Last Updated on 05/03/2024 by Glynn Willard

What Are The Best Campervan Fridges?

There are a variety of refrigerators for campervans.

The best choice for you comes down to different criteria, which we’ll discuss below.

But first, imagine yourself in your campervan camped off the beaten path by a beautiful lake.

You just finished a great hike and you return with a vision of a great dinner.

But wait, your electrical system couldn’t keep up with the power demands of your refrigerator after three days of boondocking.

The meat is spoiled. I guess you’ll have to default to the emergency can of beans. Not cool!

We can avoid that outcome by choosing the best option for your specific needs.

Let’s learn about the best fridge for your campervan before we chill. (I’m a Dad, I can’t help it).

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Which Power Source For A Campervan Fridge Is Best?


Not only is it important to consider how much power your fridge will consume, but also the type of power necessary.

Some camper fridges can use propane, but I believe this is a poor choice because vans have limited space to carry a lot of propane.

That said, any propane gas fridge runs on either propane or AC (for the most part).

But most campervanvan owners intend to operate off-grid.

If you intend to stay in RV parks exclusively, buy a class C. You’ll be a lot more comfortable.

Other camper fridges run exclusively on the AC electrical circuit, which requires an inverter and/or staying connected to shore power.

Again, this is not a good choice for any RV fridge.

Lastly, most newer RV fridges run on DC power. Because lithium and solar panels are a lot more pervasive and less expensive, the best camper fridge will be DC-run.

Most van builds and manufactured campervans now incorporate solar power and a larger battery bank, so DC is a no-brainer.

Types Of Campervan Fridges

Before we go on, a brief overview of the different types of refrigerators is necessary.

Armed with the above information about the refrigerator power source and the following information, you’ll be better informed in choosing the best type of fridge for you.

You’re not here for an overview of how each system cools, so let’s just discuss applications.

  • Compressor Refrigerator: This is the most common refrigeration system used and is like your refrigerator at home (unless you’re part of the full-time van dwellers group).
    It has better energy efficiency, can be run on AC or DC, and does not need to be level to operate.
    It also does not require venting.
    A compressor refrigerator is the better choice for a campervan.

  • Absorption Refrigerators: An absorption fridge requires a heat source usually in the form of propane or electrical heat to function.
    If gas is used it needs to be vented outside the van for obvious reasons. It also has to remain level to function and is affected more by ambient temperature.
    This was the type of refrigerator that was used in a lot of RVs in the recent past.
    When you’re shopping for a campervan or building one, an absorption fridge is the refrigerator to avoid.


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Upright Fridge Or Chest-Style Fridges?

We’ve narrowed down that a compressor fridge that operates on a DC circuit is the best type of refrigerator for a campervan.

Now for the style.

Upright vs chest-style fridges come down to personal preference and the layout of the van.

We (four of us) travel part-time in a Roadtrek Zion campervan and need a lot of refrigeration space.

So for us, an upright compressor-based fridge with separate compartments for freezing and cooling that operates on DC is the most suitable.

Your situation is likely different.

If more living space is your priority, chest fridges might be a good option.

They can usually be moved around, taken outside, and stored under a bench seat while connected to either DC or AC.

As long as you don’t mind searching for food in a top-loading fridge (sort of like hunting for Legos in a big box), it’s a great choice for DIY campervan builds.

How Will You Use Your Campervan Fridge?


Perhaps you plan on living in your van and preparing most of your meals in your campervan.

You’re going to need an efficient refrigerator, that works with your most robust electrical system, stores a lot of food, and is easily accessible.

If you just use your van for short trips or an occasional vacation, you could likely get away with a mini fridge with less cubic feet that’s not as convenient.

You’ll end up taking more trips to the grocery store, but that’s not a big deal since vans are so agile.

The Type Of Van Life You Plan To Live Matters


I mentioned earlier that if RV parks are in your future 99% of the time and you’ll be connected to shore power, the power consumption of your refrigerator is somewhat moot.

That said, I believe most of you reading this article intend to boondock more in your van.

In other words, you want an efficient refrigerator that runs on very little power while you’re off-grid.

When I say off-grid, it could be in a Walmart parking lot or dispersed camping deep into a US Forest.

If that’s your intention, we’ve narrowed down the best type and power source, now it’s time to sample some of the best campervan refrigerators.

Best Campervan Fridge For Manufactured Van

The most important things are to choose a van life fridge that will minimize energy consumption and match your style of RVing.

The below list is not exclusive to everything on the market, but it does feature refrigerators that check all the boxes for a campervan built by a reputable manufacturer.

  • Dometic DMC4081 is likely the maximum size that you’ll find to comfortably fit into a campervan.
    It’s easier to install since it’s more of a residential style that can also be secured to the cabinetry.


  • Dometic CRX 110S or E is a smaller, DC run, compressor built-in that you might find featured in some of the manufactured campervans you’ve reviewed.
    It’s a great option if you don’t require a large capacity.


  • Norcold Polar N8DC: is a compressor-based, DC-run refrigerator that maximizes the amount of cooling space in your van.

  • Norcold DE0061TR Built-In AC/DC is a built-in, compressor-run refrigerator that efficiently runs off of AC or DC.


Best Fridges For A DIY Van Build

Again, choose a refrigerator that draws the least amount of energy and fits your van lifestyle.

Everything below checks all the boxes if you’re designing and building your campervan.

This is not an exclusive list, but it will get you started so that you can make a wise decision.

  • Dometic CRX 1065E is a great option is you want a refrigerator with a larger capacity and minimal effort when installing it into your build.


  • Norcold N2175 is a moderate-sized, compressor refrigerator with a unique feature. It runs off its own rechargeable battery.
    I realize this might only be appealing to a few of you, but just know that it’s an option.

  • Norcold N2090 is a smaller version of the N2175 that runs off of its rechargeable battery. Both claim up to 25 hours of run time (varies based on circumstances).

  • Norcold DE105 makes a great build-in if you don’t need a large capacity.
    It can switch between AC and DC, whichever is most suitable for your power system.

  • Dometic CFX3 100-Liter is great for those of you who want to move your refrigerator around the van or just outside the van.
    It’s efficient, compressor-driven, and runs off AC or DC. If you want easy, this is your best choice. Different sizes are also available.


  • Camco CAM-950 Portable Refrigerator is a good-sized, budget-friendly refrigerator that can be moved around your van as needed.


  • Camco CAM-350 Portable Refrigerator is a small, budget-friendly refrigerator for those of you who only take short trips and rarely need a lot of food cooled.



    Alternatives To Camper Van Refrigerators

    We can also go old-school and just use a portable cooler in a DIY van build for short trips that will cost less.

    Coolers have come a long way in recent years in their ability to keep food cool for a long time.

    Take the popularity of Yeti and RTIC for instance.

    We used a large RTIC cooler for years before owning an RV with outstanding results.

    Wrapping Up Camper Van Fridges


    The factors that determine your choice of campervan fridges are based on:

    • Your campervan’s power system.

    • The style of camping you plan to do with your campervan.

    • The amount of time you plan on spending in your van.

    • And finally, the amount of space you’re willing to commit for a refrigerator.

    The real takeaway is that a compressor refrigerator that operates on DC, which fits your van lifestyle, and is within your budget is the best choice.

    I hope this article wasn’t “too chill” for you! I’m a Dad, I can’t help it!

    Which refrigerator has worked the best in your campervan?
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