Perfect Portable Electric Refrigerator-Freezer Coolers For Tailgate Parties

The Perfect Portable Electric Refrigerator-Freezer Cooler for tailgate parties

A few of my readers asked me why I haven’t covered the small but amazing range of perfect portable electric refrigerator-freezer coolers currently on the market.  They make their own ice on site, keep everything very cold and are ideal for keeping salads, perishables, pre-cooked meats and frozen margaritas at the perfect temperature.  Well, I guess I just wasn’t sure there was a market for them.  But I was wrong.  There’s a whole community out there that travels from state to state following games all over the country.  They are not all gray nomads either but diehard fans .and they need somewhere to stash their cream for the morning coffee.  At the tailgate party, these portable electric refrigerator/freezer coolers plug straight into the RV, Silverado  or whatever your ride is.

Anyway, thanks to my buds allowing me access to theirs and sharing their experience, I whittled down the range to the top three options.

Turned out, this was the most popular and while we are looking at the largest size, there are smaller models which we have listed for you.

Dometic CFX – 95DZUS Dual Zone Portable Electric Refrigerator-Freezer – 94.5 liters.

Dometic portable electric refigrerator/freezer cooler.

Dometic portable electric refrigerator-freezer cooler.

This is a 94.5 liter model and has two compartments, each with its own thermostat (-8F to +50F) covering fridge and freezer independently.  The power source is 120 VAC (wall plug) or 12VDC (cigarette lighter) or 24 VDC current.  It is the model that my pal Seth brings on the back of his Silverado along with his kegerator. It’s especially good when you need to drive to interstate games as you can avoid eating in restaurants and therefore, save your greenbacks for betting on fantasy football or even better, your cornhole games at the tailgate party.

But I digress.

The selling points of the Dometic Electric Portable Refrigerator-Freezer are as follows:

It’s big.  Like a small home fridge but packs a powerful punch being colder than, say, a bar fridge.  It makes real ice.  Speaking of which, a hint to keep it really cold when you are parked and to avoid drawing battery power, keep some bottles of iced water in the ice compartment.  These will keep the unit cold for a day or more. Otherwise, a 12 volt battery will keep the unit running longer.

Be sure to cool food or drink before putting into the freezer/fridge and you will preserve the low temperatures.

It’s absolutely terrific when you are in a remote area away from stores and ice machines as you can make heaps of it in this great freezer.  Fishermen, it’s for you to put your massive catch in as well.

Runs very quietly.

Very solid state.  I would recommend the insulated cover for it just to give it that extra care from dings.  You can then heave it in the back of your truck with a clear conscience.

Tested on ice-cream, popsicles and frozen peas and they stayed frozen for days.  There was no defrosting/re-freezing at all.  Performs well in the desert with high exterior temperatures. So it will work if say, you have to travel to Phoenix or Vegas for a game.  There’s little or no heat given off by the compressor so you can actually pack it quite tightly without the usual refrigerator air gaps required but do leave a space around the fan for the heat to escape.

Weighs 70 pounds.

Dimensions: 38.8 x 21.9 x 19.7 inches.

In conclusion, the owners of any of the range of Dometic portable refrigerator/freezer coolers love them whether for camping or tailgating and for the homegaters, this is a great second fridge as the power drag on your home electricity is very low.

The Dometic portable refrigerator/freezer coolers come in a variety of size options.

26 liters, 35 liters, 38 liters, 46 liters, 61 liters, as well as this one of 94.5 liters so there is one for all uses. Seems to make sense to buy the biggest when you shop at Costco for a heap of pre-made food for those occasions when you are not bothering with the whole BBQ thing.

Dometic CFX-CVR95DZ Insulated Protective Cover (for CFX-95DZUS)

Dometic Insulated Protective cover for portable freezer

Dometic Insulated Protective cover for portable freezer

The cover is sturdy and well manufactured and I really recommend buying one to give your portable electric refrigerator/freezer a longer life. It keeps the dust, dirt and sand out while you are traveling even if you just have it on the back of your pickup truck.  And on that note, it has eyelets so that you can anchor it to your truck for transporting. For tradesmen and engineers, or anyone who has to travel to the wilderness for work, this is a must. Then use it for the tailgate party when there’s a game …

Another popular portable electric refrigerator-freezer cooler

The ARB 10800782 82 quart fridge freezer

This portable electric refrigerator/freezer cooler is solid state – a combo of metal and plastic designed to keep the weight down.  It weighs in at 50 pounds empty.  You should be able to fit 90 beer cans or the equivalent in it.

The ARB features an automatic battery protection system that prevents car battery rundown when your vehicle is stationary.  Set it to when you want it to turn off and it does that automatically.

It runs quietly and again, better if you leave an air gap for the fan to breathe through.

Temperature wise, it is steady and cold and will retain that temperature for hours even when unplugged due to its insulated design.  Excellent for tailgating as its large interior will accommodate a very large array of food and drink.

You can run it on freezer or fridge mode depending on what you want to keep cool.

Advice from users includes getting a lead with 2 pronged 12 V plug rather than the cigarette lighter style plug but this is if you are taking an RV to the tailgate party and using the ARB there.  Otherwise, the cigarette lighter is fine with #8 wire.

It is a little smaller than the  Dometic but for its price it is good value and an efficient and reliable portable refrigerator/freezer cooler.  The other difference is that with the Dometic, you have the two thermostats and can use two temperatures – freeze or cool.

There are several different sizes available – 37 quart, 50 quart, 63 quart, 78 quart and this one, the 82 which is my preference though it really depends on which size portable refrigerator-freezer fits your tailgate party kit and transport.

The ARB 10900015 transit bag for ARB 82 quart portable refrigerator-freezer


ARB Portable Refrigerator:Freezer transit bag

ARB Portable Refrigerator-Freezer transit bag

As with the Dometic, there is a transit bag you can use for the protection of your valuable portable electric refrigerator-freezer.  It protects the appliance from the sun’s rays as well so that the battery doesn’t constantly kick in and cool the unit down.  This is designed to be used with ARB tiedowns.

ARB refrigerator tie down system

ARB refrigerator tie down system

These can be used to anchor the fridge onto the back of a pickup or other vehicle to stop it sliding around while being transported.  The canvas version is far nicer than the neoprene version though some users have reported that cleaning it will remove the colors.  My advice is never to scrub canvas and don’t ever use chemicals on it (eg. bleach).
There is also a fridge slider which can be bolted to your pickup but most users for tailgate parties don’t feel that these are necessary.  For 4WD trips, yes! But generally, the tie-downs are more than enough to get you to the parking lot.

Engel MT 80-U1 Dual Voltage 84 quart Portable Electric Refrigerator-Freezer 12V/24V/110V

Engel Dual Voltage Portable Refrigerator/Freezer

Engel Dual Voltage Portable Refrigerator-Freezer

This is the largest in the Engel portable electric refrigerator-freezer range and is solar compatible as well as being able to run on your auto or an independent battery.  It is top of the range, and a quality product.  Engel is well known to RV and trailer fans and tailgate partiers have been happy to discover this great unit.

Made from well insulated galvanised steel with heavy duty melamine coating, it is tough and marine hardy. Salt water? No problem. Drunken tailgate party dudes? No problem.

100% CFC free as expected, so you can care for the environment at the same time as keeping your booze and tailgate party food cold.

In the prepping movement as well as the tailgate community, this nice large portable electric refrigerator-freezer is highly rated mainly because it is so well constructed and also because of its low power draw.  Come the zombie apocalypse, your tailgate kit should be a lifeline.  Particularly a fridge full of cold beer.

Engel was the first name I ever heard in portable refrigerator/freezer ranges as Paul, our avid camper friend (you know him, the one who owns his own winery and wine labels) bought a second hand one, already 25 years old and he has run it in his trailer for around 8 years since then.  It has never failed.  So the brand alone is excellent and the execution lives up to the promise.

Basically, it holds just a little less than the Dometic reviewed above.  The comparables are around the same – a nice low power draw.  The solar connectivity is a good feature.

All these have a place you can plug in your smartphone for charging and that’s a real comfort. At the rate Wave sucks out power … well, that’s another story.

Anyway, the Engel also comes already equipped with AC and DC power cords and is so strong you can sit on it.

The side handles make it easy to carry but also are for anchoring in your truck so that it doesn’t slide around while in transit.

It does weigh 100 pounds when empty so you need to factor that in to the overall bulk of your tailgate party kit.

Note that at the point of sale, there are many short videos to help you decide what size Engel is best for you.

Finally, there are many lower end electric portable refrigerator-freezers on the market.  In general, these have a disappointing track record.  There are stories of the Engel being run continuously for over 20 years and I am not so sure than the cheaper models are capable of that.  Due to their low power draw, they are not expensive to run, so I am thinking that you will get years of great service from any of these three models outlined above.

Happy tailgating ! (And take them camping, traveling and prepping as well!)