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11 Best Fridges for Van Life (Tested In Our Own Vans) - Nomadic Cooling

11 Best Fridges for Van Life (Tested In Our Own Vans)

close up of an open camper van fridge

Living life on the road is an incredible experience that many dream of. But the quality of your experience depends on how well-equipped you are; having a good fridge makes your van life more comfortable.

You'll bring healthy and delicious meals, thus maintaining a nutritious diet, even in the most remote places. In addition to that, having a good fridge can save you money on take-out, especially when road-tripping.

However, not all fridges are equal, so if you want to make the most of your van life, it's essential to do some research before investing.

To help you out, we have reviewed some of the best fridges for van life based on affordability, portability, and energy efficiency. We also looked at features like cooling capabilities and noise levels.

Review of the Best Fridges For Van Life

Here is a compilation of some of the top fridges for van life to choose from.

1. Dometic CRX 80S

Dometic CRX 80S

Dimensions: 18.70 x 25 x 20.79

This 3-way absorption fridge is perfect for van life on a budget. The fridge can work as a freezer, fridge, or both, so it's incredibly versatile and can be used in almost any situation.

Dometic CRX 80s features removable freezer compartments, which lets you adjust the fridge depending on your needs. It also has an adjustable temperature setting, keeping food cold without worrying about ice buildup.

You will love the temperature and compressor speed control features that let you adjust the temperature and energy usage for maximum cooling efficiency. Plus, it runs quietly, so you won't have to worry about annoying noises.

On a typical day, this fridge consumes only 1.2 amps, so you don't have to worry about energy bills going up to the roof.

The Dometic CRX 80s is an excellent option if you want a reliable but affordable fridge for your van life adventure. With a price tag of under 1700 dollars, it's an accessible choice that will provide years of faithful service.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Adaptable to any situation
  • Adjustable temperature settings
  • Energy efficient

Cons:

  • The hinges and latch quality aren't the best

2. Dometic CRX 110S

Dometic CRX 110S

Dimensions: 20.47 x 29.33 x 21.97

From flexibility to quiet operations and energy efficiency, there is everything to love about this fridge. Of course, the fact that the refrigerator can be solar-powered is a great bonus.

The Dometic CRX 110s is an excellent choice for van lifers who want to keep their food and drinks cold while on the road. This fridge can run off AC or DC power, allowing you to plug it anywhere.

It also features adjustable temperature control, so you can customize your cooling needs without worrying about ice buildup. Plus, it runs quietly and consumes only 1.2 amps per hour on average, making it energy-efficient.

Dometic CRX 110s features a LED display for better interior lighting and a drainage plug system, so you don't have to stress during cleaning.

It's relatively lightweight for a fridge of this size. With a price tag of 2000 dollars, it's also an affordable option if you want a reliable refrigerator for van life.

Overall, the Dometic CRX 110s stands out for its flexibility and efficiency. 

Pros:

  • Solar-powered
  • Adjustable temperature control
  • LED display for better interior lighting
  • Energy efficient

Cons:

  • Not as affordable as other CRX models

3. Dometic CRX 11OE

Dometic CRX 110E

Dimensions: 23.35 x 30.39 x 21.97

The Dometic CRX 11OE may be the perfect fridge if you are looking for luxury and class. This sleek and modern fridge comprises features that make van life easier and more enjoyable.

The Dometic CRX 11OE runs quietly and has adjustable temperature settings to keep your food cold without worrying about high energy consumption. It features a dual-function lock, which you can use as locks or vents. The LED display gives off a soft touch of light to the interior, making it easier to find items in dark places.

Regarding energy efficiency, this fridge runs at 1.2 amps per hour on average, so you don't have to worry about high energy bills.

If you want luxury and convenience all rolled into one package, then the Dometic CRX 11OE is worth checking out. With its sleek design and useful features, this fridge will make your van life adventure more straightforward and enjoyable.

Pros:

  • Sleek design
  • Dual-function lock
  • LED display for better interior lighting
  • Energy efficient
  • More storage space

Cons:

  • The door quality could need improvement

4. Dometic CRX 65E

Dometic CRX 65E

Dimensions: 20.5 x 21.7 x 21.5

If you are looking for a fridge with plenty of storage space, the Dometic CRX 65E is a great choice. This feature-packed refrigerator has adjustable temperature settings and energy efficiency and can fit in almost any camper van.

The Dometic CRX 65E runs quietly on AC or DC power, and it only consumes 1.0 amps per hour on average, making it energy efficient. It also has adjustable temperature control to customize your cooling needs.

The door shelves and racks make it easy to organize food and drinks, while the LED interior lighting makes it easier to see items inside when the lights are off.

Overall, this fridge is great for camper vans as it is lightweight and can fit in tight spaces. Plus, with a price tag of 1400 dollars, it's an affordable option if you want a reliable refrigerator for van life.

Pros:

  • Adjustable temperature control
  • LED display for better interior lighting
  • Energy efficient
  • Super affordable
  • More storage space

Cons:

  • Lacks a drainage system for cleaning

5. Clearance Dometic CRX Pro 50

Clearance Dometic CRX Pro 50

Dimensions: 18.94 x 21.02 x 14.96

The Clearance Dometic CRX Pro 50 is the perfect refrigerator for camper vans because of its lightweight. In addition, it is a 3-in-one fridge so you can use it as a fridge, freezer, or both.

Furthermore, the fridge comes with patented removable shelving and baskets, making organizing your food and drinks easy. The temperature control settings are adjustable, so you can customize the cooling needs to fit your lifestyle.

This fridge operates quietly. In addition, the LED light with infrared sensors makes it easy to see items in the dark.

The Clearance Dometic CRX Pro 50 has a 45L of frozen storage space, making it perfect for van life. It also runs on AC and DC power, so you don't have to worry about running out of power when traveling. It is affordable with a price tag of below 700 dollars if you want a reliable fridge for your camper van.

Pros:

  • 3-in-1 function (fridge/freezer)
  • Patented removable shelving and baskets
  • LED display for better interior lighting

Cons:

  • Insufficient insulation could result in higher energy costs over time

    6. CD30 Truck Version With BD35F-HBD Compressor

    Dometic CD30

    Dimensions: 28.35 x 9.84x 17.32

    The CD30 Truck Version With BD35F-HBD Compressor is an excellent fridge for van life because of its robust construction and heavy-duty features. In addition, the compressor runs on AC or DC power, so you don't have to worry about running out of power when traveling.

    Furthermore, it has adjustable temperature control settings to customize the cooling needs to fit your lifestyle, while the door shelves and racks make it easy to organize food and drinks. This fridge has an innovative beveled design on the back, allowing extra storage space.

    Overall, this fridge is perfect for camper vans as it is lightweight and feature-packed. Plus, a price below 650 dollars makes it ideal for individuals on a budget.

    Pros:

    • Runs on AC or DC power
    • Adjustable temperature control
    • Beveled design for extra storage space
    • Energy efficient
    • Lightweight and compact design
    • Affordable price tag

    Cons:

    • It has a noisy compressor that could be a distraction when sleeping

    7. Open Box Dometic CCF-T Center Console Refrigerator

    OPEN BOX Dometic CCF-T Center Console Refridgerator

    Uniqueness describes this fridge as designed to fit in your van's console. The Open Box Domestic CCF-T Center Console Refrigerator has a sleek and modern design and adjustable temperature control settings, so you can customize your cooling needs to suit your lifestyle.

    The fridge has a 7.5L of storage space, ideal for drinks and snacks. In addition, it has a dual USB charging port to charge your phone and other devices.

    This fridge operates quietly, so you don't have to worry about being disturbed by noisy fans and motors, and 12V DC powers it.

    This is an ideal fridge for van life as it runs on DC power and fits in Ford's center console. Plus, with a price below 600 dollars, this is an affordable option if you want a reliable refrigerator for your camper van.

    Pros:

    • Sleek and modern design
    • Adjustable temperature control settings
    • Dual USB charging port
    • Quiet operation
    • Compact fit
    • Affordable price tag

    Cons:

    • Insufficient storage space compared to most fridges on the list

    8. Clearance Dometic CCF-T Center Console Refrigerator -FORD

    Clearance Dometic CCF-T Center Console Refrigerator-FORD

    This fridge is the perfect fit for Ford's center console and offers an array of features that make it ideal for van life. The Clearance Dometic CCF-T Center Console Refrigerator - Ford has adjustable temperature control settings to customize your cooling needs to suit your lifestyle. In addition, this refrigerator operates quietly, so you don't have to worry about being disturbed by noisy fans and motors.

    Furthermore, this fridge also comes with a dual USB charging port to keep all your devices charged on the go and is powered by 12V. This fridge is perfect for you if you want a reliable camper van fridge without breaking your budget. This is a great option with a price tag of below 600 dollars.

    Pros:

    • Sleek and modern design
    • Adjustable temperature control settings
    • Dual USB charging port
    • Compact fit
    • Quiet operation
    • Affordable price tag

    Cons:

    • Insufficient storage space

    9. Dometic CRX 65S

    Dometic CRX 65S

    Dimensions: 17.7 x 20.7 x 21.6

    The Dometic CRX 65S is designed to fit in most camper vans. It has a sleek and modern design that makes it easy to store and transport. In addition, this refrigerator operates quietly, so you don't have to worry about being disturbed by noisy fans and motors.

    Furthermore, this fridge has adjustable temperature control settings to customize your cooling needs to suit your lifestyle.

    This fridge is a 3-in-1 unit that can be a refrigerator, freezer, or both. It has a patented removable freezer compartment and a beveled design for extra storage space. Additionally, this fridge has dual-function locks for added security.

    Overall, this fridge is perfect for van life as it has all the features you need in a reliable and efficient refrigerator. In addition, the fridge's price tag is slightly below 1600 dollars, which is much worth considering the features you get.

    Pros:

    • Sleek and modern design
    • Adjustable temperature control settings
    • Beveled design for extra storage space
    • Dual function locks
    • Lightweight and compact design
    • High Capacity

    Cons:

    • Costlier compared to most fridges on the list

    10. Dometic CRX 50E

    Dometic CRX 50E

    Dimensions: 14.96 x 21 x 19.69

    You will love this fridge's sleek and modern design and sufficient storage. Besides the standard 45L capacity, Dometic CRX 50E has an additional 4.4 freezer storage where you can store the items you want to keep frozen.

    The fridge also has a beveled design for extra storage space, dual-function locks, and adjustable temperature settings to customize cooling needs. One user mentioned that the fridge ran for six days on a single charge and was very efficient. Its price tag of slightly below 1600 dollars makes it a worthy investment.

    Pros:

    • Sleek and modern design
    • Adjustable temperature control settings
    • Beveled design for extra storage space
    • Dual function locks
    • High Capacity
    • Efficient performance

    Cons:

    • Large sizes may not be suitable for smaller spaces

    11. Dometic CRX 50S

    Dometic CRX 50S

    Dimensions: 15 x 21 x 19.7

    This compact and lightweight fridge has a sleek design that makes it easy to store and transport. In addition, this refrigerator operates quietly, so you don't have to worry about being disturbed by noisy fans and motors.

    It also comes with adjustable temperature control settings to customize your cooling needs to suit your lifestyle. And like most CRX fridges, the Dometic CRX 50S, too, has dual-function locks for added security. Plus, it is powered by 12V and comes with a price tag of 1400 dollars; it is a great option to consider.

    Pros:

    • Sleek and modern design
    • Adjustable temperature control settings
    • Beveled design for extra storage space
    • Dual function locks
    • Lightweight and compact design
    • Affordable price tag

    Cons:

    • Not suitable for off-grid camping as it needs to be connected to a power source

    How To Choose the Right Fridge for Your Van Life?

    There isn’t a one fit size solution when it comes to choosing the perfect fridge for your van life. What works for you may not work for someone else. So, check out these factors to help determine the best fridge to suit your needs.

    1) Fridge Capacity and Size

    The size of the fridge you choose should depend on how much storage space you need. If you plan to go camping with a family, consider getting a larger refrigerator to hold the food items for everyone in the group. Additionally, make sure that the fridge fits into your van without taking up too much space.

    2) Power and Efficiency

    When choosing a fridge, look at its power consumption rating. This will help ensure that your refrigerator runs efficiently when using less energy. Also, check out what type of power sources it supports, like 12V or 24V, and get one that suits your needs best.

    3) Budget

    Take some time to compare prices across different manufacturers and models before purchasing a fridge. This will help you get the best deal within your budget. In most cases, price is equivalent to quality. So be sure to pick one that fits within your budget but meets the specifications you need.

    4) Style/Configuration

    The style and configuration of the fridge will depend on how much space you want to use up in your van. For example, a top-loading refrigerator would be best suited for you if you are looking for more storage space, as it requires less vertical space than a front-loading one. However, if you plan on moving around with your van often, go for a front-loading model, as it is lighter and easier to transport.

    5) Refrigeration System

    Different van fridges feature different refrigeration systems, as follows.

    a. Compressor Fridge (Recommended)

    Compressor fridges are the most common type for van life and our recommendation. The fridges feature small compressor units that keep your refrigerator cool, thus improving energy efficiency. This feature makes the compressor fridge perfect if you plan to be on the road for a long time.

    Pros:
    • Energy efficient
    • Durable and strong enough to withstand harsh conditions
    • Temperature control features
    • Dual-function locks for versatility
    Cons:
    • The fridges are quite costly as the price ranges from $300 to $2000

    b. 3-Way Absorption Fridges (12V DC, 110V AC, or Propane)

    Absorption fridges conduct heat exchange through gas flow and have three different ways of being powered; 12V, Propane, and 110V AC. As a result, fridges are an ideal option for off-grid camping since you don't have to worry about energy depletion in the middle of your camping trip.

    Even better, the fridges feature temperature control settings so you can customize your cooling needs to suit your lifestyle.

    Pros:
    • Various power (12V DC, Propane, or 110V AC)
    • Run for long periods to give you peace of mind during off-grid camping
    Cons:
    • You must have several power lines for your van
    • Not as efficient when running on 12V power
    • You will need extra ventilation

    6.) Reliability and Warranty

    Finally, take some time to check out the brand's reputation and warranty. You must buy a reliable fridge backed by a good warranty in case of any problems.

    How To Determine Your Battery Capacity

    close up of a camper van with a good sunrise background 

    The battery capacity of your van will determine whether it can handle a large or small fridge. It is best to use the manufacturer's suggested power rating when deciding what size fridge you should get. Ensure that the refrigerator draws less than 80% of the total load placed on your battery, as this could cause an overload and damage your refrigerator and your vehicle's electrical system.

    If you plan to run a 12V power supply for the refrigerator, you may need a deep cycle battery with enough amp-hours (Ah). And if you intend to operate off 110V AC, you'll need an inverter with enough wattage support to run it.

    For example, if you want a fridge that runs on 12V and has a power rating of 40W, you'll need a battery with at least an 80Ah capacity.

    If you own lead-acid batteries, gel batteries, or AGM, these can discharge only half the life before the damage becomes unavoidable. This makes it all the more important to double-check energy usage.

    For LFP batteries (lithium iron phosphate) you can discharge them at 100% and they won’t do damage. These are the best option for any camper van. They last longer, can charge faster, and don’t do any damage.

    Refrigeration Tips for Your Van Life

    How you use your fridge will determine its energy efficiency and longevity of the refrigerator. Here are helpful tips for tip-top performance.

    Load the Fridge

    The more you load the fridge, the better it is at maintaining a consistent temperature. It reduces the energy used as the food items help absorb heat.

    Ventilation

    Always ensure that you allow proper ventilation for your refrigerator to run efficiently. For example, the fan should be set up to blow out hot air and suck in cooler air from outside.

    Turn Off When Not In Use

    When traveling in warm weather, turn off your refrigerator when not in use. It's also important to cool based foods overnight, so they are ready to eat during the day without needing more power. By doing this, you can save on energy and keep your food fresh longer.

    Install Extra Circuitry

    You may need to install extra circuitry if you plan to run the fridge off a 12V DC or 110V AC power supply. It will ensure that everything wires correctly and safely.

    Takeaway

    While each reviewed fridge for van life has pros and cons; the Dometic CRX 80 is the best option as it offers advanced temperature controls and dual-function locks for versatility.

    In addition, its energy-efficient compressor works well with 12V DC and 110V AC power supplies, making it an ideal choice for off-grid camping. It also comes with a 2-year manufacturer's warranty, so you can have peace of mind should any technical issues arise.

    Finally, use the tips provided in this article to ensure your refrigerator is running efficiently and safely. With these considerations in mind, you will find the perfect fridge for your van life needs.

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