Best Thermoelectric Coolers for 2021 Reviewed
Updated on September 24, 2021.
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A thermoelectric cooler is an iceless cooler suitable for bringing along in your RV or car to keep your food and beverages cool. They are a great go-between option for mini-fridges and ice coolers. Their top advantages include low noise, compactness, lightweight, and portability.
On the downside, they rely on ambient conditions to regulate the cool box heat; therefore, they may not be efficient on extremely hot days. Some have additional features such as freezing or warming functionalities.
Below is a review of some of the best thermoelectric coolers on amazon and a detailed guide on choosing the right one for you.
The 12 Best Thermoelectric Coolers
Best Overall Choice
1. Igloo 28-quart Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler
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This Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler has a significant large capacity of 26L and weighs 4.5kg. It offers sufficient room for a wide range of items, including foods, drinks, and fresh produce. It can cool up to 36ºF below the surrounding air.
You might be skeptical of the Igloo because of its smaller capacity. At least compared to some of the others we reviewed. That’s actually the genius of the Igloo. Thermoelectric coolers don’t have that powerful compressor like a fridge. The bigger they are, the harder it is for them to keep cool. That’s why, at 28 quarts, the Igloo is the most efficient thermoelectric model you’re likely to find. It will cool faster and colder than other models. All other features aside, that has to be the gold standard for any cooler, right?
It is designed for easy handling with a swing-up handle that offers a comfortable and non-slip grip for easy carrying. Part of its ergonomic design is a curved back that hugs your body when carried against your waist. It is made of plastic with a polypropylene liner.
It operates on a quiet brushless motor and has a cooling fan that circulates the air to facilitate cooling. It comes with an 8” long power cord plug that can fit into any 12V DC receptacle, including a cigarette lighter in the car. The cord has a good universal fit in any 12v outlet.
- Compact and ergonomic design
- Easy to carry
- Offers sufficient space for foods and drinks
- Operates quietly
- Comes with an 8” inch power cord plug
- 12v universal fit
- Power plug gets hot after being on for several hours
- Cooling capacity will greatly decrease on really hot days
2. Wagan 12V Personal Cooler/Warmer
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The Wagan 12V personal cooler and warmer is one of the best-selling thermoelectric coolers on Amazon. It has a capacity of 14L. It has a hot/cold switch. Its maximum cooling capacity is 32-36 degrees below room temperature and heats up to 140 degrees. It is also designed for ergonomic handling and easy portability with a built-in shoulder strap, and it has two external cup holders.
It is easy to use. To get started, plug it into a 12V DC outlet and slide the power switch to your preferred function, either hot or cold. It comes with a 9-foot power cord that can extend from the cigarette port to the back of the car, where you may have placed it. You can use an optional 110V AC power source. The power cord is built into the unit.
- Stylish design
- Warming and cooling functionalities
- Easy switching between cooling and warming functions with a slide of a button
- Comes with a 9-foot power cord
- Padded shoulder strap for easy carrying
- Spacious 14L interior
- Has 2 cup holders
- Becomes less effective at higher altitudes
Best Budget Choice
3. Cooluli Mini Fridge
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Sometimes you need a big cooler and sometimes you don’t. If you want something truly portable and space saving, the Cooluli mini fridge is for you. This little guy does not have a ton of room at all, but it’s not supposed to. That said, if you want a small fridge for a kayak or a canoe trip, you won’t find a better one. Keep your bait cold, maybe a couple cans of beer or a snack. It can hold up to 6 cans. Also a great idea if you’re diabetic and need to keep insulin cold while fishing on a hot day.
The fridge measures 7. 25″ W x 10. 25″ D x 10. 75″ H. It weighs only 4 lbs. It can be powered by AC. DC or even USB power cord. In terms of operation, it hums almost unnoticeably in the background. The noise is not too much different than the fan in a laptop or computer when it gets up to speed.
Despite its size and price, the Cooluli is also built to last. This thing can literally run 24/7 for an entire year and still get the job done. On a boat or out camping, it won’t be a huge drain on your battery. We still recommend solar panels as a great way to keep it going. Use your battery as a back up just in case.
For even better power consumption, it does have an eco mode. This is ideal for storing things that are already cold rather than cooling them down.
- Super lightweight and portable
- Quiet and energy efficient
- Great price
- Eco-friendly engineering
- Easy to use
- Too small for family needs
- Limited storage
- Better at keeping things cold than making them cold
4. Ivation Electric Cooler and Warmer
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The multifunctional Ivation thermoelectric has a 25L capacity. It is designed to be versatile for various activities such as camping, traveling, fishing, barbecuing, and picnicking, among others. It maintains cool temperatures up to 40ºF and hot temperatures of up to 130ºF.
It is long enough to hold several food containers, trays, and dishes. Besides, it is high enough to hold a 2L soda. It has an easy to clean design such that you can wipe it down in a few seconds.
You can switch from hot to cold mode and vice versa with a simple put of a button. It can be powered through a 12V DC or 110V AC power source. With a power adapter, you can use the thermoelectric cooler either in a car or wall outlet.
Its design incorporates a collapsible handle for portability. Its lid is airtight and watertight. The lid also has ergonomic grips for quick opening. The wall and car chargers can be safely and conveniently store in the storage compartment on top of the unit.
- Spacious 25l compartment
- High enough to fit a 2L soda
- Can be powered with a 12V DC or 110V AC power source
- Effortless change modes with a flip of a switch
- Safety wire storage compartment
- Collapsible handle design
- Airtight and watertight lid cover
- Plug gets hot or breaks down with prolonged use.
Best Premium Choice
5. Koolatron P95 Thermoelectric Cooler
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At 45 quarts, this is a big cooler. You can hold over 70 cans in here. The interior of the lid is domed to allow a little wiggle room for taller items as well. One of the biggest deals and why we rank this so high is that lid. It has a magnetic seal and that is of vital importance. Thermoelectric coolers need a tight seal to work. Without a compressor and cooling chemicals like a fridge, the air temperature is incredibly important. So keeping this seal ensures a cool temperature. If you ever find a thermoelectric cooler is not cooling well at all, always check the lid first.
The cooler measures 20.75 x 15 x 17.25 inches and weighs under 15 lbs. When loaded with cans it can get bulky, though. Be careful when lifting if it’s full. The handles are comfortable but with 70 cans it can be awkward if you’re not used to carrying heavy loads
The versatile design liets you set it upright like a fridge if you want. Or it can sit flat like a traditional cooler or chest freezer. The warming function is easy to use. The power cord is color coded. Plug in the blue side for cooling. Plug in the red to warm things up.
There’s a removable divider inside to help with organization. A DC plug is included but it is also AC compatible. For size, capacity and reliability, Koolatron hits the mark.
- Great storage capacity
- Domed lid lets taller bottles fit inside
- Magnetic lid ensures airtight seal
- Energy efficient
- Made in North America by a well known company
- Fan can be a little loud compared to some
- Draws 6A @ 12V power, so be careful leaving it plugged in overnight.
6. AstroAI Electric Cooler
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The AstroAI Electric cooler is designed to be efficient, portable, and safe to use. It is built to function exclusively as a cooler. It cools up to 32ºF below the ambient temperature. It has one-day retention when not plugged into electricity.
Its circuit design is simplified to avoid lid burn as a result of condensation. It also comes with two ice packs. It is fitted with a 12V DC adapter that can be used in 12v cigarette lighters in vehicles. Its socket is reinforced for safety and durability.
It has a relatively large capacity of 24L, and it can hold up to thirty 12oz cans. Its inner dimensions are 12.8” x 8.8” x 13.1”, allowing you to store even beers and wines. It comes with a detachable divider that makes it easy to categorize and separate various food items.
It is eco-friendly engineered with a semiconductor refrigerator chip that is freon-free. It is also designed for easy handling with a flip handle locked towards the back and opened to the front. The handle also keeps the lid tightly closed to prevent it from falling off when driving on bumpy roads. This thermoelectric cooler is CE, FCC, and RoHS certified and comes with a 3-year warranty. It is available in the color blue or gray.
- Exclusively serves as a cooler
- Come with 2 ice packs
- Cools effectively
- 12v DC adapter
- 26L capacity
- ergonomic handle
- 3-year warranty
7. Coleman Powerchill Thermoelectric Cooler
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The Coleman Powerchill Thermoelectric Cooler has a large 46Litre capacity while being lightweight and portable. It weighs 1kg and can hold up to 44 cans. It is versatile with both hot and cold functionalities. It keeps contents up to 40ºF cooler or warmer than the surroundings.
It comes with an 8-foot power cord that allows you to power it whether you are in the RV, car, or boat. It can plug on any 12v power source. Its door opens from either the left or right side for placement flexibility.
- Cools or warms up to 40ºF less or more than the surrounding environment
- Ideal for long trips
- Comes with an 8-foot power cord
- Door opens on either side
- 12v power source
- Loud fan
- Power plug keeps falling off
8. Koolatron Hybrid Soft Bag Cooler
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Koolatron has a solid offering with this ingenious hybrid cooler. The big problem most people have with electric coolers is bulk. They’re either like small fridges or big coolers. They’re hard, and sometimes hard to carry. This soft sided cooler gives the convenience of a shoulder bag with the power of an electric cooler. It cools things down to around 40 degrees F. It can even keep food toasty up to 135F. Perfect for whether you’re packing cold drinks or a hot lunch.
Outside it looks like a typical bag you’ll bring to the beach. There are pockets for storing extra gear. There are even cup holders. And because it’s soft sided, when it’s empty, it’s far less bulky than traditional coolers. When it is full, you have room for about 23 cans.
It runs with your standard 12 V DC / 110 V AC. Its energy consumption is also barely noticeable. That means if you have a solar source handy, you could potentially run this all day and not even touch the battery.
One thing to be aware of with this model is balance. Because it’s not a hard bottom like most coolers, it’s not always even. The weight of the fan and cooling mechanism could cause it to tip. Make sure you balance the contents well before you leave it.
- Convenient carrying strap
- Easy to store
- Not nearly as bulky as a traditional cooler
- On a hot day it will struggle to keep things as cool as a hard-sided unit
- Soft sides may squish the contents
9. Wagan Tech 6244 Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer
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The Wagan Tech 6244 Thermoelectric Cooler also functions as a warmer. It has a significant capacity of 43.5L and can hold up to sixty 12oz cans. It can also hold food and snacks for an entire family’s lunch and dinner menu.
Its dual functionality as a warmer and cooler has a maximum heating capacity of 140ºF and can cool up to 36ºF below ambient temperature. It is compatible with a 12V power supply with a 48Wattts rating.
It is easy to move and carry as it is fitted with side handles, folding handle, and wheels. It has dual-top loading doors that are magnetically sealed to prevent heat loss or gain. It has two removable vertical dividers for loading versatility.
- Dual function as a warmer and cooler
- Large capacity
- Comes with 2 dividers
- Dual top-loading doors
- Doors are magnetically sealed
- Collapsible handles and rolling wells for portability
- Easy to clean
- Does not come with a plug
10. Koolatron P27 Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler
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The Koolatron P27 Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler is multifunctional, versatile, and portable. It is dual-purpose as it can also be used as a warmer. It has a 27.5 L capacity and weighs 11.1 pounds. It can hold up to 48 cans and can be used for various purposes, including picnicking, hiking, barbecuing, road trips, catering, fishing, and camping.
It comes with a 12v DC plug for easy powering via a vehicle’s 12volt outlet. It is also 110v Ac compatible, but you would need to buy the cord. It comes with a 9-foot power cord. It cools up to 40ºF below surrounding temperatures and can warm up to 135ºF. To set it up as a warmer, match the arrow on the plug to the red dot or blue for cooling mode.
Its design is durable with a hard exterior and smooth interior liner. It comes with an interior divider shelf for easy organizing of your items. The cooler can be placed either in a vertical fridge position or horizontal chest position to suit your preference and needs.
It has an easy to carry molded-in handle on the side and a slide lock that keeps the lid tightly closed. It has a fan that promotes optimal air circulation and optimal cooling. Ensure that the fan is not obstructed to prevent the cooler from overheating.
- Multifunctional as both a warmer and cooler
- Can be used for a wide range of activities
- Can be placed vertically or horizontally
- Easy to handle and carry
- 12V DC but also compatible with 110v AC
- Has limited cooling capacity
11. AooDen Thermoelectric Cooler
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With a sleek black and orange design, AooDen offers a unique looking alternative to most. You may not have heard of the company before but the product is actually pretty good. 26 quart capacity means you can store up to 30 cans of beer or soda in here. There’s an internal divider if you want to keep your food and drinks separate.
The handle is comfortable and strong. It also locks the lid in place which is a nice feature.
The specs are 12.8”(L) x 8.8”(W) x 13.1”(H). It’s capable of lowering temps up to 30-35 degrees F below the outside temperature. It can also serve as a warmer to keep food toasty before serving.
It’s easy to switch between the cottage or a vehicle. The cooler comes with 2 power cords for 12/24V DC and 110V to 240V AC. You can also rig it to run on solar as well. The company offers a one-year warranty in case anything goes wrong.
- Great capacity
- Sturdy design
- Well insulated to keep things cool even without power
- Ergonomic handle locks lid in place
- Fan is a bit noisy
- Not the best shape inside for organizing cans
12. Corona Cruiser Thermoelectric Cooler
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You will not find a more fun thermoelectric cooler on the market. Made by Koolatron, the Corona Cruiser is designed with a party in mind. This cooler has an actual lime storage compartment. With a 48 quart capacity it can store a lot more than lines, though.
Of course you can store cans, but it’s designed to perfectly hold 24 bottles. The interior measures 17 inches L x 12.5 inches W x 12.5 inches H. The case is stainless steel and branded with the Corona logo. It also features a built in bottle opener that’s quite sturdy.
The handles are large and comfortable. The lid of the cooler also has four beverage holders to keep things secure. This is a nice feature by the fire or out on the boat. And we weren’t kidding about the limes. There’s a tiny compartment ideal for limes or other small items. Keep this in mind if you’re out with someone who needs medication kept cool. But if you do choose limes, it actually has a cutting board and knife tucked away in a hidden compartment too.
The cooler is 2V DC/110V AC capable and will keep this up to 40F cooler than ambient temperature. The insulation is really high quality. If you fill this thing with ice, check on it in 5 days and some of it will still be frozen.
- Very cool look
- Added features are fun and useful
- Rugged design
- Good storage capacity and insulation
- If you’re not a big beer drinking the logo may be off putting
- No lock for the lid
Buying Guide: Features to Consider and How to Choose the Right Thermoelectric Cooler
Thermoelectric capacity is indicated in quarts or liters. The best way to maximize energy efficiency is to pack the cooler fully. Consider how much food you want to bring along and choose the appropriate thermoelectric cooler size. Electric cooler sizes are typically on the lower side, with the full-size ones having a capacity of 40-50 liters.
Most thermoelectric coolers either have a side door like a mini-fridge or a top door, or both. Genera rally, the top opening door orientation offers more access and packing versatility.
Number of Dividers/Shelves
While some thermoelectric coolers have dividers and shelves, others do not. Dividers help to separate different types of foods. Choose what works for you in regard to the number, type, and placement of the shelves or dividers
These electric coolers require a consistent power source to operate; therefore, you should ensure you have access to the recommended power source. Most are compatible with 12V DC or 110V AC power sources. Also, some can be powered through a solar panel.
Coolers with a higher power rating offer better cooling efficiency. However, they require a more powerful source of power. If you are using your car as a power source, you do not want to overdraw the battery.
- Thermostatic control. A thermoelectric cooler with a thermostat allows you to set a given operating temperature. The cool box will turn off or on accordingly to maintain the set temperature. This feature allows you to save power depending on the fluctuation in the ambient temperature.
- Drain drug. This feature is not as crucial for thermoelectric coolers as it is for ice coolers. However, it makes cleaning the electric cooler much easier.
- Heating/warming mode. Some electric coolers have a warming functionality that you can use to keep your food warm by simply reversing the power plug’s polarity.
- Freezing mode. This is a critical feature if you will be bringing along some highly perishable foods for extended periods.
How to Choose the Best Thermoelectric Cooler
- Determine the key features you want in the thermoelectric cooler. What size would work for you? Determine your preferred door orientation, number of shelves, and any other features.
- Determine your budget. Decide how much you are willing to spend on a thermoelectric cooler. Check the price range for different coolers with the features you want and identify those within your budget.
- Check the reputation of the brand and prospective products. With so many brands in the market, you want to go for the ones that have a good reputation. Check the company’s reviews as well as reviews and ratings for the specific products you are considering.
- Make your selection. After narrowing down to a few that have the features you want, are within your budget, have a good reputation, and then select one.
The most commonly reported disadvantage of thermoelectric coolers is that they do not cool down or warm the food to sufficiently low or high temperatures, respectively. Note that the cooler is not designed to work as a freezer or refrigerator to get the food cold.
However, to increase its efficiency, you can pre-chill or pre-warm the food. Also, for most of them, the plug tends to overheat with extended use. In such a scenario, you could replace the plug with a higher quality one as long as it pertains to the manufacturer’s power rating and power source recommendations.