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These are the Best Campervan Fridges (2023)

Eating out at restaurants is nice and all, but after a while the bills can really rack up! A fridge is an absolute necessity for sustainable living in a campervan. But with so many fridges on the market, how do you know what fridge is the best choice for your camper van?

In this guide we will look at some of the very best campervan fridges, including 12v compressor fridges, 3-way fridges, and thermoelectric coolboxes.

I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for many years, I'm the author of The Van Conversion Newsletter, instructor of The Van Conversion Course, and the proud owner of a beautiful self-build campervan called Beans. So let's jump in and look at 12v camper fridges!

The best campervan fridge

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3 Types of Campervan Fridges

There are three types of campervan fridges, they are;

  • The Compressor 12v fridge

  • The Absorption fridge

  • The thermoelectric coolbox

These three fridges can easily fit into any campervan. Now let's have a look at these in more detail and find out the best campervan fridge in each category.

The Compressor 12v fridge

The compressor fridge is the most common fridge you will find in people’s homes - it is fully electric. In your house you will find a 110/230v compressor fridge, and while you can use these in a campervan, they are generally not recommended (it must be powered through an inverter which is less efficient). In a campervan people more commonly use a 12v compressor fridge which can run directly from your leisure batteries or run through the inverter if you so choose. These fridges are known as 2-way fridges as they can run on either 12v or 110/230v.

There are two types of compressor 12v fridges:

  • Permanent

  • Portable

Permanent compressor 12v fridges:

Unsurprisingly, this is a fridge which you wire up and install permanently (don't worry, it's very simple to install!).

In terms of 12v compressor fridges, hands-down the best campervan fridge in this category is the Dometic CRX CoolMatic . It is a fridge / freezer that can also run on mains (230v).

Note: The Dometic CRX CoolMatic is considered one of the best 12v compressor fridges on the market. However, it is pricey. You can find cheaper 12v fridges on Amazon like this one (note it doesn't have a freezer).

Portable compressor 12v fridges:

These 12v compressor fridges have a battery that you can charge up which allows you to move them about! They have become phenomenally popular in the campervan community.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the best campervan fridge in this category is the Dometic CFF 45L fridge.

The compressor 12v fridge is very economical. Its compressor only turns on when the fridge temperature increases above a specified range that you choose with a dial at the back of the fridge. Once the refrigerator cools to the desired temperature, the compressor turns off.

This means that the fridge only draws power from the batteries when the compressor is on for a short period of time.

Apart from being energy-efficient, here are the other benefits of using a compressor 12v fridge:

Benefits of a compressor 12v fridge

  • It is easy to install

  • It is efficient

  • It is safe

  • It consumes low power. (You can use a solar panel or leisure batteries)

  • It is bigger on the inside

  • It is durable and needs little or no maintenance

  • It is easy to use

  • Some models can run on 12v or 110/230v (2-way compressor fridge)

  • Cheaper that absorption fridges

Disadvantages of the compressor 12v fridge

  • It doesn’t operate silently

  • Some brands are costly

My thoughts: In my opinion, The best campervan fridge is the compressor 12v fridge. And in most use cases will be the best choice!

The Absorption fridge

The absorption fridge is also known as a 3-way fridge, so called because it can run on three different energy sources. You can either use LPG gas, a mains electric supply (240V), or the 12V (batteries). Related guide: Installing LPG in a campervan.

If you don't have much electricity in your van (ie. no solar power, split charging, or shore power), the absorption fridge is likely your best option; you can use gas instead!