Find the best solar refrigerator or off-grid refrigerator of 2020 (reviews and a buying guide)
You might think that solar powered refrigerators are relatively new, but they’ve been around for more than a decade. Not only are solar refrigerators an excellent option for eco-minded consumers, but they are popular in areas where access to electricity is limited. (1)
There aren’t many options if you’re looking for a refrigerator with integrated solar panels, but there are several excellent options that work with solar panels. To help you find the best solar refrigerator for you, check out our in-depth reviews, buyer’s guide, and bottom line. Let’s start with a quick look at our 11 top picks.
Quick Comparison of our Top 11 Picks (For Those In A Rush)
- ACOPOWER LiONCooler 52 Quart (Best Overall): Not only is this 52-quart solar-powered fridge a roomy option, but it can run on AC/DC or solar panels, has an easy to replace battery, and internal light fridge lights.
- Alpicool C15-N (Budget Pick): Our budget-friendly option holds up to 20 soda cans, has three levels of battery protection, and is compatible with a solar panel.
- Midea 3.1 WHD-113FSS1 (Best Off Grid Refrigerator): With an Energy Star certification, solar panel compatibility, and only uses 80w of power, this model is ideal for any off grid environment.
- Whynter FM-45CAM (Best Camouflage): With an outdoorsy design, 60 can capacity, and only 65w of power, this is the perfect option for anyone looking for a camouflage solar-powered option.
- ANSTEN 32 Quart: This model uses 42w of energy, can hold 30 liters, and is easily portable.
- ICECO VL60: Standing at nearly 19 inches tall, this fridge fits well in the backseat of a vehicle, has a flip-open cover, a shockproof design, and can be connected to AC or DC power.
- F40C4TMP 20 Quart: This 2-in-1 freezer and fridge is portable and has an aluminum alloy casing, which helps it get colder at a faster rate.
- Whynter FM-85G 85 Quart: With enough space to hold up to 85 quarts, this roomy fridge comes with an 8 ft AC power cable, a 10 ft DC cable, and will automatically switch between power sources if one fails.
- COSTWAY 55 Quart: With Eco power settings, AC or DC compatibility, and internal LED lights, this 55 quart refrigerator is full of versatility.
- Cooluli Mini: This portable, 4 quart capacity fridge with AC, DC, or USB cable power options is ideal for anyone looking for a compact solar refrigerator.
- Coleman 40 Quart: With the option to open from either the left or right side, this cooler holds 40 quarts, comes with a 8ft power cord that plugs into any 12-volt, and is ideal for traveling.
Best Solar Refrigerator & Off-Grid Refrigerator Reviews
Here are our detailed reviews of the best solar refrigerators available in 2020. We’ve tested each fridge to see how they work, maintain cold temperatures, and how they perform overall. Let’s start with our best overall pick.
1. ACOPOWER LiONCooler 52 Quart (Best Overall)
Our best overall choice for a solar-powered fridge is the ACOPOWER LiONCooler 52 Quart refrigerator. This fridge has three ways to charge, AC, Car, or solar panel, which means that you don’t have to worry about running out of power. One full charge of the battery allows the fridge to operate about 10-15 hours at a 32F setting.
It has an LCD display and an easily replaced battery and interior lights to make seeing into the fridge in the dark easier. 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.
If you’re looking for a solar fridge that can keep your food at safe temperature settings, from cool to frozen, this model cools from 75F to 32F in less than twenty minutes. Those who appreciate an easy to operate menu and app, will love this fridge. The wheels also make this a great choice for anyone who needs a portable solar fridge.
2. Alpicool C15-N (Budget Pick)
The Alpicool C15-N is an excellent budget pick when you consider the features and power versatility. Whether you need ice or a deep chill setting, this portable fridge can double as a freezer and hold up to 20 cans of soda.
The Alpicool has three levels of battery protection, low, medium, and high. These levels of protection keep your vehicle battery from running down while the fridge is in use. The specific cut off voltages for the battery saving feature are:
- H1 9.6V off;10.9V on 21.3V off; 22.7V on
- H2 10.1V off;11.4V on 22.3V off; 23.7V on
- H3 11.1V off;12.4V on 24.3V off; 25.7V on
Considering the voltage readings, this fridge will drain a regular battery if it runs nonstop, but it will work more efficiently and save your battery if you use it with a solar panel. It’s important to note that while this fridge is compatible with a solar panel, one is not included and must be purchased separately
3. Midea 3.1 WHD-113FSS1 (Best Off Grid Refrigerator)
When searching for a fridge that can be used off the grid, the Midea 3.1 WHD-113FSS1 is our pick for the best off grid refrigerator. While this fridge does not come with a solar panel, it performs more efficiently with one. This model only uses 80w of power, making it an ideal option for anyone who lives off grid or is camping in a rustic area.
With an Energy Star rating, this compact fridge has removable shelves, runs quietly and consistently holds the set temperature. (2) This is a double-door stand alone fridge with doors that open left or right for easy accessibility, and the option of a stainless steel finish.
4. Whynter FM-45CAM (Best Camouflage)
If you’re looking for a solar fridge with a little personality or reflect your love of the outdoors, the Whynter FM-45CAM, our pick for the best camouflage, might be the perfect choice for you. This fridge can hold 60 cans of 12oz sodas, has an adjustable temperature range that ranges from -8F to 50F. There’s a fast freeze mode which cools the component to -8F rapidly.
It requires 65w of power and can work with AC or DC power. It is set to switch between DC and AC if one source fails. This camo fridge has three compressor settings: Max, auto, and eco-mode. The manufacturer notes (3) that these modes use following amps:
- Max: 5.5 amps
- Auto: 4.5 to 5 amps
- Eco: 2.8 amps
This model works with small batteries, off of AC or DC power, and of course, it can be fitted with a solar panel.
The Ansten 32 Quart fridge uses 42W of low energy consumption, it has a 30-liter capacity and is easily portable. It also has two power cables for AC and DC power connections. This cooler holds the inside temperature consistently, even without a power connection. In our experience, it will stay ~40F when it’s 70F outside, and only use 30-50% of battery power. It’s important to note that the temperature varies 2 or 3 degrees on either side of the set temperature.
Not only is this cooler is exceptionally sturdy and can be used as a table or seat, but it has convenient handles that make it easy to move around. It can also connect to a panel and holds temperatures overnight. (4) If you are looking for a camping cooler where you’ll have access to a battery charger or solar panel, this model is an excellent choice.
The ICECO VL60 With Cover 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. If you are looking for a refrigerator that has whisper-quiet operation in small spaces like a tent or RV, this is an excellent choice for you.
Designed to maintain a cold temp in hot weather, the ICECO performs well in warmer climates. Whether you’re on a road trip or camping out in 100 degree weather, your perishables will stay cool.
This model can, in our experience, hold one week’s worth of food and run non-stop. The compressor rarely trips breakers and is great for travelers.
The F40C4TMP 20 Quart is a 2-in-1 portable fridge and freezer with an aluminum alloy body, which helps lower the temperature quickly and maintain a cold setting. If you’re looking for a fridge or freezer that gets cold in a short period, this one can go from about 77F to 32F in about 15 minutes.
A low energy consumption option, your food and drinks will keep cold even when the fridge/freezer combo is disconnected from the power source. The compressor turns off when the optimal temperature is achieved
Adjusting and reading the temperature is easy with the LED thermostat control and another useful feature is the USB port for convenient and quick charging of other devices. This model is an excellent choice for long car drives. The freezer option will prevent ice cream and other frozen foods from melting whether you’re on a road trip or on a family camping adventure.
The Whynter FM-85G 85 Quart has a large adjustable temperature range, from -8F to 50F, making it a good choice for keeping foods frozen or your craft beer at its optimal drinking temperature. (5) Based on our experience, this Whynter model maintains steady temperatures for up to 48 hours.
This fridge comes with an 8ft AC and 10ft DC power cord. If one source fails, the other one will automatically kick in. Other features that make this top pick on our list include the low power indicator, stainless steel handles for easier portability, and a drain plug to keep water from pooling up and for easy cleanup.
The COSTWAY 55 Quart solar fridge with MAX and Eco modes comes with an AC and DC cord to ensure that your refrigerator always has a source of power. The LCD screen makes it easy to read and set the temperature, which ranges between -4F or 50F. Tall enough to hold a bottle and chill nearly up to 20 bottles of wine or over 80 canned drinks, the 55 quart fridge is roomy and versatile.
A removable basket and partition can give you extra space if you need it or leave it in for a well-organized fridge or freezer. It’s important to note that while the fridge maintains the set temperature, you may need to reset your temperature if you lose or switch your power source.
Labeled as a “car refrigerator” by the manufacturer, the COSTWAY is the perfect companion for a trip to the grocery store or a long trip across country. This fridge works well in any type of setting, not just in the backseat of your car.
10. Cooluli Mini
If you want a solar compatible space saving option that can hold a few cans of soda or even refrigerate your medication, the 4 quart Cooluni is the perfect fridge for using in your vehicle. The Cooluni comes with an AC/DC and USB adapter and can charge your device while your mini-fridge is in ECO mode.
While this compact fridge is compatible with solar panels, it also runs off of the 12v outlet in your vehicle. Aside from its size, another unique feature of this fridge is its ability to warm food. Temperature ranges from 40 to 45F for cooling and 122 to 144F for warming.
11. Coleman 40 Quart
While the last pick on our list is not technically a fridge, it’s another excellent option for keeping your food cool while on the go or spending the day on the water or camping. The thermoelectric cooler has an 8ft power cord and only requires 12 volts. (6) This 40 quart cooler keeps the contents up to 40 degrees F colder than outside temperatures.
For easy accessibility, you can open the door from either then left or right, has a lightweight design, and fits in most vehicles for ultimate portability. Although you can plug the Coleman into your vehicle’s 12v outlet, the cooler runs continuously and there is no battery protection.
Buyers’ Guide (Top 3 Tips – How to Pick the Best Solar Refrigerator for You)
Choosing the best solar-powered or off the grid refrigerator is an important task, especially when you take into account the price tag on some of the products. Whether you want a fridge for full-time use, camping, trucking, or to use every so often, there’s likely a solar fridge out there for you.
A breakdown of the types of portable fridges is below, solar refrigerator with and without integrated solar panels, and off-grid refrigerators, which are great for use with solar panels but take a bit of rigging.
1. Know What Type of Solar Refrigerator You Need
As we noted earlier, solar refrigerators are getting more and more common, but they aren’t all created the same. Most of the solar refrigerators on our list are compatible with solar panels, but there are several options available you should be aware of. Let’s take a closer look to determine what works best for you.
Solar Refrigerator – With Matching Panels
A solar refrigerator that has matching solar panels means that you do not have to worry about compatibility, other than ensuring the batteries are functional, and the charge controller is set up. (7) 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. Fridges with matching panels are much harder to find, and there are not many out there. However, our best overall choice falls in this category.
Solar Refrigerator – Without Matching Panels
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 after reviewing our list of top picks you’ll notice the versatility.
Solar Refrigerator – Portable
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 living – this is your best option.
Solar Refrigerator – Stationary
A stationary solar refrigerator is usually a larger model, intended to stay in one place, unlike portable ones. These are 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. These models are great for those who don’t have access to regular AC power, or just need a low-wattage draw large capacity refrigerator.
2. Look for Bonus Features That Excite You
Solar refrigerators might be exciting enough, but many manufacturers include extras to make these eco-friendly fridges a little more versatile. Check out some bonus features to get excited about.
Ample Storage: Up to 85 Quarts
The smallest solar refrigerator on our list is compact and holds 4 quarts. While many solar compatible fridges have a 40 to 50 quart capacity, a larger fridge can change the way you travel. With an 85 quart option you can pack up food for a full week, never worry about adding ice, or tossing out spoiled food.
Most large capacity options still have a streamline and space-saving design while remaining portable and energy efficient.
USB Charging Port
When you’re spending time in the wilderness or off-grid, you can still have cold food, drinks, and a fully-charged mobile device. Solar refrigerators with a USB charging port is not only convenient for charging your laptop or smartphones, but eliminates the stress of losing the power on your mobile devices.
However, if the model you’re interested in doesn’t come with a USB Charging Port, check out our popular pure sine wave inverter reviews for some great options to help keep your electronic devices charged off-grid.
Integrated Solar Panels
As mentioned earlier, Integrated solar panels are harder to find and will increase the cost of your fridge. Integrated panels means that you don’t have to carry around extra power cords or worry about setting up your panels properly. But, this limits drastically where you can put your fridge – which explains why they are hard to find.
Removable Shelves and Dividers
Portable and small fridges with fixed shelves or with none at all can limit how much or what sized items will fit. Removable baskets or 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.
Materials like Aluminum Alloy
Aluminum alloy makes things get colder faster, and typically the temperatures will get lower and stay lower, despite high outside temperatures. Knowing that your food is stored at a safe temperature takes the worry out of traveling with a fully-stocked portable fridge.
LED lighting will come standard with most of the top-rated solar refrigerators and off-grid refrigerators on our list, but it’s worth checking to make sure. If the fridge you’re interested in doesn’t have LED lighting, consider adding a solar-powered dusk to dawn light to your setup to illuminate fridge without the need of AC power.
While most fridges are designed to keep foods adequately refrigerated between 35 to 45 degrees F, a fridge with the option to freeze will expand your food storage needs.
3. Find the Top Deal for Your Unique Needs
The best deal isn’t always about the cost. Your top deal should meet all of your needs and preferences at the best price. Let’s take a look at some factors to consider when looking for your top deal.
Many solar refrigerators come with a one-year limited warranty. While these types of warranties are common, it’s important to read the fine print before you buy a fridge. Some warranties will only cover manufacturer’s defects for up to a year, others will offer the option for extended coverage for a small fee.
Some factors will void a warranty, such as improper installation, use, or inclement weather like flooding.
Since the majority of solar refrigerators are lightweight and compact, shipping is likely to remain relatively low. Depending on where you purchase your solar refrigerator, you might qualify for free shipping or meet an order minimum for low-cost shipping.
One of the best ways to save money when shopping for a solar refrigerator is to look for limited-time deals. Sales don’t last forever, so when you spot a deal that fits all your requirements it may be the time to capitalize and get more for your dollar.
Also, be on the lookout for Seasonal Sales when buying your solar refrigerator to get more return on your investment, and sweeten the deal. (8)
When you consider the final price of your solar refrigerator it’s important to think beyond the base price. It’s a good idea to factor in shipping costs, taxes, extended protection plans, and any accessories you might need, such as power cords or solar panels if none are included.
The size and features of your solar refrigerator can range from under $50 to nearly $800 or more. If you buy a refrigerator with integrated panels, you’re likely to pay more but you don’t factor in the cost of extra accessories.
The Bottom Line: Should you Buy the Best Solar Refrigerator Today?
The best solar refrigerators here at Your Energy Blog give you versatile options for travel or spending time off grid. If you’re still unsure which solar refrigerator on our list to go with, we highly-recommend the ACOPOWER LiONCooler, our best overall choice of the year.
Not only does this solar-powered refrigerator have adequate room for food and drinks, but it also has the option to add a matching solar panel to help guarantee compatibility and efficiency. This makes the setup super easy, and simple.
Then, while the fridge has the option to add matching solar panels, it also includes an AC/DC power supply to ensure you never lose power, even on the cloudiest of days.
If you want a reliable and eco-friendly option that will operate up to 15 hours on battery power alone, this ACOPOWER model is easily one of the best integrated solar panel options available.