capabilities though - it’s better not to use it for transporting large and heavy boxes that make up a number close to the maximum one. The hand truck is equipped with a telescopic handle for easy storage. The quality of materials is good - the sturdy frame and rubber 5” (12.7 cm) wheels are expected to last long. As it’s made of steel, the hand truck is rather heavy (8 pounds / 3.6 kg), but that’s not a big issue since the wheels help you do the job. 

Here are the dimensions:

Full - 39" x 16" x 14" (99.1 x 40.64 x 35.6 cm);

Folded - 29.75" x 15.25" x 2" (75.6 x 38.7 x 5.1 cm);

Nose plate - 15" x 11" (38.1 x 27.9 cm).

5. Camco 44124 Fridge Airator

Freezer airators are dedicated to distributing cold air within the fridge compartment so that the temperature could be the same in all corners. Though the fridge in question is rather small, it can be crucial for some to maintain the exact temperature or absorb odors, so buying an aerator can be a must for some. Here is a model which is rather popular and effective. Amazon offers it for $15.92. If odors are a great concern, don’t forget to use the charcoal packs that are installed inside the aerator and replace them when such a need arises. You can also buy them at Amazon when making the initial purchase.  

One of the distinctive features of this model is the on/off switch. It may sound strange, but it’s really a strong point, because not all aerators have such a switch, and you have to remove the batteries when you want it to stop working. As to the energy supply, D cells will do. A set of D cells is enough to have the aerator running for around a month. Size matters when it comes to portable devices, so the dimensions of this device, namely 7.5 x 5.4 x 2.1 inches (19 x 13.7 x 5.3 cm), are another advantage that let us choose this aerator as the one to recommend. Though all airators are not heavy, the exact weight of this one is 4.8 ounces / 136 g.

This device does what it is supposed to do - it distributes the air in the fridge. The major drawback reported is the cheap plastic used in the construction of the locking mechanism, so be careful when replacing batteries.  

6. Freezer Meter

If you need to store your medicines or other products frozen, it is necessary to ensure the temperature does not rise in the freezer. The Freezer Meter you see is offered on Amazon at the price of $6.99. The compact size (3 x 1.5 x 1.5 inches / 7.62 x 3.8 x 3.8 cm) makes it convenient to place in the fridge. There are no batteries, no electronics - the idea is plain, and the mechanics of this ‘device’ is easy: you pour water into the small bottle, put it into the freezer, and place a red ball (included in the package, of course) on top of the ice. The next time your cat manages to open the fridge to get something delicious and leaves the door open, the ice inside the container (just like in all corners of the compartment) will start melting, and the ball will get lower. Even if your smart cat closes the door to pretend it was not him, you will be able to detect that there was a period that something was wrong with the freezer, so it may be unsafe to use the products stored inside.

Actually, you can just freeze a cube of ice, keep it some tiny transparent box and monitor the shape of the cube (which will indicate the same temperature fluctuating), but this freezer meter is for those who love buying useful appliances instead of making them themselves. 

7. AcuRite 00986 Refrigerator/Freezer Wireless Digital Thermometer

This Dometic model features a thermometer, but you may want to have one that can be placed on your truck dashboard or in some other place where it would be convenient for you to monitor it. Take this AcuRite 00986 model, for example. The stylish minimalistic look is combined with affordability (it costs $24.84). As to the functions, they are engineered in the most convenient way. The sensor detects the temperature in the compartment so that you could monitor what’s happening inside. There is an option to set a certain range of temperature. If something goes wrong, and the conditions in the fridge do not meet the set standards, the device will attract your attention using an audible and visual alarm.

No wires are needed - the display and the two thermometers are separate. The two thermometers can be attached to the fridge in two different ways. First, you can use the suction cups and let them hang on the freezer wall. Second, you can fix them in place using clips (note that they do not scratch the surface due to the rubber parts). The display is attached to the freezer (outside of the compartment) with the help of a magnet. Of course, you can place it anywhere you like - the display has a keyhole for hanging it on a wall. Look at the picture below: here is how you can attach the sensors:

The thermometer signals that the temperature has risen only if the changes persist for 15 minutes, so you can open and close the fridge lid to take food without hearing the alarm sounds. Another function is the recording of extreme temperatures detected in the course of operation (both the highest and the lowest ones).

The display needs 2 AAA batteries to operate, while each of the two sensors requires 2 AA alkaline or lithium batteries. So, a) don’t forget to buy them separately, and b) mind that the display and the sensors require different kinds of batteries!

To avoid the overlap of signals, which is reported in some cases, place thermometers for different fridges far away from each other. As to the wireless range, it makes up 330” / 100 m (with a frequency of 433 MHz). The temperature range is from -40º to 158º F (from -40º C to 70º C). The sensors convey the information about the temperature to the display every 3 minutes.

All in all, it’s a good thermometer worth recommending, since the general feedback is positive.

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