best solar refrigerators

Are you looking for an off-the-grid solar refrigeration solution to keep your drinks cold and your food fresh?

To help you pick the right solar refrigerator for you, we’ve put together a list of some of the best models on the market and a comprehensive buying guide to give you all the information you need to get your off-grid refrigeration sorted.

Our favorite solar refrigerators

Solar energy generation has come a long way in the last decade. The cost of photovoltaic panels has dropped 82% since 2010. 

Coupled with lithium-ion batteries’ rapidly falling price, solar-powered accessories, like refrigerators, have become increasingly cost and energy-efficient.

So, if you live somewhere where grid power is unreliable, or if you’re heading out into the wilds and want to keep your food preserved, here is our list of the best solar refrigerators on the market.

1. Sundanzer Solar-Powered Refrigerator

The Sundanzer is a reliable workhorse of a solar-powered chest refrigerator. The 1.8 cubic feet (50 Liter) capacity means you’ll have plenty of storage space. 

The body is made of scratch-resistant galvanized steel, while the interior is lined with lightweight aluminum. The interior insulation is 11 cm thick, which gives it excellent temperature efficiency. 

Because of the thicker insulation, the average energy usage is just 114 Watt-hrs/day (9.6 Amp-hrs/day) at 32°C. The Sundanzer uses a 12/24 volt DC connection to link to a solar array. 

It also comes filled with an environmentally friendly refrigerant, R134a. 

The compressor on the Sundanzer is brushless, so you can expect a long life and minimal maintenance. The whole model also comes with a 2-year warranty. When you need to clean the Sundanzer, there is an easy to use drainage hole in the base. 

What we like:

  • Excellent quality – The Sundanzer has great build quality.
  • Terminally efficient – The thicker insulation makes it energy efficient.
  • Low maintenance parts – The 2-year warranty and brushless compressor give the Sundanzer outstanding durability.
  • Space saver – You can use the lid as a chopping board/prep area at a pinch.

What we don’t like:

  • Not portable – If you’re looking for something portable, the Sundanzer might be a little large and heavy.
  • Not power flexible – The Sundanzer only uses DC power, making it less flexible when it comes to charging options.

The Sundanzer is a basic solar refrigerator, but it’s well made and energy-efficient. The only downside is that it’s fairly chunky. With a dimension of 24.5 x 27.5 x 36.5 inches and a weight of 75 pounds, there are more portable models on the market.

However, if you’re looking for an off-grid emplaced refrigerator for a cabin or motor home, then the Sundanzer is an excellent choice.

2. Whynter FM-45G 45 Quart Portable Refrigerator

The Whynter FM-45G is a durable and affordable refrigerator that can also be used as a freezer. 45 quarts renders down to around 1.5 cubic feet or, as Whynter points out, 60 cans of drink. 

The overall design of the FM-45G is pleasantly chunky and feels very durable. It has a relatively compact footprint at 23.5 x 16.5 x 20.5 inches and weighs in at 45 pounds. 

The Whynter has a couple of very beneficial features if you are looking for an off-grid refrigerator. Firstly, it can go as low as -6°F using its “Fast Freeze” mode, so it doubles as a freezer. Unlike some refrigerators, it can also operate at a 30° angle without issue.

Able to use both 12/24V DC and 110V AC power, the Whynter can be connected to a solar panel, or a car battery, or even both at the same time. 

If connected to about AC and DC, it will preferentially use the AC before switching to DC if that fails. The FM-45G comes with both an 8-feet AC power cord and a 10-feet DC power cord as standard.

The interior and the lid are well insulated, and there are two removable wire baskets for easy storage. The base has a drainage hole for easy cleaning.

What we like:

  • Power flexibility – Being able to use both AC and DC power gives added flexibility.
  • Quick freeze – The fast freeze mode quickly turns the FM-45G from refrigerator to freezer.
  • Compact and portable – This model has a good-sized internal capacity but is still relatively light and has a reasonable footprint.
  • Eco-power mode – The compressor has an eco-mode for added energy efficiency.

What we don’t like:

  • Battery drainer – Power consumption can spike reasonably quickly when using the Fast Freeze mode.

Affordable and flexible, the Whynter FM-45G is an excellent choice for off-grid car, RV, and home use, especially if you want the option to freeze food. The smaller footprint and lighter weight of the FM-45G makes it more portable than other options on this list without cutting too much from the capacity. 

3. Alpicool C15 Portable Refrigerator

If you need a portable solar refrigerator that can also be used as a freezer, then the Alpicool C15 is a fantastic choice. 

At a very compact 23.54 x 12.6 x 10.24 inches and weighing just under 19 pounds, the C15 still has a respectable 0.5 cubic feet of storage space. That translates to about 20 cans of drink.

As with the Whynter FM-45G, the C15 works as both a refrigerator and a freezer, able to go down to -4℉. The interior box is lined with thick insulation to keep it as energy efficient as possible.

As befits a portable refrigerator, the C15 will continue to work even at a 45-degree angle. The outer shell is made of lightweight and durable plastic to keep the weight down. 

The temperature controls are mounted on the lid via an easy to use LCD panel, and the C15 even comes with a USB connector so you can charge your phone.

Power is supplied by a 12V/24V DC input, making it simple to hook up to a solar rig. If you need to use your car battery at any point, the C15 has a 3-stage battery protection setting to regulate how much power it’s drawing.

What we like:

  • Easy to move – The C15 is portable and lightweight.
  • Adaptable – It works as both a freezer and a refrigerator.
  • Great for rough terrain – Tilt protection means it will work at a 45-degree angle.
  • Battery saver – The battery protection setting means it won’t drain your car battery if you get distracted.

What we don’t like:

  • Poor instructions – The C15 has some hidden functions, like changing the temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit, which aren’t listed in the manual.

If portability is what you want from a solar refrigerator, then the C15 is a great option. It’s light, compact, works as both a fridge and freezer, and would work great in a car, truck, RV, or boat.

4. ICECO VL60 Dual Zone Portable Refrigerator

The ICECO VL60 is a rugged beast with excellent storage capacity and a two-zone system that lets you use it as both a fridge and freezer.

With dimensions of 31.1 x 18.31 x 18.7 inches and weighing in at 65.7 pounds, the VL60 certainly isn’t a portable as the C15, but its extra bulk comes with added benefits. 

With 2.11 cubic feet of storage capacity, the VL60 can store a fair amount of food for two people or about a week’s worth of food for a single person.

The VL60 is incredibly solidly built, with reinforced end caps, stainless steel locks, and spring-loaded side handles. The Germany SECOP(Danfoss) compressor comes with a 5-year warranty. 

Anti-tilt protection means the VL60 will still work at a 40-degree angle.

The thick interior insulation gives it excellent energy efficiency, and it can draw from both AC and DC power for added versatility. You can use the DC to connect to a solar panel or car battery and the AC to change from a socket if you need to.

The two-zone system means you can have one compartment as a freezer and one as a refrigerator or set both to refrigerator temperatures. The containers can be accessed individually through separate lids. 

What we like:

  • Adaptable storage – The two-zone system is practical and convenient.
  • Freezer and fridge –The VL60 can work as a fridge and freezer at the same time.
  • Well made – The outer casing is very well made and durable.
  • Power Flexibility – Multiple charging options give you greater flexibility.

What we don’t like:

  • Not person portable – The VL60 is heavy, especially when full of food, which means it’s better suited for use in an RV or an off-grid cabin than on a picnic.

The sheer amount of storage offered by the VL60 makes it ideal if you’re heading off-grid for a week or so, providing you can carry it. It also makes an excellent backup freezer for areas with unstable grid connections.

5. Unique Solar DC Top Freezer Refrigerator

If you’re looking for a solar refrigerator that is less portable and more of emplacement, then the Unique Solar could be exactly what you need. With 10.3 cubic feet of storage space, the Unique Solar is a miniaturized version of your standard household refrigerator that runs on DC.

Unique Solar DC Top Freezer Refrigerator

The design is similar to a standard household appliance, with a front opening door and a smaller freezer at the top. Unlike many other solar refrigerators, the Unique Solar has a series of shelves, door shelves, and even a salad crisper.

You won’t be getting this into the back of your car, but it would work wonderfully as a backup refrigerator for power cuts, in an RV, or in a cabin or outbuilding that doesn’t have a grid hookup.

Obviously, given its size and the fact that it has a full-time freezer, the Unique Solar will be more power-hungry than many of the other models on this list. On a 25°C day, it draws around 524 Wh/ 24 hrs. 

What we like:

  • Mini household fridge – The Unique Solar acts as a miniature DC powered version of a standard home refrigerator. 
  • Lots of space – 10.3 cubic feet of storage space is enough for a small family.
  • Thermally efficient – Thick insulation keeps the power draw low, even for such a large refrigerator.

What we don’t like:

  • Not portable at all – The Unique Solar is not portable. It’s a small, DC-powered kitchen appliance.

If you’ve got a cabin, houseboat, big RV, man cave, or are living somewhere where the grid connection regularly drops out, the Unique Solar is an excellent solution to your refrigeration needs.

6. SMETA Propane Refrigerator with Freezer

The primary benefit of the SMETA Propane Refrigerator is its sheer versatility. 

It is both a fridge and freezer with 3 cubic feet and 0.4 cubic feet of storage, respectively. The design echoes a standard kitchen appliance with a front opening door and shelves. 

With dimensions of 20.6 x 23.2 x 32.2 inches and weighing 76 pounds, the SMETA Propane is small enough to be portable while still giving you lots of storage space.

Where it really shines, however, is the fact that you can run this fridge on AC, DC, and propane. This gives you the opportunity to connect the SMETA Propane to a car battery, grid connection, solar panel setup, or just power it with a propane bottle.

This versatility means you don’t have to worry about bad weather or an unstable grid connection, making the SMETA Propane exceptionally reliable. 

What we like:

  • Three power sources – The SMETA Propane can use AC or DC power or a propane gas tank.
  • Full-time freezer – This model has a full-time freezer rather than a freezer mode. 
  • Compact – The compact footprint makes it ideal for motorhomes, smaller rooms, and boats.

What we don’t like:

  • Extra ventilation required – Extra venting is required when using propane for power.

If you’re worried about becoming over-reliant on a single power source, be that a grid connection or a solar set up, the SMETA Propane’s fuel versatility really broadens your options.

7. LiONCooler X40A Rechargeable Solar Fridge Freezer

At the opposite end of the spectrum to the Unique Solar, the LiONCooler X40A is an ultra-portable solar refrigerator. While the carrying capacity isn’t massive, only 1.4 cubic feet, the X40A more than makes up for it with how easy it is to transport.

At 38.7 pounds, it’s light enough to easily lift, and its 25 x 15.9 x 20-inch footprint means you can get it in the boot of most cars. Extra chunky 6-inch wheels and a telescopic handle mean you can pull it along behind you, suitcase-style. 

The X40A functions as a fridge or freezer and has three temperature modes. The freezer mode drops the temperature down to -4°F, the chilling mode sits between 27°F and 38°F, and the energy-saving cooling mode sits between 34°F and 43°F.

Charging the internal battery can be done with a 12V DC hookup to a solar panel or AC from a socket. Charging takes around 5-6 hours, and it holds its battery charge for about 10-hours. The temperature can be set from an LCD screen or and Bluetooth app.

What we like:

  • Great for on the move – The LiONCooler X40A is super portable.
  • Flexible – It functions as a fridge or a freezer.
  • Multiple charging options – This model can draw from both DC and AC power.
  • Easy to move – The telescopic handle and large wheels make it easy to move around.

What we don’t like:

  • Power-hungry freezer mode – Putting the X40A in freezer mode can reduce the battery life by as much as half, depending on the outside temperature.

If portability is a crucial concern for you, then the X40A is precisely what you are looking for. It’s not the smallest fridge on this list, but it is designed with ease of mobility in mind. 

The combination of the chunky wheels, telescopic handle, 10-hour battery life, and respectable 1.4 cubic feet of storage make it an excellent choice for camping, cookouts, or use in an RV.

8. EdgeStar CRF321SS

You might be a little confused that the EdgeStar CRF321SS made it on to this list, as it’s purely an AC input fridge freezer. This means you’ll need to invest in an inverter if you want to connect it to a DC power-producing solar panel.

However, the CRF321SS is one of the most energy-efficient mini-fridge/freezers on the market. With dimensions of 19.75 x 18.75 x 33.5 inches and weighing in at 52 pounds, CRF321SS is compact and reasonably lightweight for a traditional appliance design. 

It has a total storage capacity of 3.1 cubic feet split between the fridge and a smaller freezer, which has an auto defrost mode. The real selling point, however, is the CRF321SS’s energy efficiency. Its estimated yearly energy use is just 270kW/h or less than 1 kWh per day.

What we like:

  • Great energy efficiency – The CRF321SS’s excellent energy efficiency.
  • Full-time freezer – The presence of a full-time freezer despite its compact size.

What we don’t like:

  • Some parts required – That you’ll need to buy an inverter to hook this AC only refrigerator up to a solar panel.

The CRF321SS is an excellent choice for someone looking for a company fridge freezer with superior energy efficiency. You might have to spend a little more on an inverter to hook it up to a solar array, but you’ll soon make that money back in energy bill savings. 

9. F40C4TMP Portable Refrigerator Freezer

The F40C4TMP was explicitly designed with car travel in mind. The 0.6 cubic feet of storage space won’t store a massive amount of food, but with a footprint of just 22.4 x 12.6 x 11.2 inches, it does fit neatly into the trunk or back seat of even the smallest car.

Able to be used as a refrigerator, freezer and capable of going down to as low as -7.6℉, the F40C4TMP still has relatively low energy consumption. It’s around the same as your average sat nav. It also comes with an energy-saving Eco-mode to further extend its battery life. 

Power can be supplied to the F40C4TMP through an AC adapter or a 12V DC adapter that is perfect for a solar panel hookup.

What we like:

  • Great for the road – The F40C4TMP is a compact, lightweight solar refrigerator designed for use in cars.
  • Flexible settings – It functions as either a fridge or a freezer.
  • Eco-power mode – The Eco-mode setting enhances its energy efficiency.

What we don’t like:

  • Not the largest capacity – The 0.6 cubic feet of storage space is better suited to snacks and drinks. The F40C4TMP isn’t really designed for storing supplies for a long journey.

Compact and portable, the F40C4TMP is an excellent choice for cookouts, boats, camping, fishing, and road trips, just don’t expect it to hold enough food for more than about a day.

10. COSTWAY Car Refrigerator

If you love the portability and simplicity of the F40C4TMP but need something with a little more room, then the COSTWAY Car Refrigerator has exactly that. With 1.8 cubic feet of storage and a temperature range of -4°F to 50°F, this model has a separate area that functions as a freezer.

With a footprint of 13.5 x 27 x 21 inches and weighing in at 38 pounds, this isn’t the most compact model on this list, but it is still easily portable. Internal lights make getting to your food easy, even in the dark.

The larger storage space is more than enough to fit in a couple of day’s food for a single person or a day’s food for a family. The manufacturer is also keen to point out that it can hold 19 750ml bottles of wine if that’s an important factor for you.

The COSTWAY Car Refrigerator comes with a rapid cooling mode and an ECO (energy saving) mode to extend the battery life as much as possible. The battery can be charged from a 12/24 V DC and 100V to 240V AC input. 

The DC hookup is ideal for using a solar panel, but if you are charging it from your car, it comes with three battery protection modes to prevent it from draining your charge.

What we like:

  • Family-sized – The extra storage space and freezer section make this model big enough to store a family’s worth of food.
  • Battery saver mode – The battery protection mode means it won’t drain your car flat.
  • Energy-saving settings – There’s an ECO (energy saving) mode to make it as energy-efficient as possible.

What we don’t like:

  • Not as portable as possible – Wheels and a telescopic handle would have been a very welcome feature.

If you want a chiller and freezer that fits neatly into the back of your car and still has room enough for a family’s worth of food, then the COSTWAY Car Refrigerator is exactly what you’re looking for. 

11. Dometic CFX28 12v Electric Powered Fridge Freezer

One of the more compact offerings on our list, the Dometic CFX28, has a footprint of 3.42 x 16.69 x 24.4 and a weight of 28.88 pounds. The internal capacity is split into two sections, one for freezing and one for refrigeration. These sections can be accessed through separate lids. 

Each compartment has a convenient removable wire basket. The temperature controls are mounted on the side of the unit but can also be accessed through the use of a Bluetooth enabled app. 

Power is supplied by a 2/24 Volts DC and 120 Volts AC, making it easy to charge at home, in the car, or with a solar panel. An energy-efficient LED light makes it easy to get to your food in the dark. There’s even a USB port you can use to charge your phone.

What we like:

  • Compact and portable – The Dometic CFX28 is an excellent combination of portability and decent storage capacity. 
  • Wireless control – The Bluetooth app lets you change the settings and monitor the temperature.
  • Power flexibility – Multiple power hookups give the CFX28 added versatility.

What we don’t like:

  • No eco-mode – The CFX28 doesn’t have an eco-mode setting like many other smaller refrigerators on this list do.

The Dometic CFX28 is light on weight and big on features. It’s compact enough to be portable while still having both refrigeration and freezer sections. It supports wireless controls and can be powered through both AC and DC. If you’re looking for a company solar cooler with all the bells and whistles, the CFX28 is an excellent choice. 

Solar Refrigerators Buying Guide

Now that we’ve shown you some of the best solar refrigerators on the market, let’s take a look at some of the details you’ll need to know to pick the right one for you.

How do solar refrigerators work?

Essentially, a solar refrigerator works almost precisely the same as a standard refrigerator. Each model has a compressor that circulates a gaseous refrigerant throughout the system. The system works like this:

  1. The compressor puts the refrigerant under pressure, which makes it hot, and pushes it into the coils of the condenser on the outside of the refrigerator.
  1. Inside the cooler condenser, the pressurized refrigerant becomes a liquid. This pressurized liquid then flows through the valve into the evaporator coils inside the freezer and the fridge.
  1. As it evaporates back into a gas, the refrigerant pulls heat from the surrounding atmosphere through evaporative cooling. This chills the inside of the refrigerator.
  1. Lastly, the gas flows back into the compressor to start the whole process again. The fridge’s internal temperature is controlled by a thermostat that turns the compressor on and off to maintain a steady temperature.

However, solar refrigerators tend to have a few features that common kitchen appliances do not. Firstly, most solar refrigerators are capable of running on Direct Current (DC) power. Most solar panels only produce DC power without purchasing an extra inverter to convert it to Alternating Current (AC). 

The power that comes out of the sockets in your home is AC, and most non-solar refrigerators can only be run on AC. 

Most solar refrigerators also have an internal battery, usually a lithium-ion battery. The power produced by the solar panel is stored in the battery.

The insulation in solar refrigerators also tends to be thicker than in standard kitchen appliances. This makes solar refrigerators more energy-efficient, meaning they require less energy to keep a low temperature.

What are the main benefits of a solar refrigerator?

There are a few benefits specific to solar refrigerators, including:


We’ve all become very used to constant refrigeration, keeping our drinks cold and our food fresh, and the perennial availability of the electricity that powers that refrigeration. 

However, most commercial refrigerators are not designed to be portable or power versatile.

If you’re heading somewhere where there are no electrical outlets, such as out on the water, the deep woods, or just somewhere the grid doesn’t stretch, a solar refrigerator is the best way to bring the comforts of home with you.

In addition to DC power from a solar panel, most solar refrigerators can also be powered by your car, a mains outlet, or even a propane tank. This makes them very versatile indeed.


Many of the solar refrigerators on our list are designed to be as portable as possible. Made from lightweight materials and with added features like carrying straps or wheels. 

If you’re going on holiday, fishing, to a cookout, or are even just sunbathing in the yard, a portable solar refrigerator means you’re never far away from a cold drink.

Energy efficiency 

With smaller capacities and thick insulation, most solar refrigerators are energy-efficient. They often come fitted with highly efficient compressor systems, like the SECOP(Danfoss). 

This means they have relatively low power consumption, making them ideal for running on smaller, portable solar setups.

While the exact amount of power needed varies depending on the fridge’s size and the desired internal temperature, you can generally run a 12/24V DC system on one 135 Watt PhotoVoltaic (PV) panel.

Solar refrigerators vs. propane: what’s the difference

The primary differences between these two types of off-grid refrigerators are reliability and versatility.

Solar power has become far more reliable than it once was. However, the reality is that even the best solar setup is only generating while the sun is up. Cloud cover doesn’t stop a solar panel from working, but it does cut its output.

On the other hand, propane just works as long as there is gas in the tank. It’s more reliable than solar energy.

Where solar energy takes the edge is in versatility. Propane tanks are heavy, and they run out. Plus propane tanks need to be disposed of correctly. Solar panels are lightweight, portable, and if the sun runs out, we’ve all got more significant problems than warm drinks.

Recent advances in battery technology have also overcome a lot of solar power variability by storing excess capacity on sunny days and feeding it back into the system if there’s a deficit. 

However, you can get refrigerators like the SMETA Propane that will happily run on solar or grid power and propane, giving you the best of both worlds. 

Choosing the best solar refrigerator for your needs 

Now you know how solar refrigerators work and their benefits, let’s talk about choosing the right one for you personally.


The first thing you’ll want to take into consideration is what size of refrigerator you need. Our list of suggested refrigerators above runs from the diminutive F40C4TMP to the much larger Unique Solar, which is basically a mini kitchen fridge.

  • If you just want something to keep your drinks cold when you’re fishing or out on the boat, you don’t need a large refrigerator. Less than one cubic foot of storage is usually enough.
  • If you’re traveling and want to use your refrigerator to store food but still want it to be portable, then between one and two cubic feet of storage should suffice.
  • If you want a refrigerator that’s going to be placed in an RV, larger boat, or an off-grid cabin, then you can go for a larger model, something two cubic feet and up.

When it comes to buying something expensive like a solar refrigerator, it always pays to measure first.

Power draw

Connected to your refrigerator’s size is how much power you need for it to work. Smaller portable solar refrigerators can generally be powered by a single movable solar panel. However, larger ones will require a more complex system.

If you plan to install a larger solar fridge, your first step should be to find a solar insolation map and calculate your average daily hours of sunlight over the year. 

Once you have that calculation, you can plan out how many solar panels and batteries you’ll need to power your appliances. 

Another thing to consider is what is called start-up draw. When it first starts up, your solar refrigerator’s compressor can draw up to six times its standard operational power to get the coolant system up and running. 

It’s always best to make sure your system can handle that kind of load before turning your refrigerator on. 


What kind of solar refrigerator you need will depend on your lifestyle. If you plan to travel a lot, then you’ll need something portable and easy to carry. If you’re installing a refrigerator in an RV or a cabin, then you might find some of the more portable models too small.

Some solar refrigerators are more rugged than others, with tilt protection that lets them operate at an angle and reinforced construction. These are great for taking on the road.

Others are shaped like commercial refrigerators, with drawers, shelves, bottle holders, and other convenient accessories that are better suited for a permanent emplacement. 

It’s always worth considering your long-term needs before you buy.

Freezing food

If you need to freeze food, you have two primary options. Many of the smaller solar refrigerators can act as a fridge or freezer, but not both. Some can’t freeze food at all.

Some of the mid-size models have two sections that can function as a fridge and freezer independently.

The larger models have a similar set up to a commercial refrigerator, with a full-time smaller freezer at the top of the unit. Which model you end up buying is going to be dictated by how important it is that you can freeze food. 

Extra features

The final, and probably least important consideration, is the bells and whistles. Many of the solar refrigerators on our list have added quality of life features. 

These include wireless controls via a Bluetooth app, internal lighting, differing power settings, car battery protection modes, and fast freezing options. 

One or more of these features might be massively convenient in your particular situation, but they generally won’t make up forgetting any of the other factors wrong. It’s best to find the right size and style of refrigerator first, and then start looking at what fancy gadgets it comes with.

Staying cool 

Buying an eco-friendly solar refrigerator means you can take the comforts of home, like cold beer and ice cream, on the road with you. 

As an added benefit, you aren’t tied to the power grid or bulky canisters of propane anymore. 

You can power your refrigerator with clean, abundant, and environmentally-friendly solar energy. With our guide, you can find exactly the right solar refrigerator for you and no longer have to choose between saving the planet and your favorite mint choc-chip. 

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