We went shopping for refrigerators that would be perfect for the needs of most truck drivers and after 40 hours of testing, the Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler was our favorite cooler. It did better than most of the coolers that could fit inside trucks with respect to capacity.
It measures 18.19 x 13.13 x 15.5 and since it is an iceless refrigerator all of that space is available for a sizable amount of items. It is fitted with an eight-foot power cord that fits nicely into any conveniently located twelve-volt receptacle.
For cooling your beverages and foods at temperatures up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit lower than room temperature, this Igloo Cooler is the best refrigerator.
Top-Rated Mini Fridges For a Truck Driver By Types
After taking a look at many models here are what we feel are the top mini fridges for semi-trucks:
1. Edgestar FP861 Portable Fridge/freezer – Grey
Refrigerators for semi-trucks don’t get any nicer than this one. It offers the ultimate convenience to you as a driver. It has a large capacity and can both cool and freeze foods. This fridge is powerful whether it runs off 115V or 12V current. The electric temperature settings on it are nice to have also.
2. Della 16L Portable Refrigerator 12v
This is a very nice 12 volt refrigerator for trucks. Della put just about everything they could think of into this mini fridge for truck drivers. It runs off of AC or DC power and even has a built-in USB port. There is even two cup holders molded into the top of it. The electronic temperature setting is accurate and the digital controls are a nice bonus too.
3. Engel 40 Qt. Portable Fridge / Freezer MR040
This one of the better portable refrigerators for trucks. It has the ability to both cool and freeze your food. That makes it a great fridge for long haul truckers.
You can store a lot in it too thanks to its 40 quart capacity. It runs off of both household and vehicle battery power too. Engel backs this fridge up with a full 2-year warranty.
4. Whynter FM-62DZ Dual Zone Portable Refrigerator/Freezer
This is one of the biggest portable refrigerator for semi-trucks you will find. It features two good size compartments. You can set either of these to cool or freeze food. This fridge for trucks and vehicles runs off of either AC or DC power too. It offers all the convenience you would expect from a 115V or 12V compressor fridge.
5. Dometic CDF-11 Smallest Portable Freezer/Refrigerator
This is one of the best small refrigerator models you will find for tractor trailers. It can both freeze and cool foods but it’s tough to do both at the same time in it.
This Dometic product has an easy to set digital temp display. You can also run it off of both 115V AC and 12V DC power supplies. The built-in cup holders are nice to have too.
6. Dometic CF-040AC110 Portable Freezer/Refrigerator
Here is a really well-designed portable freezer. It makes a welcome addition to any tractor trailer cab. It can be used to keep food frozen or keep soft drinks cold. It runs off of your choice of AC or DC current too.
It has a colorful, easy set control system and an all-digital temp display. There is also a 3-stage battery monitor and it has an impact resistant polyethylene exterior.
7. Engel MT17F-U1 AC/DC Portable Dual Voltage Fridge & Freezer 16 Qt
This is a compact electric freezer that will be right at home in any truck cabin. It has a motor that is 40% more efficient than most. It can run off of household AC or truck DC current too. Its heavy duty handles can be removed and its exterior is made from tough, corrosion free plastic.
8. Wagan (EL6224) 12V Cooler/Warmer
They don’t make truck coolers that are handier than this one. Its super-portable and it saves space inside since you don’t need ice. It has a long DC power cord built right into it (7.5 ft.). This cord even has its own protective internal storage spot when you are not using it.
There are two temperature settings on this cooler too. One will keep you food and drinks cool and the other will keep them warm. Customer reviews consistently rate this among the top car coolers.
9. Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler
This is a big 12 volt cooler. It can be used as either a handy trailer truck or car cooler. This unit is made by Igloo which knows cooler products as well as anyone. Since it does not need ice you get the full use of its space too.
The included 12V DC power cord conveniently plugs into any car or truck DC power point. This product is definitely among the best DC AC powered coolers.
10. Koolatron 18 qt. Compact Cooler
This is one of the best-rated cooler products for truckers. It’s very efficient thermoelectric cooling system will keep your food and drinks cool as you travel. That’s what makes this among the most popular plug in coolers.
Its slim, upright design also makes it ideal for use in smaller vehicles. This cooler has only one moving part in it which will ensure it lasts you a long time too.
Customers Recommendations & Truckers Tips
Here are a few do’s and don’ts to consider when looking for a fridge or cooler for your truck cab:
- Don’t get a cooler or fridge that is too big for the available space you have
- Do review your budget and fridge needs before buying. There is no need to buy a $1000 fridge for your truck when a simple $100 cooler will work for you.
- Don’t get a fridge or cooler you cannot conveniently power up. That means know your available DC and AC power options.
- Do select a fridge that has the capacity you need. A small cooler will probably not cut it for you if you are a long haul driver.
Long Haul Fridges Vs Short Trip Coolers
There is a surprisingly large variety of automotive coolers and fridges to choose from. So how do you determine which electric ice chest for cars is right for you? One of the best ways to do that is by factoring in the duration of your trips and how often you take them.
It is recommended that you highly consider using portable electric coolers for shorter trips. One of the reasons for this is they are more portable than larger truck refrigerators. Of course, they don’t have a large capacity but that should not matter on short trips.
For longer trips, a fridge with adapter will work best. They will hold more food and drinks for one thing. These AC/DC powered fridges will also allow you to keep foods frozen in most cases too. Their size and portability can be a drawback.
Compressor or Thermoelectric Truck Fridges
One decision which most people overlook when purchasing a food and beverage cooling unit for their vehicle is how it cools. Why is this important? Take a look at the differences between compressor cooled and thermoelectric cooled vehicle fridges.
Compressor run refrigerators tend to be bigger and bulkier than thermoelectric cooled fridges. They do produce a more consistent temperature than coolers too. Their temperature can also be controlled so it’s more accurate. Ice chests for cars can freeze food too whereas a 12V DC power cooler cannot.
Thermoelectric truck coolers are very energy efficient. They will not run your battery down as much as compressor driven fridges will. A big drawback to them is they work off ambient air temperature. That means in hotter climates they will not work as well and may have trouble keeping food and drinks cool.
Power Types and Adapters
It’s a great idea to have a cooler or fridge in your truck that keeps food safe. Bacteria can build up very quickly on foods at room temperature. The last thing you want is to be sick when you are on a long trip. That makes the type of power you choose to run your portable fridge off of important.
Of course, most portable refrigerators and coolers can run off of both AC and DC power. Which one is best for you? You have to factor in a few things in order to decide to run them on DC power from your battery or get an AC converter for your truck.
DC power is very convenient if your truck is running. However, when your truck is parked it will drain your battery. The bigger your fridge the faster that battery drain will be. A dead battery can slow down any trip.
AC converters are nice but you cannot always find an outlet to plug them into. Your truck also has to be running too if you are using an AC converter to power your fridge.
If you have a fridge or cooler in your vehicle that gives you both options for the power you will be better off.
Dimensions: Is there a space in your semi-truck?
One of the single biggest factors in which model truck fridge or cooler you will buy is your available space. You have to be especially careful of this if you are buying a portable cooling device to use in your car. It makes no sense to look at 2-feet wide portable fridges if you don’t have space to put them.
Fortunately, manufacturers are aware of this and there is a lot of variety when it comes to vehicle fridges and coolers. If you don’t have much room to put one width wise then look for a slimmer upright design.
Also, consider how your portable fridge will open. Models that have lids that open up take up much less room than models that have doors that swing open. This can be a big space saver for you.
Budget: Coolers around 100$ – Real Fridge from 300 to 1000
What is one of the toughest choices to make when deciding whether to purchase a truck cooler or fridge? It would have to be the amount of money you spend on one. You have to remember that most truck coolers run around $100. That is much less than truck fridges which normally run anywhere from $300 to $1000.
There are a few key factors that will go into this decision.
They are as follows:
You need to take a serious look at how often you will use your portable fridge or cooler.
Determine how much food and beverages you need to store in your 12-volt ice chest. Vehicle refrigerators have a much bigger capacity than a big truck cooler will have.
You will also need to consider how portable your cooler or fridge for your truck needs to be. Coolers are much lighter and easier to move than truck fridges with compressors.