No doubt you’ve read my blog post about 12 volt refrigerators vs. coolers. Oh, you haven’t? Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Now that your back, I’ll tell you all about the refrigerator I’ve been using.
Since January, I have owned and used this 58 Quart Alpicool CF55-LG Portable Refrigerator. I feel like I have enough experience with it to provide you, dear reader, with a fairly comprehensive review. Here’s the thing, this is my first 12 volt refrigerator. There’s a reason for that. Buying a 12 volt fridge used to cost nearly as much as buying a proper in-house refrigerator. We’re talking $1,200+. For me, that’s just too much money.
But, that’s all changed. Many Chinese models have come onto the market at a significantly lower price point. That’s all good and well, but how’s the quality? We’ll get to that. I paid $339.00 for this particular fridge. Now, you can spend more than that on a Yeti cooler, no problem. To me, the price of this made it worth trying.
Quirks and Features
With a capacity of 58 quarts (55 liters), you can fit a decent amount of food in this refrigerator, easily enough for a 4 to 5 day outing with the family. It has 2 compartments, one large and one smaller. The smaller compartment doesn’t seem to be directly cooled and gets its cold air from the larger side. I see this as a place for produce, bread and things that don’t absolutely have to be as cool as your set temperature.
The total size of the fridge measures: 27.2 x 13.6 x20.6 inches and it weighs 35 pounds. Temperature control range is: -4℉～68℉(-20℃～+20℃). It’s rated at 45 watts of power draw and has an ECO mode to draw even less power when needed. Battery protection is built in. When it senses it’s about to kill your vehicles battery, it will turn off and just spoil your food instead 🤪.
This is a single-zone unit, meaning, it’s a refrigerator or a freezer, but not both. There are other units that have 2 zones and split duties between freezing and refrigerating. Personally, I didn’t see a need for that. I just wanted the refrigerator capability.
When buying from an unknown Chinese brand, quality is always a concern. You just don’t know what kind of components are used. When it comes to refrigeration, the compressor is the critical element. That friends, is why I chose this particular 12 volt fridge. Its claim to fame is that housed within its plastic, insulated walls is an LG brand compressor. Good, quality stuff. Hence the LG in the model name. This gives me the warm fuzzies.
As you would expect, it runs on 12 volts. Just plug it into the cigarette lighter socket in your vehicle and you’re good to go. It also runs on 24 volts if needed. If you want to plug it into a home wall outlet, it comes with an AC cord too. It’s a good idea to pre-cool it at home for a few hours before you hit the road.
Build quality is good. Not over the top, like bulletproof, but decent enough. The plastics are durable, the handles are made of metal (good for using straps to tie it down), the LCD panel is not cheap looking and the latch feels solid. There’s also a little chain that prevents the lid from opening too far. The basket inside is removable and made of metal and there are plastic guards at each corner.
Another great feature the product description barely mentions, its vibration resistant and can safely be used at a 45° angle. I love this because that means it should stand up to the abuse and weird angles of off-road use. I have tested this and can report that it’s still working after a long, rough off-road trip recently.
There’s a simple LCD display on the front with some basic and self-explanatory buttons for setting the temp, putting it in ECO mode and turning the power on and off. A nice additional feature is Bluetooth. Yes, the fridge can connect to your phone via an app. This sounds superfluous but it’s actually very practical. With the fridge in the back of the vehicle, you can make sure it’s running at the correct temp, turn on ECO mode or power it off, all from your phone. Pretty nice.
Specs and features are great. Promises, promises. The question you want answered is this: does it suck? The short answer, no. No, it doesn’t suck at all. I used the refrigerator in a few different scenarios, one that was unexpected.
This is obviously the activity most people are going to be interesting in using this fridge for. We packed it full of food for a Cub Scout camping trip the first time I ever used it. It fits nicely in back of the Land Rover and it’s easy to get to. It was downright refreshing to reach into a refrigerator and grab a cold drink that isn’t soaking wet from melting ice. For camping, you can’t beat having a refrigerator over a cooler. You do have to keep it powered though so you’ll need a portable power unit. Look for a blog post about that soon.
A Long Road Trip
We have some land in Colorado and went to spend time there in February. Again, we packed the fridge with our food for the trip at home. When we got to the hotel, we just plugged it into the wall and had food for the few days we stayed. No need to spend a bunch of money eating out. This is a great use for a portable fridge.
This was a test of the fridge’s durability. I wasn’t able to properly tie it down for this trip so it did move around in the back of the Rover a bit. As the truck was jostled left and right, I heard a beeping alarm from the back. My daughter took a look from the back seat and informed me the fridge had become unplugged. No big deal, at the next stop, I just plugged it back in. Totally my fault for not strapping it down. It was covered in dust, was subject to some pretty extreme angles and bounced around. It never missed a beat. It held up fine at the end and our food was still cold. Impressive.
Broken House Fridge
I received call from my Mom last week. Her refrigerator died. All of her food was about to go bad. I told her I have just thing and drove over to her house. We filled the Alpicool with everything we could squeeze into it from her house fridge and she ended up relying it for about a week while she waited for her new refrigerator to be delivered. Like I said, a pretty unexpected use case, but it did its job.
The Big Fat Conclusion
The biggest testament to any product is this: would you recommend it to a friend? My answer is yes. The 58 Quart Alpicool CF55-LG Portable Refrigerator is a solid product. The build quality is good, it can stand up to some abuse, it has a name brand compressor and the price-point is perfect. If you’re considering a 12 volt, portal refrigerator, you should consider this one.
This company sells other models that are larger and smaller. Not all of them have the LG compressor so I can’t vouch for those ones, but this brand does seem to value quality. Like all of my reviews, if the thing explodes and food is splattered all over the headliner a year from now, I’ll update this review.
Keep in mind, you will likely need some type of power source for this or any 12 volt fridge. Once you park your vehicle, you need to keep it powered. I bought the Jackery Explorer 500 for this purpose and it’s a good match with the fridge.