The 7 Best Campervan Fridge Options for Van Life – Ultimate Buyer’s Guide for DIY Van Builds in 2022

Searching for the best campervan fridge? We have assembled the list of the best van fridges and we will take you through the pros and cons of each product along with our expert guide to assist you in decision making.

Van life is all about living comfortably in tiny spaces. And when it comes to eating, having a great fridge makes all the difference between living comfortably and roughing it.  

But finding the best campervan fridge is not easy. There are many factors to consider like power draw, price, warranty, dimensions, capacity and style among other things.

Moreover, you will find dozens of options to choose from, so making a choice can be very tricky. To help you in the search we have compiled our list of 7 best campervan fridges.

Know that a campervan fridge is likely going to be the second largest investment you make in your van build, just behind your power and/or solar setup. So don’t be run off by the higher prices of even the generic brands we mention on this list.

You can easily expect to spend over $1,000 for the best fridge that will meet your refrigeration wants and needs. But know that fridges at these price points are going to be durable and last you years of daily use, will have a low-energy power draw, remain relatively quiet during operation and will fit conveniently in multiple places in your van build design.

We’ve divided our recommendations into chest fridges and “front-loading” refrigerators. Chest fridges are like the old-school coolers on steroids and these tend to be called “top-loading” as they have a lid that you lift to gain access to the fridge.

On the other hand, front-loading fridges are like your standard home fridge or mini-fridge from your dorm room days that have a fridge section and may have or may not have a dedicated freezer section.

If you know which type of campervan fridge you’re interested in, use our table of contents to read our top recommendations for each type. If you aren’t sure where to start, we hope this whole post helps you find the right fridge for your van, starting with our Editor’s Choice.

AFFILIATE DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links for products and services we recommend. For more information, read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Editor’s Choice: Dometic CFX3 55L Portable Refrigerator

The Dometic CFX75DZW is our top recommendation for a few reasons. The Dometic name is synonymous with high-quality, durable van life fridges.

This model is the best chest fridge that has more than enough bells and whistles to keep you happy for years. Between WiFi controls, incredible space and low power usage (under 1 amp/hr), you can’t ask for more from a van fridge.

Additionally, because it runs on both 12V DC and 110V AC it is versatile for any van electrical system. If the AC power goes out it will switch automatically to 12V DC and carry on keeping everything nice and cool.


Best Product // Our Top Picks at a Glance

ModelSizeTypePower SourceDual ZoneFreezerDimension (inches)Price Range
Dometic CFX3 55 Liter Portable Refrigerator55ChestAC/DCYY31 x 20 x 21Over $1000
ARB 10810602 Portable Fridge Freezer63ChestAC/DCNY37 x 24 x 22Over $1,500
Alpicool T50 Dual Temperature Control RV Fridge Freezer50ChestAC/DCYY29 x 15 x 15Under $500
Costway Car Refrigerator55ChestAC/DCYY27 x 14 x 21Under $500
Dometic RM2554RB CoolFreeze Refrigerator5 cu ftUpright3-WayYY44 x 25 x 25Over $1,500
Norcold N412UR RV Refrigerator 4.5 cu ftUprightAC/LPYY41 x 29 x 28Over $1,000
Dometic RM3762RB Double Door Fridge Freezer7 cu ftUpright3-WayYY27 x 55 x 26Over $2000

Best Campervan Fridges

There are a variety of campervan fridges, and it’s never easy to select the best. We have considered dozens of products and compared the price, dimensions, power draw and quality to find the 10 best van fridges we think you will appreciate. 

PRODUCT

WHAT WE LIKE

WHAT TO CONSIDER

BEST OVERALL

Dometic CFX3 55L Portable Refrigerator

  • Low battery draw (under 1 amp/hr)

  • Dual AC/DC charging

  • Handy ice tray with rapid freezing

  • 3 stage battery protection

  • Loud compressor that can run frequently

  • Relatively expensive

RUNNER UP

ARB 10810602 Portable Fridge Freezer

  • Robust and secure weatherproof body

  • Gas strut to hold the lid in any position

  • Easy to use control panel

  • No dual temperature control

  • Relatively expensive

BEST BUDGET FRIDGE

Alpicool T50 Dual Temperature Control RV Fridge Freezer

  • Straightforward control panel

  • Handy storage basket and LED light

  • Versatile temperature range

  • Loud compressor

  • Freezer performance is not great

  • Does not have bluetooth

BUDGET RUNNER UP

Costway Car Refrigerator

  • Large 55-quart capacity

  • Easy to use digital control panel

  • 3 level battery protection

  • Weak handle construction

  • Temperature sensors known to go bad early

BEST UPRIGHT FRIDGE

Dometic RM2554RB CoolFreeze Refrigerator

  • Wide storage with separate freezer area

  • Coated adjustable shelves and door bins

  • 3-way operation

  • Very heavy at over 90 lbs

  • Complicated installation

  • Requires a vent hole in the roof and/or side of the van

UPRIGHT RUNNER UP

Norcold N412UR RV Refrigerator

  • Two power options (AC/LPG)

  • Ample space and removable racks for partitions

  • Low energy usage

  • Small freezer space

  • Low temperature range

  • Long cooling time

BEST FULL-SIZE UPRIGHT

Dometic RM3762RB Double Door Fridge Freezer

  • Huge storage capacity

  • Big freezer for fresh meat

  • Self-locking handles

  • Ice-maker abaility

  • Pricey

  • Heavy at over 120 lbs

  • Doors are not reversible


BEST OVERALL: Dometic CFX3 55L Portable Refrigerator

The Dometic CFX3 is a lightweight, heavy-duty chest-style refrigerator with a 55L capacity. It is a single compartment refrigerator that can either work as a fridge or freezer with a removable basket to help organize your food.

The chest fridge also has a small ice tray for ice cubes. Or you can remove the ice trays and freeze smaller items.

There is the control panel on the left with an easy-to-read color screen, soft buttons, and a USB port for mobile phones. Or, what is better, it also has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to conveniently control and monitor the temperature.

The energy-efficient compressor can go as low as -7F, and 50mm thick insulation keeps food cool for a long time. The fridge connects to a 12V power outlet in the van and is equipped with 3 stage battery protection to prevent over-usage and ensure long battery life.

As power-centered RVers, we really love the energy efficiency of this Dometic CFX 3 model. It uses under 1 amp per hour to maintain even freezing temperatures. So you should not have to worry about draining your battery bank overnight.

The Dometic CFX 3 also charges with both 12V DC and 120V AC connections enabling it to be used in the campervan or when you are home. Some extra features include spring-loaded aluminum handles and removable wire dividers and it has a rugged construction that can handle bumps in the road.

The only real downside to the Dometic CFX3 is that the unit is comparatively expensive for its size. It can also be a little noisy when the compressor kicks on and cycles for around 3-5 minutes, depending on your temperature settings. But the noise level is fairly standard among these types of fridge coolers.

When you purchase this chest fridge you are buying the gold standard in van life fridges.

PROS

  • Low battery draw (under 1 amp/hr)
  • Dual AC/DC charging
  • Handy ice tray with rapid freezing
  • 3 stage battery protection

CONS

  • Loud compressor that can run frequently
  • Relatively expensive

RUNNER UP: ARB 10810602 Portable Fridge Freezer

The ARB 10810602 is a robust portable refrigerator designed to withstand heavy bumps and blows. It has a grade 304 stainless-steel construction with tamper-proof bolts to ensure rigidity and security.

The corners have robust ASA protection, and the entire fridge body and control panel is waterproof. It has a unique gas strut to hold the lid at any position so you don’t have to worry about holding it up manually while you dig around in the fridge!

This ARB fridge also has a 4-digit programmable pin lock ensuring the temperature is not changed from accidental contact. Moreover, it has the facility of a padlock for added security if you take it out of the van at your campsite.

We like that such a large fridge model, with 63-quart capacity, comes with 3 stage battery protection to ensure it does not draw too much power. You can count on running it from your battery bank with a decent power and solar setup in your van.

On the downside, is a tremendous dual-zone chest style fridge that is like the tank of chest fridges. But it does not have dual temperature control. It will either work as a fridge or freezer so you’ll have to choose which is most important to you (likely the fridge, when it comes to daily van life).

It is also the most expensive chest fridge on our list and likely on the market. But for van life, this fridge is going to make you happy in almost every camping situation for a very long time.

PROS

  • Robust and secure weatherproof body
  • Gas strut to hold the lid in any position
  • Easy to use control panel

CONS

  • No dual temperature control
  • Relatively expensive

BEST BUDGET FRIDGE: Alpicool T50 Dual Temperature Control RV Fridge Freezer

The Alpicool T50 is another dual-zone chest style fridge with a 50-liter capacity. It has a small footprint and can store up to 60 cans. Not that you’re going to use it just for your beverage storage!

It has a dual-temperature setting so you can keep your frozen goods frozen separate of your refrigerated goods.

The Alpicool T50 has a detachable sensor divider to switch between single and dual temperature zone with an easy-to-use LCD control panel for controlling and monitoring.

We like that, like others on our list, the T50 also has a USB port to charge mobile devices. It provides a powerful chilling experience that will actually freeze food as opposed to just keeping it frozen. The temperature ranges from 50F to -4F, and with the dual temperature zone, you can keep your drinks chilled in one compartment and ice cream in the other.

The 12V refrigerator also comes with wire storage baskets, has tires to help you roll it in and out of wherever you might store it in your van, and a foldable magnetic handle to take it anywhere easily.

Alpicool T50 has both AC and DC power options, and it runs seamlessly on solar power. Moreover, it has a practical drain plug in the event you need to drain water from the fridge.

On the downside, the compressor is quite loud for this type of van fridge. And while it does have the ability to bring temperatures of food down to negative 4 degrees, this takes quite a bit of time depending on how you have your food items arranged in the fridge.

But it is a great budget alternative if you’re looking to avoid the pricier Dometic and ARB models.

PROS

  • Straightforward control panel
  • Handy storage basket and LED light
  • Versatile temperature range

CONS

  • Loud compressor
  • Freezer performance is not great
  • Does not have bluetooth

BUDGET RUNNER UP: Costway Car Refrigerator

As our budget runner-up, This Costway car refrigerator provides a lot of the same kind of features as the more expensive Dometic and ARB models at a fraction of the cost.

This Costway model is a top-loading refrigerator with a capacity of 55 quarts and an excellent shockproof design. For perspective, it is capable of storing 84 beer bottles or 60 half-liter water bottles.

The fridge keeps the contents cold without using a lot of energy. It has Eco and Max mode for easy control and a control panel for manual temperature settings.

Costway rapidly cools the fridge area and has a temperature range of 24F to 50F, so it’s great at keeping food cold but don’t expect it necessarily to be able to freeze food not previously frozen.

We really like that, like other fridges, it also has two power options (120V AC – 12v 24v DC) which allows you to choose how you want to power it on the road. On DC it draws a small amount, upwards of around 4 amps, when the compressor cycles on. But then the power usage drops considerably while the compressor is off.

Moreover, it is equipped with great features like internal LED, safety handles, mesh basket and has a generally quiet operation.

On the downside, as this is a big step down from the Dometic and ARB gold standards, the controls are not easy to understand and have been known to fail relatively early in the ownership of some models.

If the temperature sensor is faulty, as in some cases, the fridge will cycle on more frequently draining the power source, remaining noisy longer and ultimately losing control of the ability to regulate the temperature.

PROS

  • Large 55-quart capacity
  • Easy to use digital control panel
  • 3 level battery protection

CONS

  • Weak handle construction
  • Temperature sensors known to go bad early

BEST UPRIGHT FRIDGE: Dometic RM2554RB CoolFreeze Refrigerator

When it comes to front-loading campervan fridges, Dometic once again leads the pack. This Dometic RM2554PB is a popular front-loading refrigerator among campers and van lifers with a design that is quite similar to home refrigerators.

It has adjustable shelves, door bins and a separate freezer compartment.

RM2554 is one of the most spacious single-door fridges with a 5 cubic foot capacity. Unlike other options on this list, it is a three-way fridge allowing you to power it with propane, 12 volt DC or 120 volt AC electricity. 

We really like the fact you can more permanently install the RM2554 in a space in your van where it can live on its own. With a proper propane tank, you can connect this fridge so that it runs on whichever power is most convenient.

If you aren’t shopping for a front-loading fridge that runs on propane, it works well enough on DC power when you’re boondocking with a low amperage draw. And it runs great when you are plugged into shore power.

Other features of the fridge include a defrost water drain system, locking door handles and an aesthetically pleasing exterior design.

On the downside, installing this fridge can be a challenge. The instruction manual is, well, it’s full of all sorts of specs and lists of things you need to do to correctly install the fridge.

You will also need to cut a hole in the side of your van for venting with this fridge. So if you change your mind later, remember you have an extra hole there!

Additionally, this fridge is quite heavy, at 92 pounds. So you should account for this weight while working with it on the install as well as driving with its weight added to all of your other items.

PROS

  • Wide storage with separate freezer area
  • Coated adjustable shelves and door bins
  • 3-way operation

CONS

  • Very heavy at over 90 lbs
  • Complicated installation
  • Requires a vent hole in the roof and/or side of the van

UPRIGHT RUNNER UP: Norcold N412UR RV Refrigerator 

The Norcold N412UR mini fridge is an excellent choice for a van fridge if you do not want to go with the top-loading chest fridges common in van life.

As a 2-way fridge that runs on either 110V AC or LP gas, you have options for keeping food cool whether you spend time plugged into shore power or like to get off-grid. And this comes with an auto-detect that will automatically fire up the compressor on gas if the power goes out.

With 4.5 cubic feet of storage area, this Norcold model allows you to stash just enough of what you need to not have to grocery shop every other day.

We really like that this is the most affordable high-quality option when it comes to moving away from chest fridges and toward more standard home appliances. It looks like the mini-fridge you may have had in college or in your first apartment but it fits and functions well inside a van.

When it comes to finding a place in your van, its size is relatively comparable to chest fridges. At 41x29x28 inches, it will fit conveniently on either a floor or eye-level space. Additionally, the door has a reversible hinge so you can make it fit the way you need to either open left or right.

Of course, having a small freezer space is nice too for things you want to keep on ice a little longer. And all shelves are adjustable so you can fit all sorts of large and small items in the fridge.

When it comes to power consumption, this Norcold fridge is a great option for van life. It draws around 2 amps on 120V AC power. So you should be able to use it with most inverters and a decent battery bank.

On the downside, because it can run on propane, it works great if you have a permanently-mounted onboard propane tank as part of your van’s propane system. But if you don’t have propane, or use only a smaller, portable tank then you lose the benefit of being able to run this fridge on propane automatically.

Additionally, the freezer space is small and it is almost worthwhile just to make the fridge space larger.

PROS

  • Two power options (AC/LPG)
  • Ample space and removable racks for partitions
  • Low energy usage

CONS

  • Small freezer space
  • Low temperature range
  • Long cooling time

BEST FULL-SIZE UPRIGHT: Dometic RM3762RB Double Door Fridge Freezer

If refrigerated food is the most important thing to you on the road, then you’re going to pleased with this full-sized double-door fridge! With a height of 57.5-inches, Dometic RM3762RB is the biggest camper van fridge on our list.

The front-loading upright fridge has a storage capacity of 7 cu.ft, which is nearly double anything else on our list.

It is a double-door refrigerator with four adjustable interior shelves and three-door bins for fresh food and drinks.

While it is not the standard campervan fridge simply due to its size, we are big fans of the fact that, as an absorption fridge, it runs on propane, 12V DC or 120V AC electricity. So whether you’re plugged into shore power or boondocking in the wild, you won’t have to worry about keeping your food cold.

Further, the RM3762RB is an aesthetically pleasing device with self-locking door handles and an LED display to control and monitor the temperature.

On the downside, having reversible doors with this giant fridge would have been great to allow for the convenience of installing it wherever you may need. Additionally, it is HUGE in size and weight for a van fridge.

We’re only including it on our list because there are quite a few people out there who want larger freezer space (or any freezer space for that matter) than what most dual-zone chest fridges offer. So rather than buy two chest fridges with one for the fridge and one for the freezer, this is a great option in addition to the other features that make it the best of its kind.

PROS

  • Huge storage capacity
  • Big freezer for fresh meat
  • Self-locking handles
  • Ice-maker abaility

CONS

  • Pricey
  • Heavy at over 120 lbs
  • Doors are not reversible

What to Look for When Buying the Best Campervan Fridge?

The fridge is a vanlife essential and it can be challenging to choose the best one. Evaluating camper van refrigerators on some key factors can make your job significantly easier.

So if you’re not already decided on which is best for you, here are the crucial factors that every van lifer should consider when it comes to refrigerators.

Type of Camper Van Refrigerator 

Upright fridge in a van

The type of fridge you choose will mostly impact how you choose to provide energy to the appliance. In van life, keeping track of energy use is important.

So choosing between these types is important depending on your personal preferences. 

Compressor Fridges

The working of compressor fridges is similar to our home refrigerators. Along with a 120-volt power source, they can also run on a 12v 24v DC power source. The compressor produces rapid cooling and only turns on when required.

12v fridges work well in hot weather because of the powerful motor. But it will need additional solar power and/or a large enough battery bank to work for an extended period with your other battery power draws.

3 way fridge / Gas Absorption

3-way fridges are also referred to as gas absorption refrigerators. They have three power options AC, 12 volt DC and propane. Gas fridges are great for full-time travelers because of their multiple power sources and quiet operation.

But they don’t get as cold as the compressor, and you will often not get a freezer compartment. Moreover, it will need some extra installation for the LP gas cylinder and ventilation.

Thermoelectric Coolers

Thermoelectric coolers are an inexpensive alternative for weekend travelers or those who can get by on less. The coolers expel hot air out of the container to maintain a cold air temperature inside.

Note: Thermoelectric coolers are not as good as refrigerators, but they are an excellent option if you have a limited budget.

Refrigerator Style

When it comes to the style of refrigerator you will essentially need to decide on how you open it and store food inside of it. There are three primary fridges to choose from: chest, upright and drawer.

Chest Fridge (Top Loading)

Chest style top loading fridge

A chest fridge, or top-loading refrigerator, is great and are the most common type of campervan fridge. They have an energy-efficient design to save cooling.

In a van conversion, space is essential and top-loading fridges can also be used as a seat. They are portable and have thick insulation to use as a cooler on a picnic. Moreover, they keep the food secure and organized.

Most people will either build a seat on top of their chest fridge or a drawer beneath the counter and have the appliance slide out as needed. They are simple, versatile and much more affordable compared to upright fridges.

But when you are full-time, it is more like full-time living out of a cooler when you are camping and less like using an actual refrigerator.

Upright Fridge (Front Loading)

Upright fridges have shelves and door bins for storage and are usually placed on the countertop. They are not as portable and efficient as chest-style fridges, but they’re designed to be larger and more permanent. Moreover, they have a small freezer space or ice tray on top.

Upright refrigerators also have 12v and 110v power options along with propane. And they can be built into virtually every part of your van.

But they are comparatively expensive in price. And they require additional steps in installation and venting that are not required in chest fridges.

Front-loading Drawer

Drawer fridges have the most practical design. They easily fit in the van’s shelves and take the least usable space. But the 12v slide drawer fridges are expensive and often hard to find.

Moreover, this style is not quite efficient because the entire fridge is exposed when opened allowing cold air to escape.

Power Draw & Efficiency

Power draw is a crucial factor. Excessive battery usage from a 12-volt appliance can leave you stranded. So your choice in a refrigerator must be efficient and draw less power.

A compressor fridge is the most efficient as they have low power usage and turn off after reaching the set temperature. Gas fridges can be a good option if you carry propane for other appliances in your van.

Finding a fridge that draws power from the source you want it to – whether AC, DC, LP or a combo – is important in the bigger context of your entire van build.

Dimensions of Fridge

Campervans do not have a lot of space, so a fridge must take the least usable space. You must consider your van size before making a purchase decision. Typically chest fridges are smaller and can more easily be built around in the van than upright fridges.

However, if you want a lot of fridge space then you’re looking at having to commit more room to your fridge with a bigger appliance anyway. So it is more important to look at the weight of these larger options. Larger chest fridges weigh less than comparably sized upright fridges, if weight is a top priority for you.

Capacity of Fridge

Again, this factor depends on your usage. If you are planning to cook every day and don’t want to constantly be on the lookout for a grocery store, then a fridge with 5 cu.ft capacity or 55 quarts/liters will be great.

Otherwise, you can get a smaller fridge for occasional cooking and to keep drinks cold.

Warranty

Warranty is a beneficial factor as it saves you from extra expenses in case the refrigerator gets damaged. A good fridge offers a two years compressor warranty and one-year parts warranty.

The better brands have even longer warranties and excellent customer service.

Price

Van fridges are one the biggest investment in a van build. On a limited budget, you can get a 12v fridge for $300 to $500. They may not have great features like a freezer compartment, LED control panel or Bluetooth, but they will get the job done…for a time.

But if you are a full-time van lifer, then a large and efficient fridge is necessary. It can cost upwards of $1500 and you’ll want to make sure you have a robust battery bank to keep it powered. But usually, the higher-end brand names like Dometic and ARB have vastly superior quality and durability and are worth every dollar.

Wrapping Up

Aside from your power and solar, your campervan fridge will be your biggest investment. It is important to make the best decision and, perhaps, be willing to up your budget to account for a higher quality fridge.

Consider the power source of each appliance and how well it fits into your power and/or propane setup. You’ll want to have a large battery bank for any fridge you plan to run on DC power or AC with an inverter. And clearly, you will need a propane tank for any 2 or 3-way fridges that offer an LP fuel source.

If you’re still on the fence, you can’t go wrong with our Editor’s Choice, the Dometic CFX3 55 liter chest fridge. Plan on using this fridge every day, year after year, with the same high-quality level of coolness you want in such an important investment to your van life lifestyle.

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