The 10 Best Electric Coolers

Updated December 28, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

10 Best Electric Coolers
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We spent 46 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Perfect for camping, long road trips, and those awesome tailgate parties, these electric coolers will keep your drinks and food at the perfect temperature for the long haul. Not only do they offer a mess-free solution that requires no ice, but some of these models do double duty as food and drink warmers, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best electric cooler on Amazon.

10. Koolatron P75

Whether you need a small extra fridge or a portable cooler for travel, the Koolatron P75 fits the bill for convenience and versatility. The capacity is smaller than it looks, though, which may not be suitable for long trips.
  • works with an auxiliary battery
  • great for warming baby bottles
  • ac adapter cord disconnects easily
Brand Koolatron
Model P75
Weight 15.6 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Knox KN-CCW27Q

The Knox KN-CCW27Q is a great accessory for you to use all year round. The 5-1/2 foot long 12V DC car adapter cable is kept safely tucked away in a chamber built into the lid, which can be easily accessed by spinning the cover.
  • cord works when the lid is closed
  • available in red or blue
  • somewhat noisy cooling fan
Brand Knox
Model KN-CCW27Q
Weight 10.7 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Black & Decker TC212B

Enjoy cold refreshing drinks at your next picnic or tailgate party with the Black & Decker TC212B. It is convenient to carry with an adjustable shoulder strap, and it also has a zippered side storage pouch for easy access to accessories.
  • dual can or cup holders
  • low voltage auto cut-off
  • not the coldest option
Model TC212B
Weight 10.3 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Koolatron P25

The portable Koolatron P25 safely and effectively keeps your beverages cold for hours while on the go. It is equipped with a locking flip-up handle for easy access and security. Plus, it has a storage compartment for the power cord.
  • wine bottles can fit lying flat
  • size is great for 1 or 2 people
  • top heavy design may tip over
Brand Koolatron
Model P25
Weight 13.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. Wagan EL6224 Tech

Save time and money on your next road trip using the Wagan EL6224 Tech. It provides ample room inside for food and snacks, and it comes with a long 7-foot DC power cord, which allows the unit to be placed in the vehicle's backseat.
  • has hot and cold settings
  • heavy-duty handle won't break
  • small size won't hold much
Brand Wagan
Model EL6224
Weight 11.9 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Koolatron P95

The Koolatron P95 is a versatile option with a number of benefits for anyone who travels frequently in a vehicle. It functions in two positions, as either an upright fridge or a traditional chest-style cooler depending on your needs.
  • domed lid for increased capacity
  • can stay plugged in for daily use
  • can warm up food while on the go
Brand Koolatron
Model P95
Weight 16 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Koolatron P20

The Koolatron P20 has a unique slim design that fits perfectly between and behind the seats of your car, van, or truck. Its capacity makes it great for larger families, and it has a convenient cord wrap system when not in use.
  • latchless lid opens with one hand
  • cigarette lighter storage spot
  • does not include ac adapter
Brand Koolatron
Model P20
Weight 9.7 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Dometic Tropicool TC-21US

The versatile Dometic Tropicool TC-21US is ideal for use at home or on the go. It features a 7-stage temperature regulation for cooling and heating, and it has a magnetic lock on the detachable lid to keep your items safe and secure.
  • dustproof membrane control pad
  • easy to read led temp display
  • polyurethane foam insulation
Brand Dometic
Model TC-21US
Weight 19.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Igloo Iceless

The Igloo Iceless is the perfect solution for keeping perishables cold without the mess of ice while in your car or RV. It plugs directly into any 12V DC outlet and cools down to 36 degrees Fahrenheit below whatever the ambient temperature is.
  • comfortable molded grip handle
  • provides even cooling throughout
  • fits nicely behind the front seat
Brand Igloo
Model 40358
Weight 11.1 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Coleman PowerChill

The Coleman PowerChill can travel with you anywhere and provide long-lasting performance. It boasts an adjustable door that can open on both sides and a mobile shelf divider that keeps things in the large interior nice and organized.
  • motor operates quietly
  • chest style or upright position
  • high quality and built to last
Brand Coleman
Model 5644-760
Weight 19 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Keeping Your Cool!

So you're getting ready for that family camping trip or exciting tailgating party, but you really don't want to worry about stopping at gas stations to pick up bags of quickly-melting ice just to keep your food and drinks cold along the way.

You want convenience, not to be stuck drinking warm soda or eating a soggy turkey sandwich in the middle of nowhere if you don't have to. After all, why should you or your family have to sacrifice the quality of a refreshment just because you happen to be traveling? The truth is, you don't have to.

The portable electric cooler solves many basic travel problems when it comes to eating, drinking, or entertaining on the go. This is accomplished through the thermoelectric cooling principle.

Thermoelectric cooling technology is the driving force behind the operational convenience of your portable electric mini-fridge. Thermoelectric coolers use what's known as the Peltier effect, which describes the process of an electrical current being applied across a junction between two dissimilar metals. With this effect, heat from one side of the device is transferred to the other. The hot side of the device is also attached to a heat sink, which keeps it at ambient temperature. This allows the cold side to drop below room temperature.

You might be thinking that the concept of a portable fridge is pretty simple and limited to a small consumer niche, but the fact is that in addition to keeping that turkey sandwich cold and crisp, thermoelectricity is also a simple and reliable source for power generation in other applications, including space and interplanetary travel.

The innovation of Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTG), for example, has been used by NASA for a variety of missions, including Apollo, Pioneer, and Voyager among others. Such technology provides simplicity without the need for reliance on solar energy. This allows the power source to run for years because there are very few moving parts to be concerned with. The same can be said for your electric cooler. Few moving parts means minimal energy output and less of a drain on your car's power source.

It's What Your Cooler Can Do For You

Electric coolers offer a degree of versatility not found with conventional refrigerators. Aside from the obvious fact that they're portable, these coolers are small and compact, making them terrific solutions for long road trips. They're easy to open/close and many offer thick insulation to maintain a constant temperature. Many available cooler models can be used both upright or as a storage chest and deliver multiple shelving options.

Additionally, the electric cooler doesn't require the use of ice to keep things cold. Somehow, the idea of your food or drink sitting in a pool of melting ice doesn't give you a lot of confidence that it's being kept in the freshest of environments. An iceless cooler, by contrast, keeps things fresh for extended periods of time.

Finally, imagine that you're hosting a tailgating party and want to give your guests ice-cold beers. Your guests might not appreciate reaching into a chest full of water to fish for their beverage. Removing ice from the picture makes your life easier in that regard, since your guests hands stay dry. You also don't have to worry about finding a place to drain all that excess water. Using thermoelectric cooling technology eliminates the need for wasting those resources, while remaining friendly to the environment so that you can actually enjoy that party without any guilt.

The Evolving Cooling Effect

Early studies of thermoelectricity began before the world wars in western Europe by academic scientists centered in Berlin. In 1821, Thomas Johann Seebeck discovered that an electric circuit made from 2 dissimilar metals, and with junctions at different temperatures, would deflect a compass magnet. Seebeck thought that this action was due to the magnetism induced by the temperature difference itself and that it may have had something to do with Earth's magnetic field.

He later determined that it was a thermoelectric force that accounted for the electrical current and that it was the catalyst for the compass deflection. This temperature difference produces an electric potential that drives an electric current within a closed circuit. It is this process that came to be known as the Seebeck effect.

In 1834, French watchmaker (and part-time physicist) Jean Charles Athanase Peltier discovered that an electrical current would produce either a heating or cooling effect at the junction of 2 dissimilar metals, depending on the direction that the current was flowing. Peltier learned that heat could be removed from a junction in order to freeze water into ice, and that the current's direction could be reversed to generate heat to melt the ice instead. This directional dependence of an electrical current is known as the Peltier effect.

Twenty years later, William Thomson (later known as Lord Kelvin) offered a comprehensive explanation for both the Seebeck and Peltier effects, leading to a third discovery that heat is either absorbed or produced when an electrical current flows in a material with a temperature gradient. This effect is known as the Thomson effect.

The period between 1920 and 1970 was marked by a series of ups and downs for thermoelectric studies. However since 2000 and beyond, the growing need for alternative energy sources has sparked new interest in the field as well as renewed interest in using the technology to develop inexpensive and environmentally-friendly applications.

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Last updated on December 28, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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