This is my hands-on review of the BougeRV 12V 30 Quart Portable Fridge.
I used this fridge daily on a 14-day car camping trip. I stuffed it full of food and drinks, powered it from a variety of power sources, played around with its settings, and experienced temperatures ranging from the low 30s to the upper 90s.
After all that, I think it’s an affordable yet well-made 12V fridge that works well in a van, boat, RV, mobile home, or solar power system.
BougeRV 12V 30 Quart Portable Refrigerator
A well-made and affordable 12V fridge
This fridge works well, is energy efficient, and can hold food for a couple people for 2-3 days. It’s also much cheaper than other 12V fridges, making it a great value.
|30 qt (28 L)
|12/24V DC, 110-240V AC
|60W in MAX mode, 45W in ECO mode
|-7°F to +50°F (-22°C to +10°C)
|22.68 × 12.60 × 15.55 in (57.6 × 32 × 39.5 cm)
|22.8 lbs (10.3 kg)
BougeRV Fridge Review
Unboxing & First Impressions
BougeRV reached out to me asking if I wanted to test out one of their products. I’d heard about their fridge and was curious to try it out myself, so I asked for one and they sent it to me for review.
Upon receiving it, I unboxed it to see what was inside. Here’s a quick unboxing video:
Here’s what came in the box:
- BougeRV 12V 30 Quart Fridge
- Removable partition
- 12/24V DC power cord
- 110-240V AC power cord
- Product manual
- 2 extra non-slip pads
The fridge seemed well-made and easy to use. The 30 quart (28 liter) capacity felt a little on the smaller end, but enough for a couple people. For comparison, it’s a tad smaller than medium-sized coolers, which tend to be in the 30-35 liter range.
How to Power It
You can power this fridge in a handful of ways, and I tried out most of them over the course of my testing. Pretty much the only way you can’t power it is with propane.
12V or 24V Battery
I brought along a 12V 100Ah LiFePO4 battery to power the fridge at camp each night.
To run it off my battery, I just connected the NOCO GC018 12V socket to the battery terminals and plugged the included 12/24V DC power cord into the socket.
Running the fridge off my battery worked perfectly. It lasted 3 days of continuous use before the battery needed recharging (when set to the high voltage cut-off setting).
For more of an idea of how long a 100Ah LiFePO4 battery will run a 12V fridge, check out this video I made:
The included 12/24V DC power cord has a plug that’s meant to fit into a 12V car socket. However, for whatever reason, the plug didn’t work with my or my parents’ cars.
For whatever reason, the plug was too long for our car sockets, and its negative terminals didn’t make proper contact with the sides of the socket.
My car is a 2003 model and my parents’ is a 2004. Maybe newer car models wouldn’t have this problem? Regardless, I think it’s a mistake on BougeRV’s part.
To power the fridge from my car, I ended up having to plug a 150W inverter into my car socket, then plug the fridge’s AC power cord into the inverter’s AC outlet.
That meant converting DC (from the car battery) to AC (inverter) and then back to DC (fridge). Talk about inefficient!
If the 12V plug doesn’t work with your car, you could try out a replacement 12V fridge power cord. A hassle, I know.
The BougeRV fridge also runs off a standard wall outlet. The wall charger accepts 110-240V AC, so it should work in nearly every country.
I like having this flexibility. It’s good if you’re staying at a house or somewhere with an outlet for a few days and want to bring the fridge inside. In fact, I did just that while staying a couple days with friends.
This is a great fridge for a solar power system. It runs off 12 or 24 volts DC, two of the most common battery voltages for solar power systems. And its built-in low voltage cutoffs mean you can connect it directly to your battery without fear of the battery draining fully.
It’s energy efficient, too, which is important when your devices are all battery powered. As far as fridges go, a 12V mini fridge like this one is among the easiest to solar power. Big kitchen refrigerators use so much energy that it’s impractical and cost prohibitive to solar power one, especially in a vehicle with limited roof space for solar panels.
Tutorial: How to Solar Power a Fridge
You can always buy a small bag of ice from the grocery store and use this fridge like a cooler. I’ve done this twice already. Both times, the ice lasted a few days before melting fully.
Also, the fridge can stay cool for a while without power or ice. The insulation is good, and you upgrade it a bit by getting the BougeRV 30 Quart Fridge Cover. Oftentimes on my trip, while stopping to explore a town, I would just let the fridge turn off with the car. When I’d return an hour or so later, everything would still be perfectly cold.
How to Change the Settings
Here’s a quick video showing how to adjust the fridge’s settings:
- To unlock the settings, hold down the settings (gear) button for a few seconds until your hear a beep. (The settings lock after a couple minutes of the fridge being turned on, so usually you have to unlock the settings first to adjust anything.)
- To adjust the temperature, press the plus and minus buttons.
- To switch between MAX and ECO mode, press the settings button again.
- To adjust the battery voltage cutoff, hold the settings button down again until your hear a beep. Then press the settings button to switch between the high, medium, and low voltage settings.
Once you’ve got it to your desired settings, you don’t need to press anything else. The fridge will soon lock the control panel again with these new settings and start adjusting to your desired temperature.
How Well Does It Work?
During my trip, I spent a week in Wyoming and Montana right as the West was experiencing a record-breaking heat wave. Temperatures got up to 99°F (37°C) during the day. The fridge was able to keep the food cool through all that.
Some nights I camped at 9,000 feet (2,743 meters) elevation and temperatures got down to 35°F (2°C). The fridge ran off the battery with no issue.
Most days, I drove miles on bumpy, unpaved forest service roads to get to some dispersed campsites. Some of them had pretty bad washboarding. Others were littered with rocks. The fridge got bounced around a lot, but it never stopped working.
I had to mess around with the temperature settings to find one that would keep my food cool without freezing it.
At the start of the trip, I set the fridge to 34°F (1°C), expecting it to keep the food nice and cool. When I got to my campsite for the night, I opened it up to find my food near the bottom — eggs, spinach, an avocado — had all frozen. I eventually settled on 42°F (6°C) and that worked well for me.
How Much Food Can It Hold?
The fridge can hold enough food for a couple people for 2-3 days. A friend joined me for the second half of the trip and we usually had little trouble fitting all our food inside, even after a grocery run.
Here are a couple photos illustrating its space with actual food. In this first one, I’ve left the center partition in which divides the fridge into two compartments. it’s holding a milk carton, 4 cans, and a package of deli meat.
In this second one, I’ve removed the center partition. The fridge is holding eggs, a carton of oat milk, and 6 cans.
The fridge has two cooling modes, ECO and MAX. ECO uses up to 45 watts, while max uses up to 60 watts. (That works out to about 4-5 amps at 12 volts.)
I mostly used ECO, and it cooled things down relatively slowly. I’d estimate it took around 25-30 minutes to reach the desired temperature. As you’d expect, MAX mode cools the fridge quicker. BougeRV claims it can take as little as 16 minutes to reach 32°F (O°C)
At night, I ran the fridge in ECO mode off my 12V battery. It lasted around 3 nights before the battery needed recharging.
The fridge is pretty quiet. BougeRV claims less than 45 decibels. I measured its noise level when the fridge was on MAX mode and set to its lowest possible temperature (-7 degrees F) and recorded around 53 decibels.
That’s still not that much. For comparison, I recorded the noise level in my bedroom when it was completely quiet and got 30 decibels.
I never slept next to the fridge, but it was always 2-3 feet away from me in the car. I heard the sounds of the fan, but nothing too loud or distracting. What little I heard was easy to tune out as white noise.
I tested the 30 quart size, but BougeRV has a whole product lineup of different sizes and features. Here are some of their other top models:
- BougeRV 12V 42 Quart Portable Refrigerator/Freezer
- BougeRV 12V 53 Quart Portable Refrigerator/Freezer
- BougeRV 12V 37 Quart Portable Refrigerator/Freezer (with dual temperature control)
- BougeRV 12V 48 Quart Portable Refrigerator/Freezer (with dual temperature control)
What I Like
- It’s a good 12V fridge at a great price. BougeRV fridges offer great bang for your buck. Similar 12V RV fridges can cost 2-3 times as much.
- It can hold 2-3 days worth of food for 1-2 people. 30 quarts (28 liters) isn’t huge, but I found it to be a good size for a couple people. And BougeRV has many more sizes if you want something bigger.
- It’s energy efficient. It’s well-insulated and doesn’t consume a lot of power.
- It can run off 12/24V DC or 110-240V AC. You can power it off a 12/24V battery, a 12V car socket, or a standard wall outlet. You can’t power it with propane.
What I Don’t Like
- The included 12V plug didn’t fit in my or my parents’ cars. Like I said, our cars are 2003 and 2004 models. Maybe newer cars wouldn’t have this problem.
Who This Fridge Is for
- You want a good budget 12V fridge for your car, van, boat, RV, or mobile home. This is a portable fridge with great bang for your buck.
- You want an energy efficient fridge for a solar power system. Small, chest-style 12V fridges like this are very energy efficient. And the fact that it can run off 12V or 24V DC makes it easy to add to a solar power system.
Who This Fridge Isn’t for
- You have a large group. I think this fridge would quickly become too small for 3 people or more.
- You like to pack a lot of food and drinks. My friend and I packed it pretty minimally and still got close to filling it. If you’re a beer or soda lover, for instance, who always carries a case, that would take up most of the space.
- You want a combo fridge/freezer. This fridge only has one container and one temperature zone. There is an included partition that you can use to do some temperature separation, but it just works okay.
The Bottom Line
Overall, the BougeRV 12V 30 Quart Fridge is a budget 12V fridge that works well and is energy efficient. It can hold enough food for 1-2 people for a few days and can run off of a variety of power sources. It kept my food cool throughout my entire car camping trip.
It’s great for a van, boat, RV, mobile home, or solar power system. Top-of-the-line 12V fridges can cost 2-3 times as much. By comparison the BougeRV fridge is a great value.
A small ask: If you found my BougeRV fridge review helpful and are planning to buy one, please consider buying through one of my affiliate links below — I’ll get a small commission which will help fund more reviews like this one. Thank you! 🙏