Last updated: August 24, 2021

Our method

13Products analysed

34Hours spent

21Evaluated articles

69User reviews

Welcome to our big cooler test 2021. Here we present all the coolers we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best 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 be aware of if you want to buy a cooler.




Summary

  • Coolers are very practical and flexible, which is why they are ideal for various applications.
  • Basically, a distinction is made between the Peltier cooler, the passive cooler, the compressor cooler and the absorber cooler.
  • The price range for coolers is quite wide.

The Best Cooler: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a cool box

How is a cooler constructed?

Basically, the construction of a cooler differs depending on the type, but almost all coolers have a handle for transport. Furthermore, insulation is included in every model.

One difference in construction between the various models is the material. There are coolers made of cast iron, plastic, steel or polystyrene.

Thanks to its optimal insulation, you can take your cooler camping in the summer and even enjoy refreshing drinks outdoors. (Image source: unsplash.com/ thedmcsa)

Most coolers are insulated with PU foam. Thanks to the swelling properties of rigid polyurethane foam, it can be optimally used as an insulating layer.

A cool box can also be constructed like a trolley. This means you don't always have to carry it, but can comfortably pull it behind you on a hot day.

Coolers can be equipped with either a handle or side handles. These can be folded away, but the recessed handles are fixed. Bow handles are mainly found on passive coolers.

How does a cooler work?

Coolers are very versatile and are ideal for leisure, sports and travel.

In summer, cool boxes are particularly popular because you can easily take them with you to the lake or swimming pool. In addition, coolers are also very popular in the car.

Did you know that coolers are also lifesavers?

For some time now, coolers have not only been used by private individuals, but medicine has also benefited from them. There is a need to keep transplant organs and blood cool, so cool boxes are used to transport them. So the best cooler can save people's lives.

Different types of coolers are operated differently. Some coolers are powered by a single cooling unit and others are powered by one or more cold packs.

Compressor coolers work thanks to a compressor refrigerator that compresses and condenses the gaseous coolant. If the temperature is lower, however, the coolant evaporates due to heat absorption. This cycle repeats itself over and over again.

Electric coolers have connections with plugs for 12 volts and 230 volts, either on the back or on the side. Furthermore, they also have regulators to set the temperature.

The main function of coolers is the cooling function. Thanks to the special insulation, cool boxes try to stop a loss of cold. Nevertheless, coolers lose a little of the built-up cold every time they are opened.

What alternatives are there to cool boxes?

Besides a cool box, there are other alternatives that have similar functions. Each variant has different advantages and disadvantages. In the following section, we will give you a brief overview of the alternatives to a cool box.

Possible alternatives are:

  • Cooler bag
  • Mini fridge

We have prepared a small table with the respective advantages and disadvantages of the two alternatives to a cool box.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Cooler bag Inexpensive, easy to transport Only for short cooling times, cannot be used regularly, not suitable for car journeys
Mini fridge Stable, constant cooling, frozen goods can be cooled Difficult to transport, more expensive

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

If you want to buy a cooler, there are four alternatives to choose from:

  • Peltier cooler
  • Passive cooler
  • Absorber cooler
  • Compressor cooler

All four types of coolers have advantages and disadvantages. Depending on what you prefer and what you want to use your cooler for, a different type is suitable for you.

In the following section we would like to make this decision easier for you.

What are the features of a Peltier cooler and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The Peltier cooler, also known as an electric cooler, is inexpensive to buy and allows you to cool your food with electricity for longer periods of time.

Thanks to the different sizes, there are Peltier coolers with a capacity of between 10 and 40 litres. They are also very stable and have a heating function in addition to their cooling function.

Advantages
  • Low purchase costs
  • Very stable
  • Heating and cooling function
Disadvantages
  • High power consumption
  • Temperature fluctuations during cooling

The noise emission is in the middle here at about 35dB. One disadvantage of the Peltier cooler is that it consumes a lot of electricity.

Since the cooling of the electric cooler is also dependent on the ambient temperature, you have to assume that there will be temperature fluctuations during cooling. This means that frozen goods cannot be cooled sufficiently.

What are the characteristics of a passive cooler and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The passive cooler cools with the help of cooling batteries or crushed ice and is available for a low price.

Another advantage of the passive cooler is that it has no noise emission (0 dB). In addition, the passive cooler does not need electricity.

Advantages
  • Practical
  • Uses no electricity
  • Low purchase price
  • Noiseless
  • Various sizes
Disadvantages
  • Requires at least one cooling battery
  • Temporary cooling capacity

The capacity is between one and 64 litres, depending on the model. You must bear in mind that this type of cooler always requires at least one cooling battery or ice, which also takes up space.

The insulation affects the cooling time of the box, which is limited to about 15 hours.

What distinguishes an absorption cooler and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The absorber cooler has a low noise emission of 10 dB and you can choose between three different supply options, between gas, 12 volts and 230 volts.

Another advantage is that this variant is maintenance-free. In addition, longer-term cooling is possible. The absorber cooler is available with capacities between 31 and 40 litres.

Advantages
  • Almost noiseless
  • Maintenance-free
  • Three supply options
  • Cools up to 25 degrees below ambient temperature
Disadvantages
  • High purchase price
  • Frozen goods cannot be sufficiently cooled

The cooling capacity of the box depends on the ambient temperature and can cool up to 25 degrees below it. However, this is not sufficient to cool frozen goods.

Another disadvantage is the high purchase price.

What distinguishes a compressor cooler and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The cooling of a compressor cooler is similar to that of a refrigerator and can therefore also be used as a refrigerator. Its cooling capacity is independent of the ambient temperature and frozen goods can be cooled constantly down to -15 degrees.

You can also connect a small compressor fridge to your car's cigarette lighter to enjoy chilled drinks while driving.

Advantages
  • Low power consumption
  • Constant cooling
  • Can also be used as a refrigerator
  • Cooling capacity independent of outside temperature
  • Up to -15 degrees possible
Disadvantages
  • Loud noises
  • High purchase price

Another advantage of a compressor cooler is that it consumes little electricity. The capacity varies between 15 and 41 litres, depending on the model.

One disadvantage of a compressor cooler is the high purchase price. It can also have a higher noise emission (10 - 60 dB) at times.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate coolers

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many different coolers.

The criteria you can use to compare different coolers with each other include:

  • The size
  • Cooling capacity
  • The noise level
  • User-friendliness
  • The type of energy
  • The area of use

In the following paragraphs, we will explain to you what is important in the individual criteria.

Size

The size is an important purchase criterion, because it is related to the energy requirement and the weight of the cooler. Size is also related to the use of the cooler.

If you want to take your cooler to the lake or swimming pool occasionally, a small cooler with a capacity of 25 litres is ideal.

For a larger family or a camping holiday, on the other hand, we recommend a large cooler with 40 to 50 litres. You can easily transport food and drinks for several people.

Cooling capacity

Before buying your new cooler, it is important to check whether its cooling capacity depends on the environment or not. Depending on the latitude you are in, you may need a cooler that works regardless of the outside temperature.

The manufacturers' specifications and the actual cooling capacity of the units usually vary greatly.

In the German zone, a passive, electric or Peltier cooler is perfectly adequate. For all temperatures above this, we recommend a compressor cooler

The manufacturers of coolers often state "below ambient temperature" as the value for the cooling capacity. This applies to all boxes except the compressor cooler, which cools regardless of the ambient temperature.

To help you narrow down the cooling capacities of the different coolers, we have created an overview table.

Type Outside temperature Reached inside temperature
Passive cooler 30 °C 15 °C to 0 °C (depending on model)
Peltier cooler 30 °C 12 °C to 0 °C (depending on model)
Absorber cooler 30 °C 10 °C to 0 °C (depending on model)
Compressor cooler 30 °C Preset temperature in the range from 10 °C to -22 °C (depending on model)

Noise level

The noise level depends on what you want to use your cooler for. For day trips and longer car journeys, the noise level is unimportant as it is not disturbing.

However, if you are buying the cooler for a camping trip or for your boat, we recommend a passive or absorber cooler, because the noise from the cooler can be annoying, especially at night.

The compressor cooler has a ventilation system that starts up when needed and makes noise.

We recommend that you buy a cooler that fits easily into the boot of your car or camper van.

User-friendliness

User-friendliness plays an important role when buying a cooler. Is the cooler easy to transport? Will it fit in the boot of your car, camper or boat without getting in the way?

A compartmentalised interior of your box allows you to separate food from each other and keep things tidy. A great convenience is provided, for example, by the wheels on your cooler. These make transport easier.

The handling of your cooler should be easy, so it is important, for example, that the temperature can be set quickly. There are two different options here, a manual rotary knob operation or a digital LED display.

Energy type

The energy type mainly depends on what you want to use your cooler for. If you only need a cooler for a short time, then a passive cooler is just right for you.

When buying, make sure that the necessary connections are built into the unit and that they are easy to use. Some manufacturers do not mention that an external 230-volt converter is required for plug-in operation.

If you are only looking for a box for transport in your car, then a 12 or 24 volt connection is sufficient. If, on the other hand, you want a flexible box for different situations, then it should also have a voltage of 230 volts or a connection for gas supply.

Area of use

The area of use is an important criterion for finding out which cooler is best suited to you. If you use your cooler for occasional day trips, then a passive or Peltier cooler is perfectly adequate.

If, on the other hand, you often use the cooler in the car, we recommend a thermoelectric cooler. A cooler with wheels and sturdy handles would be ideal for a trip to the beach.

If, on the other hand, you are going to a hot holiday destination and want to use your cooler all the time, e.g. when camping, then you should think about buying a compressor cooler, as its cooling capacity surpasses all other coolers.

In addition, you can also use an absorption cooler, especially for camping trips, because it is very flexible due to the three connection options such as gas, 12 and 230 volts.

Trivia: Interesting facts about coolers

Are there environmentally friendly coolers?

Yes, there are environmentally friendly coolers. One environmentally friendly type of cooler is the passive cooler.

Furthermore, there has recently been a cool box that can be operated with a mini solar pad, for example a compressor cool box that is also suitable for solar panels and solar technology.

How do I clean my cooler properly?

Regular cleaning of your cooler is very important because it prevents mould growth and unpleasant odours. It is also important for the required hygiene.

To make it easier for you to clean your cooler, we have listed five cleaning steps:

  1. First of all, you should empty your cooler completely and disconnect the power source if necessary.
  2. Then you can remove all removable parts and clean them. It is best to rinse all removable parts and then dry them.
  3. Then carefully clean the inside and outside of the cooler with a household cleaner.
  4. When cleaning your cooler, do not use hard sponges to avoid scratches.
  5. After cleaning, wipe out your cooler with vinegar or lemon water.

You can use vinegar or lemon water to remove any remaining germs and unpleasant odours from your cooler (Image source: Pixabay.com/ ponce_photography).

Are there coolers for medicines?

Yes, there are special coolers that are made especially for transporting medicines.

Medicines make special demands on the coolers. They must be manufactured in such a way that the medication cannot freeze. In addition, a loss of effect of the medication must be prevented.

Cooling boxes that are specially designed for medicines cool in a temperature range that is optimal for medicines.

Can I build a cooler myself?

Yes, you can easily build a cooler yourself. The easiest way is to build a passive cooler.

You will need 6 polystyrene sheets and a plastic box with a lid. Use a hot glue gun to attach the polystyrene plates to the inside of the box. Now all you have to do is fill your cooler with cold packs.

Image source: pixabay.com/ Hans

Why you can trust me?

Reviews