The very sight of a beverage cooler conjures up images of fun in the sun. While they’re an essential item for sports enthusiasts and camping aficionados, their convenience and versatility make them a can’t-miss prospect for just about any household. If you’ve ever thrown a party and run out of refrigerator space for the cold beverages, you’ll understand how one of these units can come in handy. The question is, with so many options out there, how do you decide which one to buy?
It might be tempting to assume that one size fits all, that is, that all beverage coolers are more or less alike. For the casual user, the differences might not be all that noticeable, but for those who intend to get the best bang for their buck, it’s important to note the features and benefits of each individual model. For simple reference purposes, see the comparison table; for an in-depth look at the units listed, read the product descriptions below.
Best Beverage Coolers of 2018
|Product||Type||Colors||Sizes||Power||Weight, lbs||Dimensions |
|Danby Contemporary Classic Compact All Refrigerator (Editor's Choice)||Beverage fridge||Black; Spotless Steel; White; Red; Silver||1.7 cu. ft.; 2.6 cu. ft.; 3.3 cu. ft.; 4.4 cu. ft.||AC||Variety||Variety|
|Cooluli Electric Cooler and Warmer||Mini portative cooler||Blue; Cow; Fuchsia; Pink; Red; White||4 Liter/6 Cans||AC/DC Portable Thermoelectric System w/Exclusive On the Go USB Power Bank Option||4.8||10.2x7.7x10.5|
|EdgeStar Built-in Stainless Steel Cooler||Built-in capable beverage fridge||Stainless Steel||5.49 cu. ft. (142 standard 12 oz. cans)||AC||97||24.8x23.5x33.5|
|Gourmia Thermoelectric Cooler and Warmer||Mini portative cooler||Blue||4 Liter/6 Cans||1 AC for wall outlets, and 1 DC for cigarette lighters||3.93||9x7x10.2|
|Igloo Heavy-Duty Beverage Cooler||Beverage cooler||Orange; Majestic Blue||5 or 10 gallons||-||8.1||14.6x13.8x21.6|
|Igloo Sport Beverage Cooler||Beverage cooler||Majestic Blue||2 gallons||-||2.15||9.8x9.8x13.8|
|Avallon 24" Built-In Cooler||Beverage fridge with glass door||Stainless Steel||152 Cans||AC||114||23.7x23.9x34.5|
|Kalamera 15" Built-In Cooler with Touch Control||Beverage fridge with glass door||Stainless steel/Black||96 Cans||Kalamera Beverage cooler Touch Control Beverage fridge with glass door Stainless steel/Black 22.4 x 14.9 x 33.9 in 72.8 pounds 96 Cans AC||72.8||22.4x14.9x33.9|
|Della Compact Freezer||Beverage fridge||Stainless Steel; Black; White||4.5 cu. ft.||AC||54||25x23x35|
|RCA Cubic Foot Fridge||Beverage fridge||Orange||1.6 cu. ft.||AC||33.3||20x18x20|
1. Danby Contemporary Classic Compact All Refrigerator – Best Beverage Refrigerator for Office
This sleek model is actually a tiny refrigerator on wheels. As such, it can be used for more than just beverages, it would be perfect for a dorm room or man-cave. The compact measures in at just 1.7 cubic feet, but Danby also has larger sizes available.
To name a few of the Danby Contemporary Classic Compact’s best features:
- Door shelving that can accomodate tall bottles
- Energy-efficient design
- Scratch resistant finish
1.7 cubic feet doesn’t offer much space. While this could be considered a plus, it’s important to be sure that it’s big enough to suit your needs.
Those who have purchased the Danby in the past say that it’s very quiet and efficient, and keeps beverage cold even when used outdoors. A minority of users report that the larger models don’t always perform up to the same standard, but that they’re just as light and maneuverable as the smaller ones. The fridge can therefore be recommended easily to those who are happy to stick with the miniscule model.
2. Cooluli Electric Cooler and Warmer – Best Mini Fridge for Beer Bottles
As the name suggests, this product can also be used to keep beverages warm, which makes it a versatile option. It can hold up to four liters, or six 12-ounce cans. New mothers, take note: it’s great for keeping milk or formula at a consistent temperature.
Some of the Cooluli’s best features include:
- Portable, thermoelectric design with USB alternative
- Attractive and durable design
- Ability to switch between heating and cooling
When making the switch from cold to hot, be sure to wait 30 minutes before attempting to engage the heating elements.
Consumer reports reveal that the product runs quietly, and is a good fit for dorm rooms, offices, and nurseries alike. It was noted that it holds cold temperatures better when it’s loaded to capacity. It can be recommended to anyone who needs a smaller unit, as well as both hot and cold settings.
3. EdgeStar Built-in Stainless Steel Cooler – Best Beer Fridge for the Garage or Rec Room
Attractive as well as useful, the EdgeStar measures in at 5.49 cubic feet, giving it a whopping 142-can capacity. The digitally-controlled temperature has a range of 38 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, which is perfect if you often switch from beer to wine and need the optimum chilling conditions for both. There’s even a built-in lock.
The most prominent features of the EdgeStar include:
- Freestanding or built-in option
- Impressive temperature range with auto-defrost
- High 142-can capacity with adjustable glass shelving
Consumers should be aware that this unit is meant for indoor use only. The built-in light glows blue, which some consumers love, but the unusual hue might have the potential to bother some individuals.
The EdgeStar receives high marks among testers, with users praising its convenient capacity and reliable temperature control. Some claimed that the range actually skews a bit lower, keeping beverages a few degrees colder than advertised. Overall, the product is received well enough to be recommended to anyone who’s looking specifically for a larger indoor unit.
4. Gourmia Thermoelectric Cooler and Warmer – Best Beverage Fridge for the Boat or RV
The Pepsi logo is what makes this product stand out from the rest. Otherwise, the heating and cooling benefits are similar to the ones offered by the Cooluli model. The four-liter, six-can capacity is the same, as is its indoor/outdoor versatility. It does double as a cool conversation piece, though, and would be right at home in a recreational vehicle or galley kitchen.
Here are some of the Gourmia’s outstanding features:
- Unique design
- Removable shelf
- Built-in lock
- Carry handle for ease of transport
- AC and DC power cords for indoor/outdoor use
- Ability to cool to 32 degrees and heat to 150 degrees (Fahrenheit)
The Pepsi Gourmia’s size and design make it awkward for storing anything besides canned beverages, although the removable shelf does add a degree of versatility in this regard.
Quiet, portable, and convenient, the Gourmia receives consistently good ratings from consumers. While its versatility makes it a great choice for outdoor use, some individuals note that it’s also handy when kept bedside, whether for warming infant’s bottles, or keeping refrigerated medications close at hand. Die-hard Coca-Cola fans might want to steer clear; for anyone else it’s a solid product.
5. Igloo Heavy-Duty Beverage Cooler – Best for Sporting Events
Unlike most of the other models on our list, this cooler is designed to hold and dispense the liquid itself, not just the containers. That’s why it’s the best choice for sporting events, such as Little League games, it’s perfect for dispensing water or Gatorade to thirsty players. Made of durable plastic that can keep ice for up to three days at 90-degree temperatures, it’s rugged and ready to go.
Some of the Igloo Heavy-Duty’s best features include:
- A lid that can be used as a seat when removed
- Angled, drip-resistant spigot
- Cords that keep the lid affixed to the handles to reduce potential waste hazards
Testers report that the Igloo Heavy-Duty Beverage Cooler does an excellent job of keeping liquids cold, even on hot days. The low price point was also mentioned as a definite plus. Overall, this product receives solid marks, and is therefore highly recommended.
6. Igloo Sport Beverage Cooler – Best for Picnics and Camping
Like its Heavy-Duty cousin, the Igloo Sport is a beverage dispenser, rather than a refrigeration unit. The difference lies in the size: While the first item on our list has a whopping 5-gallon capacity, this one tops out at 2 gallons. The portability and convenience makes it a prime choice for picnics on the beach or family camping trips.
The Igloo Sport’s most prominent features include:
- Wide-mouth opening to make cleaning easier
- Sturdy handle for ease of transport
- Leak- and spill-resistant gasketed lid and spigot
As with the Igloo Heavy-Duty model, this unit will only hold liquids. There’s no separate compartment for keeping food or cans cold.
Field reports on the Igloo Sport have been mixed. Those who use it often and at full capacity claim that the handle provides insufficient support for the weight, and that the flow is inconsistent at times. There was some off-gassing (persistent plastic smell) reported as well. Proponents point out that it’s durable enough for everyday use, and that it does a decent enough job of keeping liquids cold. Since the same is true of many other competing products, the Igloo Sport doesn’t really have enough strong points to recommend it.
7. Avallon 24″ Built-In Cooler – Best Beer Cooler for the Man-Cave
Featuring an urban stainless-steel design with a transparent glass door, the Avallon is a talking point as well as a beverage cooler. It measures about three feet high by two feet wide (with a two-foot depth), making it one of the roomiest units on our list. It’s suitable for bottles as well as cans, and can function as either a built-in or stand-alone unit.
The Avallon’s standout features are:
- Right-hinge design for ease of entry
- True-key lock
- Temperature range of 34 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit
- Three built-in glass shelves
- LED lights that can switch from white to blue
As evidenced by the name, the right-hinge design caters specifically to the right-handed crowd. Lefties would do better to seek out the left-hinge model.
Consumers have praised the attractive design, the removable glass shelving, and the consistently cold temperatures. It also runs more quietly than comparable models of the same size. Overall, most would feel comfortable recommending this to anyone who would appreciate the relatively high capacity.
8. Kalamera 15″ Built-In Cooler with Touch Control – Best Beer Refrigerator for the Den or Home Theater
Like the Avallon, the Kalamera features a stainless steel construction with a transparent glass door, and is available in a 24-inch size. There’s also a smaller 15-inch model on the market, which can hold up to 96 cans. The “touch control” refers to the ability to set the unit to your desired temperature. In case of a power outage, the control allows the cooler to automatically return to that set temperature once the electricity is restored.
To name a few of the Kalamera’s key assets:
- Blue LED lighting
- Temperature Memory Function, with a range of 38 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit
- Six removable wire racks
- Tall rectangular construct
The memory function alone sets this unit apart from the others on our list. It’s a tool that will come in especially handy to homes in rural areas, where outages are most common.
According to testers, the unit functions as advertised, and is a generally good addition to the household. Because of its convenient size, it can fit just about anywhere in the house, but the narrow construct and blue LED lighting make it a great choice for the den or home theater. It can be recommended to anyone who finds these features attractive, and who would appreciate the touch control function.
9. Della Compact Freezer – Best Beverage Cooler for Beer Bottles
The Della is the only unit on our list to include a freezer compartment, so if this benefit ranks high on your hit parade, it’s definitely the one to consider. It measures in at 4.5 cubic feet, with .25 of that space devoted to the freezer section. Available in either stainless steel or white.
The Della’s key features include:
- A reversible door that can be installed according to preference
- 4.25 cubic feet of refrigerator space, and .25 cubic feet of freezer space
- Adjustable shelves
If you need a freezer with your beverage cooler, the Della is far and away the best of your options. Note that the freezer will require occasional defrosting; see the instruction manual for more details.
Customers have mainly positive things to say about this unit. For one, its small size and versatile design make it a convenient fit for any room, including outdoor spaces. It’s also reportedly quiet and a good value for the price. A few were surprised at how often the freezer needed to be defrosted, given the size. Also, the interior material doesn’t hold up as well as the exterior. Overall, though, it’s an easy product to recommend.
10. RCA Cubic Foot Fridge – Best for Tight Corners
Constructed of neoprene, the RCA is one of the smallest units on our list at just 1.7 cubic feet. The miniscule size doesn’t limit its versatility, though, the door has built-in baskets that can keep taller bottles cold. There’s a temperature control function located in the rear of the unit, and it even includes an ice-cube tray.
To name a few of the RCA’s key components:
- Temperature control
- Flush-back design
- Reversible door
- Low energy consumption
The temperature control can be difficult to locate. Be sure to refer to the instruction manual if you need help. Also, note that while the RCA comes with a built-in freezer compartment, it doesn’t always keep frozen foods at the correct temperature.
According to some testers, the ice cube tray was good at making ice, but that ice cream melted in the freezer compartment. If the freezer is an important factor in your decision, you’d be better off with the Della. The door also requires firm pressure in order to seal properly. Otherwise, it was reportedly a convenient and quiet alternative to some of the larger models. Unless the aforementioned freezer issues are a deal-breaker, this unit comes highly recommended.
Beverage coolers came into vogue around 1979, when people started to become more aware of how carbon emissions were harming the planet. The energy-efficient compressor systems made the first beverage coolers an important step towards reclaiming a greener planet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should buy a beverage cooler?
Anyone who requires additional space for cold beverages is a good candidate. If you travel often, buying an indoor/outdoor unit for your recreational vehicle – or one of the Igloo dispensers for your car or truck – would be a great investment.
Does it matter which one I buy?
Yes. Each product has its own advantages and benefits, which you can learn more about by reading the individual product views above.
How will I know which one is right for me?
It helps to have a good idea of what you’re looking for in a beverage cooler. Do you need it for your dorm room or apartment, or will it be keeping the white wine chilled in the dining room? Will you need an indoor/outdoor option? How about a freezer compartment? Once you’ve narrowed down your list, it’s time to start shopping.
What are the advantages of owning a beverage cooler?
Aside from the versatility and downright coolness of the product, a beverage cooler can free up precious refrigerator space for day-to-day use. Cold drinks often need to be kept colder than many food items, so having a separate unit for them is a brilliant idea.
Can I keep cartons of milk in my beverage cooler, or just cans and bottles?
This answer will depend on the size and function of the unit. Again, refer to the product reviews above to get a handle on which one will best suit your needs.
As the world in general becomes more portable, you can expect the field of compressor technology to advance right alongside it. Units might shrink to a size that can fit into your SUV’s front-seat console, with a DC adapter that allows it to plug right into your smartphone so you can enjoy a couple of cold beverages on the road (non-alcoholic, of course; don’t drink and drive). In the meantime, the products that are available will get the job done.
Now that you’re more familiar with the top units on the market, you’re ready to begin your search for the perfect beverage cooler. Bear in mind that all of the products listed above will perform as advertised; choosing the right one is simply a matter of deciding which unit best suits your needs. Cheers!