12 Volt Cooler Guide

7 Best 12-volt Coolers for Van Life

Igloo 28 qt , Iceless Gray
Wagan EL6214 12V Personal Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer, 14 Liter Capacity, Portable Electric Car Cooler Warmer with 12/24V DC, 12V Small Fridge for Car, RV, and Camping Use, UL Listed
Coleman PowerChill Hot/Cold Portable Thermoelectric Cooler, 40 Quart , Gray
Electric Cooler and Warmer for Car and Home with Wheels - 48 Quart (45 Liter) Holds 60 Cans or 6 Two Liter Bottles and 15 Cans - Dual 110V AC House and 12V DC Vehicle Plugs
Price
$129.99
$101.25
Price not available
$189.00
Igloo 28 qt , Iceless Gray
Price
$129.99
Wagan EL6214 12V Personal Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer, 14 Liter Capacity, Portable Electric Car Cooler Warmer with 12/24V DC, 12V Small Fridge for Car, RV, and Camping Use, UL Listed
Price
$101.25
Coleman PowerChill Hot/Cold Portable Thermoelectric Cooler, 40 Quart , Gray
Price
Price not available
Electric Cooler and Warmer for Car and Home with Wheels - 48 Quart (45 Liter) Holds 60 Cans or 6 Two Liter Bottles and 15 Cans - Dual 110V AC House and 12V DC Vehicle Plugs
Price
$189.00
Igloo 28 qt , Iceless Gray
  • Swing-up bale handle with comfort grip for easy carrying
  • Molded-in side handles for two handed carrying or lifting. Capacity-32 12-oz cans; 26 quarts (24 liters)
  • 8' long power cord plugs into any 12V DC receptacle (e.g. cigarette lighter) for portable use - good universal fit in 12V outlet
  • Uses your car's cigarette lighter to cool without ice, unlocking more room for food and drinks, as well as keeping all contents fresh and dry. Takes cooler temperature down to 36F below surrounding air
  • Cools without ice and leaves you more room for food and drinks

I’d name this as the best vehicle cooler. You ask why. It’s because it’s super lightweight, easy to carry, and keeps things cooler for a surprisingly long time than other thermometric ones.

Keeping a massive cooler in a van is obviously not an option, so you can opt for this compact one and save your van space. This cooler is thermoelectric, which means it’s easy to maintain, uses less power, and lightweight as compared to others.

However, keep in mind that it’s a cooler and not a fridge. It can keep things cold (or hot for that matter) but wouldn’t freeze them.

 Features

It’s made up of plastic and polypropylene liner material; therefore, it is light weighted and easy to move.

It comes with molded side handles, making it handy and easy to carry. Also, the handle provides a comfortable grip.

The storing space is 26 quarts or 24 liters.

This cooler can connect easily to any 12 volt DC receptacle like your car’s cigarette lighter.

Pros

Small and handy

Has enough internal space

Sturdy build

Consumes less energy than others

Cons

The plug can get heated.

Does not work efficiently in hotter areas

Food needs to be precooled to make them last more time.

Verdict

If you are in search of a cooler that takes less space and works as efficiently as others, this one can be your ideal pick. This cooler is easy to carry around and easy to use. What more a van lifer would ask for?

Wagan 12V Personal Cooler

Sale
Wagan EL6214 12V Personal Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer, 14 Liter Capacity, Portable Electric Car Cooler Warmer with 12/24V DC, 12V Small Fridge for Car, RV, and Camping Use, UL Listed
  • 14L 12v cooler/warmer lets drivers save money and time by enjoying food and drinks on the go inside your vehicle, reduce or eliminate stops at fast food joints during road trips, and save gas by avoiding the line at the drive thru; ideal for road trips
  • Keep food and beverages cool without messy ice, or keep them warm instead; unit holds up to 12 soda cans; standard size water bottles also fit inside (if desired, you can even pack healthy snacks like fruit and yogurt)
  • Hot/cold/off switch has indicator lights for quickly viewing which temperature mode is in use; maximum cooling capacity is 32 Degree-36 Degree F below room temperature and it can heat up to a maximum of 140 Degree
  • Easy to use - simply plug into your vehicle's 12v DC outlet and slide the temperature control switch; 9 foot DC power cord extends to your vehicle's back seat area; built-in shoulder strap allows for easy transport to take it anywhere you go
  • An optional AC adapter accessory is available (Wagan item 9903) for additional use in the home, office or hotel (sold separately)

What’s better than a cooler that doubles as a warmer? Wagan not only cools your drinks but in winters, it can act as a warmer too. Imagine sipping a warm soup snuggled in a blanket right in your campervan.

This cooler is easy to use and easy to maintain.

Wagan boasts about the durability of their products, and rightly so. With proper care, this cooler can last a lifetime.

Features

The 12-volt cooler requires low energy as it works on thermoelectric cooling technology.

It can efficiently cool your stuff as low as 36 degrees down the ambient temperature.

The most striking function is it can be heated up to 140 F.

Along with the direct DC connection, it also comes with an AC adapter.

Internal space is adequate to keep 12 soda cans and standard size water bottles.

Pros

Quiet cooling

Practice design

Do cooling and warming both.

Easy to move around

Environment-friendly (does not contain Chloro Flouro Carbons)

Cons

Not very compact

Reduced performance in sweltering temperatures

Verdict

If you are searching for a cooler that doubles as a warmer, then this cooler cum warmer has got you sorted. Keep things chilled in hot summers and warm in chilly winters. Isn’t it a van lifers dream come true?

Coleman 40 quart portable cooler

Coleman PowerChill Hot/Cold Portable Thermoelectric Cooler, 40 Quart , Gray
  • Versatile hot/cold thermoelectric cooler keeps food items at an optimal temperature
  • Keeps contents up to 40 degrees colder or warmer than the surroundings
  • 8-foot power cord allows you to the power the cooler with a car or boat outlet
  • Door opens from either the left or right side to offer added placement flexibility
  • 40-quart capacity holds up to 44 cans

Coleman is a famous and old brand that makes coolers for a long time, so the product coming from them will be reliable. It provides the coolest possible temperature a cooler could. It won’t be wrong to say it’s a cross between a cooler and a refrigerator.

The upright position makes it unique amongst the others, and with the whopping 40 quarts storing ability, this cooler is becoming increasingly famous among the van lifers.

Features

The design of this cooler is unarguably the most innovative one. The cooler door can be opened from both sides, i.e., from both left and right.

It comes with two orientations; you can use it as a traditional ice chest or position it upright and get the refrigerator feels in your campervan. Coleman cooler is exceptionally lightweight (18 pounds) and easy to carry around.

Unlike others that can go only 36 degrees below the ambient temperature, this cooler can go 40, which means more efficient cooling.

No additional power source is required. It needs only 12 volts to work properly; therefore, it can work even with your car’s cigarette lighter receptacle.

Pros

It can be used both ways with dual orientations, as a traditional cooler or a van refrigerator.

The door opens in both ways.

Cools more than others in the market

Cons

It lacks a handle; therefore, carrying it around can be a task.

It’s big and bulky

No warmer included

Verdict

If you want things to be really chilled and can compromise on their large size, you must give this cooler a try. However, you know you can’t carry bulky things around when you’re off the grid always.

Knox Gear Electric Cooler and Warmer

Sale
Electric Cooler and Warmer for Car and Home with Wheels - 48 Quart (45 Liter) Holds 60 Cans or 6 Two Liter Bottles and 15 Cans - Dual 110V AC House and 12V DC Vehicle Plugs
  • PORTABLE TRAVEL FRIDGE & HEATER: Whether you're travelling on the road or camping in an RV, camper or minivan, this large capacity storage container to heat & warm or cool & chill food & drink.
  • PLUGS IN ANYWHERE: The cooler/warmer combo has 2 built in cords - one for standard wall outlets, and one for car power adapters. Both have storage compartments to be hidden when not in use.
  • VAST STORAGE SPACE: This 48 quart cooler stores about 60 cans of soda or 6 two liter bottles and 15 cans of soda or beer. A removable divider creates 2 compartments for easier organizing and storing.
  • CHILLS WITHOUT ICE: Forget ice packs that need constant refilling, take up precious space, and leave you with a watery mess when they melt. This cooler maintains a cool 40 F temp without any ice.
  • DOUBLE HANDLES AND WHEELED: Two handles and wheels make it easy to carry or pull. A dual functioning handle allows you to carry your cooler in hand or pull it on the ground using the wheels.

If you are looking for a basic and sturdy yet practical type of cooler, then this cooler is what you need. The impeccable design makes it easy to store. One useful feature this cooler offers is that you can make two compartments in it and keep your food and beverages separated by using a removable divider. With warmer settings option, this cooler doubles as a warmer, which means it will be your best van companion whole year-round. With an easy locking mechanism,  the door remains tightly sealed to maintain the internal temperature and prevent accidental spills.

Features

It works both as a cooler and a warmer. All you need to do is to adjust the settings and get the chilliest drinks and warmest beverages on the go.

It comes with two power cords. One is standard, and the other one is for car adapters. You can plug it anywhere you want.

The storage space is 27 quarts, which is adequate for a single or a couple.

No ice packs are required to keep your things cool.

The ergonomic handle makes it a breeze to carry around.

It can easily fit anywhere in your van because of its small and ergonomic structure.

Pros

Ergonomic design

Efficient cooling

Sealing lock mechanism

Works as both cooler and warmer

Perfect size to be stored in a van

Plugs anywhere

Cons

Items required to be frozen if you want to keep them fresh for a long time

Verdict

If you are the one that likes basic hassle-free gadgets, then this cooler is the one you need. It works well enough to keep things fresh for a considerable period.

Massimo E-Kooler Electric Fridge Cooler

Want a cooler that works just as efficiently as a fridge? This cooler is the one for you. This cooler is the sturdiest option available in the market. The shock-proof design can withstand harsh outdoor life. Unlike the others that work on thermoelectric technology, this cooler uses a powerful compressor for the most efficient cooling.

It gets chilled quickly and can get cool down up to 0-degrees, which is quite impressive for a cooler. Its price can be overwhelming, but you won’t go back to others once you start using it.

Features

The whopping 50L capacity can store a considerable amount of your food and beverages.

The shock-proof technology makes it withstand the harsh outdoor environment.

It works on a 30L medium compressor cooling technology. The compressor is quiet and has adjustable HH and ECO modes.

It works both with AC and DC power adapters, so you don’t have to worry about the power source.

The innovative battery-protection circuit cuts of the power it senses any threat to your car battery.

The temperature can be adjusted using the LCD touch buttons, making it a breeze to use.

Due to its large size, wheels are given in the bottom for easy maneuver.

Pros

The sturdiest option

Provides the coolest temperature

Eco-friendly

Noiseless operation

Easy temperature adjustment

Cons

Large size

Very expensive

Verdict

While most of the van lifers prefer to use things as basic as possible, if you are the tech-savvy van lifer, this cooler is the one for you. The most innovative cooler unsurprisingly comes at the highest price; however, considering this cooler’s sturdiness, it can be your one-time investment.

Massimo E-Kooler Electric Fridge Cooler

Want a cooler that works just as efficiently as a fridge? This cooler is the one for you. This cooler is the sturdiest option available in the market. The shock-proof design can withstand harsh outdoor life. Unlike the others that work on thermoelectric technology, this cooler uses a powerful compressor for the most efficient cooling.

It gets chilled quickly and can get cool down up to 0-degrees, which is quite impressive for a cooler. Its price can be overwhelming, but you won’t go back to others once you start using it.

Features

The whopping 50L capacity can store a considerable amount of your food and beverages.

The shock-proof technology makes it withstand the harsh outdoor environment.

It works on a 30L medium compressor cooling technology. The compressor is quiet and has adjustable HH and ECO modes.

It works both with AC and DC power adapters, so you don’t have to worry about the power source.

The innovative battery-protection circuit cuts of the power it senses any threat to your car battery.

The temperature can be adjusted using the LCD touch buttons, making it a breeze to use.

Due to its large size, wheels are given in the bottom for easy maneuver.

Pros

The sturdiest option

Provides the coolest temperature

Eco-friendly

Noiseless operation

Easy temperature adjustment

Cons

Large size

Very expensive

Verdict

While most of the van lifers prefer to use things as basic as possible, if you are the tech-savvy van lifer, this cooler is the one for you. The most innovative cooler unsurprisingly comes at the highest price; however, considering this cooler’s sturdiness, it can be your one-time investment.

Igloo Iceless 40-Quart Cooler

Igloo Quart MaxCold Cooler, Blue/Navy, 40 Qt
  • Igloo max cold cooler offer the ultimate in cold retention with ultratherm insulated lid and body
  • Durable wheels and tow handle for easy transport to and from the event
  • Ultratherm insulation in body and lid helps keep things cold
  • Reinforced swing-up handles with tie-down loop
  • 40 qt. Capacity and can hold up to 56 cans

Igloo specializes in manufacturing some impeccable coolers models; but, this model is one of their best. It works on thermoelectric technology but works just as efficiently as the ones with compressors. With two orientations, this cooler is easy to use. The cost can be a bit on the higher side than the others but worth every penny as it runs much cooler and is much quieter.

Features

This cooler is made up of propylene material, which is efficient in trapping cold or heat inside.

With a convection cooling fan, cold air is circulated throughout the unit.

You can use it as a refrigerator or an ice chest due to its dual orientation.

It uses 12 volts of power to work and can be connected easily to your car cigarette lighter.

Pros

Generous amount of space

Affordable

Portable and easy to carry around

Cools rapidly

Cons

The adapter stops working after some time.

Verdict

If you’re in search of an affordable big sized cooler, then this one can be your best investment.

Coleman PowerChill Hot/Cold Portable Thermoelectric Cooler, 40 Quart cooler

Coleman PowerChill Hot/Cold Portable Thermoelectric Cooler, 40 Quart , Gray
  • Versatile hot/cold thermoelectric cooler keeps food items at an optimal temperature
  • Keeps contents up to 40 degrees colder or warmer than the surroundings
  • 8-foot power cord allows you to the power the cooler with a car or boat outlet
  • Door opens from either the left or right side to offer added placement flexibility
  • 40-quart capacity holds up to 44 cans

Coleman has its name when it comes to making quality camping products. The biggest perk of this cooler is its affordable price. It can go down up to 40 degrees than the ambient temperature, unlike other high-end thermoelectric ones that are capable of going 36 degrees only.

Features

With dual cold and hot temperature settings, you can chill your beverages in hot and humid weather and warm up your hot cocoa on freezing winter nights.

It can keep contents in it 40 degrees cooler than the ambient temperature.

The 8-foot long cord connects with your car or boat adapter.

The 40-quart capacity can house as much as 44 cans.

Pros

Cools almost in an instant

It can be powered by any adapter.

Impeccable customer service.

Affordable price

Cons

The air distributing fan heats up easily.

Requires appropriate maintenance

Verdict

What’s better than a cold and a hot unit in one cooler and that too at an amazing price?