Thanks to boat refrigerators, it’s possible to stay on the water for many hours or even days and still enjoy fresh food and cold beverages. But like most boating accessories, the specific boat fridge you choose can make a big difference in your experience.
Unfortunately, when you shop for boat refrigerators, it may feel like you’re wading through a sea of numbers and letters with no clear direction or place to start.
So how do you pick?
Consider these factors to find the right boat fridge for you.
“Built-In” vs. Portable Boat Refrigerators
If Possible, Go With A Built-In
Depending on the type of boat you own, you may have a galley with a dedicated place for a permanent or “built-in” boat fridge, or room to create that space. Built-in boat refrigerators will usually have a door on the side, like a typical mini-fridge, but sometimes they open from the top, like a cooler.
When shopping for boat refrigerators, consider factors such as:
- Built-in vs. portable options
- Power compatibility
- Size and storage capacity
- Internal organization options
- Interior light (or lack thereof)
- Temperature display format
If you can, go this route. For a price comparable to portable options, a permanently placed boat fridge lets you enjoy refrigeration on every outing without lugging around a heavy piece of equipment.
A Portable Boat Fridge: The Next-Best Thing
If you don’t have a permanent space for a boat fridge, don’t worry; you can still enjoy on-board refrigeration through the use of a portable boat fridge, sometimes called an “electric cooler.”
These devices do tend to look like coolers, but be aware that they are significantly heavier. Still, if a built-in fridge is not an option, a portable boat fridge is a worthwhile investment.
Several of our Dometic marine refrigerators are portable, such as the popular Dometic CFX-28US boat fridge. For even more space and premium features, consider the Dometic CFX-40W boat fridge, which has a capacity of 38 liters, can be controlled by Wi-Fi and offers a handy USB port for charging small electronic devices.
Some boat refrigerators run on AC power, some run on DC power, and some can do either.
If your boat runs on DC power and your boat fridge only runs on AC power, you’ll only be able to run your fridge using a strong enough inverter, an AC generator or shore power.
Likewise, if your boat runs on AC power and your fridge only runs on DC power, you’ll need either a powerful inverter or a DC generator to operate it.
Almost all boats today run on DC power (either 12 volts or 24 volts). Still, you’ll want to be sure you know your boat’s power type when you choose your boat fridge.
At Boat & RV Accessories, all our Dometic marine refrigerators can run on 12-volt DC or 24-volt DC power, and some can also run on AC power.
The size of your boat fridge will obviously be limited to the space available on your boat. So it’s important to carefully measure the width, depth and height of the spot where you want to put it.
Once you know your maximum outside dimensions, you’ll want to give yourself as much interior storage capacity as possible.
Boat refrigerators’ storage capacity can be measured in either quarts, liters, cubic feet or gallons. Here’s how these metrics roughly convert:
1 cubic foot = 28.3 liters = 29.9 quarts = 7.5 gallons
When in doubt, go for more internal storage space than you think you’ll need. And if you know you’ll need a good deal of space, consider a large unit like the Dometic CRX-1110E/F-S, with it’s generous 3.7 cubic feet of storage.
You’ll also want to consider how your next boat fridge is oriented and sectioned out. Is it divided into separate compartments? Are there spaces for all the types of items you want to store? Is there a freezer compartment, and is it big enough for your purposes?
There are no good or bad configurations per se, but you’ll probably find that some setups make more sense for you than others, depending on the foods and drinks you plan to take with you.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options based on the key considerations above, there are a few other details to consider.
For both portable and built-in boat refrigerators, think about these factors:
- Is the opening a drawer or a door? Which do you prefer?
- Which way does the door open? Is it reversible?
- Does it have a light inside?
- Does it come with internal organization options, such as egg trays, bottle holders, adjustable shelves and vegetable bins?
- Does it have a digital temperature display?
- Is there a separate freezer compartment?
- Does its appearance match the style of your boat?
- Does it offer any extra features, like a USB port for charging other devices?
- Is it from a well-known, dependable brand?
- Is there a warranty?
When considering portable boat refrigerators, also ask:
- Does it have a convenient carrying strap?
- Does it come with a cover?
- Is it Wi-Fi enabled so that you can control the temperature with your phone?
Once you get to this point, choosing the qualities that matter most to you should be a little easier — maybe even fun.
Find Your Boat Fridge Now
Our lineup of Dometic refrigerators offers the reliability of a proven brand and a breadth of premium features, depending on the model.
Shop now and find your ideal Dometic fridge today.
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