Last Updated On October 28th, 2018
Going to the great outdoors is not only beneficial to your health and wellbeing, but it is also lots of fun. Picnics, barbeques, beach days and camping trips are certainly a fantastic way for you to spend quality time with family and friends. However, while being outside in the summer sunshine is rewarding, it is even better when you can enjoy a refreshing drink or a fresh snack too. Luckily, the best electric cool box makes keeping food and drinks at the right temperature easy.
Unlike standard coolers, they don’t require ice packs to keep the contents cool. Instead, these coolers are plugged into your car or a mains power socket, ensuring your food stays fresh and appetizing for days at a time. In this review, we take a look at some of the most popular on the market, to help you choose the right one for your needs.
Best Electric Cool Boxes Compared
Top 8 Electric Cool Box Reviews
Whether you are trimming the hedges in your garden, having a relaxing soak in your hot tub or camping underneath the stars, an electric cooler will surely be a great choice in keeping your drinks cool. So, which one is for you? Let’s get started.
1. Waeco Mobicool G35 (Editor’s Choice)
If you are looking for something which can fit plenty of refreshing treats for your next adventure, this is a fantastic option.
This enables you to plug it into both your 12V car charger and the mains electricity as a source of power.
We found the plug to be a little temperamental, but on the plus side, it has a built-in feature which protects your car battery from going flat. That means you don’t need to worry about keeping the ignition on when it is plugged in.
This doesn’t work so well at chilling items which are already warm, so you should make sure they are cold before you place them in the box. However, if you need to keep your food hot, this also includes a special heating mode. We found this especially convenient when transporting hot food to a family gathering.
Another great feature is the easy-access round hatch in the lid. This allows you to reach in and grab a drink without having to open the lid fully to let cold air escape.
2. Electric DC/AC Blue 24L
Whether you want to have a cool drink on a hot day or keep food warm until later, this cool box fits the bill.
Both 12V car adapter and 240V mains power cables are supplied. No matter where you are you will be able to keep it running smoothly, even if you get stuck in traffic.
The cooling effect reaches 15℃ below the surrounding temperature while food can also be heated to an impressive 65℃. This should be more than enough for you to enjoy a warming meal on a cold winter’s day.
It is powered by a brushless motor and uses an environmentally friendly cooling system. Unfortunately, the fan is very noisy, which may be a problem for you. Also, many people reported the motor stopped working after light use, which doesn’t exactly fill us with confidence.
On the upside, this features a generous 24L capacity, you will be able to fit all your favourite treats into this cool box without any trouble. There is also a shelf to allow easy separation of your items.
The lid has a gasket seal, so it is kept airtight when closed. This means the temperature is very well maintained, but the poor design means you will have to unplug the box every time you wish to open it. The cable just really gets in the way.
3. 24L Cooler
If you love spending time outdoors, but can no longer be bothered with ice packs, this coolbox could be the solution. It has plenty of space inside the 24L interior and also features a removable divider which helps keep your drink bottles from falling over.
If you are travelling, this model can be powered by your car cigarette lighter, as well as a mains 240V connection. Therefore, you can rest easy knowing that your items will stay the desired temperature during transport.
We are told the cooling capability of this box is between 15℃ and 18℃ below the outside temperature. However, we found it wasn’t quite as cold as we expected. Annoyingly, condensation also accumulates in the lid, which can result in your food getting soggy.
Should you prefer hot snacks over cold, this cool box can also heat items to between 50-65℃. Luckily, there is a handy indicator light which displays the current setting, so you don’t inadvertently heat up items you wish to keep cold and vice-versa.
4. Dometic W40 Mobicool 40L (Best for Camping)
If you have a large family or wide circle of friends, you need a cooler which has the capacity to match. With an amazing 40L interior volume, this has the largest volume of any cool box on our list, ensuring there’s a cold drink for everyone.
Its dual voltage can maintain a temperature of 18℃ below the surroundings so your items stay cool on even the hottest day.
While this box is quite bulky and heavy, the wheeled base and pull-out handle makes it easier for you to transport. Although it will roll about in your car if unsecured.
Cold loss is cleverly reduced thanks to a split lid which is handy when all your friends are opening the box every 5 minutes.
As with most large gatherings, there’s always the potential for things to get lost. Luckily, this has a special lid compartment for the supplied cables, so you don’t have to worry about them getting misplaced. For us, this is the best cool box for camping and big gatherings.
5. VonShelf Large 22L (Budget Choice)
The VonShef 22L offers a sturdy yet attractive design which is capable of keeping food and drinks cold for hours.
It is solely powered by a 12V DC car adaptor. This means it is great for journeys in the car, but perhaps not so good when you’re staying in B&B’s for example.
When plugged in, items will be chilled to between 8℃ and 12℃, which is plenty cool enough for a refreshing drink on a hot day out. The power cable can be tidied away into the dedicated compartment in the lid, which is a great feature to ensure you don’t lose it.
This 12-volt cool box offers a roomy 22L compartment, within which you can easily store 1.5-litre drink bottles with plenty of room to spare. Furthermore, should you experience any leaks, you can wipe the interior surface clean in no time.
6. Waeco/Mobicool U32
With the Waeco/Mobicool U32 you won’t need to fuss over ice packs ever again. This coolbox can be conveniently powered by both the 12V cigarette lighter in your car and mains power once you reach your destination.
The inner temperature can be cooled to a maximum of 18℃ below that of the temperature outside; so your drinks should always be refreshing, no matter what the weather. If you like to bring large 2L size drinks bottles with you, they will easily fit inside, unlike many other coolers.
Unfortunately, the fan system is quite noisy, but it can be turned down to make it less bothersome overnight. However, if you are a light sleeper, you may want to keep it in the car rather than in the tent.
We also like how this cool box has a USB socket which enables you to charge up your devices. This is especially useful when you are camping and the power source is taken up by the cooler.
7. Vivo 26L
This coolbox comes complete with two power cords for ultimate versatility; one 12V DC cigarette lighter cord and one 240V AC mains power cord. This is great if you are wishing to keep food at the right temperature in the car while on the way to another location.
Once you arrive at your destination, the cool box can be plugged into the mains power to keep the contents warm/cool until you are ready. Contents can be kept as cool as -15℃ below the ambient temperature, or up to +50℃ on warming mode.
Switching between the functions is easy, thanks to a simple switch on the back of the box. However, we feel the switch is too exposed, and you’ll have to be careful not to knock it accidentally during transport.
Also, we found that the hinged lid is difficult to open when plugged in, as the cable gets in the way of the hinge. This is clearly a poor design fault.
8. Andes Large 25L
The Andes Large 25L is the last one on our list which doubles as a chiller and food heater in one.
If you need to keep pre-prepared food warm until later in the day, this is for you. This powered cool box is able to keep food warm for as long as two hours and can reach an impressive temperature of 65℃. The cooling function chills to around 5℃.
It is supplied with a mains power adaptor and a 12V car-charger adaptor, so is a perfect solution for your short road trips, however, the motor is quite loud.
There is lots of space inside, so you should be able to fit enough food for 4 people. A removable divider is also included, which is useful for keeping your food items separated. However, water does tend to accumulate in the bottom of the box over time.
Three cup holders are included in the lid, which is very convenient to help you prevent spills. Disappointingly though, the way the power cable connects means you have to switch the power off before opening the box.
Benefits of Electric Cool Boxes
Now we have seen some that are available on the market, let’s examine the benefits of owning an electric cool box.
More Storage Space
One of the biggest attractions of an electric coolbox is that you don’t need ice packs to keep the contents cold. Multiple ice packs will take up quite a lot of space, which then eats into the capacity of the box itself.
Because electric coolers use thermoelectricity to create the cooling (or warming) effect, this means you can fit much more inside them while food and drinks stay cool or warm if desired.
Portable & Versatile
Electric cool boxes are designed to be used while travelling or camping, therefore, they are highly portable and often can be used with multiple power sources.
For example, many electric coolers can be plugged into your car cigarette charger, as well as the mains. So, you can keep all your supplies cold while on the road much like having a portable fridge. They will easily fit in the boot or back seat of your car, and often have wheeled bases and carry handles to enable effortless mobility once you reach your destination.
Potential To Both Heat and Chill Items
A further advantage of using an electric coolbox over a standard coolbox is that you can find many models that can also double as food warmers, thus eliminating the need for multiple devices.
Switching between heating and cooling modes is simple and takes moments, but of course, you will need to allow some time for the temperature to adjust. Many models will include a useful mode indicator light, so you do not get any nasty surprises should you accidentally hit the wrong switch!
How To Choose The Right Electric Cool Box
In this section, we look at some of the most important features to consider when choosing an electric cool box:
First and foremost, you should find out the minimum temperature that the cool box can maintain, and how long it can achieve this for. The best electric cool box can reach as low as 20℃ below the ambient temperature, and keep this temperature as long as they are connected to power. Once disconnected, a high-quality cool box should be able to hold an adequately low temperature for at least 6 hours.
As mentioned previously, a major benefit of electric cool boxes is that they can often be powered by multiple sources.
If you regularly travel long distances by car or go on remote camping trips, you should get a cool box which can also be powered by the 12V adaptor in your car.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a box which can simply be used as a backup fridge in a hotel room or cottage, a 240V mains powered unit will be sufficient.
If you are a light sleeper, you should investigate the noise level which will be emitted by each cool box you consider. Because these items use fans to cool the contents, the motor and the fan combined can mean that they are often a little noisy, especially in quiet surroundings.
Some will be worse than others, but there are also good models which allow the fan speed to be reduced overnight, in order to lower the noise when you are trying to sleep.
While any of the above electric cool boxes mentioned in our review would be a great choice, we find that the Waeco Mobicool G35 is the best electric cool box on our list.
We love how this large, 34L cool box is like a mini fridge. Also, it can be powered both in the car and via the mains, while also being able to double as a chiller and a food warmer. Also, there’s no chance of this running your car battery flat, thanks to an impressive built-in active battery security function.
Furthermore, unlike most others, this has an easy access hatch, so you can keep items cooler for longer by reaching inside while limiting the escape of cold air.
As if all these features weren’t enough, it also offers a handy USB port, so you can charge your phone and other devices while enjoying the great outdoors.