Thermoelectric coolers are a great option for off-grid living or even for tiny abodes. They do not utilize the function of ice packs to keep your food at optimal temperatures. Thermoelectric coolers are also simply known as powered coolers, or electric coolers. The name gives away just how they keep your food cool. They need to be plugged into a power source to operate, which means you need to be sure that wherever you’re headed, there is a plug somewhere for your trusty thermoelectric cooler.
An awesome benefit of a thermoelectric cooler is there is no end in sight to how long your food will stay fresh in this cold storage space. Their cooling benefits are far more extensive than the regular ice pack cooler and some come with nifty extra features too! Let’s take a look at the best electric coolers offered on the market today.
View all the 10 Best Thermoelectric Coolers on the Market Below
1. Coleman PowerChill Hot/Cold Portable Thermoelectric Cooler
For the best value you can get with a thermal electric cooler, The Coleman PowerChill is a great choice as it’s both an iceless thermoelectric cooler, but a warmer as well. It doesn’t matter if you want to warm your food and drinks or keep them cool, this electric cooler will keep it fresh.
You can also move the mini electric cooler outdoors with an 8-foot long extension cord just plug the cooler into your car charger or boat charger. The 40-quart capacity cooler can hold up to 44 cans. To make maneuverability even easier, the Coleman Powerchill can open from the left or right side and keeps the contents 40 degrees cooler than the external temperature.
- Both hot and cold cooler
- 40-quart capacity
- Long extension cord
- Left or right opening door
- Has a storage tray
- Shouldn’t be left outdoors for an extended period
Why We Like It
The Coleman cooler and warmer has superior cooling performance that keeps the contents 40-degrees colder or warmer than the surrounding environment.
2. Ivation Electric Cooler & Warmer
The Ivation electric cooler and warmer has a small capacity that’s great for outdoor day trips. The 25-liter compartment in the cooler can even hold 2-liter bottles of soda with room to spare. Without the need for ice, this is a best powered cooler that can change modes with the flip of a switch. Go from cold to hot easily to suit your needs. Since the cooler warmer is of such a small size, it features a carrying handle that folds easily when not in use.
The Ivation electric cooler is really made to go where you go, with an embedded AC adapter cord made to plug into your car or wall outlet to make your next road trip one with fresh food.
- Small and efficient size
- Carrying handle that folds
- AC adapter cord
- Easy to change modes
- Cools and warms
- Not meant for long trips
Why We Like It
We love an electric cooler that doesn’t require a lot of space to store. Since thermoelectric coolers aren’t soft-sided, this one provides an option for those with limited space.
3. Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler 40 Qt
Igloo is a well-known brand for coolers that we just couldn’t pass up! They rightly earned the number 3 spot on our list for its sturdy construction and versatile use. The Igloo Iceless thermoelectric cooler features a convection cooling fan that will circulate the cold air within the compartment. The temperature inside the ice chest will be maintained at 38-degrees Fahrenheit below the ambient temperature.
It also comes with an 8-foot long power cord that can broaden the placement options. The cooler works with any 12V adapter and the brushless motor will make sure the operation is virtually noiseless.
- Quiet brushless motor
- Long extension cord
- Works with 12V adapters
- Sturdy construction
- Convection cooling fan
- The power cord can get really hot
Why We Like It
If you just want to keep your food and drinks cold, this Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric 40-quart-cooler will do the trick no matter where you are, as long as there is a 12C outlet.
4. K-box Electric Cooler and Warmer
Here is an option that mimics the design of traditional single-function coolers. It features the same, if not better robust design and is a portable option that can keep your contents cool for hours. Not only is it a cooler, it’s a warmer as well and can also warm your food. 48 quarts equates to a 60-can storage space that offers more than enough room in this cooler warmer. It doesn’t require any ice, just an external power source and the cooler itself can be wheeled or carried with the transportable design.
- Can be used anywhere with a 12 volt adapter
- Cooler and warmer
- Large capacity
- Sturdy build
- Easy to transport
- The cooler only chills the interior temperature to 40 degrees Fahrenheit below ambient and doesn’t go to 40
Why We Like It
A thermoelectric cooler, similar to regular coolers, are made to be portable. The K-Box Electric Cooler Warmer is built with your convenience in mind.
5. AstroAI Electric Cooler
A top rated thermoelectric cooler needs to have enough power to insulate the contents for at least a day. The AstroAI Electric Cooler can do just that. Though it’s a smaller cooler in capacity (24L), it is still large enough to hold the contents of any short outdoor adventure. To keep you and your food safe, this electric cooler was constructed with an eco-friendly semiconductor refrigeration chip to keep everything freon-free.
It can go wherever you go, as long as there is a 12V charging port. It connects easily to your vehicle’s cigarette lighter port to keep your refreshments cool on a road trip.
- Easily portable
- Small size
- Eco-friendly engineering
- Plugs into the cigarette lighter
- Can keep contents cold for a day without electricity
- The small size makes it less suitable for long trips
Why We Like It
The AstroAI cooler will still keep the contents cold even if there is a power outage, this is a desired trait in the best iceless thermoelectric cooler.
6. Koolatron Travel Cooler and Warmer
This sleek thermoelectric cooler warmer fits well into your car with a capacity of 29 quarts, about 48 cans. The power capabilities of the electric-powered cooler will keep the internal temperature 40-degrees cooler than the outside. The solid and sturdy thermoelectric cooler is strong with the only moving part being the fan motor, nothing such as gas or ice packs are needed.
The small capacity, robust build, and overall ergonomic design makes this thermoelectric cooler one that’s great for trips and even for use indoors.
- Iceless thermoelectric cooler
- Powered with any 12V outlet
- Strong build
- Small size and capacity
- Great for most trips
- Won’t last more than 24 hours without electricity
Why We Like It
The small size of this thermoelectric cooler makes taking it on a trip easy. It won’t take up much of the valuable space needed in your car for other things.
7. KOUDERA Electric Portable Cooler and Warmer
The Koudera electric portable cooler and warmer is one of the top rated power coolers for its performance and build. It’s easily portable with a large top handle that takes the stress off of your wrists and shoulders. For such a small cooler, it has an impressive capacity of holding up to 30 cans of your favorite beverages. The Koudera thermoelectric ice chest is a great example of what car coolers should be. Its low power consumption saves energy, operates quietly and saves you money!
The cooler features advanced technologies to keep its warming and cooling superior to other models. With a semiconductor barrier, the insulation is freon-free!
- Freon-free and safe
- Low power consumption
- Easy to carry
- Sturdy build
- Quiet operation
- Not for large parties
Why We Like It
For such an affordable price, the cooler warmer does its job well with the best thermoelectric technology that’s safe for your food and drinks.
8. Wagan EL6244 Blue 46 Quart 12V Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer
We always appreciate a large cooler that can fit anything and everything. For us, even if we have everything packed, we can always think of something else we may need. This is when a massive capacity comes in, we’re talking about 60 cans worth of space! This dual functioning thermoelectric cooler with high cooling performance can keep all the contents above or below room temperature.
The built-in handles and wheels allow you to tote this ice box everywhere you go. The cooler also features removable magnetic doors that keep the regulated temperature inside and everything else out.
- Dual opening doors
- Magnetic closure
- Warming and cooling functions
- Large capacity
- Easy to move
- Can make some noise
Why We Like It
Every time you open the lid of a cooler or warmer, you risk altering the temperature within. The dual-opening lid allows you to only open one side to prevent the temperature from escaping.
9. Igloo Portable 28 Quart Thermoelectric Iceless Cooler
For consumers who want the reliability and quality of an Igloo ice box but don’t need a large size, the portable 28 quart iceless thermoelectric coolers from the brand offer a nice downsizing opportunity. The cooler comes with molded side handles that makes carrying a breeze. The 12V power adapter fits into universal 12V outlets, including your car cigarette lighter. You don’t have to sit near the power outlet as the thermoelectric ice box features an 8-foot long power cord.
- 28-quart cooler
- Does not require ice
- Brushless and quiet motor
- Fits into 12V outlets
- Easy to carry
- Only cools 30-35 degrees below outside or room temperature
Why We Like It
The best thermoelecric cooler will not limit where it can be used. The Igloo portable 28-quart cooler is one that offers versatility with its universal 12V adapter.
10. Knox Gear Lifestyle by Focus Electric Cooler and Warmer
What if you could have a portable fridge/food warmer whenever you’re on the road and have the freshest food prepared? All that is possible with the electric cooler and warmer from Knox Gear Lifestyle by Focus. Their thermoelectric coolers are portable and can plug in anywhere! You can set up camp anywhere near an AC outlet or your car to enjoy ice cold or steaming hot food.
What separates these best thermoelectric coolers from other options is its ability to actually cool the contents to 40 degrees Fahrenheit instead of just below the ambient temperature.
- Can keep food cold and warm
- 40 degrees F internal temperature
- Portable electric coolers
- Plugs in anywhere
- Lots of space
- Is slow to cool
Why We Like It
We love how this thermoelectric cooling chest actually chills the food to 40-degrees F instead of just that number below the ambient temperature.
Best Thermoelectric Cooler Buying Guide
As you have seen, there are plenty of models to choose from, and knowing exactly where to begin. However, we have a detailed guide below on what to look for when choosing the best thermoelectric cooler. We will say, that you shouldn’t expect your electric coolers to function as well as a mini-fridge would – but close. Follow our features to look for when buying your next best thermoelectric ice box to find the best option for you.
How much stuff do you expect your thermoelectric coolers to carry? Do you frequently go on big family trips or host barbecues or tailgate parties? If so, then you would need one that is 48 quarts and above. For those who like quaint family outings or just parties with a few close friends in attendance, then one of 30 quarts or smaller will do.
Also, consider the type of food or drinks that you tend to bring. If you often need 2L bottles of soda, then definitely look for one that can accommodate the bottles with space to spare. One thing thermoelectric coolers offer that is a significant advantage over regular coolers is the iceless operation. This means you do not need to account for extra space for ice packs.
Electric coolers are electric (duh!), so you need to be close to a power source for them to work. However, we know a few types above that can keep the contents cold for up to a day without power – pretty impressive! Most of these thermoelectric coolers are design to work with a standard 12V power source, and most plugs in North America operate on the same voltage. Therefore, looking for the best thermoelectric coolers would mean one that has a 12V power adapter and other methods of connection if necessary.
Also, even for a small electric tool, powered coolers can use a fair amount of power. Look for ones with low power consumption and maybe even eco-friendly engineering to save a few bucks.
For this section, one would need to consider the climate they live in and the temperature they need their coolers to perform at. The standard is 40 below 0 Fahrenheit, which means take whatever temperature the outside is and minus 40. In some climates, the ambient temperature could be much higher than others and 40 below just won’t do the trick for storing snacks and drinks such as ice cream and cold beer.
If keeping the temperature in the ice box 40 below isn’t enough, then we suggest going for thermoelectric coolers that can maintain temperatures at 40, or whatever temperature you need regardless of the outside environment.
How easy is it to tote the electric coolers around with you? Coolers are like mini-fridges but are easier to transport and lighter in weight. The reason why someone would purchase electric coolers over a mini-fridge is to take them with you, so the next most important thing to look out for is coolers with handles or wheels. We will admit that if you aren’t planning to setup camp anywhere for an extended period of time, then iceless coolers aren’t the best choice.
This is because they need to be near a power source to work. If you are spending your days hiking around, you can’t have a cooler that relies on a stable and stationary power source. But if you are just planning to get from your car to the site, then make sure your thermoelectric coolers have handles at least so you can lug it around. If it features wheels then that model will definitely earn bonus points.
As you have noticed, some of the best electric coolers have warming abilities as well. This will give users the option of keeping contents cold or warm. This means that you can take whatever food you want with you and some options even have dividers to separate cold and hot contents.
The design of the cooler lid will impact your accessibility of the contents For example, one with a secure latch may offer a tighter fit, but getting to your snacks can take longer than one with a magnetic closure. We mostly see coolers with a lid that opens from the top, but there are certain designs that also offer side openings as well.
The next consideration is to think of how many lids do you want? There are powered coolers that offer two lids that won’t require you to expose the entire opening just to access one thing. The more you open the lid, the more the outside air will creep in and alter the interior temperature. Too much opening of the lids will cause the food to not stay fresh for as long as it could.
Some fridges offer separators or dividers to designate different compartments for the snacks. If at any time you need to separate the contents for different levels of coldness or otherwise, a split compartment is just what you need. These types of coolers also give coolers with warming capabilities an added advantage.
Does the brand matter? In many cases, consumers tend to gravitate towards well-known brands. But with famous brands come hefty price tags. Is it a necessity to go with established brands? It does have its benefits but we wouldn’t say it is always the better choice. Consider the reviews, as they are from real consumers that give you their two cents about the operation of the product.
While there is bound to be negative reviews here and there, you have less to worry about if the majority are positive. Who knows, you mind find a gem of a thermo-cooler that is exceptional in its capabilities and comes at an affordable price!
Lastly, the price is also of significant consideration. It is the lowest on our buyer’s guide because we feel that the other factors and your needs will outweigh the price. That’s not to say that you should go out and buy the most expensive premium choice out there, but it is worth it to note that the price doesn’t necessarily indicate quality.
As mentioned, if you go for a well-known brand, there is a very high chance that you are paying a few more of your hard-earned dollars for the reputation of the company and not the product itself. You are mostly looking at a price range of 1-300 for a decent, yet affordable cooler. Anything above that would be premium options with features that not a lot of us need for everyday trips.
You can find a wide range of products on our list, from one with the best value for your money to an affordable option too. Before you settle on a price, don’t let yourself pass up a good choice just because it exceeds your budget. For something that you rely on to keep edibles fresh, we would definitely not suggest compromising the quality for the price.
Benefits of a Thermoelectric Cooler
Thermoelectric coolers are quite affordable and do not require ice refills and ice packs that will cost you extra money. You know that they will always provide the best cooling services if they’re near a plug. One other benefit of not having ice packs or other refrigerants is the risk of leakage. Once your ice starts to melt, not only will the food potentially spoil, but the cleanup can be a headache as well. They are as well built as any cooler or fridge and offers the value of a regular fridge without the bulky body and high price tag.
These coolers give you the ability to set the temperature and keep it there stably. Depending on what you bring with you, this could be a very important feature to keep things fresh and yummy. They are also smaller and less cumbersome than mini-fridges while offering more versatility than regular coolers with their warming techniques as well. You won’t find that in a mini-fridge we’ll tell you that right now.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Thermoelectric coolers any good?
Thermoelectric coolers are great! They are also the best choice for stable and reliable cooling performance in any environment if you don’t have access to a fridge. They have the ability to keep the contents cold for extended periods without you worrying about the ice melting.
What is the best 12V cooler?
The best 12V cooler is the Coleman PowerChill Hot/Cold Portable Thermoelectric Cooler. It has two functions, both warming and cooling technologies, which offer users more options and the ability to transport different types of food. The long extension cord also allows for more flexible placement.
How do 12 volt coolers work?
12 volt coolers work by utilizing the Peltier Effect. This technology transfers temperature with different conductor materials depending on warming or cooling techniques.
Purchasing a new cooler can be a daunting task, especially if it’s your first time and you don’t know where to start. Our top list is always a good beginning point for those that don’t have the time to sort through their needs. We give quick breakdowns of each product to make things easy for you. But a thermoelectric cooler is an investment that should last a while, so if you want to ensure you’re getting the right product for your money, we suggest following our buyer’s guide. Remember, price doesn’t mean everything.
One drawback of thermoelectric coolers is their inability to handle poor weather conditions. They cannot get wet as regular coolers can, so if you plan on using it outdoors, definitely place a tarp over it or keep it in a shaded area. When finished, store it somewhere indoors and do not leave it outside.
Did You Know?
Thermoelectric coolers can still keep your food cold without electricity if the interior is already chilled. They are designed to withstand power outages and can keep your food cold for hours. Also, reducing the frequency of opening the lid will prolong this period.
- Versatile hot/cold thermoelectric cooler keeps food items at an optimal temperature
- Keeps contents up to 40 degrees colder or warmer than the surroundings
- Capacity: 44 cans plus snacks Cools to 40 degrees Fahrenheit below surrounding temperature
- Portable thermoelectric cooler plugs into a cigarette lighter or a wall outlet 120V power supply included
- EASY TO MOVE AROUND: Has built in wheels with dolly/carry handle and weighs less than 19lbs
- BRING MORE: holds 48 cans, 50% more capacity vs traditional ice chests of the same size