Best Marine Refrigerators

Best Marine Refrigerators | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

May 4, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Most marine refrigerators have reliable energy efficiency and great cooling ability
  • Avoid brands that have bad marine refrigerator reviews and poor customer service
  • Many brands offer options for a power source and are compatible with a solar panel
  • Take measurements of your desired space for a fridge and get one that is space saving
  • Some boaters like a silent operation if it is near where they sleep

Long boating trips are best when you can save food with a boat refrigerator. So who makes the best marine refrigerator?

The best marine refrigerators are the Costway Compact Fridge, Alpicool C20, and ICECO VL60. Marine refrigerator brands make various sizes, with different prices, and intended use to compliment your boat. Depending on your intended use will matter to the efficiency of the boat fridge.

In my experience, a boat fridge saves you money with storing groceries and keeping drinks cold on a hot day. If you plan on spending more than a day on a boat then you should try to find the best marine refrigerator for you.


Table of contents

The Top 11 Best Marine Refrigerators

The most efficient marine refrigeration system is indispensable to boating enthusiasts who consider life on water their mantra. Marine fridges can elevate the experience of seafarers and dock dwellers alike while also maintaining the palatability of consumables regardless of the voyage's duration.

Optimal marine refrigerators, such as those outlined below, guarantee the sustenance of provisions during extended expeditions. With portable refrigerators or ones you install for boating, your galley is no longer confined to the shore.

Costway Compact Car Freezer

Costway Compact Car Freezer
Costway Compact Car Freezer

This cost-effective fridge packs a punch and is perfect for extended camping or fishing expeditions with impressive cooling abilities and ample storage capacity even in extreme heat. It can function as a fridge or freezer and operates efficiently with portable solar panels.

The roomy interior can accommodate beverages and fresh ingredients. Some users reported that the AC adapter’s lifespan is a concern and occasional temperature problems have been reported.


  • Lower cost compared to other marine refrigerators
  • Solid amount of space inside
  • Energy efficient


  • AC adapter could be better
  • Temperature settings can move off of desired number

​​Alpicool C20

​​Alpicool C20
​​Alpicool C20

The Alpicool marine refrigerator boasts a lot of positives. It offers power-saving with its ECO mode and uses roughly 240 watts over the course of an entire day.

After disconnecting from a power source you can still have it powered through a battery and even use solar if you have that setup. It is a little on the small side but perfect for just one or two people wanting to keep their food cold.


  • Does not use a lot of power throughout the day
  • Lightweight and quiet
  • Great job at providing cold air


  • Not as large as other marine fridges
  • Some may not want a portable refrigerator



A handful of user reviews have stated that this marine refrigerator is something that they would consider tough and made out of marine grade materials. This is a great option for chilled food items on both land and sea no matter the ambient temperature.

It can withstand the elements but do not leave it out for long periods of time in direct weather ailments. If you are looking for the best marine refrigerator this should be on your list if you are needing more holland capacity.


  • Plenty of storage to hold cold food
  • No problems keeping cold air and can run off of various power sources
  • Quality materials making it very durable


  • Fan might be loud for some
  • More expensive compared to smaller models

Black + Decker Compact Refrigerator

Black + Decker Compact Refrigerator
Black + Decker Compact Refrigerator

This top brand mini fridge offers pleasant surprises in its compact form. User reviews noted that it kept food and drinks cool throughout a week-long fishing trip while even accommodating extra bottles with smart use of space.

It runs silently and has long-lasting durability. This makes it worth its 70-watt power usage for consistent cooling and ample capacity.


  • Reliable cooling from reputable brand
  • Proven to last years
  • Has a freezer and is quiet


  • Eats more power compared to other competing marine refrigerators
  • Some users reported the freezer is too small

Ausranvik 63 Quart Portable Marine Refrigerator

Ausranvik 63 Quart Portable Marine Refrigerator
Ausranvik 63 Quart Portable Marine Refrigerator

Ausravik brings a quality marine refrigerator to the table with its solid cooling capabilities and slightly less in price compared to other brands. It can be used with a variety of power sources to get the job done.

It also has a great feature that will not slam your fingers down with the lid open. This is perfect for families or if you prefer to save your own fingers. You can also find this in various sizes that can meet your cold air and food capacity goals.


  • Quick cooling and has low power consumption
  • Good capacity depending on size purchased
  • Great idea for the anti-pinch feature


  • Temperature readings can be off sometimes
  • Materials might not hold up in rough conditions

ENGEL Portable Marine Refrigerator

ENGEL Portable Marine Refrigerator
ENGEL Portable Marine Refrigerator

Engel has a history of making quality ice chests and this is right on par with the other quality items they have made. As a portable marine refrigerator this is an excellent choice.

It is well-designed and sturdy enough to handle tough conditions you might experience on the water. It also performs well as it is energy efficient and a not noisy at all. The only drawback seems to be the latches and they might have to be replaced after years of heavy use.


  • Quality brand that was able to make another great product
  • Silent and energy efficient
  • Users have held onto this for over five years or longer


  • Latches might have to be replaced after a few years

Whynter Portable Refrigerator

Whynter Portable Refrigerator
Whynter Portable Refrigerator

This marine fridge is perfect for traveling and cruising for long periods at a time. Its low power draw, versatility, and cooling capability make it a reliable choice.

It can run on both 110V AC and 12/24V DC power sources without needing to switch wires. It can quickly cool food items to -10 degrees in an hour in a 90-degree ambient temperature. Its robust construction and quiet operation are also notable.


  • Great value for the price
  • Quiet and can run off multiple power sources
  • Quickly cools to desired settings


  • A bit heavy when loaded down
  • Temperature settings can be off after years of use

VBENLEM Portable Refrigerator

VBENLEM Portable Refrigerator
VBENLEM Portable Refrigerator

This portable fridge holds more than plenty due to its dual zone design and also saves energy. The electronic temperature control allows you to easily set the desired temperature.

The fridge even has an app for you to control or check on settings. It is durable and comes with an adapter to plug into various outlets for power.


  • Plenty of storage
  • An app that you control and easy to operate digital display
  • Cools fast and is energy efficient


  • Draws power even when turned off
  • App may be confusing at times

Dometic Waeco Coolmatic

Dometic Waeco Coolmatic
Dometic Waeco Coolmatic

This adaptable and energy-efficient fridge/freezer outshines some of its weaknesses. It perfectly fits boats that have limited space and it seamlessly shifts between functions while saving power at only 48 watts.

The interior space is disappointing but it makes up for it if you are able to maneuver items in a certain way. The power cord is too short and requires an extension if needing to make it work in a given spot.


  • Can use as a freezer
  • Great cooling capacity
  • Can fit on smaller vessels


  • Small interior
  • Power cord is short and requires extension

EdgeStar Convertible Refrigerator

EdgeStar Convertible Refrigerator
EdgeStar Convertible Refrigerator

EdgeStar’s convertible marine refrigerator is compact, durable, and perfect for cooling and freezing needs. With quick cooling abilities that will not drain your boat’s power it is a great option for short trips.

It also could be a convenient backup freezer for fresh produce since it features insulation that rivals traditional fridges. The locking feature and stainless steel finish demonstrate the care put into its design. The compressor did take up a bit more space than desired.


  • Can use as a freezer
  • Great cooling capabilities
  • Solid locking feature


  • Better if it had more storage space

Norcold 751

Norcold 751
Norcold 751

This Norcold marine fridge impresses with its sturdy build and generous capacity. Despite a slightly high power draw the cooling performance is superb after fitting an auxiliary fan.

The modern and minimalistic style fits well with most boat cabin styles. It can easily fit in a center console and perfect on a three-day fishing trip.


  • Performs well to cool
  • Great amount if interior space
  • Modern style fridge


  • Handles will likely break after a period of time

How to Find the Best Marine Refrigerators

Finding a marine fridge for you will take some time and patience. There are a plethora of options to consider and you will need to understand the intended use for it.


Most metal or stainless steel products indicate a refrigerator's durability. Some major brands offer a various warranties that help make it less of a concern. Look for marine refrigerators that are both stylish and long-lasting.

Type of Power and Use

Numerous 12V refrigerators can run on house batteries or switch between AC/DC. Power consumption varies based on insulation and compressor cycling.

In long-distance cruising you should aim for efficient systems. A propane marine refrigerator will have a fire/explosion risks and pilot lights must be monitored.

Amount of Space

Check the dimensions of potential ice chests, especially if space is limited. Mini marine fridges are usually compact enough but sailboat refrigeration systems may take up a lot of room.

Ensure your sailboat refrigerator fits the designated space in your cabin by measuring it precisely. You should also consider the additional space that a marine drawer fridge will require when opened.

Intended Use

For tougher environments you should aim for a stronger refrigerator. Determine the required capacity by considering if you will be cooking frequently or only storing drinks.

A regular cooler may be sufficient for drinks and then you can utilize the marine fridge. A marine refrigeration kit can enhance performance and its power consumption.

Ease of Transportation

If marine fridges are heavy then they will be a chore to carry often. Frequent use of a lightweight icebox by travelers and boaters makes it easier to carry along on trips.

How Much Sound

Compressor refrigerators are generally louder than absorption-based ones. Most consumers prefer brands that prioritize low running noise despite using compressors. This becomes especially important if the fridge will be running overnight near where you are sleeping.


Budget always plays a role in everything you do. Most boaters want to be able to get a good deal on a marine fridge without breaking the bank.

If you are able to calculate your finances then you should be able to judge your budget range. Keep in mind that the most expensive options are not always the best and that you should do enough research to best fit your needs.

Benefits to Having a Boat Refrigerator

A marine refrigerator provides the same benefits as a home fridge while out at sea and allows for fresh meals. Investing in a heavy-duty refrigerator can provide long-term health benefits and eliminate the need for constantly adding ice.

Although marine fridges have a high price tag and consume a lot of power they offer uninterrupted cooling and eliminate the need for constant re-icing like with a cooler. A standard cooler is more cost-effective in the long run since marine refrigerators require a continuous power supply.

Having one for a fishing trip is a great idea if you are wanting to harvest the fish soon after catching. You would be able to store them after cleaning in your fridge for safe keeping.

How to Take Care of Your Marine Sailboat Refrigerator

Many of these fridges are self-contained and small but it is wise to seek expert assistance to maintain the refrigerant and compressor. You should also have them checked annually and not left out in the elements if possible.

While you are using them you should inspect the seals for any damage and defrost units with a freezer. This allows you to maintain proper humidity levels and cooling capabilities without having your fridge use too much energy.

You should also look for moisture that could cause unwanted mold, bacteria, and pests. The most common places for mold to grow would be where the door closes. This could mean you have an issues with the seal but that would be an easy fix.

Various Types of Marine Refrigerators

There are a handful of marine refrigerators on the market that cater to specific uses. It is important to know what type you are interested in so that you do not purchase one needing special attention upon setting up.

Portable Units

It is easy to understand why portable refrigerators are so popular among vessels that are mobile. They are easy to install, operate right out of the box, and come with their own batteries or compatible with yours.

They are cheaper and more flexible than conventional marine refrigeration options. Some use isotherm marine refrigeration which is known for boosting cooling efficiency and can even be converted from a standard refrigerator using a boat fridge kit.

Cold and Holding Plates

Marine cold plate refrigeration provides an efficient cooling without needing constant operation. Choosing between eutectic and an evaporator plate involves trade offs such as an eutectic plates cool slowly but keep temperature longer and  evaporator plates cool fast but lose cold quickly.

Choosing holding plate systems to cool your engine efficiently and can also retain temperatures for hours with proper insulation. These offer great ice retention but note their higher cost and power consumption compared to other sailboat refrigeration options.

Thermoelectric and Propane

Thermoelectric systems draw excessive power for modest cooling, struggle with temperature control, and are restricted to certain boat types. They boast longevity even though they are not the best in the other categories.

They typically can last for decades and even the entire lifespan of a vessel. Keep in mind of their enormous amount of power use due to their unconventional refrigerant-free approach.

Propane is considered risky by some boaters but it is still a viable option for many. Proper safety measures ensure reliability as long as you are keeping an eye on things.


Some marine absorption fridges will utilize a cutting-edge technology that eliminates compressors and fans for noiseless operation. An absorption fridge will harness low-grade heat to power most of the cooling and provide a great alternative for energy hogging fridges.

Are Marine Refrigerators Easy to Install?

Installing a self-contained drop-in refrigerator is easy since the compressor is included. Most featured products either have no separate compressor or none at all. Assembly of Isotherm fridges is best done by a professional unless you are confident in tackling that.

These types of refrigerators are commonly portable and ready to use once plugged in without any additional setup required. It is important to consider a variety of factors such as power source, size, location, and loading style when placing built-in fridges.

Best Marine Refrigerators
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

Read more articles

by this author

Home /

Best Marine Refrigerators

Best Marine Refrigerators
7 Best Places To Liveaboard A Sailboat >>Can You Live On A Sailboat Year Round? >>

Most Recent

Important Legal Info

Similar Posts

Popular Posts

Get The Best Sailing Content

Welcome aboard! Check your email...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

(866) 342-SAIL

© 2024 Life of Sailing
Address: 11816 Inwood Rd #3024 Dallas, TX 75244
DisclaimerPrivacy Policy