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When you have camping trips planned or need to go on a long road trip, making sure that you have a fridge in your van can be a lifesaver. You will be able to keep all of your favorite drinks and snacks nice and cool no matter where you choose to go in your van.

But can you actually add a mini fridge to your van?

Yes! You can definitely add a mini fridge to your van, and you will have plenty of choices in terms of models, brands, as well as how they are powered. The only things you will need to bear in mind is that you will need to ensure the mini fridge is secured in place so that it’s not likely to get damaged when you’re driving, and you will also need to keep it out of direct sunlight.

So now we know that you can indeed add a mini fridge to your van. But how are you going to power it? Let’s take a look at the different ways you can power your new mini fridge.

How To Power A Mini Fridge In A Van

The great thing about mini fridges is that they come with an ample amount of storage for your drinks and snacks. Some models will even come with a freezer compartment so that you can keep stuff extra cool. 

However, you can’t use AA batteries to power them. Mini fridges will need more electricity than batteries can provide, so you will need to have a constant electricity source for them to use. This will either come from a solar power setup or from your vehicle battery.

So let’s take a look at these two sources of electricity in more detail.

Charge It Using A Car Battery

Of course, every vehicle comes with a power source in the form of a battery. These vehicle batteries come with lots of electricity so that they can keep the car moving along. So it only makes sense that you should also use this car battery to help power your mini fridge.

However, it will be important to monitor the charge of your car battery if you use this method.

When you use the headlights on your car or even the radio or other electronics such as a mini fridge, without the ignition being switched on, this can drain your battery really quickly. The good news is that most models of mini fridge will come with an automatic shutoff so as to stop them from draining too much of your car battery in one go. But it’s not a good idea to go through a full cycle constantly.

To stop your car battery from becoming too drained, you will need to turn the ignition on and allow it to run for around 15 to 20 minutes a couple of times throughout the day. This will cause the alternator to start charging the battery, so the charge shouldn’t get too low. 

It will be essential to follow this step to keep your battery charges so that you can run your car when you need to drive somewhere, as well as give your fridge all the power it needs to keep your food and drinks chilled.

In order to run your mini fridge using your car battery, you will need a 12 volt DC plug adapter. This will allow you to hook your mini fridge up to your car battery. The vast majority of modern vehicles will have 12 volt plugs in the front panel of your car. These are sometimes referred to as cigarette lighters. It will be fairly simple to plug your new mini fridge into these sockets to give you an easy-to-access power source.

Make Use Of Solar Power

Another method you can use to power your mini fridge is to use solar power. This is a great power source that can be used to charge all of your most used appliances and devices, including your new mini fridge. Let’s take a look at how to get the solar panels set up so that you can use them to power your mini fridge.

First, you will need to mount the solar panels to the roof of your vehicle. You will then need to run the cables through the ceiling of your vehicle, right down to the charge controller. Next, you will need to hook the charge controller up to a 12 volt deep cycle battery. 

The battery should now start to be charged via solar power. The last stage you will need to follow is to hook up a 12 volt DC plug adapter to the terminals on the battery. You will then need to plug in the other end of the socket into your mini fridge.

And that’s all you need to do!

It may seem like a more complicated process at first glance. However, you should be able to get your solar panels set up within an hour or two. Perhaps even less if you have someone to help you!

To make the process even easier for yourself, you can opt for a handy solar kit. This should include everything you need, such as solar panels, cables, brackets, a charge controller, as well as connectors.

Best Mini Fridges For Vans

The options are endless when it comes to finding the best mini fridge for your van. But in order to choose the most suitable models for your van, you should avoid choosing a standard college dorm type of mini fridge. These types of mini fridges can’t be used in moving cars because they will have far too many smaller parts which could become too easily dislodged. This will of course compromise its ability to cool your drinks and snacks.

To save you the hassle of research, we’ve picked the best mini fridges for vans. Take a look at the more detailed product reviews below to help you choose the best models for your needs.

Dometic CRX-65 Black Refrigerator And Freezer

Dometic CRX-65 75500.000.21 12/24 Volt DC Compressor Black Refrigerator and Freezer

Searching for a combination of refrigerator and freezer? The Dometic CRX-65 black refrigerator and freezer is the perfect product for your needs. 

This particular mini fridge will allow you to adjust the temperature. This will be essential for getting the right temperature for your drinks and snacks. You can easily adjust the temperature via the soft touch control panel. 

What’s really great about this particular fridge freezer is that it will be suitable for use in both vans as well as smaller motorhomes. You can even purchase a flush-mount or standard frame to help you get it easily set up in your van.

Pros:

  • Highly efficient
  • Quieter operation
  • Includes a separate storage compartment
  • Gives you 3 food solutions in one handy appliance
Dometic CRX-65 75500.000.21 12/24 Volt DC Compressor Black Refrigerator and Freezer
  • Patented removable freezer compartment
  • Offering a 3-in-1 solution: fridge, freezer or both at the same time!
  • Temperature control and compressor speed control enable highly efficient energy consumption
  • Minimal noise as the fan speed automatically adjusts to the ambient temperature
  • Standard or flush-mount installation frame available as accessory

Dometic RM2193RB Compact Portable Refrigerator

Dometic RM2193RB Compact Portable Refrigerator,Black

The Dometic RM2193RB compact portable refrigerator is another excellent choice for installing in your van. What’s really great about this particular model is that you can use a variety of ways to power it. You can use either DC, AC, or even LP gas to get it powered up.

This particular refrigerator will be able to keep your drinks and snacks consistently cool, regardless of the external temperature outside your vehicle. This makes it an excellent fit for both smaller campers and camper vans.

The only thing to bear in mind is that this model is only a refrigerator, so doesn’t come with a freezer compartment.

Pros:

  • 3 different power source methods
  • Space saving design
  • Choose between a right or left door hinge
  • Measures 1.9 cubic meters
Dometic RM2193RB Compact Portable Refrigerator,Black
  • Dometic
  • Depth 21 7/16 " ; Height 21 9/16 " ; Width 19 5/16 "
  • Net weight 46.30 lbs
  • Refrigerant 1, type NH3
  • Input voltage (AC) 110 V

Dometic CFX75DZW Fridge Freezer

Dometic CFX 50W 12v Electric Powered Portable Cooler, Fridge Freezer

When it comes to mini fridges, Dometic is arguably the leading brand in this area. They have a range of great refrigerators, and especially in the 12V DC category. 

The Dometic CFX75DZW fridge freezer is the optimal choice for those who want a lot of storage space from their fridge. It has a whopping 40 liter capacity so that you can store all of your favorite food and drinks in it.

What’s really great about this particular Dometic fridge freezer is that you can easily adjust the temperature right down to -7 degrees Fahrenheit. This particular fridge freezer will be able to maintain a solid temperature for longer because of its great insulation.

Another fantastic feature of this model is that it has been designed to use a low power consumption. So it will only use power in the event that the interior temperature of the fridge may rise by a couple of degrees. It also features a super quiet operation.

Pros:

  • Large 40 liter capacity
  • Fridge and freezer combination
  • Low power consumption
  • Easy-to-use digital screen
Dometic CFX 50W 12v Electric Powered Portable Cooler, Fridge Freezer
  • Your purchase includes one cooler, one manual, one warranty card, one Connection cable for 12/24V connection, one Connection cable for 100-240V connection and removable wire baskets. Uses refrigerant type R134a
  • Portable Cooler dimensions: 28.5” W x 18.54” H x 17.9” D | Weight: 44.97 lbs | Capacity: 72 Can | Compressor reach: -7 °F (–22 °C)
  • Additional features: USB Port – 5V, 500mA | Wi-Fi connectivity | Drain plug | LED Interior Light | RCM certificate
  • Two separate compartments for cooling and freezing in any combination desired to be set - freezer/freezer, freezer/fridge or fridge/fridge

Alpicool CF45 Portable Refrigerator

Alpicool CF45 Portable Refrigerator 12 Volt Car Freezer 48 Quart(45 Liter) Vehicle, Car, Truck, RV, Boat, Mini fridge freezer for Driving, Travel, Fishing, Outdoor and Home -4°F to 68°F

Looking for a mini fridge that features easy operation? Then the Alpicool CF45 portable refrigerator is just the thing you need. Similar to the Dometic CFX75DZW, the Alpicool CF45 fridge comes with an easy-to-use digital display. This allows you to easily lower or raise the temperature depending on your needs. You can also use this digital monitor to turn the fridge on or off, or use the settings menu to troubleshoot any issues you encounter.

One of the best features of this particular mini fridge is that it’s compatible for use with solar systems. Another handy feature is that this mini fridge comes with four rubber corners to protect it along all its sides. 

Another handy feature is that this fridge can maintain a solid temperature for well over an hour without having to use the power source. This is because of the included insulation foam in the walls.

Perhaps one of the best things about this mini fridge is the variety of included smaller features. It includes four handy cup holders along the top of the fridge, a removable basket inside the appliance, and a handle to make moving the unit even easier.

Pros:

  • Choose between a variety of sizes
  • Four cup holders along the top of the mini fridge
  • Easy-to-use touch display monitor
  • Cools down food and drink to -4 degrees Fahrenheit
Alpicool CF45 Portable Refrigerator 12 Volt Car Freezer 48 Quart(45 Liter) Vehicle, Car, Truck, RV, Boat, Mini fridge freezer for Driving, Travel, Fishing, Outdoor and Home -4°F to 68°F
  • ❄ STORAGE SPACE:Exterior Size 27.2”x13.6”x18.2”, 48Quart(45 Liter) capacity ,fits 48 x 12ozs cans of Cola.
  • ❄ FREEZES WITHOUT ICE: -4°F(-20°C) powerful chilling down performance ,can adjust the temperature be a fridge or freezer.Run great with your small solar system as well.
  • ❄CAR BATTERY PROTECTION:With temperature memory function and 3 different levels for battery protection: Low, Med and High to protect your vehicle battery without run down.
  • ❄ FUNCTIONAL DESIGN:With LCD display and digitized temperature adjustment, included built-in LED light and internal basket.
  • ❄ KEEP COOLING AND FRESH:Reliable sealing property construction,thick and high Density Foam Insulation.Continues keep cooling performance during your journey.Fresh all way and super energy saving!

Ausranvik Portable Refrigerator Freezer

Ausranvik 37 Quart(35 Liter) Portable Refrigerator Freezer (-4F- 68F degree),portable fridge for Vehicle,RV,Boat,portable car freezer for Driving,Travel,Home with12/24V DC and 110V AC Compressor White

The Ausranvik portable refrigerator freezer will be another excellent option for those looking for larger capacity. This particular mini fridge comes with an impressive 26 quart capacity for you to use. It is also available at a more competitive price so as to be kinder on your wallet. 

This particular mini fridge features handles along the sides of the unit, making it much easier to move as needed. There is also a locking latch on the front of the mini fridge, as well as a small drain in the bottom of the unit to help remove any excess moisture.

Another handy feature of this particular mini fridge is that it comes with an LED display along the right side of the model. This will accurately show you the internal temperature of the mini fridge. You can use it to switch between the cooling modes available. A handy feature is that it comes with a battery protection level so that you can be made aware if it’s using too much power too quickly.

The best thing about this branded model is that you can choose between the 26 quart model and the 37 quart model. So you can easily choose the best sized mini fridge for your van or even your motorhome. This mini fridge features split sections, too, so you can store your food and drink in different parts. 

There is also a memory sensor to help the mini fridge remember your favorite settings. This will be especially helpful if you switch between power sources at any point.

Pros:

  • Available in two different sizes
  • Features a sectioned fridge and freezer section
  • Features a locking latch and exterior handles
  • Remembers your favorite cooling settings
Ausranvik 37 Quart(35 Liter) Portable Refrigerator Freezer (-4F- 68F degree),portable fridge for Vehicle,RV,Boat,portable car freezer for Driving,Travel,Home with12/24V DC and 110V AC Compressor White
  • 37 Quart (35L) Car Freezer. AC 110V Power cord and DC 12V power cord are both included in the packing. Work on 12/24V DC and 110V AC power source, you can move the portable fridge seamless from home to vehicle. You don’t have to re-set the temperature when you change the power source because of the memory function.
  • FAST COOLING and ENERGY SAVING:The aluminum tank inside can make the tempurature drop faster than plastic and keep tempurature longer without charging. The thick insulation (1.37 inches) enables the refrigerator to maintain 10 hours cooling after the power is turned off. Once the tempurature nearly reaches what you set, it will turn to Econ Mode from Max Mode. The designs also extend the life of compressor.
  • BATTERY PROTECTION: Battery Protection Mode, from high to low, prevents your car battery from exhausted. When the input voltage is lower than the minimum voltage, the compressor will power off. It saves your time to re-set with memory function for next time.
  • BATTERY PROTECTION: Battery Protection Mode, from high to low, prevents your car battery from exhausted. When the input voltage is lower than the minimum voltage, the compressor will power off. It saves your time to re-set with memory function for next time.
  • MULTI-PURPOSE: Our item features both DC cable and AC adapter, making it ideal for outdoors with 12/24V DC power, and indoors with 110V AC power source (Car Freezer Temperature Range: -4℉ to 68℉).

ICECO JP50 Portable Refrigerator Fridge Freezer

ICECO JP50 Portable Refrigerator Fridge Freezer, 12V Cooler Refrigerator, 50 Liters Compact Refrigerator with Secop Compressor, for Car & Home Use, 0℉~50℉, DC 12/24V, AC 110/240V

One of the most popular choices for many van owners is the ICECO JP50 portable refrigerator fridge freezer. That is because it comes with a range of great features that you can use, and it features an easier-to-use design. All you need to do is hook it up to the 12 foot DC cable from your preferred power source.

The display monitor of this particular mini fridge allows you to change the temperature settings as you need to. It also allows you to look at the current settings in place, as well as switch between 2 different cooling settings depending on your needs. There’s an included on and off switch for you to use when the fridge isn’t in use.

Another great feature of this particular mini fridge is that you can choose between multiple power sources because of the AC/DC outlet. Great if you want to switch between power sources for your new mini fridge.

This particular mini fridge includes two handles to make the unit easier to move. The mini fridge includes an internal light so that you can easily see what you need.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-use LED display
  • Choose between 2 different power sources
  • Adjustable temperature range between -7 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Features low voltage protection
ICECO JP50 Portable Refrigerator Fridge Freezer, 12V Cooler Refrigerator, 50 Liters Compact Refrigerator with Secop Compressor, for Car & Home Use, 0℉~50℉, DC 12/24V, AC 110/240V
  • ※ 【FREE PARTS】- Insulated Protective Cover & 12 Feet-Long Extend DC Power Cable.
  • ※ 【MAX & ECO MODE】- This function allows the compressor speed to be slowed down to increase operational efficiencies(ECO) or increase the compressor speed to provide ''quick'' cooldown times(MAX).
  • ※ 【NO ICE NEEDED】- Adjustable Temperature From -7℉~50℉(-22℃~+10℃). How Danfoss compressor works: for the purpose of saving energy, the compressor will stop operating when the freezer up to the set temperature and the compressor will restart to operating when The temperature in the box has risen 6℉-9℉.
  • ※ 【HIGH QUALITY】- Germany SECOP Compressor; ETL Certificate; Global Product Insurance.
  • ※ 【3 STAGE CAR BATTERY PROTECTION】- ECU program for low voltage battery protection, EMC anti-electromagnetic interference, Current overload protection.

Dometic CF40 Fridge Freezer

Dometic CF18 12v Electric Powered Cooler, Fridge Freezer

Finishing off our list is the Dometic CF40 fridge freezer. This particular unit is capable of cooling down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit, which will be more than enough cooling power for your needs. Another great feature of this particular mini fridge is that there are 7 different sizes to select from.

Another great feature of the Dometic CF40 mini fridge is that it comes with battery protection. This uses three stages to help stop any unwanted electrical surges, as well as a variety of other problems that may occur. So before your car battery runs out of charge, the mini fridge will trip and automatically shut down. Thanks to the double insulation inside this model, your food and drink will be able to stay wonderfully cool for several hours.

What’s really great about this mini fridge is its space saving design. This will be a lifesaver if you’re looking for a more compact model that won’t take up a lot of room in your van. It will still give you more than enough room to cool your favorite drinks and snacks. There’s also a helpful handle to help you carry the mini fridge around as you need to.

Pros:

  • Several different sizes to select from
  • Unbeatable three stage electrical surge protection
  • Space saving design
  • Additional insulation for sufficient cooling 
Dometic CF18 12v Electric Powered Cooler, Fridge Freezer
  • No Ice Needed
  • Flexibility- refrigerate or freeze to 0 F
  • Low power consumption using AC or DC means its great for solar setups or other off-grid applications (CDF11, CF18, CF25 are DC only)
  • 3-stage battery protection. Refrigerant 1, type R134a. Climate class (DIN15502) T
  • Downsize to 2/3 the size of a traditional cooler- don't need to take up space with ice

Which Is Better: Mini Fridges Or Coolers?

It can be tricky when trying to determine which is the best appliance between mini fridges and coolers. There are benefits and drawbacks to both of these. Coolers won’t need an external power source to keep your food cool. Mini fridges will allow you to keep your food cooler for longer.

So how can you choose between them? We’ll cover the main pros and cons of both mini fridges and coolers to help you find the best product for your needs.

Mini Fridge Benefits

  1. No ice is needed in a mini fridge. So you won’t have to worry about draining the unit of additional liquid that might build up. The interior is able to cool down much quicker than coolers, too.
  2. Mini fridges come with a range of temperature settings for you to choose from, well down into the negatives. So you can even freeze your food for longer periods of time before changing the power source you use.
  3. Mini fridges can be charged using solar power as an alternative to using your vehicle battery.
  4. There’s no need to open the lid of your mini fridge to adjust the temperature. You should be able to do this via a display monitor on the front of the device.
  5. The majority of units will combine both fridge and freezer compartments for you to use.

Mini Fridge Negatives

  1. These units are often much more expensive than coolers. This is mostly down to the electrical components needed to reach those freezing temperatures.
  2. Because of the included electrical components, mini fridges are often heavier than coolers.
  3. Mini fridges require a power source in order to be operational. While you can choose between your car battery or solar power, setting up the solar panels may be a hassle for some people.

Cooler Benefits

  1. These are fantastic lightweight options that are often more affordable. They can also be used anywhere in your van as they don’t need to be hooked up to a power source. You can also easily remove them from your van if you need to.
  2. Ice is much more affordable than setting up solar panels on your vehicle.
  3. Coolers can be used in different vehicles with only a small portion of ice to keep your food and drinks cool.
  4. Most coolers feature a sturdy lid that can also double as a seat. You can’t sit on a mini fridge.
  5. Coolers are highly durable, and you won’t have to worry about electrical damage.

Cooler Negatives

  1. You will have to rely on getting a stash of ice to get the coolers to work.
  2. You will need to drain excess water from warmed ice as well as clean the cooler out. Additional water could make food soggy.
  3. Your cooler can only get as cold as the ice they have in them.

So as you can see, mini fridges are much more versatile than coolers if you have the extra money to spare.

Securing A Mini Fridge In A Van

It will be important to secure your mini fridge in place to prevent it from moving around while you drive. The majority of models come with rubber feet to stop them from sliding around, but you can improve the stability of your mini fridge by securing it in place.

You can reduce the likelihood of your mini fridge moving around by building a retaining area. Perhaps one of the better ways of doing this is to extend your bed frame in the van, if you have one. You can use a few pieces of wood to do this, but it will be important to remember not to block the side vents of the fridge. This is how the models stay cool.

Still concerned about the mini fridge moving around? Try adding some velcro strips underneath your mini fridge to keep it in place. You can also stuff smaller strips of fabric between the wooden frame you have built and the mini fridge itself.

However you choose to secure your mini fridge it will be best to avoid leaving it out in the open. You won’t want it to unplug itself or get tipped over.

In Summary

So there you have it! You can indeed install a mini fridge in your van, and there are plenty of options available to you. Why not take a look at the product reviews we’ve mentioned in more detail above? Or take a look at how to power your new mini fridge if you’re concerned about how this would logistically work in your van.

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