You need a solar-powered refrigerator, but how do you choose from the hundreds available online? Amazon alone has 111 products!
Most of them will do what they were made to do – keep your food and drinks chilled.
But how many of them are easy to set up with solar panels? Will they keep your food safe to eat for over a week? And are they really portable enough to carry on the next family trip?
These are just a few of the considerations to keep in mind when choosing. That’s why we did the research for you and found the 8 best solar refrigerators. Whether you need one for a weekend camping trip, or you’re living off-grid, we’ve got you covered.
Here are our detailed reviews of the best solar refrigerators available in 2021. We’ve tested each fridge to see how they work, whether they maintain cold temperatures, and how they perform overall. Let’s start with our best overall pick.
The ACOPOWER LiONCooler solar refrigerator is our top pick as the best solar-powered fridge for off-grid or cabin use. It can keep food and drinks cold using only solar power and has a full-sized cooler compartment with a lid that will fit multiple cans of beverages, ice packs, and more.
With a capacity of 50 liters (or 13 gallons), it has enough room to store your fruits and veggies at peak ripeness so you can make sure you always have something fresh to eat.
This fridge has three ways to charge – an AC wall outlet, your car battery, or a solar panel. Acopower sells a foldable 90W solar panel that works perfectly with this unit, which means that you will never have to worry about running out of power. Here’s what DIY solar power expert HOBOTECH says about this refrigerator (1):
“This fridge is really impressive with a long battery life, and it’s perfect for disaster preparedness and emergencies.”
One full charge of the rechargeable 173Wh built-in battery allows this fridge to operate for about 10 hours at a 32℉ setting. This unit has LG compressors that work efficiently and save power whenever possible.
It has an intuitive LCD display to control the settings, and interior lights that help you see the contents in the dark. The temperature on the refrigerator can be changed to deal with the outside temperature so that the refrigerator is never working too hard to keep cool.
What’s best is how portable this fridge is – it’s got durable 6″ wheels that you can roll around just like your luggage. And at 34 pounds, it’s one of the lightest solar fridges we’ve seen. Plus, this model cools from 75℉ to 32℉ in just under twenty minutes.
If you’re looking for the best solar refrigerator, this is it. For a modest price, the LiONCooler has everything you need out of a fridge, and then some. And it comes with a 1-year warranty, with a 2-year warranty on the compressor.
The Alpicool C15-N portable solar fridge is a fantastic budget option when we look at its features and versatility. This refrigerator unit is perfect for picnics, camping, backpacking, or outdoor adventures; and it’s an excellent gift for travel aficionados.
The Alpicool C15-N comes with a black mesh bag and includes two detachable plastic cups that are compatible with both hot and cold beverages. At just 21 pounds, this is really easy to pop in the back of your car. And it’s got a handle and wheels to carry around too.
The Alpicool also has an LCD display that makes controlling its settings very easy. With 15 liters of space, this mini refrigerator can fit over 20 cans of beverages. The shelves inside this unit are also adjustable to fit food containers of any size.
And whether you need ice or a deep chill setting, the C-15 can double down as a freezer and go as low as -4℉ – cold enough to keep your meat fresh for several days.
The Alpicool C15-N solar refrigerator comes with optimal insulation properties due to its thick double-walled construction. The bottom half of the unit stays cool during hot summer days, so it can be left outside during the day without posing a threat to your food or drink stored inside.
It has an optional 4-LED light which can be used to brighten the space in the freezer and compartment. It can keep food and drinks cold using only solar power, or you can connect it to an AC outlet or even a car charger for convenience.
The Alpicool has three battery levels – low, medium, and high. These levels are designed to protect your vehicle battery from running down while the fridge is in use. The specific cut off voltages for the battery saving feature are:
If 15 quarts seems too small for you, then you should check out Alpicool’s C30 and C50 models too. They feature a similar design and the same features, but with larger capacities.
It’s important to note that while this fridge is compatible with a solar panel, one is not included and must be purchased separately. But we’re not complaining considering all you get for such a low price!
This is an absolute must-have if you’re not looking to break the bank for a great solar fridge.
The GoSun Chillest is one of the most innovative products we’ve seen in the solar refrigerator space. A successor to the earlier ‘Chill’ model, the Chillest now offers a greater capacity and several new features.
The Chillest features dual cooling zones; that means you can have both a fridge (at 40°F), and a freezer (at -4°F) within the same cooler. And with 45 liters of space, you can store days of food and drinks.
At 42 pounds, it may not be the lightest fridge, but it’s still pretty easy to lug around. It includes telescopic handles and wheels so you can roll it around just like a suitcase.
The DC brushless compressor is high-quality and energy-efficient, and the fridge is lined with R-10 closed-cell foam for optimum insulation.
This fridge comes with an 87Wh battery, which can keep it running for over 10 hours at normal usage. And if you get the additional 266Wh power bank, you can run it for over 40 hours!
And on top of that, GoSun has designed a unique ‘solar table’ that can be mounted to the Chillest to keep it charged whenever it’s in the sun. And, of course, you can always charge it via your car battery using a 12V cigarette lighter.
In case there’s any defrosting and water builds up at the bottom of the fridge, the Chillest has an emergency drain that lets you remove the water easily and quickly. Neat!
And in case the Chillest is a little expensive for your taste, we recommend checking out its younger brother, the Chill. It’s still a great solar refrigerator for most people, and won’t bog you down with heavy ice like most coolers.
If you’re looking for something innovative that’s designed to make your life easier and more comfortable, we definitely recommend giving the GoSun Chillest a try. It’s a brand-new product from a trustworthy company that ticks all the right boxes.
The Cooluli Mini is our pick as the most portable solar refrigerator you can buy. This thing is so small, you can pick it up and put it pretty much anywhere you like, and it’ll keep your essentials cold for you.
This unit is perfect for using in your vehicle. The Cooluli comes with AC/DC cables to connect to any power source, and a USB adapter that can even charge your mobile device.
While this compact fridge is compatible with solar panels, it also runs off of the 12V outlet in your car or truck. Aside from its tiny size, another unique feature of this fridge is its ability to warm food.
This fridge has temperature ranges from 40-45°F for cooling and 122-144°F for warming. That’s honestly quite unheard of in a fridge this small, so it’s a neat feature to have! But note that, there are no temperature controls on the fridge – simply two modes for cooling and heating.
With a capacity of 4 liters, this unit can hold about six cans of soda, but it’s also ideal for skincare cosmetics and medicines that require refrigeration for safe storage. If you need more space than this, you can check out the Cooluli Infinity 10 Liter version.
What we really liked about this fridge is how quiet it was! Even if you place it at your bedside table, this fridge runs so quietly you won’t feel disturbed at all.
The only thing lacking in this unit are proper temperature controls, so you can’t really set the exact temperature you want to maintain.
If you’re looking for a solar-compatible space-saving refrigerator that can hold a few cans of soda or even refrigerate your medication and cosmetics, the Cooluli Mini is the perfect fridge for you.
The ICECO VL60 is one of the best solar refrigerators we’ve seen. This dual-zone refrigerator is perfect for off-grid homes, as it offers a large capacity of 60 liters with a dual refrigerator/freezer capability as well.
The dual-zone cooling compartment can be filled with up to 89 cans of drinks (355ml in size)! It lets you set the same temperature on both sides, or set one to be cooler than the other. You can even turn off one zone for greater energy-saving.
The VL60 has a shockproof design and stands at 18.8 inches tall. It has a multi-use, built-in AC adapter with two cables for connection to DC and AC power sources.
ICECO has not compromised on this refrigerator’s build quality at all; it features a German SECOP compressor which is ETL certified and can last years. That’s why they provide a 5-year warranty on this compressor.
This refrigerator has a whisper-quiet operation even in small spaces like tents, RVs, or trucks, so it’s an excellent choice for those uses too. And moreover, it can operate normally even at an inclined angle of 40 degrees!
It has been designed to maintain a cold temperature even in hot weather. Whether you’re on a road trip or camping out in 100-degree weather, all your perishables will stay cool and safe.
This model can, in our experience, hold over a week’s worth of food with ease. The compressor rarely trips breakers, so you can easily use it with most solar generators and power inverters. Here’s what Brad from Prodigal Overland said about this fridge (2):
“The ICECO VL60 is a lot cheaper than other dual-zone fridges, and it’s great for overlanding.”
This unit does not natively come with any solar panels, but you can connect it to a variety of solar systems that can potentially run it non-stop. It’s very efficient in its energy usage.
So if you want a large, high-capacity solar refrigerator to store all your food and drinks for an off-grid home, or even for camping adventures, the ICECO VL60 is a fantastic option.
If you’re looking for even more space than this, you can even check out the VL74 model. ICECO also makes the VL60 Pro Series, which offers improved features like USB ports, reversible lids, and better energy efficiency.
The Dometic CFX28 is another great pick if you’re shopping around for a solar refrigerator. This model comes from the well-known Waeco brand, and offers a bunch of very useful features at a reasonable price.
This robust refrigerator can work at a sloped angle of nearly 45 degrees, so you can easily go off-roading with this unit in your truck and not worry at all.
The CFX28, as in the name, offers a capacity of 28 liters, which is quite spectacular considering its portability. You can keep 43 cans of beverages over here – enough for an entire weekend of fun.
Dometic is known for high-quality construction, and this model features premium parts with an advanced compressor that consumes very low power (3). Plus, it’s UL-certified, so it has been tested to perform well under heavy usage.
The interior of the fridge has LEDs to help you navigate its contents in the dark, and it’s got thick polyurethane insulation that’ll help keep the food cold even when it’s powered off. And, with a noise level of just 34 dB, it’s insanely quiet.
The CFX28 can work on any power source – AC, DC, or solar, as per your convenience. They include all the required cables, so you can just hook it up and get it running smoothly.
And the ingenuity doesn’t stop there; Dometic has included a ‘drain plug’ at the bottom of the fridge to prevent any excess water from accumulating at the bottom. You won’t have to waste time cleaning it every week!
If this model seems a little too basic for you, check out the Dometic CFX 95DZW, which has dual-zone cooling, WiFi integration, and a much larger capacity as well!
If you’re looking for a great, well-reputed solar refrigerator, the Dometic CFX28 is certainly a fantastic option. This refrigerator is a little on the expensive side compared to other competitors, but with the quality you get, it’s absolutely worth it.
The Whynter FM-45CAM is a special edition of the FM-45G model, and features a unique camouflage print. This makes it stand out and look fresh compared to most other solar refrigerators we’ve seen!
And the camouflage print isn’t the only great thing about this unit; it works like a charm. With a capacity of 45 quarts, this unit can hold more than a week’s worth of food and drinks with ease.
In the drinks department, this fridge can hold 60 cans of 12 oz sodas, and has an adjustable temperature range from -8℉ to 50℉. There’s even a fast freeze mode which cools the compartment to -8℉ rapidly, but use this with caution on a high-energy power source only.
It normally requires 65W of power and can easily work with both AC or DC power, as well as most solar setups. It’s easy to set it up with a solar panel and a battery (4). Plus, it can automatically switch between DC and AC if one source fails.
This camo fridge has three compressor settings: Max, Auto, and Eco mode. This lets you set how much current the refrigerator should draw, so it won’t cause your battery to run out unexpectedly.
If you’re looking for a solar fridge with a little personality or to reflect your love of the outdoors, the Whynter FM-45CAM might be the perfect choice for you. For a backpack through the jungle or some wilderness trucking, this refrigerator lets you bring along cold beer, ready-to-eat food, and a lot of charisma.
Last but certainly not least, the F40C4TMP is a 2-in-1 portable fridge and freezer that’s super affordable but does its job perfectly. It might be a bit of a mouthful to pronounce, but we were pleasantly surprised at how effective it was at keeping ice cream cold for over 2 days.
The F40C4TMP has a total capacity of 18 liters (or 20 quarts), which makes it perfect for keeping in an SUV, truck, or RV when you’re going for a trip.
This fridge has an aluminum alloy body, which helps lower the temperature quickly and maintain the chill for longer with great insulation. If you’re looking for a fridge or freezer that gets cold in a short period, this one can go from about 77℉ to 32℉ in just over 15 minutes.
With a low energy consumption, your food and drinks will keep cold even when the fridge/freezer combo is disconnected from the power source. That means your beer always stays chilled and ready to serve! (5) The compressor turns off when the optimal temperature is achieved to save your battery.
Reading and adjusting the temperature is easy with the LED thermostat control. Another useful feature is the integrated USB port that lets you conveniently and quickly charge your mobile devices.
This refrigerator model is an excellent choice for long car drives. The freezer option at -7.6℉ will prevent ice cream and other frozen foods from melting whether you’re on a road trip or on a family camping adventure.
Choosing the best solar-powered off-grid refrigerator can be a daunting task, especially when you look at the price tag on some of these products! Whether you want a fridge for full-time use in your off-grid home, or just one to keep your drinks cool while you’re camping, we’ve listed the most important things to look out for.
Solar refrigerators come in all shapes and sizes – because people use them for just about anything. From 50L+ huge refrigerators that may require two people to carry, or small, desk-friendly mini-fridges, you can choose anything you need.
It goes without saying that if you’re living remotely, you’re going to need a large fridge to store all your food (and for your family). But besides the size and capacity of a fridge, there are other important things to look out for:
Whether you’re storing raw meat for a week, or just chilling your beer, a fridge needs to maintain the optimum temperature that you set it at. Some fridges can go down as low as -4℉ (as low as a freezer), where you can comfortably store any frozen items, whereas some others can only operate at about 40℉ (normal refrigerator temperature).
So ask yourself, “What am I going to store in my solar refrigerator?”, and then decide accordingly. If you want to use both a fridge and a freezer, you may consider a dual-zone variant like the GoSun Chillest.
Many solar refrigerators don’t include solar panels themselves, and they need to be bought separately. In fact, we recommend checking out the best solar generators that can be used to keep these refrigerators running all day long without breaking a sweat.
Power consumption and cooling efficiency are definitely of paramount importance to off-grid adventurers. Hence, you want to ensure that you have enough juice to keep your fridge running the entire time (6).
A 100-150W solar panel is generally enough for most portable refrigerators.
A solar refrigerator that has matching solar panels is much easier to set up and won’t have any compatibility issues. Just ensure that the batteries are functional, and the charge controller is set up correctly. These fridges can be set up and left alone, for the most part. The batteries store excess power in case of a situation where the panels cannot receive sunlight.
A solar refrigerator without matching solar panels means you’ll have to double-check for compatibility, purchase the panels separately, and set them up to work with the refrigerator. These fridges can be set up to run off of AC, DC, or solar, and are more versatile, but at the cost of less convenience. We have a guide that tells you exactly how many solar panels you’ll need for that.
A portable solar refrigerator is the best option for someone who’s on the go. For those who enjoy fishing, camping, tailgating, sports events, family events, and off-grid adventures – this is your best option. Look for a fridge that has wheels and a handle so that it’s easy to carry around, just like a suitcase.
Some refrigerators are larger and heavier, and aren’t easy to drag around. These are still suitable for keeping in an RV or truck if that’s your use case.
A stationary solar refrigerator is great for off-grid living as well, as they provide larger storage capacity, but aren’t great if you plan to move around a lot.
Solar refrigerators are pretty exciting already, but many manufacturers include extras to make these eco-friendly fridges a little more versatile; and to make your life easier and more comfortable (7). Consider these features that might save you a lot of time:
Imagine this: You’re out in the wilderness, and you have cold drinks, food, and a fully-charged mobile device. Solar refrigerators with a USB charging port are not only convenient for charging your laptop or smartphones, but eliminate the stress of losing power in the middle of a trip.
Portable and small fridges with fixed shelves or with none at all can limit how much or what sized items will fit. Removable baskets and shelves help to divide your foods and keep your fridge better organized. Pieces that are easy to remove can make cleaning the fridge easier as well.
Have you ever had a chest freezer clog up with water? We know the feeling. It’s not pretty when you have to empty your fridge and use a vacuum to drain all that dirty water. That’s why many of the refrigerators on our list have emergency drain plugs that let you drain the water from the bottom with zero hassle.
Proper insulation makes things get colder faster, and typically the temperatures will get lower and stay lower, despite high temperatures outside (8).
An insulation of 6-10cm (2-3 inches) is sufficient to keep your food cold even when the power runs out.
Also, look for fluoride-free insulation materials. Knowing that your food is stored at a safe temperature takes the worry out of traveling with a fully-stocked portable fridge.
Just like your home refrigerator, look for a solar refrigerator that has interior LED lighting, so you won’t have to fumble about at night when you’re looking for that last sandwich. Some of the cheaper ones may not have this feature, so consider that as well.
The biggest advantage of a solar refrigerator is they are eco-friendly and have a neutral impact on the environment. But alongside that, most of them are designed to be highly energy-efficient. Hence, you should look out for energy efficiency ratings on the refrigerator that you’ll buy (9).
The best solar refrigerators give you versatile options for traveling and spending time off the grid. If you’re still unsure which solar refrigerator on our list to go with, here’s a quick breakdown.
Our best overall choice of the year is the ACOPOWER LiONCooler. Not only does this solar-powered refrigerator have more than adequate room for food and drinks, but it also has the option to add a matching solar panel to help guarantee compatibility and efficiency. Simply put, it works perfectly for most people.
If you want a simpler option that doesn’t break the bank, we recommend the Alpicool C15-N, which is a sturdy 15-quart refrigerator but extremely easy to carry anywhere you go.
The GoSun Chillest is perfect for beach trips and camping adventures, with innovative features that make your life easier. It’s got dual-zone cooling, matching solar panels, and it’s easy to carry too.
And if you need something tiny for cosmetics, skincare, medicine, or maybe just a few cans of drinks, the Cooluli Mini is perfect for you.
For those who want to live off-grid, the ICECO VL60 is our recommendation. It’s a no-compromise, high-quality solar refrigerator with premium features and a large capacity.
Check out our Homepage for more solar-powered, eco-friendly alternatives to your daily electronics and appliances!
The GoSun Chillest is the most energy-efficient fridge for solar power, according to our reviews. The GoSun features the latest technology, with an efficient compressor, thick insulation, and dual-zone cooling that optimizes its energy efficiency in almost any circumstance. It can be charged via a variety of power sources, and includes matched solar panels.
But aside from that, most solar refrigerators can be made energy-saving with the right solar panel system, proper charge controllers, and appropriate usage.
The number of solar panels that you need to run a refrigerator depends on its power usage, and the power output of your solar panels. For example, a typical solar refrigerator uses about 1 kWh a day when running continuously. Hence, you need solar panels that can generate that electricity every day. Usually, you would need about 100-150W solar panels for this. You can choose to go for several solar panels, or one large solar panel to achieve this.
We also recommend ensuring voltage compatibility between the solar panel and your refrigerator (whether 12V or 24V), and choosing the right solar charge controller for it.
Solar refrigerators typically have a lifespan of 3-5 years with decent maintenance. Since these are commonly used for camping and other outdoor adventures, they tend to take quite a beating compared to your household fridge. That’s why most manufacturers offer warranties for 2-3 years on these units.
If you’re using a premium solar refrigerator solely for off-grid living with good maintenance and no rough usage, you can expect a much longer lifetime on them. As always, we recommend ensuring the solar power system behind the fridge is optimized for compatibility and efficiency (10).
Dara Brant is the Managing Editor at Green Building Elements. Prior to joining us she covered alternative energy news and local developments at Your Energy Blog. Dara has a passion for sustainable living and wants to do more than her fair share to help build a better tomorrow for future generations. You can connect with Dara on LinkedIn.
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