How to Power a Portable Fridge


Read here about the types of power supply sources that can be used to power mini fridge and check out their pros and cons to choose the right one for yourself.

How to Power a Portable Fridge

A portable car refrigerator is the perfect choice for the long haul trucker who spends a lot of time driving on the highway. The car refrigerator will keep your food fresh and drinks cool. Manufacturers currently offer a big range of various models. The choice depends on just your needs and expectations. Such devices can be used in a truck during long journeys, however they also do suit well enough a country house, an office and even an apartment.

A car refrigerator usually is marketed with a power supply for a 120 V outlet and an adapter for a 12 V cigarette lighter. This makes it a universal device that can be used everywhere.

Such refrigerators can also run from mains of 12-24 V. It can also be powered by a low-voltage adapter and even a solar panel.

In this article we will give a short summary of the various power sources.

The main power sources of mini fridge:

1. Cigarette lighter 


This is the easiest way to power your refrigerator. Just plug the cable into your cigarette lighter and connect to the mini fridge. Keep in mind that the fridge will cool the food only while the engine of your truck is working. As soon as you stop it will continue running without external energy supply for up to 8 hours.

Based on personal experience: if you take a low-power car refrigerator, the food will remain cooled during 3-4 hours after the vehicle engine stops. If you want to extend this time, then it is better to use additional methods of cooling, for example, add several ice cubes.

2. Solar panel 

You can use this power-supply source if you do not have access to sockets or a cigarette lighter. If you choose a solar panel to power the mini refrigerator, the following question will arise: how many panels will be enough to produce enough energy in order to keep the refrigerator working.

An average solar panel generates 250-400 Watts. Probably you will mostly use a 12 V mini fridge to store your food and drinks during the journey. For such a refrigerator, it will be enough to use 150-220 Watts solar panels.

However we advise you to pay attention to the 300 Watt panels, which ensures a continuous energy supply, enough to run the refrigerator even on sunny days. Certainly, this source of energy supply is working better in a hot and sunny climate, and it is more likely to be used in Texas rather than in New York.

The most efficient operation of solar panels is observed from 11 am to 2 pm. When using solar panels in a cold climate, you will generate less energy. As a result, your refrigerator will cool your meal and drinks during a shorter period of time.

3. Cold accumulator

Cold accumulators are cooling elements maintaining a low (warm) temperature in a special bag, container or cooler. It is a must-have while hiking and transporting products in the absence of another source of power supply. The cold accumulator is a sealed plastic container with a special substance inside. It can be filled with:

  • gel;
  • salt water;
  • silicone.

When choosing a device, you need to focus on the size of the cooler/mini fridge that is supposed to be used to store chilled or frozen food, and take into account the characteristics of a particular type of filler.

The filler of the cold accumulator is the most important point that you need to focus on. Its properties depend on whether the products remain fresh or not. Several types of cold accumulators are available: some of them are recommended to be used for hot products, others for cold and frozen ones. Only safe non-hazardous polymeric materials are used to manufacture such cold accumulators. The use of cold accumulators filled with gel allows to create a range of low temperatures inside the container, mini refrigerator or cooler.

Salt accumulators are capable of maintaining temperatures in the range from -4 F to +46.4 F. However, they are not suitable for long-term storage, as they can maintain the temperature only during 24 hours. The exterior part is hard, made of plastic. Inside the cold accumulator is filled with aqueous salt solution. When choosing this kind of accumulator, you need to remember that the tightness of the plastic part may be broken, and the liquid may leak into the cooler and spoil the stored food and drinks.

A silicone cold accumulator has a number of advantages: the material used for its manufacture is quite durable, and the filler contains polymer silicon crystals. The temperature within the range of 0-2 degrees is kept for a quite long period of time (up to 160 hours).

During long journeys, as well as for the transportation of perishable products strictly requiring maintenance of a certain specific temperature range, preference should be given to more reliable sources. Several cold accumulators may be used if necessary.

4. Lithium-type battery

A lot of drivers choose this source to power a mini refrigerator/cooler. The battery is connected to a refrigerator with an adapter. Benefits of choosing this power supply:

  • safety;
  • quick charge;
  • durability;
  • good power accumulation;
  • powers well the cooler;
  • additional maintenance is not required;
  • safe to use – built-in protection board prevents overheating and other dangerous situations.

5. Generator power

One of the first solutions for powering a camp fridge that springs to most people’s minds is a portable generator, especially if you need to power more than just a camp fridge. The downside of a portable generator is they usually require their own fuel source, they can be noisy and there are many places where generators are banned.


Powering a mini fridge is an important part of every long journey for people who don’t want to run out of food on the road, and the truckers are surely among them.

We have made a quick overview of the different power suppliers with all its pros and cons. Hope our article is useful for you in choosing the right source of energy for a mini fridge/cooler.



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