How Do Electric Cool Boxes Work?

If you’re looking for something to take your camping and outdoor activities to the next level, consider kitting yourself out with an electric cool box.

If you’re looking for something to take your camping and outdoor activities to the next level, consider kitting yourself out with an electric cool box.

You’ll be the most popular person at every picnic and the coolest camper on the block when you turn up with your portable plug-in fridge.

Here, we explain what this type of cooler is and how electric cool boxes work so you can truly appreciate the benefits.

What is an electric cool box?

An electric cooler box is a type of temperature-regulated box that is powered by an electrical source. They’re designed to keep the interior of the box at a lower temperature than the exterior to keep things like food and drink fresh.

You might also see them commonly referred to as camping fridges or portable refrigerators—some of the more advanced designs can heat food and drink too but more on that later.

If you’re an avid road-tripper, camper, festival-goer, or picnic fan, an electric cooler box is a pretty handy piece of kit to own. They’re even super useful at home if you just need some extra fridge or freezer space (yes, some electrical cooler boxes even freeze too).

Electric cool boxes are a common alternative to non-electric coolers (AKA ‘passive cool boxes’), which require freezer blocks or frozen food to keep the contents cold.

Now you know what one is, you might be wondering how electric cool boxes work… 

Understanding the science and technology behind how an electric cool box works is important if you’re also going to fully understand the benefits. 

What is an electric cool box used for?

What is an electric cool box used for?

An electric-powered cool box can be used for a whole host of different things. 

The most common use is to keep food and drink cool on the go. However, when used as a portable fridge, this type of cooler is also handy for keeping certain medications at the correct temperature when travelling where necessary.

Some designs, like the Dometic CFX3 75DZ Mobile Dual-Zone Compressor Cool Box & Freezer – 65L or the Totalcool Totalfreeze 45L Portable Compressor Fridge Freezer, can cool and freeze simultaneously. This means you can transport things like ice cream and ice cubes from A to B and keep them intact too.

It doesn’t stop there, either! Designs like the Outwell ECO Prime 24L Cool Box 12V/230V have a heating function as well as the standard cooling feature making it a real multifunctional must-have. That’s one way to keep your morning coffees hotter for longer!

How does an electric cool box work?

How does an electric cool box work?

There are a number of different types of electric cool boxes on the market and they all work in different ways using different technologies. The two types of camper fridges we currently stock are:

  • Thermoelectric cool boxes
  • Compressor cool boxes

Let’s take a closer look at how each of these types of cool boxes works and the technology that powers them.

Thermoelectric cool boxes

The term ‘thermoelectric’ describes when electricity is produced as a result of two different temperatures. This is known as the Peltier effect. 

The Peltier effect

The Peltier effect works when cooling or heating happens when an electric current passes between two materials. 

So, in the case of electric cool boxes, this typically involves two ceramic plates with a layer of semiconductor material in between.

When the electric current passes, one side of the module becomes hot and the other side becomes cold. The side that becomes hot pushes the heat back out into the surrounding air, while the cold side absorbs heat from the inside of the cool box.

Insulation and temperature regulation

Electric cool boxes are insulated, with something like a high-density polyfoam, to help keep the cold air inside. The temperature can then be regulated by a thermostat or control panel on the box. 

Some models may also have a fan to help circulate the cool air inside the box, which also helps prevent mould build-up. 

Thermoelectric coolers require as little as 12V to power them, which can be sourced from something like a car battery or a portable charging pack.

This is the basic physics behind how this kind of cooler works and is normally the technology behind designs that cool exclusively (as opposed to freezing or heating too). 

Compressor cool boxes

This type of electric cool box works in a similar way to a thermostatic model but instead, uses an electric compressor to keep the inside of the box cold.

Compressor cool boxes are often on the more pricey end of the market as they tend to have fancy features like digital displays, temperature setting controls, and even app connectivity so you can control them from your phone.

If you’re wanting to use your electrical cooler as a freezer as well as a portable fridge, look out for compressor designs as this is the technology that powers the freezing functionality.

It’s important to note that whatever type of electric cool box you are using, it will only work when connected to a power source. 

What’s the best electric cool box for me?

When it comes to finding the best electric cool box for you, it all comes down to your personal preferences and what you want from your new cooler. Below are some key factors to consider to steer you in the right direction.

Important things to consider when buying an electric cool box:

  • Budget – Here at Winfields Outdoors, we stock a selection of electric cool boxes at a range of different prices, so there’s something for every budget. If you want your cooler to have more sophisticated features, for instance, you will need to set aside some more spends. 
  • Contents – What you plan to put in your cooler will dictate the kind of electric cool box you should buy. If you want to take frozen items on your travels, for example, you’ll need to go for a design that can freeze as well as refrigerate.
  • Capacity – We stock a range of different electric cool box sizes, which means we offer a selection of capacities too, from 24L right up to 60L. Think about how much you want to be able to fit in your cooler and how much storage space you’ve got to squeeze it into.

Don’t worry; the heavier models with larger capacities come with wheels and ergonomic carry handles so you can manoeuvre them without injuring your back!


Get everything you need right at Winfields Outdoors

Here at Winfields Outdoors, we stock a wide selection of electric cool boxes and camping fridges from leading names you know you can trust. 

Brands include Kampa, Waeco, Outwell, and Campingaz, so you can be sure you’re getting a top-notch product at the best possible price (thanks to our price match guarantee!). 

Due to how electric cooler boxes work, all of our camping fridges can be plugged into the cigarette lighter of your vehicle, so you can keep using it for the duration of any road trip. 

On the move without your wheels? All of our electric coolers work with a mains adaptor too.

We have a whole host of different sizes, functions, and prices available so there’s sure to be something to suit you. Now all that’s left for you to do is to start shopping and then head out on your next adventure.


Shop our full range of electric cool boxes at Winfields Outdoors today.

For more news, information, and product tips, read the Winfields Outdoors blog

Rucksack Buying Guide | What To Do When Packing Up After A Music Festival

| Tips for Camping in Cold Weather

Leave a Reply