You may believe that you can just purchase any old fridge and install it in your campervan. Buying a campervan fridge involves a few more steps than the typical home fridge purchase.

Some of these fridges are intended for both on and off-road usage, while others are solely intended for one or the other. There are also a variety of sizes available, so make sure you purchase one that will fit in your car.

What Sets a Campervan Fridge Apart From a Regular Home Fridge?

campervan fridge

Some campervan fridges cost as much as a mid-range home model. So why can’t you simply buy one of those £80 dorm mini-fridges and put it in your van? What sets a campervan fridge different from a regular home fridge?

It all comes down to the fridge’s power source when it comes to the hefty price tag associated with vanlife and buslife.

Most fridges, including those found in apartments and dorm rooms, need 110v electricity in order to function. In a nutshell, 110v electricity is used in every home and apartment in the United States, powering all of the outlets and the vast majority of equipment.

But how does this relate to the things that set apart a fridge for use in a campervan from one for use in a regular home? The campervan fridge may run on either 12v electricity or propane, depending on your needs. As most vans lack air conditioning, a fridge built for vanlife has to be smaller and able to handle frequent micro-vibrations from driving, as well as a wider range of working temperatures.

Due to the unique design issues they provide, campervan fridges are more expensive than standard home fridges.

How to Pick the Best Campervan Fridge

campervan fridge

You should give some thought to a few things before settling on a campervan refrigerator.


It’s possible that this will be the determining factor for some folks. If you’re trying to save money while building your van or just intend to use it sometimes, investing in the most costly fridge isn’t realistic.

There is a wide price range for campervan fridges, but you generally get what you pay for. But it’s a must-have for the van life, so include it in your spending plan.

Fridge Capacity

The size of your campervan fridge is dependent on your needs. You don’t need a huge fridge if you just intend on doing weekend road trips in your van. Quantities ranging from 10 to 45 litres are acceptable.

But if you want to spend significant time off the grid or live in your vehicle, you’ll need a larger one. For quantities more than 50 litres, I would recommend something larger.

Have you considered getting a fridge with a freezer? You’ll need a bigger refrigerator if that’s the case. You should only get a van with a freezer if you want to live in it for an extended amount of time and need to store food. On a weekend trip, bringing ice cubes for your beverages is convenient but unnecessary.

Power Consumption

Your fridge’s energy usage will be proportional to its size and model. When left unattended for many days, a refrigerator uses a lot of power and may rapidly deplete a battery, so choosing one that works with your power source is essential.

Will you mostly stay at campgrounds with flat ground and electricity, or will you do more wild camping? You’ll want a fridge that runs on solar power if you want to live off the grid for an extended period of time.

Tip: fridges that use a compressor are more efficient when powered by batteries, whereas absorption fridges are more efficient when powered by natural gas. Read on for more explanation of this point!

Types of Campervan Fridges

campervan fridge

You should also give some attention to the kind of refrigerator that will serve your requirements the best.

Compressor Fridge or Two-Way Fridges

The vast majority of households nowadays use fridges that employ a compressor. A compressor device that runs on electricity is what keeps the fridge cold. The 12v recreational batteries in your van won’t be able to power a regular residential refrigerator since it requires 240/110v (UK/US).

A compressor fridge may be operated in two distinct ways:

  • via a 12-volt battery
  • via a power inverter running on standard household current (240 volts to 110 volts).

However, utilising an inverter might result in losses of up to 50 percent; therefore, this strategy should be avoided if conserving energy is a top concern.


  • low maintenance
  • energy efficient
  •  customised for use in moving vehicles, which eliminates the necessity for a flat surface.


  • expensive to purchase
  • noisy compressor

Absorption Fridges

Three-way absorption fridges get their cooling power from an external heat source. Absorption fridges, often known as “three-way fridges,” are compatible with gas, 12v, and mains (240v/110v) electricity.


  • quiet when running
  • accepts input from a variety of power supplies
  • very fuel-efficient while using gas


  • need a flat surface to function properly
  • must be set up properly, with enough airflow
  • Regular servicing is required
  • 12v inefficiency

Thermoelectric Coolers

The thermoelectric cooler is a portable fridge that draws power from your vehicle’s engine batteries through the 12v connection (the cigarette lighter). This is the way to go when you need a fridge that can go everywhere you go or if you just want to go vehicle camping.


  • reasonably priced


  • does not get that cold
  • low-performing and ineffective

Styles of Camper Van Fridges

Finally, think about what kind of camper fridge you’ll need. Three distinct fridge designs are often seen in campervans.

Chest Fridges or Top Loading

There are two main factors that make top-loading fridges a good choice for people living out of their vans. Top-loading fridges are more efficient than front-loading ones because less warm air is lost when opening and closing the door.

However, top-loading fridges aren’t usually the most space-efficient option since there is nowhere to put anything above them. It goes without saying that efficient space use is crucial while living in a van. One solution to the problem of getting to the fridge from above is installing it on a sliding cabinet or incorporating it into a sitting area. Everything hinges on the van’s interior design.

Top-loading fridges are annoying since it’s a hassle to attempt to put or remove anything from them when they’re jam-packed.

Front Loading Fridges

The majority of people’s houses are equipped with fridges that load from the front. These are common in people’s vans since there is no problem locating storage space above or below the refrigerator, which makes van life easier.

These sorts of fridges may not be able to hold as much food as top-loading models, but everything is much easier to get inside of them. Food and beverages can be easily organised thanks to the divisions.

For instance, you don’t have to worry about milk or juice toppling over and spilling all over the place if you put it in the door. If the meat is placed towards the bottom, any annoying juices that may leak out won’t be able to contaminate the rest of the ingredients. And unlike top-loading refrigerators, they’re simple to disinfect.

Front Loading Drawer Fridges

This fridge is quite like a top-loading one, except the door swings out to the front on a draw instead. It can hold more food than a standard front-loading refrigerator but less than a top-loading refrigerator due to the arrangement of its shelves.

Because the whole drawer must be opened to get access, it is less convenient than a top-loading fridge, and it isn’t easy to track down one of these appliances online. You may benefit from this design if you’re set on a top-loading fridge but don’t want to install a sliding drawer cabinet above it.

The Best Ways to Keep Your Campervan Fridge Cold

  • Always stock the fridge with food for optimal performance.
  • To make the most efficient use of your fridge, you should stock up on cold goods and keep them that way rather than warm goods and then have to chill them.
  • Ease open the door a little. When you yank on the door, a lot of air rushes out of the fridge.
  • Keep the door shut! Avoid frequently entering and exiting the fridge, since this causes cold air to escape and consumes a lot of electricity.
  • Allow the fridge to breathe by using ventilation.


Choosing the right campervan fridge involves weighing a number of things. You usually get what you pay for with a fride, so save aside some serious cash if you plan on making this major purchase. Compressor fridges are ideal for van dwellers since they run efficiently on solar power and can function in any orientation. Vehicles like campers and RVs benefit more from absorption fridges. Food may be more easily accessed from a front-loading fridge, while top-loading fridges use less electricity. The placement of the fridge in your vehicle, as well as your own preferences, will likely dictate the kind of fridge you choose.