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How to Run a Car Fridge?

A man running BougeRV’s 12V car fridge with BougeRV’s portable power station
A man running BougeRV’s 12V car fridge with BougeRV’s portable power station.png

Running a car fridge can transform your road trip experience, offering the convenience of fresh food and cold drinks no matter where your adventure takes you. In this blog post, we'll explore how to power and maintain a car refrigerator, manage temperature efficiently, and take advantage of additional features and accessories to enhance your journey.

How Do You Power a Refrigerator in a Car?

When it comes to keeping your drinks cold and your food fresh on the road, you've got some solid options for powering a refrigerator in your car. Let's dive into the details of how to keep things cool while you're cruising.

Directly from the Car Battery

The simplest way to power your portable fridge is by using the 12V connector that typically accompanies most car refrigerators. Just plug the 12V fridge into your vehicle's cigarette lighter socket, and you're set for chilled refreshments on the go. 

But one might wonder: how long can you run a car fridge like this? The answer varies, as it depends on your battery capacity and the fridge’s power draw. On average, a car battery can sustain a 12V fridge for a few hours with the engine off. Therefore, keeping an eye on how long the fridge has been running is critical to avoid depleting your battery.

Dual Battery System

For those planning longer stays or frequent use of their car fridge, installing a dual battery system might be the way to go. This involves adding an auxiliary battery alongside your car's main battery, which exclusively powers your fridge without affecting your main battery's charge. This dual battery system ensures that your perishable items stay cold for the duration of your journey without the risk of leaving you stranded with a dead car battery.

Portable Power Station

BougeRV’s portable power station for 12V car fridge

For added flexibility, consider a portable power station—an essentially large-capacity battery that can power your fridge independently of your car's electrical system. It's safe and straightforward: just connect the fridge to the power station using the ports provided. These battery-powered devices can often run a car fridge for several days at a time, depending on the fridge's efficiency and the power station's capacity. This option is perfect for you if you prioritize mobility and ease of use when planning your road trips and outdoor activities.

Temperature Management

Maintaining the right temperature is crucial for keeping your food safe and drinks pleasantly cold. Here’s what to consider:

  • Optimal Settings: For most foods, aim for 32°F to keep them fresh. Beverages don't need to be as cold, so 38-40°F should suffice.

  • Consistent Temperatures: Keep in mind that opening the fridge frequently or exposing it to high ambient temperatures will make it harder to maintain cool temperatures inside.

  • Pre-Cooling: Start with a cold fridge to reduce power usage - plug it in at home before you hit the road.

Additional Features and Accessories

Enhancements can make a significant difference in your car fridge experience. Consider these options:

  • Sliding Trays: Make accessing your items easier, especially for built-in installations.

  • Protective Covers: Insulate and protect your fridge from bumps and scratches.

  • Solar Panels: Pair your fridge with solar panels for an eco-friendly power source.

Road Tripping With Your Car Fridge

A woman sips a beverage while gazing at BougeRV’s 12V car fridge in use during a road trip.

When on long drives, keep your fridge running by ensuring it's well-ventilated and not packed too tightly. During stops and overnight stays, switch to a secondary power source like a portable power station to conserve your car’s battery life. Energy-saving tips, like minimizing door openings and avoiding direct sunlight on the fridge, also help.

Remember, food safety is paramount. Keep raw and cooked foods separate and maintain proper temperatures to prevent spoilage.


By understanding how to power, maintain, and efficiently use your car fridge, you'll be prepared for any adventure. Safe travels and happy snacking! So, if you're in the market for an upgrade or thinking about snagging a top-notch, energy-saving 12V fridge, why not take a peek at what BougeRV offers? Check out our 12V fridges today and get ready to chill in style!

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How to Run a Car Fridge?