Have a Cold One: The Best Electric Coolers of 2018
One of the biggest issues when camping, fishing, or really doing anything that puts us in the field for an extended period of time is the need to keep things cool. Coolers are generally able to fill that void, but sometimes ice just does not last long enough.
There are coolers out there that will keep ice for a very long time, sometimes even up to a week under the right conditions. However, not only are those coolers very expensive, they have other drawbacks as well. For one, they tend to be bulkier and thicker, meaning you have a lot less room on the inside of the cooler despite its large size. They are also quite heavy, and take up more space than is needed and more weight than is wanted. If all you really need is a means to keep things cool, and you are near a power source (car, cabin, electric hookup campsite) then you should consider getting yourself an electric cooler.
They have a number of benefits—first off, you will no longer need to stop what you are doing to go out and get more ice. I have camped in areas where I had access to a power source, yet I had a traditional cooler, and several times a week during the summer I was forced to stop fishing or doing whatever I was doing to go and get more ice. Another added bonus is that your food won’t be soaking wet when the ice melts, which is always a problem with standard coolers.
Mind you, electric coolers are not meant to replace your old cooler, they are just a different way to keep your things cool. They are a great option when you just need a means to bring home fresh caught in a cool container, or you need to keep food/drinks cool during the day while you are out and about fishing.
There are a lot of electric coolers on the market, but I have come up with a solid list of the best electric coolers with the camper and angler in mind. So now that you see the benefits, let’s see some of the best electric coolers on the market!
Table of Contents
4 Best Electric Coolers - Reviews
1. Causalyg 20-Can 12V DC Portable Electric Cooler
The problem with many coolers is that they are heavy and bulky, making them a pain to store—the Causalyg portable electric cooler does not have this problem. Its lightweight design makes carrying, storing, and using this extremely versatile electric cooler much easier.
It has a foil lined inside that keeps warm foods warm with its onboard warming unit that heats up to 125 degrees F, while the cooling unit, also aided by the liner, will bring the interior temperature to about 45 degrees cooler than the air temperature. Handy to take with you car camping, picnics, and road trips, this bag is great—and when it’s time to go, you can fold it up and store it like you would a duffle bag, and it will take up very little space.
Now it being a soft cooler does mean you’ll have to pack it carefully in your vehicle while traveling if you don't want your food crushed. You also need to take good care of it because it is soft and will wear out a faster than a conventional plastic cooler boxes.
What we liked
- Easy to store and carry
- Heat/cool liner
- Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and 1 year warranty
What we didn't like
- Not as durable
2. Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler
Other than having a clever name, Igloo has had a trusted name in cooler technology for decades. So it is no surprise that Igloo comes through again and in a big way with their Iceless Thermometric cooler.
This cooler was designed with the car-camper in mind, with an 8-foot long cord that plugs the cooler into an outlet in the vehicle to keep your foods cool. It has a quiet fan that runs the cooling unit so you probably won’t even notice that it is running. Since you are not having to add in ice, there is a lot more room for whatever is needed to be kept cool.
It draws very little power, so your battery won't suffer yet still runs well enough to keep what you need cold. It is perfect for a weekend trip during the summer, but if you want to be out longer you will need to re-supply as the cooler is not all that large.
Now, something to consider, because this is an ice less cooler and uses thermometric technology to cool, that means it is not meant to cool down warm things as much as it is designed to keep already cold things cool. If you put a lot of warm sodas in there, it will take hours to chill them off, however it will keep already cold sodas quite chilled with no problem. So just plan accordingly when you pack this cooler.
What we liked
- Draws little power
- Able to keep cold items chilled all day
- Comes with an 8-foot power cord
- Plugs directly into 12v vehicle outlets
What we didn't like
- Takes a long time to cool down warm items
- Small in size and capacity
3. Koolatron 36 qt. Kool Kaddy Cooler
I feel like I would be doing the world a disservice if I left out a pun about the coolness of this cooler. However, the Kool Kaddy from Koolatron is truly a great cooler. Boasting some “secret” technology generally found in home refrigerators, Kollatron gives you a mini-fridge/cooler hybrid that will give you more bang for your buck than you ever thought possible with its 36-quart size storage capacity that can hold 57 cans of various beverages.
With long road trips and expending vacations without electricity in mind, this cooler draws very little power—in fact, it uses less power than is required to power one parking light on your car. This means very little wear and tear on your car’s battery that should not cause trouble even with regular use. The cooling unit itself is the size of a matchbook and it can cool down the contents a full 40 degrees cooler than the ambient temperature—that means when t’s 80 outside, it’s only 40 inside your cooler.
This brings up another great feature with the Koolatron—its nifty cooling unit can be used to warm up food as well. You’ll be able to warm up food for a pot luck while out camping to 130 degrees °F, or use it to heat up infants’ bottles to a suitable temperature. So not only can you keep the food cool all weekend, when its time to chow down, you can heat it up inside the same unit!
While this cooler has been designed for longer car camping-type trips and road trips, but is not meant for extended uses for longer periods of time—unfortunately, for something like that, you are looking at spending 3-5 times the amount. So bear that in mind, this cooler is not meant for extended everyday use.
What we liked
- Keeps interior temperature 40 degrees cooler than outside temperatures
- Can Hold 57 12-oz cans
- Quiet motor
- Also functions as a warmer and heats up to 135 Degrees °F
What we didn't like
- Not made for extended or long-term use
- Does not work well in temperatures over 80 degrees °F
4. Knox Gear 48 Quart Electric Cooler/Warmer
If size matters, and it truly does, the Knox Gear 48-quart electric cooler is the answer. Now we are talking the traditional size of a larger cooler using motors that can keep the entire cooler chilled to keep everything inside at the right temperature.
Like the Koolatron, the Knox can keep the contents of the cooler down 30 degrees cooler than the outside temperature, and can also heat up to about 135 degrees °F. So really what you are getting is a lot of the same features, but in a much larger size, so you can hold a lot more and stay out a lot longer.
One of the great bonus features of this item is the 2 different integrated charging cables, so you can go from 110v AC to 12v DC depending on your options at the time. This means you will have a much more versatile option for keeping your food and drinks cooler for longer periods of time and no need for making the stops for ice throughout the day.
Having the ability to plug the cooler into a traditional outlet gives you a great added bonus when you get to your destination. If you are going camping and embark a long trip to get there, you can transfer this cooler to a power outlet (if at a powered site) and won’t have to rely on your vehicle’s battery. It’s an option you can find with other coolers if you purchase an adapter, but the Knox has it fully integrated.
What we liked
- Huge 48-quarts capacity
- Can warm up as well to 135 Degrees °F
- Fully integrated AC and DC power adapters for charging
What we didn't like
- Loud motor
- Claims to cool 40 degrees lower than air temp, but it’s more like 30 degrees
Without breaking the bank and getting an actual portable refrigerator, there is a whole host of iceless, electric coolers out there for the car-camper and the road tripper. While they are not meant for extended use, they will work for those of us that need a reliable cooler for a few days.
A good electric cooler is designed to keep your cold food cold, and to save you the effort on ice. It’s a great means to keep your drinks and perishables safe, and some even double as a heater that can warm up baby formula or heat up some fried chicken for a picnic with your special someone.
Now all these coolers are just that, coolers, and if you are in heat in excess of 80 Degrees °F, these coolers will not operate well—for those cases, you’ll need to consider spending more money on something that has a compressor. Keep all of this in mind when you are looking, and of course this list is just for the road trippers and car campers. So get out there, and have fun, be safe, and keep your cool foods cool!
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