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Keep it Ice Cold: Best 12-Volt Coolers for Truckers

ABCO trucks are equipped with their own in-cab fridge. However, not every driver is so lucky. Here are the best 12-volt coolers you can use on the road today.

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ABCO Transportation
August 30, 2021
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As a truck driver, you understand the importance of keeping food and drinks cool on the road. Unfortunately, some local and regional truck drivers don't have the advantage of having a fridge on board. Yet without a fridge, at the end of the day, the sandwich is unlikely to be fresh anymore. The energy chocolate bar has melted in the sun. And your bottle of water tastes like lukewarm sock juice. The best 12-volt coolers for truckers solve this problem and make meals on the go easy.

The best 12-volt coolers for truckers are compact enough to save space, but roomy enough to hold the essentials right at 40 degrees to keep your food cold. They also won’t drain your battery and are easy to carry. These coolers aren’t the same as your standard kitchen fridge but offer a solid alternative when you’re on the road.

You may not have a fridge in the truck. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a cool snack. You can keep your food and drink cold with a truck-compliant 12v fridge that doesn't drain your battery. We've compiled a list of the best 12-volt coolers for truckers for your food and drinks on the road. 

How Cold do 12-Volt Coolers Get?

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It's important to understand the significant difference between a fridge and a cooler. Fridges are temperature-controlled, which means the food will always be at the same temperature. 

A thermoelectric cooler, on the other hand, doesn't let you set the temperature. Instead, coolers are built in a way that enables them to be consistently at an internal temperature of 40 degrees colder than the outside air. In summer, it means you can get a fresh drink. 

Yet, in winter, your cooler could potentially freeze the contents. So, the sooner you understand how to make the most of your truck cooler, the more you'll benefit from it. Because coolers do not work like fridges, they are not safe for long-term food storage, such as milk or fresh meat. Yet, they will do to keep your sandwich from heat damage on the way or keep fresh fruits on board. 

Another important difference is that you can use a cooler in reverse. You can use it to heat your food to ~140 degrees. 

Coolers are great and certainly come in handy. Do you know what else is handy on the road? A pair of good gloves. We talked to truckers like you and come up with a list of the best truck driver gloves. Find a new favorite now!

How Do 12-Volt Coolers for Truckers Work?

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We've established that fridges and coolers are two different devices. So, if you are wondering if a 12-volt cooler is the right solution for your truck, you might be wondering how the cooler works to cool or heat its content on the battery. 

The truck cooler uses a Peltier plate, which is essentially a semiconductor sandwiched between two metals. When you plug the Peltier plate into the truck battery, you can use the electric current to generate a cooling or a heating effect. 

Unlike a fridge, the heavy-duty cooler-warmer always brings the temperature down by 40 degrees lower than the external temperature. In other words, if it is 90 degrees outside, the cooler will never be any colder than 50 degrees. The Peltier plate consumes 3 to 5 amps to keep the cooler working, which is approximately 5 times higher than a standard fridge. Yet, it's low enough to plug while the truck engine is running on the road. 

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What Are the Best 12-Volt Coolers for Truckers?

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Understandably, truckers can't expect their 12-volt cooler to replace a cabin fridge. A fridge provides long-term, cold storage, keeping food for days. On the other hand, your plug-in cooler is the ideal accessory to protect food and drinks from the heat while driving. 

Alternatively, you can also use it to heat up your food on the go. The bottom line: You need your cooler for short-term storage, just long enough to preserve its content before you're ready to stop for a meal or a quick snack.

Igloo Iceless 28 Quart Thermoelectric Cooler

The Igloo 28 Quart thermoelectric 12-volt cooler is a favorite for truckers. With a capacity of approximately 24 liters, this smart but sturdy portable cooler keeps its content cool without ice. Frequent users report long-term everyday use, up to several years, before the fan inside the Igloo eventually needs replacing. The quiet motor and convection cooling system go unnoticed during a long drive. 

A word of warning for heavy shoppers: The Igloo iceless cooler is 18 1/4 inches by 12 3/4 inches by 17 1/4 inches. If you tend to keep several big items, such as large bottles of milk or water, you could struggle for storage room. 

We recommend unplugging the cooler when you are not driving to preserve both the fan and your truck battery. 

Koolatron P75 Kool Kaddy Electric Travel Cooler

The Kool Kaddy P75 iceless 12-volt cooler is a favorite for truckers who need large cooling storage. You can hold up to 57 12oz cans in this thermoelectric cooler, making it the perfect companion on a long summer drive. 

The magnetic door seal ensures effective closure every time, so you don't have to worry about letting the warm outside air into your cooler. Some truckers also use the Kool Kaddy on its side, opening it like a portable fridge. It's up to you how you want to position it, but we love its adjustable features for easy transport. 

Costway 55 Quarts Portable Electric Car Cooler Refrigerator/Freezer 

The Costway 55 Quarts is a cooler that can also act as a refrigerator and freezer on the go. Unlike traditional thermoelectric cooler, the Costway 55 Quarts provide some levels of temperature adjustment via an LCD display, as it will keep the content between 68 and 55 degrees. 

With a 52 liters capacity, the quiet portable fridge and cooler is a fantastic ally on the road. Coming with a fast cooling function, you can also use it to cool warm drinks within 30 minutes from 90 degrees to 32 degrees. Most users rave about its many features and rapid cooling mode. Like any other cooler, it's best to leave it unplugged when you are not running the engine. You can leave it plugged longer with the higher battery protection setting. 

Dometic 12v Cooler-Freezer

The Dometic 12-volt cooler and fridge freezer is a great device for road trips and can even act as a replacement fridge in overnight accommodation. You'll find a variety of Dometic coolers, so in terms of capacity, we strongly recommend paying attention to your CFX product number. 

For example, CFX-40W has 40 quarts (38L) storage volume, and CFX-75DZW holds approximately 74 quarts or 70 liters. The larger the number, the larger the storage capacity. Bear in mind, however, that more storage will mean more weight. 

The Dometic cooler comes with separate compartments for cooling and freezing, so you can opt for different feature combinations simultaneously. Using WiFi, you can set both compartments to the same or different temperatures. This device also has 3 stages of battery protection to prevent emptying the vehicle battery overnight. 

Wagan EL6206 

The Wagan 6 Quart cooler is a small and portable electric cooler with a 6L capacity. Truckers love its small energy footprint, whether you use it for cooling or heating its contents. Don't be put off by its small size though, as this is the best 12 volts cooler for transportation. You can easily carry it out of the truck to enjoy fresh food and drinks during a break or at your overnight accommodation. 

Holding up to 9 cans and a small array of snacks, the Wagan cooler is best designed for short-term storage and daily use. It is a quiet running device that can protect perishable goods and even medications for the duration of your journey. Be prepared to be smart about storage strategy to make the most of this truck cooler. 

Don’t Let Your Career Get Cold, Apply with ABCO Transportation

Are you ready to pick the best 12-volt cooler for your truck journey? Now that you are prepared for long drives on the road with access to fresh snacks and drinks, you're in the best position to bring your trucker career further with ABCO transportation. 

We've got a vast selection of jobs guaranteeing generous salaries based on experience. Our truckers can expect to earn $67,000+ per year without compromising on free resort time. With local and nationwide driving jobs, you're guaranteed to find the perfect role to put your cooler to the test. 

Why work with ABCO Transportation? We are committed to creating a comfortable and safe work environment for our truckers. We put your comfort and safety first, which is why our truckers are proud to work with quality equipment and schedules that prioritize family time. 

If you are an experienced trucker, you will find great benefits with us that are available anywhere else. We are proud to serve our customers, and that we want our drivers to receive the best support available. But don’t take our words for it. Read what our drivers say about their jobs. 

Why not join the ABCO's paid orientation that will get you on the wheels of one of our late Peterbilt truck models? It's the best way to figure out how your 12-volt cooler will fit in the cabin! Join us for competitive wages by filling up the application on our site. 

We welcome drivers who are 23 or older, with a Class A CDL and a clean MVR, and who have at least one year of verifiable stable OTR work experience.

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