Whether you like to go camping a lot or you prefer to spend the summer in your backyard, an outdoor refrigerator is an ideal companion for your outdoorsy lifestyle. It keeps your beverages cool and your snacks fresh and crisp on a hot summer afternoon.
Just imagine that if every time you got thirsty you had to run inside to grab a cold drink from the fridge. But what if you’re out on a camping site miles away from home? A compact outdoor refrigerator is a must-have appliance to make your summer less hot and your get-togethers a lot more fun.
But not all outdoor refrigerators are made equal. Some have more cooling powers and accessories than others. You also need to consider the weight and cooling efficiency of the fridge. We did the research and tested the outdoor refrigerators in the market so that you don’t have to. The result is these best outdoor refrigerator reviews that cover the top 8 products in the market. We also added a buying guide to help you make an educated decision when you’re buying the top outdoor refrigerator.
Best Outdoor Refrigerator Reviews
An outdoor refrigerator is not just about looking cool but also keeping your food and beverages cool regardless of how hot it gets outside. The following 8 refrigerators made the cut. As usual, we start with the top product that won our hearts and minds both in terms of functionality and style.
Editor’s Choice: Bull Outdoor Products 11001 Stainless Steel Front Panel Refrigerator
Powerful, durable, and spacious are the first words that come to mind when describing this outdoor refrigerator from Bull Outdoor Products. The Bull Outdoor Products 11001 Stainless Steel Front Panel Refrigerator is made from a stainless steel door panel for strength and durability. And with 4.4 cubic feet of cooling space, you can store a lot of food items and beverages to keep you stocked throughout your camping trip.
Weighing only 51.2 pounds, this fridge is really lightweight making it ideal for transporting and taking it with you on your outdoor picnics and camping vacations. Add to that the flush back design which saves up space and allows the refrigerator to snugly fit into small spaces.
The door with its stainless steel panel is both strong and convenient. You can open the door to the left or to the right. This is convenient when you have limited space and opening the door to one side isn’t possible. Then you can simply change the hinges to the other side and swing the door open fully.
The cooling system of the fridge is even. The cold air gets distributed evenly throughout the 4.4 cubic feet of cooling space. So no matter where you put your cold cuts or beer, it will be chilled. The temperature control allows you to adjust the temperature up or down according to your needs. That way if you only have beverages or a few items in the refrigerator, you can increase the temperature and save on energy.
On the downside, the fridge tends to build up frost rather quickly. Although the product doesn’t specify it’s frost-free, one expects the frost build-up to be slow. You’ll have to switch off the fridge to defrost it before you can use it again.
- 4.4 cubic feet of cooling space.
- Weighs only 51.2 pounds.
- Stainless steel door panel.
- Reversible door.
- Compact design.
- Frost builds up rather quickly.
Best Budget: hOmeLabs Beverage Refrigerator and Cooler
If all you want to keep in your outdoor refrigerator are beverages, then cooler with a see-through door is more ideal for your needs. The hOmeLabs Beverage Refrigerator and Cooler is designed to keep your wine and beer cans chilled. The glass door lets you know when the fridge needs to be stocked up before the BBQ or get-together.
The Homelabs has 3.2 cubic feet of cooling capacity which is enough to take up to 120 soda cans at one time. The space inside is divided neatly by three chrome shelves. The bottom shelves are high enough for wine bottles while the top space is for the beer and soda cans. And to help you see what’s inside the fridge without having to open the door, there’s a white led light that illuminates the cooling space at nighttime.
The cooling system of the fridge has a user-friendly panel that lets you adjust and monitor the temperature inside with a few touches. You can turn the temperature down to 34 degrees Fahrenheit which is ideal for keeping the wine and beverages chilled but not cold enough to freeze them over. The system also has memory presets in case you need to restart the fridge. That way you don’t have to fiddle with the controls every time you unplug and replug the cooler.
Along with its energy-efficient powerful cooling system, the fridge also has an auto defrost function which makes it easy to get rid of the frost build-up with the push of a button.
The main drawback we had with this cooler had to do with the shelves. They are just too flimsy and unstable. The shelves keep shifting every time you put in or take out a can or a bottle. It’s a small design flaw but can cause a problem if you’re not careful when stocking up the fridge.
- See-through glass door.
- 3.2 cubic feet of cooling space.
- Auto defrost function.
- Takes up to 120 soda cans at a time.
- Affordable price.
- Shelves are too flimsy and not secured in place.
Premium Pick: Frigidaire EFR376-BLUE 3.2 Cu Ft Blue Retro Bar Fridge
A sturdy build, a compact size, and a powerful cooling system are the three main qualities of this retro outdoor refrigerator from Frigidaire. The Frigidaire EFR376-BLUE 3.2 Cu Ft Blue Retro Bar Fridge takes you back to a time when home appliances were built to last and be passed down through generations.
The retro look is the first thing that catches your eye about the Frigidaire. Even before you open the door and look inside, you’re already sold to the glossy finish and clean design of the fridge. Inside you have 3.2 cubic feet of cooling space. The two slide-proof glass shelves divide the space conveniently. The bottom shelf is reserved for large food items and containers.
The Frigidaire stays faithful to its retro design even in the way the inside of the door is divided into compartments of different sizes and heights. But it’s not all about just looks and design either. The different compartments come in handy when you want to store bottles of water, soda, and liquor as well as cans of food and milk cartons.
The compact size of the fridge allows you to place it in any corner. It also comes in many color options to choose from so it wouldn’t look out of place in any setting. And with a built-in bottle opener on the side of the fridge, opening a bottle of beer is always convenient.
Despite the sturdy design, the handle on the door doesn’t live up to expectations. That might have to do with the door insulation. The door seals well so trying to open it by pulling at the plastic handle can be tough.
- Retro design and sturdy build.
- 3.2 cubic feet of cooling space.
- Two slide-proof glass shelves.
- Good insulation.
- Different color options.
- The door handle is not as strong as the rest of the fridge frame.
An outdoor refrigerator needs to be durable and sturdy enough to handle the wear and tear of the elements and the constant moving around. And these are a few of the qualities that make the Danby DAR044A6BSLDBO 4.4 Cu.Ft. Outdoor Mini Fridge shine. With its compact size and waterproof and UV damage-resistant frame, it’s ideal for your backyard or gazebo.
Despite the compact size, the Danby is surprisingly spacious inside. It offers 4.4 cubic feet of cooling space and a powerful cooling system that distributes the cool airflow evenly. Add to that the clean design that does away with handles as a bonus. The door handle is a recess at the top of the door which makes it easy to open the well-sealed door without struggling with the strong insulation.
The Danby also takes changing weather conditions quite seriously. It protects the electrical cables against damp conditions and rainfall by hiding them in a well-protected electrical housing area. The sun and UV damage also have little impact on the protected plastic parts. As for the ball bearings which support the door frame and the fridge wheels, they’re made of stainless steel to prevent rust and keep the refrigerator in good shape.
The fridge works well even in tropical conditions and can handle outside temperatures of up to 109 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, the positioning of the shelves leaves a lot of room for improvement. They have enough space for cans and small food containers. But large bottles and food items will have trouble fitting in.
- 4.4 cubic feet of cooling space.
- Plastics protected against UV damage.
- Functions well in tropical conditions with temperatures around 109 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Built-in door handle.
- Positioning of shelves doesn’t accommodate large items.
Gamers and outdoorsy people alike face the same problem: how to keep the drinks cool and conveniently easy to access. The EdgeStar CBR1501SSOD Outdoor Beverage Cooler seems to be the answer to that very question. It has a compact design that makes it fit in a gaming room as well as on the deck or a tiny corner in your garage.
Fully encased in stainless steel, the EdgeStar can withstand the elements from the glaring sun to heavy downpour. And since it’s mainly a beverage cooler, the cooling space inside is fully leveraged towards storing cans and wine bottles. We’re talking about 5.4 cubic feet of cooling space that can accommodate up to 142 soda cans.
Air distribution inside the fridge is very efficient thanks to an innovative cooling system. Instead of using the usual cooling plate that leaves some blind hot spots, a powerful fan keeps the cold air circulating for even coverage.
We also liked the front-venting design. It means you can squeeze the fridge into any tiny space without worrying about ventilation or the motor heating up. You can also lock the door with a key as an extra security measure. The blue LED light is also a nice touch and complements the sleek design of the fridge.
Insulation is a problem with the EdgeStar. The door doesn’t seal tightly when closed. This problem impacts the cooling system and it also increases the energy consumption of the unit.
- 5.4 cubic feet of cooling space.
- Takes up to 142 cans of soda.
- Stainless steel frame for more durability.
- Efficient air distribution using fans.
- Front-venting design.
- Insulation problems as the door doesn’t seal shut.
With its smart digital control and adjustable shelves, the Kalamera 24″ Stainless Steel Beverage Cooler is ideal for keeping your beverage chilled. It’s mainly for beverages, but that doesn’t mean you can’t store other items of food there as well.
Using compressor cooling, the Kalamera keeps even temperature levels across the entire cooling space. The capacity of the fridge is another advantage since it can take up to 154 soda cans at one time. And with the help of a nifty digital control, you can adjust the temperatures between 32 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows you to keep your beverages chilled according to your preferences and the season.
The five adjustable and removable stainless steel shelves are some of the other features we liked about the Kalamera. You can shift the shelves up or down according to your needs to accommodate wine and sparkling water bottles. If you only have small soda and beer cans to store, you can return the shelves back to their original positions. That way you can stack up all bottles, cans, and other containers of all shapes and sizes and utilize every available space inside the fridge.
The interior of the fridge is lit by a blue LED light which gives it a snazzy look and festive atmosphere. As for the security lock, it comes in handy when you want to keep children from accessing the fridge.
However, the fridge has a weight problem. Weighing over 88 pounds when empty, this is a hefty fridge to move around. It’s less portable than other outdoor refrigerators we covered on this list.
- Smart digital control.
- Compressor cooling.
- Five stainless steel shelves that can be removed and adjusted.
- Snazzy blue LED light.
- Security lock to keep your beverages secure.
- The fridge weighs 88 pounds so it’s not easy to move it around.
As a single zone cooling unit the Avallon AFR151SSODRH Outdoor Built-In Refrigerator keeps the food and beverages chilled at the same temperature. The compressor cooling system with the help of a carbon filter prevents hot spots and distributes the cool airflow all over the cooling space.
The Avallon is built to last with stainless steel the main material for everything from the door, handle, front vent, and exterior cabinet. You won’t have rust or erosion problems that lead to leaks especially since the outdoor refrigerator is exposed to the elements 24/7.
The interior is lit by LED light and you can choose between blue and white light. You also have three lights, two on the left and one on the right side of the fridge to ensure you have better visibility of the contents of the refrigerator.
The accessories that come with the Avallon add to the value and benefits of this outdoor fridge. Besides the standard security lock, it has auto defrost functionality, three sanded glass shelves, and a touch control panel. The control panel gives you a temperature range between 34 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. And to ensure the fridge has better mobility, it comes propped on casters. Since the Avallon weighs 84 pounds, you’ll make good use of those casters when you want to transport it or move it around.
The only problem we had with this refrigerator is the lack of reversible doors. It only swings open to one side, the left, which limits your options when it comes to picking the right spot for it.
- Single-zone cooling unit.
- Temperatures range between 34 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 3.3 cubic feet of cooling space.
- Optional casters for better mobility.
- Three light sources.
- Stainless steel door, front vent, and exterior cabinet.
- The door only swings open to the left.
Placing an outdoor refrigerator is not always easy especially when the floor is not level. But the Blaze BLZ-SSRF130 Compact Refrigerator has the answer for that. Its adjustable leveling legs make it easier for you to keep the fridge stable even on unlevel ground. And with a reversible door, you can place the fridge anywhere you like and either swing it open to the left or to the right.
The inside of the door has three shelves for small food items. The three wire shelves that come with the fridge are adjustable and removable. So you won’t have trouble making space for large food containers and bottles of water and soda. That combined with the 4.5 cubic feet cooling capacity, allows you to stock up on food and drinks for a pool party or a backyard cookout.
The compact Blaze is easy to install in built-in areas as long as you allow about 5 inches of space at the back for ventilation. Its solid and sleek design means it will fit in and not stick out like a sore thumb. And although this is not a frost-free fridge, it has an automatic defrost functionality to help you clean it without much hassle.
On the downside, the Blaze seems to have trouble keeping the temperature below 45 degrees Fahrenheit in subtropical temperatures. This makes it less ideal for hot zones and when you need to store food below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 4.5 cubic feet of cooling space.
- Adjustable leveling legs.
- Auto defrost functionality.
- Can be installed in built-in spaces.
- Solid build and sleek design.
- Doesn’t keep the temperature below 45 degrees F outdoors.
Outdoor Refrigerator Buying Guide
It might seem a little overwhelming to go through eight of the best outdoor refrigerators in a row. But that’s normal since each of these outdoor fridges has something extra to offer. But when you focus on the key features that really matter to you, it soon becomes clear which refrigerator should be on your shortlist. Here’s a look at the key features to look for and why you need an outdoor refrigerator in the first place.
Benefits of Outdoor Refrigerators
Even if you have a few indoor refrigerators humming non-stop at your home, you still need an outdoor refrigerator to keep your food and drinks cool and within your reach. If you’re lounging by the pool or chilling in the gazebo, why not have your snacks and beers right beside you? But these are not the only scenarios where you’ll need an outdoor refrigerator. Here are a few other situations where this indispensable appliance can be a life savior.
- While out camping, an outdoor refrigerator gives you wider options when it comes to cooking meals, snacking, or having a drink.
- When you have plenty of cooling space, you can store a lot of food items to keep yourself stocked during your camping trip.
- Whether it’s sweltering hot or humid and muggy, you won’t have to worry about your food. The fridge keeps your food fresh and cool.
- Convenience is another benefit. The best outdoor refrigerator is compact and lightweight making it ideal to carry around and take wherever you go.
We already referred to some of the key features that an efficient outdoor refrigerator should have while reviewing our top products. But here we group them together to give an idea of what to focus on when choosing the right outdoor refrigerator for your summer needs.
- Insulation: One of the key differences between an indoor and outdoor refrigerator is how insulated the body of the fridge is from the elements. Outdoors, the sun bears down on the refrigerator mercilessly. So insulation is important to keep the food inside cool. The Frigidaire EFR376-BLUE 3.2 Cu Ft Blue Retro Bar Fridge is a good example of a well-insulated refrigerator that consumes less energy overall.
- Efficiency: Not all food items need the same cold temperatures. Meat products for example need to be kept in freezing temperatures. So you need a powerful outdoor refrigerator for these types of foods. But if you’re using the outdoor fridge mainly for beverages and to keep your beer chilled, then you don’t have to buy a fridge with a powerful cooling system.
- Cooling Levels: In general, fridges are coolest at the top and the cooling levels diminish as you go down. This can affect how you arrange your food items inside the fridge. It can also limit your options regarding what type of foods you can keep. So the more balanced the cooling system inside the fridge the better. Look for a refrigerator that distributes the cold air evenly inside the body so that you are not left with hot spots.
- Size: The size of the refrigerator impacts, not just the amount of food you can keep inside but also the food options. When you have ample cooling space, you will have a large selection of food items to choose from when snacking or cooking a meal. This can be the difference between a basic camping experience and a luxurious one.
- Weight: The weight of the fridge impacts its portability. Unlike an indoor fridge that stays put in one place, you will be taking the outdoor refrigerator with you when you go camping. So aim for a fridge that weighs less than 60 pounds such as the Bull Outdoor Products 11001 Stainless Steel Front Panel Refrigerator. It only weighs 51.2 pounds which makes it easy to move and transport.
- Material: The frame of the outdoor refrigerator needs to be sturdy and rust-resistant. Humidity and rainfall outdoors can play havoc with the structure of the fridge. You also need to make sure that non-metal parts are UV-damage protected. The Danby DAR044A6BSLDBO 4.4 Cu.Ft. Outdoor Mini Fridge is a good example of a fridge designed for the outdoors with materials that can withstand the damage of UV light and high levels of humidity.
- Accessories: Some outdoor refrigerators come with door locks to prevent unauthorized access. Also, look for reversible doors where you can change which way the door opens. LED lights and built-in door compartments can make it easier for you to store and retrieve food items of different sizes without too much hassle.
My outdoor refrigerator smells, what can I do about it?
If you get a funky odor every time you open the door of the fridge, it might have to do with food stains on the shelves. Turn off the fridge and give the inside cabinet and shelves a good and thorough cleaning. You can use warm water with some baking soda mixed in to get rid of any traces of food or beverage. Keep the door open to allow the inside of the fridge to dry before you switch it back on.
If you still have odor despite that thorough clean-up, then check the defrost water drain. There might be rotting food debris stuck in there which is causing the odor.
Why does my outdoor refrigerator make noise?
That depends on the type of noise you hear. It’s normal for the refrigerator to make a purring noise when the motor is running. But if the noise is too loud or more than just a hum, then check the floor under the fridge. Chances are, the floor is not level and the refrigerator legs are not resting evenly. If the fridge has adjustable leveling legs, adjust the legs to get the fridge to rest on all four legs equally. If you don’t have adjustable legs, you can purchase rubber furniture coasters or furniture levelers from home improvement stores. Place them under the short legs of the fridge to stop the noise.
I find water inside the outdoor refrigerator. What’s causing it?
Check the water and where it’s located inside the fridge. If it’s droplets of water on the food and shelves, then it’s an insulation problem. The door of the fridge doesn’t seal shut when you close it which allows humidity from the outside into the cooling area.
If the water is like small puddles on the shelves and bottom of the fridge, then most likely the drain tube is blocked. Try to remove whatever food debris is blocking it using an earbud or something similar. Don’t use a sharp object such as a screwdriver or even a knife since that could damage the tube and cause leaking. If the water problem doesn’t go away after taking these steps, you might have to call a professional.
The Last Word
An outdoor refrigerator is an indispensable appliance for your outdoor entertainment and activities. After comparing eight of the top outdoor refrigerators in the market we awarded our editor’s choice to the Bull Outdoor Products 11001 Stainless Steel Front Panel Refrigerator. The spacious fridge has 4.4 cubic feet of cooling space and with its compact design and stainless steel door, it is more suited for the outdoors. It’s also lightweight, weighing just 51 pounds for better mobility and portability.
For the best budget, we picked the hOmeLabs Beverage Refrigerator and Cooler. It gives you the best value for your money with its 3.2 cubic feet of cooling space and auto-defrost functionality. The beverage refrigerator can take up to 120 soda cans at a time and keep them chilled with its powerful and energy-efficient cooling system.
Another refrigerator that deserves a place at the top is the Frigidaire EFR376-BLUE 3.2 Cu Ft Blue Retro Bar Fridge. Along with a retro yet sleek look it offers 3.2 cubic feet of cooling space and comes in many color options. The built-in bottle opener on the side of the fridge is just the icing on the cake.