Dual zone fridge freezers allow you to keep lunch sandwiches cold and store ice cream for dessert! These products have two compartments that can be adjusted individually for the perfect climate.
If you’re looking for the convenience of cold food and the luxury of frozen treats during a road trip then a fridge freezer is the perfect solution.
- Looking for the best portable refrigerator? Read this article!
How To Power A Travel Fridge Freezer
Fridge freezers can be powered using 110V to 240V AC power from your home, or 12V DC power from your vehicle. They are also insulated to keep cold when unplugged for extended periods of time.
Travelers may choose to use these during a long road trip or overlanding adventure to store ice and food for multiple days at a time.
These devices are also great for truckers who can keep them powered while driving.
Dual Temperature Controls
There are many different types of travel refrigerators available. The advantage of a fridge freezer is that they have dual temperature controls.
Most portable fridges have one compartment that can be used as either a fridge or a freezer, but not both at the same time.
Electric coolers are similar in that they generally are designed with only one compartment.
You can find some models on the market that have “freezing areas” which are located next to the compressor and stay cooler than the main compartment, but you can’t directly adjust the temperature.
- Dual-zone models that have two separate compartments with their own controls that can be adjusted individually.
Save Power With Dual Zone Models
The biggest advantage to having two compartments is the ability to save power. When you’re traveling off-grid, every extra amp counts.
- The best dual-zone fridge freezers let you completely turn off power to one compartment at a time if it’s not being used.
A More Versatile Option
With dual temperature controls, you can set both sides to be a freezer, fridge, or turn off power to half the device. It gives you a lot more options depending on what you’re packing for each trip.
You can also easily make adjustments in the middle of your journey if you find that you’ve finished all the popsicles and the freezer is no longer necessary.
What To Look For In A Fridge Freezer
- Temperature Range
- Power Use and Compressor Design
- Battery Protection Settings
- Extras and Accessories
The interior storage capacity is generally measured in quarts. This can be hard to visualize, so most models also label how many cans can fit inside the product.
Large capacity models hold 70 cans or more while smaller models may only hold about 30.
In the world of fridge freezers, a 45-55 quart model is considered medium size, while 60+ is considered large capacity.
Chances are good that you’ll be traveling with this product a lot. So exterior dimensions are an important consideration to take into account. Not only should you take note of the length, width, and height of the fridge freezer, but it’s important to look at the design as well.
Some models come with handles that stick out significantly and many times the handles are not included in the exterior dimensions. Similarly, the power cord also sticks out taking up further space.
Fridge/freezers need some ventilation around the compressor to run efficiently. 1-2 inches of space around each side is recommended.
You’ll also want to pay attention to which direction the top opens. Some models allow you to switch which side the hinges are on, and others sell slider accessories that can help you pull the fridge out to open it.
The FDA recommends that a refrigerator should be kept at or below 40° F (4° C) and a freezer should operate at 0° F (-18° C).
It’s important to make sure that your product can “keep up” with this climate even when it’s blazing hot outside. Some devices like thermoelectric coolers are rated by their ability to drop the ambient temperature and not by how cold they can actually keep the food.
You’ll quickly notice that on hot days, the compressor will be running continuously and the fridge/freezer will eat up battery quicker if it’s not properly insulated.
Power Use and Compressor Design
Fridge freezers are cooled using a compressor motor. These will cycle on until the inside is cool enough, then turn off until it heats above a set temperature.
The hotter it is outside, the more frequently the motor will kick on and the more power you will be using. To get the most out of your fridge freezer, you’ll want to take steps to insulate the product as much as possible so it uses less power. A few tricks to do this are:
- Add a secondary insulated cover to the outside
- Turn off any compartments that are not in use
- Ventilate the motor
- Keep the lids completely closed and locked when not in use
- Pack the cooler as much as possible to minimize airspace
Battery Protection Settings
The best fridge freezers should come with 3-stage battery protection settings built-in to prevent low voltage, EMC anti-electromagnetic interference, and current overload.
This should automatically shut-down the device if there’s any chance of the battery running out of juice.
For a product that you’re going to be traveling with so frequently, durability is imperative. Portable fridge freezers are designed to be bumped and jostled around so they should have extra insulation and components that can withstand vibrations.
In addition to that you’ll want to look for strong, sturdy handles for transportation. Thick hinges and locks to keep the lid closed, and tough metals or plastics that won’t get dented.
Extras and Accessories
Some fridge/freezer models come with unique accessories that are not necessary, but are nice-to-have.
For example, the Dometic CFX refrigerators come with an app so that you can control the temperature settings and performance straight from your phone.
Other models come with fast-cooling options to get the interior temperature cold as quickly as possible.
The Best Fridge Freezers For Travel Reviewed
The ICECO VL Series is our top choice in terms of value. There are a number of different models to choose from, ranging from 47 quarts to 90+.
We like the ICECO because it has a simple, no-frills design. The shock-proof construction is made to withstand vibrations and dents. And it has heavy-duty corner caps and sturdy handles.
This product is made to fit snuggly in a vehicle with its perfectly squared sides and spring steel handles which tuck away flat when they’re not being used. The hieght is also capped at 18.8 inches which allows it to fit perfectly beneath a truck bed tonneau cover.
The two compartments can be adjusted individually, and it comes with 3-stage battery protection.
When it comes to price, you get all of the bells and whistles you’d want from a fridge freezer for hundreds of dollars less than our runner-up model (Dometic).
If you’re looking for the most advanced fridge/freezer on the market, then look no further than Dometic.
The Dometic CFX series comes with the most cutting-edge features on the market including bluetooth connectivity to a phone app which allows to you adjust temperature and check performance right from the front-seat of your vehicle.
A few things that make this product stand out among the others is internal lighting, and a high-resolution color display.
This product is the crème de la crème, but it also comes with a high price tag.
If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, the Whynter fridge freezer models come with nearly everything you need for a low price. You can purchase this product as either a 62 quart or 90 quart capacity.
This design comes with the most basic components including dual-zone temperature control, LED display, and low-power indicator.
The downside is that you cannot completely shut-off one compartment at a time; as a workaround, you can raise the temperature so that it uses minimal battery.
This model also does not come with 3-stage battery protection, so you’ll need to pay special attention to it’s power draw during use.
That’s A Wrap!
Dual-zone fridge freezers are the perfect way to pack a variety of foods on a road trip. If you’re looking for the best value, the ICECO VL Series is our top choice. Dometic makes the most advanced models on the market, and Whynter is a great product for travelers on a budget.