Forbes Wheels: Best Plug-In Electric Coolers For 2023

Forbes Wheels: Best Plug-In Electric Coolers For 2023

Wagan Tech3/10/23
scotty reiss
Scotty Reiss, Contributor
George Kennedy
Reviewed By: George Kennedy, Contributor

Forbes Wheels
Best Plug-In Electric Coolers For 2023

A cooler is a great way to maintain food and beverage temperature over a short period of time. Even the best name-brand coolers are good for about a day, and they are only optimal if the items being stowed are already cold and they receive regular ice refills. If you are going to be away for a longer period of time or just don’t feel like dealing with the hassle of loading up ice, an electric cooler is a great way to make your adventure easier.

Some electric coolers are battery-powered, some require being plugged in at all times and some are a combination of both. Depending on your needs, one of these methods is best for you. All of them remove the need for ice and the puddles and mess that can come with that. Some can be recharged even while they are keeping your food cool. If there is an outlet, there is an ice-less way to keep your food cool. Whatever your next trip has in store, these plug-in coolers are ready for the journey.

Forbes Wheels Best Plug-In Electric Coolers For 2023
Best In-Car Cooler/Warmer
Wagan EL6206

Why We Picked It
When you’re on a road trip, you want quick and easy access to drinks and snacks. This unit fits neatly behind the front seats or can act as a center console for rear seat passengers. The integrated cup holders also mean you can temporarily keep items there while you’re reorganizing items in the cooler. If you own an older truck or SUV that doesn’t have a center console, this item can fit perfectly between the seats or in the middle of the bench. This cooler comes with a helpful carrying strap and it weighs just nine pounds, making it a great unit to remove from the vehicle and take with you on a picnic.

Which cooler type is better?
Compressor-type coolers work like a refrigerator, which means all of the pros and cons that come with them. They keep food colder longer and they make food colder quicker. But this power and speed come at a price. They consume power at a higher rate and they cost more—in some cases, much more. These coolers run off AC power and need a dedicated electrical outlet. Many newer trucks come with AC outlets rated for this exact purpose.

Electric-only coolers are not as powerful, so they are better at keeping food that’s already cold at the desired temperature. They run on the DC power supplied by your vehicle’s 12-volt power outlet. Then there are the combo-power units that are used in camping and RV applications. They can run on propane, as well as 12-volt or 120-volt power sources, but they are not as portable.

The best cooler will be a compromise between cost and cooling effectiveness. If you must have truly ice-cold drinks that stay ice-cold for hours even with the cooler shut off, you’ll need to invest in an expensive DC cooler like the Dometic CFX3 45. If you just need to take the edge off and only have a couple hundred bucks to spend, spring for an AC cooler like the Igloo Iceless.

Getting away from it all (and other people) is more important than ever. You need one of the most popular pieces of equipment for overlanding, van life or daily family routines: an electric cooler. They don’t require ice, eliminate the usual leaky mess and do double duty while charging your phone or keeping your food warm. Plug it into a 12-volt adapter or wall outlet to chill your drinks on the way to the lake and warm your barbecue on the way home. Here is a selection of great options for plug-in electric coolers for your next getaway.

We evaluate all plug-In coolers on these weighted metrics:

  • Price (20%)
  • Quality of materials (20%)
  • Cooling Range/Lowest Temperature (20%)
  • AC and DC operation (10%)
  • Included cables, adapters and accessories (10%)
  • Brand Reputation (10%)
  • Warranty/Return Policy (10%)


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