Last updated: August 10, 2021
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Welcome to our big 12V cooler test 2019. Here we present all 12V coolers that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and also added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

With this, we would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best 12V cooler for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a 12V cooler.


  • Coolers allow you to keep food cool when you're on the road, for example, on a summer holiday. To keep food and drinks cool for as long as possible, a 12V cooler is recommended.
  • You can use the 12V cooler at home via the power supply, in the car when you're on the road or passively by using cooling batteries
  • There are different types of coolers, which can differ in size and performance

The Best 12V Coolbox in the United Kingdom: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a 12V coolbox

What is a thermoelectric cooler?

Compared to others, a thermoelectric cooler consists of Peltier elements. These are used in cooling processes and keep food cool. These elements are located inside the lid and enable the cool temperature. Since they are electrically operated, they continuously emit ventilation sounds.

Coolers are basically made for all weather conditions, but the cooler will keep your food and drinks cooler for longer if you leave it in the shade in summer. (Image source: / Sebastiaan Stam)

Without electricity, you can use the 12V cooler like an ordinary passive cooler. Because of its thermo-coating, it works without electricity, but with ice cubes and crushed ice. If you leave them in the shade and not in the hot sun, they will stay cool longer.

Who is a 12V coolbox for?

A thermoelectric cooler is for anyone who wants to keep chilled food and drinks cool in the summer. In addition to food, a cooler can also be used to store medicines and many other items.

For a short picnic in the park, a small passive cooler with additional ice cubes is sufficient. For a longer trip, for example on a summer holiday or on a road trip, a thermoelectric cooler may prove more useful compared to other coolers.

Thanks to the dual connector, they can also be connected to the car power (cigarette lighter) to enjoy the cool beer or water at the destination. Depending on the outside temperature, the inside temperature in the box can vary. If it is warmer outside, the temperature inside the box will also rise. Therefore, a cooler should be charged in a car.

Does a 12V coolbox also work without a power socket?

Yes, it can work without power from the socket. As a rule, thermoelectric coolers are made to be plugged into a normal power outlet. If you don't have one available, you can also connect it to the car via the adapter, because almost all thermoelectric coolers are designed for both 230V and 12V connection.

The power over 12V allows you to keep food cool for a certain time, but you should still not keep it overnight, but distort it on the same day, because the cooler over 12V does not produce as strong a power as under 230V.

What do I do if there is no power source at all?

If you don't have any power at all, i.e. no socket and no car, you can buy an external battery, such as a small car battery, which you can connect to the cooler. You can easily carry this with you and connect it to the box at any time.

You can also use the 12V cooler as a passive cooler. You can keep the contents cool by putting cold packs or ice cubes in the box. However, you should mix up the drinks and food on the same day, because the effect does not last long as it does with electricity.

How much does a 12V cooler cost?

You can buy a 12V cooler not only with thermoelectric equipment, but also with an absorber or compressor function. Ultimately, they all have the same task, namely to keep the contents cool, but they differ in their technical function.

type price
thermoelectric 50 - 250 €
compressor 300 - 1000 €
absorber 150 - 500 €
passive cooler 20 - 100 €

Depending on how often you use it or how long you will be on the road, you can choose your type of cooler. Each of its functions also differs widely in price.

What are the alternatives to a 12V coolbox?

Besides the 12V thermoelectric cooler, you can also choose an absorber or compressor. They are both more expensive than thermoelectric coolers, but are almost noiseless compared to an ordinary 12V box. Compressors and absorbers also have devices that support the 12V connection.

A cooler bag is suitable for small picnics and only needs a cooling battery. It is therefore a good alternative to a cool box. (Image source: / Alexa)

A cooler bag is suitable for the small trip to the park. It is easily available and does not need a power supply, but only a cooling battery to keep the contents cool. After use, you can fold the bag and store it easily because it doesn't take up any space.

Decision: What types of 12V coolbox are there and which is the right one for you?

Generally speaking, there are three types of 12V coolers to choose from:

  • thermoelectric
  • Absorber
  • Compressor

Each type has its own advantages, which you should look out for when buying. Of course, everyone pays attention to different buying factors, for example, depending on how long you want to chill drinks or how much content you want to pack into a box.

What distinguishes a thermoelectric coolbox and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

A thermoelectric cooler is powered by so-called Peltier elements and is the best-known type of electrically powered cooler. It depends on the ambient temperature. It usually achieves a temperature between 15 - 20 degrees below the outside temperature.

  • low dead weight
  • inexpensive
  • 230V and 12V
  • independent of position
  • dependent on outside temperature
  • continuous noise
  • power consumption

The cooling capacity is much more effective under ordinary 230V power than 12V power from the car. To keep the contents cool for as long as possible, you should rather plug the box into the normal power supply.

What are the features of an absorption coolbox and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

An absorption cooler can be connected to electricity or gas. This means you are independent of electricity on a road trip and can continue to cool with an external gas supply.

  • Electric and gas
  • noiseless
  • independent of position
  • Weight
  • expensive
  • gas operation in the open

When connected to gas, the box is quite quiet and takes a little time to reach the desired cooling capacity. In addition, you should only use it outdoors with gas.

What distinguishes a compressor coolbox and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Compressor coolers are probably the most powerful of all coolers. The performance is roughly comparable to that of a refrigerator, although the compressor can also reach below freezing point.

Because of its power and features, it weighs a lot and should not be transported by itself. Even in the event of a power failure, it can continue to be operated for a short time with an additional rechargeable battery.

  • strong cooling capacity
  • very quiet
  • low power consumption
  • freezing possible
  • Weight
  • high purchase costs

Despite the high purchase price, the operating costs for conventional 230V are relatively low compared to the other categories.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate 12V coolbox based on these factors

Everyone has different criteria and ideas for a cooler that should be considered when buying. We would now like to present and explain some relevant buying criteria to make your decision easier.

These are the following criteria:

  • Weight
  • Size
  • Power consumption/performance
  • Noise level
  • Features/Extras


Of course, the weight of the cooler is important. You are much more likely to use the cooler outdoors than indoors. Add to that the weight of the full bottles and food and the journey can be quite strenuous.

If you have a sophisticated machine, you have to expect more weight. Compressors usually weigh more than conventional 12V coolers or absorbers. You should expect 12V thermoelectric coolers to weigh between 5 and 10kg.


Do you want a cooler that you will use occasionally or will you use it more often because you spend a lot of time outdoors and like to go on trips? Depending on what your expectations are, you should be able to tell when buying.

If you use a cooler more often, even with several people, then we recommend you invest a little more money and buy a 12V compressor. It is expensive to buy, but it has an average capacity of 50 litres and low running costs compared to the others.

With a thermoelectric cooler or an absorber, you have a filling volume of 30 to 50L and they are correspondingly cheaper to buy. As a rule, all coolers have a headroom of 2L bottles, only the width can differ.

Power consumption/performance

Coolers with a larger capacity and more technology naturally consume more electricity than conventional coolers. 12V coolers have the advantage that they work not only via the domestic socket, but also via the cigarette lighter in the car.

You have to bear in mind that the power supply via 12V is much weaker than a conventional power supply and the box therefore needs longer for the cooling power.

Absorbers work with AC and DC power and can also be connected via gas. Compressors require less power to provide optimal cooling performance and can even be solar powered.

Type connection daily electricity costs (230V)
thermoelectric 12V/230V 0,31€
absorber 12V/230V/gas 0,58€
compressor 12V/230V 0,09€

Thermoelectric boxes are best suited for the car, where they can be connected via 12V. The power is increased passively by using additional cooling batteries.

Noise level

You should always pre-cool the cooler before you set off. If you plug the box in while sleeping, it can disturb your sleep due to noise. Some boxes, however, stand out because they are almost silent.

Absorber is probably the quietest type of cooler, it is noiseless. Compressor has temporary air noise, but is usually quite quiet. Thermoelectric cooler is probably the noisiest of all. It produces continuous air noise when cooling.


You should know that the more features a cooler has, the more it will weigh. Some sophisticated models are even equipped with Wifi and USB. When the box is fully charged, you can even charge your mobile phone on it.

Of course, many models offer wheels on the bottom and a quick handle so you don't have to lug it around in high temperatures, but can just drag it down to the lake. It's best to check at the stationary shop to see which cooler will suit your needs.

Facts worth knowing about 12V coolbox

What sources can I connect a 12V coolbox to?

A 12V cooler is best suited for the power plug at home. There it will achieve its desired cooling capacity. Since coolers are usually used outdoors, you don't have the option of using normal electricity. Of course, you can also charge the box in the car.

However, if you want to cool the box outdoors for a longer period of time, we recommend that you buy an external battery. So-called lead batteries can be bought for little money and serve the purpose of keeping the cooler cool for a longer time outdoors. However, the same cooling capacity is not achieved as with electricity.

How do I pack a cooler correctly?

First of all, you should pre-cool the drinks and food. A very special tip is to pre-cool the cooler or connect it to the power supply. This is because it can take a certain amount of time for the interior to cool down.

Of course, the cooler should be packed to the brim, as this is the only way it will cool faster. If there are only a few bottles in the cooler, it loses its actual cooling function. Therefore, it should not be too full or too empty.

To save time, also pre-cool the box. Later, it will not take long to reach the desired temperature.

Even with a 12V cooler, it makes sense to take a cooling battery with you, as the box works under a much stronger power supply and cooling battery at the same time. The order in which you pack the food and drinks is less relevant. What is important is that you pre-cool everything properly to save plenty of energy and time.

Photo source: / lightfieldstudios, 129662170